Uni 2, Week 1

It’s Sunday night. My desk is very messy, filled with documents and brochures. There’s almost no control of what’s happening. This is my desk after week 1 at Sydney University.

Here’s the back story if you missed it. It’s been a week at a new university, and I’m exhausted. Three 8am starts, and a 9am start. Thankfully the early starts are gone, more on that later.

If I had to describe my week in one word, it’s ‘chaos’. Most of the time was spent sitting in introductory lectures, and chasing up my credit application. It’s strange to be doing all first-year subjects in my second year of university.

Because I had completed units at Macquarie, I applied for credit at USyd. Who would have thought that this ‘simple’ application would take 5 weeks to process? I got very frustrated at the lack of progress, because this meant that I couldn’t finalise my enrolment. The application was only completed on Friday afternoon, and then I got a clear idea of what to study for this year.

There was something interesting about the outcome. I had been given credit for Accounting 1B, whose prerequisite was Accounting 1A. Naturally you would think that you wouldn’t need to do both subjects, but no, I was told I had to do Accounting 1A. This was because prerequisites are ignored during credit applications. On one hand I thought this was ridiculous, but to put a positive spin on this, at least I could ‘revise’ the things I learnt last year.

Now, the timetable. USyd would prefer to let a computer decide your timetable, no matter how ridiculous it looked. I thought I wouldn’t bother changing my timetable much because I would have to change it again depending on the outcome of the credit application. Part of the reason I was frustrated, was because human-assisted timetable changes closed at the end of last Friday. If the credit application wasn’t back by Friday, I’d be at the mercy of the computer. Luckily I was able to get a human to change my timetable, and now I have three 11am starts, and a 10am start, with Wednesdays off.

I’ve also bumped into old friends, and people I haven’t seen for a long time. At least that’s something good that happened. I’m also liking the longer train trip. At least I can read or sleep comfortably.

The brochure to the French Film Festival remains unread, and that starts this Tuesday! It should be a good lineup this year.

I’d better get back to the readings for this week. So much to read! Talk soon.

A Reflection of the Holiday

The long summer holiday has ended. So I ask myself what have I achieved this holiday?

I didn’t get a job.
I made a poor effort to catch up with friends.
I stayed at home for most of the time.
I watched a lot of TV.
I did some volunteer work!

Conclusion: I’ve turned into a vegetable.

Admittedly, I do regret not doing more than I did. Knowing when the postman comes and what’s on TV during the day is good but it doesn’t compare to getting something useful on the CV. Not making the effort to see friends is, well, shall we say unhealthy. Each day became a countdown to the next significant event: the postman delivers the mail, this TV show comes on, the parcel man comes, and so on.

Being a vegetable didn’t do wonders for my health either. I was eating less and less, but at the same time snacking more and more. Getting fat on the couch would soon become reality. I tried to find any errand I could do, just to stop being bored.

I did try to find paid work. I applied for a few jobs, none got back within the summer. One emailed to say they would like to have an interview, but they haven’t called yet. I gave up in mid-January.

On the bright side, I did some volunteering at the Sydney Festival. I wrote a review for one of the events, and I did go on about the Festival a bit on Twitter (I think). I got into the University of Sydney! Looking forward to the new experiences there.

At least the holiday didn’t go to waste entirely. Now I’m off to have an early night; 8am start tomorrow.

Sydney Universities Dates: Semester 1 2011

Another year. Here are the dates for the first half of 2011.

DATES 2011

Notes: As reported by the university, therefore weekends may or may not be counted. If you have additional information, please email me.

S1 Start Mid-Semester Break Study Vacation Examinations Mid-year recess S2 start
MQ 21 Feb 9 Apr to 26 Apr 6 Jun to 24 Jun 25 Jun to 31 Jul 1 Aug
UNSW 28 Feb 22 Apr to 1 May 4 Jun to 9 Jun 10 Jun to 27 Jun 28 Jun to 17 Jul 18 Jul
USYD 28 Feb 22 Apr to 29 Apr 6 Jun to 10 Jun 13 Jun to 25 Jun 26 Jun to 24 Jul 25 Jul
UTS 28 Feb 25 Apr to 29 Apr 11 Jun to 1 Jul 1 Jul to 31 Jul 1 Aug
UWS* 28 Feb 18 Apr to 25 Apr 6 Jun to 12 Jun 14 Jun to 28 Jun 4 Jul to 31 Jul 1 Aug
ANU 21 Feb 9 Apr to 26 Apr 4 Jun to 8 Jun 9 Jun to 25 Jun 26 Jun to 24 Jul 25 Jul

* Could someone from UWS please double-check these dates? They may be incorrect.

