February, 2016 Archive

Study in Australia: Serena Dong

Written by Your Story

Serena Dong is currently a writer in VOIS Magazine as an editorial intern. This amazing girl is taking a Bachelor of Communications and Journalism at University of New South Wales in Sydney. She described her identity as “mixed”, different from what most people would call themselves. She concluded: “I can not identify myself with one specific place because I don’t have just one home”.

Serena was born in China but studied primary school in New Zealand for 4 years before moving back to China to study at an American Private school, absorbing a mixture of American and British culture. Now, she is here in Australia for her bachelor degree since February 2015. As a result of her background, she can speak Chinese and English fluently.

Although Serena enjoyed her years in New Zealand and China, she craved for a new environment to establish a vibrant university life. Upon a trip to Australia in September 2014, Serena fell in love with the people and most importantly, the University of New South Wales. After living in different countries for so many years, Serena freely shares her perspectives on the differences between China and New Zealand:

  • New Zealand is so clean that you can walk on bare feet and the people living here are well-mannered
  • China is not clean and you will have to wear shoes, the people are pretty rude (e.g: aggressive drivers go forwards at the same time).

Overall, Serena she loves the life she has now in Australia with her new friends and of course, her boyfriend.

How has studying overseas changed yourself?

In Australia, Serena started to live all by herself for the first time without her family. It is hard, but it has taught her how to get used to things, learn skills to explore many places and to be independent. Many first times such as cooking, washing the dishes, dealing with bad manners and problems, contacting for help when something in the house needs to be fixed.

And, unexpectedly, studying in Australia is a lot harder than Serena thought. It is due to her high academic success in primary school in New Zealand that she believed in would be similar the university. However, failing her first uni assignment at UNSW woke her up to become more motivated and focused. Serena’s thinking changed eventually. She knows that she has to try harder due to the advantages of receiving financial support. In short, Serena took every opportunity that she came across.

Talking inspiringly about Journalism

  • If you are starting to hate this major, remember that practice will make it better
  • Write with passion because writing is a way to express yourself
  • Being a part of the news industry helps you keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the world

If you are a UNSW student, why don’t you try to join Blitz magazine like Serena? It will help you to get to know more people even celebrities. Serena said that she had an awesome experience with Blitz where she was fortunate enough to interview and write articles of Jane Saville (Australian Olympian in race walking), Greg Behrendt (American comedian, actor, and writer). “You’ll love it,” said Serena. “It was pretty cool!”

Overcoming homesickness and choosing your way:

  • Make good friends with different backgrounds to go through hard times, to hang out and share cultures
  • Call parents whenever you feel like you need to.
  • Keep in touch with high school mates. They will give advice and be there for you.
  • A partner can comfort and mentally support you as well
  • Experience life – go for beaches (e.g: Bondi, Coogee), tasty cuisine, cool coffee shops, amusement parks, zoos, picnics and barbecues in the park.

What is your next step in the next few years?

“I do not want to be so sure about the future.”

Serena has plans to live in the moment right now, but also has plans to stay and work in Australia for a few years after graduating. She’s excited for the days when she add more countries to her list of travels which already include Hawaii, Las Vegas, Yellowstone National Park and various cities around China. America or London are other potential work destinations since the publication industry is well-developed there. Time management skills, film industry, and public relations knowledge are also other areas Serena intends to improve on in the future.

What is your new year’s resolution?

“Drink more water, be healthy. Get a job and save money. Work hard in university.”

What would you say to inspire international students?

“Do not be shy. Interact with locals. Branch out. Make new friends. Learn different cultures and languages.”

“Brace yourself before starting anything.”

– Serena Dong



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5 New Uni Resolutions for the Lazy

Written by Entertainment, Student Life, Tips & Tricks

Welcome to those fresh out of high school (prepare yourselves) and to those who are returning to uni (you poor suckers). Here are a few study hacks as a new semester descends upon us.

1/ Take the time to be present

Sit at the front. Aall the way at the front

Sit at the front. Aaall the way at the front.

