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#FresherGuide III – Hall Life — July 22, 2014

#FresherGuide III – Hall Life

This is Part 3 of the Fresher Guide Series. For Part 2 which focuses on Health, click here.

For Part 1 which focuses on Education, click here.

For blogger @TrueluvWaitx‘s take on living off campus, click here


Three posts later and here we are. Hall Life; One of the most dreaded and misunderstood parts of university life. Let these words guide you: It is what you make it. If you view the experience negatively and choose to seclude yourself, then naturally you won’t have good memories from your time (day, week, year(s)) on hall. If you choose to participate, you’ll have been part of the diverse experience that is hall life.  You will not be the same after this. Beware. 


Varied... Halls... Get it? No? Okay. :(
Diverse… Hall… Experience Get it?  No? Okay. 😦


I won’t get to the totality of the hall experience because honestly it is a lot. What I can do is give you a sketch. As per usual, I’ll try to be semi-organized.


Choosing A Hall of Residence:-

Bam! Preston Photo. Brace yourself for more.
Bam! Preston Photo. Brace yourself for more.

By now, many of you will have selected a Hall on which to reside for the next academic year. This choice may have been dictated by financial considerations, tradition (your parents, uncle, aunt, next door neighbour lived on the hall), proximity to faculty of choice (I’m looking at you Med Students on Towers) or you have just used the trusty eenie-meenie-miney-mo method.

No matter where you end up, there are some things all of you (us) will have to deal with once living on hall.


Communal Living:

(Bam, generic photo! … Seriously though, couldn’t find a photo of any local common area)

Before I mislead you. None of our common areas anywhere have a pool table. I'm challenging someone here to make it happen. You will die a legend.
Before I mislead you. None of our common areas anywhere have a pool table. I’m challenging                                  someone here to make it happen. You will die a legend.



You WILL share some facilities with others. Bathrooms, kitchens, common areas, and for some …. A bedroom (dun dun dun). I mean you’ll only be sharing a space with one other person, but sharing a space with zero other persons seems SO much better. (For further reading see section on Roommates/Roomhates)


For the sake of all things holy, be courteous. Be cognizant (this post’s big word) of the fact that you are not the only person using the space and also that the cleaning staff are not your maids. Seriously, the last thing you want is to be on the cleaning staff’s bad side. They will know you and they will spite you. 


Do’s and Don’ts of Communal Living

Do: Clean up after yourself

Don’t: Sweep the mess under anything thinking no one will see it.

Do: Have a discussion with your clustermates/flatmates about how the fridge will be shared and cleaned.

Don’t: Leave your food carelessly on someone else’s shelf. It can and will be eaten.

Do: Make any issues known. People tend not to realize when their actions are negatively affecting others.

Don’t: Attempt to set the person on fire in their sleep. This is illegal and you may damage university property.


Many of the dos and don’ts will be common sense, just realize that while you’re in charge of your well being, you aren’t completely living on your own.


A Word on Facilities:

Every hall has a laundry room. Tokens cost $100 (for now, I bet the price will go up in short order).

Each hall also has a study room/common room that usually has the best wi-fi on hall. Make use of them. (Free wi-fi? Priceless. For everything else there’s Mastercard)




Yay! Running!
Yay! Running! Seriously though, sports are not all that you can participate in.


Your hall will have inter-hall and intra-mural commitments. Don’t be a lump*.


I’m going off the assumption that I didn’t need to give that warning, as all of you will be (sometimes un-) willing participants to your hall’s activities. As demanding as they are, they do serve a purpose. One of the main reasons you’re at university is to network. Competitions are a great avenue for this.

These activities do cater to a large cross-section of people. Don’t like sports? Why not try the arts?


A word on participation: You are at university firstly to read for your degree. If you find that hall/club participation is negatively affecting your schoolwork, don’t be afraid to say no.




Sometimes you just have to resort to this.
Sometimes you just have to resort to this.

For those of you who live the single room lifestyle, you can skip to personal safety.

Your roommate can be your best friend, your worst enemy, a presence you ignore whenever you’re in the same space, or an acquaintance. You will not always have the choice as to which they are, as you can control no one’s behaviour.


Hack: Have a honest discussion with your roommate from you meet about your habits and preferences.


You will have to spend the better part of a year with this person, and believe me, you will have at least one moment where you contemplate beating them half-to-death. The difference between a good roommate and a bad roommate is how often they awaken these thoughts.


My theory on roommates: They provide the ultimate test in dealing with people. Sharing your space like this with someone who you (more than likely) would not have known previously increases your adaptability exponentially (big word x 2). You may not see how it pays off immediately, but it translates to how you approach life (especially to the working world).


Personal Safety:-

Preston night shot!
Preston night shot!


Halls are generally safe environments, however you can never be too careful. Here are some general safety tips.

