UNISPEAK ISSUE 3 SEPTEMBER 2012
NEW THINGS AWAIT
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” Which is fine advice, until you’re standing there with nine hundred and ninety-nine miles behind you wondering how it ends. The good news is: it doesn’t. So whatever it takes to get over the line, do it, and believe it’s worth the effort. Because that last step you take is the start of the next big journey. (And we think you’ll like where it’s going.)
UNI SPK UNISPEAK / ISSUE 3 SEPTEMBER 2012
Contributors Broden Tadros / Simone Mabon / Victoria Lee / Peter Batten Four current UOW students who’d do things slightly differently with the benefit of a time machine.
Patrick Lenton Creative writing graduate, playwright, fiction enthusiast. Writes plays about guilt-ridden super-intelligent lizards living on secluded islands.
Bonny Cassidy Creative writing graduate, poet, teacher, academic and traveller. Is hooked on writing, but doesn’t seem to mind.
Edwin Kwan Computer science graduate working on technology to find mobile phones.
Sam Dunster Computer science student who loves making mobile computer tools to make life easier.
Alice Matthews Alice is in Mexico. It took her about 8 months to get there, and only the last 20 hours of that were in a plane.
Xirui Zhou Came to study at UOW from China. She’s now in Switzerland on exchange. Still hasn’t found what she’s looking for, but enjoys the search.
Carlie Davis Science education student and world traveller. Just spent a fortnight teaching in Thailand as part of her degree.
ADVICE YOU CAN TRUST What advice would you give yourself with a year’s worth of hindsight? Four UOW students reveal what they’d tell themselves back in Year 12.
PETER BATTEN Bachelor of Primary Education (Dean’s Scholar)
SIMONE MABON Bachelor of Marine Science Advanced
The main thing that I would’ve wanted to be told is that once the HSC is over and once you’re into uni, no-one cares about the HSC or the ATAR. It’s a whole different world. Year 12 is in the past and you kind of just get to start fresh again, away from high school and into what’s really a new life.
I knew what I wanted to do in Year 12 but I didn’t know how it worked, what uni classes were like, how long they went for, where anything was. I’d tell myself to ask questions. It doesn’t matter how silly you think they are, just ask them. Someone will know the answer. The better informed you are the more confident you’ll feel with things when you start out.
See more from Peter, Simone, Victoria and Broden at uow.edu.au/future/feature-uow-life
VICTORIA LEE Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) – Bachelor of Arts (English Literatures) I think I would have just liked someone to tell me that ‘life goes on after the HSC’. It doesn’t matter so much what number you get assigned to you. Once you’re at uni, there’s always someone to remind you why you’re here, and I find that inspirational.
BRODEN TADROS Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing, Public Relations) Pick the course that you love to do, hands down. I know too many stories of people that thought they had to use every single one of their ATAR points and then got into a degree that they didn’t really want to do, because they thought the course would get the best jobs or the best career path or whatever, and that’s not the case. You’re better off using your ATAR to pursue your goals rather than someone else’s goals, what someone else expects of you. It doesn’t matter what it is, if you’re passionate for something, nothing should stop you.
THE WORD SMITHS
UOW graduates Bonny and Patrick share what it’s like being a writer—what they do and why they can’t give it up.
