Dear Fa…
When you said “this is the time of your life where you will learn and grow” you hit the nail on the head. University is all about trying new things and we are lucky enough to be here, but it also takes some courage to actually get into the whole vibe of Rhodes. I could relate to your letter in that we both strive to find that ever so evasive balance between work and your social life, it’s easy to get sucked in but at the same time we are here to get a degree. If I could have sent a letter to myself it would definitely have said not to worry! It’s a lesson we all have to learn sometime and eventually we “get into the swing of things” and it’s a good lesson to learn and accomplish in the beginning rather than struggle with it later on. So your reassurance was refreshing to hear because in my blog I did exactly the same thing!

keep it up,


The Third Reply

To Miss Persy

Having read your response on your blog I noted the sentence that read “The most important aspect of coming to university is of course your academic work. You should never take it for granted because you will fall through the cracks.” This shows and tells exactly what I wanted to express in my advice to my younger self.

You need to take the academic life seriously but you added in something that I neglected, which was probably the most important thing, and has to do with what you said about University years being some of the best years of your life. The message that you are putting out is so true becasue, as you said, your University days are some of the best days of your life. Just remember to believe in yourself and give a 110% in everything you do.

Your fellow Rhodent

Brad Janssen

A reply to another letter

Comment on Sam's "Embracing Your 'Rubber-Arm' " post from her blog: balancingbeams

Hey Sam!

Your sentiment that “it’s up to you to take full advantage while you are here”, and the advice to have a ‘rubber arm’, expresses exactly what I feel to be the purpose of a student’s first year at Rhodes. Without the homely conventional way of life, now is the time to experience new things, meet new people, and have the time of your life.

In your letter you said that you are doing things that would have shocked you a year ago, such as going to lectures with a hangover and writing an essay the night before. I have also at times been shocked at who I have become. I used to be a hard worker. Now I’m a hard drinker!

But as we both outlined, work, although important, is not the source of your best memories. It stems rather from the accumulated stories of the adventures and experiences you had with your friends. In my blog, I give the advice to “live it to the full”. You give the same advice to “never back down”. Go out with your friends, don’t be afraid to try new things, and above all, embrace all Rhodes has to offer with a ‘rubber arm’.

Take it easy!

Kyle Robinson

Another thought, yup!

Comment on Lauren's post at Memoirs of a Psychopathic Rhodent!:

Hey Lauren!

Probably the hardest thing for me this year has been finding the ever-so-delicate balance between work and leisure, keeping it and applying it to all aspects of my university life.

I dunno, you also seem to find this a difficult issue, and I really got what you were saying when you wrote that you'd let the intensity of university get to you. I've been going through the same thing, although neither you nor my classmates probably wouldn't have noticed. Instead, I usually turn to satire and alcohol (or both, in the case of my blog entry here) to get the stress out of my system.

You also seem to imply that you didn't know that university would make you grow up so quickly before you moved to Grahamstown; I can relate to that in a big way. Getting caught up in so many new ideas and crap to do really is overwhelming, and I think the only way out is to chuck yourself at every different thing that interests you or could potentially be an outlet for your stress, homesickness or whatever. (I recommend beer, but maybe squash is better if you have a slower metabolism?)

Maybe just try to focus on the good stuff? You don't need to grow up at university, (as some people at Rat exhibit, I'm pretty sure some people de-evolve) because you only really grow up as much as you want to.

Take care, yeah?


(This entire blogging course makes me cringe on the inside for all eternity. Since when have I ever been so sincere? This really is an exercise in futility and insincerity! :D)

Don't judge me, please, but the only way you become a better (worse) performer is by believing in (overreacting to) your music.

Don't judge.

(And don't worry, the file isn't huge at all: it's about half a megabyte and exactly 0.25% of your quota if you're on a Rhodes account! :D)

Nich (is a choad)

Life like a race

Hy Man

It happened this time last year, if you remember. You where entering one of the most terrifying races of your life. Your first regional meant you were up against riders who have been in the business of racing motorbikes for years. It was all up to you to secure the lead on the first lap. Pressure was mounting as the two minute start board rose. Then suddenly silence. The longest two minutes of your life commenced. Then suddenly a terror of what seemed like the moon being dragged off its axis as the engines where shocked into life and took off with only one purpose in mind–to win. To completely empty what they have and make the best of one of the most fabulous sports around.

Exams act much in the same way. They have been around since the earth was created, intimidating and scaring the young with their loud and proud voice. They feel that they have the right to impact on your social life and they feel they can put you down with the constant sense that they can destroy you. The trick though is to look at them as a challenge, like you looked at the forty year old, two times South African Champion lining up next to you on the start line. Take them and race with them to the final point. That is the only way you are going to grow. If you walk out of the exam hall knowing you emptied your tank and put three times more effort then you thought you could then you know you have succeeded. If you believed in your self and have taken the challenge right to the finish line then you have won your race, what ever the mark or place.

