Yes, gentle readers, this will be my final post here at The Adventures of Santamarian Steve. I’ve truly enjoyed the 75+ posts I’ve made here, each one a snapshot of what my life was like that week, and what I wanted to convey to future students. I’d like to close out with a Top Ten list of my favourite posts on the site.

Whether you’re reading this in 2011, 2015, or 2089 where it’s being displayed through the computer embedded in your skull, these ten pages serve as a good jumping-off point for the blog. Enjoy!

Note: The blog posts are presented in chronological order, rather than preferential order.

The History of Saint Mary’s University – One of the site’s first posts, it was well-received for providing an easy to read summary of 200+ years of educational heritage.

The Fun of Residence – Watching someone walk to class in bunny slippers never gets old.

Dockside Dining Hall – A post that foreshadowed my burgeoning interest in the culinary arts (the picture at the top of the post is of real Dockside food, and was snapped by yours truly)

What’s New? – After having forgotten what it was like to be in a new city for the first time, my summer in Ottawa reminded me quite rapidly. This post talks about how to best adjust to your new surroundings.

In Celebration of Canada – Being in the nation’s capital around Canada Day plays tricks on the mind, and makes you write rambling patriotic jingoistic rants such as this one. I like it.

French Toast Scrambled Eggs, and the Importance of Creative Problem Solving – My time at Saint Mary’s has taught me many things, chief amongst them the ability to quickly assess a situation, determine the issue, and craft a solution. This post shows how I was able to apply this skill in my personal life.

Troubled Times (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) – Everyone has their down periods. Mine just happened to be really quite far down, requiring medical attention. I tried not to mention it in the blog too much, but in the selected posts you can see my gradual downwards slip into depression, and slow, eventual return to normalcy. I’m much better now, and hope to continue being better into the future🙂

On The Power Of Taking Chances – Let’s end on an inspirational note. I wrote this post in one long string coming out of my brain, after one of the most spectacular periods in my life. It stands out as possibly my favourite post on the site.

Anyway, like I said, I’ve really enjoyed being allowed to write this blog on behalf of Saint Mary’s University. As I graduate and go forward into the future, I will take the skills I’ve learned here and use them to make my life the best that it can be. And so, for the last time, I say…

Go Huskies!
Steve


Gang Aft Agley

29Mar11

Due to a fire and the subsequent forced evacuation of the Atrium, this week’s post will be postponed.

Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion of “The Adventures of Santamarian Steve”!

Go Huskies!
Steve


Leadership

21Mar11

I tend to read on the bus. It passes the time, and educates/entertains me. I just finished “Patriot Hearts” by John Furlong, the story behind the 2010 Winter Olympics, which was amazing. Right now, I’m reading “Leadership” by General Rick Hillier, former head of the Canadian Forces.

At the same time, I’m running the backstage operations for Pride & Prejudice, which coincidentally involves a lot of running – getting actors prepped, in place, and psychologically ready for the stage. 99% of the time they take care of themselves, and I thank them for it. But that remaining 1%? That’s where leadership comes in.

Saturday night was… a fascinating performance. In the interest of discretion, I’ll just say that there were several times where I was tested, and I’d like to think I came out ahead. Pursuant to that, a few general tips on leading people:

1) Focus on people. When they’re backstage, the actors are my responsibility. If they need it, and I can provide it, I will bend over backwards to make it happen. Whether that’s an energy drink, a pep talk, or a zip-up, everyone pulls together as a team to make something that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.

2) Act quickly, and decisively. This takes practice and preparation, but you’ll reap the rewards when things happen. That which is vital is usually also that which is urgent. Be prepared to quickly assess the situation, decide what needs to be done, and do it.

3) Be nice. People like nice people, and they tend to be nicer to nice people. The problem with only being nice when you want something is that people don’t judge your words in isolation. If you are insensitive 75% of the time, your team will fill in the other 25% as insensitive no matter how you actually act.

