The luxury of not caring

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I’d really like to talk about something that happened to me a few days ago.

It was at a family dinner for my nana’s birthday. Over large helpings of delicious plum pie and ice cream, my family began to talk about climate change. It wasn’t a particularly heated discussion. My great-aunt and grandparents (late 80s) and my mum and aunts and uncles (early 60s) passed around the usual arguments: the climate has always changed in cycles, how do we know it was us anyway, oh, news is so biased, anyone can select the truth to suit them, why should we believe the media, etc etc etc. It was all very mild and non-committal, and then someone said something along the lines of, well, it’s not something we can really worry about, is it? And I thought – fantastic. Don’t worry about it. It’s hardly going to affect you anyway. But me? I’m 22. Maybe climate change is rooted in human activities and maybe it isn’t (for the record, I think it is). Maybe it’s going to change the way we live and displace thousands of people. Maybe it isn’t. The point is – when you’re my age, you don’t have that luxury. The luxury of not caring. The luxury of ‘healthy debate’ over whether it’s happening and how fast and why. That’s what the policy-makers in this country (and the world) don’t seem to get. We can’t wait and see. We need to accept – right now – that climate change could be a threat (to put it mildly) and that we need to do something in case it is. Our lives – my generation’s lives – will be directly impacted and changed irrevocably if governments and businesses keep  putting profit before the planet purely because it’s worked for two centuries and why change something that works, right?

I can’t understand it, honestly. The corporate environment is all about risk management. I’ve worked in an organisation where you’re literally not allowed to not hold on to the handrail when you’re going down the stairs. We have so many strategies in place to protect people from all sorts of potential threats. Well – here’s a potential threat. It might not impact you directly, but it will impact your people and your supply chain and your way of business. Why aren’t you doing something about it?

After that the climate change discussion was lightly brushed off. Ferrero Rochers were passed around. Someone segued off into their general distrust of the media, which set my grandpa off about the shame of having a such a left-leaning national broadcaster (sigh). Everyone moved on, someone spilt a glass of wine, I left to go to my bedroom and cry about being raised in a conservative family.

No need to keep talking about climate change. After all, we don’t have to worry about it, do we?

Reflections on university

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My graduation ceremony was last week. After five long years I’ve finally finished my (three year) bachelors degree and come out with a distinction (and several thousand dollars’ worth of debt). Even though I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to complete an honours year, I can’t help but reflect on my time at uni and some of the things I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had.

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I thought I’d write down some of the things I wish I’d known at the beginning, for anyone out there who is just beginning their journey into the wonderful world of higher education.

  1. There is no need to pay for coffee. If you get in with the right people, they’ll let you use their secret kitchen.
  2. Making friends with your faculty by getting involved in events and clubs will help you SO MUCH. Plus they will also let you use their kitchen (see above).
  3. It’s totally normal to switch majors, courses, or even unis. Hardly anyone gets it right the first time. How can you know what a course is going to be like until you try it?
  4. Never print something on the same day it’s due. Printers can smell fear.
  5. Going to a foreign country by yourself for a 6-month exchange will be tough and sad and amazing and it will make you grow in a way that nothing else really can.
  6. Volunteering will change your life.
  7. Allow at least half an hour before class for circling pointlessly around the eternally-full carpark, swearing in frustration, and creepily following people walking back to their cars in the hope of jagging their spots. Alternatively, park 5kms away on the other side of campus and spend the half hour speed-walking to your building (wear running shoes).
  8. If you’re willing to show up and put in the extra time and effort then people will start throwing opportunities at you. So many students adopt the ‘Ps get degrees’ mentality that a little enthusiasm can take you a long way.
  9. When you find yourself deluged with said opportunities, remember to say no sometimes. You can’t do everything.

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And finally:

10. Some days you’ll fly and some days you won’t be able to get out of bed. Those 3/5/7 years will be a crazy, fun, exciting, exhausting, overwhelming and amazing experience. Make the most of it.