Greetings students! Today is your day! We’ve written this Student Guide to help you on your way!
We at The Scope are wizened with knowledge—especially the kind acquired by making heinous mistakes. We have run into our share of walls, wandered down our share of dead ends, driven our share of metaphorical Honda Civics into our share of metaphorical telephone poles. For the love of all that is good, don’t be like us. Please follow this advice.
Written by The Scope Editorial Hive Mind.
Illustration by Michael Butler.
HOW TO HAVE AN AWESOME CONVERSATION
School is such a funny place—you’re supposed to learn, but you never want to ask a question because you don’t want to look dumb. What? How are you supposed to learn in that kind of a situation? Osmosis? Anyone who has been to school automatically suffers from question-phobia, even in social situations. As a result, most people are terrible conversationalists, because the secret to a good conversation is to ask questions. The other is to shut up and listen.
Ask short, open questions like: “What happened?” “When did you find out that…?” “What did he/she say?” Don’t make a statement and put a question mark on the end. Then ask follow up questions like: “Why?” “What was that like?” and “What were you thinking?”
The best part of learning this magical secret? Once you start asking people questions about themselves, they will immediately start to love you—because people love talking about themselves. It’s a fact. After a while they might even ask you a question or two.
HOW TO ACT LIKE A LOCAL IF YOU’RE FROM AWAY
Okay, so yer gonna wanna say yer “from town.” Not from “Sin Jahn’s” not from “da bay”—gentle Jesus in da garden, b’y, don’t say yer from around da bay, dey’ll know ye by yer accent.
Now ya don’t gots a “grandmother” or even a “grandmudder” ye gots a “nan.” Ye gots a nan, ye gots a pop, ye gots a mudder anna fadder, and you all drink tea. Tea, b’y, not coffee, not the Red Bull, none of it. Ye drinks tea and ye drinks Pepsi, not even water. And fer God’s sake, not Coke.
If you wanna go sees a show, you head to the Ship, where the writers go. When that lot all clears out, da bands come in, and ye loves it. Ron Hynes, now, ye loves a little Ron!
Now if ye gots a little shoppin ah’do, ye goes down to da mall. Ye gotta get that “a” sound right, it’s a long, flat one, none ah dis “awl” stuff. Da maaaaaaall.
For groceries ye goes to Sobey’s or Dominion, but ye hates what they done ah’dat old stadium there, now, ye saw Bob Dylan, yis BOB DYLLIN’ there, now, when was it, in the eighddies, I s’pose.
Now off ye goes!
HOW TO WING A TEST AND MAYBE PASS
Okay, so the first thing to get out of the way is that you shouldn’t do this often. If at all. But if you find yourself in a rare, it’ll-never-happen-again sort of pinch, here are a few things that might—might—help you get, like, a D.
You’ll need to stay calm. If you’ve got ten minutes or so, take out your notes and choose three consecutive days that look pretty important. Read over those three days, carefully. Read them over again. And again. Become as much of an expert in the material from those three days as you possibly can.
When you get the test, read the whole thing over. If there are answers you know, write them down. Underline or star things you might possibly know. Mark up your paper. A marked up paper makes it seem like you worked hard and the grader might think you’re super studious and unconsciously give you more points than you deserve. Psychology, man. It’s like that.
If there are multiple choice questions, look for grammatical issues. If the answer doesn’t line up with question in a grammarly way, it’s probably wrong. Answers that contain absolutes like “never” and “always” are not usually correct, either. If the answers are numerical, you can typically toss out the highest and lowest choices. If two answers are opposites to one another, the correct answer is probably one of those.
For longer answers and essays, try as hard as you possibly can to spit out what you learned in your ten minute pre-test cram. Whether you can relate the question to that information coherently doesn’t matter. “Write about X” when you only know Y? Well maybe X is like Y. Or not like Y. Or vaguely related to Y, possibly, maybe. You don’t even need to know. You just need to guess, write it down, and then write about Y. At least then you’ll have a glob of something that looks studied, and it’s hard to give legit knowledge a zero.
The point is to never write nothing. Is it a math question that may or may not require an integral using trig identities? Who knows? Maybe your first line can be an expansion of brackets. And the next one can be some addition. It doesn’t matter. Just write something.
When there’s nothing more you can write, go back and re-read the test a few more times. Sometimes a question will give you clues to other answers or jog your memory a bit. Never go back and change an answer, though, especially on a multiple choice, unless you’re 100 per cent certain. Don’t contradict your instinct. In this situation, it’s all you’ve got.
HOW TO BE A VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN IN ST. JOHN’S
First, the bad news: Produce is expensive and, come winter, the stuff you do find is pallid and flavourless.
More bad news: You are going to encounter lots of people—at restaurants or elsewhere—who will act as though you are making life difficult for everyone. Well, you are making life difficult, but you’re doing it for a good reason, presumably.
But papa, don’t preach. Our culture has a built in reaction to preaching which inverts the positive intent of any message. If you come across as a preachy vegetarian, all of a sudden people will be munching hamburgers in your face like imbeciles. Leading by example is a much nicer way. Try taking your friends to The Sprout, or cook them a vegetarian meal. They might even like it.
At the grocery stores, canned beans can be mystifyingly pricey. Armed with a slow cooker and a little forethought, you’ll be paying pennies a handful for your favorite legumes if you buy them dry at the Bulk Barn. The Barn also has all kinds of rice and grains, like cheap quinoa, and hippie flours and nut butters, and even stuff like chickpea flour and TVP and instant tabouleh salad mix.
