College Upcycling 101

Have you heard the one about the recycling bin that said ‘Empty Water Bottles Here’? Soon it was filled to the brim with water.

USQ Colleges are known for fun times, shenanigans and attractive residents (but we all know the real studs live at Steele Rudd). What you may not know, however, is that the USQ colleges are at the forefront of interdisciplinary collaborative frugal upcycling. We combine feats of engineering, science and creative arts to synthesise ways to save money and the planet at the same time. What’s not to love?   See below for some classic college examples which may or may not improve your life.

Bedside Table: Can’t waste that quality cardboard box.

Beer Carton Bedside Table

Bedside Table: Stackable Milk Crates

Milk Crate Bed Side Table

Stool: I never get tyred of this

Tyre Stool

Cardboard Shelves: Stay Classy

Cardboard Shelves

Record Bowls: Just pour boiling water on the record and bend into your preferred shape

Record Bowls

Anti-Procrastination Hats: Just Kidding, these were the biggest procrastination ever

Cardboard Box Hats

But seriously though, the USQ Environment Society and the Lily pad (next to Subway at the Toowoomba Campus) are the go-to for recycling, local working bees, bush walks and environmental projects.

Did you know that if you take the sustainability pledge you could earn yourself a Keep Cup? Pledge here: http://www.usq.edu.au/about-usq/about-us/environment-sustainability/pledge

The USQ Environment Society would also love to have you as a member. USQES does some fantastic work on the Steele Rudd community gardens and run monthly bushwalks. Check out their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/USQES

Have a great week! And remember…

The Power is Yours

R U OK Day

R U OK? These three simple words could potentially save a life. When was the last time someone asked you, “R U OK?”, When did you last ask someone that same question?

Thursday the 11th of September is R U OK day, an Australian suicide prevention initiative that encourages people to ask their family and friends if they are OK. Suicide is a very real issue, often linked to depression, and it is a sad reality that many people know of someone who has lost their battle with it.

Depression and suicide can affect anyone, young or old, rich or poor, male or female, famous or not. It is a difficult issue that no one really wants to talk about, even though the conversation could save a life. Having that conversation can be quite difficult so the R U OK foundation have developed four steps to make that conversation a little easier.

R U OK day

The steps to asking if a person is OK are to Ask, Listen, Encourage and Follow up. Check out how to start the conversation and ask someone if they are OK at https://www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask

In Australia, we consider ourselves to be quite tough and so we don’t really let on to others how we are feeling. Remember that it is always OK to ask for help if you are feeling down or having a difficult time. If someone asks you if you are OK, tell them the truth, maybe talking things through will make you feel better, and if not, your friend or family member might be able to tell you where you can get some help.

So, on Thursday the 11th of September, turn to the person next to you and ask those three simple words, “R U OK?” Always remember to look out for those closest to you, sometimes knowing that there is someone there for you really makes a difference.

If you would like more information about the initiative, I encourage you to check out the website https://www.ruok.org.au/

R U OK?

Until Next Time,

Kimberley

Time Management (From a Creative Artist’s Perspective)

Yes I know, there are millions of these “Time management” things on the web and probably several scattered throughout this very website. But how many are specifically focused from a Creative Artist’s point of view? We all have our unique methods of dealing with time management and I’m going to share with you some of my particular struggles and solutions.

Time Management

Uni is a lot different to high school, as we aren’t forced by the threat of punishment for wagging a class. Some lecturers mark an attendance role in certain classes just to ensure that people aren’t missing out on important information, however, for the majority of the classes, it’s entirely up to you to attend class and get your work done. The difference I guess is that you are studying one course that you are interested in unlike high school where there could be 5 other subjects that you are doing purely because they’re compulsory. Thus you become self-motivated to attend classes. Thankfully, you can log onto study desk and get a weekly refreshed timetable of the classes for that week. This helps a lot for planning and is a very good place to start.

Now, if you’re in creative arts, here’s where things get tricky. Be it Music, Theater, Creative Media or Visual Arts, there is always rehearsal or work to do outside of the timetabled classes. I study Music major with a minor in Creative Media so I’m specifically speaking from my experiences with these. I am involved with several ensemble groups with music and within creative media I have had to spend many late hours forfeiting sleep to get projects done.

