Mid-semester break

After a really busy few weeks, mid-semester break provides a chance to pause, revise, catch up and also have a break! This semester, like all those past, has been crazy and extremely busy. Like the duck often used as a simile in situations like this, I’m always struggling to stay afloat, even if everything seems to be going just fine.

Life update: I’m making my way through another semester of Computer Science and Italian, with the addition of an elective in Electrical Engineering (“it’ll be fun” I thought) which is proving a bigger challenge than all my other subjects combined! I’m enjoying it though, and trying to constantly stop and realise how much I’m learning every day. I was recently elected president of the Engineering Music Society which I still can’t quite believe. It’s a wonderful group of people which I’ve played music with since the start of Uni. President means leading a committee to plan rehearsals, concerts and events, a big job but one that I’m proud to be doing.

I’ve also been using the break to plan an exchange trip to Italy for semester two 2018, where I’m hoping to study at the University of Bologna, the oldest Uni in the world. It’s quite a process, and I’m currently flicking through the subject handbook (not laid out nearly as nicely as it is at UniMelb) to decide exactly what I want to study there. After many of my friends jetted off this semester for their exchange experience, I’ve gotten more excited but also more nervous: it isn’t far away now!

I’m again disappointed that I haven’t had much time to blog this semester, however I hope you’ve all been enjoying Aimee’s posts, I know I have! What strange coincidence that I happen to be taking classes with both Aimee and Eyre this semester: Aimee in Italian and Eyre in Software Development. Like it was meant to be!

Hope everyone’s had a great break, keep pushing on towards exams!

Raph


The Student Who Overslept (Aimee)

Image result for yawning people

Hi there, dear readers!

It’s funny how the most important life-events pass quietly – unnoticed.

One of these, for me, happened seven years ago.

Rewind to 2010… *cue flashback music* Little me (isn’t she sweet!?) is on holiday in Lorne and her (my?) mum is putting on a DVD. As the opening credits roll, little Aimee, with the awful fringe (code-red mullet!) falls asleep; only to wake up long after the movie has finished. Mum is a bit miffed that I (she…? Never speak about yourself in the third-person!) have missed the movie, but nothing much is said and we move on. Little do we know that it’s the first in a long series of unscheduled naps and unexplained tiredness. These will be passed off with that delectable little word: hormones.

Fast-forward to 2017 and grown-up Aimee (still with a funny haircut and equally awful fashion sense!) is more than a bit sleepy. Things have started to happen which I can’t explain. I keep zoning out in lectures and regaining concentration five minutes later. Finding the right words in a conversation is like retrieving a bobby-pin from a sea of treacle. Recently, I even forgot the name of a friend who I’ve known for a year. (Very embarrassing given that my housemates and I used to have dinner with her every week! What’s-your-name – I’m unimaginably sorry!!) The doctors are befuddled and prescribe iron tablets, calcium tablets, bed-rest, exercise and… well, just about every cure you can think of… except perhaps the best cure-all there is: chocolate. (Ahem!) Then, something happens which – if you’ll forgive the pun – wakes everyone up. I fall asleep in a university bathroom.

Believe me: there is no bigger wake-up call than waking up on the toilet! Frankly … pun-incoming … it stinks!

Though it wasn’t big on dignity, this little stunt did change things for the better. My doctor rushed me off to a specialist and on Monday, I finally got an answer…

I have Idiopathic Hypersomnia.

Honestly, what a daft name! Idiopathic Hypersomnia is doctor-speak for: ‘sleeps a lot, but we don’t know why.’ It’s a bit like people in Harry Potter saying ‘he-who-must-not-be-named’. So far, saying my condition out loud has not resulted in a Death Eater attack… but I will keep you posted!

