JoBo Take Varsity Trophy After 25.5-13.5 Win

The inaugural College Varsity match between Stephenson College and Josephine Butler College is sure to go down in the annals of history as a clash for the ages. Dubbed as ‘The Battle of the Howlands’, it was truly about much more than sport. The University’s decision to move Stephenson from their home in Stockton has led to a degree of criticism over the last eighteen months, but students from the College are starting to adapt to the thought of leaving Teeside and this match has certainly whet their appetite for what Durham City has to offer. In truth the event was about building relationships and it certainly succeeded in doing that.

Officially the biggest varsity held at Maiden Castle (and a few other venues), there was no doubt during the organisation of the event that we were set to start a very special tradition for our two colleges. Spearheading the organisation were both JCR’s Sports and Societies Officer (Iona Jervis for Stephenson and Lewis Wright for Butler) along with the wonderful support of Team Durham’s Director of College Sport, LJ Crawford, and it is important here to praise all of these people and the unnamed others who worked tirelessly to ensure the (mainly) smooth running of the event.

However, all of that organisation had to lead somewhere and so we must shift focus now to the sporting endeavor exhibited throughout the day. Table tennis kicked us off at Maiden Castle as the 10am fixture and started well for Team Stevo with Michael Song taking a hard fought first match 2 games to 1. The small Stephenson crowd grew excited at the thought that we may take the first point of the day, but it was not to be as Butler showed their class by taking the next 5 matches to win 5-1. So 1-0 Butler and on to squash…

Having sourced a team for squash, captain Craig Young was confident of a hard fought contest and a Stephenson win. However, it was clear from the off that Stephenson had really underestimated the talent that Butler brought with them and quickly surrendered to a 3-0 deficit and defeat in the match overall. Despite this, the team soldiered on and managed to retain their pride by winning the next two matches to make the final score 3-2 to Butler.

Another 1 point fixture in the bag for Butler and it was beginning to seem like Stevo would never get on the board in this inaugural varisty. This thought was confounded when Ultimate Frisbee and Mixed Lacrosse, who led at one point, went down 10-4 and 6-2 respectively. 8-0 to Butler in the overall standings was starting to make for bleak reading for the travelling fans. Then came the heroics, Stevo’s first points were put on the board from a 5-5 draw in the Women’s Football (only denied 3 points by a contentious offside decision) and this was quickly followed by a huge 4 point win for the mixed A and B pool team.

This brought it back to 9.5 – 5.5 and what was to come next was truly breathtaking. In the individual performance of the day, Ciaran Baker, rowed on the ergo machine for an incredible 29,000 metres (more than 9x the distance that Butler rowed) to give Stevo an incredible overall 1 point and to take Stevo within 3!

This obviously put some wind in the sails of Butler’s athletes as they took both the mixed and women’s Netball matches to open up a seven-point lead. Staring defeat in the face Stevo needed something special at this point and got it with the team performance of the day from Men’s Rugby who ran over the Butler team in a 55-10 romp! Badminton soon followed with a 3-point victory to take us within 3 again and to spark huge excitement that we may actually take this a lot closer than we initially thought.

Indeed, as the sun set on a glorious day at Maiden Castle, our mixed hockey team took to the pitch and what followed was the sporting event of the year for Stevo Rangers. Coming together for one special game, there weren’t many who thought much of Team Stevo’s chances here, especially considering the difficulties the women’s team have had thus far. Nevertheless, an enthralling match unfolded with Stevo pushing Butler to their limits and incredibly running out as winners on penalty flicks after a 2-2 draw. Unbelievable scenes followed with Stevo back level for the first time since before the contest began and true belief filled the hearts of the adoring Stevo Rangers in attendance. Optimism for the remaining fixtures was high, however that was to all come crashing down as Stevo failed to register a point after this and finished with a 12 point deficit and defeat in the inaugural ‘Battle of the Howlands’.

As a Stevo Ranger to the core, the defeat sustained on Saturday is not one to dwell upon but a performance to be incredibly proud of. Indeed, moving forward to the future I hope to see the trophy become a semi-permanent fixture in Stephenson Central as we establish our sporting dominance on the Howlands site!