Be nice, decisive, and helpful. As a leader, your teammates don’t “work for you”. That’s the wrong mindspace to be in. Rather, you are the force that helps THEM be the best that they can be. Support, not domination. The key to good leadership.

Go Huskies!
Steve


Think it? Do it.
Want it? Believe it.
Know it? Show it.

The world is full of billions of people, each acting in their own unique way. That which we call “life” is simply a common experience created by interaction of each of us.

Last week I rode on a bus with someone and was able to pay it forward by giving them advice on how to deal with depression. Made me feel good.

I also went to H&R Block and filed my taxes for the year. Fun Fact: I’ll have enough T2202A tax credits to use the money I save on taxes to pay off a large chunk of my student loans. I also received a coupon for free pizza. And thus begins our story,

I’m in rehearsals for Pride and Prejudice. The Saint Mary’s University Drama Society (SMUDS) is putting it on this coming Thursday to Sunday at 7 pm, and you should all come out for some truly amazing theatrics. I’ll be running around backstage with a headset, making sure everything works well.

So after practice, and before seeing Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic at the theatre (another awesome thing) I had both some time to fill and a stomach to fill. I also had had a group meeting earlier, but that’s neither here nor there. I decided to go and get my free pizza.

So I went down to the pizza shop (Pizza Pizza on Grafton, right next to Cheers and Taboo), and asked them how often they exceed their posted fire-marshall-decreed 50 person limit. I was unsurprised at the answer. 15 minutes later I had my pie, and was off to Park Lane.

Along the way, I passed by a place that a friend works. I took three strides past the door, and then a thought struck me:

What if they’re inside?
Are they hungry?
Would they like to share this free pizza?

So, having absolutely no basis to believe it would work, I turned a total 180 and walked in the front doors carrying my pizza.

She was right there.

And not only that, she was just finishing her shift. Funny how life works, eh?

It was an even rarer occurrence than I dared hope for – she was there, hungry, and did want to share my pizza. And she was just finishing work, so we could walk to the theatre while eating it! Life is good!

So as we walked along, it became apparent that this was too much pizza for even two people to scarf down between Grafton and Dresden Row, haha. So we did the only logical thing:

We started giving pizza to random people.

Why? Well, why not?

We gave pizza to three separate homeless folks on Spring Garden Road, and they all seemed extremely thankful for it. A good day if there ever was one. I might ask Pizza Pizza to sponsor me as I go around the globe handing out free pizza, that’s how much fun it was.

My point is this: Do weird things. Have dreams. Follow them. You never know… they might come true.

Go Huskies!
Steve


What A Weekend!

07Mar11

Yes, a splendid combination of personal stuff and SMUSA activities combined to make this one of my better recent weekends. On Friday, I celebrated my 22nd birthday! Tons of fun and friends, starting off at the Westcliffe Diner (Bayers and Oxford, delicious food at a cheap price!) and then moving on to bowling at Bowlarama (when was the last time you went bowling? First time in a long time for me.) So much fun.

Speaking of things I hadn’t done in a while, earlier that day I went to SMU Skates The Oval and skated like crazy! If you haven’t been out to the Canada Games Oval yet, somehow, then you definitely need to go THIS WEEK. I don’t care if you haven’t been on skates in over a decade, I hadn’t either and still had a blast.

And on Saturday? Nice lunch with a friend, followed by the SMUSA Rainmen game. Chilling around with my fellow Santamarians, and a game that went down to the last second? A beautiful Saturday afternoon to be sure.

As time winds down on my time here at Saint Mary’s, I’m becoming more and more philosophical about the whole experience. It’s been a great time, and who knows what’s next?

Go Huskies!
Steve


The following is a re-post of my final entry on the Canada Games 2011 blog. Français suivante.

In 90 short minutes, my volunteer experience at the Canada Games will be over, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’ve been lucky enough to jet around to many of the different venues this competition has had to offer, and experience sports like badminton and table tennis on a level I’d never known existed. More cups of coffee and tea than I usually drink in a month, too.