Anyway, to cut a long and boring definition short… Idiopathic Hypersomnia is a neurological disorder which usually starts in adolescence. Basically, the brain goes on strike and stops regulating alertness. Instead my brain functions like yours would if you’d just taken a very big sleeping pill. It means that I can’t drive without medication and drinking could leave me unconscious. (So, you can just imagine what happens if I drink AND drive!) It also means, unfortunately, that I am constantly tired. Not just tired as in “sleepy”. I mean tired as in the feeling your I-Phone has when its charger is broken and it’s running on 2% battery. If you want to know more, I’d recommend this fantastic Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiopathic_hypersomnia (At the moment, beautifully-written definitions are not my strong-point!)They’re in the process of prescribing me some very exciting drugs (partyyy!) and needless to say, my journey is just beginning.

Reader buddies, I’m not putting this in a blog-post just to have a whinge. (Honest!) Although, if anyone’s handing out free hugs… ME FIRST! I just want you to know that if you’re struggling – with disability, mental illness or just life in general – there IS a way forward! It turns out, I’ve been getting H1s in my sleep. (Literally!) If I can do it, you ABSOLUTELY can, too! Without sounding life-time movie-ish, you never know what wonderful things you’re capable of! Even if it’s something relatively small. Even if it’s just finding the motivation to try. (This, I’m learning, takes guts!)

It’s not always easy having a misbehaving noggin, but there are PLENTY of positives! I now have an excellent excuse to take a nanna-nap whenever I like. (Rowden White Library – here I come!) I’m entitled to loads of amazing support services at uni and, unlike a lot of students, I’m practically insomnia-proof!! (If anyone feels like a sleeping competition – count me in!)

One thing, above all, has left me deeply chuffed…

Idiopathic Hypersomnia is a proven cause of clumsiness.

After 20 long years, modern science can finally explain why I’m always bumping into things!

Until next time, my dear, lovely reader pals!

Aimee

 

 

 


An Apologetic Guide to Time-Management (Aimee)

Salutations to all my lovely (and I should say: shamefully abandoned!!) readers!

Now, you know the drill… I give you a friendly greeting, faff on about some recent event, conclude with the moral-of-the-day (a bit like Sesame St!) and everything is all lindt balls and roses – happy-happy joy-joy!

Except today, I’m making a change. *Gasp!!!*

As you probably know, I never give out study-tips. Mostly, because I can’t get through a blog about them without snoring. Also, I’m scared that if something I suggest fails, I will be accosted on South Lawn by a mob of angry uni students, waving their Macbook Pros at me in frustration. Please note: there is no one-size-fits-all for study strategies.

HOWEVER… It’s come to my attention that lots of people (and I used to be one of them) complain that they don’t have time to do what they love and are mutating into sleep-deprived caffeine addicts with cauliflower-cheese for brains. So, I’ve decided to give you a post about time-management… don’t hate me!!

First, let’s discuss the organisation commandments…

1.THOU SHALT REMEMBER TO PRIORITISE

When people say they don’t have time to do X, Y, Z, it’s usually waffle! (Unless you’re the parent of a 2 year old… in which case, I believe you!) ‘I don’t have time’ really translates to ‘It’s not one of my priorities’. A big part of organisation is choosing the things you want to focus on and focusing on them!

2.THOU SHALT NOT FORGET TO HAVE A KIT-KAT (A.K.A. A BREAK)

Yep, breaks are essential… and not just while studying! Any activity which requires physical/mental exertion should be followed by a break. A good idea is to create a break hierarchy. Then, reward yourself every time you’re super-productive with your favourite activity. (That said… please don’t turn breaking into astro-physics!)

3.THOU SHALT DISCOVER WHETHER THOU ART TIME-ORIENTED OR TASK-ORIENTED

Some people like to study in 30-minute chunks with a 5-minute break in between. This means they are time-oriented. (Hoorah!) Personally, I can’t work like this. I like to see a whole task through before I move on. Hence, I am task-oriented. I organise my study based on ‘amount of tasks completed’. Working out whether you are time-oriented or task-oriented will help you to organise yourself. (It will also help you decide whether to buy an expensive stop-watch!)

