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Holiday

We've rounded up 5 of the best (and cheapest) things to do in Sydney this mid-semester break... after you've finished studying, of course.

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1. Free movies

If you’ve run out of movies to (legally) stream, this is a game-changer – the Library’s Kanopy gives you access to a seriously impressive catalogue of films, documentaries and TV shows to stream. Your Unikey unlocks the latest Hollywood blockbusters, classic favourites, Oscar nominees, critics’ picks and indie flicks.

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Info Day is a great opportunity to talk to someone before you finalise your course preferences. It's also a great opportunity to have fun. And who doesn't love fun?

The end of school is typically a time of traditions and rites of passages. When I think of my end of high school, I remember a blur of graduations, formals, muck-up days, exams, schoolies and seemingly endless holidays. All these are fun, but without a doubt the most exciting and important summer event on anyone’s calendar should be the University of Sydney Info Day.

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Thinking about a summer scholarship?

This time last year, I toyed with the decision of whether to pick up a second casual job or apply for a research scholarship through the Sydney Medical School for the majority of my summer. I chose the latter, and spent around 8 weeks working on the writing of a meta-analysis investigating the links between hormonal factors and the risk of developing oesophageal cancer.

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It’s not everyday you’re given the opportunity to present your findings in an international conference – especially as an undergrad student – but I’ve just returned from presenting at one in New Zealand about improving the experience of first-year uni students.

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Exams are over! Time to hit the beach and enjoy the great weather Sydney is having! Or, even better, to jet off to Italy!

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I’m back at uni for the beginning of another semester.

For the past week, I have to be honest, I was dreading it. The memories of study stress and exams have haunted me, but the holidays have worked their magic and I arrived today fresh and surprisingly happy.

Another thing about returning, throughout the day, I saw about a million people I knew. It was like a line of people waiting for me at the gates, just to smile and say hi, and give really good hugs. Even when it was people I don’t talk to and only see, I saw them smiling and walking past with friends. It just made me really happy.

When I think back to this time last year, of course it felt good coming back then too, but there was definitely more walking around alone. I’ve just met so many wonderful people recently, and I’m so glad that we’ve grown closer. Last year they were “these people I know from uni” and now they’re friends.

This has been really cheesy I know, but happy blog posts will hopefully pass on some of my immediate happiness. Talk to me in about five weeks and see how I’m doing. I might be a little more stressed, but I’m pretty sure this remnant joy will buffer it.

Oh yeah, and there’s that resuming learning thing about uni, of course… expanding knowledge, etc. I am very excited about that too. Really.

On the weekend, my mum, my pregnant sister and I did the beautiful walk from the Spit bridge to Manly in Sydney.
It was a perfect sunny yet breezy Sydney weather and the views were magnificent.
At one point, my mother said “hey girls! Look at these rocks! They look absolutely magnificent”

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I just got back from an amazing two week holiday where I travelled up to Darwin and around the Northern Territory, concentrating on Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park. Having two weeks spent swimming in gorges and under waterfalls amongst stunning scenery in 33 degrees weather in the middle of winter was beautiful!

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We went on a 5 day adventure tour that included some four wheel driving, bush walks, and sleeping in swags! I felt so Aussie! Haha. The bushwalking was stunning. One walk in particular cannot be forgotten: we climbed up a mountain to swim at the top of a waterfall (the best infinity pool ever!) and with cheese and biscuits in hand, witnessed an absolutely stunning bright red sunset.


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I just went out for dinner, and this super full feeling reminded me that I never wrote about my amazing meal extravaganza I had on mid semester break! My parents and I ventured to The Grampians National Park in Victoria. I’d never actually heard of it, but it’s a beautiful mountainous valley essentially that springs up in the middle of nowhere! There’s some amazing Aboriginal art there, that dates back 39 THOUSAND years and is so well preserved! Even though I major in Archaeology getting your head around those numbers doesn’t really happen!

We tried ‘bush tucker’ when we were there: emu, kangaroo, crocodile, yabbie, scallops and more. But the amazing meal was a 10 course one at a three hat restaurant! Hats are used to rate the top restaurants in Australia, with four being the highest achievement, so the food was fantastic! They were all obviously small courses (thankfully! otherwise ‘hello obesity!’), and were accompanied by matching wines. So so good! I really do think I was full for about four days though!

