HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 591: 23 November 2011

A memorable year
Before departing for Auckland in February this year, we were told that time would fly. I thought they were over exaggerating. At the time, three years, in my mind, was not going to fly. But they were right. It seems that it was just yesterday when we were packing up the life we had here, to start another in Auckland.
Doing a Bachelor of Architectural Studies at Auckland University has definitely been an experience. Thankfully, as we were promised by HRD, we were given all the help that we needed to make our first year as comfortable as possible. I for one was worried that after taking a year off, I would have forgotten everything that I learnt in level 3. In fact, when I decided to take a break before Uni, the negative feedback outweighed the positive. They were right in some ways though. Taking a break before Uni is risky. A lot can happen in one year. So much so that it could make you forget the dreams you had for Uni. Thankfully, however, it wasn’t that way for me. In fact, taking a year off was the best decision I ever made. You learn alot about life when you’re working. Things like being prompt, being able to manage your time and income wisely, to work with deadlines, to produce quality work under pressure, to meet new people, to approach challenges effectively, and so much more.  These, along with the support from peers, friends and family, were what helped me get through the year. No, it wasn’t a breeze. All nighters became the norm, and so did stocking your lockers with noodles. Socialising was almost impossible, and so was a weekend out with family. As a student, there’s alot you have to sacrifice. But in the end, when you know that you’ve given it your best shot, the satisfaction of being successful will be well worth itJ.
I won’t lie. It was tough. At Uni, lecturers and tutors just throw challenges at you and expect you to produce results. Sometimes I felt that the tasks were like telling a newborn baby to sing – impossible. But as a student you’ve got to bear in mind that unless circumstances are really complicated (such as the death of a family member), they don’t care what excuses you give them. They are getting paid to teach, whether you’re present or not. In the end, you may have disappointed them, but you’ve only just made things harder for yourself. It is completely different from high school. When you’re absent for a week, the truancy officer doesn’t come knocking at your door. When you’re sick, they don’t expect a doctor’s leave (unless it was an operation or something serious). All that matters is that you produce the work. Also remember that you reap what you sow - so whatever result you get, is a reflection of how much effort you were willing to sacrifice for it.  It’s hard work. One thing I truly appreciated was the fact that help was always available when we needed it. It was only a matter of you having to go out there and ask for help. Most courses have a ‘Tuakana’ programme which is designed especially to give Maori and Pacific Island students extra help if needed. Alot of the time I felt awkward because I didn’t understand what the lecturer was talking about. I was so relieved to have the Tuakana mentors on standby to help myself, and many others get through glitches.
I never really understood the meaning of freedom, until I had finished my last exam. All I could think about was, “Yes...we have come to the end of a year of being a broke, and socially deprived student (until next year of course).” And all I could look forward too, was a night out with friends, and the trip home for the summer break.
Exams are definitely one of the most stressful times of the year. Many spend days on end in the libraries, or in their rooms studying. For us, Zumba was the best way to spend our study breaks. Every Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5:20pm, zumba was held at the Rec Centre. It was the most exciting (and cost free) way of releasing pressure from stress.
As a student, it is always important to remind yourself that cram study doesn’t work everybody. At Uni, one thing I learnt was that going over past exam papers is the way to go. For most courses, the lecturers have been the same for years. If that’s the case, then you are bound to get questions that are similar to that from past exam papers. The structure may change slightly, but the questions will be the same, just asked differently. So the more you get through, the better. Another thing I learnt (and I know many have heard this too many times) is that PREPARATION is important. A rugby team doesn’t just run onto the field before a game without preparation. They train so that they know what to expect on the field, and how best to apply their skills. The same principle applies to exams. You can’t walk into an exam if you haven’t been studying, or haven’t done enough to be able to tackle what the exam will throw at you. If you’re not prepared, being in that exam is just pointless.

As a general education paper this semester, I decided to take up Biological Sciences – The study of Antarctica. This subject covers just about everything you need to know about the continent, such as climate, history, effects of anthropogenic impacts, and so much more. While it was very interesting, I found it extremely hard because I have very little background knowledge on Biology. Thankfully, the scholarship offers the opportunity to hire a tutor if you need it. So I decided to make the most of that opportunity. It was exciting, and I would encourage anyone to take it up.
Being first years on scholarship, it was compulsory that we live in a hall of residence. At second year, we can choose to flat if we please. This year, the four of us (Alfred Wigmore, Raukura Ellison, Rikana Toroma, and I) who attended Auckland University were privileged to have been put in “The Cottage” at Grafton’s Hall of Residence. For $320 a week, those in single rooms (myself and Alfred included) had breakfast, lunch and dinner catered for. Water, electricity, use of washhouse facilities, free gym membership for a year, and unlimited internet was also included. Those living in double rooms got the same privileges, but for $50 less a week. Uni was just a 20-30minute walk away, Queen Street was just around the corner, and Auckland Hospital was just outside our gates. It was the perfect location.
While living at Grafton, the staff made sure that our stay was as comfortable as possible. The cleaners, as well as the cooks, were always on call to brighten up our dull days. Some things I’ll miss for sure are the ping pong and pool tables, sky TV, and the hot showers. We are all so thankful to the staff and fellow students for making this year a story worth sharing, and would definitely recommend it to any student wanting to get a taste of the same experience.
One thing I noticed about Uni was how interested others are in your culture. While living at Grafton, the hall would put up special dinners throughout the year. We performed at the first dinner, and have been asked to perform at every other dinner since then. At the last dinner, the cleaners wanted to partake. So we got together in the cottage and taught them the actions, as well as the song. They made every effort to learn and it really made us feel appreciated. At my course also, I would often get asked to describe what the islands were like, in comparison to Auckland City.  I was surprised at how interested they were in our little islands. It also made me realise how sad it was that in fact, our culture and our language is being lost today. Many here (particularly the young generation) are trying to adapt a foreign style of living, and speaking, thinking that perhaps our culture is just a means of entertainment for tourists. Not true. Moving to Auckland made me realise how important culture and being able to speak the language was. And the fact that others were so drawn to it is just a motivation to want to learn more so that we can be able to share it with others. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and I applaud those who take pride in it.

As a first year, I was very lucky to have shared a little house with Alfred Wigmore, Raukura Ellison, and Rikana Toroma. Being with them made finding my way around uni and the city much less daunting. It also meant that I had people to talk to after a long day in the studio. More importantly, it meant that I wasn’t on my own when I really needed help with anything because we were all on the same boat. During the second semester our little group was joined by Teuru Tiraa-Passfield. This made our get togethers even more exciting, especially our performances at the dining hall. It has definitely been an enjoyable and memorable year. -Sally Hosking

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.