Gallery to follow.

Ranger Things: Love in Motion – Volunteering

With it only being a month until the end of Epiphany Term and summative deadlines looming, it’s easy to forget that university is about more than gaining a degree. It’s a place where you meet new friends, find your passions in life and try new things. Over the past two years, I have found that there is no better way to do all those things than by taking part in volunteering. Through volunteering you get to meet people from all walks of life, gain new skills such as communication, and make an impact on the local community through exciting activities. What’s more, gaining all this real-life experience increases your employability, complementing your degree. A study by Oxfam (2017) showed that 80% of employers are more likely to hire an applicant with volunteering experience. So what’s stopping you? Time is often a big barrier but, whilst there is the option to volunteer weekly, you could do a ‘one-off’ session and volunteer just once this year. If you are not convinced yet, continue reading because I’m going to share my volunteering experiences with you!

Volunteering abroad

There are so many ways to get involved in volunteering, you just need to know where to look. Last summer, DUCK (Durham University Charities Kommittee) led me to Peru. Here, I volunteered for 3 weeks at an after-school programme which provided a safe place for the children. It kept the kids off the streets and gave them a decent childhood, as well as a good education to increase their chances of escaping the cycle of poverty in the future. After my volunteering placement was done, I trekked to Machu Picchu!

It has to be one of the best and most meaningful summers I have had. Volunteering is more than gaining skills for your CV. It is the best way to meet new people and get to know other cultures better. It also gives you so many opportunities to try new things and go to new places, like Peru! And all these little things you do greatly impact the local community in the long run.

Volunteering closer to home

Back in the UK, every Wednesday I volunteer at a beautiful farm in the North York Moors through Student Commuity Action. This farm is a safe haven for adults who are physically and mentally disabled. Here, we join in with and facilitate whatever activities they are doing, like woodwork, arts & crafts, and animal care. Sometimes we just take a relaxing walk with them in the woods. One of the reasons I keep on going back is the people. Although I am the volunteer, I always feel like the adults I am volunteering with are the ones helping with all their excitement and joyful personalities. Going to this sanctuary helps me to de-stress and get away from all the university work for a while.

When I can, I get involved in ‘one-off’ events to try new things. One memorable event was when we went Christmas carolling at a Dementia care home. As an international student I can’t celebrate Christmas with my family, so it was nice to share the Christmas spirit with the residents who were also unable to be home with their family! Volunteering brings so much you to and the people who you help; it’s really worth getting involved.

Your Turn to Get Involved!

If anything I mentioned intrigued you to volunteer, get volunteering!

Next week from the 19th – 25th February is Student Volunteering Week, when the whole country will be volunteering together. Student Community Action (SCA) is organising almost 40 activities to give you the opportunity to volunteer, both in Durham and Stockton. With opportunities ranging from conservation projects, to kids’ parties, to horse riding and visting to Fowl Green farm, we have many options for you to choose from. Head to https://www.facebook.com/events/1985326794827946/ for the Stockton timetable, and https://www.facebook.com/events/1587849067918800/ for the Durham timetable.

Opinion Piece – Horoscopes: The Ultimate Pseudoscience

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I often enjoy the chance to flick through a magazine (or Instagram, as it is currently 2018) and marvel at what the stars and planets have written for me that day. If you sat any logical person down and explained to them what reading your horoscope actually means, they would probably laugh – yet I can guarantee most people reading this have once been so shocked to find out I ACTUALLY DO HAVE TRUST ISSUES, GLAMOUR IS SO RIGHT AND IT’S BECAUSE I WAS BORN IN APRIL.