Somewhere in there I need to do my own personal practice, actually get some sleep (I’m not invincible) get outside-of-class work done, do gigs, live the social side of college life by getting involved in the Res Shield events and simply live life.

My SOLUTION! Here’s what I have found to be the most effective method. You need to get your hands on a massive wall calendar, whether it’s a Redfrogs or a USQ one, get yourself a calendar. When I’m emailed about events to play at or workshops to prepare for, when there are important events to attend, when assignment due dates are released, WRITE THEM ON THE CALENDAR. The lie people always tell themselves is “I don’t need to make a note of that. I’ll remember it.” Seriously the calendar will help you remember and plan.

Redfrogs Uni Planner

This leads me to my next method. Get yourself a little “Things To Do” whiteboard. There is nothing more satisfying than wiping off reminders as you finish tasks. Your trusty calendar will show general big reminders but your whiteboard will help you remember the specifics for each day.

Things to do planner

With the possession of these two items, you are bound to be more productive and remember a lot more important dates. You’ll find this really helpful and important when doing assignments and being seen as a professional and turning up to rehearsals.

How do you manage your time?

White Powder Specialists – Ski Trip 2014

Ski Trip 1Ski Trip 2

Photo Credit to Luke Diezmann

“…Do you wanna build a snowman?”

“…no.”

Operation Ski Trip successful. Don’t tell anyone, but I recently escaped my honours project for a week to go to Queenstown for some fully hectic extreme skiing.

Just kidding. My version of skiing for the first few days was less upright and more like horizontal stationary skiing. Following in the footsteps of Jon Snow, I knew nothing.

In fact, my third trip on the chairlift at Coronet Peak was a bit of a whoopsie. To set the scene: Skiing involves strapping two long, flat sticks to your feet and using them to slide down a snow-covered mountain. Early skiing pioneers realised that climbing up the mountain was lame, so they devised the chairlift. To embark from the modern chairlift, a conveyor belt slides you into position so the chairlift does not have to stop to pick you up. This is where my troubles began. I did not get on the conveyor belt fast enough. Now imagine, in slow motion, the following events playing out. Myself and a fellow USQ student Tayla are on the conveyor belt. Our troubles began when we realised we were a few meters behind the rest of the team. A local New Zealander notices, and quippes “I wunder what’s guing to happn nuxt”. The chair swings around the bend and knocks me over. I knock Tayla over. I get sucked under the chairlift, skiis flying all over the place. The long line of onlookers waiting for the chairlift admire the spectacle, wishing they had their gopro’s turned on. The staff member in charge of the chairlift realises that we aren’t going to recover without his assistance, and he reluctantly turns off the chairlift, and begins to pull us out from underneath the chair. We awkwardly get up, put our skiis back on under the heavy stares. #embarrassing #sillysausage

It wasn’t all bad times on the chairlift, though. A few days into the trip I’m back on the chairlift striking up a conversation with a fellow traveller.

“So where are you from?” I begin the conversation with.

“Australia.”

“Me too! I’m from Toowoomba”

“…Me too, I study at USQ”

“No way, I study Biomedicine” I hesitantly responded. Damn, I thought I had escaped Toowoomba.

“I study Nursing… Hey wait a minute. Take off your Ski goggles for a sec.” Well, this conversation is either going to take an interesting or a creepy turn, I thought. My inner voice said YOLO. I took off the goggles.

“Yeah I remember you from an O-week orientation session. It was Steph, right?” And he was right. Small world.

Other than Skiing adventures, we also had plenty of time to explore the glorious Queenstown.

Ski Trip 3

For those who might be keen to come along on a future ski trip, it included the following at a student-friendly group price:

  • Return Airfares from Brisbane Airport to Queenstown (direct), including 23kg luggage & air taxes
  • Chartered coach for all Brisbane International Airport transfers to and from USQ Residential Colleges, Toowoomba Campus
  • 7 nights accommodation @ Base Backpackers, in the heart of Queenstown
  • Breakfast daily
  • 4 dinners at various famous restaurants and eateries around Queenstown
  • 4 Day ski pass (2x days @ Coronet Peak, 2 x days @ Remarkables)
  • 4 day bus mountain transfers
  • 1 Day Activity Pass (includes the shot over jet boat ride, Skyline Gondola, hot buffet lunch & 1 Luge Ride)
  • 4 days of Ski, boots & poles/or snow board & boots hire
  • 4 Days of jacket and pants hire
  • Ski Trip merchandise – personalised ski jacket to use on the trip!