WORDS WITH BONNY CASSIDY Bachelor of Creative Arts Honours (Creative Writing) 2004 What do you do with words? I’m a poet, writer and academic in Melbourne. My first full collection, Certain Fathoms (Puncher & Wattmann), was published earlier this year and I have a second book on the way in 2013; much of my writing time is spent researching, looking for words in new lands, drafting, workshopping and editing. Around that, I write reviews and articles on a freelance basis, and teach writing and reading poetry and literature in schools and universities. How did you get where you are? I entered the Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) directly out of school; I was pretty motivated to study writing and poetics, as I’d started to focus on creative writing in my last years at school. Doing Honours in that course also allowed me to see that I really enjoyed critical research and critical writing, which led me straight on to a PhD at the University of Sydney. I was lucky to be granted a terrific education at UOW, and going through the writing course with peers are some of my fondest memories. Why did you start writing? I was intoxicated by the control that a writer has over truth, rendition, perception and representation. You’re telling people how to see things. That’s very seductive to an adolescent—however, as I continued to study writing, I discovered that there were all sorts of ways to do this and that it was possible to make it into a practice and a discipline. Sometimes reality doesn’t measure up to the written world. I still seek that feeling of concentrated sensation that writing, particularly poetry, delivers. It’s addictive, surely, the heightened experience of crystallized impression and expression. That’s the selfish reason I write, but I also feel that I have something original I can do with language—at least, that’s the delusion that carries me to write the next poem, and the next … Most beautiful, fun or important thing you’ve seen writing do Teaching is how I earn most of my living, and it’s also where I have some really sustaining experiences of writing. Observing students catch onto that fascination and satisfaction of analysing and critiquing literature is addictive in its own way, too.
WORDS WITH PATRICK LENTON Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) – Bachelor of Arts (English Literatures) 2008 What do you do with words? I do a lot of writing, but spend most of my time as a playwright. I’ve had a number of short plays appear around Sydney, and my first full length play, ‘Implausible People’ went up at the Old Fitz in 2007. Since then I wrote ‘Sexy Tales of Paleontology’, which sold out an extended season at Sydney Fringe in 2010 and won the ROFL Comedy Award. I’ve also established a theatre company, the Sexy Tales Comedy Collective. The company toured my play ‘100 Years of Lizards’ in Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide Fringe 2012 and will be performing it again at this month’s Sydney Fringe Festival. I am also a published short story writer and next year I am compiling and editing a collection of comedic writing called ‘The Sturgeon General’. I also write the blog ‘The Spontaneity Review’ which features an absurd quest to rate the world out of five stars. For a few years I also travelled Australia as part of the poetry boy band The Bracket Creeps. I wrote and performed in our show ‘Borderline Poetry Disorder’ and scared a bunch of kids in Thredbo when we did a poem about syphilis. How did you get where you are? Whether producing my shows or publishing my stories, a lot of the breaks I’ve been given have come from other people taking a risk and supporting me. This has come about because I’ve always had plenty of writing out in the world—these people know that they can rely on me to come up with the goods. A lot of the things I’ve done were not planned. In fact, I never planned to be a playwright in the first place. When I had the chance to write a play though, I discovered that I get a giddy sensation when working on a script, akin to riding a dolphin to the cake shop. Why did you start writing? I’ve gone through so much of my life completely devoted to writing that I couldn’t imagine not doing it. When I first started, I discovered that I could gain praise and laughter through writing, and I’ve been a helpless addict ever since. I may never reach the lofty goals of literary fame or wealth via the written word, but I’ve put so much energy into it that it would be embarrassing if I went off and made chairs now. I also think it’s a good life. I’m constantly excited and stimulated and amused and terrified.
Learning Experience WORDS WITH CARLIE DAVIS Bachelor of Science Education
Carlie’s just spent two weeks teaching science in Thailand as part of her degree. It’s hard to say who learned more in that time, her or the students.