So as I come to the end of my Games experience, the question remains: “What will you bring?” Or rather, to be grammatically correct, “What have you brought?” What is it about this Canada Games that was special, important, memorable? I’ve nailed it down to three things.

One, Camaraderie. Like I said, I went around to numerous venues, sat amongst numerous teams, and watched numerous events. Continually, I was awestruck at the team spirit these young people have, not only within their own team but among their supposed enemies! I saw hugging, and laughing, and high-fives galore. These are memories for a lifetime, friends for a lifetime, an experience never to be forgotten.

Two, Athletic Fire. As friendly as they were on the stands, everyone was all business once they stepped onto the court, or into the pool, or onto the slopes. I witnessed unparalleled perseverence, dedication, and heart every day, and it made me proud. Going forward, these are our future Olympians, and I am proud to say that Canada’s athletic future is in good hands.

Three, National Pride. These are the Canada Games. From far and wide, O Canada. We had athletes from across the country come to our city, and we put on a show for them that they will never forget. On my final morning, I had the opportunity to see Team Yukon and Team Newfoundland and Labrador face off in badminton, and this encapsulates what the Games are all about: uniting the nation through sport.

Camaraderie, Athletic Fire, National Pride. These things are what our athletes brought to the Canada Games, and we thank them for it.

– Steve

————————————————————————————–

Dans 90 courtes minutes, mon expérience de bénévolat aux Jeux du Canada prendra fin et je ne suis pas certain des émotions que je ressens. J’ai été chanceux de pouvoir aller à plusieurs sites de compétition et de voir des sports comme le badminton et le tennis de table à un niveau d’expertise que je ne savais même pas pouvais exister. J’ai également bu plus de tasses de café et de thé que je ne bois d’habitude!

Alors, mon expérience de bénévolat tire à sa fin et je me pose la question: “Qu’apporterez-vous aux Jeux?” ou bien plutôt… “Qu’avez-vous apporté aux Jeux?” Qu’est-ce qui rend ces Jeux du Canada si importants, si spéciaux, si mémorables? Pour moi, il s’agit de 3 choses.

UN: La camaraderie. Comme j’ai dit, je suis allé sur plusieurs sites, je me suis assis parmi plusieurs équipes et j’ai regardé plusieurs événements. J’étais toujours ébloui par l’esprit d’équipe de ces jeunes, non seulement pour leur propre équipe mais également pour les équipes supposément ‘ennemies’! J’ai vu des calins, des sourires, des applaudissements, des cris de joie qui seront des souvenirs pour toute une vie, des amis pour la vie et une expérience inoubliable.
DEUX: Le feu de la compétition. Aussi amical que l’on puisse l’être dans les gradins, tout le monde devenait sérieux et compétitif en mettant le pied sur le terrain de jeu. J’ai été témoin de perséverance, de dévouement et de coeur au ventre tous les jours et tout cela me rendait fier. Ces athlètes sont nos futurs athlètes olympiques et je suis fier de dire que le futur du sport au Canada est prometteur!
TROIS: La fierté nationale. Ce sont les Jeux du Canada. D’une côte à l’autre. Nous avions des athlètes de partout au pays et nous avons monté un spectacle pour eux qu’ils n’oublieront jamais. En ce matin final de mon quart de bénévolat, j’ai eu l’occasion de voir l’équipe du Yukon et l’équipe de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador s’affronter au badminton; ce qui englobe ce que les Jeux représentent: unir le pays par le biais du sport.

La camaraderie, le feu de la compétition et la fierté nationale. C’est ce que nos athlètes ont apporté aux Jeux et nous les remercions!!!!

– Steve


Sideshow

22Feb11

In lieu of a post here this week, I encourage you to check out my contributions to the official 2011 Canada Games blog. Ever wanted to know what it’s like to be a competitive table tennis player? You’ll find out there!


It’s Here!

14Feb11

Yes, the Canada Games have landed in Halifax just in time for Winter Break. This week, I will be cramming like crazy for my midterms, and next week I will be alternating relaxation with frenetic action as a Media Relations Officer/Social Media & Blog Liaison, at the Canada Games Media Centre at the Atlantica Hotel.

