Raise your damn hand: And other things I’ve finally learnt this academic year

If the two-semesters, four terms and eight subjects I took this academic year revealed anything, it was the sheer amount of basic university/life stuff I had either:

a) Drastically over-complicated
b) Really had no clue of or how to do

So in the spirit of blogging, narcissistic self-reflection and the internet’s obsession with lists, allow me to share some of the most abhorrently basic and (some) more complex lessons I have learnt about academics and functioning within the simultaneously fascinating and frustrating world of university. Essentially, all the things I wish I was told, but no doubt would have ignored, before beginning my first year.

  1. Raise your hand. This is not an original piece of advice, and yes, it is inherently flawed, as many brilliant students are unable to speak up in class discussions for legitimate reasons. Yet, it took the second semester of this year for me to realise that I personally can and should. If you can, voice your opinion, offer an answer and ASK QUESTIONS. I’m coming from a humanities standpoint here and essentially, opinions and interpretations are essential to the classroom and getting the most out of your degree. Speak my wonderful scholarly caterpillars!
  2.  If a tutor/teacher/professor/overlord uses a word or term that you have never heard of before, ask them what it means, ESPECIALLY if they do that thing where they pause and check if we all ‘get it’. Let your tutor unveil their etymological prowess while you and other students learn something. It’s almost like that’s what education is for or something. I mean, wow.
  3.  Go to office hours you hopeless dork. When you’re at that horrible point when you’re so confused or lost that you can’t really grasp what the issue is and no way could you adequately explain yourself in a concise email, help is still available, go to office hours. If I had a dollar for everytime a friend complained about the lack of contact hours for humanities students, I could almost pay off my HECS debt. While 10 minutes in an office won’t completely solve this grievance, it’s a sure-fire way to improve. Remeber, you are not annoying for caring about your degree. At my university, and I’m sure it’s the case at others, it’s actually not mandatory for lectures and tutors to designate open hours when students can drop by unannounced, therefore, the ones who do, clearly want you to use that time as a resource.
  4. How to write an essay that is not hopeless trash. Yes, it took until my second year of uni to wrap my head around framing a well-researched, coherent argument. I speak more specifically here as a literature student where you need to work to find a balance between your own ideas with those of scholars. Honestly? It takes time, practice and an awful lot of editing, but to give specific advice, I’ll make my next point…
  5. Engage with the source material. I’m certain this is why my essays have drastically improved. Take my advice, read that literary theory that is referenced by your lecturers and use it as a springboard off into what will then be relevant research. Seriously, I could write a whole damn post about research because it makes my little nerd-heart sing, but I’ll leave it at this for now.
  6. That learning for the sake of learning is not to be sneered at. There is a clear rhetoric surrounding tertiary education in Australia based on the idea that education must lead (and basically guarantee you) a specific job in a specific area of expertise (think doctor, teacher, lawyer, nurse, accountant etc.). Firstly, the problem with this is that it convinces hordes of eighteen-year-olds that they need to decide upon one job, right now, right out of school. People act as though the course you choose will determine your entire fate, and that’s just not realistic.
    Additionally, this line of thinking devalues degrees that are not vocationally focused. It is incredibly irritating to explain why you’re doing a Bachelor of Arts with a major in English, only to be met with the condescending, “So what do you want to do?” sort of questions. As many arts graduates will confirm, there are plenty of jobs and avenues you can work towards with a B.A in hand. The way I see it, you are going to be studying for (at least) three years, so spend your time (and money) on and within a field you genuinely care about. Ignore those who cannot fathom motivations or purpose that aren’t defined by a bank balance or corner office. Doing a B.A takes courage, indeed, following your passions in any degree takes courage and anyone who tries to convince you otherwise obviously has their own regrets.
  7. Everyone is a mess. You cannot have the perfect grades, job, social life, resume, and apartment unless you’re really, really lucky or some kind of super-human insomniac-genius that also can time travel.
  8. Above all else, you are responsible for ensuring you get the most out of your university experience. Here’s the thing, university is not perfect, I am not perfect, you are not perfect, and neither are your friends, markers, teachers, tutors, lecturers or professors. We all screw up, quite regularly, and the sooner you stop playing the blame game and succumbing to self-hatred the more you will succeed. Take advantage of this unique environment where you can explore, experiment and learn to your heart’s content. You are in control of this entire experience, so own it, be brave and be bold.


And always bring paracetamol and more than two pens.


Quiet Love

I’ve finished my first coffee of the day. Warm, not scalding. Just now taking effect, so my thoughts are hazy in a way that’s only pleasant on days when I don’t have to leave the house or attend to anything particularly time sensitive. How lucky I am for that to be my reality, even if it is only so for a few more days. Continue reading Quiet Love

Late Afternoons

Spring is here. I can feel it seeping into my skin, crawling up my bones, a warm tingle spreading from once cold fingers.

I am a winter person, or autumn, to be more accurate but I’ll deal with extremes. What I mean is that given the choice to live my last day in either excessive heat or cold I’d choose the second. For heat is stifling. Spring means summer is on the way and that reality leaves me conflicted. Eyes looking constantly forward are bound to be disappointed.

So to make a cringe-worthy metaphor, to find positivity, to spring to a spring cliche, I can pluck a small flower of optimism and let words like renew and re-birth cloud my formerly pessimistic vision.

Eyes wide open.

This change of season and late afternoons spent outside in the fading light. The buzz of insects and the rumbling purrs of my cat and the smell of grass and growing humidity lets me breathe a little deeper, a little longer.

Change is in the air.

Exhale hope.

Over a Bridge

Confused, conflicted, what’s another word that begins with C? Alliteration is more effective when it comes in threes.

I’ll ponder that for a moment.

Today felt like a dream. Not a nice dream though, not dreamy, but not a nightmare either. Rather, it was a slow, sluggish daze. Today was hazy and heavy, like that moment when you wake up from a deep sleep, only partially conscious, your head like a cement brick.

I drifted from each class and through each hour. I didn’t notice much. I was terribly unfocused though I managed to go through the motions; contributing to seminars, taking notes, raising a point or two about postmodern literature, etc. But nothing really stuck, nothing landed, solidified in my mind. I felt, in one word, disconnected.

I’m in a fog. And it goes on for as I can see, as far as I can look ahead. Which, albeit, at this stage, is not very far at all. I figure if I was not outwardly present then maybe I was too inward, too internally focused.

Regardless of my ‘haze’, I walked home in the chilly September wind, happy that summer hasn’t made an early appearance just yet. I wrapped myself in a long scarf, looping it around twice before tossing it over my left shoulder. It blew in the wind, flailing behind me as I walked across the bridge, over the Torrens, which, surprisingly, didn’t smell too bad today. Earlier I walked over another bridge where couples, people, people in love had inscribed, initialled, engraved, fastened locks and assumedly, thrown away the key.

Thinking about bridges I should probably get over it.

Perhaps alliteration is overrated.



Morning 18/7/17

This morning, the sight of a blank page was promising.

Ideas came freely, open, into my brain and out of my pen seamlessly. I think I’m better at writing in the morning. More likely, I’m just less awake and therefore incapable of feeling any pressure to be good. A usually overactive mind at this stage has only a few concerns; keep eyes open, yawn, get coffee, write. Continue reading Morning 18/7/17