Saturday, 23 January 2016

Subject Reviews: UniMelb Sem 2, 2015



So, Semester 2 was over in a blink of an eye. Here are the subject reviews for the subjects I completed in the semester.

I have put all the handbook links above. You can just click on it and it will bring you to the latest 2016 handbook entry.

Let's get straight to it.

Net Communications

Difficulty: 3/5

My Grade: H2A (77)

Reading materials: Only a reader is needed. It is sold in Co-op.

Assessments: Students are required to finish 3 components of assessments to complete the subject, plus a hurdle req. for 75% attendance for tutorials.

(i) Annotated Bibliography (15%), up to 750 words +/- 10%. We were required to summarise, analyse and critique 3 articles from the reader or outside sources. My experience was that it is not easy, I unfortunately did not do very well on this.

(ii) Essay (25%), 1500 words +/- 10%. There are I think 9 topics to choose from based on each week's material. To score, it's better to read up the readings as best as you can well in advance so that you are prepared to write straight away. This essay also requires additional academic research (meaning from journal articles where you have to search for yourself).

(iii) Online Project (60%) which was amazing. This is the only practical hands-on component of this subject. I enjoyed doing the online project very much compared to the other assessments.

Teaching Staff:  My lecturer and tutor were both Dr Bjorn Nansen. He is quite friendly and helpful. I always appreciate his punctuality in classes. I also enjoyed the guest lecture about website building (a little about programming) done by one of the teaching staff from another faculty.

Would I recommend taking this subject?
I personally do not like this subject. I took a total of 5 subjects in media and communications including those from Monash (such as journalism and media studies etc). At first I thought I liked it but after a while I think the communication theories are just not for me. So, I have decided as of 2016 Semester 1, I am switching the remaining of my subjects to 2 Creative Writing, 1 Philosophy and 1 Cultural Studies subject. So, not much of a recommendation, it's not a very challenging subject, so go ahead if you want to take it.

Representation
Difficulty: 5/5

My Grade: H2B (70)

Reading materials: Only a reader is needed. It is sold in Co-op.

Assessments:  Students are required to finish 3 components of assessments to complete the subject, plus a hurdle req. for 9 out of 12 tutorials and 3 out of 3 skills workshops.

(i) Annotated Bibliography (15%), up to 500 words +/- 10%. We were required to provide a description of one of the topics learned in lectures and tutorials so far, and then summarise, analyse and critique 4 articles from the reader or outside sources. This was not as easy as I thought it would be.

(ii) Essay (45%), 2000 words +/- 10%. We get to choose from the materials we studied throughout the semester, such as Bicycle Thieves by Vittorio De Sica, Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht , Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. 

(iii) Take Home Exam (40%) which was amazing. This is the only practical hands-on component of this subject. I enjoyed doing the online project very much compared to the other assessments.

Teaching Staff: There are many teaching staff for this subject. The main ones are Sarah Balkin and Mark Nicholls (I am dropping the formalities here because it would just be repetitive if everyone has a doctorate here). Then there are some guest lecturers such as Elena Bentaus, Sarah Comyn, Paul Rae, Adam Goatley, Rachel Fensham and Deirdre Coleman. My tutor was Adam. He is a really lively person and is the first tutor/teaching staff who swears every 10 minutes or so in tutorials. He says it's his way of feeling passionate about the subject (I chuckled when he said that).

What did I enjoy the most about this subject?

I think the coolest thing was being able to learn from many different media, like books, dance, film, paintings etc.. I particularly enjoyed writing about Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee in my essay. I did okay for it but it was challenging but at the same time really fun. For dance, we watched Le Sacre du Printemps and Afternoon of the Faun, which were both kind of sick. You have to watch it to know what I am saying. For my Take Home Exam, I analysed a painting on The Crucifixion and a dance called Le Sacre du Printemps (version directed by Pina Bausch). I also liked that there are academic support available for undergraduate students. This was not available when I was back in Monash Malaysia. Of course I utilised it quite a few times. They actually have senior students (3rd year or PhD level) to help you check your assignments.

Would I recommend taking this subject?
Definitely, if you like the arts, and learning about stuff like film, novel, dance, paintings, art forms etc.. I would say this is one of the hardest Arts Foundations subjects among the six. It's pretty hectic and hard for me as an international student who hasn't done much literature before. But certainly very interesting and fun.
Cognitive Psychology
Difficulty: 3/5

My Grade: H2B (71)

Reading materials: Generally no compulsory textbook, just the lecture and tutorial content is tested in exam. Cognitive Psychology by Bruce Goldstein is recommended resource.

