AUT Uni Life

After graduation

2017-08-29

By Shannel Milne

What’s your plan for after graduation?

I am in my last semester of university before I finally get to graduate. Usually, the idea of graduating gets me really excited. Now I feel pure terror. How can I go from one extreme to another you ask? Well, recently people have been asking me what my plans are after I graduate. Isn't that the million dollar question. The answer? I have absolutely no idea. My end goal has always been to graduate. I haven't thought far enough ahead as to what happens after I reach that goal! Do I suddenly become an author overnight? Smash out a best selling book. I've been studying creative writing for three years so I should be able to do that, right? Or maybe even a screenplay... Do I go for something more realistic like interning at a publishing house? Where do I even start?!

When I first started university, I felt completely comfortable with the idea that I had three years to decide what direction I wanted to take my life. Now I have less than nine weeks and I have no idea what I'm doing and how I managed to waste the past two and a half years of my life. WHAT WAS I EVEN DOING? How can someone be at uni for three years and still not know what they want to do with their life? My degree is pretty open-ended which is why I like it. There isn't one specific path to take. But now I have so many options that I don't even know what they are. And even if I did have something in mind that I wanted to do I'm not sure if I'd even know how to go about getting into that job. I have always envied my fellow classmates that were graduating, posting pictures of the big day. Their lives beginning. Now I envy the freshers who have years ahead of them. Don't get me wrong I am so excited to go to the graduation ceremony. The whole dressing up in cap and gown and getting a physical copy of my degree is exhilarating. But once the afterglow of graduating fades, what am I going to do?

So now I'm locked in an internal war with myself: pick a career or go on a gap year. Of course, I'm leaning more towards the gap year idea because after three years of studying I feel like I deserve a break. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to traveling, a Contiki tour sounds EXTREMELY appealing right now.

Wish me luck on trying to figure my life out!

Make sure you get paid for your work

2017-08-25

By Tom Vasey

As a student, there’s a lot of stuff to juggle. Making sure that Studylink is holding up its end of the bargain, scholarship requirements, making sure your grades are still up to par, nightlife…heck, if you’re really lucky, you can generally even find a short while to sleep in between all of that nonsense. Now, like a BP executive looking at Deepwater Horizon, I’m going to add to the problem. Unlike a BP executive looking at Deepwater Horizon, however, there’s an altruistic motive behind it.

The reason I’m writing this particular blog post today is because I recently looked at my bank balance, and immediately went to DEFCON II. In short, I haven’t been paid for my work. Now, it bears mentioning that I’m not referring to the work I do here – I actually work several jobs on a purely casual basis, which means that I cannot always rely on getting shifts. This is kind of my only consistent shtick. However, this other job – and I will leave the employer’s name anonymous for liability reasons – decided it’d be a jolly fun prank to not pay me for several concurrent shifts. Oh, how we all laughed together.

Yeah, I’m not laughing. There’s nothing funny about carefully budgeting for something, then looking and realising that you’re hundreds of dollars poorer than you thought you were. That is how you get a pretty major sense of humour failure.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can, and should, do. You have options, the first of which is to drink a nice cup of tea to calm your nerves. Perhaps go for a little walk, but then get in there and get talking. Getting in touch with your manager/team leader/whatever is a good first step if you find you haven’t been paid, and I’m going to tell you exactly how to phrase this, because not a lot of people do this properly even though it’s a very common-sense affair.

You see, you might be fuming, or foaming at the mouth, or there might be steam shooting out of your ears and you might be just about ready to explode. That’s natural. Basically, you’ve been messed around. Your employer’s broken a trust agreement with you and failed to pay you money that you earned for your own hard work. Who wouldn’t be furious after all of that? I know I was…or am.

Still, while it’s okay to be frustrated, a lot of how this situation will go depends on how that frustration manifests. If you bellow with rage at the first person who picks up the phone, then odds are you’ve just made someone else’s day worse, and they’ve probably got very little interest in helping you even if they could only refer you to someone higher up the ladder. Stay polite, keep it together, and remember that even if you’ve been thoroughly messed around, the person you are talking to may not necessarily be privy to what’s going on, and they’re probably going to try to help. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you” is usually qualified by a “but I know someone who can” if you’re particularly polite, especially if you’re dealing with someone who works customer service or in a complaints department. People who treat them like human beings are pretty rare, so it’s a special treat when someone’s courteous and understanding, and sometimes they’ll go the extra mile for a person like that. Or you can be nice to them because it’s the right thing to do. Whatever floats your boat, really.

Anyway, so that’s one way to sort it out. Another way is to get in contact with the AuSM Advocacy team here at AUT, and seek advice on how to deal with the problem. You can usually get some good help and it’ll be resolved in a jiffy, which is particularly nice, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford for someone else to drop the ball.