Seat yourself where the professor directs their attention and thus questions. We’re all students and therefore nerds, nothing wrong with that. Near the back has poor lighting and food crumbs…which are like the crumbs of knowledge you’re picking up (#Englishmetaphors). And not being there in the first place means you’re not picking up anything at all. Plus, you’ll be surprised by what actually filters through during daydreams and thoughts about lunch.

2/ Don’t leave just yet


Ten minutes before the lecture ends there’s a rustling of papers, then a whistling of zippers, then a thunderstorm of seats snapping back into position as people leave. If your next class is almost a suburb away across uni campus that’s understandable. But if it’s within a 500 meter radius, surely you can spare a few minutes listening to the lecture slides that (most) professors have devoted time and energy to. Near exam or assignment time there are always a few pointers that will help and they’re usually tacked on at the end for the studious.

3/ Ask question after question

Young Boy at School Raising His Hand to Answer in Class --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Raise your hand like this Young Boy at School Raising His Hand to Answer in Class — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Only the mighty of us ask questions in class. Why? Because no one admires someone who seems to lengthen lecture time. But you know who does? The professor and every person who has the same question on their mind. You’re showing that you can think critically about the topic or present potentially new and interesting perspectives. It actually injects life into the lecture and allows the professor to showcase their knowledge. Uni is, after all, an opportunity. Make it a point to ask a question every time. Stand out and be remembered as that person instead of those people.

4/ Read the textbook before lectures

All the books you promised to read. But never did

All the books you promised to read. But never did

Yes, uni textbooks can cost almost two weeks rent. Yes, sometimes these are impulsively bought during the period of time when everyone’s super motivated to study. And yes, sometimes the recommended textbooks aren’t even used. But by going to the source of the professor’s material, you’ll know what the lecture will be about in advance. The absorption of the take-home message will be much faster, so you can get-home much more quickly too.

5/ Use lists

So many days. So many opportunities

So many days. So many opportunities

The phrase “get organised” sounds so overwhelming to procrastination lords everywhere. Like it’s so simple to download an app or buy a diary and write down tasks each day and just do it. So where do we start? Start by writing down lists. Write down absolutely everything you need to do and ignore deadlines. From there, prioritise those tasks. So many of us walk around with to-do lists in our heads that it creates unnecessary mental clutter (as uni students, we don’t need anymore). By writing them down, those goals become concrete and we’re more likely to remember them.

So go forth and conquer the first week of semester.

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Is Sydney too expensive?

Written by Student Life, Tips & Tricks

Oh gosh,  1AUD = 79,35 Nepalese Rupee = 16,184 VND = 81.22 Yen

Sydney is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. So, how can you survive in Sydney over a 3 year-bachelor-degree or 1 year-postgraduate- degree or 3 year-high school-degree, when you are an international student relying on parents’ or just yourself for financial support?



If you are here in Sydney now- spending 450 AUD/week for a single room and facilities – consider seeking alternative options. There would be a cheaper one out there for you such as sharing houses or living in a home-stay accommodation.


For example: in the CBD Sydney, a single room is around 250 AUD or more. A shared room for two people can cost 170 AUD while for four people the rent can be 150 AUD. However, the price also depends on the location and the suburb chosen.


  • Go for a house inspection to see if all the necessary facilities are provided and speak to the tenants. You may decide if your personality fits your prospective housemates
  • “He kicked me out of the house around 1:00 am in the morning and denied to return my bond. I can’t do anything because we didn’t sign any contracts” one student said. Before signing the contract for a shared house, be sure to carefully read through the terms – especially for returning bonds and lease period sections

Saving money doesn’t mean you have to trade off your health and security. Please dial triple 000 for any emergency situation or contact us for further advice and assistance.

Food Shopping

Despite surrounding by famous beaches and harbors, having a seafood meal is pretty much a middle-class lifestyle. As being students, a limited budget doesn’t allow us to overspend for exclusive food. But, we can’t starve to death.

Knowing the base price of the food is a good idea for you to make a plan and to choose where and what to buy. In order to have a good knowledge the price, spend around 5-10 minutes of your time searching for online  prices or ask your friends before creating a shopping list.