Yours sincerely

Your old Man

Letter to my younger self....

Dear Future Rhodent,

So the time has finally come for you to hand down your school uniform to your younger sibling, pack the five suitcases and one trunk with all the stuff you think you might need for your new life at Rhodes, and say goodbye to the dogs. Believe me when I say that this will all happen very fast so don’t be worried about what is going to happen next, rather trust me when I say that you are about to enter a different world were you will experience some of the best moments of your life!
You will soon come to learn that Rhodes is a unique place and because of this you will have to try and adapt a bit, not change who you are, but to learn that waking up early to serenade a bunch of guys who crawled up the hill from The Rat to serenade you in their pajamas is not necessarily an odd thing. Instead I will comfort you in the fact that it will be one of the biggest laughs you will have, but just remember to pack your good pajamas!
Rhodes is a realm where beer is more frequent than water and Wednesday night is a cause for celebration because you survived the workload to the middle of the week, so forget about sleeping and staying in res and go out and enjoy some of the legendary haunts that Grahamstown has to offer. You will soon find that you can balance your work with having a good time, but there will always be the occasional all-nighter that you will have to get through. These will become memorable occasions and you will not be alone in doing so, but make sure that you have a good supply of coffee.
Last of all I would just like to reassure you that you can do this, no matter the workload, the many dramas you will face with living in a girls res and even getting up after being tackled by two very drunk guys.
So work hard, have fun with your friends and don’t be afraid.

All my best for the fantastic year ahead,

Hey man!

It was on my very first day at Rhodes that someone gave me the advice that would illuminate the rest of the year for me. Standing in my immaculately clean room (the first and only time it will experience this state), my sub-warden punched holes in my voiced fears about achieving good marks. He told me it was not about good marks, but rather passing. “If you get 51%, then that’s one friend too few”, he told me soberly (again, ‘soberly’ is not a state I can ascribe to him, or me as a matter of fact, for the majority of the year to come).

Yes, I realise that upon taking this advice there followed a cataclysmic rupture of my study-time. You know how seriously I took my studies in high school – the tremendous time and effort I would put into each of my essays. But only now at the end of my year do I realise that it is not good marks that provide priceless reasons to torture mind and body with repeated hangovers. It is the memories that come with them, of earning them with your friends.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of jolling with your mates. It has taken me most of the year - comprising chasing girls (lots of them), downing beers in a cage, bush diving into pineapple plantations, and falling asleep in the middle of the rugby field – to formulate a quintessential motto for your first year at Rhodes: live it to the full.

Gaining the utmost enjoyment out of first year is fundamental, and this can only be done by being open, relaxed, and amiable. Kiss the girl, down the beer, play the rugby game (and fit the essay in between). What more is there to life?

Your partner in drinking,
Kyle Robinson

An Ode to Drunk

Hey buddy!

You’re anxious about next year. I know this. You have questions about your first year at university. In the fullness of time, however, all of the answers will come to you through the joys and sorrows of experience (And by experience, my friend, I really mean alcohol.) I would spare you the details, although, what fun would it be for me to keep the enticing details of your future life away from you?

I know you, obviously, and I know that you enjoy your alcohol in all its various shapes, incarnations and colours: beer, red wine, stout, rosé, bourbon, whisky, rum, schnapps, absinth, rum, gin, brandy, sambuca, cane spirit… the list is inexhaustible (just like your grand and capacious thirst.) And indeed, alcohol, my friend, is the great equaliser: all people are reduced to their essential faculties and emotions when under the influence; we have no barriers, no pretense, and no inhibitions.

This is not useless knowledge, however. En effet, keep that fact in mind when the guy at the Old Gaol seems a little too friendly on a certain Friday night. (Hint: it is an OutRhodes party, he is gay and he will call you a “homophobe” when you reject his advances. Suck up the insult.) Also, non-imbibers may find your antics unentertaining. In other words, don’t annoy your designated walker-homer to the point where she will beat you with her handbag. This is not gentlemanly.

In addition, at some point during your first year, you will have the opportunity to distastefully procure a Stop sign from an undisclosed location. Sir, I advise you to knock back a few cups of poorly made and overpriced punch, and sprint with it back to your house. You will wake up groggy. You will wake up satisfied.

In conclusion, heed not the “warnings” of ne’er-do-wells (i.e. Vivian de Klerk, the Dean of Students. You’ll meet her next year, trust me, she’s an excellent lady) and take charge of your recreation. You already work hard, you work to get seven As in matric; party harder. And if you're ever in doubt about your choices, just remember the words of your favourite poet, Charles Bukowski: “When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn't have you by the throat.”

Love yourself and above all, keep safe.


(If you have suspect you have a drinking problem, head over to here.)


©2008 Mulgrew, Janssen, Rosenfels and Robinson | No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.