March 31, 2011

Do you feel sick when presenting?

The truth is - I too was scared to death of presenting in front of a group...! In fact, when I started to teach, I had at least 2 weeks of sleepless nights before my first class. I was sure that I would stand up and have nothing to say and the class would immediately disintegrate into total chaos, or  I'd be laughed at, fired or worse...
Somehow, between the period of my fears and the time I had to 'just do it' (as Nike so aptly puts it,) my nervousness turned into a sort of buzz and adrenaline rush, and with time and lots of practice, I now have almost no nerves at all - especially in a group that I'm familiar with.

So, what makes a presentation good, bad or just plain terrible?
Using the tool of 3's (use groups of three to say whatever you have to say), let me say this:
1. Do NOT read your notes!
2. Use your powerpoint slides, prezi, etc to help you!
3. Explain yourself well!

Now, let me explain...

March 30, 2011

New blogger on board and how I won a contest

My name is Eoghan Bourke, a second year student at the HES and I have recently joined studyleaks. In my spare time I enjoy performing card magic and making music. A few weeks ago, Maryna Rusthoven posted a blog about talent within the school, and also mentioned me in it. Since then she has asked me to write about one of my artistic highlights. So here is a little story of something that happened a few weeks ago... But before I do that, I have to go back to the beginning.

It all began eight years ago, in my first year of secondary school, when I entered the school's talent competition, called the ''Freaken Festival.'' This competition had been going on for longer than 20 years and has produced some real talent, such as singers and comedians. Rapper Jerome XL even went on to make albums in America, after having entered this contest.

March 25, 2011

freaky friday

Ok so here is the story! Today I had a dream (not like martin Luther king) but a strange one involving my class mates which left me feeling like Frankenstein for a while. So after that I woke up got ready for school sun was shining and all it was good what can I say. We had sports today with another HES class which almost begin with a small war. Because of dodge ball, somebody almost got a sucker punched (luckily he ducked before the person could hit him with all the force that was in that puny arm). Then again it was something I thought I wouldn't see and had left behind at High school or MBO. }

March 23, 2011

Market fair review/ Confessions of a shopaholic

So today at the market fair things went pretty well. But I noticed that a lot of February students just come to see how we do it as an example for themselves rather than buying anything. Or you have the teachers that lead other groups and their students that come to check out the competition and hardly any people actually come to buy.

In total we sold ten of our umbrellas today and gave a lot of people or number to contact us later. I wonder if we will hear from them. The promotional movie actually didn’t turn out as well as I expected, but we showed it anyway!

I did actually bought some products from the other group, that brings me to my other topic, my shopping addiction. Somehow I can’t ignore the little voice in my head telling me to buy. Although today was more about kindness than the little voice, I can give several examples of things that are just ridicules like buying out of boredom while waiting.

As I was saving up for Korea just a few weeks ago, it killed me not being able to spend anything at all. I came to the point that I wanted to buy something just for the sake of buying, even if it was just a bottle of nail polish or something else stupid that I don’t actually need.

Even going through the torture of not spending, I only saved up 170 euro in the beginning of March, realizing that is probably would be 170 every month extra, I decided to give up on Korea this year and started saving up for next year in a slightly less aggressive way than not spending at all. This way I buy what I want and won’t feel the need to buy useless stuff (I hope).

Student companies and Market fairs

Saturday the 19th of March, Utrecht’s shopping centre ‘Hoog Catharijne’ transferred into a playground for student companies! From 10AM till 4PM, 87 student companies from across the country came together to compete with each other and sell their products and name to the public.

Of course my student company had to join this vicious battle as well!!!. Together with my colleagues Joël, Imran, Akira, Siuly, Yoran, Jordi and birthday-girl Esther(20) we represented the CreativStorage stand by promoting and selling our creative USB sticks.

Sadly, we didn’t sell as many as we hoped but on the other hand, while walking around the warzone, Akira and I made quite some talks with fellow young entrepreneurs, not just introducing ourselves but to ask questions regarding their company and the ups and downs they’ve came across.

The sales, sharing experiences, tips and tricks people gave each other made it a wonderful day for young businessmen and women to learn from each other.

Next stop: Wednesday’s market fair in the HES! Best of luck to everyone!

March 21, 2011

Exam Tips

In a week all the first year students of the international department of the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam, aka Hogeschool van Amsterdam, will start their midterms. For those, who started their study in February it will be a new experience, no doubt a very stresstful one. I have to admit that having on average 8 tests in one week is more than stresstful. Not sure whether the effects of such shock therapy are a good way to filter the students in their first year, but it definitely works as a wake up call for those who regularly chose their pillow, coffee with a friend or any other matter aside school over the lectures.

In any case, whether you studied hard from the very first day of your study or plan on starting studying for your exams today (today is exactly a week before the beginning of the testing period and many students leave this week for the studying marathon), I thought it would be useful to give some exam tips.