4.THOU SHALT HAVE A MENTAL HEALTH DAY (IF THOU LIKES)

This is a contentious one. I know that, without one day of doing absolutely nothing, I go bonkers. You, however, are not me. (Really!) If you would like one/several mental health days, you are absolutely entitled to them. If not, that’s fine, too.

And now we come to some actual strategies…

Remember, these work really well for me… but they might not for you. Chop and change at will!

1.USE A CALENDAR

On my window-sill I keep a desk-calendar where I record deadlines for assignments, people’s birthdays, library due-dates, etc. If you’re better at technology than I am (highly likely!) you may use your phone.

2.WRITE A TO-DO LIST

That’s right! To-do lists are where it’s at! Pick a day (preferably Saturday or Sunday) to write down everything you need to do in the next week. (If you’re unsure – consult your calendar!) This includes things like laundry, exercise and taking your hamster for a walk. Then plan when you’re going to do it. Try to distribute things evenly (a maximum of 8 tasks per day) and not over-commit yourself. (Climbing Everest and finishing an assignment on the same day might be overstepping the mark!) The trick here is to be specific – instead of writing ‘finish assignment’, break it into smaller steps, like ‘brainstorm,’ ‘plan,’ ‘write,’ ‘edit’. That way, you know how much grunt-work is required.

3.FOR EVERY DAY – A PRIORITIES BOX

Draw up a 2×2 grid like the one below. Now, start filling in the boxes with all the tasks you need to get done. All done?  Now you can get cracking on today’s list – starting with all the urgent and important tasks, followed by urgent and unimportant, and so on and so forth! Whichever ones you don’t get done can be put off until you have time.

Image result for priorities box important, urgent, unimportant, not urgent

Now, I can already hear the hysterical wails: “I barely have time for breathing! How am I supposed to make time for writing all these darned lists!?” Well, this is the wonderful thing about organisation: the more time you put in, the more time you gain.

And that’s the end of the post! I hope you’re still awake (somewhat) and have gained some valuable insights into the tricky business of time-management. Now, I am off to enjoy some well-deserved DVD bingeing…

Adios!

Aimee


In Sickness and in Health

What’s interesting about uni life, or even academic life starting from high school, is that those rush of deadlines come seemingly out of nowhere. For a few weeks, it seems almost like easy cruising, your expected to just go to lectures, take notes, go to tutorials and participate. However, in the course of 2-3 weeks after that, you’d realize you’re waist deep in a quicksand of assessments and feel that if you don’t kick yourself into overdrive, you’ll soon be going under. After the onslaught, everything grew calm once again, only to be shattered again towards the end of the semester.

In those moments of overdrive, you just can’t be sick. Unfortunately, fate likes to play games, and suddenly yours truly was piled in not only assignments, but also abdominal pain. Continue reading “In Sickness and in Health”


Semester Two (Raph)

Good morning my neglected blog-reader friends! I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve been enjoying the posts of my fellow writers, and the newcomers on First_year.

Last semester was a really busy time for me, I felt like I was trying really hard just to keep up from Week 3! This semester I plan to organise my time better and work more constantly to stay up-to-date, and have time to write for this blog without feeling like I should be doing a hundred other things instead.

In general, things are really good though: I’m doing pretty well in all my subjects and have so many different friends around Uni that I keep bumping into all the time – maybe that’s why I never have any time? – that I feel really connected to the campus and it’s never boring coming in for a couple of classes. The best thing about Uni is that you have groups of friends from so many different places – every subject, tutorials, clubs, events, parties ect. Even group project partners (if you’re exceedingly lucky like I was last semester) can become good friends. The hard part is managing to see them all and keep up the friendship, but that often happens by just being on campus during semester.

