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Posts Tagged ‘University of Stellenbosch’

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Yup, that time of the year has arrived. The time when the weather is just a little bit colder, you don’t have any classes but still you can’t seem to relax, and suddenly whenever you speak louder than 3 db, you’re shouted at to STFU. In case you truly are phenomenally stupid, I’m talking about exams.

Exams are an unpleasant experience at the best of times. The need to de-cipher the cryptic shorthand that you’ve been using all year, the pages of notes you just suddenly can’t find, and the rapid onset of chronic caffeine addiction. Yum. I was reading an article in a magazine the other day which told me that the best way to avoid procrastination is to jump right in. I’m not a fan of this approach. That’s like standing at the edge of a pool with someone telling you that the best way to get over your fear of drowning is to “jump right in.”

I put the ‘pro’ in procrastination. I’m really, really good at it. What do you think I’m doing right now? I’ve even found a handy flow chart. To me there is no better time of year to do laundry, sort out my mp3 collection, make awesome changes to my facebook, etc. When else am I meant to do it? And besides, I went to the lectures, I’ll be fine.

But then again I’m also lucky. I don’t get stressed. I’m a really chilled person that way. Unfortunatly, I decided to bunk the lecture that the Law Faculty so kindly organised for us on dealing with exam stress. So I can’t exactly tell you how to deal with any stress that you might experience. Like I said, my cure for stress is usually nothing more complicated than a glass of some fine vino. MMMMMMmmm. Sometimes it even helps me to study.

Exam stress relief: Tasty

Exam stress relief: Tasty

To all my university, school, technikon and otherwise exam-writing friends, all the best. Study hard, procrastinate little and get good grades.

There’s six weeks of freedom waiting on the other side.

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Idols is dead. If it isn’t, it should have been killed a long time ago. Srsly. So imagine the shock and horror when I noticed for the first time the horror that is the following:

Kids, we are fucked.

Kids, we are fucked.

I’ve lived in res. Near the shower. And as much as most res-dwellers believe they can sing Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel’ in perfect key in the shower, they can’t. Trust me. I used it as a trusty alarm clock without fail for about a month. And despite this university’s fine history of sêr and even the fact that Heinz Winckler, South Africa’s first Idols winner, was a Matie, here is my prediction: We. Are. Screwed.

Res kids are about to climb out of the shower.

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As mentioned in my previous post, due to my internet greed, and Telkom’s stingyness, I am currently being forced to bring you this blog from a horrible, horrible place.

HUMARGA: Similar to pic, just less clinical and more ugh.

HUMARGA: Similar to pic, just less clinical and more ugh.

I’m talking about HUMARGA, the open area availible to students who don’t have airtime to facebook on their cellphones. I take a lot of issue with this place. And there are several reasons why. I have mentioned some already, but I’m going to elaborate a little further. Let’s first examine all the reasons that gives it potential to go horribly wrong:

  • It’s a public area. Any one of the several extremely weird (and I do mean extremely) people that study in the BA building have access to it. Please note that this includes (in progression of weirdness) Sports Science students, Education students, Humanities Students, Drama Students, and that weird redhead kid that you always see walking around.
  • It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please tell me if anything good has EVER happened between 3am and 5am, except that time you scored that person in Springbok. Didn’t think so.
  • There is ALWAYS someone there. Arrive at 6am, there’s someone there. Stay till 3, there’s someone there. They’re always there. That just isn’t normal.
  • It’s noisy.  There are always idiots talking to each other, people taking phone calls, and I swear that I could write a book of quotes from the utter stupidity I’ve heard streaming out of people’s mouths.
  • The aircon doesn’t work for shit. Arrive wearing a t-shirt and the aircon will be set to the ‘cryogenic’ setting. If you’re in jeans, a jersey and warm boots, some idjit has decided to change it back to the ‘3km from the surface of the sun’ setting. And the air is recycled. Which means it tastes, smells and feels funny.
  • The rush every 10 min before the hour. So this only applies to office hours. But still, it’s annoying.
  • The night shift. This is an experience every student needs to go through. The long haul mission to finish an essay, usually the day after it was meant to be in. There is always some sort of traumatising story involved.

