When InSaNity takes over

As Hannah Montana once sang, “Everybody has those days … Everybody knows what I’m talking about … Everybody gets that way.” You’re on point Hannah, especially when it comes to uni!Pic 1

We all have those days where we just want to crawl up into foetal position in the corner of the room and rock back and forth. No? If you don’t, you seriously need to share with me how you keep a uni/work/life balance. I, for one, admit that I am a stress head – I stress about the smallest things to the biggest things and it all takes its toll, often at the worst times. It has taken me years to finally realise how to unwind and have some ‘me’ time, to minimise the effects that uni and study have.

It’s good to have stress in your life, it’s inevitable and sometimes a useful motivator. Some stresses can assist you in studying and some stresses can prevent you from studying. Imagine you are swimming in the ocean with waves. Assistive stressors are at the point where you are comfortable swimming, you are able to tread water and float over waves. Preventative stressors feel like you have gone too far into the water and a wave is crashing down on you and you are struggling for air. Hint: you don’t want to reach this point.

Here are some of the tips I use when I can see that wave of stress coming and don’t want it to come crashing down on me.

  • EXERCISE: I’m the type of person that doesn’t run unless they are being chased by a serial killer or see a snake. I personally despise exercise but incorporate it into my daily life (well, try too anyway). I find that when I am stressed, if I go to the gym for an hour I feel rejuvenated and ready to get back into study.
  • CALL MY FAMILY or FRIENDS: My mum is my go to person and I call her pretty much every night (I know, a mummy’s girl). She listens to my worries and gives me advice on how to deal with them. If she’s at work or I need a hug in-person, I go to the friends I feel comfortable with who are always willing to help me out (need those people in your life).

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  • DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY: Sport, painting, crafts or binge watching your favourite or new addictive TV Show. Everyone is different and enjoys different things. I personally like crawling into bed and watching my favourite TV Show (Friends or Grey’s Anatomy) for an hour or five.

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  • GO HOME: Living away from home takes its toll and sometimes all I want to do is be at home in my own bed surrounded by my family. Plan to go home to see your family and friends – it will be exactly what you need (because who doesn’t love a good home cooked meal).

Pic 6To minimise the effects of stress be organised and create a weekly planner of exactly what you need to have done and when you need to have it done by (INCREDIBLY HELPFUL WHEN ASSESSMENT IS DUE). By finding what relaxes you and how to handle and minimise stress, you will live a happy and healthy life!

Remember: Stressed spelt backwards is desserts – eat a bunch of desserts!

Budget? Some ideas to Budge-it from ‘in the red’ to ‘in the pink’…

Being a student means you have to be very careful with your money. I thought I would share my top 11 budgeting tips with you.

  1. Take full advantage of social events on campus and in the community.

Many have free food! Also, enquire about student discounts on everything from cinema to bus tickets. Retailers are often sympathetic, if you explain ‘I am on a uni student budget’.

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Toowoomba Languages and Culture Festival

  1. Plan well ahead for good internet deals on plane tickets

Also try carry-on luggage, and odd hours to fly out. Check connecting bus timetables, use the sky train or ask a kind friend – offering them petrol money – to pick you up and minimise the taxi cost conundrum!

  1. Invest in a good pair of jeans, and some quality boots (with waterproofing)

Good quality items will last for years, and provide a classy outfit foundation. Also keep an eye out for thermals and puffy jackets at travel and camping shops’ end-of-season sales.

  1. Try your luck with Op Shops

Toowoomba has a wealth of riches and Op Shops. Thoughtful browsing will soon have you up to speed with the feel and genre of each cluster of pre-loved goodies. You are also helping to fund charity! Double win! Monitor for new arrivals and experiment with forays into new and promising personal styles.

  1. You can still accessorise!

Near-new bags, funky jewelry, and even amazing shoes may be on offer for the lucky bargain hunter at a local Op Shop. A pair of faux pearl earrings from a budget jewellery shop will add lustre to any outfit…and really, no one will know but you!

  1. You can still feed your book/ reading obsession

Love to read? The university library has newspapers and periodicals! Join local libraries for more books, glossy magazines, and DVDs. Op Shops have entire shelves devoted to pre-loved best sellers, so stay alert as volumes by your favourite authors cycle through. Also consider buying cheaper e-book versions, and scout Project Gutenberg for thousands of free online classics!

  1. Stay healthy

Procrastinate no more! Use that gym membership! Staying healthy is ultimately going to save you money. Clean your teeth and save for your annual check-up, a $150 filling this year could be a $1000 nightmare by the end of your degree!