  1. Sleep. Make sure that no matter how much time you spend studying this prep week, you still get an 8 hour sleep. The benefits of that is that you will be able to remember more information as your brain would be rested and by sleeping enough you can actually survive through this exam period.
  2. Sugar. Before the exam, eat something with sugar or bring some chocolate for during the exam. Sugar is good for your brain. Luckily in Holland, food is allowed during the tests.
  3. Water. Hydrating is important, so have a little bottle of water with you and take it easy on drinking too much water before the exams. Trips to the bathrooms are not allowed and let’s face it, when you really have to use the loo, that is all you can think of, so it will be harder to focus on the exam questions.
  4. Pens. Make sure you bring several of them just in case to avoid unnecessary worries.
  5. Read the questions carefully. Very often students do not think this one is an important rule, but I come across wrong answers on exams so often only because a student did not get the question right. If you are asked to define something and give an example, make sure you do that instead of simply naming it.
  6. Readable handwriting. If the teacher cannot read what you wrote, you might get a 0 points for that question, so make sure your answers are possible to read.
  7. Close your notes and textbooks before the exam. About an hour before the exam, stop studying, let you brain rest before it has to work very hard during the test.
  8. Be calm. Do not panic as the first time we read the exam questions, it seems like we never heard those terms before.
  9. Start with what you know and what takes the least time. If you have a mix of multiple-choice questions, open questions and a case in your test, always start with a multiple choice questions, then open ended questions and the case. This will leave you more time at the end to questions that are more difficult. Unless you do not know answers to the multiple choice questions, then move to the open questions but do not forget to get back to the unanswered ones.
  10. Before reading the case, read the case questions. There is no point to read the text if you do not know what to look for. So read the case questions and then read the case keeping them in mind.

There is no magic in the advice given. Very simple and obvious. Certainly will not help you much if you did not study enough for the test, so studying would have been  # 1 on my list, but you were advised that from day one, right?

March 19, 2011

here we go

Now the new exams are waiting in front of the door again and who is ready now? I hope I am but then again I still need some good old study time. The student companies are also almost finished and heeeeeeeeeeere we go to the finals (please let it be us). Market fairs on the way and I wonder how other groups are doing at the moment how far and the status at the moment I wish all YEN company students the best of luck and may we see each other in the finals. Many different products, management, outcomes and learning experience all of them we obtained. Really feels like an American TV show survival of the fittest. Maybe it would be a good opportunity for a YEN discussion group to share ideas and experience we made at the end of the projects. Just an idea could be useful what do you guys think?

March 17, 2011

Fear and Hope?

Margot Gran (c)
In these terrifying days where there are real fears that we all have to learn to cope with - the missing people in Japan, the nuclear disaster in Japan, potential wars in various locations in the Middle East - I came across this poem, thanks to my genius artist sister, Margot Gran,, who always has something inspirational up her sleeve. I'll add the first three lines here, but highly recommend reading the whole thing...
Somehow when I read it I didn't feel so alone anymore.

Fear - A poem by Raymond Carver - American Poems
Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive.
Fear of falling asleep at night.
Fear of not falling asleep.

March 16, 2011

Preparing for the market fair

The table is taken care of and the products are in. It’s time to sell at the market fair! In the first year the students of TMA classes, as mentioned in a blog before, have to start their own company(a YEN company) and sell their products in any way possible and the market fair is one of those ways(although this one is mandatory and other ways are optional).

The HES has multiple market fairs a year for different sorts classes and now it’s our turn next week Wednesday. We have been very busy with the preparations like reserving tables and having change for the people that buy our products. I think a lot of people are getting a bit excited about the market fair, I know I am!

Our YEN-company has decided on a few advertisements, that we probably wouldn’t have made if it wasn’t for the market fair. I’m actually making a commercial tomorrow and I’ll make sure to put a link to it here, as soon as it’s done. I’m very curious about how it will turn out. Wish me luck!!

March 15, 2011

Move it, Holland!

I have been living in Holland for 2,5 years. The first time when I visited Eindhoven in 2003 for an international student conference I was charmed by the small houses, bikes everywhere and even having to bike everywhere myself after a bar crawl with other 424 students. Then, in 2006, I came to Groningen as an exchange student and the charm of riding a bike disappeared with a first fall during an icy trip back to my dorm room.

I am riding my bike again. I take it to work unless it becomes way too cold to pedal even for 15 mins or when it is too icy. I integrated so much that I even own a pair of rain pants and a rain jacket and I also have a bike bag. I am not going to lie, sometimes the thought: “Oh, stupid bike”, does cross my mind,  especially that one time when I had a nail in my tyre, but lately I began to appreciate the bike paths and public transport.

Several weeks ago I went to the US to see my best friend during the last school break. I had a blast and it is amazing how beautiful and spacious everything is there. However, there is no way to survive without a car. My friend and I went to the gym while I was visiting and I noticed how hard people work out there and most go to the gym every single day.

Aiming for a healthy body, mind and soul, I work out too, but every day work out is too much for me. Then it got me thinking: this is the only work out most Americans get: at the gym. I came back to this same thought when reading an issue of Women’s Health magazine that stated that because Americans use cars to get by, even a work out in the gym does not give them enough exercise that our bodies were designed for.