There are also the urban legends. That the staff are not human, but actually robots. That if you turn the printer on and off in rapid succession a kitten is murdered. And that it is possible to get stuck in the magnetic door that’s used after hours (this rumour has actually been confirmed many times).

The best story I heard about this hellhole, was a friend of mine who had to ‘deurnag’ on a late assignment. As I mentioned, it happens to all of us. Eventually was just him and another person, on opposite ends of the vast space. We’re talking circa 4, maybe 5am here. He prints his document and makes for the door, only to notice the rapid and concentrated jerking motions under the test of the only other person there. It must have been a strange experience.

The only way to endure this place is to arrive with purpose, blinkers, and a very strong will to live. Headphones are essential, unless you want to hear how drunk Poppy B got when she scored Jock X, or how ‘Jassus bru, that test was killa, hey?” Trust me on this one.

I want my internet back.

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The lecture theatre: Where stupidity can now be found.

The lecture theatre: Where stupidity can now be found.

I’m a first year student. What sets me apart from all the other first years amongst me, is that I am not a first first year. That’s right, back in 2006, when most of my classmates were discovering heels, lipgloss, and discovering first hand the differences between boys and girls, I was sitting in lectures at my beloved University of Stellenbosch. I was a BDram student, and our first year group was by no means a group of geniuses. We were just your regular students. Sure, we had to be accepted for our course, unlike those common BA types, but let’s face it, it was more based on an essay than your academic performance. Let’s not kid ourselves, Drama is hard work, but it required less sheer smarts and more creativity. Different strengths for different people and all that.

We went to our classes, we took notes, we wrote our tests. We went to the library, we got indimidated by the big words lecturers use, and sometimes asked questions. All in all I’d say that the majority of us adapted to the change of University rather well. A few kids discovered the joys of alcohol and casual sex, but in the true sense of the buffalo theory, the weak among us fell away, and the group as a whole got stronger. We were by no means phenomenal, but hey, we weren’t stupid.

This year, a mere three years later, I sit in class, again a first year. I do realise I am slightly older than my peers, with a bit of University experience behind me. I already know where all the bars are, where to get alcohol on a Sunday, and that no-one ever leaves Springbok at 3 in the morning with any of their dignity intact. But still. I just can’t think to myself that 3 years ago, when I was a first year for the first time, that we were this stupid. I don’t really want to use the word stupid, but it seems that our current batch of first years are severely struggling. They don’t seem to grasp concepts as well, they can’t formulate arguments, and analytical thought is something very foreign.

Of course I’m generalising. On average my classes have upwards of 200 students, so it’s a little tricky to interview every single one of them. But you can tell, from the feedback from the lecturers, from the way they ask questions in class, and to how un-prepared they are. So I started looking for a common thread. And I found it.

Outcomes-Based Education. Kapow. This year the University has it’s first take-on of OBE matriculants. My sentiments are not just mine either. I currently live with someone who tutors first-years, and she has also noticed that this year’s first years are not the sharpest. She says that her tut classes are far from the lively periods of discussion that they are meant to be, and that she may just record her voice and play it back. The assignments she receives lack insight, instead being summaries on the work, instead of critical analysis. Someone else I spoke to (a third year student with first year subjects), has also noticed this. The future is looking grim. And please be aware that I am not blaming this on the past. Everyone seems to have been equally wronged by this system.

Who is responsible for all of this? I present to you:

Naledi Pandor. A South African minister. In France.

Naledi Pandor. South African Minister of Education. In France.

That’s right. Naledi Pandor. To be fair, it’s not all her fault, the ball was set in motion by her predecessor, Prof Kader Asmal. FUN FACT: Did you know Naledi Pandor holds a Masters Degree in General Linguistics? From Stellenbosch. I vividly remember the to and fro-ing in High School as we switched back and forth form OBE to traditional education. But I think the proof is plain to see, OBE is making the country stupid. And it’s not to late to stop it. The final nail in the coffin? Our friendly tourist, pictured above, sends her kids to a private school.

I rest my case.

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