DEBATE Issue 9 | August 2018 | The Human Brain
autsa is your voice at AUT Our services to you include: • Student representation • Advocacy and legal information • Support with student employment • Opportunities to engage through Debate Magazine, volunteering, clubs, recreation and social activities.
You’ll find AUTSA sites at all of AUT’s campuses, so come see us sometime. We’re here to help you make the most out of your experience at AUT!
For more info, check out www.autsa.org.nz
Why do we Procrastinate? :: Page 8
What Drugs do to Our Brain Page 10
AUT's Counselling Services Page 12
Boys Don't Cry: Vox Pops Page 22
Boost Your Brain Recipe Page 32
C OV E R I L L U S T R AT I O N BY H O P E M C C O N N E L L
EDITOR Julie Cleaver firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGNER Ramina Rai email@example.com ADVERTISING Jesse Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTRIBUTORS David Evans Bailey, Gabbie Tutheridge, Helen Shelvey, Jennifer Daruwalla, “Louie”, Majdi Khamis, Marisa Aoys, Melissa Koh, Mya Cole, Nadine Tupp, Samuel Yao
PRINTER Nicholson Print Solutions DISCLAIMER
Material contained in this publication does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of AUTSA, its advertisers, contributors, Nicholson Print Solutions or its subsidiaries.
Debate is a member of the Aotearoa Student Press Association (ASPA).
This publication is entitled to the full protection given by the Copyright Act 1994 (“the Act”) to the holders of the copyright, being AUT STUDENT ASSOCIATION (“AUTSA”). Reproduction, storage or display of any part of this publication by any process, electronic or otherwise (except for the educational purposes specified in the Act) without express permission is a break of the copyright of the publisher and will be prosecuted accordingly. Inquiries seeking permission to reproduce should be addressed to AUTSA.
Sub-Editor’s Letter Kia ora, and welcome to Issue 9! I’m not the best at introductions, but hi. I’m Jennifer. I’m in my second year of studying a Bachelor of Communication Studies, and I enjoy making music in my spare time. That’s usually what people say, right? I never thought I’d have the ability to possess such prime real estate in a Debate Magazine, which just goes to show that you can truly be anything you want to be if you put your mind, heart, soul, body, spirit and every fibre of your being into it. Exaggerations aside, I’m really honoured and excited to be a part of the Debate team. This is genuinely something that I’m really proud of and have wanted to do for a long, long time. This issue is packed with pieces about something we all (hopefully) use – the noggin, the walnut, the noodle – the brain. I mean, it floats around in your skull all day and basically controls your entire being, so you could say it’s pretty darn cool. There’s just so much your brain can do. It controls your senses, your emotions,
your bodily functions, your subconscious and tonnes more that we probably don’t even realise. In this issue, we’ve conducted an insanely important investigation into whether AUT’s mental health services are failing students (which, spoiler alert, they are), as well as a scientific insight into why we procrastinate, interviews with male students about the negative effects of the ‘toughen-up’ culture, and what your brain does during sex. This issue is truly a spicy one. In addition, I’ve tried to get to the bottom of why we barely have any microwaves on campus. I mean, what’s the dealio with that? I don’t know about you, but I’m working on my hashtag bikini bod, and like to bring my own meals to uni almost every day, but I just don’t have enough time to get to a microwave between classes. I’m a busy woman, alright? All of our writers, artists and contributors have put their hearts (and brains!) into this issue, and I hope that you enjoy it. It was incredibly fun to be a part of. See you lovely people in two weeks, Jennifer
Can't get enough of Debate? Check out our website, like or follow us on social media, or email the editor to get involved. www.debatemag.com
Cheap, free and koha events around town
Volunteering Expo Where: WG306 foyer opp Newsfeed, AUT City Campus When: Tuesday 14 August, 11am-1pm What: Meet a range of incredible charities looking for volunteers. Register online: www.elab.aut.ac.nz. How much: Free
The Divine Muses XV – An evening of Poetry Where: AUT City Campus, WZ Ground Floor When: Friday 24 August, 6:30-8pm What: Now in its fifteenth year, the evening provides an opportunity to hear leading New Zealand poets read their own poetry. How much: Free
Paper Recreation Where: AUT City Campus, WA305, Studio-55 When: Thursday 23 August, 1-3pm What: Head along for a paper-making workshop and re-use some of AUT’s paper waste. How much: Free
LATE - #MeToo Where: Auckland Museum’s Event Centre When: Wednesday 15 August, 6pm What: Find out what the #MeToo movement really mean for our society from a bunch of awesome women. How much: Students $20 (with ID)
Students get heated about lack of microwaves on campus By Jennifer Daruwalla When you’re a baddie on a budget like me, home-cooked meals really help keep your bank balance out of the negatives. Not to mention it’s healthier and more environmentally friendly. However, when AUT doesn’t provide enough microwaves around campus, the only things getting heated are the students themselves. Our City Campus has 19 buildings and yet there are only a few locations with microwaves – most notably at the Student Lounge in WH, AUTSA’s Student Lounge in WC202 and two in Vesbar. Student complaints have been increasing, but what is AUT doing about it? I spoke to some students at the Student Lounge in WH. When asked what they think of the lack of microwaves around campus, the consensus was that “this situation is such bullshit!” A student also commented on the fact that they “sometimes resort to eating cold food” because they don’t usually have enough time to get to the nearest microwave. Ayana Piper-Healion, a second-year Communications student, says, “Waiting for 20 plus minutes just to use a dirty microwave is a regular occurrence for many students at AUT.”
Simon Bell, manager of Vesbar, says that upon hearing the complaints from students about the lack of microwaves on campus during Semester One, they decided to take action and put up two microwaves in Vesbar. Simon says, “We are here to cater to students’ needs, and despite the minor impact in food sales at the bar, we’re still pleased that the microwaves are servicing students in a positive way.” Used by 20 plus students per day at Vesbar alone, Simon says “there is obviously a clear demand for microwaves”, and so far, the feedback he has received has been positive. Renata White, Vice-President of AUTSA, says in the past AUT had multiple microwaves in WG, however, it appears “AUT may have discontinued these without producing a replacement”, the reason for which is still unknown. However, he says this has been noted by AUTSA and it is currently awaiting feedback from AUT about this. He says they have acknowledged that students are concerned with the queue lines that delay them and limit their time to eat homecooked meals. Having requested “many locations” to place new microwaves on campus, Renata says AUTSA is working to make a “fast impact” and is anticipating a response from AUT at their next meeting.
Opinion: Let them speak, but let’s not speak like them By Julie Cleaver Recently two controversial Canadian speakers, Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, came to New Zealand. Many of my friends protested against their right to free speech, and I understand why. But personally, although I don’t agree with most of what these speakers have to say, I think they should be allowed to speak. However, in an ideal world, I don’t think we should be speaking in divisive ways like them. First, freedom of speech is not a right concerned with the content of the speech. Freedom of speech is a blanket right that protects all types of speech (except that which incites violence and defames somebody else) regardless of whether we agree or disagree with it. We can’t allow free speech that we like (such as Critic’s menstruation magazine) and also disallow freedom of speech that we don’t like (such as these speakers). That would be against the point. Free speech and the open communication of ideas are fundamental parts of any democratic society. And though it makes many of us very uncomfortable to listen to Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, this is one of the many burdens of our free society. Plus, I think it’s worth pointing out that freedom of speech is not a right-wing ideology – it’s needed on all sides of the political spectrum.