MQ: http://www.mq.edu.au/calendar.html
UNSW: https://my.unsw.edu.au/student/resources/AcademicCalendar.html
USYD: http://www.usyd.edu.au/future_students/domestic_undergraduate/admissions/semester_dates/index.shtml
UTS: http://www.handbook.uts.edu.au/dates_academic.html
UWS: http://www.uws.edu.au/currentstudents/current_students/managing_your_study/dates/2011_academic_year_dateline
ANU: http://info.anu.edu.au/ovc/Committees/110PP_Principal_Dates

University Offers

Last Wednesday night, UAC released the Main Round offers for university admissions. As I have written before and mentioned to you over the course of last year, my aim was to transfer to UNSW. Well I’ve been a bit quiet over the last 36 hours or so, so let me tell you what is going on.

When I applied to UAC late last year, I only put down one preference. This was the B Commerce at UNSW. Closer to January, I added as second preference the B Commerce/B Science at the University of Sydney (USyd), and a B Science at UNSW as third. At the time, I thought I might as well try my luck for USyd; it doesn’t make a difference if I got into UNSW.

Now, I’ve received an offer for USyd. This now sets up several options:

1. Accept USyd offer.
2. Accept USyd offer, wait for UNSW offer, decide which uni.
3. Stay at Macquarie.

Before I continue, can I say THANK YOU for your support and encouraging messages over 2010.

I’m most likely to accept the USyd offer next week. It was never my intention to consider USyd originally, so this will be another experience to take forward. This time last year, accepting the fact that I’m at Macquarie was a ‘challenge’ and a motivator to work hard. The only situation that will cause me to reject the USyd offer is if my credit doesn’t transfer over. I’m not willing to waste a year doing subjects again, despite the opportunity to go to USyd.

If I receive an offer to UNSW in a later round of offers, the decision is then which uni do I want to go to. The combined BCom/BSci course at UNSW is four years long and at USyd five years. BCom only is three years at both places. If you go to either university, I’d appreciate comments about what you like and don’t like about it.

Thus, there is a high chance that I am leaving Macquarie University. To those who are there, thank you, and stay happy. I’ll be back in Week 1 to properly say good bye, around a table with glasses of amber liquid.

Review: LIVE at Sydney Festival 2011

The concept for LIVE seems so simple: musicians, black and white, solo performance. But after viewing a few of the 20 performances on show, you’ll realise that there is more behind what you see.

LIVE is a project by Jasmin Tarasin to attempt to study ‘the art of performing’. I have to agree that large-scale performances that musicians do these days have lost their ‘intimacy’, and Tarasin does well to bring us right up close to these artists. Showing the performances in black and white removes the distraction of key elements of a performance such as their dress, and instruments.

The performance that represented Tarasin’s vision the best was that of Julian Hamilton, one half of The Presets. Hamilton’s performance had no instrumentation, so all you could focus on was his singing voice. His vocal part from ‘People’ is vastly different to that on the album recording, and it shows the song from another perspective.

By watching long enough, the subtle differences between performers are apparent, and interesting to watch. At one stage, three guitarists were pictured side-by-side. Each had a different way of playing their guitar. You could notice the positioning of the guitar, and their style of playing.

LIVE is a rather inexpensive way of seeing 20 songs from 20 different artists. I would highly recommend you to see it before it closes this weekend.

LIVE is open until January 23, at the lower part of Sydney Town Hall. Tickets are $15/$12.

PS: I’m volunteering at LIVE handing out headphones on the 23rd between 5pm and 7:30pm. Come visit!

The “Happy Birthday! BH” Phenomenon

What do you do when it’s someone’s birthday? Well the least you could do is say Happy Birthday to them. However most people find it convenient to have Facebook remind them it’s a friend’s birthday on a particular day, and simply writing on their Wall is good enough. Some people claim that wishing someone Happy Birthday on Facebook is more important than saying it to them face-to-face, or via telephone.

Not long after I joined Facebook, I began to wonder how I’d wish so many friends Happy Birthday without appearing prejudicial to a particular group of people. After all I wanted to present myself as being equal to all. It’s hard enough writing a card for a special occasion, so why create that same burden online?

My solution was to write a short (and to-the-point) Wall post on each friend’s birthday. This message would convey the message (Happy Birthday) very simply, but also stand out from the many others who wished Happy Birthday as well.

The message is simply this:

Happy Birthday!


While it has done the aforementioned job very well, what I didn’t expect to happen was this message to be a small phenomenon. There’s been lots of good and bad criticism, as well as numerous imitations.

It’s been said that the message is too short. Although I admit that it is shorter than most other messages, it is still better than those that write “happy birthday” or (the worst case I have seen) “hbd”. Then again, I’m usually not the most important person in their life, so why should they waste their time reading a message from me? Wouldn’t it be better spent reading the message of their significant other?

On the flip side, when some see my message, they value it over some others. I feel honoured by this, but it goes to show something simple has the potential to make a larger than intended impact.

I have no plans to stop what I am doing, and I hope this has answered some of your questions about why I do what I do.

Review: Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005

The first thing that comes to mind when one mentions Annie Leibowitz would be her striking photos of photographs of various celebrities. This exhibition not only invites us to share in these celebrities’ glory, but also to understand her largely unseen personal side.

