Each week, we interview someone from around Adelaide who might be helpful during your time as an international student. This week’s guest:
Michael Lazarou, Writing Mentor
The Writing Centre
Q: Nice to meet you, Michael.
A: Pleasure to meet you.
An easy question to start off with: why do students come to the Writing Centre?
Mostly, they come because they’re feeling a bit unsure about their writing, or if they just want a second pair of eyes to look over and make sure they’re on the right track.
So is it a good idea to come in with your essay draft the day before deadline?
Absolutely not (laughs). As early as you can is best. People often think we’re just about the writing, and that we’re editors. But we care about you – as a person, a student, and a writer. The writing that you bring us is a tool to help you become a better communicator of ideas.
If a student wants to come to the Writing Centre, do they just come along, do they send an email…?
Our service is a drop-in service. We have three sign-in times: 10.00am, 12.00pm, and 2.00pm. You can choose to select a 30-minute time slot within those two-hour blocks. Once you come in, you get 30 minutes, guaranteed, one-on-one with a Writing Mentor. A lot of people might pay to have one-on-one time with a private tutor, but we give that service for free. We help with whatever you want to work on with your assignment.
“We’re not here to just to help with writing, but with the process behind it.”
Is it just brand new students who come to see you?
No. We see people in their first few weeks of university, who just want to know how to write in an academic style; we see PhD students at their end of their thesis who want to check that their chapters make sense; and everywhere in between. From super confident native English speakers to international students who are studying in English for the first time. All types.
Who works at the Writing Centre?
Well one reason I can get excited about working here is that I have the most amazing colleagues. We’re all either currently postgraduate research students, or have our postgraduate research degrees. Even though we come from all different subject areas – from Science to Architecture to Philosophy to History – we all come together to want to help people and get better at communication.
Since everyone is a student or has recently been one, they can sympathise with the challenges that students face with writing.
Absolutely. We’re all going through the process right now. I’m writing a thesis on vagueness—
It’s a hard topic to write clearly about. So we all understand what you’re going through if you’re anxious, if you’re worried about procrastination, if you’re worried about feedback from a teacher – we have been there. So we’re not here to just to help with writing, but with the process behind it.
Speaking of learning another language, do you speak another language?
I unfortunately don’t, and it’s probably the biggest regret of my life so far. When I finish my research Masters, I have plans to learn Greek, because I am half Greek I hope to learn from my dad, so I can really pick up the culture. In a dream world, I’d also like to learn French and Chinese, but…
One thing at a time.
I’ve saved a good question for last: Why is English so weird?
(laughs) There are just so many exceptions to the rules that we have. And we have a lot of grammatical artefacts that are either different to other languages, or simply don’t exist in other people’s languages – a lot of English grammar is confusing even for native speakers. So it’s a beautiful language, but boy sometimes it’s not easy to use!
Thanks for your time.