My two cents for my two semesters

I’ve covered some events and stories at La Trobe University Bundoora, around Melbourne, and featured some articles of what it’s like to be an overseas student in Australia. But for my last piece, I want to write about me.

I interviewed a former Bhutanese refugee who’s now running for public office in Moreland, and apart from the issues he aims to address in the city, he spoke about what it means to be a migrant here in Australia. He points out that despite the multiculturalism and diversity in Australia, communities in suburbs do not come together in joint celebration. Adding that integrating people of different ethnic origins is a struggle that still needs work in the country.

It made me think about disposition as a possible migrant and what challenges I’ll be facing.

My two semesters in La Trobe have been a constant adjustment. Not always pleasant but indeed necessary. I’ve mentioned on a previous post of what it’s like to be an overseas student in Australia, and it for the most part it was negative. Having to adjust to the language, lack of context with the social environment, and no family. Well, after two tough semesters I’ve learned a couple of things that changed me for the better.

Hopefully this can help other overseas students.

Be bold.

Don’t linger around. Do it. When you want something, go ask for it (politely). When you think you are mistreated, speak up. When you’re seeking help from your lecturers, don’t be tentative, be definite.

Your confidence and courage will scare people who are timid, and you may sometimes appear arrogant. But do not falter, your personality will attract success and it will grant you opportunities.

Be assertive.

It’s your obligation to make them know you. When you’re in a place where nobody knows who you are, and nobody will really bother to, you have to find ways for them to think twice. Remember, you chose to be here, and you have to accept that you might have to exert more effort in gaining certain things than the locals. Therefore, you have to dance along with music.

Do volunteer work, join a club, attend events, and meet some people. If you want to change you have to experience discomfort.

Be composed.

Always remain calm whether you’re ecstatic or distressed. Don’t make impulsive decisions when you are happy, because the danger is that when your expectations are not met, the recovery is almost impossible. When you are lonely, breathe. Remember you are just in school, and you are allowed to make mistakes.

In the end, it’s all about how much you want something and what you’re willing to pay for it.

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I guess somehow some migrants feel like these animals. They are there and they are a part of society, but somehow they still don’t belong. If you feel alone out there, please know that you aren’t.

By Haj Songcuya

 

Your Next Read: The Girl on the Train

 

Are you looking for something to read over the break? Maybe something gut-churning, nail-biting and mind boggling? Look no further than The Girl on the Train, written by Paula Hawkins.

The premise seems simple enough; the unreliable, alcoholic protagonist Rachel takes the train to work every day and watches a perfect couple in their house outside her window as she travels past. As she does, she wonders about and envies their seemingly perfect marriage. Then one day on her way to work, Rachel sees something happening in that house that completely turns her world upside down. Later that day, she believes she is somehow involved in a murder and because of her alcoholic blackouts, she doesn’t remember how.

As she untangles her blurred past and complex connection to the ‘perfect couple’, secrets and lies are exposed. Along for the ride are Emma and Megan, two more first person narratives to add layers to the plot. The explanation may seem blasé but believe me, revealing some things about the narrative only spoils the enjoyment of you finding out yourself.

Hawkins perfectly fleshes out the three main female protagonists and readers become legitimately invested, even though you may pre-empt their fates. The non-linear narrative is confusing at first (the novel taking place between 2012 to 2013) but it doesn’t stop you in your tracks.

girlontrain(http://cinemawars.com/movie/the-girl-on-the-train/)

Repeatedly dubbed the next Gone Girl, the novel is not for the faint hearted and should not be read just before bedtime. Despite making you second guess catching public transport ever again, The Girl on the Train is as addictive as Rachel’s obsession with the murder. Once you start reading, you are afraid to put it down.

If the novel doesn’t feed your hunger for psychological thrillers, check out the novel’s newly released film adaption, with actress Emily Blunt portraying Rachel.

I hope everyone has a relaxing break and best wishes for the upcoming exams!

Oh Captain My Captain

Jordan Kallady is the captain that any Southern University Games (SUGS) basketball team would kill for. He’s not just driven on the court – off the court he’s hard working as well.

Jordan is studying a Bachelor of Health Science and a Masters in Health Education Management. Jordan is in his fifth and final year. He will be graduating at the end of the year.

“Majority of my education has gone towards project management, as there are new advancements in the field through computer systems. On top of that, sorting out legal requirements around medical records, more funding for a hospital, clinical coding and program development.”

Even though Jordan is finishing his degree at the end of the year. It’s never too late to change your mind about what you want to do in life.