I decided to run a little social experiment, and after being genuinely worried that I was entering dangerous territory in terms of identity fraud with the amount of personal information that I needed to give them, I found out my horoscope. Astrology.com were very kind to me today, telling me that “Your energy brings your warmth to the table in a big way, so communication is sure to be light hearted, wacky and free-spirited.” What a flirt. You might also be interested to know that I’ve given Joe substantial reasons to be worried about his relationship, as all you Cancers should be aware that “It’s tough to walk that fine balance between love and work, love and your social life, love and — well, you get the picture. If an emotional gale is threatening to tip your own personal SS Romance on its side, try and defuse those forces before it builds into the perfect storm. After all, it’s ever so much nicer — and much smoother sailing — when you and your partner are in sync about what is and isn’t important in your lives.” Sorry. Better watch out that your SS Romance keeps afloat.

I don’t mean to come across as mocking, because in all honestly, and I’m sure many of you can agree with me, that I have definitely read and been affected by my horoscope. If someone tells me that great opportunities and fortune lie ahead of me then I will, of course, be thrilled. Not going to lie, I have even checked my friends and boyfriend’s horoscope before to assure them that despite whatever inner turmoil they may be going through currently, the stars say “Now is the best time to put your big, personal plans in motion — or address shake-ups and reorgs you want to see happen in the workplace.” I even convinced my friend to talk to someone on a night out on the off chance they could have been “Your true love, who is just around the corner, waiting patiently but nervously.” Yeah, I am a sucker for a horoscope, even though deep down I’m sure they are truly, truly rubbish.

Pseudoscience is a fancy term for something that is basically a lie dressed up like a fact. It’s a fake science. Its fake news in its finest. Horoscopes are a prime example of this – the logic that astrologists give us is that your day, in terms of your job, wealth, relationships, hell even what you need to eat for lunch, is determined by the exact position of the stars and planets on the day you were born and how they ‘apparently’ are today. This is clearly, ridiculous. Their argument is that the celestial objects in the sky, and their energy, are influencing whether you should “Show your loved ones a bit more affection today”.

Overall, I hope to have debunked horoscopes for you, yet hopefully not ruin them entirely. As it is still quite nice and reassuring to hear the nice things they have to say about you, or even reasons why today might not have been the best day, because of something that is way out of your control. So, keep reading them if you like them, and don’t if you don’t. The stars will stay the same either way.

After all, I could just be saying all this because I’m a Virgo.

The Unlikely Sport Pulling In Similar Crowds To Some Premier League Clubs

I have enjoyed ice hockey ever since I was young and my parents bought me NHL Hitz 2003 for my GameCube (an incredible game on a fantastic console). However, until December I had only managed to satisfy this enjoyment by the occasional watching of Disney’s The Mighty Ducks or a YouTube session watching highlights of the Stanley Cup. However, over the Christmas vacation, I managed to experience live ice hockey for the first time and ever since I have been completely hooked.

Now I have to make it clear here that I didn’t make a transatlantic trip to experience the glitz of the NHL, although one day I’m sure I will. No, instead I was bought tickets for the Elite Ice Hockey League fixture between Sheffield Steelers and Manchester Storm.

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Balance, speed and incredible co-ordination is required to play this incredible sport!

Entering the arena I anticipated a few hundred in the crowd and paper programs for 50p but what I saw completely changed my opinion. As I entered the arena there was a full merchandise stand with high quality jerseys, t-shirts, car accessories, key rings, hats, scarves etcetera etcetera, the list goes on. There were sellers at every door pedaling high quality, professionally printed programs and raffle tickets galore. Now this really was a surprise to me, surely this is a little bit over the top for the few hundred fans that are going to actually turn up right?

Wrong. As I entered through the arena doors to where the rink sat I was greeted by the roar of nearly 9000 fans. Now let me just contextualise that. Bournemouth, a Premier League football team, currently have an average attendance of just over 10,000 per game. Football is our national sport and the Premier League is a global attraction and therefore for the Steelers, who I’m presuming many of you haven’t heard of, to get 9000 for an ice hockey game is an incredible effort. Ice hockey in the UK is a big business.

Steelers Blog

However, my awe and amazement did not stop there. Ice hockey matches really are a spectacle to behold from the off with each player coming out to a darkened arena with a spotlight following them. After this, in true American style, the teams line up for the National Anthem.

