One year gone…

And just like that, the first year of university is over. It’s been a strange transition. One might be forgiven for thinking that the IB was a tough new world, but academically speaking, the IB was not so different from IGCSEs. Certainly not compared to a curriculum that has maybe 8-9 hours of lectures a week and requires you to actually demonstrate your knowledge/learning only thrice a fortnight. It brings with it not only an incredible amount of freedom, but the phrase ‘self-directed learning’ takes a whole new twist when you literally have to learn almost everything by yourself. No-more classes, teachers and detailed mark-schemes for you to memorise. Just lots of books and the freedom to think. If nothing else, the lack of posts this academic year (bar the now almost obligatory WSDC and WIDPSC coverage) is evidence of the taxing nature of Oxford, and perhaps my involvement in too many things for my own good.

CIMG4300It’s been quite a fun year, despite all the work. There are thankfully no exams now until 2015, a fact that is both comforting and intensely worrying if one were to consider the number of hours that will need to be spent in exams come that time. Debating and MUN are both more varied and fun at university level, albeit a lot scarier. And then there are a host of other things available at university that have tickled my fancy and stolen my time and energy.

Now that summer has dawned, I can finally catch-up on sleep (managed nearly half a day of sleeping night before last) and hopefully gear myself up for the next year or two.

Waking from a coma

The mother of all lines at HKIA

The mother of all lines at HKIA

Wow. It’s been a really long time since I last posted properly. 9 weeks and counting in actual fact. The simple answer, ‘university’. The last 9 weeks or so saw Michaelmas Term 2012 flash by in a second and left me to awake from my work-induced coma just recently. There’s a million and one things that happened. Here’s the stuff that I can remember.

The flight back to the grand ole United Kingdom was enjoyable enough. despite of the massive Emirates queue that I managed to skip thanks to a little thing called online check-in, I quite enjoyed Emirates with large and spacious seats, an entertainment system that was operational even before we took-off and just about every amenity that one could imagine needing on a flight. I managed to watch Men in Black 3, The Avengers and even 4 episodes of Veep. I’d been dying to watch Veep for a while, especially after having dabbled in the West Wing and the Thick of It. Love the A380 we were on between Dubai and London, and Safe, Prometheus, Brave and Game Changer helped make time pass faster.

CIMG3558I had thankfully arranged to arrive in Oxford a few days earlier than most freshers were supposed to arrive. It meant that most of the accommodation and the college itself was empty and devoid of people. Thankfully, I was able to do quite a bit of shopping in the meantime, unpack my backs and sort myself out before everyone arrived. That’s when Fresher’s week started. I didn’t exactly go clubbing that often, but between the movies, musical shows, murder mysteries, Pizzas and work (3 tutorials on consecutive days!), it was all fun and good. I also managed to avoid Fresher’s flu, most likely the result of not having trade too many germs with others in the warm, sweaty environment of clubs.

The Uncommon Common App

When most people are first introduced to the Common App, they are told quite forcefully that this means the same application is going to be submitted to all universities, hence the name ‘common’ app. That, it turns out is not quite the case.

There are a number of possible reasons people use this. The most vehemently opposed reason is simply because people want to submit different things to different colleges for whatever reason. If anything, I find that it is quite reasonable to want to submit different essays. And even to have different activities. The simple fact is that you might want to emphasize and highlight different things in your application to different universities. Certainly, it doesn’t really help your workload given the mountain of things the Common App already requires, but it is a legitimate choice.

On the less objectionable end of the scale is perhaps the situation faced by people who submit applications early. Since your early application is then locked, it is equally logical that you may have new thoughts and ideas come the deadline for your other colleges.

Regardless of the reason, the possibility to do so is readily available. If anything, it is provided by Common App themselves. You simply create ‘alternate versions’ of your application, select different colleges for the respective versions and submit as you usually would. Of course, one must be careful that the right version is submitted to the right college and to keep track of all the various versions. But that’s no reason not to do it if you have the need and have the ability to manage yourself.

Taught to Tweet

Economics, History, Peace and Conflict Studies, Geography, Biology, Maths, English Literature, Greek, Spanish are all academic subjects taught at university level and often even at secondary schools. The latest addition: Twitter.

Australia’s Griffith University made Twitter education a mandatory course for Journalism students. Who knew! It is perhaps one of the most progressive academic courses that a university can offer. It’s an innovative move, but whether there really is that much to teach is up to debate.

The class aims to refine and sharpen young writers’ tweets, which, according to senior lecturer Jacqui Ewart, “are not as in depth as you might like.” University officials cited the growing journalistic role of Twitter in major world events like last summer’s Iranian protests as the motivation behind the new course.

Source: from