Monday, 8 February 2016

University and College Life Simplified

Back when I was a young first year starting at Victoria University for the first time I had been flatting for about 18 months prior to changing locale and moving to the big smoke of Wellington City. There I met Neil (a great friend even today, 7.5 years on).

Yes, 7.5 years ago I moved to Wellington. Today's post is focused on what I've learned during my time studying and will focus on campus life.
As a side note, I never stayed in a dorm/ hall so I have no idea what they are like.

My top 10 things to know about moving and living the university/college life.

1. You'll meet heaps of new people. Don't worry about making too many friends. I aim to have one or two people in each class I meet through the Tutorials we have to attend. This way I have one or two people I can sit by in the lectures and in the tutorials and actually get to know.
There may be literally hundreds of people in your lectures in first year, so it's crazy to think you'll know all their names at the end of the 12 week course. (Even your professors and tutors don't know everyone's names in that time period!)

2. Think about what you're taking with you to move, now halve it.
You really only need a few things while you're studying: 

a. A place to sleep (aka a bed). I had a mattress on the floor of my flat and did fine. Stack two on top of each other, or seriously invest in a bed base, your spine will thank you for it.

b. a Desk or Table to study at. I honestly used the dining table in one flat.

c. Flatmates or roommates to share the costs. It is very expensive to live alone. Get friends in to help financially. More people generally means the costs will be cheaper, but see what you can handle. I've lived with just the 1 flatmate and in larger places with up to 5 others. My fiance lived in a large house with 9 people in it! (That was too large, too loud and way too dysfunctional for me).

d. A little money and the ability to Budget - Budget really well... 
First take out how much your rent is.
Then your estimated bills (power, internet and cell phone all have monthly charges. Work these out and save up for when the bills come in).
Then anything else: food.
Then save the rest for a Rainy Day Fund,
Then some (if there's any left) for partying, drinking and anything you want for entertainment.

I decided that paying rent, bills and food were my three most important things. Some months I had very little food money left so I would talk to my Student Advisors on campus and pick up a Food Bank Parcel for that month. I didn't go to a movie at the cinema for over two years at one stage, just because I was saving and living pay-check to pay-check. Not ideal. So on that note: Always, Always have a "rainy day fund" stashed away, and for this I do not mean Movie or Coffee or Date Night, I mean for the times you're so sick you need to see a doctor*.

3.  Changes with friendships:
Your old friends from school may leave your life as you move into campus and study mode, and that's okay. Their lives are changing too. They may also be really special and stay around even if you're in separate places and living different lives.

4. You'll grow up.
You'll learn a lot of new things in classes.
You'll also learn to be a functioning adult able to budget and pay bills.
Look at you being all adult and adulting all over the place!

5. You might fall in love. 
Life will be sunshine and rainbows and 24/7 happiness.
It may be a long lasting romance, or a summertime fling.

6. And out of love. 
Or lose someone you were close to.
You soon realise that life is not always sunshine and happiness.

7. You may find a job you're only doing for the pay, or to get to know that cute person better, or to learn new skills. You'll probably have fun there and no adult job after you finish studying will quite be the same. You'll also appreciate how much your family did for you to help get you to where you are now.

8. At the end of your degree you'll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about when you first started. 
Everyone's scared of doing new things.
Everyone's afraid of failure.
You're also not everyone, because you're here and giving it a go, no matter how scared you feel.
Life has up's and down's, and part of college life is learning to embrace them, and learning to accept changes. If you're having a bad time emotionally, please seek the advice of the counsellors available to students on campus*.

9. Everyone started in the same place - Your professors were once first years, nervous and timid on their first day too. Some of them even feel first day jitters even now years and years on. Treat everyone as equal to you. You never know if they will be your future boss, or you could be their future boss! Literally everyone started at the bottom and worked their way up through life to get to where they are today.

10. Encourage your fellow students, and citizens of the city you're in. 
The students at least are feeling the same things you are - homesickness, they're nervous about getting lost, they're scared they will fail the upcoming assignment/ test/ exam... they're scared they're not good enough to be here. Everyone gets these feelings. It's normal.
Over time it gets easier. In the second trimester/semester onwards life on campus got easier. I didn't feel lost, I could (kind of) get my way around campus, and people would ask *me* for directions on the street in town.

* Some campus' have FREE medical services for students. See if your campus offers this. 

Hopefully these 10 points have helped a little. I think this year I'm going to try and write more about self-help type topics as well as keeping up with my usual random ramblings each week. I also want to know what YOU think. I've created a quick survey HERE which shouldn't take too long. 
I'd love to hear your FEEDBACK! 