  • Lock your room when you’re not in it
  • Secure all valuables, especially electronics. You never know when the ‘owner’ may come for it.
  • When going off hall, inform someone of your whereabouts and bring your ID with you. Without it you’re essentially anonymous to the University.


General Hall Life Wisdom:

Be kind to people. You never know when you’ll be the one in need.

“You can go broke on hall, but you’ll never go hungry.”

“Wear clean underwear.”


The further we go into the series, the more serious it will get. Look out for Part 4 for Budgeting Tips as well as a spreadsheet with rough monthly expenses. There will also be a follow up post to hall life concerning supplies, so look out for that too.


Lump n. Non-participant


There is much more that could be said and as per usual, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to contact me.

Find me on Facebook here

Find me on Twitter here


More time,




#FresherGuide Pt. II – Health — July 21, 2014

#FresherGuide Pt. II – Health

Part two of the Fresher Guide Series. For part I, click this link:

Disclaimer: This will be a bit more serious and lengthy than Pt. 1. But then again, your health is no joke. Read on for essential survival tips.


So you’ve read part I (or haven’t; who am I to judge?) and you think you have a handle on surviving the university educational system. Allow me to introduce you to the one thing that can ruin your plans; your health. Specifically, neglecting your health.

Cliches are often true. More often than we'd like them to be anyway
Cliches are often true. More often than we’d like them to be anyway

Every year, tonnes of students (especially new students) end up at the Health Centre with avoidable complaints. Usually nutrition based, but they can be exacerbated (big word!) by sleep deprivation and being unfit.


This fitness triangle simplifies what you need to pay attention to in order to stay healthy:- Tip: Neglect any of these and you can (and will) die.

More Graphics!
More Graphics!


Pay adequate attention to all these and you’ll have no problems. Compared to your peers you’ll be virtually superhuman.


It’d be remiss of me to not leave you with some suggestion as to how to tackle each aspect of the health triangle. So here goes:



Myth: You can’t eat well on campus, ramen will be your best friend.

Pictured: Begger of Friends. Ignore it.
Pictured: Begger of Friends. Ignore it.

Fact: You can make delicious meals on campus without killing your pocket, in fact, cooking beats buying food when it comes to price per portion. This is with the assumption that you can cook. If you can’t, now IS the time to learn.

The Basics:

  1. Boiling water
  2. Cooking rice
  3. Using a knife safely
  4. Cutting and seasoning meat
  5. Buying a can opener
  6. Knowing that if you can afford it, you should totally treat yourself to something nice. Use your judgement with this. It can go from luxury to disaster in no time.

 Myth: You will have to survive off tin food/(*insert other cheap alternative to real food here)

Fact: Buying meat (esp. chicken, fish and pork (fyah!)) works out cheaper than the canned equivalent, hands down.

Special consideration will have to be taken to the finer points of your diet. So for ‘country’ kids (like myself) you will have to purchase things that you once took for granted(fruits and vegetables) which you will need, because unfortunately the average college student’s diet is oversaturated with starches (read: rice, flour) and that imbalance can leave you feeling extremely sick.

Look out for the budget post: I’ll try my best to give you a monthly breakdown of food expenses.


Hydration: Kingston is hot as hell. Keep water handy. If your parents/guardians love you (and I really hope they do) try to convince them to get you water by the case, it works out cheaper for everyone.

Pictured: Real Friend, Lifesaver, Your favourite superhero in a bottle
Pictured: Real Friend, Lifesaver, Your favourite superhero in a bottle


No one is expecting you to become a gourmet chef overnight. However, do make every effort to learn (if you can’t cook) and help others if you can. It may be the difference between eating well and getting sick.


Click here for a sample supermarket list. Prices to come later on in a post about budgeting and money management.


On coffee: see Sleep



Often the most neglected part of health by everyone in our age bracket: from the ‘team no-sleepers’ to the proclaimed insomniacs. This graphic explains the effects of sleep deprivation better than I can.

Your body's no machine. Mine is, but yours isn't.
Your body’s no machine. Mine is, but yours isn’t.


I’m not saying that you’ll get a full night’s rest every night, but aim for it as often as you can. Your body will thank you. (In this case; do as I say, not as I do). Leave #TNS for ZIP FM (Hey! Lame joke!)



Before you drop everything and go lift all the weights at the UWI gym, note that extremely strenuous exercise is not for everyone. This is one of the best opportunities to find out what works for you; no matter what you choose, you will find a community of persons who participate in the same activity. Exercise could be something as simple as walking to and from classes (when it’s cool: Kgn sun can and will melt you). The added benefit of keeping active are sweet sweet endorphins (also known as your internal happy pills).

So many truths right here.
So many truths right here.

