Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Tonight I'm going to a networking function organised by a commerce and computing club at my university.  It's held at a fancy place near the riverside with no Sidney Samson in sight.  As an arts and law student, the only reason why I'm going to a function that's completely irrelevant to my course is because nothing is ever irrelevant.  You can learn new things from everybody and getting to understand the inner machinations of different industries is always very fascinating.

Sadly, not everyone is able to engage well with people from vastly different backgrounds.  Last year, I went on a major rant about how shitty and boring some of the corporate representatives were.  There were definitely some great talkers but I assume that some of them were chosen to talk to us because alas, they were the most expendable dudes in the workplace.  I'm sure there were a couple of guys/gals who would rather have been sitting at home watching Mad Men or Breaking Bad instead of humouring us uni kids with things like:

"Well, my day to day responsibilities include..."
"A day in my life starts off with a bowl of cheerios, taking the tram to ...."

Basically, they're there on the orders of their boss who reasonably decided it'd be good having a person promote the company to a bunch of wide-eyed uni kids.  Brand recognition yo.

But seriously.  Some of those reps were ridiculously shy or completely not social for someone whose job for the night was supposed to be networking.  No matter how many questions I bombarded that guy from the IT company with (can't remember which one), he'd just give me really boring cookie-cutter answers that made his job sound like a grey-scale painting.  Not only did he ignore the fact that I wasn't doing anything IT related at uni and therefore couldn't understand any of the esoteric software shit he was spewing out for the whole night, he didn't even seem to TRY to be enthusiastic and amiable - just polite.  Polite as in "sure, I'll answer your questions" but not "I'll answer your questions and I'll tell you about some really interesting developments in the IT industry!  Did you know..."

Like. Just.  He had no initiative.  And perhaps a reason for that is my course and that I was a first year last year.  But still - it was such a shitty conversation.  I ended up having a really great conversation with a guy who worked at Deloitte (I think it was) and actually responded to me by telling me about all this great social media stuff the company was doing in China and Asia because I was taking Asian studies.

See, the IT guy might not have had that interesting a job in the first place, but surely he should have understood that our conversation wasn't just limited to his work responsibilities.  It could also have included interesting stories or news he can impart to me as a 'mentor'.

Sometimes, it does surprise me when I meet older people ('adults') in a professional setting who don't seem to have excellent social/speaking skills.  But now I realise that I've probably been setting too high a bar.  They were young, some of them in their early twenties, and they were probably a bit disgusted with us first years - all gushing about Deloitte and KPMG and all.  Also, not everyone's an ace debater or an avid news junkie (not that I'm referring to myself lel) or Barack Obama super confident, sociable and brimming with charm even if they are working at a big company.

I guess I'll see how tonight's reps compare with those I met last year.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Why law kids are stressin' out. More than med kids.

The honourable Justice Kirby, arguably Australia's most prominent high court judge, once told a lecture theatre packed with wide-eyed and idealistic Monash law students: "The rate of depression among law students is five* times higher than that for medical students."  

*or maybe it was three

Was that surprising?  Well - yeah, cos you know, med kids have no social lives.  But I was WRONG.  See, med kids might not have social lives but law students just don't have lives.  According to Kirby, a surprisingly high number of us have thought about suicide, self-harm or experienced depression.  Or borderline depression.  I don't remember his exact words.  Basically, it was bad news for us.

Why are we worse off?  A number of reasons were given.  For example, med kids often work in smaller classes where they get to build closer friendships with their classmates and not feel as pressured to compete against the rest of their entire cohort; but for law students, it's the exact opposite.  There's around 200 students per lecture and we're explicitly told that we're going to be competing against 400 others in the exam, some of which are worth 100% of the semester's mark.  

Everything is about competition at law school - mooting, debating, client interview competitions.  Unlike med school where it's really just "make sure you do well", we are encouraged to pit ourselves against our peers and own the fucking shit out of them.  THAT'S HOW YOU WIN AT LAW SCHOOL, YOU OWN EVERYBODY'S ASSES (and taking part in lots of extra-curricular activities).  

Then of course, there are law students who were top students at their high school, ending up being mediocre or less than that at law school where everyone else is just as smart or smarter.  It shatters their ego and destroys their confidence.  They end up demotivated.  Lost.  Wanting to give up.

And I think that's what a lot of my friends have been feeling lately.  They've gone from 90%+ marks in high school to credits and passes at law school - terms that have been alien to them since forever.  And what heightens the disappointment is when you look at your academic record and it's like: 

Arts subjects: HD, HD, D
Legal subject: P

Yeah, pretty freaking sad.  And when all your friends are like "nah I'm dropping out of law" or "I'm going to take just commerce units this semester, need to boost my confidence" - I'm like.... holy shit.  What are we doing???!?!!?    WHUT R WE DOINGGGGGGGGGGGGGG.