Sprinkled like confetti between portraits of Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Nicole Kidman are glimpses of Lebovitz’s family. In these black-and-white images, Lebovitz presents the raw emotion and experience. Rarely do you see a photograph of the ‘happy’ family; a typical photograph found in the family album. It is all about the intimacy, a characteristic not seen much in modern photography.

For me, the portrait of Al Pacino stood out among others. Shot in an empty studio and in monochrome, Pacino is pictured simply with hands in pockets. The message is conveyed very simply via the expression of his face.

Among the personal photographs, eight frames tell the story of a family trip to the beach. The backs of the children and mother can be very revealing (just like Winston Smith said).

All in all, a very revealing, and insightful exhibition. Followers of celebrities and art enthusiasts alike can learn something from the portraits, even if it is as small as understanding someone else’s family situation.

Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005 is showing until 31 March at the MCA. Tickets can be booked online to avoid the queue.

What’s in Store for 2011

I hope you all had a wonderful festive season and New Year celebrations.

In the days before and after January 1, many people make New Year’s resolutions to achieve over the course of the year. Some are achieved, others not. However the chances of succeeding are greater if you take a look back at what you tried to achieve in the previous year.

I’d like to share with you what were my goals in 2010 and what they will be in 2011.

The first goal was to work hard enough in order to successfully transfer from Macquarie to UNSW. I wrote about this in detail in my previous post. I’ll know the result when the offers are released on January 19.

2010 introduced university life after 13 years of primary and secondary education, so obviously the challenge was to ‘get used to it’. I’m happy to say that I’ve done that.

University life is an opportunity to make new friends and associates. I called this ‘making connections’, because the substance of the friendship is what is most important to me. For example, knowing a person who has knowledge of and/or associations with entities that may come in handy in the future is a connection worth making. The goal was to make as many useful connections during the year, assuming I would only be at Macquarie for one year. I’m happy to say that I’ve done that.

Thus, 2011 will be about preserving these connections, as well as making new ones at UNSW (assuming I get in). What I also want to do is to ‘reconnect’ with those who I have not spoken to or seen in 2010. I think working hard at uni (or my attitude to social life) has deprived me of opportunities to do this.

Many New Year’s resolutions involve starting a personal project, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. These projects are easily delayed by claiming that other commitments took up the time needed to start. And that is exactly what happened with my ‘arts blog’ project, of which I’ve written about here before. I spent 2010 exploring the arts scene in Sydney, but most of what I saw was ‘mainstream’. Probably getting the plan in writing would be more convincing that to have it swimming in my head. I must keep at this in 2011, and start soon.

The other thing that could do with a bit more TLC is this blog. I say this every year without substance, with nothing planned. It’s becoming a bad habit, frankly. At least improving the frequency of posting would be a start…

And finally something a bit out there. This year I want to continue to be inspired you. Maybe I’ll leave you to think about that.

Week 26 of 90+

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about the new challenge of beginning university after 13 years of primary and secondary education. Now that the first year is complete, and the results are in (after some pushing and shoving with the unions), I’m very happy to enjoy this long summer break.

As some of you know, Macquarie University was my second preferred university. I’ve been working hard this year to achieve good results that would yield the best chance to transfer to the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

I thought I’d write about it here because as the day that UAC release offers draws closer, there’s been a lot of interest about my situation (and I don’t want to sound/feel like a broken record)!

This is what I know, and please seek independent advice on admission requirements if you are in a similar situation. I won’t be held responsible for information which I believed to be correct, that turned out to be wrong. (Disclaimers FTW!)

My marks this year were quite good. A GPA of 3.25, average 72. From what I have heard, a credit average is sufficient for an external application into UNSW. Therefore the marks should be OK.

I’ve also spoken to a university staffer who handles admissions, and she said that for domestic applications like mine, university marks are considered first, with the ATAR possibly contributing very little in this process.

At Macquarie I studied a Bachelor of Commerce – Professional Accounting (that’s the name). At UNSW, I intend to study the double degree Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting)/Bachelor of Science (Computer Science).

Once there, I should be able to get credit for my study at MQ, thus eliminating the need to redo first year Commerce subjects. I find out on 19 January whether I receive an offer, just like every year 12 who applied to UAC.

In my opinion, my application is looking good.

Happy holidays everyone.

To Volunteer or to Work?

Rarely All the time do I ask for an opinion on a certain matter via this blog, but I feel that the following issue could do with community consideration.

During university time, some people supplement their life with a steady income stream in the form of a part time job. Some don’t, and that can be for a variety of reasons. The upcoming summer break is a great time for many to find casual jobs, to get that bit more cash.

I find myself in an odd situation. Recently I’ve come across the idea that volunteering is rather enjoyable and rewarding, despite the lack of remuneration, but also the idea that a paid casual/part-time job is a more reliable reference. I say this, as right now there’s more volunteer work on my CV than paid work.

So I ask you. What is your position on getting work and experience? Do you find that volunteering is rewarding or useless or unnecessary? Are paid jobs the way to go? Leave your comments in the comments.

Thank You.