But I don’t agree with the way these Canadians are speaking. And though I would never wish to legislate or protest against speaking the way you want to speak (see every point I have just made above) I think it’s worth using these two as an example of how we can try to use our language to promote peace and understanding, not hate and division. Personally, I talk to a lot of people I don’t agree with. In fact, I’m great friends with people I really, really don’t agree with. And when talking to my friends and family members who strongly disagree with my views, rather than yelling at them and saying, “You can’t say that because it’s against my views!” I try my best to shut up and listen. I try my best to show respect and genuinely see where they’re coming from. I then add my counter points. They then add theirs. And we then have a genuinely interesting discussion. After hours and hours of talking and listening, we both tend to change our viewpoints slightly, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. For example, a few years ago I was strongly against veganism, and after hours and years of discussion, I now admit that I believe I was wrong and I currently try my best to avoid meat. I was also strongly against most right-wing policies (and still am) but after talking to people, I now see the benefit of many rightwing ideas. And it is only through respectful discussion that I was able to change (and
that my friends were able to change as well). To me, speaking to others, genuinely listening and showing respect are the only ways to create dialogue and a more peaceful world. And though it is worth pointing out that I hold many beliefs I will almost never bend on (for example, I am very firm in my beliefs about human rights) that does not mean I can’t listen to someone of a differing belief. (Google the Ted Talk about the African American man who befriends members of the KKK and you’ll see what I mean.) However, and my point is, I’ve listened to these Canadian speakers, and the way they talk to other people is atrocious. They’re rude and they don’t start conversations to genuinely engage in open dialogue and free speech (where both sides can talk and be listened to). They talk to attack and divide. And to be honest, I’ve noticed a similar trend with a lot of people who oppose them, too. Of course this is the speakers’ tactic; it’s their extreme intolerance that fuels their media campaigns and has ultimately made them famous. But I don’t like it. I think the only way to create a better world (one where there are fewer alt right people – and fewer alt left people) is to calm our egos down, let all people talk and voice their opinions, and listen. If people did this I think they would be surprised by how willing others would be to listen to them, and I think they’d also be surprised by what they might learn.
Why Do We Procrastinate? By Helen Shelvey | Illustration by Samuel Yao
I have a problem. During my first time at uni, literally all of my assignments were completed at 3am the night before the deadline, enabled by copious amounts of tea and sugar while a flat party raged downstairs. Second time I swore it’d be different. I was older, wiser, more mature, I told myself. My mum bought me a book on procrastination which to this day I have still not read. This should tell you how well that resolution went. Having clearly not learned my lesson, I decided to delve into the science behind why so many of us students repeatedly put off those essays until the last minute, whereupon a caffeine-induced frenzy of typing becomes the only option we have left.
The Science Procrastination is not, as you might think, purely down to poor time management. This can of course exacerbate the behaviour, but the accompanying guilt and anxiety that commonly plagues chronic procrastinators implies there is also an emotional aspect. The current school of thought is that procrastination stems from mixed feelings about a task, and that failure to self-regulate emotion is the main culprit. There is a link between impulsivity and procrastination, but it is more than just being easily distracted. It is in fact down to a tug-of-war between the limbic system (the brain’s emotional centre) and the pre-frontal cortex (decision-making). The pre-frontal cortex is only switched on if we are paying attention to the task in hand, but if we switch off or let our minds wander, the limbic system takes over. It defaults to mood repair, whereby we start to choose activities that instantly make us feel better, rewarding us with a short burst of dopamine. Think of dopamine as a little hit of happiness, which keeps us coming back for more, continuing to choose those enjoyable but distracting activities, rather than face the Dreaded Essay. This does not teach us how to deal with stress in the long-term, and while we may feel better at the time, as that deadline draws closer, we experience a serious detrimental effect in performance, wellbeing and levels of anxiety.
The Solution While there is no quick fix, there are quite a few suggestions put forward by psychologists that are worth a try. • Reward yourself at intervals with little treats or five minute breaks, steadily increasing the time spent working to get you used to focussing for longer. • Self-imposed deadlines aren’t as effective as external ones, but they still work. • Try positive reframing – instead of ‘I hate essay-writing’, try saying to yourself ‘I enjoy being productive’. • Make a list of why you want to complete the task i.e. more free time, better grades, working towards a career or qualification you really want. • Remove temptations – put your phone away, clear your desk, don’t have the TV on etc. • Get other people to hold you accountable. Tell a friend or family member that you are working today, and that they have to make sure you finish on time by reminding you of your commitment or putting you back on task if you get distracted. • Practice self-forgiveness. This helps to break the vicious cycle of negativity, guilt and procrastination. The more you accept and forgive yourself for past mistakes, the less likely you are to repeat them. So now you know the why, and hopefully have some ideas to put into practice about how to stop putting off the inevitable. As for me, it’s currently 3am, and the deadline for this article is tomorrow… oh the irony.
What drugs do to your brain By Gabbie Tutheridge Remember when you were a pre-pubescent little shit attending health class and teachers would say that if you take drugs, “Your brain cells will die!” Meanwhile they’re probably passing a bong around the table after hours? But minus the deceptive scare tactics, what do drugs actually do to your brain? I’m no professional, but let me break down the main drugs and what effect they have on that cranium of yours. Marijuana aka Mary Jane Weed – the most controversial drug in politics. Whether inhaled or eaten, marijuana has an effect on our receptors in our brain. These are called our cannabinoid receptors, interesting huh? The main ingredient in cannabis is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is responsible for most effects which you feel from the ‘good kush’, because it engages with the cannabinoid receptors.
The effect these receptors have on our brain is to keep our neurons fizzing, amplifying our thoughts and our perceptions. That’s why when you are high, it’s not the best idea to try to get that essay done, or go to the gym (good luck), or do anything that requires a lot of coordination. This is because the cannabinoids are located in the part of our central nervous system which controls memory, motor function, mood, fear, pleasure and pain. The cannabinoids also take effect on the dopamine in our brains, and that is where the high feeling comes from. Dopamine rewards us and makes us feel good and wanting more, so therefore despite contradiction, you can get addicted to smoking weed if you start to rely on it, as dopamine is the addiction chemical in our brains. MDMA aka Pingers The life of the party, otherwise known as pingaz, dingaz, stingaz, ecstasy or just plain old MDMA. It increases the levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine
in your brain – say what? Basically these chemicals enhance just about everything, from your mood, sleep, pain, appetite and chewing your gums off. Due to MDMA causing a huge release of these chemicals, it causes depressing after effects, otherwise known as comedowns. The ongoing abuse of this drug can have serious damage on your brain cells and happiness upcycle. In other words, it decreases your natural ‘hype’ levels, which may cause memory loss, depression, anxiety and paranoia. Don’t be fooled by those people who say MDMA has “no side effects”. Cocaine aka Angel Dust The big baller’s drug is funnily enough produced from the leaves of a coca plant (now I have a weird craving for chocolate). When consumed, it plays with the area of the brain which makes you function, interfering with the ‘happiness’ chemical. Coke increases the speed of these ‘happiness’ chemical messengers, and will have you running your mouth and realising
you can’t shut the fuck up. This is due to dopamine either making you feel good and wanting more, or triggering the feeling of panic because you cannot control your impulsive behaviour. Normally this chemical in your brain is reabsorbed through its dopamine transporter, but cocaine blocks
creates an extreme rush which is followed by a huge crash that drives crack addiction and the compulsion to keep abusing the drug. Crack cocaine creates a sense of euphoria in the mind, supreme confidence, as well as paranoia, anxiety and depression from the low it curates. No thank you.