  1. Pack snacks and a water bottle wherever you go

Stash a reserve muesli bar in your backpack and carry your own water bottle which you can fill with the free filtered water on campus. Don’t forget your USQ multi-use mug, the Hub kitchenette has a hot water jug and microwave!

  1. Watch TV in the Common Room

Watch TV in the common room instead of buying a TV of your own, you may also discover that you share a favourite TV show or movie with another resident in your block.

  1. Revive second-hand furniture and decorate your space

Add a spray of Glen20, a colourful swatch of fabric and some paint in your favourite colour scheme to refresh second hand furniture. Hit Bargain and Op Shops for glass vases, river stones, decorative candles and tasteful art pieces. Cut pretty borders from leftover wrapping paper to outline your photos and add style. Indoor plants also look amazing, try selecting something sturdy yet root-bound from the discount tray, soak overnight in half a bucket of water, and check it the next day. If it doesn’t make it, try again with a new one! (And the same goes for your budget!)

  1. Make the most of free calendars

Don’t forget free calendars, especially your USQ wall calendar. Calendars are a great way to plan your study, work and social commitments. Free calendars can also have really cool pictures which you can cut out and use to decorate your room.

Finding what works for your budget might involve some trial and error but you will work it out eventually. If you have any other budgeting tips, let me know in the comments box below, I’d love to hear them.

It’s all in the Preparation- My three tips for balancing Prac and Uni

Practical experiences are a very necessary and exciting part of many university degrees.  Unfortunately this is often the busiest time of the semester. For many of us, whilst on prac our uni subjects continue, content continues to be distributed and assignment due dates loom closer. As I prepare for my next practical experience (woo hoo!), I would like to share with you my top three tips for balancing university studies and practical experience.

  1. Prepare your assessment

Prior to practical experience, prepare to complete as much of your assessment as possible.  Get everything you can to a point that you would be happy to submit.  Prac is an absolutely wonderful experience, one you want to be able to embrace and not be worried about the assignment due the next day which you haven’t started yet and have three lessons to plan for the following day as well!  It is much easier to edit drafted assignments than trying to research, draft and edit an assignment when you are exhausted after spending a week at work.

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  1. Prepare a study plan

Prepare a study schedule to follow during prac. As I found on my first practical experience, completely disregarding all uni work during prac will only come back to bite you later. Prioritise your work. Every little bit that you do during prac is something that you don’t have to worry about later. Write your schedule and stick to it! Everyone has different study patterns and you need to find what works for you.

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  1. Prepare to communicate

Practical experiences are your first glimpse into the big wide world of work that you will be entering into in a few short years. Ensure you contact your practical site as soon as you know where you have been placed to clear up any queries you may have and find out their expectations of you. Once you arrive, be honest and open to your supervisors. They know you are a university student and also have study to complete whilst on prac. They are not mind readers and hence need to be told if you are struggling or have assessment due. They too went to university at some point and know what you are going through! They are there to help you through your practical experience…help them to help you!

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Be true to yourself.  Your practical experience is a very busy, yet exciting time. With sufficient preparation, you will be able to both stay on top of your university studies and enjoy your precious taste of the workforce! Good luck! J

Formally a good time

Once a year a magical time rolls around at college, a time when the boys are all pressured into getting haircuts and showering to a higher quality, and the ladies all have a valid reason to buy a new pair of shoes, its formal season. Now when I first came to college I was unsure what to expect, high school formal all over again (not even close), a who wore it best situation, or something else.

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Step One: The Outfit

Lads, this means making sure your suit actually still fits. I have known many guys to just trust that it will fit, and they were WRONG. Additionally when you are trying on your suit, make sure it is clean and iron it if you need to.

Now ladies, this again means checking your dress fits, is clean, and although we are all on a budget, buying a new dress if you absolutely need to. You could also change up a dress with new shoes or accessories, and speaking from personal experience you always needs more shoes and accessories.

Step Two: Picking Your Table

My recommendation would be sit with the people you are going to have the best time with, people that you can be certain will switch a meal with you of needed, giggle with you at one of those classic college jokes, and people that will be ready to take a million and one selfies with you. Additionally get in early for saving a table, otherwise you and your friends may not get to sit together.

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Step Three: Ensure everything is ready EARLY

Formal comes in two parts; the formal and the after party. Most people require an outfit change between the two, so it is important to have everything planned out ahead of time. For the ladies this might include doing makeup that is suitable for both outfits, and picking shoes that will be comfortable. For the boys it might including having a clean outfit to change into and having your ID and cash ready. No matter who you are, it might also be a good idea to remember to reapply deodorant as often after parties are quite hot and you could get sweaty.11802178_10205150296657751_559615435_n

Ladies and Gentlemen, remember, formal isn’t just an opportunity to dress fancy and have a special meal, it is a chance to celebrate your college graduates, to welcome the incoming RSC executive and to enjoy one last night of simple celebration before the struggle of exam block.