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So to attempt to kill jatlag, I spent a week in Japan on the way home. Amazingly, my brother had flown there as a surprise – the whole staff of the hotel were in on it and found the arrival very exciting!

The Japanese people are so wonderful! I’ve never heard the word Thank you (oragato gazymus! Totally not how you spell it, but going for phonetics here! :p) said repeatedly so many times! As soon as you ask a question or ask for something, they’ll run off to help you, and they have hilarious sense of humour! We were heading into a temple and had to take our shoes off, some people on the tour were hesitant and the guide just goes ‘Don’t worry, no-one will steal them – you’re Western feet are too big!!’

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Unlike many aspects of life, the cost of travelling is inversely proportionate to how many relatives one has. Five hundred relatives in Penrith will not even help you in New Zealand. Therefore, I must at this point recall the immortal words of Paris Hilton in her bestselling book ‘How to be an Heiress’ - “Rule Number One: be born into the right family”. Please note that I am not as rude as Paris and have no intention of simply parading my superior family ties. You see, the “right family” in travelers’ terms extends beyond all known extensions. The only condition is that somewhere down your ancestral line someone got jiggy and bore the child of someone deep down the ancestral line of someone living in another country. A’ight?

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Holiday time

11 Dec

If there’s one thing you learn while at uni, it’s that time flies. Semester and exams have flown by in a haze, and now it’s holiday time again. Much has happened since my final exam which was…*counts*…over 10 days ago! Which brings me to a second thing you learn as a uni student—you work hard, and you play harder. In the course of those 10 days, I’ve had 21sts, SUPA ball, working, volunteering, meetings, driving tests…basically anything that has been put on hold during semester time.

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For the second part of the mid-semester break, I met up with another “exchangee” and we headed to Poland. We visited Auschwitz which was amazing. It really seems the wrong word to use, but its power was intense. The girl who I visited the camps with (there are actually two), is Jewish, and her family were from Poland. Her grandparents had been taken away to a Serbian labour camp. Knowing that her family had experienced similar things to what were depicted in the camps, was really daunting.

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So the holidays are officially over, which means that I have to get myself organised. I have done a few things to get to this ideal stage of productivity. I have bought a five subject notebook from Kikki K - Swedish paper goods just seem much nicer than any other type. In my uni career I have used many different types of books for writing in - starting with, first year, the free ones from the Co-op bookshop (I'm not sure that this happens anymore), and then graduating to small Moleskine notebooks filled with black felt tip scrawl, which worked well because I could put them in any size bag and they looked so artsy I was delighted to go to class just so I could show them off. Anyway, I then moved on to multiple-subject notebooks with internal dividers - I have never used a ring-bind folder at uni, they are far too bulky and annoying and as an arts student I rarely get sheets anyway. One semester I did get a few sheets so I bought some simple display folders to store them in. And now I have one from Kikki K, and it is green, and its pristine white pages and classy index page make me happy with anticipation.

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don’t know if any of you guys have noticed, but it’s bloody freezing.
It’s so cold in Sydney right now that I’m keeping my freezer door open in the hope that it will heat up the house a little. I have to type this entry with my chattering teeth for fear of losing my fingers if I remove them from my pockets. I’ve lost my sense of smell, not because I have a head cold but because my nose has frozen off.

Ok, so maybe I’m catastrophising little, but I’ve just come back from Fiji, where it only gets nippy when there’s a Great White around. Thankfully it seems the sharks were on holidays too for the time I was there, so my two friends and I were able to enjoy our fun in the sun relatively uninterrupted. If you’ve just spent the last two weeks in Sydney, I’m sure you’d like to hear about a warm weather getaway on a student budget, so that maybe you won’t make the same mistake next winter break. So here is what I did.

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And as one semester ends, another one rolls along (rather quickly and unexpectedly if you are in mid-year break). A few days ago results were posted online - but not without added suspense. Supposedly they would be snail mailed to us on the 17th, and usuall they are released quite a few days before that online, but there was nothing, and we were very grumbly. Considering that we had all already chosen our subjects for next semester, it would be nice to know how we went in these ones, in case we failed or something. Then suddenly, they were locked, and we were unable to access them at all, which was a good sign, really, because at least something was happening. It's strange how you look forward to something even if there is a chance it could be bad news.