“I couldn’t imagine myself sitting behind a desk in the next 40 years. That is why I’m changing to Para-med next year, after I graduate.”

Jordan would be described as a very active person, who has ingrained leadership qualities. These strengths were utilised in this years SUGS when he was captain of the basketball team. “Captain Softie” the boys called him.

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“I’ve been on 4 SUGS so far and the 2016 SUGS was definitely the best by far. Everyone was close on SUGS and became even closer after.”

A message from Jordan to the 2016 Basketball team this year:

“I enjoyed being your captain so much because everyone on the team was a good person, as well as a great basketball player.”

Jordan may be playing again next year either on La Trobe’s team as captain again or maybe on another? I guess you’ll have to wait and see.

By Brianne Keogh

Adventures of an Introvert: Swan Hill Province

My search for silence and serenity takes me 339 kilometres away from the heart of Melbourne. Swan Hill is situated along the border of New South Wales and Melbourne, on the stretch of the Murray River which is Australia’s longest river. The river spans across three states; Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. It takes approximately four hours of travel time on the train from Southern Cross station, and regular one way tickets cost about $40. It features landscapes and sceneries which remain unspoiled by urban infrastructure and commercialized tourist destinations.

There’s nothing better than spending some time away from the city and seeing Australia from a different light. I’ve seen Australia with a necktie, scrambling to find its Myki card while running late and trying to catch the 7am train to work. But now I see it holding a cup of coffee with some toast while watching strangers fishing on the river banks.

During this one week break I was fortunate to visit several attractions in Swan Hill such as the riverside park. It’s the perfect destination for a picnic on a sunny day, where you can take great photos, go for a jog, take your pet for a walk, feed the ducks, or take children on the playground. The Pioneer Settlement is a museum that features the lives of the early settlers in the region. The leisure centre is a sports complex which offers a variety of fitness programs as well as one on one training.

Here’s how I spent my week-long break:

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That’s what I love about isolation – even ordinary things stand out

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If only life came with train tracks that tell you where to go or when to stop

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“Gem” – boat restaurant in Pioneer Settlement

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Swan Hill leisure centre

References:

*ALL IMAGES PHOTOGRAPHED BY HAJ SONGCUYA*

By Haj Songcuya

 

21st century Journalism – Where do we go from here?

The manifestation of free speech has drastically changed over the last few years. The power over information which was solely in the hands of established media giants, is now divided amongst every individual who owns a smartphone.

However, this shift of power does not come without danger and consequence. The age of information has tilted power in favour of the consumer, which now threatens the existence of contemporary media.

The time where journalists functioned as the voice of the people has passed, and now people have the means to be heard.

Today, everyone has a voice.

Today, everyone can be a journalist.

That’s the dilemma of the modern journalist. How can I distinguish myself?

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Four panelists

The Game Changer. A recent event hosted by La Trobe’s upstart magazine that took place at The State Library of Victoria. Four panellists discussed social media, politics, and 21st century journalism, which was then followed by Q&A and drinks.

The talk was moderated by Erdem Koc, lecturer, Department of Communications and Media, and executive editor for upstart magazine.

With guest speakers Tom Cowie, La Trobe alumnus and crime reporter for The Age; Mark Di Stefano, political editor of BuzzFeed Australia; Jess Gregory, Policy and Communications Officer for the Victorian peak body for family violence services, and former journalist.

 

Some key issues that were covered:

The gap between what’s important and what’s interesting

In an attempt to maintain continuous readership, news organisations are now inclined to cover stories that attract their target audience instead of what they deem to be newsworthy.

Ask yourself

No one wants to read it, so even if it’s important do we still have to tell the story?

There’s a mounting pressure for media outlets to keep track of social media trends, and to retain strong social media presence. It seems that the pressure is so great that some have resorted to clickbait with hyperbolic headlines and false claims.

Journalists need to find a way to be relevant in a ‘sea of mediocrity’

Today our professional value is often judged by the new things that we have to offer. As journalists we therefore have to find the stories that are not being told, or tell the stories in ways that have never been told before. You have to have the initiative to immerse yourself in the industry and at the same time, find ways of presenting your content in ways that allow it to stand out without being obscured by other relevant content.

Ask yourself

What do I know that other people can’t talk about, but me?

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From left to right: Erdem Koc, Tom Cowie, Jess Gregory, and Mark Di Stefano

By Haj Songcuya

One of life’s choices and a sneaky tequila worm

Vasilios is a first year at La Trobe studying a Bachelor of Science Degree. Like every other University student though, he’s indecisive. He does not know if the degree he is doing is the right one for him. Many students face this problem towards midyear. Some drop out – others defer. Vas on the other hand is in the midst of changing his degree altogether.

