A blog all about academics and academic choices

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Struggling student? Ways to earn money (part-time)

Many students wish they had more money in a month, to actually buy the things they want (and not have to stare at people who are holding the...

Monday, 3 October 2016

Your University/College Should Suit You - How to pick the right school

What so many students don't realise is that picking a university/college is the same as picking your friends or partners. How? Well, not every university/college is the same, in that each varsity has its own "vibe" and finding the one whose atmosphere fits your personality best is just as important as finding friends/partners you have things in common with. 

So then, just how do you figure out which school is THE school that is right for you? Well it's much simpler than you think:

1.Visit a few schools well in advance to get a "feel" for them - In your final year of school, make arrangements to visit various universities you have an interest in, so that you can see how you feel about them. Then ask yourself which of the schools you think:
a) fit your personality best
b) you will be the most comfortable at
c) have people in them that are similar in personality to you
d) you can see yourself spending three or four years at
e) offer the best academics 
f) have the best courses 

2. Then, once you have decided on a few that fit you best, do the following things before sending out your letters of application:
a) try and hang out at the local pubs, eateries or other establishments in the varsities' areas to get a feel for the nightlife/social life 
b) speak to a few of the varsities' students to find out more about the schools (and to further get a feel for the types of people who attend these)
c) make sure that you will be able to afford the schools you have chosen to apply to
d) make sure that you will be able to afford housing in the area/areas

3. Finally, once you have your final selection of schools, ask yourself one more time if there are any that you don't see yourself fitting into completely, and throw those out of the pile if any. Then, proceed to write a great letter of application/motivation (further blog postings to follow regarding the proper way to write these) for each application and once done, send them all off. 

Remember, it is important to send out your applications in a timely fashion (the earlier the better).

Good luck and I hope you make it into the university of your dreams!


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Motivational: Follow your dreams no matter what

We all have a dream. My dream is to land a deal with a recognisable publishing house, to either have my blogs published into books, or to write my own works of fiction with characters I have created years ago in my mind. 

The problem is however that most of us give up on our dreams somewhere along the line. This is mainly due to the influence of others (see my article titled The influence of others can make you or break you), but it is also often due to our own devices. 

The problem being that we simply don't believe our dreams will ever be a reality. If we did, we wouldn't even let the disparaging words of others faze us. We would march on like soldiers until we reached our ultimate destination.... Our one true goal. 

I too let myself give up on my dreams for a while, believing they would never be in reach or that I would never be good enough at writing to even be able to create one successful blog. Now, less than a year later, here I am, with four blogs and a steady, supportive following of regular readers. 

All I did was allow myself to believe again. I realised that without our dreams we have no real purpose or goal to work towards. What is the point to life then really? I also realised that the worst thing that could happen is that I could fail miserably in the end. So what? Failing wouldn't kill me, it would just mean I had the guts to reach for something I have always wanted. Win or lose, at least I am trying (see the following article Motivational: Don't let the fear of failure or success, pull you down).

I am not only following my dreams, but I have also left a career that gave me no pleasure and studies (Education/Teaching Degree) that bored me to death. I took a risk and I am not sorry. 

The world is full of famous people who followed their dreams and found success against all odds. The reason for this being they never gave up hope. They never gave up believing. They never gave up on their dreams. People such as Beverly Donofrio, Oprah Winfrey and Chris Gardner to name but a few. Even hardships did not stand in their way, which just goes the show the power that having a dream holds. All we have to do is to keep following it no matter what.


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Finding out you are pregnant whilst still in College/University

You are sitting in class, trying to take notes, but you just cannot get yourself to focus. The minutes tick on and feel like hours, until finally your classes for the day are over. You drive back to your dorm, anxious to get the undesirable task over and done with, however when you reach home, you find every excuse not to do what is needed.

Eventually you cannot take the suspense any longer and you just bite the bullet and do it. Again the minutes drag on. Finally it is time to read the results. You feel like throwing up as the tears roll down your face. Two blue lines. You are pregnant........

The above scenario happens to so many young girls between the ages of 15 and 22 on a daily basis, yet it is a topic so many avoid discussing or thinking about.

Unplanned pregnancies are a reality and unless you are practising complete sexual abstinence, you are at risk.

What many young women (and men) don't realise is that no method of contraception is 100% safe and effective. There are many reported cases annually of unplanned pregnancies which are a result of either failed or incorrectly used contraceptive methods. Even doing an internet search regarding the topic, will produce quite a few stories written by real women/men this happened to.

In fact, when I was in high school and College, I knew of at least four cases in which girls, who were taking the contraceptive pill, got pregnant. They swore they took their pills religiously, however this is something I cannot vouch for. All I know for certain is that they were in total shock and disbelief when they found out they were pregnant, since until that point in time, they were certain that it couldn't happen to them, because they were being "completely safe".

