Sweet Dreams!

24Jan11

At your first apartment, you will come to an astonishing realization: they have a lot of tiny things in them that you completely forgot you would need.

For me, it was curtains. In the hustle of everything, curtains simply escaped my purview, and my bedroom windows were left bare and unadorned. What is a man to do to get a good night’s sleep?

Garbage bags.

Yes indeed. In the classical tradition of student DIY, I will tell you this week how to transform the humble garbage bag into a light-blocking lifesaver. First off, measure your window, and write it down.

Next, the grocery store. No need to go too extravagant on your brand-name selection, but try to get ones you think will be thicker than a human hair. Compare the measurements given on the boxes to the ones on your sheet (you brought the sheet with you, right?) and make your selection.

If it helps, you can sketch out what a prospective curtain arrangement might look like at this point. I used four bags to cover my windows, and it seemed to work. Before heading to the checkout, grab some masking tape as well. Other kinds will either be too weak and fall down (scotch tape) or be too strong and ruin the paint when removed (duct tape).

Masking tape is the same stuff used for, well, masking when professional painters set up to paint a room. It gives good hold while ensuring easy removal. It’s also swell for wrapping presents, and is easy to write on for labelling things. Great stuff.

So now you’re back in your room, bags scattered across your bed, tape in hand. I had to do my curtains twice, because I failed to heed the next step: Go slow, and have a plan.

Start at the top, and work your way down at a reasonable pace, smoothing and taping as you go. This will ensure a nice, smooth, pleasant-looking job – hey, just because you have garbage bag curtains doesn’t mean they can’t be nice garbage bag curtains, right?

In about half an hour, your room should be newly dark, and you are one step closer to the perfect place. Good job!

Go Huskies!
Steve


Hello all!

I am back, with a new apartment, new classes, and new enthusiasm. This week’s post is about something you might have made as a New Year’s resolution – study more.

Where are some good places to study on Saint Mary’s campus? Over the past few years, I’ve tried out numerous study spots, and seen new areas come into being. From open group work space to disturbingly quiet individual study areas, Saint Mary’s has a wealth of opportunity.

The DEN – First on our list is the most obvious study spot, our oncampus 24-hour computer lab. Recently redone in bright colours, it features plenty of computers, and is my favourite spot for a group meeting.

The Atrium – Oh, Atrium. You came into my educational career late, but for reading a textbook, or meeting some friends, you are my spot of choice.

Library – The library here can be a mixed bag. I’ve done some studying here, but usually at other places. They have group rooms for rent, and the aforementioned creepily quiet and isolating study cubicles. If you want to shut out all distractions, take a seat in one of these.

Computer lab – Since I’m graduating soon, I feel I can safely share this tip: computer labs are the secretly awesome place to study on campus. They’re quiet, the chairs are comfy, and you have ready access to a school computer for research and your network drive.

Coffee shop – Never tried it, not much of a coffee person. But I’ve heard that the Uncommon Grounds location on South Park Street is a nice place to spend some time.

These are just a few of the amazing places you can study on SMU campus. Go out and find your own favourite!

Go Huskies!
Steve


Howdy all,

Things are getting better around these parts, some relaxation and family time (and a bit of medical assistance) are working wonders.

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday! See you in 2011.

Go Huskies!
Steve


Hello,

As you may have deduced, I am going through a bit of a tough time right now. I will come back as soon as possible, and fill you all in on the exploits of my glorious final semester.

But until all is well in my life, I bid you Happy Holidays 🙂

Go Huskies!
Steve


I did it!

I am done this semester, one more to go until beautiful, beautiful graduation.

This week’s advice comes as I am taking it myself. It is How To Switch Your Residence Room.

Alright. Nobody’s perfect. Not the university, and not you. Maybe you thought you could do roommates, but you can’t. Maybe there’s a giant ventilation fan outside your window, and it runs all night. The university sticks you in these rooms, and sometimes it makes mistakes.

So what do you do? Depends on your situation. If it’s a roommate issue, talk to your RA and set up a mediation. If your roommate refuses to go to mediation (it happens), then your next step is to fill out a room change form and have your RA sign it.

The forms are available at the Residence Life Office. I hope everything works out for you.

Go Huskies!
Steve


Hello,

Want to know how you can be sure a real SMU student actually writes this blog? This week’s post will be delayed until Tuesday afternoon, by which point I will have finished my semester’s classes, written three in-class exams, and be ready to take a short break and write a post before plunging into studying for my first formal final exam.

See you then!


Exams are coming up. I… can… barely… contain… my… excitement. But life goes on, and we have to deal with it. So what’s the best way to study for exams?

Well, it starts in September – if you’ve taken good notes, your studying will be much easier. What you want to do is pull out all your notes, and review them. Read them cover to cover like a good book, then imagine it’s your job to prepare the summary of this course for lazy students.

Write this out in one session, so it’s all coming from the same frame of mind. If you come across something in your notes that you know you already know, don’t include it in the summary. Your job here is to compress a semester’s worth of knowledge into a few pages.

And once you have those few pages, study the crap out of them. Read them over and over and over. In a few days, go over them and prepare another summary, cutting out all the stuff you memorized between the first draft and the second one.

Before you go to bed the night before the exam, read over your notes one more time. Before you write the exam, read over your notes one more time.