your conscious decision making, therefore increasing your imagination and creative thoughts. Permanent hallucinations are possible, creating induced psychosis and mental health issues, which there could be no cure to, as of yet.
this. Therefore when the high disappears, you may feel an extreme low. Like MDMA, coke also alters the levels of chemicals in your brain, hence the effects of increased blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate and respiration. Crystal Methamphetamine aka Meth Crystal meth is a highly addictive drug: let me get that crystal clear. It results in a massive release of ‘feel good’ chemicals through the neurotransmitters (these transmit information between the nerve cells in your brain) and that leads to powerful euphoric effects that increase your energy, mood, vulnerability and other psychoactive effects. It takes effect on all areas of the mind. Apparently, meth kills your brain; maybe our health teachers were actually onto something here. Over time the amount of negative cognitive and emotional effects meth has will land you in a mental illness downward spiral. This is due to meth quickly decreasing the functions in your brain which connect to memory, movement, visualisation, attention and problem-solving. Crack Cocaine aka Rocks Rocks on rocks on rocks (as the rappers say), will fuck you up, and not in the cutesy “I drank five Smirnoffs” way. Rocks has an effect on the brain immediately through stimulating the release of dopamine. This
Synthetic drugs aka K2 The Killer Just because it is legal, DOES NOT MEAN IT IS SAFE. I am screaming this as I type. Synthetic marijuana acts on the brain like marijuana, but to a stronger and more dangerous extent. The THC found in natural marijuana has been manufactured to be 100 times more potent within this synthetic marijuana. As there are over 200 forms of synthetic marijuana in the world today, they may each have a different chemical or molecular sequence which can have unpredictable effects on the brain, in other words, professionals don’t have a clue what it could do to you. Other synthetic drugs include Synthetic Cathinones, otherwise known as bath salts, which has psychoactive tendencies and are marketed as ‘legal substitutes to meth or cocaine’. A big no-no. It is still unknown how Synthetic Cathinones affect the brain, although they are known to produce effects of paranoia, hallucinations, violence, significant sex drive and increased chat. Apparently some people even start eating other people’s faces while taking bath salts, giving the drug the horrifying nickname, the ‘zombie drug’.
Heroin aka Smack Your smart ass brain creates opioid chemicals and contains opioid receptors to naturally respond to pain. You stub your toe, BAM, opioid receptors are losing their shit and so are you. Heroin binds those receptors, leading to a release of those ‘happy go lucky’ chemicals and other neurotransmitters to cut out the pain. Once the brain encounters these fake opioids, it will start to stop naturally producing its own, and due to heroin being highly addictive because of its euphoric feeling, this leads users down a rabbit hole of addiction to feel pain-free. The brain builds up an increased tolerance, therefore it is easy to overdose on smack, which then leads the nervous system into delirium, comatose or death. ACID/LSD aka Tripping Balls Alright, buckle up for the trip of your life. Acid or LSD acts on a number of receptors in your brain, releasing all the good feeling chemicals. But the actual structure of LSD attaches itself to the receptor in your brain which produces serotonin, and this acts like a mousetrap and holds onto the LSD for as long as it can (clingy boyfriend kinda shit, no thanks). This explains why you could be tripping balls for up to 12 hours after taking the drug. It is a psychedelic and hallucinogenic drug which restrains
Overall drugs can make you feel fucking amazing, increasing your levels of serotonin and dopamine to give you the high of your life. But they also have insanely negative effects on your brain, mental health and life in general. And they could make you turn into a zombie, so use with extreme caution.
Debate does not wish to encourage nor promote using drugs. We merely wish to explore the science behind them and how they affect the brain.
Are AUT’s ‘free’ counsellors failing students? “It took me ages to get the courage, and they just laughed at me and gave me anxiety pills.” By Julie Cleaver with help from Jennifer Daruwalla and Gabbie Tutheridge Illustration by Hope McConnell
(‘Free’ is in inverted commas as the services aren’t actually free – you’re paying for them out of your student fees.) In 2015 I was struggling. After months of hardship, I finally plucked up the courage to visit AUT’s free counsellors on the City Campus. I would have paid to see a more experienced counsellor, but I was in my second year of university and money was scarce. Also, I had no idea what would happen and whether counselling would be worth three months of my savings. But looking back, I wish I hadn’t seen anyone from AUT. The woman I saw meant well, however she told me, with a smirk, that there was “nothing wrong with me” and then went on to talk about her life when she was my age and the fact that all students are stressed so “you’re not any different”. To be honest, immediately afterwards I felt great. “There’s nothing wrong with me! An expert said so!” I was
stoked. But it wasn’t true. At that time there was definitely something wrong with me, and that woman telling me otherwise stopped me from seeking the help I needed. After a year of seriously struggling I eventually taught myself neurolinguistic programming (look this shit up it’s amazing), practiced it every day and managed to overcome what I was going through. But my life would have been a lot easier if that darn woman would have a) realised I wouldn’t be seeing her if something wasn’t wrong with me and b) asked me to come back for one more session, just in case. Further, I have seen the free doctors at AUT and found them to be equally incompetent. My experiences with AUT’s health and wellbeing services haven’t been great, which made me wonder whether anyone else has had a similarly bad experience. Turns out the answer was, sadly, a big fat yes.
They just laughed at me Sieska, a Communications student who studied at AUT from 2014 to 2016, saw the AUT City Campus doctor in 2015 to get the “jab” (the Depo Provera contraceptive injection). However, she says the risks were not properly explained to her. After receiving the injection, Sieska started to feel extremely depressed and decided to go back to the AUT doctor for help. However, she says the doctor didn’t take her seriously and actually laughed at her about her problems. “I went in and finally told someone [the AUT doctor] how crap I was feeling – it took me ages to get the courage – and they just laughed at me and gave me anxiety pills. No advice about the jab side effects – nothing.” Sieska says the doctor told her she didn’t have a history of mental health problems and therefore had nothing wrong with her. “The doctor made me cry afterwards. It took every ounce of courage for me to walk in there to explain how I was feeling. It’s not easy for someone like me, who is a person who is usually very sure of myself, to admit to someone I felt out of control and ask for help. So to then be made to feel like she couldn’t get me out of the room fast enough, like I was just a number in her book, was awful.”
