Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Australian university (I tried to think of something witty to put in brackets here (but (obviously) failed))

I've been neck-deep in uni stuff for the past few months (hence why I've been the absolute worst blogger ever, I swear I'm not ignoring you all but I just need another five hours in my day (said every uni student ever)) and thought it'd be interesting to see how Australian university compares to other universities. I've never been to a university in another country, so if you've been please let me know in the comments how it compares. (Also, obviously my university is just one uni out of many in the country and they're all going to be different.)

Many thanks to my sister, who (grudgingly) agreed to this photoshoot.


(And let's do a list, because I like lists.)

1. I have two semesters between March and October. 
This is different from mostly everyone else due to our seasons. You can imagine how confused I am with all the back-to-school stuff that's going on right now when I'm smack in the middle of my last semester. 

2. I typically take four subjects per semester. 
Last semester I took three, which was a bit unusual. The full workload is usually four. (This semester I'm taking Applied Calculus, Fundamentals of Energy and Electricity, Project Investigation and Materials for Engineers.) 

3. Mostly everything is online. 
I can access all my materials online, schedules, assessments, dates, homework, lecture slides, lectures, tutorials... the list goes on and on. Pretty much everything minus the textbooks and exams (and even then sometimes we have our textbooks online and the occasional online quiz) can be accessed via the Internet. That means if I miss a lecture, I can watch it at home once the lecturer has uploaded it. 

4. I only have one lecturer on-campus. 
We have a kinda of giant Skype thing going on, so I watch the lecturers from other campuses give the lecture through a TV in the lecture theatre. We have tutorials where tutors help us work through questions, but for the most part our lecturers aren't there. 

5. We call our lecturers by their first names. 
I think it's because the university wants us to feel on the same level as the lecturers and important - which we're not - so we don't call them 'professor' or anything. I was a tad bit disappointed about that, to be honest, because I wanted to be like Harry Potter and call everyone 'professor'. (But I'll survive.)

How is university run in your country? 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Hazy (a poem)

Today is hazy.

Bushfire clogged skies
Blood-red sun
Blackened dreams
Ocean and sky melt together
(the artist smudged the pastels too much)

The dome of sky encases me
Distances fade into smog
It's acidic and burnt and somehow beautiful
Just like growing up

I have chipped nail polish
And manage to get lipstick on my forehead
I make giant paper hats and wear my hair in pigtails 
Because I think I've forgotten how to be a kid 
Lost between tax returns and picking up sour milk 

They gave us an umbrella made of tar
And once we taught ourselves how to open it
We realized it wasn't much use against the smoke

No one told me being a grown-up 
Was hugs from the friends I call family
The men who stare at me 
(head down walk faster) 
Being afraid of chocolate
And wet dog noses at 6am 

We are hazy minds
Hazy people
Hazy lives
(or maybe that's just me)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Feminism, femininity, fighting stereotypes (and not caring what others think)

Alright, so I've been wanting to write this post up for a while, mostly because it's been weighing pretty heavily on my mind as I go through several different life transitions. (And I realise this is a tad bit political and my last few posts have been going that way as well, especially with the immigration series, but I promise this isn't the future of this blog.) Between  high school, university, part-time work and professional work, I've been wearing quite a few different hats lately. During this time, I've found it really difficult to balance my feminist views and femininity, while fighting the stereotypes that comes with spending the vast majority of my waking life in male-dominated activities. 

Before we get too far, let's define feminism. Feminism is just another word for equality. It isn't man-hating. It isn't bra-burning. It's the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, that girls should be able to go to school, men can be stay-at-home dads, that women can work or not work, that the phrases "man up" or "fight like a girl" shouldn't exist anymore. I spend quite a lot of time studying engineering and practicing jiu jitsu, both male-dominated activities. I often have to use my feminist ideals to get through the occasional class, like when I'm sitting in a lab at uni and 95% of the people there are men. (Needless to say, I felt a little out of place.) Maybe I'm one of the few women there, but that doesn't mean I deserve to be there any less, or that I'm any less competent than everyone else is. 

I've found that as I go through my day, people put me in a box and leave me there. You're a female studying engineering? Oh, you must be less competent than the males in your class. You do martial arts? Oh, you must be a tomboy. You work in a pharmacy? Oh, you must be a pharmacy student. (Or even worse, you're just a check-out chick.) I've found that I constantly surprise people when I tell them that no, those boxes, those stereotypes, are wrong. That's not me. (I've gotten so many shocked looks when I say I do martial arts, it's hilarious.)

I've had to fight to be respected at school, the gym, the pharmacy (by customers, not my coworkers). A lot of that drive has come from my feminist beliefs, that I deserve to be there just as much as anyone, that I don't do male-dominated activities to get a boyfriend but because I'm there because I love it. (Yes, I have gotten that one before.) 

I think this feminism, this fight, has really impacted my femininity. A lot of the time, people don't respect women who dress up because girly-girls can't do math and like to go shopping and marry rich. A woman who wears lipstick can't go to engineering school and be respected, right? For years now, I've been downplaying my femininity to try and be respected. I didn't wear makeup, didn't dress up, didn't watch romance movies. (I still don't watch romance movies, though, so that's just me.) I forced myself to be tough, to be one of the guys. (This was probably influenced by my high school as well, which tried really hard to make us young ladies. (Excuse me? Young ladies? I'll be as tomboy-y as I like, thank you very much.))

Then, I began going the opposite direction once I hit uni, started working "professionally", and spent more time doing martial arts. People expected me to be a tomboy because I was in male-dominated spaces, so I pushed back. Bright red lipstick? Check. Pink nails? Check. Nice clothes? Check. I dared anyone to comment that I didn't belong with each shade brighter of lipstick I wore to class and wore my femininity around my neck like armour.

To be honest, though, it was exhausting. How could anyone keep up with defying gender expectations imposed by society? Through this whole thing of fighting the boxes society keeps trapping me in, I've begun to realise that my femininity is nothing to be ashamed of. Traditional femininity isn't a weakness, it's a strength. I'm going to have to fight to be respected regardless of whether or not I wear bright pink lipstick or dye my hair purple, so if I enjoy it then why don't I just go ahead? People are going to judge me no matter what I do. Being kind, caring and empathetic are also traditionally feminine traits, and since when are those qualities something to hide away? 

I'm done with fighting gender roles for the sake of fighting gender roles. I'm done with caring about what other people think of me. I'm going to wear lipstick because I like wearing lipstick and because I love feeling pretty. I'm going to pull my gi on and have bruises and look disgusting because I love fighting. I'm going to walk out the house without a drop of makeup on because I wasn't put here on this earth to look pretty. I'm going to keep writing and solving math problems and writing science reports and taking pictures and helping people find the best medicine for them and watching educational YouTube videos and playing with little kids and watching action movies because I love it. 

People aren't "masculine" or "feminine", people are people and people are wonderful balls of beauty and kindness and science and poetry and evil and forgetfulness and love. I don't need to go out of my way to show I'm feminine or masculine just because of the activities I take part in and how other people see me. Screw that. From here on out, I'm just going to be little old me. 

Do you find yourself fighting societal stereotypes? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt out of place because of your gender? Has your feminist (or non-feminist) views ever impacted your femininity/masculinity?