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The Jabber Protocol

By on Sep 30, 2009 in Personal | 5 comments

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Surrey campus from air

Surrey campus from air

This week (and the past week) at university have been chock full of orientation talks. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been ‘warmly welcomed to the University of Surrey’…and this is just Tuesday, with Freshers’ Week going on till Friday. :D One of the biggest events is going to be tomorrow (Wednesday) called Freshers’ Fayre, where we can meet representatives of different societies, find out information about those clubs and join them. That is no mean task, since we have a staggering list of societies – even a ‘Cereal Appreciation Society’ (basically, ‘trying out different brands of cereal and making critical evaluations of them’). Okay, so we do have lots of sane societies too like movie appreciation society and all.

Indian students are at second position among overseas, non-EU students at Surrey

Indian students are at second position among overseas, non-EU students at Surrey

Indians are among the most numerous overseas students at Surrey. There are many people from India, but a disproportionate number of them are postgraduates. Most undergraduate students are engineering students. Among other overseas students, we’ve lots of Chinese students. Funny thing is, most of them are pretty terrible at speaking English. Which makes me wonder whether they don’t have to give TOEFL before coming here. Thankfully, Surrey holds English Language Support classes.

The sheer number of orientation talks has me completely disoriented. Need to keep running from one end of the campus to another for talks where all of us are ‘warmly welcomed’ and given ‘drinks and nibbles’ (officially defined as a glass of orange juice and a handful of nachos). Surprisingly, the best such get-together was the one for electronics engineering department held at the Surrey Space Centre, where students were seen stuffing beer bottles by the dozen into their bags.

Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor of University of Surrey

Christopher Snowden, Vice-Chancellor of University of Surrey

We had a welcome talk by the Vice-Chancellor of the university on Monday. There are a few facts about the university which the faculty keeps on repeating all the time. These are added as “by the way, ye know…” at the end of talks:

That, and a lot more. It’s fun to know about illustrious stuff from the university’s past! Especially the electronics engineering department, which takes its work pretty seriously. My department, apparently, has one of the most intensive course schedules with 9-to-5 classes. I dread the day I’ll get my timetable (that’s Thursday).

The university takes a lot of effort to keep the orientation lectures interesting though, which is a nice touch. For instance, at a lecture on fire and security safety procedures the speaker made a balloon elephant before proceeding…

Balloon animals in safety lecture

What precisely a balloon elephant has to do with fire safety is something that is still not clear to me. Maybe it’s some sort of flame retarded retardant balloon…

Then there was a welcome by our accommodation warden Vaios Lappos; who, incidentally, uses a Sony Vaio laptop just for the sheer, um, irony of the choice of brand. Apparently, his record at Foosball has been unbeaten for so many years that students got bored of being beaten by him at the game in the recreation centre. So the Foosball table has now been removed and will be replaced with something else.

Vaios Lappas is Darth Vader

Our warden is the guy in the black helmet. The others are deputy / assistant wardens.

He also let us know that he’s Darth Vader in reality – as proved by the picture shown above in this presentation slide. I reckon that it would be a neat idea if next year he adds a rasping sound after spelling out how much fine will be handed out for misconduct in hostels.

For making too much noise – £50 [rasping sound]
For emptying fire extinguishers without any cause – £100 [rasping sound]

That would be so awesome (and much more impressive / intimidating).

The headfake at Live Guide

Probably the most out-of-the-box presentation was ‘The Live Guide’. Here, they introduced the guy above in the suit as a professor from Stanford University who has been doing research on the correlation between high grades and alcohol consumption in University of California system univs. Apparently, the ‘research’ found that moderate drinking of beer increased grades in college and he invited volunteers to come forward as test subjects for further studies. This was later revealed to be ‘a load of balls’…


This was a gag start to an innovative talk on drugs, alcohol, sex, crime, money management, et al. The content was the same old yada-yada stuff along the lines of “If you have sex you will, like, die but the way it was done ensured that everyone stayed hooked. Yeah, people listen if the guy on stage strips, does good impersonations of typical parent talk, discusses bands named Machine Gun Fellatio, and then almost dislocates his shoulder while trying to break out of a straitjacket. Here’s a video excerpt below:

Watch a guy almost dislocate his shoulder to grab the attention of Surrey students

You can watch a video of the complete session (well, except for the parts in the beginning) online here. Beware the video quality is low since I shot this using my cellphone. To fellow and future Surrey students, I definitely advise you not to miss this one! The presentation was done by a company called UniSmart based out of New Zealand. Oh, and if you know the name of the song used in the video towards the end, do tell me what it is by leaving a comment.

Attended an orientation talk by the Department of Language Studies too. Surrey also foreign language courses absolutely for free to all students in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian. (Hope I didn’t miss out anything.) You can join a course in any of these languages at whichever level (of toughness) is comfortable with you and earn extra credits in your degree. I can’t decide which language to take yet but I’m inclined towards taking Spanish. It’s spoken in a lot of countries, unlike the other languages which are restricted in the area they’re spoken in. These language courses are optional, BTW, but there’s no harm in picking up an additional skill, right?

I need to sleep now. Gotta wake up early tomorrow. Gotta get a bit more disoriented by even more orientation talks in the morning before attending Freshers’ Fayre.


  1. Shreyans

    October 3, 2009

    Post a Reply

    I too wish to learn Spanish. Just don’t have the time. But after passing out I sure will.

      • Shreyans

        October 5, 2009


  2. Espèra

    October 11, 2009

    Post a Reply

    I’d like Arabic. And brushing up on French skills. :D

    Why’s this titled Jabber Protocol?

    • Ankur

      October 11, 2009

      Post a Reply

      I should probably add here that I eventually did get accepted in the Spanish language course.

      Why’s this titled Jabber Protocol?

      Because people had been jabbering at us whole week. :D

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