Assessments:  Students are required to finish 3 components of assessments to complete the subject, plus three hurdle req. of completed weekly quiz questions on LMS, Quantitative Methods (QM) modules online and also attending 80% of lab classes.

(i) Lab Report (40%) 1500 words +/- 10%.

(ii) Oral Presentation (10%) 15 minutes on a topic chosen from a list. Content is not examinable in exam. We were required to work in teams of 5-6 people.

(iii) Final Exam (50%)
90 questions

Teaching Staff: The lecturers were Meredith Mckague, Phillip Smith, Geoff Saw, Daniel Little and tutor was Ms Frances Lewis. The lecturers each teach a few weeks in a specific area. For example, Phillip taught Attention lectures, Geoff took Judgement, Decision and Reasoning lectures and Meredith taught  quite a number of weeks. I especially liked the one on Cognition and Emotion (the final lecture)

Would I recommend taking this subject?
I had to take this subject as part of the core subject for my major. It's kinda technical and a tad bit boring. But it's certainly a doable subject. Nothing too difficult that one cannot handle. So, if you want to take as a breadth, go ahead if you like the topics.

Personality and Social Psychology
Difficulty: 3/5

My Grade: H2A (75)

Reading materials: Journal articles provided on LMS.
Assessments:  Students are required to finish 2 components of assessments to complete the subject, plus two hurdle req. of attending 80% of lab classes and a debate.

(i) Lab Report (40%) 2000 words +/- 10%.

(ii) Debate (hurdle) 15 minutes on a topic assigned. Content is not examinable in exam. We were required to work in teams of 3-4 people. Quite a significant amount of research is required for one to be able to do well in this.

(iii) Final Exam (55%)
I am not gonna lie. The final exam was so hard. There were even questions that were not in the lecture slides and according to a friend of mine, the answer was said by the lecturer, meaning you would have to write that down to know the answer.

Teaching Staff: My lecturers were Simon Laham, Jennifer Boldero, Luke Smillie and Garry Robins. Same as Cog. Psych,

Would I recommend taking this subject?

As a breadth, yes. It's interesting, very relatable to everyday life. Lectures on topics like Moral Psychology, Relationships and Evolutionary Psychology are quite eye-opening for me. One negative point is that the tutorials are a bit longer than necessary for me and sometimes can be quite boring.


So that's the end of my reviews. I hope you enjoy it and this will benefit in some way towards your subjects selection. I will see you soon in my next post!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

My 2015 in Review and 2016 Resolutions

Hello everyone! HAPPNEW YEAR!!

While I was scrolling down my blog to see the number of posts I have published in 2015, I was shocked that I only wrote 9 posts last year! From the first year I started this blog, which was 2013, I had 24 posts, then in 2014 it increased to 38 posts. In 2015, it drop to a unbelievable low, nine!! This is unacceptable. At this point, I realised I need to set a goal for the frequency of my blog postings, and monitor it, so that I can achieve something that I will be proud of by the end of the year.

I reflected and realised the main reason I was not posting as often last year on this blog was because I was considering if I should move my sharing and postings else where, like on a different platform, such as Youtube (by doing Vlogs instead of Blog posts) or move to a new domain. This is because the site traffic on my blog here is quite low and I don't think I have significant amount of followers and that kinda dampens my spirit to continue writing here. Honestly, I can say this about most bloggers. What's the point of writing articles and sharing stuff when you've got few to no readers following?

Now, it's time for my review for year 2015!

Highlights
1) I got into The University of Melbourne!

As many of you know, I posted an article about me being accepted into Melbourne Uni in July 2015, which you can read about it here if you haven't already done so. So, that was an amazing and happy news for me at that time, to be able to get in to one of the top universities in Australia and in the world.

2) Joining some fantastic student organisations in Melbourne

While in Uni, I joined societies like Melbourne University Toastmasters Club (MUTM) and a non-profit organisation called the Australian Federation of International Students Inc. (AFIS)

In MUTM, I was really excited and happy to have won First place for the internal Table Topics Contest and able to represent the club to compete in the Area contest in RMIT University. I should have blogged about them, unfortunately I couldn't find the time due to a packed study schedule. Sadly, I did not win any places for the Area contest. But as always, it means there is room for improvement. I also learned many new things from my fellow competitors.

In the semester, I went up for several Table Topics sessions and completed my CC#6.