Drumsticks might cost around 2.99 AUD/kg to 5 AUD/kg in butcher stores. In the supermarkets, it may be a bit pricier. 500-gram minced cost around 3 AUD to 5 AUD in Coles, 5 AUD plus in Woolworths or 4 AUD in Aldi.

“Chicken in Australia is pretty cheap so I usually buy around 6-7 chicken drumsticks for a whole week meal, one drumstick with a bowl of soup and rice a day.”



  • Store and freeze your food. However, don’t refreeze it again to avoid food poisoning
  • Take note of the label on the product, its ‘used by date’ or ‘best before’ date
  • Check out the supermarkets’ brochures for the week before heading to the shop. Supermarkets always give you a special discount such as buy 2 cans of milk for 5AUD (4AUD/each) or 10kg of brown rice for 10AUD (3.5AUD for 2 kg).  Buying in bulk and sharing the cost with your housemates/roommates is always the best option in this case.
  • Don’t forget to check out supermarket’s brochures for the week before heading to the shop (avoid junk food)
  • 10298945_878599485488968_928129309589874404_n

“Living together with another 3 girls in a room, we always cook dinner and lunch together. Since we all have different backgrounds, it’s fun to try different cuisine dishes from the girls every time and It’s pretty cheap.”

So cooking from scratch like our grandparents used to do, you find much cheaper and healthier than buying processed and canned food.


“I am vegetarian, so potatoes, broccoli and carrots are enough for my body to function a whole semester”.

The ground floor of Haymarket is the place for you. Here you will find fresh produce such as potatoes and pumpkins as well as fruits. You can store these in the fridge for longer than leafy green salads.

Watch the clock and stick to your shopping list! 



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Finding the right accommodation 101

Written by Student Life, Tips & Tricks

Accommodation can determine life in Sydney. As international students, individual circumstances factor into the process of choosing the right fit. The research process is tedious and often overwhelming, given the handful of options available. So allow me to provide a guide to finding the perfect home.


Residential Colleges

Designed to cure homesickness and ensure you’ll feel loved, residential colleges are equivalent to the Houses in Harry Potter (but without the moving staircases and talking paintings). Think cafeterias, entertainment lounges, galas, etc! Endless college-held activities guarantee students the time of their lives at the uni. Each college carries a different vibe, ensuring no one becomes a misfit. Best part: strangers become homies for life and loneliness becomes the past.


Student Apartments

These are similar to residential colleges, but are designed for students of a single status or otherwise to live independently. Choices of 2, 3, 4, 6 and even 8 bedroom apartments are offered, with the kitchen, bathroom and living room as the communal area. It is another way to build life-long friendships while living in a supportive community.


Studio Apartments

Like student apartments, studio apartments can be located inside or outside the campus, allowing students to be a part of neighboring suburb communities if they are not fond of university student life. A studio is fully equipped with one bedroom, kitchen and bathroom for one person and one person only (law states so). For international students who prefer to live on their own , studio apartments are the most appropriate decision.


Temporary Accommodation

Thank goodness universities have not forgotten about the international students on exchange or for (emergency) short-term stay. Budget-friendly hotels, hostels and serviced apartments are good for having shelter while scrambling to find a real place to settle in. Vacation rentals are also up for grabs as well as a few campus accommodations that offer housing for that short period of time needed.

Private Accommodation

Most university websites establish a separate site for independents, or “indies”, to post their advertisement specifically tailored for students’ needs e.g. close proximity to campus, easy access to transport and safe environment to live. Indies include landlords looking for tenants, home owners looking for an extra roomie or local families looking for another member to join their family. The crucial part that cannot be overlooked is to physically house-hunt and meet future landlords or roommates before moving in (it is illegal not to so as well).


Accommodation must follow legal housing practices and, more importantly, match its description and picture. Private accommodation requires in-depth knowledge of housing practices to ensure nothing is put against you illegally.


Among the array of options for private accommodation, homestay is not a bad choice if you are lucky enough to be offered a loving household. Living with a family means you have a new support network to keep you going. . The University of Sydney even partners with the Australian Homestay Network (AHN), which is a network that aims to ensure the well-being of students in the welcoming houses of friendly families.