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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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Last week, while shopping on Bleeker Street in New Yorks City's West Village, I saw Natalie Portman. Not on a TV screen or an advertisement, but in real life. As you can imagine this was very exciting for me. I mean I can legitimately tell people that "I have shopped in the same store as Natalie Portman and her dog".

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Summer Days

19 Oct

An old Sydney Uni myth suggesting ‘if you haven’t started studying for exams before the quadrangle jacaranda’s first bloom, you’re going to fail,’ is not something I want to think about one week and three assignments from the end of classes.

Take a walk through the quad and you’ll notice the unmistakable spattering of lilac already dusted over the vibrant lawn. There’s no denying it. The flowers have arrived, early, and with them, the end of another year.

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s223001475_275815_8056.jpg Eager to get a break from their rigorous academic schedule, six intrepid twenty-something, sheltered Sydney students set out on a long weekend to discover the bush, themselves, and the local population….

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I have grown up with an over-protective ‘I’m-going-to-worry-about-the-fact-that-you-will-get-cold-wearing-that-shirt’ mother. One of the pearls of wisdom my mum would throw out my way was to drive safely. This was usually rebuffed with a sarcastic retort that went something along the lines of - ‘wasn’t planning on it but I’ll reconsider now’. Whilst I am not your mother, recent experience has given me a great urge to remind you all to drive carefully over the Easter holidays.

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One of the most important questions any good student must ask themselves once they return from an overseas trip is "how long can i milk the jetlag excuse?" . Personally, i think one and a half weeks is about as long as you will get before people stop giving you sympathy and making you tea.

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You may have thought "Summer School" was a term circulating only in bad family movies featuring an angsty and rebellions teen than gets the punishment of a lifetime spending the summer holidays with his head buried in a pile of books.

Well, that was the image it conjured up in my head, anyway. Turns out summer school does exist in the real world, however, and it's happening right here at Sydney Uni.

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The first thing that you need to know about being a student is the best part of university life comes but once a year. Summer Holidays. Nearly 3 months to do anything you want, only limited by your imagination and of course how broke you happen to be at the time. Usually during summer I can be found in a kitchen somewhere trying to counteract the aforementioned money problem. This year however (thanks to the usyd exchange program, my previous minimum wage slave labour and a generous scholarship) my summer is the best thing ever, not to exaggerate at all.

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There is nothing like backpacking through India to put a bit of perspective on life back in Sydney - especially when offers have just come out. Cold water showers, substituting holes in the ground for toilets and being accosted by beggars highlight the frugalness of the Indian lifestyle. It is even a little refreshing as I am forced to prioritise what are my needs as opposed to wants (not that I won't appreciate a nice hot stream of water on my back when I shower!) But enough of my rambling, I want to share with you an incredible story...

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If, by virtue of finance or sheer lack of organisational abilities (as is the case with me, you should see how I handle bank tellers), you have decided not to go away over your holidays, there are a great many movies, sitcoms, and so on that can entertain you at any time of the day. And, while at first I’m sure the holidays seems like a great excuse to go out, party, and do this and that, there is only so long before the days start to merge into one, big, apathetic blob. So, in order to stave off boredom, I have a list of cinematic and television greats (in my opinion).

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Sorry guys, this isn’t a blog about how I met a boy, cute as can be, over the summer. The title is just a response to a challenge I have received to making all my blog titles from songs (see if you can catch me out this year)...

This blog is about you!

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Live from New York....it's Lauren, the long-lost blogger!

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You know it is the festive season when you finally have something to talk about with those acquaintances where the conversation often dithers into a spiral of polite nods and awkward silences. You can pick any topic from the most useless xmas present to the effects of climate change on our Sydney summer.

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In high school, the summer break is only around 6 weeks so going overseas can sometimes take up that entire time.

At uni, however, we get a whole three and a half months, so the holiday possibilities are (almost) endless.......

