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June 2008

There are certain things that come with the status of being a student. Coffee, iPods, lectures, Facebook, clubs and societies, moving out, getting a job and yet still being poor, just to name a few. There’s also study and exams. And with study and exams, comes procrastination. Ever wondered how people just not procrastinate and actually manage to get things done? (these are a rare breed indeed at uni) Ever aspired to such a level? Well, I have, and now you can too.

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As a fledgling uni student, you quickly become accustomed to the plethora of costs and expenditures associated with this new phase in your life. Also, one is often faced with the situation where one’s parents, in all their infinite wisdom, have decided that it is time for you to extend your horizons, challenge yourself, and start paying for all your own stuff! Greaaaat, we say.

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I took this snap outside the White House when I visited Washington D.C. earlier this month. I have always had a secret desire to be like C.J. Cregg from the West Wing, so I am thinking of taking him on, becoming his press secretary and creating a Rags to Riches legend with which even Barack Obama could not contend.

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So, I finally got the magic letter.
The letter I’d been waiting and waiting for.
The letter *drum roll* was to say that I was officially going on exchange to the University of Ottawa, Canada, next semester!

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Given the recent weather of "mega precipitation", once again I have had to re-teach myself how to expertly manoeuvre myself around uni through the (seemingly) never ending barrage of rain. Picture this: my umbrella was rapidly buckling under the weight of the constant rain and the high winds, so in spite of having an umbrella I'm sure I ended up more wet that I would have without one. Also, my shoes were canvas AND had holes in them - which has taught me that canvas shoes, although trendy as, are not the best kind of shoe to wear in wet weather.

Everyone will have to combat rain at uni at one point or another. Whether it's a freak storm, seven days of non-stop rain or just a sun-shower, here are some handy tips to survive uni in the rain!

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AS we dance our merry way into that delightfully disturbing period described as the ‘End of Semester Examinations’, I’d like to devote this delicious diatribe to something, anything that doesn’t involved diastereomerism.

Try as I might, however, the method for turning ethanoic acids into acetic anhydride, the formation of polysaccharides, not to mention the redox reactions of some strangely obscure functional group, all seem to keep coming back to haunt me as I try to sleep at night. ‘OoOoOoO JOHN. We’re the friendly yet somehow threatening nylon (pentamethylene diamine and sebacic acid derivative) Sheep of the Great Chemistry Apocalypse…

Which leads me, as you undoubtedly expected, to the experience of studying Science at Sydney Uni.

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Herein are my tips on coffee around campus. If the availability of good coffee and snack-holes near campus is important to you, Sydney Uni is the place to go. Quick Disclaimer: only one of these places are actually on campus. There are other places, like the USU-run coffee carts, but they aren’t renowned for their culinary standards. They are more about getting snack-food for studying, like Pods. Pods ....

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Apologies firstly for the low word count of this blog. I have exams coming up, the stress of which renders me incapable of pretty much everything - including studying for exams.
Secondly, it has recently come to my attention that an alarming number of people aren't releasing the full potential of their calculators. I have a trick, taught to me at the tender and impressionable age of 7, that will make you and your CASIO the talk of the town.

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Given the previous blog you would probably be surprised that I actually have time to write blogs at all. I am surprised I have time to write blogs. In fact, I should be in a pre-exam fit right now, but procrastination is a calming ailment. So here it is, the second-half of my long, long days on campus

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In my favourite episode of Sex and the City Carrie Bradshaw decides that dating MANhattan can be just as enjoyable and romantic as dating an actual man. She spends the day by visiting the Guggenheim, or attempting to at least, and then seeing a movie at the Paris cinema. I have developed a serious crush on New York City of late and it seemed appropriate that on the opening weekend of the Sex and the City Movie I follow in my idol's footsteps. Let me give you the lowdown on my perfect Sunday in the city...

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At this time of the year, the going gets tough. Lots of study to do, lots of essays, lots of research. It’s also the time of semester where you receive results from your earlier endeavours, which will bring you to the horrible realisation that: the semester will be over very soon, and you haven’t learned anything.

However, this is no cause for stress. Grab a textbook, hit the library or any of those great online databases (JSTOR is really popular among the English nerds), get under the covers and construct a cubby house from books, your laptop, a teapot, biscuits and a torch. You can learn anything you need to if you’ve got a couple of free days.

What really sucks about this period of uni is that you start to miss your peeps, compadres, komrads, chums, dawgs, bras, hombres, war-buddies and what have you. To paraphrase David Byrne: “You may ask yourself / where are my beautiful friends?

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When seeking sage counsel from elders who are already firmly ensconced in university life you will often encounter such nuggets of wisdom ranging from the indifferent, like ‘at Uni, you can pretty much do whatever…’ to the saccharine, like ‘the world is your oyster’! However you anticipate what the university experience will be like, until you are right in the thick of it everything will seem really vague. To clear things up, I will tell you straight off that the university world is not your oyster. Rather, it is your octopus. I use the word ‘octopus’ metaphorically, to convey to you the idea the experience is multi-tentacled and each aspect of university life will probe slimily into your heart as much as an octopus would, should it ever have the chance. It’s true, in the lead up to university and in your first weeks of it you will absolutely bombarded with information about degree and course structure but this kind of information can never encapsulate the myriad of ways a new student can participate and invest in his or her university experience.

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My parents recently left to Europe on holidays for six weeks. Normally, this would mean that I would be stuck with some hired help, who would cook dinner, drive me places and help keep the house clean. It sounds like a sweet deal, but the hired help was also very often a lonely, middle-aged odd-job who believed in numerology and who would trust that your parents sometimes let you have ice cream for dinner but not accept that they would let you have more than two beers on a Saturday night. This meant of course, tax or no tax, that teenage binge drinking until the old bat was bearable became impossible. As a result, I was forced to suffer through long nights of being told that my birth-number would bring great power, coupled with great sacrifice, and listen to her fascinating stories about the time she recued her neighbour’s cat using her favourite Indian cookbook and a curling iron, or that time she thought she saw Gordon Ramsay, and it turned out to be the postman, but she fainted anyway. I do miss her breakfasts though.

Anyway, this time I am home alone. I must cook, drive, feed the dog and maintain the household. Thankfully our faithful and highly-esteemed Argentinean cleaning lady is helping me do the washing and ironing. For the most part, however, this experience is a new one for me, and with uni exams coming up, I hope it won’t be too stressful. Let me reveal to you how it’s been going so far…

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After seven semesters, 90 weeks and 720 (scheduled) classes, I have only ten more hours as a student at the University of Sydney. I am waiting for the usual end of semester relief to kick in. It hasn’t. I am not coming back and nostalgia has taken the reigns.

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