So just how does one deal with an unplanned pregnancy, when you are still in school/university? The first step, although it sounds like a cliché, is really to remain calm and not to do anything irrational. Remind yourself that you are not the first person in the world this has happened to. Many have found themselves in the same scenario since the beginning of time, and it really is not a death sentence. 

Then, once you are calm and collected you can begin to ask yourself the following questions:

1. How do I really feel about abortion?
2. How do I feel about adoption?
3. Can I see myself carrying a baby to term? 
4. How would pregnancy/ a baby affect my schooling/studies?
5. How do I break the news to my parents?

Points/questions 4 and 5 are ones I can offer some guidance on. Points 1 to 3 are based on your own personal feelings and are choices/decisions only you can make for yourself. Just make sure that the choices you make are ones you will be able to live with. If you have any doubts, rethink your initial decisions very carefully. Don't be rash and take your time in thinking things through properly. 

Question/point 4 asked, "How would pregnancy/ a baby affect my schooling/studies?" Well that depends on a few factors. For instance, say you decide to carry the baby to term and then give it up for adoption and your parents support you in your decision. You can then temporarily leave school/ your studies for the duration of your pregnancy and return again once everything is over. This will however set you back at least a year. Alternatively you could stay in school until your due date and then return again within a week or two after giving birth, which wouldn't set you back that much. Just bear in mind that both scenarios carry the risk of postpartum depression and depression caused by the loss created by giving up your child. I honestly recommend an open adoption for those young moms who find adoption to be their best solution. This way you still get to be a part of your child's life. 

Another scenario could be that you decide to keep your baby and your parents support your decision. In this instance you could either leave school for nine months or stay for the duration of your pregnancy (as the scenario above) however, after the birth of your child things are going to become a bit more complicated. You would then either have to leave school in order to raise your child until he/she reaches school readiness age, upon which you will be able to return to school again, or you would have to place your child in day-care (which would not be financially possible without the assistance of your parents), or in the care of one of your parents (if both your parents aren't employed outside of the home) or grandparents. Think carefully about all this and do not be selfish in your decisions (think of everyone involved - including your parents and unborn child - and how your choices will affect them).

The worst scenario would be that your parents decide to cut you off once finding out about your pregnancy (whether you decide to keep the baby or give it up for adoption). In this instance I would advise you to seek refuge in a home/sanctuary for unwed/young mothers, and to seek financial aid in the form of a "single mothers' scholarship/bursary". Information regarding both can be found by doing an internet search. 

As for question/point 5, "How do I break the news to my parents?" This would depend largely on the types of parents you have. If your parents are very strict and display the characteristics of being authoritarian in nature then I suggest speaking to them with the help of a school guidance counsellor or psychologist by your side. 

If you parents are more open, easy going and permissive in nature, I suggest you just sit them down one evening and say something in the lines of the following; "Mom, dad, I love you very much and I will always be your daughter no matter what, so please do not be angry with me when I tell you something that has been eating me up inside for days now. I am pregnant and I am sorry. Nothing I can say or do can change this fact. What's done is done and I cannot just make it go away. Please forgive me, and please help me". 

And with that I have come to the end of this posting. On a final note I would like to add that the internet is full of resources and help for young pregnant women, so spend some time reading through some of these. 

Take care and remember, a few minutes of passion are not worth giving up your youth over.


Thursday, 28 July 2016

How to tell your parents you plan on quitting college/university

As I have stated in previous blog postings, many people take up their studies just to keep their parents happy. Grandpa became a surgeon, daddy followed in his footsteps and therefore it is expected of Sonny to do exactly the same thing.

But, what if Sonny decides to do his own thing? Live his own life? How can he get out of the great big mess his family has placed him in? How can he be free without disappointing everyone around him? Many people believe this to be an impossible feat and that is why we find so many people today that are miserable in their professions.

It is true that telling your parents you wish to quit studying (or that you wish to change your field of study to something you actually enjoy), won't be an easy task, but if approached/handled in the correct way it is not an undo-able one.

The first step would be to compile a list of reasons why college/university studies are not necessary for everyone in life to make a success (whilst also listing examples of such people who made a resounding success of their lives, without any formal education/training - Google search can help you with this). 

Then the next step would be to compile a list of reasons why studying is not right for you personally. Once you have both lists it is time to plan the event in which you will be discussing your choice with your parents. This does not have to be an elaborate affair and should just be something simple (and private) such as a meal by either your home, or your parent's abode. Privacy and intimacy is key here, since you can never be 100% sure what their initial shock reaction is going to be like. Don't let this scare you though since around 70% of parents tend to take the news extremely well once it is initially broken to them, and even if your parents fall into the 30% category of parents that totally lose it, you are their child whom they love and eventually they will come around to the idea - Remember, once a wound is exposed it can begin to heal. 