Then, and only after all of the showbiz, the game begins. A high-octane, fast paced action fest with huge tackles, fistfights and plenty of skill is all captured in real time, and in slow motion replays on the big screen. However, what I applauded above all of the big hits and incredible hand eye co-ordination was the unbelievable ease with which these players maneuvered their bodies around what was effectively a frozen 7-a-side football pitch. I’m sure many of you reading have had the pleasure of finding a patch of ice on the QC astroturf and therefore for these men to stay up right, let alone duck, dive and turn on a sixpence, with only a few millimetres of metal providing any friction with the frozen ground is absolutely mesmerising.

I’m sure its clear here how much I really enjoyed my first experience of watching professional ice hockey. But, at risk of sounding too sycophantic, I think that regardless of your preference for sports, this one is truly spectator focused and is a spectacle to behold. I would suggest that if you’re looking for something to do you check out your nearest Elite League club and watch a game – it’s well worth it for a fantastic day out.

Ranger Things: You Will Never Ride An Elephant After Reading This

Last summer I travelled with 7 other girls to Petchaburi (Thailand) to volunteer with various abused animals for a month being the Deputy Expedition leader of the DUCK expeditions 2017. Since then, I am much more aware of animal abuse and want to share my experiences with as many people as possible. We volunteered at a sanctuary called “Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand” (WFFT) which is responsible for over 550 animals.
 
Some animals were previously used as pets with some being forced to wear clothes and eat human foods which were harmful to their bodies. Bears were trained to walk on two legs and dance to entertain humans. This upbringing has changed them forever, leaving many sadly unable to return into the wild. At the sanctuary they received the care that they deserved. If an animal was hurt and brought to the sanctuary, it would stay as long as necessary at WFFT until it was strong and healthy before returning to the wild. There was a strict ”no hands policy” meaning you could not touch the animals (except the elephants as they were so mistreated that they would stay in the sanctuary) to make sure none of the animals were humanised and to give them an upbringing closest to as it would be in nature. The animals I worked with ranged from different ape species, otters, bears, iguanas and my beloved cassowary, Bernie.
 
However, not all animals are brought directly to the sanctuary and a major problem was that a lot of hurt animals were brought to temples because monks must take the animals in. Even though they had good intentions, a lot of them just have no idea how to take care of wild animals. Often monkeys were chained and even when they grew bigger their chains were not removed or changed, meaning their flesh would be hurt and their body deformed as a result.
 
During my time there I also visited and volunteered at an elephant refuge. Here I learnt many things however the main thing I found out was: don’t ride elephants. Many people wrongly believe all elephants are gentle giants who are so powerful that riding on them causes no harm. Nevertheless, despite elephants being extremely powerful animals, their strength does not lie on their backs but in their legs and trunks. They are exploited for the logging, begging, trekking and the film industry and even when they are hurt, they are forced to work. No elephant would let a human sit on them naturally. In order to do so they have to go through the torture method called ”phajaan” when they are still a baby. No mother would give up their baby by choice so in order to train a baby elephant the mother is killed. Then the elephant is deprived from food and sleep. The aim of this cruel torture is to break the animal’s spirit. Eventually, the elephant will give in and let the tourists sit on her for many hours even though they are hurting her back. Most elephants here at WFFT are still scared from being abused for so many years, a lot of them have deformed spines or other visible injuries and, of course, all are traumatized. My daily work included cleaning the cages and preparing food for the elephants. I especially enjoyed going on walks with elephants and showering them. Some people might here ask what it felt like to be so close to these fantastic animals and I must admit, at first I was quite scared as elephants are very strong and big animals. However, after some time I felt comfortable and there was always an elephant trainer with me so I felt secure.
Elephant Blog
 
Now I am much more aware of animal abuse and the global wild life trade. Please don’t ride elephants or take pictures with monkeys or lorises who are being exploited to be used as photo-props. They are poached from the wild as babies and their families are killed. Especially in Bangkok the tourists attractions start from crocodile shows, taking selfies with chained animals to watching elephants draw pictures or play football. Don’t pay into this cruel industry! This does not only happen in Asia and countries far away. I think in today’s society we see animals as our property and want them to entertain us in shows, dress them up as humans and take selfies. However, we do not own wild animals and should ensure they are wild and free.