As far as preventative measures go, I recommend holding onto a copy of any contract you signed (and do get one, especially if you are going to be relying on this work. It’s as much to protect you as it is to protect them). Remember, too, that you don’t have to be a lawyer to read up on employee protection laws. Don’t go straight in like some sovereign citizen who thinks they understand how law and jurisdiction work, but if you see something that’s mentioned in the legislation that doesn’t reflect how you’re being treated at work, then it’s okay to seek legal advice to see if there’s really a breach going on.

That brings me to my next thing, and the biggest. If all else fails, seek legal advice. If it’s a small amount of money (under $2000, I believe), then you can challenge your employer in the Small Claims Court for it, and that won’t cost you a penny. Either way, always run everything past someone qualified, preferably someone who doesn’t have a conflict of interest.

Be smart, and take care of yourself, because one big reality is that there exist people who will mess you around, intentionally or unintentionally. In both cases, it’s important to be able to stand up and say “Hey, that’s not okay and I want it resolved”, because no one else is necessarily going to stand up for you. Even if you’re non-confrontational, it’s possible to sort this sort of thing out without having to really confront anyone in most cases, and it’s possible to have arbiters in place, too.

Be safe, be kind to yourself, and be kind to others. These principles should see you go far.

Take care guys.

Get enrolled and have your voice heard!

2017-08-24

By Harris Dowson

We’re only four weeks away from election time and while we’re caught up in the media storm of Jacinda-mania, Meteria resigning and the Todd Barclay scandal resurfacing it’s easy to forget about the most important thing.

It’s not choosing who to vote for (although that is important), it’s making sure you’re registered to vote; along with knowing how and where to do so. Without registering, you won’t be able to cast your vote and have your voice heard, it’s as simple as that. It’s imperative that you get registered and if you can get it done by the end of August,it’ll be easy as. Once it’s done and you’ve filled out the one page required, you won’t have to think about it again until it comes time to vote.

For many of us AUT student’s this may be our first election we vote in, or as is often the case with Auckland student life, you may have moved flats since the last time you voted. It’s also possible you didn’t see the importance of voting last election so never got registered in the first place. All of these are common realities for us students but putting in the minimal effort to get registered is really something worth doing.

The other important thing to do after you’ve registered is to figure out how and where you’ll vote. This may seem obvious as voting booths are commonplace across all of New Zealand, but for us students; whom work weekends, finding the time and place to vote isn’t always easy.

Just the other day I’d realised that I had both moved house since the last election while also realising that I won’t be in my electorate come voting day. Seeing how simply it happened to me I thought I’d put together a quick list of info on how to get registered and also how to go about voting when September 23 rolls around.

Young people have a shockingly poor history of getting enrolled; in my electorate alone only 60% of people aged 18 to 24 are registered. So go on and buck the trend, get registered to vote and have your voice heard.

Getting Registered:

This is truly the most important thing to do and I can’t labour this point enough, luckily getting yourself registered is quick and easy.

Online:

You can enrol entirely online if you have a Real ME account or you can apply for forms to be posted to you free of charge. Simply fill out the one page and send it back and you’ll be sorted.

Post shops:

You can visit any post shops and fill out the one-page enrolment form and give it directly to them.

Text:

You can Free Text 3637 your name and address to receive an enrolment form in the mail. Simply fill out and post back free of charge and you’re set

Sorting out where and when to vote:

As I said before, for the most part, this won’t be a problem for the majority but knowing the options beforehand could save you some voting day stress and make casting your vote easy.

Poll booths:

The easiest and most effective way to vote on Election Day. Voting booths will be in a range of places in your electorate. These’ll usually be in community buildings like schools, churches, town halls or libraries. These are often signposted on main roads but specific location info will come with your easy vote pack; which you’ll receive prior to Election Day.

Early voting:

If you can’t make it to a voting booth on the day for whatever reason, you can vote up to two and a half weeks before September 23rd. Info on how to do so can be found here.

Voting outside of your electorate:

If you’re still in the country but not near your home, you don’t have to vote early, you can still visit any voting booth location and simply tell them you are casting a special vote. You don’t have to do anything special — just tell the person at the voting place that you’re voting outside your electorate.

Overseas on Election Day:

If you’re overseas, come election day, there are still multiple ways to cast your vote. You can vote early before you leave, apply for a postal vote or vote at an overseas post — the Electoral Commission will have a list of these before Election Day. All the info you need can be found here.

Helping hand:

If you need help to read or mark your voting paper, a friend, family member or electoral official at the voting place can help. Simply ask when you go to vote.