Until next time,
xx. Lisa.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Have you ever thought about where your clothing comes from?

Hello dearest reader,

Have you ever thought about where your clothing comes from?
I mean really where it comes from?
 I don't mean in reference to the labels, or the store you bought it from -
 but who actually designs and who actually makes these items of clothing?

Clothing from my wardrobe.
From a variety of brands and shops.

In my own wardrobe I have a wide variety of items, from different shops, different brands. 
Varying prices.  I don't know where the majority are actually made. I mean a label may have a name and a brand, or a shop name... but often the Country of Origin may not be accurate.

I am not about to uncover a great expose - but rather I'm hopeful those who read this will think a little more about what they buy, where they buy it from and who actually manufactures such items. Even if we do not think about child labour in these sweatshops, but even consider the adults who work in these factories with low pay. We have to ask what will we as consumers do to help the people who create our clothing items? What will we do to ensure their work conditions are safer. Safer to work in without fear of death or serious injury.

I am going to highlight some particular cases and media reports - some of these are horrific, so I do advise discretion when reading, viewing and talking about them.

Wiki explains that "Sweatshop (or sweat factory) is a pejorative term
 for a workplace that has harsh/poor (socially unacceptable) working conditions. 
The work may be difficult, dangerous or underpaid. 
Workers in sweatshops may work long hours with low pay, 
regardless of laws mandating overtime pay or a minimum wage
child labor laws may also be violated."

Clothing from my wardrobe.
From a variety of brands and shops.

Last year on June 15, TV3 in New Zealand showed a TV show called "Reality Trip" it was a group of teenage fashion designers who have their minds blown when they find out who actually works in the factories creating these designer labels. Some of these sweatshops also manufacture items for everyday clothing stores which every day Kiwi's wear (and others around the world).

Watch what happens when a fashion blogger visits a sweatshop (blog).

The TV show 'Last Week Tonight Show' has a funny take on sweatshops and the effect they have.

New Zealand article blames sweatshops on the West's Fashion Industry - where people have a high turnover of clothing items.

2008 TV Documentary called Blood, Sweat and T Shirts.

Salon wrote a piece entitled "Sweatshops still make your clothes".

Treehugger put together a list of 'unethical clothing makers and asks if they could be in your closet.'

The Daily Mail has an article on Sweatshops and a reporter went undercover to seek the truth.

War on Want has another article; based in China.

Norwegian show also sends local teenagers into sweatshops. I watched these documentary style shoots on YouTube and found it very enlightening.

$5 duvet cover, and another discounted duvet cover. 
Both from Briscoes NZ.

So how do we prevent this?

1. We enforce fair and safe working conditions for all workers. No matter if they're in India, or China or elsewhere.

2. We seek out prevention of, and removal of, child labour work forces.

3. We seek out those who use these sweatshops and we, as a collective, petition them to use fair work spaces for all their workers.

4. Research and seek out fair trade agreements between countries.
Fair Trade for workers rights, workers pay and worker safety in the work place.

It seems no matter what you do, you can't win - if you try and purchase the expensive labelled items, or the cheaper everyday clothing it's likely to be made in a sweatshop.

All well worth considering while shopping,

Until next Monday,
xx Lisa.

P.S. Next Monday's post has some new excitement - I turn the tables and ask you some questions (survey time!) 
AND I'm doing my first ever Q and A! Send me your questions to facebookinstagram - OR you can tweet me @listay1 with the hashtag #LisaTaylorAMA

Monday, 25 January 2016

Photography Theme the Home Office

 I've decided to start a new Theme for each month where I'll have one or two posts (depending on if the month has four or five Mondays) in which I'll fill one or two posts with photography I've more recently done. I will try and stick to a theme or idea for each one, so they are different posts and I'll also try not to recycle images from older posts! 

Challenge is on!

This month for January I am focussing on the Home Office, bearing in mind we moved here about a month ago and I'm still trying to sort a few things - relocate items and so on.

Here goes:

January 2016, Home Office in our rented Mount Cook, Wellington townhouse.

Above: my desk, organisation for pens and stationery as well as photographs of family.
TYPO pencil case (striped) and TYPO A4 note book.
The Owls are from Farmers.

Above: Bookshelf of my favourite books. This one is from the Warehouse, it's a 4 Cubby style one.
You can buy them here.

Above: Owls - sitting on top of the bookshelf the brown wood style two are from Farmers.
The Owl Vase is from TYPO. (No longer in store).

Above: Blinds and curtains. Driveway view isn't so exciting.