Halfway through telling her story, she stops herself. “They don’t shush,” she says, letting the words hang. “I didn’t know how to get them to be quiet.” The shush noise is a fundamental weapon of classroom control. To lose it could stop a teacher in her tracks, especially in a class as big as those at Srinakharinwirot University Demonstration School, where Carlie regularly taught 70 students at once. Teachers at the school routinely use microphones to be heard by the entire class. “Seventy kids whispering is actually pretty loud.” It turns out what she needed doesn’t sound like a shush at all—more of a kissy-kissy noise that most Australians would associate with calling a dog or cat. Learning how to keep a class quiet all over again was just one of the unforeseeable challenges she faced teaching in a foreign country. Carlie had to adapt to an education system that emphasises rote learning and includes the cane as part of its discipline regime. Professional experience, or ‘PEX’, is a fundamental part of all education degrees. PEX is teaching actual classes in actual schools to real live students. Education students spend at least eleven weeks like this over the course of their degree, starting in their first year. Normally students take it in Australian schools, but at UOW they have the option to do part of if overseas. “You have to change your expectations. Our mantra on the PEX was ‘patient and flexible’. Every time something surprised me, I just repeated that to myself.” “High school there is almost exactly like university here. Two semesters, 13 weeks long, one month off in the middle. They have three exams a semester.” Students in her class were diligent note-takers—almost to a fault. “They’re afraid they’re going to miss a small detail that’s going to be in the exams.” “They’re not used to student-directed learning. I pretty much had to order them to stop taking notes and instead engage directly: listen, ask questions and interact. By the end of my time there, they were working so well together and with me.” “There’s no way you could prepare for everything that happens on something like international PEX or exchange. But that’s okay. That’s the thing about going overseas. You grow up—you have to.” “If I hadn’t taken these chances to go overseas, I wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun.” Carlie thinks that university students have unique opportunities to travel, learn and try new things. “If you’re not going to take these opportunities in your time at uni, you’re just floating.” “When you graduate and have to go out into the real world and become a proper human, it’s daunting.” “I’ve always thought the best learning you do is through experience. Having the experiences I’ve had, I think it’s a little less daunting now.”
The New Normal. The phone in your pocket is a multiprocessor computer capable of accessing a global network of information at a moment’s notice. It’s a GPS, radio, camera, storage device, remote control, TV, game console and music player. It’s amazing, and it’s even more amazing to consider how ordinary it all is. UOW graduate Edwin Kwan and student Sam Dunster are two of the ICT professionals keeping it that way.
They both work developing products that support technologies like smartphones, but those are just the most visible product of modern mobile computing. The fact is, we carry computers everywhere we go, and how we use them continually changes our lives. “For example,” Edwin says, speaking about his recent work with location technology. “In the US if someone calls 911 our software makes it possible to locate that phone within five seconds to a 500m radius,” which could easily mean the difference between life and death. Edwin works as part of a team building hardware and software for locating phones. Their clients are phone carrier companies like Optus and Telstra, and a number of US providers. He says flexibility is key to working in mobile development. While his education in computer science got him started, his ability to keep learning is what keeps his career progressing. “Things are changing all the time, and you need to keep up with it. Soon we’ll be looking at locating phones over Wi-Fi using IP addresses instead of things like GPS.” Sam spends his days working as a system administrator and dabbles in mobile app development. He says with apps, user experience is key. “There’s a lot of competition out there. Users notice the difference when something is done well.”
This competitive environment owes a lot to the relative ease of mobile development. The people making these solutions, whether they’re apps or backend technologies, have fewer barriers now. Armed with fundamental skills in computer science, they can develop a product from start to finish by themselves. Sam says you need to be entrepreneurial. “You have to get your work out there. Then, if users like it, take it to the next level.” While a lot is made of the commercial aspects of mobile development, ultimately Sam and Edwin’s work is measured in how it affects people. In Edwin’s case, outside of emergencies, location technologies could be used to help users shop or socialise. This is where Sam sees mobile technology heading. “Augmented reality—knowing what’s going on around you without it getting in the way of what you’re doing,” he says. “It’s about integrating this technology into society.” Edwin agrees that society will end up more connected, but is more guarded with his predictions. “You can already see it in people’s social lives, their work: there are always new ideas coming up. But really, I don’t know where it’s going, and that’s the beauty of it.” Whatever the future looks like, ICT workers like Edwin and Sam will be the ones making it happen.
YOU’LL GET THERE WRITER ALICE MATTHEWS Bachelor of Arts – Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies
The exhaustive process. The fretting. The worry. The effort. The knock-backs. The endless questions. Sound familiar? There will come a time when you breathe easy, step over the threshold and find yourself in that place you’ve been working towards since forever. And it feels great. After months of preparation, I landed in Mexico two weeks ago. Finally, I had arrived in this amazing city where people speak Spanish and salsa all the time. I almost couldn’t believe that after the long haul, I was here. I knew it would be awesome, I just didn’t expect it could be better than that! But it is, and soon, although you might not be in Mexico, you’ll know exactly how I feel.