Sobey’s in Howley Estates, on Elizabeth Avenue, has arguably the best produce section in town. It also has an incredible ethnic foods section, with lots of tasty condiments and spices, as well as delicious, additive-free, heat-and-serve packets of Indian food, both frozen and not.
Other great alternative grocery spots include Food For Thought, on Duckworth, which is always well-stocked. They sell local produce, too, when it’s available. There’s also Healthy Choices, out on Topsail Road.
Go to the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. You can go stock up on local produce and then can it for the winter. Berry-picking is also a good idea, as they’re easy to freeze and store away for the colder months.
Read more tips from Scope readers online at http://bit.ly/9lxu5N
HOW TO PREVENT BEING SCREWED AROUND BY YOUR LANDLORD
Sure, most people are nice here, and there are plenty of great landlords, but you always want to protect yourself. Read the Residential Tenancies Act (http://bit.ly/b6hQ8T.) Read it many times. Especially if you’ve moved here from a city like Montreal or Toronto, where renters have a lot of rights. Things aren’t quite so civilized here.
First, know who you’re dealing with. The landlord must provide you with their name, phone number, and physical address (See: http://bit.ly/b6hQ8T.) No matter how nice someone seems when you move in, they may not seem so nice eight months later when a pipe bursts and they won’t reply to your frantic emails for help.
Next, get a copy of the lease. If you sign a lease, the landlord has ten days to provide you with a copy of it. If they don’t, you don’t have to pay them rent until they do! (See here: http://bit.ly/bIgvAF)
Next, fill out the Residential Premises Condition Report (http://bit.ly/9WHROt) and get your landlord to sign it. It’s the start of an important paper trail which can help get something fixed, or prove that something is not your responsibility down the line.
Carry out all official correspondence with your landlord in writing—not in email. If it ever comes down to it, e-mail is not admissible as evidence in a hearing.
Get proper notice. Under the Residential Tenancies Act, there is no limit to how much a landlord can raise the rent (!), provided they give adequate notice, usually three months, and not in the first 12 months of a rental agreement. If your landlord is terminating your lease or month-to-month arrangement, they have to give you three months of notice.
HOW TO GET YOUR LANDLORD TO FIX YOUR BROKEN DOOR KNOB
First off, note damage(s) or issues with your place, and then let the landlord know about them. A phone call will work, but putting it in writing doesn’t hurt. This notice starts what the Residential Tenancies Act calls a “reasonable time” for the issue to be addressed. Unfortunately, this is one of the many ambiguously-worded parts of the Act. It may be unreasonable for a tenant to wait two weeks for the stove to be replaced. On the other hand, it may be reasonable to wait two weeks to have a broken window replaced. But you probably should not have to wait longer than a month on anything.
File a formal claim for repairs (PDF here: http://bit.ly/a8MLdH) if your landlord fails to address something. From there, you can get an order from the RTD which says you can pay rent to them until the repairs are completed. Unfortunately, you can’t withhold rent without one of these orders, no matter the conditions in your rental.
HOW TO GET YOUR SECURITY DEPOSIT BACK
Pay the right amount in the first place. A landlord can take up to three quarters of a month’s rent as a security deposit. They can’t legally ask for the last month’s rent.
Be a little patient though—the landlord has fifteen days to return your security deposit once you’ve moved out. If they don’t return it in 15 days, you can file a claim for it. Then the landlord then has 10 days to make a counter-claim for some or all of the deposit.
HOW TO FIND A PLACE TO LIVE THAT DOESN’T SUCK
With the oil business booming, and the vacancy rate certain to be under 1 per cent again this fall, it is the wrong time to be looking for a place to rent. With such a low vacancy rate, and property values as high as they are, rents are through the roof. And while rents are increasing, quality is not necessarily so.
Look early, and look often. Start looking as soon as possible. New rentals crop up every day, so keep checking the listings. The best online places are Kijiji (http://stjohns.kijiji.ca), NlClassifieds (nlclassifieds.com), and, if you’re a MUN student, the off-campus housing office’s website (http://housing.mun.ca/och). The print edition of The Telegram also has many listing that don’t end up online, so check that every day.
Throw a wide net. Tell your friends what you are looking for, ask people on Facebook, ask your Aunt Nancy. Ask random people on the street. Ask everyone.
When you find a place, phone first, then email. Although landlords are inundated by phone calls when they put a property up for rent, they’re probably getting five times more more emails. If you’re one of ten calls, you have a much better chance of being contacted than if you’re one of fifty emails.
HOW TO RESOLVE AN ISSUE WITH YOUR ROOMMATE WITHOUT THEM WANTING TO HARM YOU
Roommate-hood is a relationship, just like any other. So even if you’re having an argument, try to be kind. Don’t yell, be clear about your intentions and always try to remember that no matter how pissed off you are at someone, you’re probably only half right. Of course, if you’re mad, you should say so, instead of walking around all pissed and closed off. Start you sentences with “I feel,” rather than “You.” Saying, “I feel terrible that you ate all my Kraft Dinner and then had really loud sex with my best friend,” is much better than saying, “You’re a @&#@!” The former fosters discussion, the latter will end up in yes/no, you did/I did battles that go nowhere.
On that note, take care of yourself. Pay attention to your mental health, maybe do some yoga, meditate, take up running, whatever. It’ll make you far easier to live with, and when things go wrong they won’t seem as bad.