Question everything, and challenge yourself

2017-08-17

By Tom Vasey

A big part of university is challenging your own preconceived ideas of the world. This is pretty tricky, as many folks who enrol are fresh out of high school or the workforce, and it’s really difficult to cultivate that curious naivete. It seems that to admit that you don’t know something is considered a bad thing, but consider it: you’re in a place where the sole purpose is to learn new things, right? Everyone, from the youngest student to the oldest academic, is dedicating themselves to the pursuit of learning, and learning starts with understanding that you don’t have all of the answers.

Growing up, a lot of the media that we’re exposed to suggests that the clever student is whoever puts their hand up first and gives a correct answer, first time every time. The truth is, it’s kind of the opposite. Yeah, sure, there are people for whom this stuff just clicks, but let’s be real, here. The smartest person in the room isn’t the one who puts their hands up and rants off a definition or does their best encyclopaedia impression. It’s the person who puts up their hand and asks a question, or says “I don’t know that. Can you tell me more about it?” See, at the end of the day, you’re paying a good six grand per year to come to university if you’re studying full-time, and money like that isn’t just meant to net you a pretty piece of paper at the end of all of it. Learning, opening your mind and challenging your preconceptions are all really worthy causes all their own.

I’m put in mind of places in the US and UK where expression of differing ideas is banned for the sake of students’ sensibilities, and that just contributes to the feeling that university is a kind of extension of high school. In my view, that’s not as it should be. See, schools do little except give you the foundations you’ll need to go out and get a job at the end of it, and usually, that’s about the bare minimum you need. If you make the leap to uni, then it means that you’re making a three, four or even five-year commitment to becoming a better person, and that doesn’t just mean learning a bunch of extra meaningless data. Sure, that’s part of it, but unless you understand the why and how behind the principles you’re learning, all you really do here is wander through, regurgitate the stuff you need to pass, and get your expensive piece of paper at the end of it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but there’s so much more to enjoy than just that.

In so many places in the world, there exist hard limits on what we are allowed to question. There are countries where you are not allowed to question your religion, your politics, your economic system and many other things besides. In this place, though, everything can (and should) be questioned, and don’t just take your lecturer’s answer as gospel, either. Everyone, academics included, has an opinion that will affect their perspective. If you are unsatisfied with the answer a lecturer gives, or you cannot accept it that easily, no one will fault you for visiting the university library and checking out some of the academic research on the topic yourself. In many cases, even for just a little reading, the staff are absolutely lovely and will be more than happy to help you to find what you’re looking for. If you learn something interesting, then you can even contradict your lecturer during the assignments and exams…provided that you can back up the things you’re saying with citations, of course. This is a pretty big gamble, naturally, but it’s a pretty fun gamble, too.

Lastly, it’s okay to admit that you were wrong or to let go of the things you believe when you find them to be wrong. It’s definitely more difficult for some than for others, especially when it’s something you’re incredibly passionate about, but remember that learning something new, or adapting to new information, is how we grow as people. You can process it in your own way, be that by synthesising it with the things you already know or changing your opinions and perspectives to accommodate this new information. The world won’t end, the world won’t be overrun by demons, and you’ll have grown as a person. If everyone committed to challenging their beliefs in this way, then I’d like to think that we’d live in less tumultuous times right now.

University is your experience. You choose the clubs you join, the course and major you want, the classes you attend, and the people you hang out with. You also have more pull than you might believe over what you learn and how you learn it. The fact that all of this information is there for the taking is a rare and unique opportunity, and it should be taken for everything it’s worth. If you choose to just go through uni quietly, never question anything and get your degree at the end, then that’s fine. You’ve got to do what makes you happy, after all. Still, if you want to really push yourself, and find out where your boundaries are, and really expand your mind in ways that you probably can’t in the workforce or the standard school system, then go for it. This is a place of nearly infinite possibilities and vast knowledge, and it’s all here for the taking should you choose to have a look.

And remember, it’s okay to admit that you don’t know something. If you don’t admit it, you’ll never know, and no one will judge you for asking for information. There’s value in humility, and there’s value in learning. Far greater value than the degree alone will give you.

Take care everyone, and have a lovely week.

A week at the United Nations – 8th University Scholars Leadership Symposium

2017-08-16

By Sharleen Shergill

I would like to begin by saying that no matter what I say words will not be enough to describe this experience and journey that I went on. Over 900 delegates from around the world gathered in Bangkok, Thailand for a week-long conference. From AUT, my friend Pavee and I were lucky enough to be chosen. I am honoured to have been picked and have a chance to be in the presence of so many intelligent minds who are the future of our world. Looking back on the experience it all feels like one big dream. It’s not every day you get to go to the United Nations. I first heard about this opportunity when it was advertised on Blackboard. Of course, I had my doubts about whether or not I would be selected but then again I had nothing to lose by applying either. A few days later I received an acceptance letter and I remember running around the house to get all the emotions out.