I HAVE many Options in life, and I want to understand myself by exploring the world.
WHEREVER YOU’RE GOING WRITER XIRUI ZHOU Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing)
“Why did you come to Australia to study?” I’ve been asked this so many times by my friends and by people I’ve met during my time here. I like them asking me this. Not only because it gave me the feeling of people being interested, but because it was easy to answer—at first. Before I came from China to study here, I imagined the sandy beaches, the sea and glorious sunlight in Australia, and it was these images that dragged me here. And now I’m heading to Switzerland for my exchange semester. My imagination moves me like an engine moves a car. After two and a half years of study, the question is much harder to answer, but I know I have many options in life, and I want to understand myself by exploring the world.
coming soon & things to do YOUR EDUCATION YOUR FUTURE CONNECT: UOW OPTIONS DAY It’s December, your ATAR is higher or lower than you expected and you don’t know what to do. It doesn’t matter what your situation is, you have many options to continue your education. At UOW Options Day we’ll help you find them. Academic staff from UOW and representatives from UOW College and TAFE will be here to help you:
Choose the right UOW degree Modify your UAC preferences Plan a pathway to university See the UOW campus and facilities
Bring your HSC results and ATAR on the day so we can give you the best advice. This will be your last chance to talk to UOW staff before preferences close on 4 January. THURSDAY 3 JANUARY 2013 9.00 AM – 2.00 PM, UNIVERSITY HALL, UOW No booking needed. If you have any other questions, call 1300 367 869 or visit www.uow.edu.au/future/events
UOW COLLEGE Pathways to university If your ATAR isn’t what you need to reach your goals, you still have options. UOW College can offer you a university preparation program to get into the degree you want.
Experience Creative Arts! Thursday 27 September 2012 Experience Creative Arts will be a hands-on exploration of creative courses and student life at UOW. Creative Arts will be opening its doors to welcome those students with a passion for a career in the creative industry. The evening will include interactive workshops and performances, guided tours and exhibitions of student and academic staff works. You can explore Creative Writing, Graphic Design, Visual Arts, Media Arts/Digital Media, Journalism and Performance/Theatre. For more information and to make a booking go to uow.edu.au/future/events or call UniAdvice on 1300 367 869.
HSC IN THE HOLIDAYS HSC in the Holidays, a private HSC tutor organisation, are running a series of study workshops in the September holidays in partnership with UOW. Experienced HSC teachers and markers will present a comprehensive review of course material in 13 different subjects. They’ll share exam strategies and give feedback on a range of HSC-style questions completed on the day. The workshops will take place on-campus at UOW Wollongong and UOW Southern Sydney. See www.hscintheholidays.com.au or call 1300 677 336.
UOW College is UOW’s private university pathways college. Located on UOW’s main campus, UOW College students have access to all the facilities of an international university, while enjoying a close, supportive classroom environment. For information on pathways and course options, see uowcollege.edu.au
Bachelor of Computer Science (UAC: 754101)
Like what you see? These are the degrees helping our people get where they need to be.
Bahcelor of Creative Arts – Bachelor of Arts (UAC: 751501)
Bachelor of Arts – Bachelor of Communication Studies (UAC: 751350)
Bachelor of Primary Education (Dean’s Scholar) (UAC: 755212)
Bachelor of Commerce (UAC: 753899)
Bachelor of Marine Science Advanced (UAC: 757623)
Bachelor of Science Education (UAC: 755103)
NEARLY THERE. GOOD LUCK IN THE HSC FROM EVERYONE AT UOW
The University of Wollongong attempts to ensure the information contained in this publication is correct at the time of production (September 2012); however, sections may be amended without notice by the University in response to changing circumstances or for any other reason. Check with the University at the time of application/enrolment for any updated information. UNIVERSITY OF WOLLONGONG CRICOS: 00102E
100% FSC Certified Post Consumer recycled paper under the FSC credit system. Revive Laser is Certified Carbon Neutral under the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) – an initiative of the Australian Government’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
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