It’s a new decade, a new year, and a new semester. The perfect excuse to reinvent ourselves and be absolutely delusional in our resolutions. University is a difficult environment to survive, and for those that make it past first year, bad habits quickly become an integral part of the daily routine. As haggard and wrinkly senior students, the Craccum team has its fair share of coping mechanisms to shake. We semi-commit to trying.
Goal: Stop spending money on university food and start cooking.
In the immutable words of Martin Luther King: “this year is the year of bringing lunches to uni”.
I spent a lot of money on university food last year. Not quite as much as the university spent on memberships to the prestigious Northern Club ($33,000), but not far off either: some quick back-of-envelope accounting shows I parted ways with just over $afuckloadofmoney in the six months I spent on the Auckland city campus.
But that’s not me anymore. 2020 is a fresh new start – I’m turning over a new slate. This year I’m determined to get into the habit of cooking my lunches every evening. Gone are the expensive Got Pastas and Ha! Poke bowls – this year is the year of thin ham sandwiches and cold, half-cooked potato salads. I’ll be dusting off the recipe books and trying my culinary hand (at this point it’s more of an arthritic, poorly-educated stump than a hand) at such exotic dishes as “macaroni ‘n’ cheese” and “sausages”.
Can you tell that I’m pumped for this?
I joke about my shitty cooking, but I am actually a little excited. Turns out, after 4 and a bit years of Uni Sushi, butter chicken ‘n chips and Barilla dumplings, I’m kind of over all the food on campus. Home-made cooking is an exciting prospect: at least it’s different.
So keep your eyes peeled for the new Dan around campus this year – you should be able to find me at the back of most lectures, sandwich in one hand, orange and blue Bob the Builder lunch box in the other (shoutout to Mum for that one – she always knew year four Dan would rock the shit out of that)
Goal: Stop showing up to class late at 10 past the hour with coffee.
I know class starts at 5 past. And I KNOW that the idea is to show up on the hour, ready to go and excited for the class ahead. But truthfully, I don’t run like that. I’m a man on the go, and sometimes, that requires a coffee from Mojo and a last minute sprint into the back of the tutorial room, avoiding eye contact with the tutor. It has to be done. This year I might be better, maybe. I don’t like to make promises I can’t keep.
Goal: Stop exploring comedy as an alternative career pathway to electrical engineering jaywalking Princes St.
I mean, I’m not really sure where I think this job with Craccum will get me. I mean, I tell my parents I head to university each day to progress my electrical engineering degree, while I really just sit down and write shit jokes that wouldn’t even make their way into a Guy Williams set. Maybe I need to shift my focus entirely to my degree, so that one day I’ll become an established I’d really like to work on my road safety this year.
Goal: Actually do my readings.
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve come from a second-rate uni (Waikato ‘til I die-kato) or if I’m just a shit student, but I seem to have made it through the past three years without actually opening a textbook. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve bullshitted my way through a tutorial discussion, or just nodded and pretended like I have any idea what’s going on. At this point, I’m an expert on strategic seat selection in lectures, completely avoiding the professor’s eye contact and questions.
From what I’ve heard so far though, Auckland students actually study?! This year things are gonna change, I’ll frequent the library and spend my course-related costs on books. New uni, new me.
Goal: Stop clogging my poor arteries with garbage.
During my 15 minute breaks from library study (usually taken every half-hour), I am known for roaming over to Munchy Mart and staring longingly at the packed shelves. The poor staff have to squeeze past my zombie-ish stance in the small aisles, while I rummage for spare change in my wallet.
I always try to convince myself to grab something healthy, but somehow my feet take me straight past the bins of fruit and bottles of fresh juice. The chip section calls me, my energy wavering, my body in need of a sugar, salt and carb hit. When I return to the library, I receive piercing hot stares, while I crinkle my way through two bags of chilli cheese Corntos. Hey, I’m saving money – that’s only $2.50. A whole 50 cents off.
At the mid-point of semester, it’s like I’ve reverted to my 12-year old self. I’m fuelled by soggy garlic bread, hot chocolates, and lollipops. This food is definitely a source of joy and comfort, until I’m wheezing while walking back up the library steps. I’m definitely not creating a healthy relationship with snacking if I feel the need to guilt-walk it off later. Something needs to change, for the sake of both my physical and mental health.
This year I’ve bought some Tupperware, so I can bring my own homemade healthy snacks. Celery and peanut butter maybe? Homemade date and oat balls? An apple? Maybe. Or shock-horror – I could even make my own lunch. Nah. Baby steps first.
At least in the event of a mid-essay panic, I’ll have a quieter container to eat my Corntos from.
Goal: Mostly stop playing Pokémon in class.
Lectures are pretty shithouse when your heart’s not in it, and when my heart immediately returns to the warm shores of Hoenn the second my immensely knowledgeable sociology lecturers don’t entertain me every moment of the class, I get the feeling I might be missing out. Well, maybe I’m not. Is the exp grind not soothing? Is the trek to Fortree City not worth it? Have you ever seen Milotic? She’s beyond peer. And so is Swalot, my long-term friend that is a purple walking stomach. She’s won so many Beauty Contests in my various playthroughs, and I plan to win more. But maybe we should all be striving to listen during lectures, at least some of the time.
I personally do not have any regrets, but that is because I find utmost joy in knowing I have broken the pitiful dreams of pixelated 12 year olds from a 15+ year old children’s game. But while I don’t have regrets, perhaps I could have aspired to more. Perhaps I could have channelled more of my energy into the great discussions surrounding societal isolation under capitalism, or into more intuitive readings of Hegelian dialectics for my own purposes.
And maybe that is the message here. Aspiring to be champion of the Elite 4 with all your friends by your side is indeed a worthy goal, but perhaps succeeding at higher education is a little bit more practical, if nowhere as fascinating or rewarding. UoA isn’t giving you a shiny Gardevoir, so just keep that in mind.
Goal: STOP saying sorry and ummm.
I have a theory that children of migrants grow up to be more apologetic than their counterparts. We pick up on the uncertainty and fear our parents experience when figuring out a new space and all these brand new social cues. Especially children of colour. We shorten our names, make them smaller and more palatable, and then apologise for people having to repeat again 3 times.
Thank you, sorry, sorry, um, I guess… maybe…kinda? Don’t worry, thanks, forget about it! Sorry, sorry!
Maybe it’s because womxn are constantly being told to take up less space, and to be apologetic for our very existence. God, how dare we ask for free sanitary products, how dare we ask for equal pay? How dare we be angry about heightened rates of gender specific and queer/transphobic violence?
I need to stop saying sorry for ridiculous things. Oh and going um. Because I know exactly what I’m talking about.
Goal: Stop getting sidetracked online.
There’s always something more interesting than your 3,000-word essay that makes up half your course grade. I can vouch for that because last year I binged-watched old French political satires (Les Guignols de l’info, what a fine show), instead of writing an essay. It ended up like Boris Johnson’s hair: untidy, silly, all over the place (how I managed to get more than a C is beyond my imagination). Not this year though. I’m going to give my academic career the utmost attention. But what’s this? Looks like the social media algorithms have recommended another show to me. I’m just going to watch all 30 episodes for… my dissertation research. The readings can wait.
Goal: Improve shitty desk posture.
If I’m being honest, half the time my work isn’t even done on a desk. Nor has my screen ever been at my eye level. The result of curling over my laptop? My neck has a default working position of 45 degrees further forward than it should be. And I wonder why I always get aches up my back muscles. By the end of 2020, my spine and neck alignment will be as straight and upright as it has ever been, and that starts with doing work somewhere other than on the couch or in bed 🙁