My friend, who had his confidence dashed after his last exam results, told me he's dropping law for an economics degree today.  I was, yeah, kind of REALLY shocked.  And even worse, he's like:

"Well, law degrees are hard and time consuming.  If you're making the effort to graduate with a law degree, you've got to get excellent marks otherwise it's useless, at least for finding a job in the legal industry.  So people who take law are people whose first preference is to get a job in law.  Why should I continue with my law degree?  I'm not paying 3000 dollars per unit per semester for something I don't even really like."

Aw my gawd.  
I hope he's happy with the decision he's made.  I sincerely hope he never regrets it. 

As for me, I've always wanted to study law but I do feel the pressure mounting.  I can't be lazy anymore.  I've got to organise my time well and exploit all my resources - including lecturers and tutors.  I have to keep in mind why I'm doing law, all those brilliant ideals about changing the world I had back in high school.  It's just hard when you're not getting good marks and when you know you're up against a huge cohort of really, really smart people.

It's intimidating.  

Thursday, 8 August 2013

I had footage on my phone so:

What happened - ♫ LAST FRIDAY NIGHT 

*Also I realised it's REFUGEE ACTION COLLECTIVE* typo forgive me lel. 

Stephen Colbert gets lucky.

I pretty much just wasted my entire morning reading the news and watching Stephen Colbert shake it to Get Lucky with Hugh Laurie, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Jon Stewart, the guy from Breaking Bad (I don't watch Breaking Bad) and Jimmy Fallon.  Then he dance-crashes an America's Got Talent audition and Henry Kissinger's office at the White House.

THAT is what happens when Daft Punk abruptly cancels their performance on The Colbert Report to prepare for some other event (the VMAs I think it was).  Stephen won't let you guys down.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Melbourne International Film Festival, 'A Touch of Sin'

 If I'm not beside you, I'm inside you ♪ 
- Pharrell Williams

Last Friday night, fabulous film studies student Benson Li, who now sports a slick metro-sexual mohawk ala Gok Wan, attended the Melbourne International Film Festival with me.  We talked, we walked, then got swept among a marching crowd of protesters (Refugee Action Collective) outside Flinders Street Station.  I forgot the exact words they were chanting but it was something about Rudd being a tightarse bitch on asylum seeker policies.  And some random guy singing: "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DOWN DOWN, DOWN WITH RUDD."  #facepalm

Endearingly, we spotted a guy just ahead of us busking along Swanston Street in a BUNNY SUIT  playing a guitar.  He had a cardboard sign with FUNKY BUNNY written across it. The contrast between that dude - bouncing his head and ears all insouciant like, and all the backpack totin', beanie-sportin' hippies shouting mean things about K.Rudd was pretty damn swaggy.  I mean quaint.

So we continued on to the cinema and watched the new Jia Zhangke film - A Touch of Sin.  I was the one who really pushed for this because the movie aims to depict the corruption, vindictiveness and amorality of contemporary Chinese society through a series of interwoven stories - something raight down my sinophilic alley.  Also, the film-festival darling and  at times Chinese underground director, Jia directed A Still Life, a movie my Asian Studies lecturer told us to take a look at last semester.

And judging by the quality of work in A Touch of Sin, I'd say...

I <3 Jia Zhangke.

The movie was not only visually impressive (dat colour) but the stories themselves were simultaneously morbid as fuck and captivating enough to leave you wanting much more after 133 minutes.  Four stories - four everyday people - victims of China's malicious social landscape.  They have families.  Friends.  Children.  Lovers.  But are ultimately driven to a social abyss filled with sex work, robbery, murder and suicide.

What I really enjoyed was:
1. All the stories reflect true events that have happened in China e.g. the highly controversial 2011 high speed bullet train crash in Wenzhou which killed 40 and was a result of shoddy infrastructure, which in turn was a result of heinous state corruption; the practice of rich men having mistresses; factory worker suicides (the film subtly hinted at Apple's Foxconn factories in China)

2.  If you look past Jia's deliberate but kind of random wuxia spin on the film, the stories felt really authentic.  The film moved slowly but every second was a deep and fascinating exploration into this one person's shitty life - and it reminds you that all those people suffering in China right now and working themselves to death trying to support themselves or their families aren't just statistical figures or CNN news stories but real people with crushes, dreams and ideals just like platitudinous as that sounds.

I really liked this film but it's not even considered Jia's best so perhaps I should get around to watching Still Life and 24 City.

Ok I cannot be fucked typing anymore so I'm going to end by saying we later met two young film industry experts and had dinner with them at where else but Rice Paper Vietnamese Restaurant, then we had a massively esoteric debate about auteurs and why Jack (the new guy) hates Daniel Day-Lewis, Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and just about everyone else you like.  He works at all the upcoming film festivals in Melbourne so yay CONNEXIONS!!!

I am also listening to Luxurious by Gwen Stefani right now.

Sexy as hell.