Boarding Houses

Last but not least, a choice more popular in the inner west of Sydney is to live in a boarding home, often run by a church or humanitarian group. Almost like residential colleges except off-campus, boarding houses carry students of diverse backgrounds to engage with each other and make the most of their living in Sydney


One last reminder…

QS Top Universities, Mercer and The Economist all regularly rank Sydney as the top 10 most student friendly cities in the world. But(there’s always a “but”) pricing wise, students are looking at $200+ rent per week without utility bills and meals. As far as roommates or apartment neighbors go, reality could turn into a nightmare. And for students on campus who want to study ? Word of advice: earplugs and coffee will be your new best friend.

At the end of the day, choose an accommodation that you believe best suits your requirements to call a place home.


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Chinese New Year: 15 Days, 15 Meanings

Written by Student Life

According to legend, the Chinese goddess, Nu Wa, created the world. It takes a full 15 days to celebrate Chinese New Year as each day is the birthday of an animal she formed.

1/  “First morning of the year” or New Year’s Day: Chinese people believe that cleaning the house on this day will sweep away their good fortune. Meat is also not eaten on this day to cleanse the body, and the eldest family members are visited first



2/ Birthday of Dog: Married daughters visit the homes of their parents, and people eat wonton, a dumpling shaped like an ingot, to honour the God of Wealth. Domestic and stray dogs are fed well on this day



3/ Birthday of Pig: This is the day of Blazing Wrath, when ghosts are believed to roam the earth. It is therefore bad luck to go house-visiting. People go to temples instead to have their fortunes told



4/ Birthday of Sheep: To some, the New Year period can stretch over three days. This day is for spring dinners, and son-in-laws eating with their parent-in-laws

5/ Birthday of Ox or Cattle: Visiting friends or family on this day is unlucky as people must stay at home to welcome the God of Wealth, Po Woo. House cleaning takes place on this day to appease the gods who come down for inspection, but only out the back door. Traditional Chinese dumplings, jiazou, are eaten to bring wealth. All businesses reopen on this day


6/ Birthday of Horse: Temples, relatives and friends are visited on this day. Chinese people pray for good luck through the year


7/ Birthday of Men: Everyone is believed to grow a year older as today is the birthday of common men, when the goddess Nuwa created humans out of yellow clay. It is also a non-meat day for Buddhist Chinese people.


8/ The Completion Day: A family dinner is held to signify the eve of the Jade Emperor’s birthday, the end of the holiday season and the return to work. Employers generally hold a lunch for their employees. At midnight, prayers to the Jade Emperor begin

9/ Birthday of the Jade Emperor: Chinese people pray and make offerings to their Gods

10 – 12/ Feast days: More banquets with family and friends


13/ Cleansing: Vegetarian food and rice congee is served to cleanse the body of the rich food eaten throughout the two weeks


Pinterest: Macheesmo

14/ Preparation: Lanterns are prepared and made to be lit at the festival on the fifteenth day

15/ Lantern Day: Round dumplings shaped like the full moon are eaten as they represent reunion. People walk the streets with lanterns to light the way for the new year and guide lost spirits to Heaven


Featured image: Huu Trong Nguyen

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V-Day: The Singles Way

Written by Entertainment, Student Life

It’s the day all singles are dreading— drumroll please— it’s Valentine’s! On this day you notice more couples holding hands than usual and shout at couples to stop with PDA. Believe me, I have been there for 19 years. Although I might not be in the position to talk about celebrating Valentines the “singles way” now that my status is taken, 19 years of loneliness on February 14th has gained me enough experience to teach you how to take your mind off the lovey-dovey side of Valentine’s and embrace the benefits of living single.

Pinterest: Émilie Asselin

Pinterest: Émilie Asselin

1. Attend Sydney Events

You’d be surprised how many events or promotions Sydney has in store for Valentines as a single. For one, head to the Keg & Brew in Surry Hills for a once in a year Anti-Valentines feast that features BBQ ribs and sticky date pudding to ensure that while you might feel lonely, at least your stomach won’t.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/182185968811024/ for some more Sydney events.