I’m slightly worried about an electrical engineering subject I’m doing this semester since I’ve only done introductory physics and the lecture schedule has words I haven’t heard of before like “Rectifier Circuits”, “Capacitors” and “Transient Analysis”. I went to the library and borrowed the 900-page textbook though, so I’m on the right track… I hope!

My major is Computing and Software Systems, so I’m also doing a software development subject, and I spent the winter learning how to make apps for iPhone which was really cool! It’s nice to be able to apply what I’ve learned at Uni to a more practical setting. I may still be a fair way off the final product, but I’m making a public transport app that’s good (the PTV app is pretty awful in my opinion) and I’ll let you know when you can download it from the App Store!

Best of luck for the semester ahead,

Raph


Doing A Okay!

Being back into the swings from mid-semester break, I faced a difficult time last week. I was being very hard on myself. I was putting so much pressure on myself, that I wanted to breakdown last Friday afternoon. I was screaming in frustration in my practice room when I couldn’t play a phrase that I had been learning since the start of the semester. I wanted to do get back on track, and to be able to do very well in order to get good grades to get into honors. I was in a total mess last week to be honest!

This week I have been much better. I have been kinder to myself. I had been taking learning in the best manner as I can – being calm, relaxed and taking big breaths if I couldn’t get things right. I have been listening to myself better than I have been before, and stopped practicing when my body and arms tell me, “Please no more.” I exercised, and kept myself fit this week more than twice a week. I swam 3km on Tuesday night, then swam again before work on Wednesday, which was another 1.5km swim!

Things are looking up I think. The best thing I can do is just be strong person, try to be positive as much as I can, and have as much support from my friends and family. Just taking my time to enjoy things just for a little while in the moment. Doing things that makes me feel better in terms of happiness and feeling positive about myself. I think having a clear mind by taking care of myself in both mental and physical health is a key thing as a tertiary student. I think that is important that one should have.

I had also been looking forward to more exciting things ahead. I am recently preparing for an accompanying gig that is going to be very exciting! I’ll be doing a rehearsal with one of the vocalists that I will be working with next week, and also be having a photoshoot next Saturday down near Bendigo! It’s going to be another busy period, but it will be very worth it, and a huge achievement that I will be accomplishing soon. I’m also involved in Access Connections, as a mentee, which is a mentoring program for Uni Melb students assisting with their aspiring career pathways. So far, it is going great! I had my first meeting with my mentor, and she’s really nice! I’ll be looking forward to our future meetings, and will be doing lots of exploring on music teaching!

So, yeah. Things are looking up for me, and I can never be more grateful for what’s more to come.

I hope everyone is well. 🙂

– Nicole


Vulnerability … and Other Dirty Words (Aimee)

Hello my esteemed blog-readers and fellow bloggites!

Have you had a nice week? If your week has been a horrible, terrible, no-good, belly-up catastrophe… please accept a virtual hug to make you feel better! If not… take the hug anyway! Or a handshake… I’m not sure what level of intimacy you’re comfortable with…

Moving on! This week, I’ll start you off with a question…

*Clears throat *

Q: Do you know what my favourite thing about Melbourne Uni is?

*Drum-roll!!!*

A: The support services.

(Be honest… who thought I was going to say the coffee?)

No seriously… one of the best things about Melbourne Uni is that… Oh dear, now this sounds like an advert! Excuse me, reader buddies, but I think the situation calls for a good old-fashioned disclaimer…

**DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Melbourne**

That’s better! Anyway… One of the best things about Melbourne Uni is that, whenever you’re in need, there’s always a support service somewhere on-campus to lend a hand. From Academic Skills to Careers Counselling, student-support has got you covered! (Admittedly, I’m still waiting for a ‘How to Find your Ideal Marriage Partner 101’ or the ‘Office Where we Tell you What to Do with your Life’, but oh well…)

One service is student counselling, where you can go and have a chat about… well, anything really! (Though, your bunions are probably out of the question!) Out of all my friends (get ready for the mathsy bit!) 80% have told me that they’ve tried student counselling and loved it. The counsellors are nothing short of wonderful and the appointments are always to-the-point. So, obviously, uni counsellors are on the money… or else, they pay lots of money in bribes!