As of Nov 2015, I was elected as the Secretary for the 2016 MUTM Committee which is fantastic because this means I can serve my fellow Toastmasters community with my very best. 

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I first joined AFIS in August 2015. I loved every part of it. I joined initially as a Projects Officer, working in the Projects Department to help organise events, contact potential speakers or instructors and manage casual volunteers. In October 2015, I applied to be the Projects Director for the department for the 2016 term. Unfortunately I did not get the position, instead I was offered the Deputy Projects Director position, which is still awesome. Indeed, the current director who I am working with is much more experienced than I am, and I am super fortunate and pleased to work with her.

During the few months in AFIS thus far, I have already helped out in several fun and interesting projects, such as I Am FIT 2.0 and Spring Bazaar.

3) Starting my own body scrub line
During the Spring Bazaar, I tried selling the handmade body scrubs I made, 30 jars with 6 different scents. I did everything from scratch, such as sourcing for ingredients, buying the jars, asking my friend to design the label for me, printing the labels and also making the different scents. It was not very hard to do all of the above. I did all that in a week. But what is really really tough was Marketing the Product! After this experience selling at the bazaar, I finally understood why it takes a lot of hardwork and excellent strategy to launch a business and make it successful. I sold a few at the bazaar (not very happy with it) but it is exciting to know that I have tried and actually meet my goal of making a product. Right now, my products are selling on Etsy, feel free to visit my site and purchase if you are interested. 

4) AIESEC exchange in Hanoi, Vietnam for 5 weeks
Final awesome highlight of the year was my volunteering trip to Hanoi, Vietnam on a sex education project called SEXPRESS Winter 2015. It was a fabulous experience flying alone to another country for the first time, staying there for the longest time ever besides going to Australia to study. My team and I conducted three workshops on topics like safe sex, contraceptions, STDs, gender, sexuality and #TaketheWheel. The final project was particularly memorable but I won't tell you why now because "My AIESEC Experience in Hanoi Vietnam" series is coming up soon and when you read it, you will know!

Setbacks
Well, not everything is smooth-sailing throughout the year. I also faced difficulties too. People who know me personally will know that I don't deal with academic-related stress that well. So this year has been 30-40% difficult because of that. So number one on the list is of course:

1) Stress
In the beginning of the year, I was aiming to transfer my undergraduate degree to continue in Australia. I applied for Monash University and Unimelb. Thankfully, I have a lot of support from my family to help me pull through some stressful times during the first semester. 

During the second semester of the year, I was already in Melbourne. Surprisingly, anxiety episodes didn't come by so often. Perhaps it was because the situation forces me to be independent and take good care of myself, so I believe my coping skills have improved because of me moving to Melbourne.

Anyways, all were good eventually so I put a smile on my face again!

2) Rejected applications for jobs and volunteer roles
I applied for many jobs in Melbourne throughout the semester. Sadly, among 20+ applications, I was accepted for only two roles, which are AFIS and MUTM. I wanted to volunteer in Lifeline Australia to help man the suicide helpline but unfortunately the staff asked me not to apply because they require my visa to be at least two years which I do not have.

I learned from this experience of being rejected many times that it is in fact very difficult to find a job in Australia if you are not a Permanent Resident. But still, I will not give up. I will continue seeking for opportunities and apply even though it takes me hours to write up a revised Cover Letter and Resume because I know I have the ability and passion to work for the jobs that I apply for. So, for all International students studying abroad, don't give up if you can't find a part-time job yet. Keep searching, the right company will hire you and you will be able to contribute for what you love and be paid for it!

What's up for 2016?

My Resolutions

1) To see some results of my effort on this blog
This includes actions such as:
*Being consistent in posting (twice a week during vacations, and at least one a fortnight during semester)
*Expand the blog's visibility - either by hosting in my own domain, diversify into Vlogging on Youtube and/or Guest posting on other people's blogs
*Expand the blog's reach to benefit more people, students in particular.

2) Improve my studies' grades
I want to do extremely well in this year's subjects because it is a crucial year for me. It will determine whether or not I enter into Honours year in Psychology

3) Build up my day-to-day discipline
With discipline, I can do many things efficiently, I will use my time more wisely. Some things I will start to do are:
*Sleep and wake up at around the same times everyday
*Doing my assignments a few weeks earlier

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So, What was your 2015 like? What are you going to change this year?

As I write my post, it's a process of reflecting what you were your experiences in the previous year. If you have not done a reflection in writing before, I encourage you to do it and really implement the changes you say you are going to. This is how we all can improve ourselves and move forward to greater heights in life.