Above: Pinboard Photo board, which I've just used thumbtacks to secure photos to. The pinboard and photo on board above it are hung on the wall with 3M Command hooks.

Above: "Daniel's Dinosaur's" Bunting from Trade Me.
And a sea life themed sarong I bought in Fiji (2007).

Hope you enjoyed the small peek into our Home Office. 

Not featured was Dan's desk, or the rest of the top of mine - currently covered in things for my essay that was due on Thursday (Don't worry I got it in on time, the post is just delayed in going live!)
I also didn't photograph things like my calendars as I do not want to share my exact home location with the world!* 

*Or things like when I'll be out at university classes and so on. I try and write my university class review posts (after) I've completed it, so it's a little more secure. 

Until next week,
xx. Lisa.

Monday, 18 January 2016

January is half gone, what?

Hello dearest reader, first up where, oh where has 2016 gone? It feels like yesterday that the new year was just starting and already summer school is a third of the way done! (Closer to half nearly). 

I've completed two of the assignments already and I have three more to go, two of which are essays which I'm not looking forward to so much! That said the assignments so far haven't been too disastrous and I've kept on top of things getting them done on time and handed in quickly. 

We will see how that continues for this year. 

I met with the Wizard aka Kate from the department of Humanities at VUW and she's awesome and said I'm well on my way to seeing a May 2017 graduation. So that's my new aim is to complete these final five papers and get that sorted. I had been told previously that I needed to do a 100 level English Literature paper to make up the 2 points I had been missing; but Kate assured me that this isn't the case! So I can do the three English papers I need for the requirements and then can choose either another English paper of 20 points or I can switch to any 15 point paper. So far I think I'll stick with that English one but I'll reassess how I feel about this at the end of the first trimester, when I've done two of the three required papers.   

Something I love about studying over summer is that there's so few students around which means that there's more car parking available - if only I had a car! - and there's fewer people on campus. The lecture sizes are also smaller and that means more one on one tutor time, or lecturer time. The lecturers and tutors do feel more rushed though as they push a whopping twelve week course into a compact six week course. The downside to this is also that on days like today it is sunshiny and hot out and I'd much rather be at the beach but alas I'm in a classroom (or in my office at home doing homework assignments). I guess it's good though because I won't be getting into and out of study mode so much which means my brain is always switched into study mode and I'm not lazy about references and citations. 

I am nearing the end of all of my study though and I'm kind of facing that I want to just stop studying for a while mode. (Not good!) So hopefully the classes keep my attention long enough to finish everything and things will continue to be good this year. 

Now bring on studylink and funded study.

xx. Until next time, Lisa.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Social media

Lately I've been watching a lot of Youtube videos, as well as uploading many photos to Instagram. Anything to distract myself from doing my summer school assignments, oh yes!

I haven't been the best so far this year at being on top of everything I'm supposed to be doing. I'm already behind on blog posts, my YouTube channel and filming has stopped. Something had to give! I'm also super thankful that Daniel agreed to having a long engagement, there's no way I could be doing all of this and planning a wedding as well! (Ask me nearer to the end of 2016 how the wedding planning is going.... *giggle* It's on Pinterest so far and that's it!)

I think I'll also have a bit more of a break from BATs theatre and ushering too - I've just emailed and let them know, as I think my workload this summer has already gone crazy and I need to ensure everything I'm doing is to the best standard it can be, and that I can be on top of my game for school too!

I signed up for a Religion paper a number of months back as I have 5 papers left for my degree and I figured I would do this 300 level paper and I'd be 20 points (1 paper) closer to graduating. I call it a paper, but really it's a 20 point course. Each course (except for summer school) runs for 12 weeks and then most have an exam at the end. Summer school runs for 6 weeks and some have exams, but most just have an exam in class at the end.

Luckily for me mine has an in-class text thing at the end and not a full on exam, as I'll be finishing this paper and going into Summer Shakespeare mode! I'm the Front of House Manager and loving every moment of it thus far.

Later today I have another meeting with the Production Team (this crew is filled with super amazing and talented people and sometimes I feel like I'm way out of my depth, but they're all really lovely and amazing and helping me out so much.) I'm just super thankful to have such a talented and awesome bunch around me. I went into everything filled with energy and raring to go, and lately with the low iron and health problems I've been less than ideal, and really not on my game!

I'm sure I'll be fine and everything when it comes to show time!

In the meantime, lots and lots of study, lectures and tutorials with my favourite tutor Bruno S. (Oh gosh, I hope he doesn't come across my blog!) haha.

Anyway, back to it. Have something like 100 pages to read for Religion before today's 2:10pm lecture.

xx. Until next time,  Lisa.