Pavee and me on our first day at the UN representing AUT

This event is where youth leaders from around the world come together, learn from each other, serve the community and inspire each other to make a difference in society. Organised by the UNDP and Humanitarian Affairs, the conference included motivational speakers to panel discussions from people currently working in the United Nations.

The theme of the conference was the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) the UN has set in place to achieve by 2030. These are a follow-on from the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Some of the goals are; end poverty, achieve gender equality, inclusive and equitable quality education and take action to combat climate change. The overall message is to “leave no one behind”. Therefore, the goal is to no longer look at individual countries but to look at the whole picture of what everyone is doing.

Some of the SDG’s can be seen on the wall behind me

Our days would start with breakfast at 6am then a bus to the United Nations at 7:45am. The first thing most of realised was how crazy the traffic was. The bus rides would take up to two hours, resulting in only getting back to the hotel at 8pm.

Our schedule for the week

Most of the days were spent at the UN listening to speakers and learning about the issues around the world and how people are helping their communities. One of the key messages was that if you want to make a change you should start by first figuring out what you care about. Once you figure that out – make changes to yourself before going out and trying to change the world. Another key message was that if you want to make a difference first start in your local community and see what needs to be done there rather than taking a big issue such as world hunger on your shoulders. A perfect example of this is one of the speakers – Rachel Sumekh, CEO and Co-Founder of Swipe Out Hunger. She started small in her own college in the United States. She saw there was a problem with students going hungry and not turning up to class as they could not afford meals. She took it upon herself with a few friends to sort out a solution to this problem right on her campus.

Rachel Sumekh at UN

Motivational speaker, Simerjeet Singh’s speech is one that touched me the most. He talked about living a purposeful life and finding your own purpose. He said that you gain results based on your priorities. You need desire, action and persistence to achieve your goals. He went on to say that the world needs more uplifters as it already has enough leaders. Which changed my way of thinking as I always thought standing up and being a leader was important. However, it is more powerful to uplift others, make them feel better and make them leaders with you. Some other lines from Simerjeet’s speech that connected with me were;

- We are all gifted but some people never open their gifts.

- Comparison is the thief of joy.

- The quality of your life is the subtotal of the quality of choices that you make.

The highlight of his speech was “kill the lizard”. This basically means to kill the lizard part of your brain that always tells you to sit down, not take initiative and basically do nothing. The only way you can kill the lizard is by taking action and stepping forward to do something even though standing out can feel dangerous at times. He concluded by telling us to take the next small step and stand up for something we believe in.

Simerjeet Singh at UN

Francis Kong, an inspirational speaker, revolved his speech around how the right behaviours achieve the right outcome. He stated that you should be clear about what your values are and if they change then they weren’t your values in the first place. Francis informed us that the personal resources we need to manage daily include; attention, energy, time, finances, and relationships. Furthermore, when we face failure don’t categorise it as failing, categorise it as paying to learn. The most important part of his speech for me was him saying not to get your worth from what others say about you, but instead get it from yourself.

Francis Kong

Ryan Hreljac, is a CNN HERO who through his Well Foundation has brought water to some of the poorest countries in developing worlds. His passion in this area began at the age of six, showing that you’re never too young or old to pursue something you believe strongly in. He stated that even though you may face failure along the way – it doesn’t mean you should stop caring or stop pursuing.

Ryan Hreljac at UN

Inside the UN

With the Secretary General of Humanitarian Affairs, Kim Solomon

Service Day was definitely my favourite. We got to go out into the community, interact and give back a little. My group focused on SDG #4 which is Quality Education. We went out to a school and got to spend the day with six and seven year olds. We saw their classrooms, made paper planes with them and watched the joy on their face as they tried to see whose would fly furthest. Even though they could not speak our language and we couldn’t speak theirs, we were still able to communicate through the language of love and fun. Turns out duck duck goose is a classic game no matter what part of the world you are in so we went outside and played that too. The rest of the day was spent having dance parties with the children and wow, there were some very talented dancers out there. Our event was sponsored by McDonald’s so everyone got McDonald’s for lunch and later Krispy Kreme donuts for a snack. Ronald McDonald also made a sneaky appearance and got all the children who had an August birthday to come up and dance with him. Out of the delegates I was the only one with an August birthday so there were five children and me all dancing in front of fifty people. I will remember that forever. I even got to give them all a little McDonald’s toy as a birthday gift. I couldn’t even have dreamed of the things I got to see, do and learn on this trip. At the end of the day all the children (around 100 of them) made us stand in a circle and walked around giving us all hugs. It made me realise that life is all about how you make people feel and the impression you leave with them.