When the "breaking the news to my parents" day/event arrives, start off by explaining to your parents that you have thought long and hard about your decision and in the end you realised that quitting will be better for you. Explain to them that it will be a waste of their money (or your scholarship providers money) if you continue because you do not have a passion for what you are doing and therefore you are most certain you won't be able to make a success out of it one day as a career because of this reason. Go on to remind them that life is short and it does not help wasting valuable time on something if it makes you miserable. Then read them the list of reasons why studying is not right for you personally and the list of reasons why studying is not necessary for everyone in life to make a success. Once done you can finish off by naming the names of around fifty highly successful people who don't have any formal education or training (which you compiled earlier using Google). To completely round off the topic/conversation you could add something in the lines of; "Success comes from hard work and not academic training. If you enjoy something and are therefore compelled to work hard at it, you are more likely to make a success out of it than if you pursue something you hate and find no enjoyment in". 

Your parents are bound to have a lot to say to you at his point but whichever way it goes just remember that after this whole dreaded discussion with them is over, you can begin to get your life back and the worst will be behind you. Don't feel discouraged if they (your parents) try and retaliate by threatening to make you pay them back for the money's they have already paid or worse, if they threaten to disown you. 85% of the time this is just the initial shock kicking in and in a few weeks they will recant their "threats/decisions". My advice to you for the 15% of cases where this doesn't happen is this - You have one life to live. You have to ultimately live it for yourself and not for others. Time wasted is time you can never get back and if people can't accept your choices and wish to cut you off due to them, then so be it, even if these people are your parents. If they truly love you, they will come around eventually. They had their lives and made their choices. Now is the time for them to trust you to make decisions for yourself as an adult who is over the age of 18. If you are forced to pay them their money back, then do it with pride, even if it takes you years to do this, at least you will have the knowledge that you don't owe anyone for anything and that your actions did not have an effect on anyone but yourself. 

With this all being said, quitting is not a decision to be taken lightly. Be very sure about your actions before taking them. Take at least a semester to think about it long and hard and then only quit if your feelings have stayed the same all the time. If you have any doubts, rather make an appointment with a student counsellor or join a student support group to see if you cannot resolve any of your issues that way first. Many students tend to quit due to feeling overwhelmed or when they are battling to cope. They then convince themselves the real reason for quitting is due to them not having a like or a passion for what they are doing, or simply that university/college is not for them. Be 100% sure of your reasons and also be sure of how you are going to feel once you have quit. If you feel you are going to have any type of regrets, then maybe you are being too hasty. 

Take care and good luck in your choices. I hope my suggestions can help some of you out there. 

P.S - If anyone has any stories to share with us regarding how they told their parents they were going to quit, pls share these with us in the comments section, as I am sure many students will find help in these. 


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Suicide is not the answer

As the title of the post says/reads, suicide is truly never the answer. There is nothing in this world that cannot be fixed or healed providing you are prepared to fix or heal that which needs fixing or healing.

Even if you are suffering from depression or you have a Bipolar disorder, suicide is not an easy way out. Killing yourself solves nothing. When you are really low or when you feel like your problems are so humongous that the only way out is death, think again, think about your loved ones, think about what you would be putting them through. This should bring you back to reality.

Even if you feel nothing for yourself anymore (at that moment in time), think about everyone out there that loves you and that you love back. Would you want to see your parents suffering? Of course you wouldn't and if you kill yourself you would be subjecting them (as well as your other loved ones) to the worst suffering imaginable. This knowledge alone should be enough reason to seek help for whatever it is that you are going through.

When you are overwhelmed by your problems and/or you are terribly down/depressed, tell yourself that this feeling is just temporary. Nothing can last forever, including stress, fear, depressed moods or whatever it is that you are going through at that specific moment in time.

Seek help and don't suffer in silence. Depression, bipolar disorder, fear, panic etc. is nothing to be ashamed of. More and more people suffer from depression each year and suicide rates are increasing at an alarmingly steady pace (according to statistics). Ask yourself truly, do you want to be part of that statistic? Remind yourself of the happy times, of how good you felt whilst doing something you truly enjoyed. Pull yourself out from that dark place you are creeping into, and if you find that this is too difficult for you, reach out to someone, anyone, before it is too late.

I know at least 50 people who have either tried to commit  suicide or thought about it at some point in their lives. All of them say the same thing now though, and that is that they cannot believe how close they came to making a huge, permanent and devastating mistake. All of them have found happiness and are in a happy place in their psyche today.

