NUPSA President, Ash McIntyre, brings you up to date with everything we’ve been doing this past month.


 

Hello all! Another month has absolutely flown by, and it seems as if they are getting busier and busier! I suppose this is the way it goes at the end of the year though, isn’t it? As usual, I’m going to try and keep it brief.

The first thing I’d like to share with you all is a little initiative we’ve been working on for a few months now, that we hope to launch next year. NUPSA is proud to introduce our International Postgraduate Student Mentor Program! We’re aiming to produce a database of confirmed postgraduate students who are interested in mentoring international postgraduate students before they arrive in Australia. The program will connect incoming students with a student mentor who speaks their native tongue, to act as a support person, a pen pal and a point of contact at UON. When they arrive, they will already have a student connection!

It is our hope that this program will help international students settle into life at Newcastle and at UON more smoothly, and provide a social outlet for new students to help them engage with other students, clubs, and services at the University. Mentors will be registered UON volunteers, and will be able to list their position on their CV. If this is something you might be interested in, keep your eyes peeled for our first call-out for mentors in coming weeks!

NUPSA is also excited to welcome two new Executive members this month! Kirsty Richards is our new Satellite Representative: an online student, Kirsty is here to represent and advocate for all postgraduate satellite students, including those based online, at HMRI, Sydney, Ourimbah and Port Macquarie. Tahereh Jalalabadi is our new International Representative: she will represent and advocate for all international postgraduate students. If anyone has any words of welcome, requests or questions for our new reps, or you just want to learn a bit more about them, their profiles will be up on the NUPSA website soon!

We have some exciting events coming up this month (I hope you are all watching our calendar), but I’d like to signpost an event close to my heart. The Alumni Awards are happening this week, which sees our stand-out alumni of UON coming together and celebrating their achievements. This is a wonderful opportunity for postgrads to go along and meet some incredibly inspiring people, and see how they used their degrees to reach some amazing, and sometimes unlikely, places!

To help postgrads make the most of this opportunity, NUPSA has partnered up with the Alumni network to put together a panel and speed mentoring session on September 13. Luckily, there were just enough alumni award nominees available the day before the awards presentation to make this event happen, so do come along and pick their brains! If that isn’t enticing enough, we are putting on a free lunch afterwards where you can chat more casually.

If for whatever reason you are unavailable but interested in this event, let us know in the comments below. We have been exploring the possibility of running semi-regular sessions with alumni, and we’d love to know if this is something you are interested in!

I’ll also put a word in for our wonderful advice columnist, Penny Grundle. Hopefully you have all had a chance to read her words of wisdom in our advice column each month. I know I look forward to her bountiful advice and life tips! I draw your attention to this, as NUPSA is considering inviting Penny to our Annual Dinner. Such a personality, we are sure, will liven up the party (not that it needs it) and give students the opportunity to ask any questions they wish on a whim as the night goes along. What do you guys think? Would you like to see Penny attend the dinner?

 

While our Annual Dinner attracts the usual university big-wigs each year,
it could do with a dose of genuine star power.

 

Finally, as the theme of this issue is travel, I will leave you all with one of my own travel stories. A few years ago, I was staying in Paris with a friend at a dodgy backpackers hotel called The Three Ducks (which, if I’m honest, was the main reason we chose it). I certainly could not afford this holiday, but decided to do it anyway, because c’est la vie and I had never been to Paris. Once I had paid for my Three Ducks hostel, I had 35 euro left to last 5 days.

Now, this isn’t much, as I’m sure you are aware, but it wasn’t actually too difficult if you closed your eyes walking past the bakeries and restaurants. I had a student card, so I could see everything I wanted to see for free, or at least at a discount. The hostel, though it had holes in the floors and shook in the breeze, served croissants and juice for breakfast, and had a small kitchen where we cooked plain pasta for dinner in the evenings. (On the last night, we treated ourselves and got grated cheese to put on the pasta. Fancy.)

Anyone who has been to Europe will be aware that one has to pay for the luxury of using a public toilet. This astounds me, as I don’t know what you are supposed to do if you have to go and don’t have change on you. Surely this is an issue others have faced as well? Anyway, we were two broke Australians and two equally broke Canadians, and we were understandably flabbergasted at the idea of paying to use the loo. So my mate said, “Bugger this,” and slipped into the loo immediately after the last person left, to avoid having to pay.

For context, the loo itself was weird. It looked like this silvery alien structure had just landed right outside the Moulin Rouge. So, my friend snuck into the toilet-cum-spaceship, and we were waiting outside rolling our eyes, when we heard a scream. Which is alarming enough in a city you don’t know, until you realise the scream is coming from inside a spaceship toilet that your friend just snuck into.

A moment later, there was banging and yelling coming from inside, and these little siren lights on top started whirling around and wailing really loudly. Trust me: NOBODY was looking at the Moulin Rouge anymore. The door finally slid open and my friend practically fell out onto the street, absolutely drenched in water, spluttering, still doing up his fly, green lights from above flickering across his face as the siren continued to scream out across the street. We bloody ran, I tell you!

Turns out (how ignorant we were) you are really paying for self-cleaning public loos. My friend had been standing there doing his business when all the lights went off, the toilet retracted into the wall, and water started spraying from the walls, floor and ceiling. Can you even imagine? Anyway, that’s how we broke a public toilet in Paris.

On that note, have a fabulous month everyone! Send in your stories for next month, and remember: always pay for the damn loo.

 

Ash McIntyre
NUPSA President

 

Do not attempt to urinate in one of these without paying first.
(You can apply that to almost anything, really.)

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