August birthdays having a dance party with Ronald McDonald

With some of the school children on service day for SDG #4 – Quality Education

The last day consisted of the closing ceremony and emotional farewells with the people I had met over the week. I made connections with people from Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, United States, Turkmenistan, Sweden, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, Indonesia, Singapore and Philippines just to name a few.

Since the day finished early it finally meant we could go out and be actual tourists for the first time. Some of us decided to head to Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple complex. The architecture was beautiful and felt like something you could only dream.

I'd like to end this by saying a big thank you to all the people that I met and talked to. With special thanks to Grace, Adela, Linus, Ish, Laura, Sergey, Nik, Harry, Peter, Luke, Joseph, James, Ian, Ben, Polly, Iana, Nodoka and Farah who I spent most of my time with. Thank you for being part of my Thailand experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend my time with.

A chat with NZ sketch comedians Frickin Dangerous Bro

2017-08-11

By Harris Dowson

Frickin Dangerous Bro are the self proclaimed brownest, funniest, and cockiest sketch comedy trio in New Zealand; and to be honest it’s hard to argue with them.  

From an epic multi-city season during the NZ comedy festival, to frequent appearances on shows like 7 Days, Jono & Ben and Funny Girls; and even performing at AUT during  O week, Frickin Dangerous Bro don’t seem to show any signs of slowing down.

The Kiwi sketch group, consisting of James Roque, Jamaine Ross and Pax Assadi are still relatively new on the NZ comedy scene but in that time, have become a sketch comedy powerhouse. Their infectiously funny and laid-back sketch style is what’s drawn so many people in. Through a mix of genuine friendship, casual delivery and razor sharp wit, FDB have created their own brand of sketch; feeling more like having a laugh with some old friends than watching live comedy. Frickin Dangerous Bro’s popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed either, with FDB now being part of a brand new sketch comedy show on Maori TV, along with gearing up to embark on a “world” tour. FBD are working hard to live up to the title they so quickly gave themselves.

I caught up with the boys of Fricking Dangerous bro for a chat about the brand new sketch comedy show Only In Aotearoa, the tour they’re about to embark on and how the hell they have any time to do all this stuff.

How long have you guys been performing together and how’d it all begin?

We’ve been performing together for just over three years now. Prior to it, we were all solo stand up comedians who would gig with each other and for some reason we just gravitated towards one another. We say “for some reason” but really the reason was that we were all brown and were into the same stuff (basketball, wrestling, hip hop). Anyway, one thing led to another and we found ourselves at a Denny’s one evening deciding to start a podcast, which eventually turned into the sketch group.

Frickin Dangerous bro? Where’d the name come from?

It’s actually a story that happened to Pax. He was pulled over by a cop in South Auckland for excessive speeding (because he’s a monster, I don’t know if you could tell but this wasn’t written by Pax) and the cop kept trying to make him feel guilty about it. He kept uttering the phrase “frickin dangerous bro” under his breath to try and hammer home how terrible a person Pax was. Pax told us this story, and it made us all laugh so much that we decided that would be a fire name to name the trio. The rest is history.

So, Only In Aotearoa is a brand new sketch comedy show on Maori TV, tell us a little about that?

Only in Aotearoa is a sketch show told from a brown perspective. We were lucky enough to be asked to help co-write and host show. We wrote it with help of two super funny women Coco Solid and Amanda Alison and we’re pretty stoked about it! It’s on every Thursday night at 9:30PM on Maori TV and to be honest, if you aint tuning in, you’re a chump. Nah, jokes, we love you all.

Did you always want to do a sketch comedy show? Was there or is there any other comedy show styles you’d want to have a go at making?

I think the dream for us three would be to have our own sketch comedy show starring just us (because we selfish like that), in the style of The Chappelle Show or Key and Peele. But we also have other aspirations. For example, James has this super great idea (our words, not his) about writing a buddy cop film starring the three of us. But instead of two cops – it’s three. The tag line would be Good Cop, Bad Cop, Superfluous Cop. Look out for that dope film in the near future

What is it you like the most about doing sketch comedy as opposed to stand up and other types of comedy?

The best thing about it is feeling safe to take risks because you know your homies have your back on stage. With standup, if the gig isn’t going well, it’s solely on you, but with sketch and banter, we all have each other’s backs. That creates a really fun atmosphere that really allows us to play onstage.

After performing in Auckland and Wellington during the NZICF, working on Jono and Ben, 7 Days and now, Only in Aotearoa; you’ve recently announced Frickin Dangerous Bro is going on tour, how do you possibly have time to do all this?

Crack cocaine. Lots of it.

Kidding aside, they all kind of feed into each other. What we learn from one comedy venture feeds into the others and it’s all really fluid in that way. Plus, lots of Jamaine chasing up James and Pax on the group Facebook chat about stuff.

Tell us a little about your tour, where are you performing and how can people get their hands on tickets?