2. Movie Screening

Sick of staying in bed watching movies all the time? Get your lazy ass out of bed and head off to Event Cinemas on George Street to join other singles like you (around ages 25 to 45 as suggested) for the screening of Zoolander 2. Come simply for the company of other singles or in search of your Knight in Shining Armour or Damsel in Distress.

Try out https://www.rsvp.com.au/content/event/nsw/valentines+movie+date/66903.jsp

Pinterest: Playbuzz

Pinterest: Playbuzz

3. Netflix and Chill… by yourself

There is no shame in binge watching episodes of Empire. Sit back and watch some romcoms with some discount chocolates and scented candles but don’t torture yourself by watching The Notebook or creating a romantic atmosphere just to make you feel worse. Take it slow on the calorie intake too.



4. Hold an Anti-Valentines Party

Credits to the idea in the movie Valentines Day, why not invite friends and acquaintances as well as their friends and acquaintances to a party celebrating the holy benefits as a single? Why not buy a huge piñata in the shape of a heart or play a collection of games (think UNO or even spin the bottle) plus a few drinks to get the atmosphere going. By the time the music is played and the pizza is delivered, your worries of dying alone forever will disappear.



5. Reunite with family

Valentines is not restricted to couples, as it may seem to the world. It’s a day to celebrate the love that keeps people united and happy. Why not spend V-Day with the people who love you unconditionally: your family? Take a weekend off to see your mum and dad as well as your other relatives for a classy homemade dinner, sitting at the dinner table laughing and sharing good old memories.

Nicolette, Powerful Mothering

Nicolette, Powerful Mothering

But, whoever and however you spend your Valentines is not particularly important to be honest. There are billions of single men and women in the world and while you might feel especially alone on this particular day, you really aren’t.

Mr. or Mrs. Right probably took the wrong train or walked the wrong trail on his or her way to find you. February 14th is a day that recognises love, any type really, so there is no need to sulk. After all, you have love and support from friends and family that will always stand by you no matter what. Cherish the love you receive and never take it for granted.

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7 Last Lunar New Year Events on the Valentine’s Week

Written by News, Student Life

Haven’t had the chance to enjoy Lunar New Year festivities in Sydney style? Don’t wait to celebrate! Here are some events to get you started. (Hint: it includes food…lots of food)

Lunar Markets (Sun 14th Feb)

If you celebrate Valentine’s Day and are already in the city, why not come by the pop-up food festival at Pyrmont Bay Park? With so many dishes to tempt you from steaming hot dumplings to fried rice, you’ll enjoy a red Lunar New Year/Valentine’s with a full belly.


Lunar Lanterns (Sun 14th Feb)

Take a moment to stroll under 12 enormous, dreamy zodiac lanterns. Sydney Opera House Forecourt will be the last place you can glimpse these lanterns to celebrate the New Year. An Ox made of mahjong tiles will visit Martin Place while 22 illuminated rabbits will be practicing tai chi at Circular Quay, Customs house.


Twilight Performances (Wed 10th – Mon 15th, 6 – 7pm)

Come by for the evening to watch short demonstrations held by thousands of performers from local organisations. They will be roving through Pitt Street Mall, Circular Quay and Martin Place. Against a backdrop of Lunar Lanterns – Ox, Rrabbit, Dragon, Goat and Tiger – watch  the performances highlight the concept of community.

Sydney - February 22, 2015: The 2015 City of Sydney Chinese New Year parade (photo by Jamie Williams/City of Sydney)

Sydney – February 22, 2015: The 2015 City of Sydney Chinese New Year parade (photo by Jamie Williams/City of Sydney)

Showcases include:

  • Street Monkeys – Fairfield’s Dauntless Movement Crew will perform monkey-inspired acrobatics throughout Sydney
  • Tai Chi Rabbits – Sydney Dance Company guest Kristina Chan will direct a ballet-inspired tai chi piece
  • Mah-Jongsters – Brent St Performing Arts School will perform tap routines wearing mahjong-tile-inspired costumes