The Social Coordinator from your college has the massive challenge of organising your formal, and would love help. So, be sure to sign up for your college formal committee!

 

 

 

Keeping in contact with your friends

It’s the end of semester: you’ve finished exams, your last assignment has been submitted and you’re ready for whatever the break might bring. When you’re living on college there are lots of people you can celebrate the end of semester with. But you may also be faced with the realisation that some of your friends are now moving off college because they’ve completed their degrees, or for other reasons.

I recently said goodbye to one of my close friends, who is moving home to Western Australia. While we won’t be in the same town, or even the same state, I know that this goodbye isn’t forever. During my five years on college I’ve seen many of my friends finish their degrees, go back home to be with their families and start other things, so I thought I’d share my top five tips for keeping in touch with your friends over the holidays as well as after college and uni.

Tip 1: Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone

We all get busy, but if you wait for your friend to call or text, you may never actually speak to them. If you call and they don’t answer, leave them a message or call them back later. I like to text my friends before I call to make sure they’re available, because a text message is much less distracting than their phone ringing.

Tip 2: Social media is great

Using social media is a great way to keep in contact with your friends, particularly if they are in a different time zone. You can send them a message and they can reply whenever it suits them. This way, you aren’t accidently waking them at 2am. I have a friend in Germany and we often use Facebook messages to organise our Skype sessions.

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Tip 3: Skype, Skype, Skype!

You may not have seen your friend in person for months, or even years, but with Skype you can have face-to-face conversations on a regular basis. Make sure you have a strong internet connection so you don’t have a call with lags or worse, have your conversation drop out completely.

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Tip 4: Write letters and postcards

I always get really excited when I receive mail and I know my friends do too. The messages and stories on the back of postcards help me imagine what that place is like, and make me want to travel there one day myself. Email is another great way to write to your friends, and it gets to them instantly.

Tip 5: Make the time to visit

While it is easy to visit your friends who are in the same town or only a couple of hours away, it’s more difficult to visit those who are in different states or countries. I’ve never been to Sydney, Western Australia or Germany but I’m looking forward to some great holidays during which I can catch up with friends, plus free accommodation means more shopping!

The most important investment you can make isn’t your job, the money you make or the car you drive, it’s the relationships you build. Building and maintaining these relationships will take effort and time, but no amount of money will make up for how good it feels to have friends there to celebrate the big events in your life with you. So what are you waiting for? Make contact with your off-campus friends now!

Bush to City- the transition of a lifetime

Roma – 45°C heat, oil and gas industry, schools, churches, Darren Lockyer, largest saleyards in Australia

Toowoomba – 39°C heat, The Garden City, Empire Theatre, Carnival of Flowers, University of Southern Queensland

I grew up in Roma, a rural town 350 kilometres west of Toowoomba with my family. At the end of Year 12, I made the decision to move away to study at university. I was moving away from a town that only just recently got its first roundabout and set of traffic lights, away from the place where I was born and all my family and friends were. It is a big change that has taken a lot of getting used to. I was leaving my comfort zone and moving into the big world to achieve my goals.Inaug Group Photo

So, I had decided to move but didn’t know where I was going to go – share house, Student Village or USQ Residential Colleges. I didn’t know anyone in Toowoomba so I didn’t want to move into a house with a group of people that I had no relationship with – that just didn’t seem like it would work for me. I did some research – prices, facilities, how close it was to the university, if there would be a chance to meet new people, were there sports and events I was able to go to and many more. USQ Residential Colleges checked the boxes for all my criteria and that is how I ended up here!

USQ Residential Colleges are just across the road from the university, I got to have my own bathroom or the option of sharing one, it works out to be cheaper to stay there than renting a house, it provides an option to socialise and meet new people through different events. By attending USQ Residential Colleges I have made lifelong friendships and experienced so many things that have made me the person I am today.

So, if you need to move away from your home to achieve your aspirations, here are some tips!

  • Give it time – everything takes time. Don’t expect everything to happen in the first week
  • Plan ahead – assess every option, make a “pro-con” list to choose the right option for you
  • Meet people at O-Week – attend O-Week! Attend every activity! You will meet people who will become your new ‘family’.
  • Keep in touch with old friends – you have a phone, use it! It’s not as if you will never see each other again, it just won’t be every day at school like you were used to.
  • Talk to someone – talk to a friend, family member, counsellor, RA or someone you trust and are willing to confide in.
  • Attend everything (even breakfast) – Every sport, every event, every meeting, every opportunity. Attend them, even if your friends don’t want to! By attending you will meet new people.
  • Visit each College – pick the one that is right for you. Don’t just go off the pictures, actually go and see the one that you think will suit you.

