Written by Joakim Book


Having two exams 18 hours apart is hardly optimal. As every uni student knows, the best exam schedule is about 5–6 days between your exams. That allows you to cool off for the rest of your day, get back into balance, and still have a reasonable amount of time to revise everything for the next exam.


Written by Perrin Walker

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Photo Credit: University of Sydney/Victoria Baldwin

No words can describe the rush of excitement I felt when I found out that the University of Sydney was hosting a talk by Dr. Bassem Youssef. Dubbed ‘the Egyptian Jon Stewart’ by fans, and listed as one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine, Bassem Youssef began his television career in 2011 with a YouTube show he recorded in his home laundry. Within two years, he had created the most viewed programme in the Arab world, ‘Al Bernameg’, which fearlessly satirised Egyptian media and politicians before its sudden cancellation in 2014.


Written by Jennifer Jamie Irawan

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Photo Credit: University of Sydney

Amidst the rain and mid-week blues, twenty of Australia’s brightest minds were spread across the city to light the spark of curiosity for Sydneysiders; part of a worldwide initiative to broaden the way we consume content. The pioneering efforts of Raising the Bar aims to demystify the space of the institution as being something far removed from the rest of the world.


Written by The Student Ambassadors of the Sydney Teaching Colloquium

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Want a break from studying during STUVAC?

Then why not register for this year’s Sydney Teaching Colloquium on Wednesday 4 November 2015 at the Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium. The event will run from 9.00am to 5.30pm and is FREE for University staff and students.

The Colloquium considers how we might meet the challenge of embedding cultural competence in teaching and curriculum.

This year’s theme is 'Cultural Competence is everyone’s business'.


Written by Subeta Vimalarajah

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Photo Credit: University of Sydney

As a student activist and Wom*n’s Officer of the Student Representative’s Council, I was reluctant about going to the latest Sydney Ideas talk ‘Women In Leadership’. Having read Sheryl Sandberg’s best-seller Lean In, I thought this event would carry a similar message – identifying the ways women can reform their behaviour in the fight for gender equality. I was expecting a shallow conversation targeted at appeasing the corporate big names in the audience and the University’s image.


Written by Sarah MacDonald

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to participate in the United States Studies Centre’s Inaugural G’Day USA program where I had the opportunity to spend some time in Washington DC and visit some famous monuments.

My favourite monument was the Lincoln memorial.  I distinctly remember reading off the wall of the monument, the famous final words of the Gettysburg address where Lincoln said:

“This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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There are some things you will never learn inside the classroom.

Firstly, when speaking your native language you never realise how language acts as a limit on self-expression. Not only can you express any feeling or thought you like, you can express each in multiple ways to suit context. Speaking a language you’re learning in-country however brings the power of language into sharp focus. Suddenly, you can’t freely express your thoughts or desires and have to moderate them to fit what you can and cannot say. It forces you to change your opinions, change your tone of voice and even some behaviours. In a way, you feel like a completely different person. A bit like a child, struggling to be understood. Nothing is as motivating as this. The desire to be free from the constraints of your language spurs you on to learn with more determination than ever. You just want free reign over your identity again.

Additionally, in the classroom you never really learn how to engage in conversation with a total stranger from a completely different culture to yourself. No amount of learning about culture or politics or religion can ever prepare you for talking to a real local fluent speaker. Your mannerisms are wrong, your turn of phrase is awkward and you can’t help but be acutely aware of it the whole time. You notice people have to pause to decode you, and it embarrasses you. You try to change your habits but decades of repetition is hard to shake. Slowly things start to change a little, and that feels great. You notice you’re no longer putting your hands on your hips or maybe using the correct pronouns, and despite it being a small change it feels like a big victory. Despite all the difficulties, in-country study is rewarding like nothing else.

Moreover, pronunciation seems like a pretty minor thing at first but in-country that changes. Specifically, you realise that a slight change in sound can entirely change the meaning. Any one word of a modern language with a large lexicon is likely to have several phonetically similar cousins, which you could easily pronounce instead. As such, imperfect pronunciation causes some hassles. For instance, “Kentang” (Potato) and “Kenyang” (full) can lead to you enthusiastically informing a family dinner that you are a potato. However, like most aspects of language it only gets better in-country, through constant exposure to Indonesian in an Indonesian accent.

These struggles are amplified by the expectations of your in-country peers. Working in groups of four, we had to conduct sectoral analyses on manufacture, retail, construction, shipbuilding and tourism in Batam. The other group members (who were from different faculties) rely on you (the Indonesian speaker) to become a cultural and linguistic bridge, in a country that you’ve only heard about in writing. Batam really does push you, to step out of your comfort zone and fill those expectations. It forces you to be creative, courageous and confident. Somehow, you have to find a way to apply the things you’ve learnt in class, with a group you hardly know, in a place that you wouldn’t have necessarily been aware of.

We would like to express our appreciation to the Australian government and SSEAC for providing this opportunity. We have been able to apply the theory that we have learnt in class in practice, which has further allowed us to be certain that we made the right decision to learn Indonesian at a tertiary level.

Written by Owen James and Carol Kim.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about uni but were too afraid to ask....