Westpac Lunar Lantern Hub (Sat 6th – Sun 21st Feb, 8pm – midnight)

Walk under a 50-metre-long canopy of red lanterns at Sydney Town Hall and Capitol Theatre (courtesy of The Sound of Music) and marvel at the wondrous lights. Grab a drink at the Monkey Shoulder Whiskey Bar, the world’s smallest bar, or stop by The Star’s Fortune Garden to try out a game of mahjong. Don’t forget to take part in Westpac’s Lunar Snaps challenge which ends on the 22nd this month of February. Simply Instagram your best Lunar New Year pic with “#CNYSYD” and “#Westpac” to be in the running to win BridgeClimb passes for you and 6 friends.



Lunar Feasts (Sat 6th – Sun 21st Feb)

A night is not complete without some eating whether it’s street food or fine dining. Visit one of the 40 best Asian restaurants where set-price meals and Lunar New Year inspired menus await you. Make sure to book as these special offers are available for a limited time. For a comprehensive list, visit https://whatson.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/posts/lunar-feasts



Monkey’s Happy Hour (Sat 6th – Sun 21st Feb, 5:30pm – 7:30pm)

Need something after a satisfying meal? Head over to selected venues to get special Monkey Hour drinks (~$8). Part of the profits will go to Cure Brain Cancer Foundation to help with world-class brain cancer research.



  • Eat Love Pizza – 31 Wheat Road, Darling Harbour, Sydney
  • Quay Bar – 31 Alfred Street Customs House, Circular Quay, Sydney
  • Edinburgh Castle – 94 Pitt Street, Sydney
  • Chelsea Hotel – 14 Railway Street, Chatswood
  • Since I Left You – 338 Kent St, Sydney
since I left you


Dragon Boat Races (Sat 20th and Sun 21st Feb)

At Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, approximately 3000 paddlers will participate in the southern hemisphere’s largest dragon boat racing festival. Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, the official charity partner for the Chinese New Year Festival, will also have celebrities such as Jim Wilson (Channel 7), Richard Wilkins (Channel 9) and Prof Charlie Teo as participants. To sponsor the celebrity boat, go to http://curebraincancer.org.au

Eye-Dotting ceremony, Dragon Boat Races, Chinese New Year festival, 8th February 2014. Picture by DAMIAN SHAW.com

Eye-Dotting ceremony, Dragon Boat Races, Chinese New Year festival, 8th February 2014.
Picture by DAMIAN SHAW.com

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The Perfect Gift For Her on Valentine’s Day

Written by Student Life, Tips & Tricks

Desperately in need of gift ideas for the 14th? While I can’t imagine how buying gifts for females is difficult, here is a guide to finding the perfect gift for your other half. Before getting into the specifics, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the five types of females out there:

1. The Practical

She expects gifts that are of use for her life, something she lacks and could really use to make life easier or a.k.a a need. Generally these girls are thankful for the new necklace you bought her for the third time in a row but they will be over the moon when they see you bought a new vacuum or phone case to replace their broken one.



2. The Materialistic

The opposite of practical, she prefers gifts from Louis Vuitton or online boutiques to satisfy her desire to possess items just for her indulgence. Hopefully you have a big wallet for this girlfriend because you’ll be burning your money faster than you know it. But your girl is worth it.



3. The Modest

She is considerate about the money aspect that goes into your gifts as opposed to the want or the need part. Gifts worth 200+ dollars aren’t her thing. Sometimes those gifts make her feel guilty and like she may need to return the favour. Girls like these will set a reasonable prince range for gift spending to be fair to both parties. At least with a girlfriend like this, you can have a peace of mind with the money in your wallet.