See you on the other side!

Go Huskies!
Steve


This past weekend, I attended my final ANSSA conference. I’ve previously written about the event, but this one has special poignancy as I reflected back on the great times I’ve had working for student interests over the past few years. I’ll also never forget having to find my way around strange campuses and cobble together foodstuffs in foreign cafeterias, haha.

So this week I present to you: Ten Steps To A Delicious Breakfast At Acadia.

  1. Walk around the cafeteria – what do they have? How is it laid out? Different cafeterias have different strengths, this particular one had a section called My Pantry with sinks and such.
  2. Realize that they have a stir-fry station. File that away for later.
  3. Walk around some more, maybe get some cereal (there were ten different kinds, it took me five minutes to decide)
  4. Randomly open one of the refrigerators, and realize that there is a giant drum of shredded cheese in it, along with chopped ham and some mushrooms too.
  5. Look down on the bottom shelf and notice the large bowl of fresh eggs.
  6. Realize that the equipment required to stir-fry isn’t that different from that required to scramble eggs.
  7. Start getting really excited, and a bit hungry.
  8. Grab three eggs, and a handful each of mix-ins. Realize that three eggs is too much for the small pan you’ve been presented with, get rid of one of them.
  9. Figure out how to use the strange induction station the pan sits on, spray the pan generously with cooking spray, and heat it up.
  10. Throw everything in, stir until it smells awesome and looks cooked, and enjoy!

Innovative problem-solving. Just another one of the great traits you’ll learn here at Saint Mary’s University.

Go Huskies!
Steve


Sorry, sometimes one must stretch for the sake of alliteration.

With midterms coming up, it is incumbent upon a student to find an organized and effective way of cramming all that knowledge you spent months curating into usable intelligence for midterms and papers. But how? It helps to know your learning style.

Flashcards help lots of people. They’re easy to make, and allow you to literally test yourself backwards and forwards, by flipping the cards. But you have to carry them around, and it can be easy to fall into patterns of studying the cards in the same sequence every time. Which is why today I present an alternative that works for me.

It’s kind of like flashcards, but virtual. It’s randomized, so I don’t have to worry about order effects (statistics terminology!), and I can access it from anywhere through my BlackBerry. It’s called HeadMagnet, and you can access it at http://headmagnet.com. Setting up an account is simple, and once you’ve done that you can start creating memories.

There are two main things you need to know about. First, the Lists. They are the “flashcards” you create, and by default have a Question and an Answer, but if you’re feeling creative you can add additional fields, photos, even videos! Once you have a stocked list, it goes into your Head, which is the selection of Lists you are currently trying to remember. At the start of this semester, I removed my old Lists to make room for new ones.

And then things get easier. Whenever you have a spare moment (like on your morning bus ride, or chilling on the computer in the evening) load up HeadMagnet.com on your smartphone or laptop, log in, and study away! There are three main ways of studying: Learn, Review, and freeform. Learn is the initial review of whatever you last put into your Head, and then Review keeps it fresh by presenting a new set of cards every time you log in. Over time, it learns which cards you are forgetting most often, and puts them in more often.

The night before a test I’ll use the third method, the freeform one. I take everything out of my Head except for the class I want to focus on, and then run through every single card in the List. That normally preps my brain extremely well for the test.

And fast! I can usually run through 250 (the maximum you can study at once) in about 15 minutes, which makes it way more efficient than any other study method I’ve tried. Give it a shot today!

Go Huskies!
Steve




About This Blog

The Adventures of Santamarian Steve chronicles one student's life on campus at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Stephen Smith is a 3rd year Marketing/Finance student at Saint Mary's, and he also runs Razorwire Consulting, a small marketing consulting firm.

His first book, "The Secrets To University" is being published by Key Publishing House in June 2010, and will be available for pre-order soon.

His favourite thing to eat in the Gorsebrook is a Husky Burger with spicy fries.

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