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August 2012

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The too-bright lights fill the stage with their resplendent glory. The audience hurries to switch their phone to vibrate and the first cast member boldly steps onstage. Everyone is waiting for the “revue to end all revues” to indeed end all revues. The audience is perplexed at how this end of revues business will logistically play out; will the show be so masterful that nobody shall dare put on another for fear of comparative inadequacy? Or is the arts revue just not doing another next year? Or, more worryingly, is the world going to end on December 21? These and many other questions plague the collective mind of the audience, yet they wait, in hopes of some form of entertainment in exchange for their $15.

I am of course describing the first few seconds of Arts Revue’s show for 2012, “Artsmageddon” that kicks off this year’s revue’s season. Last night was the much-anticipated opening night. It was an enjoyable culmination of months of rehearsing, scriptwriting and dance practice. This revue has at times made me feel a little lacking in comedic skill, mainly because this is the revue that brought you The Chaser and The Axis of Awesome. Yet I have loved being a cast member. Being a part of the most random group of people, who are brought together by the desire to make others laugh, has been a truly wonderful thing.

Come and see the remaining revues.

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Thesis.

The word alone is enough to send shivers down any student's spine, to churn stomachs, to cause an uncontrollable panic attack. But it's a whole different story when you're actually writing one.

Then, your thesis becomes like your child; your unique little creation that you so tenderly nurture from infancy to adulthood.

And like every parent, you only want what's best for your thesis, and hope that it will one day grow up into an impressive, knock-me-down-with-a-feather, first class (potentially publishable) thesis.

And that's when things can start to go wrong.

Suddenly, you're gripped by the fear of handing your baby over to some anonymous reviewer who is going to scrutinise, analyse, and criticise it.

You start to feel like a guilty parent. Maybe you haven’t put enough time into raising your thesis. Maybe you've missed out on the most important months. Maybe you should have done more. Or something else. Or just given up.

No.

Remember, you did what you thought was best at the time. And you can only do what you think is best now. And then, like a parent wishing their child well when they’re old enough to leave the nest, you will have to let your thesis go.

Trust that you’ll get there in the end. Some theses mature quickly. Others are late bloomers and won’t mature until they absolutely have to.

But one way or another, you’ll get there in the end.

And trust that you will have done a good enough job to allow your thesis to fend for itself once it’s out on its own in the big bad world.

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In the world of politics, Sydney wouldn’t seem to stand out among such cities as London, Cairo and my hometown of Washington, D.C. My friends and family were surprised when I revealed my decision to become an American exchange student at the University of Sydney, but just a few weeks into my time here, I'm confident that I made a wise choice.

As a political science major concentrating in public policy, I'm fascinated by the Australian political system. Issues that have all but been abandoned by the U.S. Congress, such as aboriginal rights and climate change, are front-and-center in the political discussion here. Studying subjects as diverse as Australian environmental history and comparative politics of ethnic conflict was an attractive factor, but what sealed the deal in my decision was obtaining an internship at GetUp!—a progressive political advocacy organization based in Sydney.

The opportunity to learn first-hand about many of the issues I study in the classroom was irresistible, and as I’ve learned back at my alma mater of George Washington University, it’s without a doubt the best opportunity to master the art of networking—developing professional relationships that will help me after my studies.

As I dive headfirst into what will ultimately be a six-month journey into Australian academic life, parties, politics and travel, I’m thrilled to have been provided this platform to share my experiences. Feel free to follow my personal blog, Dispatches from Down Under, and my Twitter account as well.

Cheers!

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Even if you don’t have strong feelings about faculty-specific issues at the moment, being a student rep on your faculty board is a great way to learn more about how the University operates.

First of all, it’s important to give the students in your Faculty the right to be heard in these meetings. This part of the role is generally as much as you make it. If you want to get a better sense of who you’re representing, you can encourage more student interaction by surveying students about issues being raised at Faculty Board. But you don’t always have to have a particular angle you’re pushing, or issues you’re looking out for – you’re still there for the purposes of “keeping them honest”. It’s still valuable to have a student voice at the meetings – in fact, it’s astounding how much difference it makes just to stick up your hand and remind them we’re here.