HOWEVER… there is one word that stops students from seeking help and that is: vulnerability. (Dah, duh, dahhhhh!!!) Often, people would rather wait until they’ve got a serious problem before they talk to a counsellor… Or until they’ve flunked a subject before they get academic help… because asking for help is just too darn goosebumpy! To me, this sounds a bit like “I’ll wait until my arteries are nice and clogged before I get my blood-pressure checked” … still!

I know vulnerability is a timorous beasty, because I am one of those people who gets a little squeamish about the ‘V word’. I’ve never been great at baring my soul to people… except on the internet. (Funny that!) Often, my reflex is to close up and do an emergency subject change. A particularly embarrassing incident happened when a friend was telling me about their ultra-stressful week at uni. I wanted to tell them about my stressful week, too. Unfortunately, I panicked and did a complete 360. Mid-sentence, I fell into a bizarre rant about Australian bureaucracy. Though I made some valid points, the middle of a Dn’M isn’t really the best time to be talking about government systems… (I should say: I’m not usually this weird!)

Speaking from my utterly unqualified perspective, I think this share-o-phobia (hey, I invented a word!) comes from fear of rejection. In other words, we’re scared that, if they know the truth, other people won’t like us anymore. The funny bit is that the best friendships I’ve had began when I opened up and said something more meaningful than just, ‘Hey, I’m good thanks! How are you?’ The same goes for getting support at university. Though they’re brilliant, staff on campus have not yet got a Bachelor of Telepathic-Communication under their belts. (Appalling, I know!) They won’t know that you need help unless you TELL THEM! (Or maybe if you stand on top of the Chem building, naked and waving a red flag…hmmm)

Here then, is a shout-out to all those people who occasionally get a bit cringey about the ‘V word’! I know you’re scared. I realise that years of guarding your inner-selves with a bicycle lock and chains has made you, shall we say, a bit emotionally constipated.

For goodness sake, take a deep breath…… and SPEAK UP!

You’ll probably find that everyone is eager and waiting to listen.

Aimee


Third Year Update!

I’m a little bit late into the party, but hello once again, everybody! This is probably the first time that ‘Back for Seconds’ has invited third year blogger(s) into this blog community. So, I am very delighted to be back here writing in this blog site again! I will be writing occasionally in this blog site, as I have a very busy year ahead, but I’ll try my very best to keep you guys updated.

These past few months has been a bit crazy indeed. I started third year early by doing a summer intensive like what I did during second year. I had a career crisis on what I want to do after I finished my undergraduate studies. I had a lot going on. It was a bit overwhelming, but I managed to get through it by getting through my day as best as I can, with the support I received from my friends, family and even my career’s advisor from the con. During the hard times I had, I wasn’t feeling very well in terms of mental health. I started feeling sad, and was not like myself pretty much. I guess it was because I had a bit of issues with work, MSS committee, and a few other things from uni that was a bit stressful. It was hard to deal with. I felt like things were being thrown on top of myself. Don’t worry, things are a bit better now when issues from work, and a few other things from uni has been subsided. There are still a few little things hanging in the air, but I’m trying not to worry about it very much, as I have an essay due the week after. I’m trying to take control on what matters at the moment, rather than let other things drag myself down into a black hole.  The most important thing I find when things are thrown at myself is that, I just need to try and keep going, and take care of myself the best as I can. Doing something that makes me happy that is not reminding myself of my studies is one of the best cures.

I brought cheap croissants, and pastry down for my family and I to share on Elizabeth St near Collins St for $2 or $3 each! So go there after 4 or 5 pm, and you’ll get fresh, cheap, yummy deals! There’s also a great magazine, stationery, and gift store, and a little coffee place down on Elizabeth St too! It called magazine, (haha, I know, how ironic, but I love the vibe there). Best exploring I have done after my day of uni!