She says after the chemicals from the jab were out of her system, she felt completely fine. “But the doctor didn’t check my records. If she had checked my records she would have seen I was on the jab and she could have been like, ‘Hey maybe you’re having side effects from this,’ or, ‘hey, I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling like this, why don’t we try some actual helpful medication?’” Sieska also says she would never have received the jab if the negative effects were properly explained to her. “If the AUT doctor had clearly outlined the side effects I would have realised sooner.”
They don’t have the capacity to care Jessica, 23, studied economics and marketing at AUT and graduated in 2017. She was one of her department’s top students, but during late 2016, she started having trouble breathing. “My breathing seemed to be reacting really weirdly to some social stress, which was concerning, and the doctor who I went to see at the AUT Medical Centre suggested it might be psychosomatic and suggested the counsellors, which made sense to me.” Early the following year in February 2017, Jessica booked a session with a counsellor on the AUT City Campus. She says the appointment was relatively easy to book, but that she was not encouraged to take
part in regular, ongoing sessions. “The appointment itself was overall pleasant; we went over some strategies to deal with stress and prioritising everything I was juggling. But at the end of the appointment, I felt like she was closing my metaphorical file and wiping her hands of me, as if she was saying, ‘Great, hour-long appointment over, you’re cured!’ when I'd really been hoping for some ongoing help.” Jessica says because the sessions are ‘free’, she figured their system would be too overloaded to handle her, and that she wasn’t “high priority” compared to other students. “I didn't want to put any more pressure on them, so I kinda gave up.” But she didn’t get better. And after dealing with her mental health issues for almost a year, at the end of 2017 Jessica’s partner managed to convince her to seek help, this time, outside of AUT. “Price was kind of a barrier, but my friend suggested her counsellor in Mairangi Bay who was still $104, but going off my friend's recommendation, I figured it'd be a good bet. It actually turned out really freaking well and I really needed it, and it actually was a godsend at that point in time, and things could have turned out pretty shitty if I hadn't started that process.”
However, Jessica says if she wasn’t in a position where she was able to pay that $104 every two weeks, like many other students, she’s not sure what she would have done. “I worry because there's so many people who aren't in the same situation as me, who can’t pay because they're already supporting their family or paying other expenses, and $104 every two weeks is an absolutely ridiculous amount.” Jessica says she doesn’t believe the AUT counsellors don’t care about students, but rather that they are too busy to treat their patients properly and effectively.
“I wanted to take advantage of the fact that uni had a free counsellor, and I thought ‘hey, might as well’. Little did I know that the waiting list had a waiting period of over one month!”
“I wanted to take advantage of the fact that uni had a free counsellor, and I thought ‘hey, might as well’. Little did I know
“It’s such an overrun system that they don't even have the capacity to care. They're just trying to get people in and out to tick boxes and they don't even have time to stop and evaluate their service, but they need to.”
had a waiting period of
A month and four days nearly too late
over one month!”
that the waiting list
Trigger warning – suicide Last month Jackie (not her real name – changed for privacy protection) was at what she described as a “low point”. The exam stress was beginning to reach a boiling point, her parents were not being supportive, her friends were being “flakey”, and her mental health was acting up. Jackie says she was experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety but could not afford to be professionally diagnosed.
She was told that the next available appointment was exactly a month and four days from when she had called to inquire. So she had to look elsewhere. “It was 3am on a Friday night. I can still remember it. I wanted to end it all – it felt like there was no reason to keep living. I had a pen in my hand as I was writing a letter to my mum, but that’s when I thought ‘fuck
it, I have to call a suicide hotline’, and that’s when I decided to pick up the phone and talk to someone pronto.” What ensued was a rushed 30-minute phone call, where Jackie described all of her thoughts and feelings to someone on the phone. Before she knew it, she was hearing shitty recycled phrases such as “but you have so much to live for!” and “your family and friends love you!”, and finally, an apologetic “I’m really sorry, but we have a 30-minute time limit on our phone calls. Is there anything I can do for you, Jackie?” “Yes. Yes, there was,” Jackie says. “She could have at least pretended to fucking care. It felt like I was just a sheep, being herded into the ‘okay, I saved someone’s life’ pile. I felt embarrassed, ashamed to have been feeling suicidal. She was meant to make me feel better, but I just ended up feeling even worse.” Even though AUT’s mental health services could not be there for Jackie, at least there was someone else who could be (albeit a pretty crappy someone else).
What the heck is happening? Plus some stats Nadine Tupp is AUTSA’s former President and a mental health advocate who has been on a long journey with her own mental health. She has many criticisms of the ‘free’ health services at AUT.
“I never even went to the AUT ones, because during my time as an SRC [Student Representative Council] member, or as my time as president, or chats with people, the feedback that was given to me is that the service was inadequate.”
“When you are already presenting to a counsellor it’s the world’s biggest step to even get there and when you are not treated with dignity and respect when you do so, why would you go back? That person has just made you feel invalidated.”
One of her largest complaints is the massive waiting time students face. She says if someone is booking an appointment they will experience wait times of up to four to six weeks, and two to four weeks at the beginning of the semester. These findings are in-line with the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) recent ‘Kei Te Pai’ survey, where 1,762 tertiary students around the country were interviewed about their experience with mental health. This survey found that 33 percent of students had to wait for two weeks or longer to book an appointment with their campus counselling services.
However, university mental health services being incompetent appears to be a nationwide trend. According to the ‘Kei Te Pai’ survey, 37 percent of students were either somewhat satisfied or extremely dissatisfied with the mental health services they received on campus.
Nadine also says there is some favouritism with the services. “Too many students are not seen on the day they go in, sometimes when they are super serious things. But if a staff member from AUT or AUTSA goes with them, they can manage to get them in on the day.” Further, she says there are cultural incompetency issues with the services, and some Rainbow, Māori or Pasifika students AUTSA has sent have come back saying they never want to go again.
Nadine does not find these figures surprising. She believes our university needs to be doing better as it has a “duty of care” to its students, and this duty extends to students’ mental health. In practical terms this looks like more counsellors with more experience dealing with a wide range of issues and people, shorter waiting times, and follow up messages as well as encouragement to book more appointments, rather than the ‘you’re healed now, k cool bye’ approach. “They need to be recognising that students need more than one session and if they’re not, there is something wrong with that service in general. To them to not be booking someone in, I think isn’t fulfilling that duty of care, and they need to know that they need to follow up, with a text or an email, to be like ‘hey how’s it going, do you want to book one in?’”
What now? The mental health services appear to be failing many AUT students. Despite the presumed good intentions of many of the services’ employees, the facility appears under resourced and therefore unable to give the care AUT students need and deserve. When asked what they thought about our findings, the mental health services did not have time to comment as they were “actually seeing students who requested appointments”. The official comment from Alison Sykora, AUT's Head of Communications is: "Due to the heavy workload of the counselling team, we were unable to respond within the timeframes." (It appears their waiting time for journalists is longer than two weeks as well.) But all I know is that AUT’s mental health services failed me, Sieska, Jessica and Jackie, and it needs to be better. Plus, according to the Kei Te Pai survey, 20 percent of students around the country have considered dropping out of university due to mental health, and 28 percent considered dropping out due to feeling overwhelmed, therefore it would be in the AUT’s best interest to look after students’ mental health more effectively. My final message to AUT: if you care about your students, or at least your back pocket, sort the mental health services out. We deserve better.