So, we are going on a tour of Auckland with support from Creative New Zealand and Foundation North – it’s called Frickin Dangerous Bro’s World Tour…of Tamaki Makaurau. Basically, we are going all around Auckland to all the hoods to make sure that we take our comedy to the people. Especially the ones that wouldn’t normally venture out for a night out in central Auckland. We’re going to Birkenhead, Mangere, New Lynn, Glen Innes and also doing a show in the city. It’s a show consisting of our favourite sketches from all of our shows so far so it’s going to be fire! You can get tickets and more info on our Facebook page.

Last chance, all or nothing pitch; Why should people watch Only in Aotearoa and come and see you live?

Pax has kids to feed and if you don’t, then they don’t eat, and you’re to blame.

Only in Aotearoa is on 9:30 Thursday on Maori TV and on demand.

Tickets for Frickin Dangerous Bro’s World Tour…of Tamaki Makaurau can be found here.

You can check out their Podcast, The Issues here.

Learning for the love of learning

2017-08-09

By Tom Vasey

A common understanding in university is that a lot of us are here for one reason and one reason only: to get a very expensive piece of paper and to go on to a career after that. Some folks might be here because they want to put off that real life silliness for a few more years, and still others want to get involved in the party scene and nightlife. Just by looking at my bio picture, it’s pretty obvious that I’m not the biggest party animal (let’s face it, I look like the kind of person who gets threatened for their lunch money) so I’m not big into the nightlife thing.

Today I’m going to tell you why I came here, and why I get super excited every time something clicks for me.

See, I took a slightly longer-than-average gap year (okay, pretty long. I was 23 when I came here last year) and it took me a long time to work out what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve found that psychology resonates with me (and I’m not good enough at maths to do a real science), and I’ve started with business too, just because I can. Now, part of that is definitely that I want to be a more qualified person, and to get a good job after all of this is over, and I look out and see all of those people in their flashy bright robes and feel a sense of longing for that to be me. Still, as long as we’re on this journey together, let me tell you what gets me through it.

When you sit down in a class, and listen to the professor, and just take joy in the act of learning something new. We’re all so concerned with being right that it’s so difficult for people to admit that they don’t know something. I freely admit that there’s a boatload of things that I don’t know, but then again I’ve learned not to take myself so seriously. It’s kind of exciting having your old ideas challenged and being made privy to brand new information you probably never thought about before, those little things that affect how the world around us works. You could learn about the causes behind crime, why the world turns, how a circuit functions, how machines learn, how government or the economy works (or doesn’t). It’s amazing to me that we’re in this place where we can learn anything humans know. It’s deeply exciting, and I mean that sincerely.

I look around at the world, looking at places in the US and the UK where people are so heavily opinionated that they demand that the syllabus change around their sensibilities, but uni isn’t a place where one comes to get validated. We’re all imperfect human beings, but with a practically limitless ability to learn and develop over the course of our lifetime. Anyone who takes that opportunity to learn something brand new and become a better person is making the most of their time here. And why not? There’s a little warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with realising that you understand something, that you really get it, this rush of happiness and…belonging, I guess. There’s something magical about that, and I honestly believe that that’s an underrated breed of magic in today’s world.

Now, sure, that won’t happen for everyone and everything, and when it comes to the actual assessments it’s a total nightmare to try and put what you’ve learned into practice, because getting assessed on this sort of thing is a nightmare and a half on its own.

Still, there’s a magic in the act of learning, and it’s what makes me legitimately happy to be a student. Even when things are tough and I’m really up against it, it’s pretty fantastic that the world is just such an incredible place, and we’re all here on a journey to learn more about it and ourselves.

So maybe just take a moment to enjoy yourself in a class, or even sit in on a different lecture now and then, just to see what’s going on and marvel at what you can learn, without the pressure of having to take notes or anything. Trust me, there’s something special about it, and I hope you guys can feel it, too.

Thanks everyone, and have a great week!

A quick summary of the main parties' leadership this election

2017-08-04

By Harris Dowson

We’re now seven weeks out from the New Zealand election and political campaigning is in full overdrive. In the past few days however, much of the greater political landscape has been overshadowed by Labour and their decision to unanimously vote Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis as leader and co-leader of their party. If you didn’t know, the change in leadership came off the back of Andrew Little stepping down after receiving the lowest polling rates the party has ever had. A change in leadership this close to the election is certainly bizarre and not many people know what it will mean for Labour come election day. Understandably then the news media is being dominated with the focus on Labour and Adern; however, what this replacement in leaders has made me think about is the leaders of all NZ’s political parties. Who are they? What do they stand for? And do their beliefs and ideals match up with their policies?