Anyways, I have really great news! Since MSS Mentoring Networking Program was going into its second year, and has gain great recognition from the MCM community, one of the staff from my faculty wants to make it even bigger and better! So, I had a meeting with the program officer from my faculty early in the semester, and are really interested in being involved in it. So, I’m very excited indeed. I guess I won’t be able to leave the con just yet! Haha!

My third year experience as a music student has been a bit interesting, in terms of finding myself on where I really do want to go. So, I hope you’re keen to find out on my third year journey too.

-Nicole


A Guide to Figuring Out the Rest of Your Life… (Aimee)

Image result for the rest of your life

Hello to you, my lovely reader pals! An official welcome to *trumpets and fanfare* Year 2!! (The second series; the sequel, as it were!)

Let’s plunge straight into today’s topic: life decisions!!

During Year 12, I had this whacky but rather wonderful Lit teacher. I remember, during SAC prep, a well-meaning boy with awful study habits came up to her and said, “Miss, can you give me some priorities?” I think he meant ‘study’ priorities. However, my teacher, in her usual eccentric way, replied: “Priorities… right! Pass your exams, go to uni, get a job, get married, have some kids and then you’re done!” This week, I’m hoping to give you some advice on the same subject. (Though, I’m not going to tell you what to do with your love-life… Frankly, my explaining powers don’t extend to the unexplainable!)

From what I can tell, life is like that Coles-Myer gift-card which you unexpectedly get for Christmas. It’s a pretty neat present. The problem is: it has a ridiculously short expiration period, when there are so many things you could spend it on! Quite often, you leave it in your wallet until the last minute, whereupon you ask yourself, “Well, what on Earth am I supposed to do with this!?”

Being a pre-crastinator (if there is such a word!!) I had my mid-life crisis twenty years early and was, for a while, downright confused about what to do with my existence. A lot of people kept mystically repeating, “Follow your passions!” (Makes you want to break out in song, doesn’t it?) I don’t know about you, but this advice never helped me one bit! What do you MEAN follow my passions!? I have lots of passions! One of them is organic low-fat cocoa and hazelnut butter! Should I therefore devote my life to it?!?

Instead, I did the whole life-decision thing more scientifically. I picked a career which sounded vaguely interesting – speech pathology. I did some work experience. Then, I did a summer course and got a job – as a carer/speech-worker with autistic kids. By Day 2, my nerves were being mightily tested! I had to take non-verbal clients to the bathroom, prevent road accidents AND deal with all sorts of bizarrely unthinkable complications on the way. On one exceptionally hot day, a client and I were sitting by a fountain. Next to us, a homeless man was happily swimming in his birthday-suit, having left his clothes on the footpath. Before I had time to react, up jumped my client! He grabbed the poor man’s shoes and, with great joie-de-vivre, chucked them in the water. This is one of those situations that doesn’t (but really should!) come with an instruction manual. (I’ll spare you the details of me bending over sideways to fish out the shoes…)

What I learnt from this experience (apart from that Nike runners are extremely buoyant!) is that you rarely begin your chosen career with a passion. After all, how can you be passionate about something you’ve never done before? At the end of the day, passion comes from the knowledge that you’ve accomplished something which other people couldn’t/wouldn’t dare to attempt.

Here then, is my nugget of advice for the week: DON’T just follow your passions. Try things. If you can’t try yourself, talk to someone who already has.

Bon chance!

Aimee

 

 

 


Switcheroo

Going into the second year is a significant step for any Uni student, with experiences varying for each of us. That being said, most probably won’t have as turbulent of a shift as mine. Switching courses proved to be a challenging ordeal, but I’m glad to say that I’ve actually transferred, as of the start of this semester, to the Bachelor of Science. Continue reading “Switcheroo”


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