On a personal level, you get a better understanding of what’s going on at the University. Tertiary education is changing, and it’s really interesting to learn more about the competing interests involved. It also doesn’t hurt for the CV, either.

Nominations close on Monday 20 August. For more information, visit the elections website. To nominate, contact the administration office of your school or faculty.

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Howdy! I'm Andrew and I'm undertaking a PhD in Computer Science via the School of Information Technologies. For the past year, I've also been on my faculty board as a student representative. And I’d like to encourage you to take a role in this part of university life.

These roles give us a presence behind closed doors. One of the biggest issues during my time as a rep was the Student Services and Amenities Fee. I attended the faculty board meetings, heard how the different positions would affect coursework, research, undergrad and postgrad students, and voiced the concerns of those students.

And that's the biggest motivator as a student rep – being a voice! You can raise awareness of issues that have been brought to your attention by other students, and get them dealt with. Compare this with waiting 6 months, 12 months or even longer...

So nominate, participate, experience, and be that voice!

For more information, visit the elections website. To nominate, contact the administration office of your school or faculty.

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The HSC is rough enough as it is without the added worry about whether you’ll get into Uni afterwards. But now, thanks to the University of Sydney’s Early Offer Year 12 Scheme (or E12), you could get an early conditional offer to study at Sydney University before you even put pen to exam booklet in your first HSC exam.

That’s right. You could be sitting down to an intense two hours of English Paper 1, with the comfort of knowing that you already have a place specially reserved just for you at Sydney University. Not to mention the $5000 scholarship, Apple iPad, and ongoing mentoring and support that will come with it.

How cool is that?

All you have to do is meet the E12 ATAR cut offs for the course of your choice. And there are loads to choose from. Think, the Sciences, Education, Engineering, and even the Creative Arts. That’s right – it’s not all Maths and Science at University. Budding young artists are welcome too.

So, if you’re a current Year 12 student planning to enrol in Uni in Semester 1, 2013, and you’re either attending an E12 eligible school, or are a Centrelink benefit recipient, you can apply.

E12 applications are due by 5pm on the 6 September, 2012, and UAC applications by midnight on 28 September, 2012. The best way to find out more is to come along to the University of Sydney’s Open Day on Saturday 25 August, where you can chat with staff and course coordinators to your heart’s content.

Visit the E12 website.

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The start of semester two means lots of things for many people; for some, it’s getting out of bed for the first time in a month, for others it’s hurriedly organising textbooks and timetables, and for an unlucky few it’s just the next day after Winter School. For me, it marks the start of Revue Season. Revues have a longstanding tradition at this University. They’re stage shows compromising of a series of comedy sketches, songs, and videos that satirise topical issues, poke fun at campus life and find the hilarious in the mundane, all with a sprinkling of the absurd for good measure. They’ve been going since the 30’s with different faculties putting together their own shows and performing them in the Seymour Centre. This year, I’m lucky enough to be in the Arts Revue, which is titled “Artsmageddon.” The overarching apocalyptic theme is inspired by the oft-derided Mayan belief that the world will end on December 21 of 2012 and it humorously deals with this ‘issue’ and its many implications in witty ways.

So far I’ve endured the pain of the audition process and the first few awkward rehearsals where everyone is too self-conscious to speak for fear of being deemed unfunny straight off the bat. Initially, I thought that the producers would write the show, and that all I would have to do is somehow deliver their lines in a funny and ingenious way. The show however is completely self-devised. This is both exciting and terrifying! For weeks we each proposed ideas for songs and sketches and then worked in groups to flesh them out. We are currently at the stage of having selected our final sketches and are in the process of rehearsing and refining each. As the performance approaches and the ticket selling and fundraising steps up a notch, I am met with the wonderful mix of intense fear and excitement as to what is to come. If you want to come and see the Arts Revue, ticket information can be found here.

More more information about Revue Season, visit the USU website.

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