Politics, ideally should be about the policies of the parties, yet in our day and age that isn’t the case. Those who lead the parties are just as, if not more important than anything else. Jacinda Arden is a perfect example for that, in the few days she’s led Labour, 600 new volunteers and 250k has been donated to the cause.

So, who are these people vying to lead and help lead our country and where do they stand on the important issues for New Zealand?

Labour:

Jacinda Ardern (L)

Jacinda Arden was a Waikato University BA graduate. She spent her young life working community roles and as a researcher for the Labour party. She worked in London as a senior policy advisor and has been an MP for the Labour party since 2008. While with Labour she’s worked in many facets including as Labour's spokesperson for Youth Affairs and as associate spokesperson for Justice (Youth Affairs). Ardern has strong liberal views and in early 2008 she won the election as the President of the International Union of Socialist Youth. She is vocally supportive of gay rights, gender equality and feminism.

Kelvin Davis (DL)

Kelvin Davis has a long career in education, working many schools in the role of teacher, principle or educational advisor. He joined the Labour Party in 2008 and was a list MP until 2011 where he retired, only to return to the party in 2014. Davis is the first Maori to hold the deputy position and comes from Ngapuhi descent. He leads Labour's Maori caucus and is a staunch supporter of Maori rights in New Zealand. He is vocally supportive of gay rights, gender equality and feminism.

National:

Bill English (L)

Bill English grew up working as a farmer and was an Otago University graduate. He has worked with the National Party since 1990 in many roles, including Finance Minister, Crown Minister of Health Enterprise and Associate Minister of Education. English is a self-stated social conservative who opposes voluntary euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, same sex marriage and the decriminalisation of prostitution. He also opposes any liberalisation of abortion law.

Paula Bennet (DL)

Paula Bennet spent her young life working as a single mother in hospitality or tourism jobs and eventually studying social work at Massey University. She worked as a welfare officer, electorate secretary and recruitment consultant before joining the National Party in 2005. She has been with the National Party ever since in several roles from Minister of Housing Development to Minister of Youth Affairs.

Greens:

Metiria Turei (Co-Leader)

Metiria Turei grew up in a working-class Māori family in Palmerston North. She failed her high school examinations and in 1987 she worked her first job as a kitchen-hand at the Hard Rock Café. She is a graduate from Auckland University and worked as a commercial lawyer for several years. Turei joined the Green party in 2002 and has worked there since in many roles. She is vocally supportive of gender equality, gay rights, Maori rights and is staunchly liberal.

James Shaw (Co-Leader)

James Shaw is a graduate of Victoria University and completed further studies in England in sustainability in business. He has worked with many multinationals as the stainability and environmental awareness consultant. He worked with the Green party from 2011 but didn’t become a member until 2014. James Shaw believes economic market development can be achieved without harming New Zealand’s environment and is a staunch supporter of gay rights and gender equality.

NZ First:

Winston Peters (L)

Winston Peters is an Auckland University graduate and has worked both as a lawyer and a teacher before becoming a politician. He began as a member of the National Party but was fired in 1991. He has been the leader of New Zealand First ever since. Peters’ perspectives fluctuate on the politic spectrum. He distrusts big business but favours tax cuts and shrinking government size and power. He is strongly opposed to immigration and perceives it as “a threat to the ideals of New Zealand society”.

Ron Mark (DL)

Ron Mark served in the New Zealand army in his earlier life before joining the Labour Party in 1993. He was unsuccessful in securing a Labour seat however so joined New Zealand First in 1996. He has worked as mayor in the Wairapa along with many roles as spokesman for NZF. He is strongly opposed to immigration.

The things that affect us

2017-07-28

By Harris Dowson

New Zealand, while a small country, is home to thousands of different values and beliefs. This means that when it comes to politics, obviously not everything will be important to you. Politics is hardly something that entices excitement for most New Zealanders and this isn’t really a surprise. Compacting the perspectives and values of every New Zealander is a massive undertaking. It’s because of this overwhelmingly large task to serve all New Zealanders, that politics can often seem noisy, pointless and just plain uninteresting.

Politics doesn’t have to be that way however, you just have to learn to distil it.  Here at AUT we are no different from the greater New Zealand public, we all come from different backgrounds and all have different perspectives, yet we do share one major thing in common. We are all students and we’re all living the student life. So by distilling our political perspective down to that point maybe we can look into policies without falling asleep. Let’s start with what policies are going to affect us directly as students, then maybe if we can manage that we can cast a wider net for our political perspectives.

Starting small, viewing things that affect us and our families directly makes wading through the mass of politics much easier. Getting involved is important and every vote matters; so taking the time to engage in something often viewed as dull, in any way you can is hugely important.

So here it is a list of policies from all our major parties that will affect you the student personally.

