university life #2: dine with the ducks



photo 2

there’s no such thing as a free lunch

Young people are often warned when they start preparing for university: ‘It’s not like school, you know, you have to take care of yourself, no-one’s going to chase you for assignments and make sure you eat every day.’

Mostly, that’s true. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Except at UOW, which is such an inclusive and wholistic institution that there are now, actually,  free lunches…

‘UOW Wellbeing is a new initiative to help students like you maintain a balanced, positive life and enhance your experience at UOW. Live like it matters!’

So says the Facebook page, and sure enough, last week a small team of student volunteers camped on the McKinnon lawn, serving a tasty balanced lunch to anyone who wanted to ‘Dine with the Ducks’.

But, warned Cameron Faricy of the Centre for Student Engagement, there was a catch: lunch was prepared and served, but the diner was required to sit down at the tables and chairs provided and talk to someone they didn’t know.

That’s nutrition, balance, mental refreshment and social interaction all covered.

It was so popular that the food was gone with half an hour to go,









university life #1: cycle of desire


a green, green machine: the author’s Surly Long Haul Trucker

Now you’ve gotten into Uni,

how are you going to get in to Uni?

My bum hurts.

I get too sweaty.

I don’t feel safe.

I’ve got too much gear.

I’d fall off!

A f*@*ing nuisance on the road.

The UOW campus is nirvana for 600 enlightened cycle-commuters each day, and Illawarra cyclists have both dedicated cycle/foot  paths and quiet on-road routes. The UOW has a Bicycle User Group (BUG) to encourage and support all riders, and provides cycle maps to help students and staff navigate their journeys.

There are facilities for 800 bicycles, from sculpturally enticing curved stainless steel racks to locked, keycard only Bike-Bases, with showers and private lockers. The lucky serial commuter-cyclists are easy to spot as they exit the Bike-Base on their way to learn or teach: jaunty, smiling, ready for breakfast and unmistakeably clean-smelling.

After all, they haven’t been fuming in a traffic jam, agonising over parking or squashed into a shuttle bus.

Cycle commuting to UOW will appeal to those concerned about the environment, social and workplace health and road congestion.

Clean, green, efficient.






http://www.uow.edu.au/transport/cycling/UOW095589.html (UOW BUG)

https://www.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@bg/documents/doc/uow076068.pdf (Illawarra cycle map)

http://www.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@bg/documents/doc/uow060583.pdf  (Illawarra cycle map)



voxpop #2: if you could turn back time?


Hindsight is 20/20 vision

If I had my time again, I’d…


Songs, proverbs, sentiments.

Maudlin and regretful, invoking three minutes, three seconds or three score and twenty years of revived, regretful recrimination.

Scenes replayed, scripts reviewed and remarks recanted.

University of Wollongong students were asked to consider:

If you could go back five years, what advice would you give to your younger self?

The answers were serious, considered and practical.

Actually, useful for anybody.

And they showed optimism.

Not a flagellant to be seen or heard.

Please, enjoy the communicators:

voxpop #1: what would you be doing if…?

Students at UOW were asked:

What would you be doing if you weren’t a student at UOW?

Excessive soul-searching wasn’t a requirement.

The expected answers?

Oh, I’d need to get a job, I’d be doing my preferred/second choice degree,

I’d be living somewhere else.

Maybe the shadow of disappointment and missed opportunity?

The unexpected, and most pleasing element: all respondents were open and engaging.

No niggards.

Everyone had a good, old-fashioned think, and spoke in detail about what might have been.

 How might you have answered?