Some of the options UWI offers:

  • Swimming (if this drought ever ends)
  • Gym (trainers included, handy if you have zero experience)
  • Aerobics
  • Fields (useful for jogging, various contact sports)
  • Areas for most racquet sports (tennis, table tennis, badminton)
  • Judging people (as part of the gym package)

A note on the gym: If as a male you intend to lift weights, do NOT neglect legs unless you like looking like a carrot. Plus the muscular imbalances will screw you later in life.


As I said before, your body is no machine. But treat it well and it will return the favour. The last thing you need is to be sick, missing out on the university experiences because you neglected to take care of the basics. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re tired, sleep. If you’re stressed, you’d be surprised how much exercise can change your mood.


There you go, a handful of tips and suggestions on feeling your best. A lot of it is advice I myself need to take (especially the sleep part, but none of us are perfect).


Part III will deal with the implications of living in hall, I’ll also share @TrueluvWaitx’s post about living with a roommate for those of you who’ll be living off campus.


P.S. Always looking for feedback.


Twitter: @JKavJA

Feel free to shoot me questions, comments and suggestions.



#FresherGuide Part I – Education — July 20, 2014

#FresherGuide Part I – Education

So in the past week, in preparation for the new batch of students coming to UWI, current students (mostly Prestonites, who you will come to realize probably own twitter) were tweeting tips on how to manage University life.

After doing copious research, I’ve decided to add my two cents

Pictured: Cppius Research. Not Pictured: Pantslessness
Pictured: Copius Research. Not Pictured: Pantslessness

So let me start by saying this. You aren’t shit. Yes you. I don’t care how well you did in high school, how smart you think you are, how talented all your friends, family, community have told you that you are. You will encounter people who are all these and more. You aren’t shit. 

This isn’t to insult you or anything, actually it should be seen as a challenge. The first challenge of your soon to be adult life will be how to set yourself apart from the crowd while not alienating them. So you aren’t shit … Yet. And that’s okay too.


I’ll try to make this semi-organized. So we’ll start at the beginning.

On Education:

Two parallel stacks of books on blue background
Yay! Books. Seriously, you’re gonna read like hell.

Make no mistakes, your main purpose at university is to get the most out of the system in the least time possible. It nuh cheap, just ask whoever will be making sacrifices to send you to University (if you’re horribly rich I apologize, this of course won’t apply to you)


– For those holding the illusion that the educational system gets more organized the higher up you go, allow me to shatter it. It doesn’t. People have more complaints about the system at this level than any other.


Back to your degree. In your acceptance letter it will have said that you have been invited to read for your degree. Take this as literally as possible. Your degree is literally in your hands. No child left behind does not apply here. The university has a bottom line to meet and the courses you fail means more profit towards them; it’s not like they want you to fail, it just doesn’t bother them very much if you do.


With all this being said, it is easier (in some cases) to get better grades than you did in High School. At least I have, which is probably more an indictment on me than the system.


If You Read Nothing Else, Read What Comes Next:


Class hacks, but I digress
Class hacks, but I digress
  1. Select your courses early. Bear in mind that UWI’s support for this is weak at best. My advice, find a senior who shares your major and ask them for advice.
  2. The course outline is literally your best friend during the semester, like past papers are during exam time. In the course outline you will find the required readings, within them you’ll find the majority of what your lecturers will ‘teach’ and your tutors will discuss. Your lecturers are not asking you for anything new information-wise, it already exists in a book somewhere. Trust me. Past papers are a saviour simply because lecturers are lazy. New questions are a rarity.
  3. Don’t set early classes unless you’re absolutely certain you’re disciplined enough to wake for them. You’ll be fine for the first half of the semester until accumulated fatigue lays you on your ass. 10 a.m. is a good time for early classes. If you don’t have a choice, then accept my apologies from now.
  4. Don’t miss tutorials. For one, UWI has a rule that if you miss 3 (or 3 consecutive) you’ll be barred from sitting the exam. Secondly, lecture classes are huge. Like 200 people huge at the maximum. For meaningful discussion, few things beat tutorials.
  5. OURVLE can be a blessing and a curse, so don’t absolutely depend on it. It will fail you when you need it most. So download all important documents and store them somewhere safe.
  6. Learn to make the most of taking notes. At this level you don’t need to write down every single word dictated. Actually if you try that you will certainly not get all the notes (unless you’re a wizard… the power of Christ compels you!) … Sometimes you don’t need to write notes at all. As with many things, knowing how to gauge this will come with experience.
  7. NO ONE IS YOUR ENEMY. Not education-wise. There are more than enough first-class honours out there for everyone. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t be afraid to offer it when it’s asked for, don’t be skeptical about discussing schoolwork or notes. Teamwork can be the difference between a pass and a fail, I’ve seen it myself.
  8. (Specifically for students in Science and Tech) You will have to unlearn some things. In a field like yours, very little is certain. Knowledge that was commonly accepted 10 years ago may no longer be relevant. Like Pluto as a planet. (Cue: #YouKnowYoureA90sKidWhen …)
  9. Foundation Writing Courses are the DEVIL. You have been warned. Seriously though, these courses will be some of the staunchest tests of your character as specificity (hey, big word!) can make a huge difference between passing and failing.