If you or anyone you know needs help, here are some people you can contact. For all emergencies call 111; Community Mental Health Urgent Response team: 0800 800 717; Central Auckland crisis team: 0800 800 717; North Shore crisis team: 09 487 1414; South Auckland crisis team: 0800 775 222; West Auckland crisis team: 09 822 8500; Lifeline, 24-hour telephone counselling service: 09 522 2999 or 0800 543 354; for support from a trained counsellor at any time free call or text 1737; Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO); Healthline: 0800 611 116; Samaritans: 0800 726 666.
Auckland Clinical Studies is looking for
to participate in a clinical trial of an investigational drug.
Love Debate? Want to be part of the crew? If you’re into writing, journalism, art or just want to get involved, please say hey: email@example.com.
Are you healthy and not taking any medication? 18-45 years of age? BMI 18-32 kg/m 2 Non-smoker? Females must be either postmenopausal or surgically sterile to take part
The study involves a 13-night in-patient stay plus 1 outpatient visit. You will be reimbursed up to $5,500 (less tax) for your time and inconvenience.
firstname.lastname@example.org 0800 STUDIES (7883437)
Don’t put it off ‘til your third year. In the wise words of Shia Labeouf, “Just do it!” 17
Giveaways To win any of the prizes below, head over to Debate’s Facebook page (/autsadebate) and fill out the competition survey pinned to the top of our timeline called ‘GIVEAWAYS – ISSUE 9’ using the key word ‘CRANIUM’. Make sure you like our page to be in to win!
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Dinner and a movie This issue is all about the brain, and our besties at StudentCard thought giving away a double pass to the brand new movie The Darkest Minds couldn’t be more fitting! Made by the producers of Stranger Things and Arrival, this movie looks like it will be truly, truly epic. Plus, we’re throwing in a $10 Mexican Café voucher to get some nibbles beforehand, because who doesn’t love dinner and a movie? To win it all, read the instructions at the top of the page.
Bounce ‘em around
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Virtually Treating Mental Health By David Evans Bailey There is a new form of therapy taking hold in the field of mental health. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is well known for affecting many military personnel who have been to the battlefield. But this disorder can also happen to anyone who has been subjected to high levels of anxiety or stress. Traditional treatments have, up until now, been psychotherapy or drugbased. Drugs particularly may mask the symptoms but perhaps never really
provide a cure, and some can have detrimental side effects. However, with the advent of accessible immersive virtual reality, things have changed. A new form of therapy called VRET or Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy is being tried. The theory behind VRET is that by exposing the person to circumstances that approximate the situation that caused them stress, they will gradually lose their fear of it and learn to confront it. The goal is to be able to start to live a normal life without avoiding things or places that remind the person of their fear. With
soldiers this would mean putting them back into a scenario containing stuff, like helicopters, encountered in combat but this time in virtual reality. The technology immerses them in that scene and to some degree makes them part of it. The good thing is that the risks of a real combat scenario are no longer present and they can come out of it whenever they want by taking off the headset. Trials and studies have indicated good results so far and a reduction in PTSD symptoms for those who have undergone VRET.
The success of such a program means that it may also be extended to other types of anxiety-related disorders and problems. For example, if you have a fear of open spaces, heights, flying, spiders, social situations, then these can all be recreated in VR for you to safely experience them. Actual experiments with arachnophobia sufferers gradually introduce virtual spiders which come closer and closer as the tolerance to them improves. It has worked to such an extent for some that they can then allow themselves more proximity to an actual spider. Obviously, that is the point. It could be that many problems could simply be treated by a few sessions in VR. Choose the module you want and away you go. In the future, there may even be kits, such as ‘Cure your Fear of People’ or ‘Tackle your Fear of Tall Buildings’. So, why does it work? The answer lies in the fact that once in an immersive virtual environment, you feel as if you are actually there. You experience it as if it was real and you feel part of it. There has been much research into the psychology of virtual environments, particularly by a special unit at Stanford University. Their studies have shown that a person can be affected by situations in VR not only during it but even afterwards. For example, a person whose avatar is made taller inside the VR space gains more confidence in themselves as a result. Conversely, if they were made shorter then they lose confidence. Changing a person’s skin colour in VR can cause them to think differently about racial issues. Another experiment where participants
were made to chop down virtual trees in a virtual rain forest made them more environmentally aware. I could give you numerous other illustrations but you get the point. Immersive virtual environments are different and they can create real-world responses. And even physical reactions to heights and other situations.
problem affecting over 50 million people, has also been a target for VR researchers. Virtual environments have been created which provide valuable distractions for dementia sufferers. Studies have shown a remarkable 70 percent stress reduction in such patients and less necessity to use drugs to control mood swings and other symptoms.
The field of mental health is certainly an area where virtual reality is proving to be of benefit. However, it is also being put to effective use in other areas of medicine. Surgeons are being trained to perform operations using immersive technology without any risk to their patients. Mistakes can be made in VR until the trainee is perfect and before practicing the operation on a real-life human.
Also, the elderly who are perhaps immobile but who do not have such a disease can nevertheless be connected to their loved ones and friends through the magic of VR. This is because community events can be staged without the participants ever leaving their chairs. This represents quite a benefit to older people who are unable to get around.
Rehabilitation is another field where VR is starting to make inroads. Patients who have suffered a stroke or similar can gain improvements in hand and arm movement through the use of immersive VR. The therapist can use special virtual environments that stimulate patients to move their limbs. Some real breakthroughs have been made in this way with people who have been paralysed in their legs. The simulation of walking in VR has actually produced small voluntary movements in their own legs. Progressive use of these types of tools could eventually result in major restoration of limb function, although much further research is required at this point. Dementia, which is now a worldwide
Overall virtual reality is gradually entering our lives, even though we may be unaware of it. The things described above that seem out of the ordinary now will one day surely be commonplace. Perhaps instead of visiting a therapist, you will simply be able to download a program to help with your anxiety or deal with your problems. Perhaps this may not fill everyone with delightful anticipation. For some, it simply will represent our increasing connection to computers and loss of real human interaction. But I guess the real answer is that everything has a balance, and if we keep it in perspective then it will probably be OK. Plus, there is always the old adage: don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. For those people in real need, however, these advances could be a benefit, or even in some cases a real lifesaver.
Harden Up Boys Don’t Cry By Marisa Aoys New Zealand culture is a funny thing. ‘Yeah, nah’ means no, we call strangers ‘mate’, and we are adamant our Aussie brothers stole our claim to fame (not the All Blacks: Pavlova). But one thing that’s not so funny is our expectations of men. The ‘bloke’ culture can be a classic gag but it also makes it hard for our men to talk about feelings. Why is it we associate emotions with femininity? Men are human, they breathe, feel and think just like women, so why is it that an increasing number of males are diagnosed with some sort of mental health issue? I took to the streets to find out our male students’ thoughts.
Sam, 18 “I think it’s because we build up men to be strong and powerful so if they talk about it, they feel weak. Like, we all have problems and stuff but I think generally men tend to want to bottle it up. I guess it’s just the culture though; your boys are for yarns and beers but you don’t really go much further than that. Like, you may have a really close mate that you can talk to, but you don’t really talk that much about feelings. I reckon we all need a feeling circle or something where we just tell our mates that we love them. It would probably be weird but I guess if we all do it, it would be sweet.”