One particular case/person was a teacher I had in college (whose permission I have to retell her story with the intent to help others). She was a victim of rape when she was a teenage girl. Instead of confiding in her parents and/or her closest friends, she kept the secret to herself in fear of what others might think of her. She held it in for years until it consumed her entire being. She couldn't eat or sleep and she began to feel that life would never be the same again and that she would never be able to live with the memory of what happened to her. Suicide became her only choice. Her only way to have peace. Her only way out.

She planned her self-destruction/demise very carefully. For months she started stealing and hiding a few of her mothers sleeping pills in a sock in her cupboard. Finally, when she felt she had enough she waited patiently for an evening that her parents would be out for at least a few hours. When the evening came she made sure that she told everyone (her parents and friends) that she would be going to bed early, as she had an upset stomach and wasn't feeling too well. She requested no one to call her awake on the phone.

Her parents left. She placed the letters of farewell she wrote to/for everyone dear to her on the dining room table, went into the bathroom, poured a bath, drank all the sleeping pills and then climbed into the tub. She waited patiently. For quite a while she felt nothing.

Then all of a sudden it started to happen. She started to feel her brain and functioning slowing down. It was the weirdest and scariest feeling she ever felt. "Why am I not just falling asleep like I see on the t.v?", she thought. She began to panic, but she couldn't do anything, she couldn't move. It was horrendous and nothing like she expected it to be. She asked herself, "what the hell am I doing?" She realised that she wanted to live and that her ordeal seemed so meagre now in relation to the fear she was currently experiencing. She knew she was dying but she couldn't scream... She blacked out....

Then, she could see a sharp light. She heard voices around her. She managed to open her eyes. She could barely make out the face of a man. After a while she recognised his voice. It was her doctor. She could hear him telling her mother (whose crying voice was echoing in the room), that all they could do now is wait to see if she lived or died since they did all they could on their side (by pumping her stomach out etc.). She felt the overwhelming fear of dying return, just before she blacked out again........

Needless to say she made it out alive (or else she wouldn't have been able to tell us this story as her students). She got lucky. Her mother broke the strap on her shoe and went home to change her footwear. That is the only reason she (my teacher) was still alive today. Her mom found her just in time and even then her chance of survival was around 50/50.

She had a major wake up call during her suicide attempt and got the help she needed as soon as she had recovered enough

She learnt to live with what happened to her and realised that it was in the past and that it could only effect her future if she kept dwelling on it. It wasn't the end of the world. She had a second chance at life. Her attempt at suicide taught her just how valuable life is and how much she really wanted to live. She started to enjoy her life, went to university, got her degree, fell in love, got married and had three beautiful daughters. The mere thought of what she attempted to do to herself seems so unreal to her now.

If you are someone who is contemplating suicide please let all I have said above sink in. Your life is precious even if you don't feel that way right now. Please get the help you need, or even just reach out to someone.

 I know that in this age of technology people are very out of touch with each other (which in my opinion is also to blame for many suicides since so many feel alone). but there is always someone who will listen, whether it be one of your parents, or siblings, your minister/priest, varsity counsellor or even just a friend.

Here is a list of online suicide prevention chats (help-line chats) that you can access via a VPN if you feel you would prefer to remain completely anonymous, and other suicide resources such as international suicide hotline telephone numbers:

Suicide Prevention Chats (Worldwide)

International Association For Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Lifeline


International Suicide Hotlines List

I want to close in saying that life is precious and that each and every single one of us are amazing and special.

With that said, remember these words: Whatever is upsetting you won't last forever (unless you force it), but suicide is final.


Thursday, 2 June 2016

Forty great essay (composition) topic ideas

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Good old essays (compositions). We had to write them in school and now (in more volume's than ever), we have to write them in university/college. 

I never really minded writing essays, however, I hated coming up with topics to write about, when none were given. That is why I thought you (my readers), would appreciate a nice little list of "not so common" essay topics, for each of the four main types of essays you have to write in varsity/college. 

Here is the list:

Descriptive Essays - (essays that describe something - paint a mental picture)

1) My favourite places/destinations in the world (and why they are my favourite/s)
2) My favourite foods or different food flavours (and how they compliment each other)
3) What I look for in a potential boyfriend/girlfriend (looks wise, personality wise, style wise etc.)
4) What I look like to myself, when I look in the mirror (face and body)
5) The ugliest dog (or other animal) I have ever seen
6) What my dream house will/should look like one day
7) How I would change the world (if I could change anything and/or everything about it)

Argumentative and Persuasive Essays - (essays meant to persuade or convince others)

1) Why extreme dieting is bad for you
2) Why marijuana should be/shouldn't be legalised
3) Why my favourite (presidential) candidate should win
4) Why rapists should receive life sentences
5) Being a vegetarian is better than eating meat
6) Abstinence is the only real "safe sex"

Narrative Essays - (essays that tell a story about an experience or that reveal stages in a plot)