Let me know if you have any questions about Ski trip!

WINTER IS COMING – Toowoomba Winter – Tips for Surviving It!

So you want to know how to stay warm in this bitterly cold winter weather? The short answer is, DON’T GET OUT OF BED! Those real life teddy bears have it right hibernating all the winter. It’s as if they just time-travel from the playful, falling autumn leaves to the fresh blooming flowers and butterflies of spring. We all know that uni work and… well… life doesn’t allow us to just snooze away winter under our warm blankets.

These are just my suggestions. If you have better methods that work specifically for you then disregard what I’m about to say. However, if you don’t know Toowoomba that well, and don’t enjoy getting sick, then make use of my experience.

Firstly, the cold snaps can sneak up on you with a surprise, so be prepared early. Usually it’s because a southerly wind picks up and carries the cold temperatures from the snow down south. So, what I suggest is that you purchase, or bring with you to college, a few jackets and trackies that you can wear while you sip tea or hot milo. Also, don’t forget a warm doona for your bed.

Lots of Sweaters

If we look at the positives here, there are no mosquitoes in winter and the best thing is that we get to wear cool accessories such as scarfs and knitted sweaters. Hmm… this makes me want to go play in snow. The movies make it look so fun. (I’ve never seen snow). In Toowoomba sadly we don’t get snow but you will experience frost. Just warning you. When you go to breakfast, don’t be fooled by the temperature inside your bedroom. It’s usually about 5 times colder outside.

Just because the sun is up and out, you shouldn’t go removing your jacket too soon in the day. Most classrooms will still be cold in the day and if they have heaters on, you’ll be hit with the cold as you leave class. Look at me… I sound like a mother. Just don’t say you weren’t warned. Toowoomba can be mysteriously deceptive. But that’s why its fun to live here.

Warm Clothes

If you’re a person who completely hates winter and can’t be convinced that there are positives then let me just say, you will be surprised with warmer days here and there but they usually don’t last. Lucky the rooms at college have heaters in them.

Now, my number one tip for using the heater – Because I am a singer, I have learned the importance of keeping the air from getting too dry (which heaters will do). You could go buy yourself a humidifier for $70… ew… OR buy a $2 spray bottle and just spray one squirt of mist into the air every now and again while the heater is going. And may I suggest, don’t sleep with it turned on.

In summary:
– Have warm bedding (bring a doona)
– Have warm clothes (don’t be afraid to accessorise – scarf, mittens)
– Hot beverages
– Use your heater (but stay hydrated and keep a bit of humidity in the air)
It’s quite simple really. I’ve only learned these things from experience though so I hope you can learn from my experiences also and enjoy winter with good health. And trust me, the other side (spring time) is amazing in Toowoomba – The Garden City. But that’s another story.

Peace out!
– Kent

Party vs Study

Study or Party? This is a dilemma that has plagued many university students throughout the years and no doubt will continue to be a problem for students in the future. It’s a topic that no one person can provide an exact answer for, factors such as time, competence and situation dramatically impacting the answer. This should make you question the main fundamental goal of a university student which is to achieve an academic education however we can’t help but consider that guilty pleaser. No one understood this more so than Tom Petty who quotes

“You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember time you wasted hanging out with your friends”.

As a recent university graduated who wouldn’t classify himself as a party animal I still can’t help but agree to an extent with both sides however, you be the judge on this topic.

For you to properly judge the choice between the life of a social butterfly in and the life of a uni student who places study before anything else this blog will look at two things:

  1. The physiological reason why we choose party over academic
  2. And look at procrastination which fundamentally the core of party or Study.