Jack, 22 “Growing up as an Asian New Zealander, our culture is even more closed off. Families show support in other ways, like financial aid. They don’t really sit you down and say “I’m proud of you”. I get why depression is a huge thing for guys because we don’t really have anyone to talk to. I think most of us just release our emotions physically like at the gym or playing sports but I think we need to talk about our emotions more. My sister was treated like a precious flower but I was told I have to be strong because one day I’ll be head of the family. It’s a lot of pressure really but I don’t want to bring it up with my family. I don’t want to think I failed or let them down because they think I can’t handle it.”
quieter. In the back of your mind you think you should ask them but you don’t want to look dumb if everything’s all good so you don’t bring it up. Maybe we should. Going to counselling seems scary and like, super daunting. I don’t think many people want to do it so they just bottle it up inside till they explode. I think most guys would rather have a few beers to get over it than go to an actual place to talk.”
Riley, 19 “For me I think uni stress is a huge thing. It’s super overwhelming but everyone says they feel it too so it kind of makes me feel like I’m overreacting. Like, if I tell someone they’re like, ‘me too’ and so I don’t bring it up again. I kind of did my own thing and studied by myself because I felt shit when I saw others studying. It made me feel like I was just imagining things because isn’t that how everyone feels? I didn’t go to the student services at AUT, I guess it’s cos’ I was embarrassed. Like, everyone feels stressed studying so yeah.”
Sean, 20 “I think we need to change the culture and just talk about our feelings. It probably seems weird as at first but just asking each other ‘how’s your day’ and actually answering honestly could do heaps.” “I mean, New Zealand has such a high suicide rate and I doubt those mates really knew what was going on when they did it. Just talk bro, it could save a life.”
“It’s kind of hard to tell if your mate is having a rough time. They just seem different, like more aggressive or maybe
If you or anyone you know needs help, here are some people you can contact. For all emergencies call 111; Community Mental Health Urgent Response team: 0800 800 717; Central Auckland crisis team: 0800 800 717; North Shore crisis team: 09 487 1414; South Auckland crisis team: 0800 775 222; West Auckland crisis team: 09 822 8500; Lifeline, 24-hour telephone counselling service: 09 522 2999 or 0800 543 354; for support from a trained counsellor at any time free call or text 1737; Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO); Healthline: 0800 611 116; Samaritans: 0800 726 666.
My One Million-Step Journey Words and photos by Nadine Tupp Over this past semester break I set myself the challenge of exploring one of the most rugged and remote parts of New Zealand: Rakiura, or Stewart Island. To really add to the excitement, I planned to spend 20 days solo in the bush, in the middle of winter. The outdoors have always been my happy place and a space where I can take time out and reflect on life. Growing up in the country, working through my Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award, completing
a big tramp at least twice a year, volunteering and working for the Department of Conservation meant Aotearoa’s bush, beaches and alpine environments are my second home. They’re a place I’ve found myself longing for the more time I spend at university and in the city. Being in my last semester of a BSc I’ve spent far too much time inside studying and forgetting what it’s like to breathe in brisk morning air and take in sunsets from a backcountry hut. So that’s what I dedicated my break to; taking time out for me and trying to let go of a breath I’ve been holding for a long time.
If you were to draw a straight line from the City Campus to the small township on Rakiura, I was 1250km away from home (it took me two planes, a shuttle, a ferry and some decent walking to get to the start of the track). But in all honesty, I could have been on the moon. My longest stretch without seeing another person was 10 days (yes, I did go a little crazy) and when I did see someone else we often just bumped into each other as we walked in opposite directions. Of the 24 days of the semester break, I spent 21 of those walking, that also meant carrying enough food, gear and emergency equipment to deal with whatever nature threw at me during those three weeks. Walking here is a loose term encompassing battling through kilometres of thigh-deep mud, scrambling up wet banks covered in tree roots or stone, racing high tide along beaches, crossing plenty of rivers and streams, stumbling down a mountainside in the dark or battling through Umbrella Ferns taller than me. To anyone else this might not seem like fun. But to me, after two weeks back in civilisation I can only look back at all those struggles with fondness. Mainly because I remember the sunsets and sunrises I saw, the most incredible stars, the feeling of starting a fire in the hut, getting warm after a long day, climbing Mt Anglem/Hananui and getting 360° views into Fiordland, Bluff and out into the Southern Pacific. I walked 300km across Department of Conservation Great Walk and Northwest Circuit tracks, beaches, sheer cliffs, rocky
shores and scrub. Sometimes I walked on well-defined paths, but more often than not I was waiting for the next orange arrow marking the track while clinging to my map. Between my two and a half weeks solo in the bush and then day walks after I walked out, I had walked 1,068,274 steps, which combined to be the most rewarding and challenging experience of my life. This trip was a detox. It was an escape from the city and the hustle and bustle of university life, where taking time out for yourself often seems impossible amongst assignments, work, exams and everything else we somehow jam into our days. But taking time out is so important. For me, last semester was crazy. They always seem to be, but I started Semester One working full-time in a job where I started spending 10-12 hours a day in my office or meetings, struggling to get through a never-ending to-do list. While doing this I was studying full-time, completing research and progressively feeling worse and worse about being in that situation. Eventually I knew I was going to have to do something drastic and change that routine. So I resigned, but I still hadn’t really ‘stopped’ or taken any real time out until the semester break. Increasingly in literature a link is being made between one’s physical and mental health. For me, I know that if I don’t get into the gym and train every day, I won’t feel good emotionally. That is my time for me. On this tramp I had time to let life sink in, to take stock of where I was
and ask those big, scary questions about what I was doing with my life. Having so much time alone let my brain answer those questions in its own time. I didn’t have to worry about people looking at me strangely as I talked aloud to myself as I walked and took stock of the world around me, and the world waiting for me back in Auckland. My brain often does funny things and I’m navigating my own journey with mental health, and sometimes what we need in this crazy, crazy world is to just step back from it, to remember what is actually important to us, what sustains us and grows us and work towards those things. I had no phone, no internet, lived off the things in my pack and was entirely selfsufficient, making up the track and plan as I went along and defining the physical path of the trip for myself. But also maybe redefining my mental path; feeling happy, comfortable, and content for the first time in a long time. Who would have thought, huffing and puffing up a hill with a 33kg pack on my back in a thunderstorm, I learnt to breathe again. Standing on Hananui, I would have been one of the most southernmost people in New Zealand at that moment in time, and the only one on that mountain at Rakiura’s highest point in altitude. Nothing mattered except the clear skies and bird song around me. I forgot about my exams, rent, Auckland’s public transport network, politics and emails for a while, and I swear I felt myself let that breath out.
