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September 2008

Midsem exams

29 Sep

It’s been a very interesting couple of weeks for everyone. Welcome to our fellow bloggers who are now on exchange! It’s that time of year again where everyone’s been flying off and panic has risen over what to pack, and how to pack it within the luggage limit, and somehow forgetting everything and then remembering it again at the last minute. So, those are the lucky ones, but also the ones who haven’t stopped talking about [insert destination of choice] since it was known they’d be off. And now a silence descends on the ears of those left behind. But perhaps this silence is much needed, for we’ve been busy down here too with…mid-semester exams.


I’ve just come to the end of my second day of classes (and my second week in LA), but so much has already happened. I’m currently sitting in my dorm room at 2am surveying all the clothes sprayed across the floor and looking out the window at the handful of other illuminated rooms. I feel that indescribable sort of rush of being in a completely new place, of having countless people to meet -- of having a clean slate and starting afresh. Such a huge change from a fortnight ago, when I was eating Newtown Thai with a group of friends and frantically trying to sort out enrolment. So what’s happened since then?

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In the absence of anything particular that i'd like to critique (whinge about) this week, I thought that with this blog I'd go to the effort of outlining a couple of subjects that form the basis for several courses- it goes without saying that first year subjects of Mechanical Engineering and Molecular Biology would give a pretty good idea of what an education in these areas would entail. I know several people now, for example, who have taken Engineering to discover almost immediately (supposedly) how wrong it is for them- I'm hoping that the bits and pieces I'll throw out to you here can give you a better idea of what course is actually right for you. Then again, nothing beats the experience itself, so don't go taking my word for absolute truth ;)


After just over a month on exchange at UC Berkeley, everything sort of settles down into a routine. Sort of. There's certainly the daily neccesities, like dinner at CZ (the house where I live), which is a little like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, except with food. Or walking to uni every weekday, about a block away. Or the stupid annoying details like paying bank bills, mobile phone issues, running out of contact lens solution, etc. etc. Dealing with these things lets you know you are still alive. But, before my description of exchange life gets too dreary, I guess I should mention some of the things that let you know you are definitely not in Sydney anymore..


I am in a new relationship. It is new and exiting and he constantly impresses me. This freshness, however, does lead to some serious misunderstandings. There are moments when I find we just don’t know what we want from one another. My first thought was that perhaps he was a little stubborn and temperamental. That isn’t the problem though – it’s just that we come from completely different backgrounds and occasionally we fail to understand eachother.

But I’m committed to making it work, because this one is special. I can feel it in my fingertips. He is the one that can, and will, make my life complete.

His name is Mac and I love him!

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In the last few days, I've been almost lynched, I've been in and out of hospital, and the world has nearly ended. Not to, you know, catastrophise or anything. There was a giant arts festival and a student election and not all bad things.

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I arrived in Ottawa tired and dirty after some flight confusion whereby it basically ended up taking me three days and four time zones of travel to get from Denali National Park, Alaska to here! Unfortunately (or perhaps not, depending on whether you're a glass half-full or half-empty person), I had to delay the urge to sleep so I could get my grrrroooove on whilst meeting all the other exchange students, inhabitants of my residence, and, of course, going to classes!


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Let me just start by saying thanks to everyone that came, and I hope you found it worthwhile and useful. Most importantly I hope you enjoyed yourself. But for those who missed out, this Pick-A-Path will simulate the day and be almost as fun:


1 – Modes of arrival. Pick an option:
.....You decide to catch the train to central and hop on a free shuttle bus (GO TO SECTION 2)
.....You drive and park on or around campus, or walk from another bus stop (GO TO SECTION 3)
.....You walk from Redfern station (GO TO SECTION 4)

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These 2 weeks have been hectic; between classes and assignments I am going crazy. But anyway, I’m here to study (at least I think so). I haven’t been up to many things these past few weeks besides studying. I went to Boston last weekend to visit my girlfriend who goes to MIT. Boston is one of the most European cities in the US, and probably one of the oldest. The city is famous because of having more than 100 colleges and universities, including world leading universities like MIT and Harvard.

MIT Dome...

I was in Boston last year too so I didn’t get to take many pictures. However, a new experience for me was the driving.

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Uni seems different around this time of year. Although it was seen on a slightly smaller scale for the USU board elections, a general hustling and bustling is pervading the campus atmosphere. Most of the hustling comes from the sounds of flyers being carried around, and stapled diligently to notice boards and walls. Most of the bustling comes the hastened scratching of chalk on concrete, or that of electoral candidates and their thralls (edit: promoters), working hard to bring their message to the masses. That’s right; it’s the Presidential/Honi elections.


It is common, when listening to talk back radio or reading opinion articles in the newspaper, to hear about how bad young people are today. We are often criticised for being overstimulated, underdressed and ruled by a doctrine of individualism. Figures like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are taken to be representations of us all and therefore the positive things we have and can achieve are overlooked.

This is why it was refreshing to hear Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia, and Anne Robinson, Chair of World Vision Australia, speak on campus last week about the potential they see in our generation. Under the leadership of our generation society will not (as they say) go to hell in a hand basket, but will have its best chance yet of fighting the crippling effects of powerlessness and poverty.

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With all the facilities around campus at Cornell you would be easily forgiven for thinking you were on holiday at a five star resort instead of at one of the most prestigous and challenging universities in the country. The college is absolutely stunning during Summer and Autumn, with weather quite similar to Sydney, but apparently it makes New York City feel like a heatwave compared to how cold it gets in the Winter here.

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