The Why

We look at the decisions we make between a short term and a long term reward based on the perceived reward value associated with each possible action. Before I continue I’d like to acknowledge these concepts are based off an article (One Candy Bar or Two? Party or Study? Procrastination Decisions) written by Ira Hyman who uses a clever example to explain why some times party comes before party.

The article cleverly uses an example of a child who was given a choice on a Monday morning whether he/she would prefer their candy bars be distributed either one on Thursday and the other Friday, or to receive two on Friday. Results showed that while the child chose two candy bars on the Friday valuing that as the better option, as the days passed and Thursday came the child’s valuing suddenly changed to preferring the candy bar Thursday and Friday. The idea of receiving the reward at the present outweighed an intangible reward later the next day. Anyway for those who are wondering just what I’m talking about here’s a diagram to explain.

Working Towards the Reward

Let the blue line be the reward on Thursday and Friday and the yellow line be the big reward on Friday.

This can be related back to university students, say there’s a test Friday and their going to party after it finishes on the Friday afternoon, they know there will be another party on the Thursday. Does he/she study through Thursday feel more confident about the test and go all out on the Friday night party or do they go for the second party as well and spend money and study time that perhaps hinders Friday a bit? The choice is yours?

If you would like to check out this article yourself, feel free:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-mishaps/201010/one-candy-bar-or-two-party-or-study-procrastination-decisions

Procrastination

Now, the boring section about procrastination, where I talk about ‘strategies to realistically manage the distractions that are bound to arise in a busy person’s schedule.’

I could give example such as:

  • close the door
  • turn off the mobile phone
  • prepare a schedule for your study session with beginning and ending times
  • take strategic study breaks so you can still pay bills, go to the gym, pick children up from school and make important phone calls
  • keep a blank ‘procrastination pad’ on the desk for jotting to remind you to think more about non-study things later, after your study period.

However I found an interesting video that will explain it better than I ever could:

To save this blog from getting too serious I’ve also added this video, Enjoy!:

And there you have it. I hope this at the very least has given you a better understanding of the age old battle of study vs party. It makes you wonder whether it all comes to this:

college-you-only-can-choose-two

So the question that all university students must ask themselves:

What are you going to choose? Part or Study?

Music- The Great Connector

I absolutely LOVE music. So much that I will pay a LOT of money and sit up many hours late at night doing assignments to study it at university and … hopefully… with lots of practice, become an expert at it. So far the only instrument I am trained in is vocals but I can play enough chords on guitar and piano to accompany myself for gigs and performances.

Kent Music

Music seriously connects people on such a deep level that we find it hard to explain. In simple terms, it involves a lot of invisible factors such as emotions and other brain related actions. When you listen to music your brain often releases dopamine. Dopamine, in case you aren’t aware of what it is, is a chemical that your brain releases when you feel pleasure, reward or happiness. Simple. If you feel happiness or pleasure, with say eating chocolate or playing music, and you do it with someone else or even a group of people, you automatically feel a connection with the others involved. It’s magical!

"Let Music Connect Us. Something Wonderful Will Happen"

I remember the very first day when I came to college back in the beginning of 2012, the RA who showed me to my room was sitting in the Junior Common Room with a guitar and playing little tunes and automatically the room felt more welcoming. We walked and talked while he showed me to my room. There was this understanding in our language between us – musician to musician. What’s even greater, music doesn’t only effect and connect musicians. Later that week, two of us (at-the-time) newbies, or as called at college, us “freshers”, spontaneously started jamming in the laundry at college. The acoustics were so different compared to when you jam in the bedroom because of the tiled floor rather than carpet. As you could imagine, just like singing in the bathroom, the sound bounces around and causes a reverb. The most amazing thing though was slowly but surely, song after song, more and more people started to join us. The harmonies from vocals to other instruments such as guitars and ukuleles filled the air and literally put shivers down my spine. It was so awesome!

They felt the music together and something amazing happened – From the street to TV in a few days:

The other magnificent thing about music is that it not only connects people with other people, it also connects us with memories. College is awesome! Don’t get me wrong. But sometimes it’s nice to escape to another place. The great thing about music is that it can take you to another place even while your still in your same bedroom. You can just put some music on, lie down on your bed and shut your eyes. You can feel like you’re somewhere else because the music connects you with memories or images in your mind. It’s powerful, yet serene.