Top 5 things to do in Teesside (You won’t believe #4)

As a student based in Queens Campus, students of Stephenson College have one final year to truly experience Teesside at its finest before the College migrates up to Durham. So without further ado lets begin the countdown with:

1) Cluedini (Yarm)

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Located in Yarm, The Cluedini escape rooms come with excitement, thrills and maybe just a pinch of stress as you’re given an hour with a few of your friends to solve clues and puzzles and get out in time without cracking under the pressure.

2) Attend a day at the races (Redcar)

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Redcar Racecourse is a thoroughbred horse racing venue. It was opened in 1875 and is a truly unique experience with action packed horse racing scheduled between the months of March to November. Whether you’re a racing veteran, or you’re looking for something new, you can’t skip out on a day at the races with your mates.

3) Take a midnight stroll across Stockton’s Infinity Bridge

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You can’t be a student at Stephenson College and not have a late-night stroll along the Infinity Bridge. At night the handrail and footway are lit with custom-made blue-and-white LED lighting built into the handrail that changes colour as pedestrians cross the bridge; sensors trigger a change from blue to white, leaving a ‘comet’s trail’ in the person’s wake.

4) Ropner Park (Stockton)

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Fully restored to its Victorian splendour, Ropner Park is a real delight at any time of the year. You can stroll by the lakeside or along tree-lined avenues and admire the beautiful floral displays. There are tennis courts, cafes and the occasional concert (although this isn’t all that it has to offer). And for all those social butterflies out there, you have the benefit of taking a load of pictures for your Inastagram.

5) Air Trail (Stockton)

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Air trail at Tees Barrage is the UK’s biggest Sky Trail. Standing at over 17 metres high, with over 4 levels and over 38 unique challenges awaiting you. There’s something for everyone with an exciting assortment of wobbly rope bridges, troublesome tight ropes, crazy cargo nets and swinging stepping stones, all floating high above the River Tees. it’s a perfect way to spend a day out with your mates and have a laugh.

And there you have it, the top 5 things you can visit before the end of the academic year in Teesside. Whether you prefer spending most of your time studying in the Library or playing pool in central, don’t forget to experience Teesside at it’s finest before the students at QC depart to join our Business and Management students in Durham.

5 Ways To Travel For Cheap As A Broke University Student

With long holidays, youthful energy and the excitement of newly met friends, university is the perfect time to travel and explore the world and its diverse cultures. However, many of us are sadly limited by the digits in our bank account. The following are some tips to help you travel on a university budget:

  1. CouchSurfing

CouchSurfing is a global travel community that allows travellers to stay in a host’s spare room or sofa for free. Not only will this save you money on accommodation, but also gives you the chance to experience the way locals live their every day lives. On some occasions, generous hosts will also offer free food and give you free tours around the city.

  1. Jailbreak

Jailbreak is an event organised by many universities (including Durham!) that challenges participants to travel as far as possible without spending a single penny, within a timeframe of 36 hours. Free travel, the thrill of a competition and all for a good cause. What more could you want?

  1. Work abroad at a camp or school

This can be an incredibly fulfilling method of travelling and will look amazing on your CV! Why not get some work experience abroad by teaching English in a school, or becoming a supervisor at a summer camp? Most of these opportunities are paid jobs and will offer the experience of a lifetime.

  1. Travel Off-Season

As University students we have up to 6 months holiday. This gives us a great opportunity to take advantage of cheaper plane tickets and accommodation during the less popular months. Popular tourist locations will not only be less expensive, but also less crowded!

  1. Contiki

Contiki is a travel company for 18-35 year olds offering discounted group travel to 6 continents, including a mix of sightseeing, free time, culture, socializing, and adventure. They offer packages that include travel, accommodation, food and guides. This saves students plenty of money and valuable time and gives you the chance to make life-long friends.

Gabi Blog