So there you go, my tips on making getting good grades a bit easier. Specific points will vary by faculty, so again don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Look out for Part 2 – which will cover health and nutrition.


P.S. I already mentioned that you’ll have to read for your degree. The library will be one of your best friends.


Feel free to shoot me any questions @JKavJA

More time.

Late Night Meditation I — May 24, 2014

Late Night Meditation I

Ever just sat and let the universe happen to you?

Or are you like me? … Always going through life at breakneck speed, forgetting to reflect on all that’s been going on, all that is going on? You know, just letting life happen while you think about it.

I think I’m guilty of not sitting down to enjoy life enough – but I also think I have lots of company. I’m sure most of us skip past our achievements, looking for greater ones – trying to beat our own successes over and over again. Never being fulfilled.

I mean honestly, I’m not happy, and I think most of that stems from the fact that I’ve spent so much time trying to make things how I think they should be instead of accepting how they are … Side effect of being a bit of a perfectionist.


Ever let the universe happen to you?

I only break the chain when I meditate – which tbh I don’t do as often as I should, simply because what comes up when I meditate isn’t always the truth that I prefer although it is, nontheless, the truth. You know, feelings and whatnot. 

(Think most people who push hard for success find it hard to deal with feelings – again, maybe that’s just me)

But I digress. The only way I know is to push on, so forward it is.

Meditation on Orange [Dedication to …] — March 28, 2014

Meditation on Orange [Dedication to …]

It’s funny the thoughts that peeling a mango with your teeth bring to you;
(We all know that a Mango is the most intimate fruit there is, you have to get into it, all sticky and messy to fully enjoy it)
There’s protective skin,
Fleshy and juicy insides, and a solid core.

– Not sure if we’re talking about mangoes or humans now*

But orange was the light that burnt in your eyes, when you realized that you were in love.
Was it a sunny day? I can’t recall
So much like molten gold the feeling was, not yet fully formed
-But we all knew it was there.

Orange … You’re allergic, aren’t you?
Always had a reminder to get you your Vitamin C from other sources …
Sad though … Cause I myself am addicted to OJ … Not Simpson, of course.

Orange – the colour of ‘that’ lady, she not changing course, you know?
But we had to …
Orange the cousin of red, for stop signs, or danger.
Was it dry like the desert the first time you knew it had to end?
Or did the rays cause water to pool … And tears to fall?

Orange rind … I remember discussing the use of it with you one day …
We still don’t know.
Orange was our dawn … Orange now the sunset.
Let’s drink once more from the cup… You know, for old times’ sake?



Why I Don’t Celebrate Birthdays [Repost] —

Why I Don’t Celebrate Birthdays [Repost]


So I turn 20 in like … 3, now 2 minutes and the question that’s been bugging me is ‘why do we even celebrate birthdays?’ I mean, why celebrate the day you emerged headfirst from your mother’s vagina? (No disrespect to your mother, or her vagina, I’m sure they’re both wonderful). We’ve essentially built up entire industries predicated on the fact that you should feel some sense of achievement on surviving to see the same date for another year (wait …there is SOME sense to that) … (wait… Isn’t that what all holidays are predicated on?)

But, I digress.

Notwithstanding the fact that I’ve used predicated in the same paragraph twice or the fact that I actually used the word notwithstanding (damn my short attention span), there is more to the fact that I don’t (usually) celebrate (my own) birthday. It honestly embarrasses me that people will go out of their way to make me feel special for one day out of the year, and the day isn’t even of my choosing. If my parents had decided that they weren’t in the mood the very night I was conceived I would probably be writing this rant either one or a few days earlier or later.

Furthermore, why don’t we focus on making the ones we care about feel special about themselves ALL THE TIME? Instead of on occasions such as birthdays?

Now for the hypocrisy.
By the time you read this I will either be asleep, in class, or stuffing my face with birthday cake because … well … I love cake. So whether you celebrate birthdays or not, the world’s your oyster. Try to make every day memorable… Not just your birthday/buss-outta-pum-pum-day/earthstrong

Inspiration — March 23, 2014


In my opinion inspiration in writing comes from having something you find interesting then writing like hell till the words make sense. If it’s not you on the page, then at the end of the day it doesn’t make sense as you’d have just presented yourself as an echo of opinions you’ve already heard.


Write responsibly my friends.