1) My first day/week at university/college
2) The first time I went to a party/my first date
3) What happened on my worst date ever (NB: Keep it clean!)
4) The best day of my life (so far)
5) The worst day of my life (so far)
6) My best Christmas/holiday

Expository Essays - (essays that investigate and explain/describe facts)

1) Events that took place during 911, World War 1, Word War 2 and/or The Great Depression
2) Why global warning is taking place/happening
3) Factors that caused/contributed towards, the hole in the ozone layer
4) Why too much sugar is bad for you
5) How and why smoking cigarettes causes cancer
6) The causes and effects of acid rain

Sometimes we are given a broad topic we are meant to write an essay of our choosing about. Since this can also be daunting, here is a list of some of the popular topics you might be given, with ideas of subtopics you can write about:  

1. Problems in the current education system
2. The value of education
3. Self education versus university/college
4. Special education needs
5. What having an education means to me

1. The value of our oceans
2. The importance of animal and/or nature conservancy
3. Pollution: Causes of pollution and/or the effects of pollution
4. Global warming
5. Lesser known exotic plants and/or animals

1. Why do we have to pay so much tax?
2. What does it mean to be president?
3. What are the duties of a president?
4. Do we really need a government and/or why we need a government
5. The value of affirmative action

And that is that. I hope you will find some of the given topics useful the next time you need to write an essay/composition. 

Take care and happy writing

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Motivational: Don't let the fear of failure or success, pull you down

So many people let their fears get the better of them. Especially when it comes to the fear of failure or success. Yes, you read correctly. I wrote the fear of failure, or SUCCESS.

It is still a little known fact that just as many people (if not more) fear success, as those who fear failure. But why would anyone fear success?

The answer is actually quite simple. Many people fear success because we as human beings fear change as well as the unknown, and as we all know, with success comes both (change and the unknown).

The trick however to beating this fear, is to tell yourself that nothing can stay constant (the same) forever. Change is inevitable, and even though the huge changes that success brings might be daunting, do you really want your life to stay the same forever? Exactly, no you don't. Then why fear your own success?

Think about it. I know I would much rather live an interesting life full of change, than a bland one in which everything stays the same for an eternity. Can you imagine doing what you are doing now forever? Since most of you reading this are students, can you picture being a student for the rest of your life? No of course not. You want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher or whatever it is you are studying towards. So don't fear your ultimate goal, which is exactly what you are doing when you give into fears of your own success.

As for the fear of failure. Failure was something that I feared so much that I let it ruin everything for me. All I had to do was realise that I hadn't failed yet. And even if I did (fail), why on earth would it have been the end of the world for me? Exactly, it wouldn't have. I would have just tried and tried again until I succeeded. 

Remember failure is not absolute. If we fail, we can always try again. Yet we tend to live as if failing once would be the end of us, as if it would mean game over without the option to respawn ourselves. Failure cannot kill you! So don't fear it so much! We can't always be perfect at everything and do everything perfectly all the time. Failure is part of being human. Think of it (failure) as going to the loo or farting - annoying and embarrassing, yet part of being human.

As I have said so many times before, we control our own destiny, and that means that you control your own future (and attitude towards it), so don't let fear pull you down and prevent you from reaching the heights you were meant to.

Keep positive and reach for the stars

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Struggling student? Ways to earn money (part-time)

Many students wish they had more money in a month, to actually buy the things they want (and not have to stare at people who are holding the latest gadget, droolingly). Others simply need more money in order to survive or pay for their studies. 

Don't despair. If you can make the time, and put in the effort, there are many ways of earning some extra cash whilst you are still studying (that DON'T involve selling any parts of your body). 

Below I will be giving you a list of things/jobs you can do for extra dough, but just a word of warning first:- Try and do your own thing independently and stay away from so called "student employment agencies" or "student job providers", as many of these are out to exploit or scam students (by placing them in jobs that pay peanuts and taking a cut of the proceeds, and/or by selling them (students) products or services they don't really need). Please note I stated that SOME and not ALL agencies/providers are out to do this, so do your homework before making use of one of them (if you still so wish).

Okay, now for the list of jobs/things students can do for extra cash:

1. Waitering- This one is a classic! Even in my early days of studying (in the 1990's), part-time waitering was a big earner for students. Just make sure you don't take on more hours than you can handle and that you work by a restaurant/establishment that gives you a share of your daily profits/sales and not just your (earned) tips as an income. I remember working at a restaurant that only let us keep our tips. Many nights I would only earn two rand (as in seriously, there are many cheapskate tippers out there) and then I was still made to do some dishes in the back after my shift ended (hardly worth if for two rand).