4. The Satisfied

If you have a girlfriend like this, make sure you keep her. She does not care if your gift is a necessity, a desirable item, an expensive luxury or even nothing at all (although it’s best to still give something from the heart). They are content with anything and even if they aren’t, they won’t show it. This may come as a disadvantage however because you could be doing something wrong but you won’t be able to tell.

food art


5. The Picky

Beware, this type of girlfriend is the hardest to deal with, for she is hella particular in what you get her. You get her a Samsung microwave but she actually wants a Bosch. You buy her a Chanel hand purse but she really wants Dior. You present her roses when she actually wants lilies. Keep your receipts because you will find yourself heading back to stores returning items to make sure she receives that particular gift she requests. It will require attention to her as a person and while it sounds tedious, hopefully it will pay off at the end. Could you classify your girl under one of those categories? It might be tricky because girls are often a mixture of a few. Some broad ideas for gifts include…

– Large bouquets of flowers (make sure she doesn’t have asthma or allergies)

– Hand-written letters or cards



– Small gestures that show you care

– Necessities eg: buying groceries for her empty fridge, doing a full scrub of her house or buying a parking spot to save her the hassle or finding a car space at work

– Romantic Dinner (and maybe something special after if you know what I mean)


– An item she has been dying to buy

-DIY calendar, scrapbook or craftwork (Pinterest has amazing ideas for reference)


Flickr: apairandaspare

– Secretly surprise her with decorations in her room of candles, balloons and rose petals

In the end, Valentine’s Day is about loving each other and not all about the gifts. Don’t forget to love your partner every second of any other day, not just February 14th.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

by MIT

by MIT

Featured image: trendhunter.com

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7 Countries and the special Chinese New Year Dishes

Written by Entertainment, Student Life

In the first day of Lunar New Year, everyone in the family is dressing up nicely with their traditional dresses or colorful outfit before gathering together at grandparents’ house. Young kids bounds and gives their wishes to older people before an exciting part of receiving luck money from older family members and wishes.

But when you are sitting down to start your first New Year meal, you might be stunned of its diversity and interesting of the dishes. Your Korean or your Japanese meal are completely different from my Vietnamese culture. 



No matter where you live around the globe, if you are Vietnamese, a Lunar New Year’s dining table is not complete without the two different shaped of sticky rice cakes, a long-shaped cake  (Tet Cake) or a rectangle-shaped cake (Chung Cake). They both have a unique place in Vietnam culture.

Pickled onions or pickled scallion heads and dried shrimps are served with these two special cakes to add more flavor to the cakes. Meat pie, pork head ham, and traditional home-made frozen meat give a final touch to the table.


The main dishes are diverse and varied from North to South of Vietnam, according to the regional area’s weather conditions and local agricultural products. It gives such a unique experience for both local and foreign friends.


Each Chinese dish served during Lunar New Year has a symbolic meaning, based on its appearance and pronunciation. Roasted or Boiled Fish is the most important dish served with pickled cabbage and chilies. It signifies wealth and financial success for the whole year.

Alan Zhang

Alan Zhang

Dumplings share the same meaning. The more dumplings you eat, the more money you will get in the New Year.


Uncut long yellow noodles symbolized a wish for longevity.  A family reunion is associated with savory or sweet rice balls.




On the first day of Lunar New Year, a bowl of broth (chicken, soy or beef) is eatern with sliced pan-fried eggs, gim and spring onion. Rice cakes, or tteogguk, can’t be missing on the dining table either. A thin strip of rice cakes shares a similar meaning of longevity as uncut long noodles in China. Once you eat tteogguk you are one year older, similar to a birthday.



Other main dishes are also shared among the family members such as Korean pancake, dumplings or short rib soup, depending on the household.  Other side dishes are colorfully presented in small plates surrounding the main dishes.



After giving wishes, family members in Japanese households gather together to share their first meal of Lunar New Year, called osechi ryori. There are 2-3 layers of lacquer boxes with small portion of different dishes in each layer.


1: Simmered shrimp, 2: Tazukuri: drief sardine,3: Nishime: Cooked vegetables, 4: Kamaboko: broiled fish cake, 5: Datemaki: golden rounds of eggs,6: appetizer,7: Konbumaki: seaweed, 8:Kurikinton,9: Tobiko,10: Grilled sea bream,11: Kazunoko,12: Pickled vegetables,13: Sweets,14: appetizer,15: Black beans,16: Grilled lobster

Similarly to Korean culture, soup is also eaten, but it is a mocha rice cake soup. It is served with vegetables as a symbol of longevity. Mochi can be also a sweet dish symbolizing a wish of luck, called Kinako Mochi.