Green party

Student Green Card:

Give all tertiary students and apprentices in New Zealand free off-peak travel on buses, trains and ferries, through a Student Green Card. Free off-peak travel for those in education and training is good for students’ back pockets and good for all commuters.

Faster into homes:

Helps young people into home ownership sooner by:

  • Creating a scheme which allows student loan borrowers to defer paying back their student loan to help them save for a house.
  • Allow anyone who is earning over the repayment threshold of $19,000 to defer part or all of their mandatory 12 percent student loan repayment into a housing deposit savings account.
  • Establish a fund, held by the IRD, which would approve student loan diversion savings (combined with KiwiSaver and other savings) to be spent on buying or building a first home.
  • Give people the option of saving for a home deposit now and paying off their student loan once they have secure housing.
  • Ensure that any savings not allocated towards a first home are transferred back to student loan balances.

Labour

Reducing the burden of student loans

Investigate voluntary bonding arrangements whereby graduates can have some or all of their loan written-off in exchange for work in the public sector or in areas of critical skill shortage, particularly in teaching and nursing.

Supporting participation in higher education

Adjust student support arrangements to ensure all students can meet the increasing cost of living.

Putting the FREE back into free education

Labour will progressively introduce 3 years of free post-school education, allowing access to university, polytechnic or on-job training for young New Zealanders and those who have not studied before.

National

$132.1m investment in tertiary education

$52.5 million for the Performance-Based Research Fund to incentivise and reward high-quality research in tertiary education. $69.3 million for increased tuition subsidy rates at qualification level three and above, helping providers to deliver skills and knowledge for a stronger economy. $6.8 million of funding to support sustainable growth in the international education sector to strengthen the net benefit to New Zealand and its value to our regions. $3.5 million of reprioritised funding to meet increased demand for workplace-based literacy and numeracy programmes in 2018.

NZ First

Universal living allowance

Introduce a universal living allowance which is not subject to parent means testing as a priority for all full-time students.

Review the student loan scheme

With a goal of reducing its burden on former students, in particular those on low incomes within the first years of leaving study

Improve Studylink

Ensure that all students have smooth and efficient engagements with Studylink through improving links with the IRD, with appropriate privacy considerations in place.

ACT

No discernible tertiary education policies available

United Future

No discernible tertiary education policies available

The Opportunities Party

Youth unconditional basic income

If you are between 18 and 23

  • You get $200 per week ($10,000 per year) no questions asked.
  • You get to decide the best way to use the money, to pursue your own goals.
  • You will be financially better off under this policies. This includes your mates who are unemployed, students, parents, apprentices, artists, entrepreneurs, etc.
  • This will take stress off you at a pivotal time in your life. NZ has an appalling rate of youth suicide and financial stress plays a key role in this.

Through sickness and partying

2017-07-26

By Keani Erstich-Coles

Welcome back to Semester 2!

I hope everyone is back refreshed and ready to study hard! (and possibly make up for your mistakes last semester). That post-exam feeling was great, wasn’t it? I surely celebrated excessively with a three-day bender leading into the rest of the study free break. While I heard of a lot of students travelling to exotic destinations overseas, I decided to take a trip to a place I’d never been before: Wellington. You would think I would have visited the windy capital before but nope, this was a first. Perfect excuse to visit my best friend who is studying there. Had a great trip, being a good old tourist in my own country (as can be clearly seen in the photos below. Token beehive photos and all.) However, I failed to adequately prepare myself for the cold and fell well and truly sick. Managed to get home in one piece, however, I stayed sick for three weeks straight.

Now this is where you can learn from my mistakes. At times, we may dismiss the fact that we may be falling ill, especially students. Who wants to spend their student allowance and or loan on Vicks and lemon and honey? Not me. But see this is where we need to realise that our health and wellbeing is most important. After a week of “I’ll get better myself” I managed to finally pick up my pride and go into the Student Medical Centre on the City Campus. Now let me tell you that it is worth your time. Enrolling takes five minutes and domestic students get free healthcare (internationals for a small fee). The doctors and nurses looked at me crazy when I said I had been sick for almost a month. Right away they did a general examination and told me what was potentially wrong. Now really the lesson here is: Don’t be an idiot, look after yourself! Not just physically, but also mentally. AUT is expanding their student medical services and is splitting up their services into two clinics; 1) Student Medical Centre 2) Student Counselling and Mental Health. I know that when it comes to university, time is important. But remember that without looking after yourself first, you won’t be able to perform as well as you would if you were healthy! Also since finally being on the mend, I was able to celebrate my 19th birthday last weekend with family and friends. Finding the balance between study and taking time out really is the best thing to do while at uni and I’m slowly getting better at it, finally!

So take it easy out there guys,

Work hard, but also rest hard too

Laters from a well-rested Keani

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