2. Recycling - Don't knock it till you've tried it. Recycling is actually a great way of earning some extra cash if you pursue it seriously and collect many varied items. Cans, glass, paper and plastic can all be recycled which is great for students, since all of these items can be found on campus (and it dorms) in abundance. Few people know that all forms of cans are recyclable (aluminium and steel etc.) so collect all forms of these (soft drink cans, beer cans, paint cans, food cans, aerosol cans etc.). Once you have a good collection going, you can just surf the internet for a list of local places you can drop your stash at, in exchange for cash. All in all recycling is really worthwhile (the cash part and the fact you are doing your bit to save the planet). The only down side to recycling is the fact that you will need quite a lot of space to store all the items collected. 

3. Child minding - You can call it babysitting or au-pairing (even though this term is traditionally used for those child minders who have come from a foreign country to work for host families), however, whatever you wish to call it, part-time child minding is another great job for students. Again I wish to add that you must be careful not to take on more hours doing this than you can handle. Also, make sure that you know your rights as a child minder (as well as the rights of the parents) and any other legalities concerning child minding (such as safety laws, responsibilities etc.), before taking on any jobs. Note: You should only attempt doing this (as a job) if you have tons of patience and a love for children. 

4. Weekend car wash - Definitely a job I recommend for the summer only (unless you are super brave and like to play "Fear Factor" with icy cold water). How this works is you get a bunch of your friends to join in on the idea, then you go and visit local premises (such as shop parking lots, petrol/gas garages etc.) and ask their permission to set up your own small car wash on weekends. Alternatively you could also just apply for part time work at an existing car wash (on weekends only since this job can get very messy and exhausting).

5. Dog walking - Now this is something many students never even think of doing. Why dog walkers have started dying out is beyond me because they are needed now more than ever! Think of it. More and more people are working extended hours and on weekends and have way less time to spend with their children, nevermind their animals! You could even extend your services to dog/house sitting when people go on holiday or away for the weekend. All you need are some good references (written by your family, neighbours and church back home, in order to prove you are not a psychopathical maniac out to ransack, pillage and burn the house down), some flyers advertising your services (which you can put up and/or hand out at local shops) and you are good to go.

Note: References such as the ones mentioned are a very good idea if you are considering other jobs dealing with children, properties or animals as well (such as child minding mentioned above).

6. Dog bathing/grooming - Only attempt this if you know how to cut/groom a dogs hair without hurting it! Alternatively you could just offer a dog washing service on weekends, where people can bring their dogs to you and you give them a bath and gentle towel dry (with NO haircut). Note that you will need a bathtub, towels and warm water source in order to offer this service. Tip: Many South African houses have back rooms/ maid quarters built in their backyards, therefore students who still live with their parents can make use of these rooms in order to run a weekend business of this sort (provided these rooms are used for no other current purpose of course). 

7. Flea markets - Lets face it, most people will buy the biggest load of junk just for the sake of shopping, so why not turn the shopping addictions of others into some cash for yourself? In a previous post, "Fun things to do on a student's budget (outside of drinking)", I mentioned how students can host craft evening for fun, now you can turn those craft evenings for fun, into craft evenings for profit! Collect all the crafts you make independently and on craft evenings until you have enough of them to sell at a flea market, or other sale venues. Alternatively you could bottle/can your own preserves or bake some goods for sale (and also make evenings out of these activities with your friends). Note: As mentioned before in my "Fun things to do on a student's budget" post, only the craft items made with bought goods/crafting materials or "quality" junk items such as glass, should be put up for sale - (think of it for a minute, would you want to buy a cow ornament made out of eggshells and a milk carton? Exactly! Hell no, you wouldn't. On the contrary you would just burst out laughing and give the person who tried to sell the item a bad name, and who wants to walk around for the next four years being called "carton cowgirl" for example?). 

And that is that. If you can think of any other jobs/activities I have left out please share them with us (as long as they are not dangerous or vulgar).

Have fun and happy earning!


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Fun things to do on a student's budget (outside of drinking)

The problem with the world these days is that everyone seems to have forgotten how to have fun without money (or technology for that matter).

You don't need a fortune to have a good time. The amount of free activities (and cheap activities) available is actually quite astounding. All you need is an open mind and a willingness to try out new things.

Here are a few examples of such (free/cheap) activities.

(Free) Activities

1. Bird viewing in the park. Why not visit the park with a few of your friends and see how many different species of birds you can see and identify? Does this sound boring to you? Well you will be surprised how good the fresh air makes you feel and just how relaxing bird viewing can be. I liken this activity to a day at a health spa (almost the same effect at a free price).

2. Old fashioned games nights. Phone your mom and ask her to send you all your old board games (monopoly, pictionary, scrabble etc.) or even your old t.v game consoles. Then invite all your friends over and have a blast. This is really lots of fun, probably because it is so "old school" in nature (and it brings back fond childhood memories too). 