How Sex Affects Your Brain By Mya Cole Sex can be a fickle and confusing thing for those who are not versed in its art. It has a way of waking up the senses and creating other worldly energy in the brain that ranges from the loudest drums to the stillest equilibrium. This can be confusing, exciting, terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. But what is actually going on during all of this in that brain of yours? Why does one of the most natural human interactions have such a profound effect on one's mental state? Well the brain is actually practicing a very delicate and intricate balancing act during sexual intercourse. Not only is it processing all of your emotions, however complex or single-minded they may be, it is also managing your heart rate, blood pressure and every physical sensation that your body may be experiencing. Of course, sex is an intensely personal experience and it varies from person to person, so each reaction is going to be different therefore the brain is going to react in unique ways. However, here are a few key stages that are mostly universal to the sexual experience and each one combines to create a different effect on your brain.
Excitement: This is the beginning: the
released a study entitled Socioaffective
trusty Healthline website, a good sleep
pricking of hairs, the flushing of skin and the quickening of your heart rate.
Neuroscience and Psychology, in which he sets out to examine how the orgasm affects the human brain. He writes: "[...] although obvious in retrospect, I wasn't expecting to find that sexual activity was so similar to music and dance, not just in the nature of the experiences, but also in that evolutionarily, rhythm-keeping ability may serve as a test of fitness for potential mates". The reasons that we enjoy sex, music or dancing generally overlap because of their emotional and hedonistic nature.
can lead to “a stronger immune system, a longer lifespan, feeling more well-rested and having more energy during the day.” So really there are no losses with that one, being well rested is always a win.
Plateau: During the ‘plateau’ one may experience an escalation of the physical changes from stage one, increased sensitivity and potentially even muscle spasms in the feet, face and hands. Orgasm: Aptly named, the ‘climax’ or ‘orgasm’ is the height of sexual pleasure. During this time one may experience a sudden and high-powered release of sexual tension, involuntary and potentially rhythmic muscle contractions and a flush over the entire body. Afterglow: During this phase the body returns to its normal state. All of this activity is a lot for the brain to process. These physical sensations which are felt by the body are sent up to the brain and react by releasing chemicals which then allow the body to experience more pleasure in tandem with the brain. Kind of like a constant loop of sexual satisfaction. Unsurprisingly the state your brain falls into when you are having sex has been linked to the responses you have when you listen to rhythmic music or indulge in a little boogie time. The rhythmic nature of sex can put the brain into a trancelike state which is similar to what can be induced by dancing or listening to music. In 2016 study author Adam Safron, PhD of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences,
This sexual trance we fall into is concerned with the immediate sensation being felt. During climax parts of the brain actually shut off allowing you to full luxuriate in all of the amazing feelings orgasm brings. These areas include the hippocampus, which controls memory and spatial awareness; other areas of the cerebellum, which are responsible for movement control; and the amygdala, which is associated with feelings of fear and anxiety. This is not to say that having lots of sex is going to alleviate your anxiety entirely, however it can provide very temporary relief for some. Doing the deed can even help you have a deeper sleep due to the oxytocin which is released during orgasm. Oxytocin is known as the ‘love’ or ‘intimacy’ hormone and when combined with the endorphins also released during orgasm, they can act as a sedative. Then, as we all know, proper sleep leads to all types of success in other areas of life. According to the
The release of oxytocin can also help strengthen your relationships with your respective partner(s), as fulfilling each other’s sexual desires is a form of bonding. It has also been known to provide relief from pain, as it makes us calmer. The same goes for endorphins which have been known to help reduce headaches, specifically cluster headaches. I have written the above in hope that every sexually active person reading this is experiencing these heights of sexual pleasure, however I know that is unlikely to be the case. So I think the real question is how can everyone share in this deliciousness that is the height of sexual pleasure? This is something that needs to be worked on by every party involved; you need to be honest with yourselves instead of potentially faking an orgasm so that your sexual partners can feel good about themselves. At the same time know your own body so that you can give your partner(s) tips; there's no shame in giving direction just the same as there’s no shame in asking for it. The human brain is a miraculous thing, so let it work to its full ability and allow yourself the orgasms you deserve!
Eat Better, Study Harder Debate’s resident health guru Majdi Khamis explains why being healthy helps us study. Feeling sleepy during lectures? Can’t focus or concentrate during study? Feeling overwhelmed or stressed during exams? Well, what you’re eating may be having an impact. Here’s how to have a smarter, healthier brain so you can study like a boss.
Have regular meals throughout the day
Colour your meals with a variety of food
Generally speaking, people who have five to six small meals during the day gain sustainable energy levels and a better mood. This is based on the fact that regular eaters get frequent glucose out of food, which is essential for providing the body and the brain with energy while leading to a stable blood sugar levels.
Eating a variety of food from each food group will ensure that you are supplying your body and brain with as many nutrients as possible. Eating a variety of food, including carbs (yes, some carbs are fine), protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals will boost your body’s energy levels.
Substitute processed food, refined carbs and sugary food with whole grains, fruits and vegetables
Healthy snacks between lectures, exams or meal times may improve your mood and boost your performance, concentration, and energy levels. According to the American Dietetic Association, adults who eat a small snack in the afternoon are likely to get through their tasks more quickly and efficiently.
Sugary, processed and refined foods are low in nutritional values and high in calories. Obvious, I know, but still important. Also, several studies have shown that people who consume refined carbs and sugar are more prone to depression than people who consume wholegrain, fruits and vegetables, so eating well is crucial.
Include protein in your three main meals There are 20 amino acids that make up protein. Some of these are essential for our brain function. Proteins are responsible for neurotransmitters and making up enzymes and hormones. People who lack some amino acids are prone to low energy levels, anxiety and depression as they have unstable blood sugar levels. Get your protein game on, people!
Snack between exams
Add some food sources rich in omega-3 Fish oil is essential for maintaining a healthy brain. Omega-3 has an incredible effect in helping with depression and anxiety, as well as other mental disorders. Several studies have found that people who consume omega-3 on a regular basis have significantly improved levels of mental health.
Stay hydrated! Water is vital for our body and brain to function. A general rule of thumb is eight glasses of water a day, or
two liters to stay hydrated. I know it’s tough to maintain, but researchers have found that dehydration could lead to poor concentration, anxiety and other mental and physical disorders.
Limit your alcohol consumption and avoid binge drinking Binge drinking, or excessive consumption of alcohol, has severe consequences on the mental health. Alcohol interferes with our brain’s communication pathways and it affects the way it looks and works. These disruptions change our mood and behaviour and make it harder for us to think clearly and move with coordination. General rule: don’t get sloshed unless you want to pay the cost!
Hit the gym or enjoy some outdoor activities on a regular basis No one can ignore the vital benefits of exercise on our mental health and wellbeing. This is all thanks to the endorphins and serotonin that is released by our brains when exercising. As you probably know, these two little critters are known as the happy hormones. Regular exercise acts as a great help for elevating symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. It can also boost your brain power, increase your self-confidence, improve memory and help with relaxation and sleeping patterns.