I could talk all day about music because it’s my passion but I won’t put you through that.

Thanks for reading- Kent

No fear honours year!

“Can you explain your honours project again?”

“I know it sounds like I’m building a death ray, but my project is looking at developing a vaccine against the bacteria that causes Strep throat”

This year I’ve decided to jump right back into study through an Honours year.  Not because my goal is to become a professional student, but rather to make myself more employable through practical skills.  Are you thinking about undertaking Honours?  It’s a yearlong project you can do through the help of a supervisor.  Some tips from my year thus far:

  • Pick the project you hate the least
  • Apparently your title does not become ‘The honourable’ when you graduate. You also don’t become a doctor. You do, however, become more knowledgeable. Knowledge is power, power is money and money is more Nutella.
  • Wear long pants and leather shoes to comply with Lab workplace health and safety regulations. Not leather pants and long shoes.
  • You are allocated a study space depending upon your project and supervisor. This is my sweet corner of studiousness in Q Block:

Q Block Study Space

  • Depending upon your project, field trips could be a compulsory fun part of your research. Here’s a picture of a koala taken by the adventurous Lucy Galea and Jemima Wixted while out on a sample hunt.

Field Trip Koala

  • They test the safety showers once a week

998j3

  • Horsing around is a good idea.

Horsing Around

  • Ignoring your project is a bad idea.

  • Back up everything. Everyday. Fifty times.

  • Reading takes up more time than I expected. A great way to get through bulk text fast is to chuck it into a website called Spreeder <http://www.spreeder.com/>
  • It helps you read faster by taking away the task of moving your eye across the page. It also makes me want to fall asleep less because it just shoots words at your face.
  • Long hours staring at a computer can be draining. F.lux <https://justgetflux.com/> is a sweet program to reduce the brightness levels of your screen depending on what time of the day it is. For late night work, it’s like hot chocolate, but for your eyes.   All the Steele Rudd kids are doing it, why aren’t you?

Most of all, don’t forget to give yourself breaks and have some fun!

At Steele Rudd, B Blockers are no strangers to fun.  In fact, when too much fun is present in high concentrations, it is known to break physics. Here is a documentary about this effect:

Feel free to have a chat with me in the below comments if you want to know some of the details about the honours year!  All the best with exams, and stay awesome!

My advice about dealing with stress

Hey Guys, I finished my last course in university late last year and I wish I could explain to you how awesome it feels. It has been a long journey but it was worth it and hopefully I can find something beginning this week. Anyway I’ve still got a few more blogs to fill, so this one going to be about stress but more importantly how you can deal with it (these are my methods however feel free to make them your own.) Let face it if you want to start and finish a university degree stress is going to happen. The secret is to moderate yourself with work and play, have study breaks when your require them but moderate them, there is no right or wrong answer for time but you need to be truthful to yourself.

Method one –Exercise!

Exercise! Is one of best ways to de-stress, not only does a dose of adrenaline give you that feel good kick but you’ll find it a lot easier to relax or focus after a good workout. Now again this is not a routine you need to copy however this give you an idea of what I do. I do roughly an 8Km run. I don’t like to run just on a flat ground so I mix it up with a hill run combined in to it. In my run I encounter one hill 170 meters in that has a slow incline and another hill roughly 80 meters after with a very steep incline. Keep in mind, hill running you use your body weight as a resistance to push against, which in turn makes it harder to run.

Hill training offers the follow benefits:

  • Improved lactate tolerance
  • Improved muscle elastic
  • Developed stride frequency
  • Developed speed
  • Developed exhausted control

Guy running up sand mountain

This guys a boss

Method two – Light reading

Check it out: The Art of Manliness

Exercise is great however sometimes you need a break that’s not going to take up too much time. Light reading is great for that and if you can find something interesting to read it becomes easier to let go of stress. I refer to a site called “the art of manliness” if you’re like me and you find that Men’s Health magazine content continually going downhill and you’re wanting something a little more than sex and six packs then this is the website.