3. Craft evenings. Keep and collect old egg cartons, milk cartons, cold drink bottles, and cold drink can tabs (etcetera), and use these to host craft evenings with your friends. Each evening, you could pick an animal or object to be made/built out of the items and then have a little competition to see whose animal/object came out the best. You could also try doing crafts with bought items (such as beads, wool, glass, glitter, paint and wood, for example). These items can then be kept and sold at flea markets to earn extra cash (I don't advise you to try and sell the crafts made out of junk items though).

4. Reading. Since most movies are based on books, why not read the books that your favourite movies were based on? You will find that the original writings contain much more details and events than the movies do (because movies are hardly ever longer than an hour and a half). Try reading in a relaxing area (such as on your bed or in the bath tub).

(Cheap) Activities:

1. Have a picnic. Make a few sandwiches, boil a few eggs, buy a 2 litre soft drink, grab a blanket and head to a relaxing spot with your friends. You could even have the picnic on the floor of your apartment/house.

2. Rent/watch a few old movies. We all have a few old favourite movies. Why not make an evening out of watching a few of these with your friends? Just add popcorn and you're good to go.

3. Visit second hand stores or church bazaars. Who doesn't love "vintage" clothing and "bargain" furnishings for their dorm room/flat/house? Second hand stores and/or church bazaars are great places to find both these types of items and so much more. You will have a total ball rummaging through all the items and an even better time haggling prices.

4. Host a dinner party. You and your friends can each take turns playing host. If you plan smartly you can prepare the meals cheaply. The bonus of doing an activity like this, and getting your friends to follow suit, is that you only need to fork out money once (when you are the host). The rest of the parties will be hosted by your friends and so that means you get to have fun (and eat) for free.

Again, these are just a few activities you can do for free or cheaply. Be creative and use your brain to come up with some of your own ideas.

Remember, you don't need a lot of money to have a good time!

Have fun
Edit: Tip - Be sure to check online if there aren't maybe any Groupon vouchers/discounts for any activities you are planning. This way you can save even more valuable dough.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Flashback story: High heels and see-through tops

I was sitting and thinking tonight (whilst doing some work) about my earlier days as a student. My friends and I were so young and naive back then and this used to lead to some very amusing scenarios at times.

 I found myself laughing out loud whilst reminiscing and therefore decided to share some of my old stories with all of you as I remember them. I will be calling these postings my "flashback stories".

Way back in 1998 I was at college completing my business studies. I had a nice bunch of female friends back then and we used to make a game out of looking great each Friday. This served two purposes. The first was to have a little competition amongst ourselves to see who was the best dressed, and the second was to look good for our Friday night clubbing sessions, which normally started just a few hours after our daily classes came to an end.

One Friday I decided to wear these stunning black stiletto heels I had in the back of my cupboard. I remember putting them on and feeling very chuffed with how great they made my legs look (even though I was wearing a pair of jeans). I added a nice black halter-neck top, did my hair into a nice up style and applied far too much make-up (which was the norm still in the 90's). Once satisfied with my overall look, I grabbed my bag and off to class I went.

The weather was miserable and gloomy that day and when I got to school I was just grateful that it hadn't started raining yet. Can you imagine walking on wet paving and wet raw cement in high heels? Well I couldn't so I considered the dry ground a blessing.

Anyhow, my friends started arriving and although they all looked great, they didn't have a chance at beating me. I was confident that I had won the weekly contest hands down until my last friend arrived. She looked absolutely stunning, wearing a long white vintage lace top and black leggings. We all decided on the spot that she looked the best and that she was going to "rock" at the clubs that night. Then, with our weekly winner decided on, we all went to class.

The day went quite well until around 11 am, when I started having difficulty walking up and down the stairs (to my different classes) in the stiletto's. Suddenly the difficulty walking turned into agonising leg and foot pain which worsened with each step I took. In a flash the reason I kept those shoes hidden in the back of my cupboard all came back to me - they were torture devices!

Now since there was no way I would ruin my reputation by walking barefoot I decided to try and walk as normal as possible when someone was close enough to see me. As luck would have it, half the school decided to use the stairways and passages I was using. It was total torture!

At 2 pm our classes had ended for the day and we all grouped outside for a smoke. The sun decided to come out behind the clouds at that point and shine at its brightest just as my friend who was wearing the gorgeous lace top came walking out of the building. It took me half a second in the bright light to notice how see-through her top was. Not only that, but the sheer white camisole she was wearing underneath it was just as see-through, meaning that you could see more than just her pretty face.

Before I could call out to her, a gathering of boys started to appear (from out of nowhere it seemed), staringly. She was enjoying the attention though, oblivious to the actual reason for the attention (just assuming it was her great look of the day attracting it).