So there, the benefit that we have in Europe and especially here in Holland, is the amount of physical activity we do without even noticing it. Is not it great that our lifestyle here allows us to keep fit or at least somewhat contributes to our fitness regime? I think it is awesome and I do appreciate the opportunity to be able to walk, bike, take the bus or train and not having to worry about that lazy Thursday when I skipped a workout.

March 13, 2011

Social Media, unconsciously improving our lives!

Okay, so apart from watching funny youtube videos, posting comments, leaving messages on each others facebook and socializing with your friends/family/colleagues, what else is possible with today’s social media and how may it improve your life?

-Youtube, what you may not see:

I admit, Youtube is one of today’s most ingenious websites… Apart from all the ridiculous (though funny) video’s, Youtube has its informative and unintended ethical purposes.

Lets say you’re interested in the new iPhone 4 and wish to obtain more information before buying it, there are two options, either look on the Apple website or search for videos on Youtube from people who bought it.

Unboxing the iPhone

( )

Unboxing a Philips Senseo

( )

Unboxing Nintendo 3ds

( )

Another advantage is that people can upload everything there is to see on this world, especially things some countries (governments) do not want you to see. For instance:

-Twitter, what you may not read:

Twitter is both funny and informative to have (even though I don’t use it, yet)

You may share random pictures and messages with friends, but also provide a lot of information when the mainstream media fails to do so. I discovered Twitter the day Utrecht Central had an electricity fallout with a radius of approximately 10-15 kilometres. I was at a friend’s house when suddenly everything turned black… within 5 minutes I knew (through twitters) that downtown Utrecht, Utrecht Central Station and the whole neighbourhood was out of power.

People seem to instantly share information about unusual events, use it in your advantage!

-Hyves/Facebook, what you may not find:

More and more companies use Hyves and Facebook nowadays, for multiple reasons! One of ‘m is: whenever you apply for a job, you may count on it that the company will Google-, Facebook- and Hyves-search you, hoping to get to know your ‘personal life’ and therefore determine whether you fit into their company or not. Second reason for companies (mostly job agencies) to be active on these websites is, recruiting new employees. I myself discovered this helpful method when I worked for a job agency in Zwolle. Knowing that students are very active on these websites, they’ll find a way to your page eventually (with or without promotions).

Soooo, keep in mind, your friends are not the only ones watching!

March 12, 2011

Away from home 2011-03-11

While many Japanese people still are concerned the building of the nation can start as we speak.
The damage is great, and people still worry because of aftershock in Nagano. My support to all the Japanese students and teachers on HES I am one myself student wise so I share the feeling of being powerless. The good news is many of the people I came in contact with are safe and sound. When I woke up to go school yesterday I turned on the TV and saw the news didn't knowing that it was so bad so i said to my girlfriend who also is Japanese ''be sure to call your parents'' ( Me thinking it was a small earthquake like we normally are prepared for). But when arriving to school my classmates begin to look frightened telling me it was a big one, the biggest ever in Japan I got scared more to be honest. So I went home as soon as possible. Luckily everyone I know is safe including my own family in Osaka and Matsumoto. The caring from students in TMA classes is rather big. I was kind of surprised feeling like a tsunami made me homeless or something (luckily it did not) what is happing to the world it feels mother earth is a house mom saying ''enough you darn kids how many times did I told you war is useless'' indeed what is it good for ''rolling my eyes big sigh''.
(War - what is it good for? It really grinds my gears but also gives me motivation to study harder and contribute more to this world starting with one and won't end thus continue to involve more individuals called a group. Lets all contribute =3 Matta yo~

March 10, 2011

For a society that seems so open and multi-cultural - at least it did to me when I arrived here some 10 years ago - there is certainly a lot of discussion about subcultures, racial minorities and injustice here in Holland. One of the strongest claims is that children of immigrants (and they mean from non-Western cultures) have a disadvantage in this society.  Um, what is Western? West of what exactly?

March 9, 2011

Digitalizing schoolbooks

It’s week five of the second semester and I’m pretty shocked to see that a lot of people still don’t have their books. I had all my books in the first week of the semester. This is probably because my parents pay for my school and my books, but for many other students this is not the case.

Yes, my mother complained that the books were expensive and I agree, but to hear from a classmate that he had to pick between food and books was a little shocking. I suddenly felt extremely spoiled.

So let’s face it, for some students that live on their own, that pay their own school tuition, the books are too expensive. And this could be easily solved by school allowing us to have the books in PDF format for free and bringing our laptops to school. But in about 90% of the classes laptops are not allowed, this probably because of the distraction factor it has on the students. However with modern technology a mobile phone is just as much distraction as a laptop is and they are often used in class.

And in most classes it’s not even necessary to bring your book, sometimes it’s just for the assignments which the teacher could have just as easily put in a power point or written on the whiteboard.

You could say that we students should just keep living at home, but for many students in Amsterdam there isn’t even an option to keep living at home since the cities where their parents reside isn’t really around the corner.

So between keep living at home and digitalizing books, digitalizing books is most definitely a better option. So why make our wallets suffer when this can be prevented with modern technology?