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As I write this, I am staring out at the Californian mountains. It's a balmy 81 degrees outside (fahrenheit, kids, fahrenheit) with plenty of that good ol' fashioned West Coast sunshine.

I'm proud to admit - I love L.A.

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Its 12pm and fifteen people from three generations are linked in an energetic conga line as it snakes its way around, up and down, the house. Spontaneous laughter and cheers erupt into the air above them, and the joy is catching. Not your typical Thanksgiving, but hey, who wants to be typical!

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Top of the World

20 Oct

If you are one of the millions of clever people who worship Madonna as a God (mainly for her music, but also for raping African nations of their first-born sons)* you will know that in the Bible known as the Immaculate Collection, Psalm 1.01 reads:

Holidaaayyyy.....
Celebraaaaate....
If we took a holiday,
Took some time to celebrate
It would be,
It would be so nice!

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22 — It's like 21 but OLD.

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Myth: Animals are more scared of you than you are of them.

Fact: Our furry little friends the possums may be the exception to this rule.

I am someone who you would probably classify as ‘somewhat’ scared of animals big and small. I am not one of those girly girls who screeches at the sight of a cockroach. In fact, I can handle insects and creepy crawlies rather well. It’s the more unpredictable animals that make me cautious.

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I’ve always been astonished by those people who, after 23 hours of flying, seem to emerge cool, calm and collected from the arrivals gate. Needless to say, this has never been the case with me. When I stepped off the plane at Heathrow I was the dishevelled backpacker you see shuffling towards the tube station through groups of waving relatives and friends.

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As we enter the main plaza the enormity of the situation hits me. We are ten “gringos” (foreigners) taking part in one of the most important celebrations of the year. Thousands of Bolivians stare and cheer as our overwhelmed selves respond to the cries of “Viva Bolivia!” Their shouts compete with the sound of firecrackers as they ricochet off buildings, and the marching band that marks Independence Day.

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Home

14 Aug

I have just returned from an amazing two-week trip overseas. As a stowaway performer on a French/Italian Mediterranean cruise, I visited Nice, St Tropez, Capri, Sorrento, Amalfi, Pompeii and Roma. Before all that I managed to do a stop over in Bangkok and on the way back I had a stop-over in Amman (Jordan) to see family.

This left me thinking about the concept of home. What is home?

My honours thesis for sociology this year is all about the concept of home and feeling at home – the freedom to bring all parts of your identity together in a safe and validated way. Travelling really brings to the fore what it means to be “at home”. Surprisingly, the places where you are most at home are not always where you expected...

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Under the shadow of the giant statue of the Virgin mother I sat tranquilly looking out over the city. Suddenly a small card was pressed into my hand – a prayer. That and a swift kiss on the cheek and he was gone…

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I have just returned from a wonderful adventurous holiday touring in the Northern Territory where I learnt many new things.

I learnt that the forces of nature can break all the rules in the book……it rained in the desert in the dry season!

I learnt that many Australian young adults don’t like to explore their own country, but rather prefer going overseas. All the European backpackers were amazed that we hadn’t been to NT already. Never mind that it’s a 4 hour flight away!!

I learnt that it is possible to acquire a fantastic tan in winter without leaving the country, making people in Sydney remarkably jealous!

I learnt that I am a terrible didgeridoo player.

I also learnt that despite growing up and being educated in Australia, I am clueless when it comes to Aboriginal culture.

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Beer, water, hello, thankyou, I don’t understand, waiter!, the bill.

I've been in Beijing a week and I I think I’ve got all the essentials down....

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The smell of Easter holidays is tantalizingly close as it lingers in our nostrils. And whilst you will probably be stuffing your face with Easter eggs and hot cross buns, I’ll be stuffing my face with hard crisp like bread that makes you constipated!!

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Life is full of irony! For example, people who wear glasses are considered intelligent although if you think about it, they actually have a disorder with an organ of their body. The great Alanis Morisette ruminated on this topic, and in fact dedicated a whole song to this idea. And there is no better irony while at uni than having time during uni holidays to travel the world, but with hardly more than a pittance to do so. Enough with the kvetching (there’s my favourite Yiddish word popping up again!), I need your advice.

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