My protective instincts then kicked in and over shadowed my better judgement. Before even thinking about the fact that I was wearing those awful shoes (and that my feet and legs were in agony), I ran on the now wet paving (from earlier rain) towards her, planning to cover her up and inform her quietly of the free show she was providing. Only it did not play out that way.

Before I reached her I slipped and twisted my ankle which caused me to lunge forward, grabbing and ripping her top in the process, as well as tearing my jeans between the legs. Everyone (and I really mean everyone), came running towards us to see what happened.

Then as luck would have it, it started to rain again. There we were, standing in front of everyone with torn clothing, wet hair and messed make-up. Lucky for us one sweet kid gave my friend his t-shirt and another gave me a raincoat that I could drape around myself (as a skirt). The embarrassment we endured was completely and utterly agonising though!

Luckily I had just sprained my ankle that day and everyone at school felt so bad for us that there was no gossiping or joking about the incident (well none that we heard of at least). I never wore those shoes again (but still have them for nostalgic reasons) and she never ever wore lace again.

Just goes to show that looks really can kill!


Edit: Rereading this posting I think it is fitting to add the following. University (or any educational institution) is not the place for a “fashion show”. Yes it is important to look great and feel good about yourself, but it is honestly not functional to dress as if the paparazzi is going to appear out of nowhere to photograph you. You are there (at the institution) to study/learn and dressing comfortably makes much more sense than looking as if you are trying to get on the cover of a magazine. I wish I had the sense back then to rather wear slacks and tennis shoes. Sure I wouldn’t have looked very “hot”, but at least I would have been able to walk up and down stairs and sit comfortably on chairs. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Starving student? Budget food ideas

So you have managed to do it yet again. You are two weeks away from receiving your part-time job pay cheque (or your money transfer from dad), and you are almost completely broke. What are you going to do about food for the next few days?

What went wrong? Was it all the boozing and partying? Or maybe it was because you bought that new game you just had to have. Well whatever the reason, you are totally screwed. Or are you?

Most students live a life of meagre means, due to the high cost of studies (including books), student accommodation and living the general "party every night" existence. But this does not mean you have to starve or sing on the streets hoping people throw food at you. There are many low budget options out there guaranteed to fill you. Just don't expect any champagne and fine dining.   

Some of your options include:

1. Instant noodles - This option is very versatile (and wallet friendly). You can rev it up with canned peas, beans, corn or bits of sausage. You can even turn it into a soup. The options are endless. I love the cheese flavoured variety (on which I eat extra grated cheese), but the beef and chicken flavours are probably the most versatile ones (since they can be made into soups and other dishes).

2. Vienna sausages - One of South Africa's much loved instant meals. Very versatile as well since you can make hot dogs, viennas and chips, enhanced instant noodles or scrambled eggs using them.

3. Bread - A MUST have. Can be used to make toast, sandwiches, pizza bread (bread with melted cheese and bits of sausage on top) and jaffle's (filled toast). When you are on an extremely tight budget all you need each week is bread, margarine and jam (jelly), and you'll survive.

4. Instant soup packets - Another winner since it's cheap and you can eat it on the go or whilst learning. They (the soup packets) can also be used to make a gravy for potatoes or meat (not that you will be able to afford meat mind you).

5. Eggs - Love them or hate them, eggs are a nutritious winner. Not only are they filled with protein, they are also very versatile. You can fry them, bake them, boil them, poach them or scramble them. They can be eaten with bread (or toast), tomato's, beans etcetera.

6. Potatoes - Cheaper if bought in larger bags. Can be used to make chips (fries), mash, soups, stews, hash browns or baked potatoes.

7. Corn on the cob - Relatively cheap and easy to make. Just boil them until the kernels are soft and you are ready to eat.

The top list should get you by until your next pay day. However if you only have a few cents or rands/dollars left to your name, try hosting a board games or puzzle building evening at your house/flat for your friends (or any activity that won't cost you money to host). Make each person bring a food stuff such as chips, peanuts, pizza or sandwiches (any food that can be stored afterwards will do). You can then freeze the left over pizza, vacuum seal (or seal in a bag) the chips and peanuts, and toast the sandwiches. This should ensure a supply of food for the next few days.

My tip for you for next month however, would be to first put aside some food money before splurging on booze and other non-necessities (even though many students will argue that booze are the main priority and a general necessity).

                   Keep well and happy budgeting (yeah right)!

Edit: Just thought I would share a little tip with you. As a student even when you have money, you don't really have money (well enough of it anyway). I am sure you all know what I am talking about. So why pay full price for take-out or cafe food if you don't need to? What many students don't realise is that there are often Groupons for foodstuffs available on the Groupon website. Just look under the "Food and Drink" category and/or the recently added "Delivery and Takeout" category (added on Groupon.com only). This way, even your little "treats" can become budget food items (providing there are coupons actually available in your area that is).