Alan Zhang

Alan Zhang

Food holds a special symbolic meaning in Chinese New Year in Thailand as it is believed to bring luck and wealth. By an influence of the Chinese, fried yellow noodles and mandarins are still irreplaceable meals. Instead of China’s favorite chicken dish, boiled or roasted duck or chickens represent wholeness and fulfillment.

Alan Zhang

Alan Zhang


Kue Keranjang or Basket Cake is only sold once a year for the special Chinese New Year occasion. Although this is a sweet dish, people tend to eat the basket cake before eating their New Year banquet as a belief of bringing luck throughout the year. Kue Keranjang is simply made with glutinous rice flour and warm sugar liquid from the tree. The mixture is carefully and timely fermented for more than 11 hours, coated with banana leaves.

People eating  kue keranjang in their own way but slicing it in a rectangle or round shaped like donuts and coating it with grated coconut is a common one.



Eating Raw Fish Salad – Yu Sheng during the Lunar New Year is a symbolic dish showing “good luck wish” to Singaporean and Malaysian. Each ingredient embraces the whole meaning of the dish – pepper (attracting wealth and treasures), carrots (a blessing of good luck), radish (eternal youth) or even sesame seeds (a flourishing of business).


This combination of jellyfish, sweet potato, daikon, carrots, candied fruits, pomelo, pickled ginger, pork chui and green radish with a special sauce extracted from sesame oil and Chinese plum sauce brings a unique taste to non-Singaporean food lovers.

Okay, food is getting cool. Bon Appetite!!!


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18 Fun Facts about Lunar New Year

Written by Entertainment, Student Life

Celebrating the Lunar New Year? Here are some fun facts!

1.2016 is the year of the Fire Monkey. Those born in the year of the Monkey are already known as intelligent, competitive and witty. The Fire element further influences the Monkey’s adventurous and energetic nature

2.Red symbolises fire and is the colour of longevity, wealth and happinessChinese+Zodiac+for+2016-+Year+of+the+Fire+Monkey

3.Celebrations of the new year take 15 days, but children in China take a month off from school and university students have an even longer break

4.Guests are offered Chinese new year sweets from an 8 compartment ‘tray of togetherness’ to sweeten their year. The tray includes kumquats for good health, coconut for harmony, peanuts for longevity and longan for “many good sons”cny-2013-8

5. Some families spend almost 2 weeks preparing for the New Year’s banquets

6. Fireworks and lots of noise is made to ward off evil spirits such as the dragon Nian. Legend has it, Nian used to enjoy scaring villagers every year until he got frightened from a villager’s red tunic


7. “Shou Sui” is a tradition where the family will stay up until midnight to greet the new year

8. The number 8 is considered lucky as it is a homophone for “wealth”


9. Since Scottish people celebrate Robert Burns Day on the 25th,  Chinese-Canadian Thomas Wong decided to combine the two cultures into a new festival known as “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” (Chinese Burns Night). It is celebrated through music, poetry, performances and finally ends in a large feast. People are sometimes seen wearing kilts to celebrate this day

10. Tofu is not eaten on the New Year as it is white and signifies death in Chinese culture


11. Similarly, the number ‘4’ is not used as it is considered unlucky. In some buildings, there are no 4th floors

12. Noodles symbolise long life and as such, should not be cut with scissors or knives


13. The first person a Chinese person meets and the first words that they hear define the kind of luck they will have for the rest of the year

14. Vases of flowers such as the plum blossom and water narcissus are classically associated with new year’s for regrowth


15. Bowls of oranges and tangerines are placed around the house to symbolise hope and prosperity, and apples represent peace

16. Chinese people open the windows at midnight to scare evil spirits from the house1506812_824069840998848_4346822870679524367_n

17. Young people who are being pressured by parents to get married are increasingly hiring ‘fake’ girlfriends and boyfriends from $20 to $600 a day to bring home to the family reunion

18. Red and gold banners with messages of good fortune usually decorate the front doors of houses and the entrances of rooms to invite luck


Feature Photo: Raul


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