A bit obsessive? Probably.
Proven effective? It’s worked for me.

Go Huskies!
Steve

P.S. For some reason, this works much better if you write your notes rather than type them. So do that.


This past Thursday, I attended my hometown cenotaph’s Remembrance Day ceremony. As I stood there, with the names of our fallen being read out, I was struck to notice how many 21 and 22 year old men were listed as killed in action.

The thought is: what does Remembrance Day mean to you? For me, it comes down to thinking about the values that are most important in life. And that means family.

University life is hard. And stressful. There really is no way around this. The best way is to find a way to deal with it. I’m lucky enough to have a great circle of friends to lean on, but don’t forget about your family too.

I’ve spent the last few days at home, destressing, and it’s been wonderful. If your family is far away, give them a call, or videochat with them over Skype. You’ll feel better.

Go Huskies!
Steve


Funny thing about the working world: you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job.

How do you get around that?

There are a few nifty ways, some of which I’ve employed in my time here at Saint Mary’s:

SEEP – The Student Employment Experience Program, that is. This is a program put on by the university administration to help students get jobs on campus. And really, what working location could be closer to campus than campus itself? Application dates vary, check the Career Services website for more info.

FSWEP – Ready for this one? The Federal Student Work Experience Program. Yes, it’s the federal government. This is the one that I’ve used myself – back a few summers ago I worked as a border guard at the Halifax airport, which lead to…

Co-op – Feel like making some money and getting genuine work experience at the same time? Then co-op is for you. Following on the success of my FSWEP placement, I then did two more summers with the feds, both here and, as longtime readers know, in Ottawa. All of the jobs they put up are high-quality, and would make a great addition to your résumé.

Entrepreneurship – Don’t feel like working for “The Man”? That’s ok too. Saint Mary’s has resources galore to help you get your own business off the ground (*cough* http://razorwireconsulting.ca *cough*). Who knows? It might get you noticed, and you might get to be my replacement next year.

So those are some great ways of putting genuine work experience on your résumé before graduation. Please don’t just work at a call centre, McDonald’s, or a mall for three summers. If you’re smart enough to read this blog you can do better 🙂

Go Huskies!
Steve


Yes, it’s that wonderful bi-annual time of year where student leaders from all across the province gather to debate policy and propose lobbying initiatives for the next six months. I have been proud to be able to represent Saint Mary’s at this forum for the last few years, and it is always a weekend full of great ideas and great fun! This time, Dalhousie played host to our roving band of political nerds.

The weekend started with a panel discussion on the causes and possible solutions to the troubles faced by African Nova Scotian students in our educational system. A spirited discussion was had, and I certainly learned quite a bit about what is being done to help alleviate this problem. One panelist noted, “We are spending so much time and effort trying to recruit immigrants to Nova Scotia to fill our labour shortage, that we are forgetting about the unutilized resources at our doorstep.” True words.

Over dinner, I was able to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen since the last conference months ago. They told me about their summer, and I was able to fill them in on the details of my time in Ottawa. I also had a stimulating conversation with the President of the Atlantic School of Theology Student Union – I know far too little about this important partner with Saint Mary’s. Did you know that AST students are technically members of SMUSA? I didn’t.

After dinner, we retired to the Grawood, Dalhousie’s campus bar, for… refreshments. Everyone was in good spirits after a productive first day, and looking forward to the next day’s events.

As a result of showing our guests some Halifax hospitality, I was only in bed for about 5 hours before being up and ready for Day 2! Things started at The HUB Halifax (a lovely communal workspace on Barrington Street, right in the heart of downtown) with a leadership seminar from Drew Dudley. It was fantastic. We engaged in a simulation (“which really means competition” was his explanation) involving three rounds of trading coins and attempting to garner the highest score possible.

As a Finance major, how do you think I did at this game? Indeed, I did fairly well. But there were also lessons learned along the way about communication, negotiation, and making sure you know what you want before you go and get it. A short break for some air followed this game, and then we learned about “Leadership through Social Styles”. He said that the traditional method of determing what other people will do is to figure out how you would act, and then placing that over them.

This is common in Finance – people assume everyone is as good at Finance as they are. But they really aren’t. The same is true in life – shockingly, not everyone thinks the same way as you do. So if you can shift your paradigm from “What would I do in this situation?” to “What would THEY do in this situation?” you’ll be surprised at the improvements you can get from your team. Also, he offered a tip for how to make people think you’re a great instructor – “Simply add ‘…like life’ to the end of every example.”

Lunch was at Mongolie Grill, and was delicious. When you mix together different colours and flavours, the result is beautiful …like life 😛

In the afternoon, we had an open session with Mat Whynott (yes, only one T in the first word. Yes, two Ts in the second) the youngest elected MLA in Nova Scotia history. He gave us tips on engaging our student body, and how to promote our newest initiative.

And what is our newest initiative? http://tappedout.ca is our newest initiative. You may not know this, but for the past few years, tuition has been frozen due to an agreement between the universities and the provincial government. That agreement expires this year, and has to be renegotiated. As you might imagine, it’s kind of a big deal, and we’re putting considerable weight behind it.

So please, tell everyone you know, and send them to http://tappedout.ca. We need your support.

Go Huskies!
Steve