Vas found, “science wasn’t for me, as much as it is interesting – I couldn’t see myself having a career in it in the future.”

Why be stuck in a degree that would give you future dissatisfaction?

He’s been researching what degree to change into and has settled on a Bachelor of Phycology. “It encompasses the science factor and also the human body. That is what I find fascinating. I also want to make a difference in society and I feel psychology can do that.” Vas is also interested in how people think, and what stimulates a person’s motive. “In psychology I believe I can research this.” Vas is one of those lucky people that change their mind about their degree. Some people after 5 years still don’t know what they want to do

He was also on Southern University Games (SUG) for LTU, playing basketball. Vas on SUG’s was known for offering everyone on the basketball team tequila worms on the first night. Some may think tequila worms are gummy worms soaked in tequila however, you are totally wrong. These are real dead worms soaked in tequila. Some teammates were in utter horror. Vas with a smile wouldn’t let them back out of it. Vas on SUGS nickname was Lazarus because he rose from the dead and played basketball after a massive night out.

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Overall Vas is one of those guys you can easily get along with around LTU. If you ever feel like changing degrees go to him for advice because he’s been through it all.

By Brianne Keogh

FUR, FARMERS AND FACTORIES

Fashion’s grey area

 

It appears that once again, the trend for fur coats and crocodile-skin handbags in back – and unfortunately, the way in which they are obtained is still a grey area in the fashion industry.

 

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Photo: Static

 

The fashion world has long been in limbo in regards to the production of animal-skin items, with the issue going in and out of focus for many years. Activists petition it, fashion designers tip-toe around it and the rest of the world fumbles about, buying the coats or supporting the petitions (sometimes even both), not really knowing what to do.

 

National Geographic recently featured an article showcasing what happens behind the scenes of a fur coat: capturing animals, confining them in cages – before killing them and manufacturing their skin for fashion. But more needs to be done for the industry, with tighter laws and humane guidelines sitting at the top of the list.

 

 

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Photo: Peta 

So where to now? Is it a question of personal morals, national legislation or does more need to be done by those at the forefront of the fashion community? The United Kingdom, Croatia and Austria have already implemented bans on fur farming, and the Netherlands are working to follow.

 

However, this still leaves the issue of fur and animal skin items being purchased and worn across the globe.

 

The standards of national guidelines have improved dramatically since fur first came in to fashion, and many would argue it is no different to the farming of animals for food – making the debate a particular tricky one. Perhaps it needs to come down to this then: the standards, the humanity and the care that is taken leading up to production.

 

Humans have always, and will always use animals for both food and fashion, but if we can change the attitudes of those in the business – and those who buy – to incorporate animal welfare, then it’s a start.

 

By Alanah Frost 

Echo 360 and Class Attendance

Throughout your time at La Trobe, you will undoubtedly hear many times “the lecture will be on the LMS”. This is usually quickly followed by “but it’s much better to be in class”. As the semester goes on, the numbers in most lectures gradually drops. Sometimes it only falls to 80%. Sometimes to less than 50%.

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But what does this mean? Through the semester, are an increasing number of people discovering the joys of listening to a lecture online? Possibly more likely, people decide not to attend class with the thought that they can just listen to it whenever they want. It’s easy to put off making the commute to La Trobe with the rationale that you can do the learning anytime you want.

The issue is that for most people, the lecture gets ignored indefinitely. Just listening online is so simple that the weight of what it actually entails is lost. Having it so readily available and accessible means that it doesn’t seem like a vital educational tool. At best, it seems like a chore. At worst, it seems unnecessary or redundant. A friend of mine, Nop Songsangkhan asked me “What’s the point of going all the way to La Trobe when I can listen to it at home? At least there I can be comfortable and do whatever I want.”

Perhaps this is the reason that lecturers and tutors are always saying it is better to be in the lecture theatre. This ‘comfort’ and ability to be in a personal environment where one can do whatever they want is, potentially, a poor way to learn. It diminishes the importance of learning and provides ample distraction.

Of course, for many people, Echo 360 is a godsend. It gives busy people the chance to catch up on something they’ve missed, and an easy way to revise for assignments and exams. It’s a great tool, it’s just a question of how it is used. Many class quizzes I have taken in tutorials are now based upon the lectures, trying to keep students honest. However, if people fail or do poorly on said quizzes because they haven’t attended the lecture is anything really gained or lost? The people that attended the lectures will do well, the people that didn’t listen to them will not. It’s almost the same as just taking attendance.

