death by paper cut











{December 6, 2007}   the final sem

while others are generally anxious to get their results back, i have an added impetus for doing so; my emplacement depends on it.

therefore, i’ve been holding my breath for a while now. but with the final semester results just released, i can finally exhale with… relief? there was actually no cause for concern to begin with, but knowing for sure that everything is fine, i can finally move on.

which also makes this the very last post tagged with ‘uni’.

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{November 6, 2007}   it is done!

my long awaited final essay question to conclude my undergraduate studies hobby at the university of melbourne has finally been released…. and completed within 24 hours.

i felt that i was literally dragging my feet or fingers in this case to complete the essay. pounding pavement was kinda like pounding keyboard: i steadily passed each hundred word milestone like crossing road markers in a marathon. and in due time saw the finishing line. and crossed it.

the crowd goes wild, cheers and claps. but the chariots of fire theme song playing in my head mutes their applause and slow-mos the action according to the measured beat.

another sporting analogy: you know how a football player who scored a goal for his team yanks his sweaty jersey over his head, lifts his hands in the air and runs a mock like a headless chicken?

well, i’m not about to lift my shirt ala girls gone wild, but you get the picture.

now get that picture of your head.

the journey was great while it lasted, but i don’t think i am looking forward to generating another essay anytime soon. in fact, i’m so fatigued by rigorous academic discipline that i might want to drop the idea of pursuing a master programme entirely.

for now, it is done! and i’m savoring every moment of freedom henceforth.



{October 27, 2007}   SWOT for an Arts Student

swot vac or swot vacation is the week after the twelfth and final week of semester and before any exams start. i.e, swot vac starts now. no wonder uni kids were frolicking on the (south) lawn during the final week of semester in the lull before the storm.

i’ve never really come across the term swot till i came here. we just called it study week in ntu/nie. although i have been called a “swot” by a friend for being such a nerdy brainiac, which i then inferred swot vac to be nerdy-brainiac-week. wikipedia concurs with this definition as a “british slang for an inoffensive person who nevertheless offends his peers by giving too much attention to his schoolwork.”

wikipedia also defines swot analysis as a tool for assessing “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats involved in a project or in a business venture. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective.” even in the context of assessment preparation, this variation of swot seems apt.

all my assessment are essay based, no fixed date, no designated exam room, no memorizing involved. however, as i qualify to friends who are envious of my position, what i lack in exam papers, i make up for essays which i have to generate at the rate of no slower than a 2000 word paper every 1.5 teaching week.

on top of essay preparation, i have a very heavy reading commitment for all 4 subjects on a weekly basis. for an idea of how heavy is heavy; think 2 novels and 150 pages of course reader material every week.

click image for a closer look at the subject titles.

the upside of being an arts student however is that i only have 10 hours of weekly contact time, no project work and the mid-semester breaks to give me some slack. over the 4 semesters here, i’ve somehow managed to complete just that – a 2000 word essay every 1.5 teaching week – which essentially means that my semester break starts at the end of the 12 weeks of semester most of the time. (on the basis of 8 essays each semester hence 1.5 x 8 = 12)

each time this semester, i’m usually off to some holiday destination while my peers begin their exams. its not that arts students are professional slackers, its just that we’ve have paid our dues and have sweat, toiled and bleed in different ways. 16,000 polished words every semsester is quite a feat.

but for the case in this semester, i do have one more essay question that will only be released at the start of the exam week i.e. the following monday, as a take-home-exam with a one week deadline. so till then, i’m just waiting and feeling paranoid that there’s something else i’m forgetting to do between watching dvds, oh and cooking up a storm. more details in the next post.



{October 25, 2007}   book worm

i had often seen my master and dick employed in reading; and i had a great curiosity to talk to these books, as i thought they did; and so to learn how all things had a beginning: for that purpose i have taken up a book, and have talked to it, and then put my ears to it, when alone, in hopes it would answer me; and i have been very much concerned when i found it remained silent.

– Olaudah Equiano

equiano penned his survival story of the eighteenth century atlantic slave trade in a book i studied, and along with william wilberforce fought relentlessly for the abolition of the slave trade mostly ran by the british and americans. the movie amazing grace features equiano as one of the abolitionist.

in some ways equiano is not far from the truth in his description of this initial contact with the written text. books do speak and often (even more in fiction interestingly) contain the essence of the life experiences of the author and perhaps the crux of being human no matter what the culture, gender and century the author lived in. i do not subscribe to the postmodernist notion of the-death-of-the-author since nothing exist in a vacuum.

as such, i have a profound love of books and would rank it in my list of valued items to allocated space to where space is limited. in fact, 90% of the things that i’ve packed to be shipped back are reading materials; books, course readers, information pamphlets, files. yes, i’m bringing back all my course readers with me.

surprisingly, even after 2 years of overseas living, it doesn’t look like much after packing and requires a grand total of only 2 cartons. everything else not in those boxes can fit the 20kg baggage limit to be taken with me on the plane. i’m quite glad that i’m a light traveler that way; travel light, live light.



{October 22, 2007}   twilight zone

my borrowing record shows that i checked out a book, which i never did. i hope library admin will take my word for it.



et cetera