A Review of Clubs' Day By "Louie" Who doesn't want to be part of a club? I didn't, so for the majority of my first year I spent that time brooding to myself, stubbornly expecting things to come to me. Alas, they did not, which left me with a lack of friends and very little interests. As a former hobby enthusiast, I knew this would just not do, so after a long hiatus, I decided it was time to venture out and explore the bigwide-world of Hikuwai Plaza on a Thursday afternoon. Sunny and relaxed would best describe the feeling, kind of like your dad's old Hawaiian shirt that you ‘borrowed', and that you wouldn't mind spilling punch on at a party. With a skip in my step and a beat in my heart, I was ready to sign my name up to a multitude of societies and then forget to show up to the first meeting the next day. Upon arrival I've got to say, I really liked what they did with the place. Banners and flyers littered the walls, marquees were decoratively done-up all around the outskirts of the plaza, and friendly faces were greeting you at every instance. Here's when I would've originally turned a blind eye and sauntered off, muttering to
myself about ‘institutionalized bullshit' and that I ‘don't need no affiliation'. However, this was no longer my purpose. I was here to make friends, goddammit. And befriend I did. In a modest crowd of students either in between or skipping out on lectures, I finally felt in a place that I belonged, rather than the usual rejection of harsh university realities. It didn't take long for people to start mingling and engaging in the diverse range of club-orientated activities. From music groups to hiking guilds, sporting pursuits through to cultural unions, each and every facet of the university was on display at clubs’ day. In a definite act of courage, I mustered up the strength to get talking to some curious individuals; one young man described his experience to me as so far "pretty good", and that "hopefully it doesn't rain." I couldn't have agreed more, and apart from the occasional drizzle, the weather kept itself together well enough for nobody to go ducking for cover. It was time for me to go find my niche, the people that would click with me the most, so that I could cling to them forever. I got a chance to interact with a couple of club enthusiasts. I had a sizeable chat
with Yasim from Out@AUT, a social group for rainbow students, where I dropped in politely asking about the events they have and services on offer. From the Big Gay Out to Pride Parade, it's safe to say AUT has a dedicated community of supported LGBTTI+ students. Here's a few things that I started noticing: anyone from absolutely anywhere felt like a part of the expo. There was no exclusion, no outcasts, no frowns, all smiles. Pair that with an ample supply of free food and you have yourself a winner of a clubs’ day. With a handful of nick-nacks and a bucket's worth of fruit bursts stuffed into my pockets, I would say that clubs’ day was a great success. It may not have had the same hype as O-Week, but it's hard to get students out in numbers once they've realised Jacinda's first free year of tertiary education isn't all that it's cracked up to be. If there's one thing I took away most of all from the day, it's that you've got to put yourself out there, explore the vibrant opportunities and get involved in a diverse range of activities on offer at AUT to really make the most of your student experience. Clubs’ day, overall, was a good day.
Every issue, we bribe singletons with free food and bevvies to go on a blind date, organised by us. The only catch – they have to write about it after. Cheers BurgerFuel Queen Street!
What’s up? I agreed to it the way I agree to anything scary – just say yes in the moment and forget about it until it comes around. Turns out that was kinda difficult, given that I agreed to go on a blind date the very next day. As I rocked up my nerves overcame me, and I furiously messaged random greetings to half my contact list, so my phone would be constantly buzzing throughout the date, providing a prop and something to turn to when the convo thinned. I knew he was my date the minute I saw him. He was standing outside, hands clasped over crotch, bearded and well dressed, peering around purposefully. Still, I ignored him and walked straight in to look at the menu. Stupid, I know, but I needed to scope him out first. I watched him for a few mins more and finally crept up behind him and asked if he was my date. Then I said something crazy like, “Hug it out mate!” What was I thinking?! He was jealous I attended the Kendrick concert, so that provided good fodder for a while. Then we talked about where we lived. Turned out we both flatted in the same area at one point, and we figured we might have been at the same house party before, just in different friend groups. I gave him my number at the end, mainly because we both would have died of embarrassment if I didn’t. Oh, and between eating my burger, and talking about this and that, I didn’t even look at my phone, and had to reply to like nine ‘what’s ups’ when I got home.
Omg you’re as funny as Steve Martin! I got to BurgerFuel early and she got there late. What do they say about ‘opposites attract’? When she came up to me she was grinning and gave me a big warm hug – a good sign. She had long brown hair, bright blue eyes, and the biggest, happiest smile. She was a real cool chick too. She had good taste in music and TV shows, and some real good banter. We talked about all the boring things like what we were studying, where we lived, what our interests were. Nothing too deep and meaningful, but lots of jokes. She laughed at just about everything I said, but I get the feeling it was a ‘first date laugh’, not a ‘omg you’re as funny as Steve Martin’ laugh. Still. When the burgers came we both seemed to relax even more, and after a while it just felt like we were old friends catching up. It was a bit more awkward than how I’d usually meet someone, given that we don’t really do dating out here in NZ, but I reckon if I met her in a less forced situation we would have got on even better. Given everything being a bit weird, I reckon it went pretty bloody well. We’ll just have to see how it goes from here; maybe if we get drunk together it will feel more like a normal NZ date.
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Boost Your Brain Tea-poached salmon and crispy salmon skin with avocado and kale pasta Nutrition and your brain’s ability to function are closely linked. This recipe features ingredients that are rich in antioxidants, good (monounsaturated) fats, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that can help boost your brain power, increase your focus, and improve your memory — benefiting both your mind and body. Recipe makes 2 portions.
• 3 green tea bags
1) Pre-heat oven to 200°C (for salmon skin). 2) While the oven is pre-heating, bring 1 litre of water to boil in a medium-sized pot. When the water has reached boiling point, remove from heat and add tea bags.
• 1⁄2 cup mirin (you can substitute this Japanese wine with any white wine mixed with 1 teaspoon of sugar) • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns • 1 litre water • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt • 400g salmon fillet (cut into two portions) • 250g whole meal spaghetti
Spaghetti dressing • 1 small/medium avocado • 1 tablespoon lemon juice • 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
3) After 3 minutes, remove tea bags. Add mirin, black peppercorns, and salt, and bring to a boil before reducing to low heat. 4) Prepare salmon by removing bones. The best way to remove the bones is by using tweezers. Remove skin by making a cut between the flesh and skin with a sharp knife and gently pull the skin while pressing the flesh side down. Alternatively, glide your knife between the skin and flesh with skin side down. 5) Slide salmon pieces into the pot and cook in a gentle simmer, over low heat. The water should be not bubbling vigorously. After 7-8 minutes, remove salmon from pot and set aside. 6) Place salmon skin between two baking paper pieces or foil on a baking tray, and place another baking dish on top to ensure that it turns out crispy and flat after baking. Bake for 15 minutes in your pre-heated 200°C oven and set aside when done. 7) Cook whole meal spaghetti according to package (typically 12 minutes) in salted water, drain, and set aside.
• 1 cup chopped kale • 2 garlic cloves • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil • 1⁄3 teaspoon salt • Dash of ground pepper • Mesclun salad greens • Sesame seeds for garnish
8) For the spaghetti dressing, place avocado flesh, lemon juice, yoghurt, dried parsley, kale, garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor and blend till well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt/pepper) to your liking. 9) Toss spaghetti with dressing and mesclun salad greens. 10) To serve, sprinkle sesame seeds on spaghetti.
Melissa Koh is a third year BA student double majoring in Culinary Arts and English & New Media. Follow her dining and cooking adventures on Instagram: @melicacy.
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