Echo 360 is a great tool and helpful to many people, but nothing can compare to actually being in the room.

 

By James Wallace

Sausage Party Sizzles Up the Scree

(Spoiler free review)

4/5

Seth Rogen’s new animated comedy cooks up a storm and leaves audiences hungry for more.

 

CAUTION: If you want to see the funniest film of the year, enter at your own risk.

 

The premise is simple; we all know what happens to food when we take them to the ‘great beyond’ (outside the supermarket), they get eaten. The food however, is unaware of their fate.

 

The anthropomorphic Frank the sausage/hot dog (Rogen) discovers the ‘horrible truth’ and decides his mission is to tell the non-believers. Whose Frank’s love interest? Fittingly, a hot dog bun named Brenda (Kristen Wiig).

 

Don’t be fooled by the Disney-esque characters and child-friendly animation – it’s explicit content is definitely not suitable for children. Like a food allergy, keep them far away from this movie. The adults? They will digest and love every second of it.

Sausage Party uniquely positions the audience in an unreal predicament – you side with the food and are disgusted with the humans. We are the enemy and are portrayed as hunger-driven monsters, or in the beginning, their ‘Gods’. An element of horror is applied – its strangely gruesome watching the adorable characters being peeled, sliced and diced. In reality it’s just the process of cooking dinner.

 

The animation is populated with a buffet of well-rounded characters that play on racial stereotypes, (Latinos as tacos, Americans as donuts), the film unexpectedly leads to appropriate modern social commentary on relationships between countries and people.

 

Rogen’s usual risqué comedic flavour is kept intact. Actually, the film hilariously pushes boundaries so far it goes off the cliff. That’s something, even for a Rogen film (Knocked Up and The Interview). The climax of the film, is, well, let’s just say you won’t eat for a week.

 

The usual classmates of Rogen comedies are present – Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera and Bill Hader light up the screen like a Coke and Mentos explosion.

 

In an industry that has a superhero film on the shelves every couple of months and remake/reboots galore (not-saying-there’s-a-problem-with-that), Sausage Party is an original and welcomed addition on the movie (super)market.

 

Make sure Sausage Party is on your grocery shopping list and tick it off. Don’t resist the temptation.

 

By Hayley Anderson

 

Sausage Party trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVAcTZKTgmc

Introventures: St. Kilda Beach

A true introvert knows that there’s nothing better than peace and quiet, all the more in the arms of mother nature. My first destination is St. Kilda beach.

Situated on the southern part of Melbourne, the city was named after the yacht Lady of St. Kilda by Lieutenant Charles La Trobe. It is known for St. Kilda beach which sits on the stretch of Port Phillip Bay near Luna Park.

What’s there to do?

There’s so many ways to unwind and relax at the beachfront whether you’re alone or with friends and family. If you’re feeling energetic you can ride a bike, go for a jog or a quick swim. However if you just want to relax, you can opt to take a stroll, grab a quick bite, have a chat over coffee, or go on a picnic. Whatever you decide to do, you won’t be spared from the beauty of the scenery.

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(The contrast between the cool sand and the warmth of the sun made it the perfect day to go for a jog or lie on the shore)

There are café’s and restaurants on the seaside. I personally enjoyed fish and chips.

Why should I do it?

Because every now and then we need to cast our worries aside and ease our minds. Instead of spending your paycheck on a few drinks here and there, save yourself the extra dollars and go for a walk, or read a book instead. We spend most of our time indoors; it’s good to have some extra sunlight.

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(The vastness of the water is humbling)

How do I get there?

From the city in Southern Cross train station, you can take Tram 96 which passes directly infront of St. Kilda beach at stop 136 ‘The Esplanade’.

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(The tram goes all the way from St. Kilda to Brunswick road)

It’s amazing how something can be seen in so many different ways. Melbourne, a city buzzing with activity and life, and yet from here, the place we’ve all come to know and love looks like nothing more than a thin shadow stretching across the horizon.

All it takes is a matter of perspective.

Our fears and worries are not what they seem once we take a few steps back and realize that the world is a much bigger place. In the haste of life, don’t forget to breathe.

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(A view of the bay overlooking Melbourne)

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(Don’t forget to take your pets with you and head to the boardwalk)

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The footprints on the shore remind me of the countless people that have been here from all walks of life. Strangers, widows, children, fathers, daughters… but isn’t that our destiny? That one day all the things we’ve ever done will be turned into footprints. I wonder what footprints I’ll leave behind.

*ALL PHOTOS TAKEN BY HAJ SONGCUYA*

References:

By Haj Songcuya