Basically the Art of manliness is articles helping men be men, looking at the past to find an example of manliness in action. Analyzing things like:

  • Dress and grooming
  • Health and sport
  • Manly skills
  • Money and career
  • Relationship and family

The Art of Manliness

 

Give it a read Guys… or Girls though its kind of more guys orientated sorry female reader! Lol!

Dim and Dash Comic

Funny clip I read on this website, Dim cracks me up.

Method three – Games!!

Ok, this one is for when you’re finally finished your exam/ assignment and the last thing you want to do is anything study related. Game time!!! Lol! I have a few but one that’s really got my interest at the moment is Marvel Heroes. It’s an awesome game that really hits my interest. Remember, and this is for people who have read my earlier blogs, I have an interest in Marvel Characters and they mad a diablo game it is the bomb!

This game has features like:

  • Battle as your favorite Marvel Heroes
  • Team up with friends
  • Explore the Marvel universe
  • Customise your heroes
  • And play online with your mates

Marvel Heroes

Love it!!!

Check out the trailer for the Marvel Heroes below:

Until next time,

Joseph

 

Beyond Graduation- 12 Months in Review Part 2

Part 2 and my third biggest lesson since graduation is here!

My biggest lesson over this last year is don’t be afraid to fail and don’t let anyone discourage you. I am still learning that lesson!

One of my favourite quotes is from Albert Einstein and goes something like this:

Einstein Quote

“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it is stupid.”

Everyone has their own skills and talents and you need to discover yours. Once you find your niche you will thrive but this can take time so in the meantime expect a few hiccups along the way. I thought I wanted to focus on my writing; I studied journalism and thought this was my strength. Over the last 12 months though I have realised my writing skills have a long way to go, and I don’t really enjoy it as much as I thought. Instead, my talent lies in my people skills and this is where I really thrive. I’ve also realised I am more passionate about events than I am about community engagement for construction and roadworks. Ultimately this was another huge factor in my decision to quit my job. I wanted to refocus my career back towards my passion. At first I felt like a bit of a failure, I couldn’t ‘hack it’ in this industry and I didn’t flourish after Uni as anticipated. However on reflection, I know it was the right decision for me. If you are truly unhappy in your job, then it’s ok to change your mind and decide it’s not the right fit for you.

There are so many people out there who are unhappy with their lives, who hate what they are doing and who are too afraid to try something different. Yes it’s a risk and comes with obstacles but is keeping up the façade of security really worth spending years in a job environment you hate? Take control of your life’s direction with confidence. Even if the transition is tough (which at times it has been for me) a new, better choice will eventually lead to a new, better life. I am finally working for the company I have dreamed of working with for years. No, I don’t know what will happen when my contract runs up but right now it is a foot in the door, its exposure to the right people and my team is so fantastic that it makes everything I went through in the last 12months so worth it!

This leads me to my third and final point….

3. Build your network

Networking Picture

Have you ever heard the saying “Its not what you know, its who you know”? Well in my experience that is very true. I thought if I worked hard to get the perfect grades at Uni that would be enough but sometimes you need that little bit more. I found nearly everyone I worked with got their job because they knew someone else in the company. That’s not to say they didn’t have the necessary skills but that connection gave them an instant advantage. When you graduate, the more connected you are the better your chances will be of thriving in your chosen field. A friend of mine for example sent a ‘connection’ request on LinkedIn to a bunch of people who worked for a company she was applying for a job with. Several of them accepted her and she got the interview. She later found out the reason she got an interview is because they noticed she had several connections to the company (yes they do really look up your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts so watch what you post or make sure it’s set to super private!) This got her the opening she needed to then sell herself in the interview and ultimately land the job. My advice, start building your networks now. Sign up for a mentor program, do internships or attend events in your field. I wouldn’t have gotten my current job if it wasn’t for someone I knew putting my name forward so trust me, networks are vital!!

12 months out of Uni and to be honest I still don’t know exactly what I want with my career but that’s ok because right now I am learning, I am trying new things and I am finding where my niche is. My experiences, both good and bad over the last year have helped me to grow as a person, to become stronger, more resilient and determined, and to stop letting other people intimidate, discourage and drag me down. The way I see it is, everyone will have that one job they hate in life right? Well I have already gone through that so it can only go up from here.

Until next time

Alita