Semi Group PhotoThere will be times when you feel like it’s the end of the world and being away from home will make it even tougher. Everything happens with your family that you don’t see. You may feel like you don’t fit in and just want to go back to your comfort zone, back home. You may feel like you just want to curl up in a ball and cry and have your mum or dad give you a hug. You may feel like it’s the end of the world. MASSIVE TIP – don’t quit! You are adjusting and getting used to the new place. If you quit and try and come back at another time, it will be harder – stick it out and you will be rewarded.

If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. College isn’t the place for everyone, but it can be if you let it!

Do I need everything except the kitchen sink or will I need that too?

Packing to move to Residential Colleges can be a very daunting experience. The stress of moving away from your family and friends, possibly for the first time is often compounded by the stress of remembering everything that you need to pack.

When I was packing for my first year, I was worried that I wasn’t pack the right things and that I would leave important things behind. Now, there is no reason for you to have the same worries.

This piece below is a great way to remember what you need to pack and help take some of the stress out of moving, I wish I had this information in my first year.

http://social.usq.edu.au/uni-lifestyle/2015/07/pack-res-college

Let me know if this piece has been helpful for you in the comments below!

Happy packing!

Kim :)

Uni of best fit

Every prospective university student faces many decisions. For some students, these decisions are very easy, like a perfect line of linear plots waiting to be connected with a sweep of the pen. They have dreamt of their university, career and college ever since they commenced high school. For many students however, these decisions are much like a scattered quartic function without a simple answer and require a great deal of investigation in order to find the best fit. One of the first decisions to consider is which university will be the correct choice for YOU! Many students feel pressured to attend certain universities due to peer pressure or location. Through careful consideration of individual needs during your time at university, a far more enjoyable experience will result.

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During year 12, like so many others, I applied to attend Brisbane universities, similar to my friends, without much thought for my needs during my future experience. During my Gap Year, I had time to consider my options with a more open mind and realised that Brisbane may not be the city for me. I also learnt that although many of my friends were no longer in the same town as me, I had kept in contact with many of them and had made new friendships in my new phase of life. Among other decisions, this urged me to reconsider which university was truly the best option for me. Like so many prospective students, I looked at locations…how far each university was from home, the different facilities, the differences between the Education degrees, living options and more! I also took the time to revisit each of the prime opportunities offered throughout year to investigate my university options. I visited the Bundaberg careers fair, the Brisbane Tertiary Studies Expo (TSXPO), took time off work to visit the three universities on my short list and heard experiences from friends who had begun their university experience. Using these resources, I was able to eliminate universities from my list and make the decision to go to a different university, a different town…USQ Toowoomba.

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Choosing a university of best fit is a difficult and important decision. Through this process you will learn about yourself, such as proving that you can make informed, adult decisions without being swayed by others’ opinions, expectations or decisions around you. Having made your decision, you will reap many benefits! You will be free to reinvent yourself and spread your wings by developing new friendships…after all whoever heard of someone with too many friends? You totally own that decision now and that is awesome!

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Of course, like a mathematical line of best fit, no university is by any means perfect. They are always adapting and evolving with the times, but through thorough investigation of all of your options, you will be able to make an informed decision of the best possible university for YOU at whatever stage of life you are at! Above all, stay true to yourself and choose the university that suits your needs best. It can make the world of difference to your future university experience.

Living on College- a Mature Aged perspective

Life’ said John Lennon, ‘is what happens while you are busy making other plans.’ Apparently, so the saying goes, ‘Life’ also ‘begins at 40’.

You’re never too ‘Mature aged’ to start embracing the selfie trend!You're never too mature aged to start embracing the selfie trend!

That’s the unexpected thing about our existence. According to our culture, most of us probably began the adulthood journey with a concept of our life’s trajectory. Free spirits with a love of flying solo and seeing the world…happy homebodies perhaps with a significant other installed in our cosy cottage, along with a cute kiddie in designer clothing, and a fluffy pet or three. Oh, and window-boxes augment this charming, country scene. But, as Robbie Burns reminds us in his Scottish dialect Ode to a field Mouse whose home he destroyed with a plough, life is unexpected:

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Fortunately, the various life ploughs which ail us humans – including the sobering realities of divorce, death and dashed dreams – are no great match for the community spirit and life-affirming oasis which Res College life offers the mature aged student!  It’s like living in a warm, buzzing beehive, really. Rather than lurking anonymously in the suburbs. Where you ‘always’ have friends over for dinner.

Where else can you find a ready-made group of friends (both young and mature age) to offer study support, hugs, enjoy a DVD or board game with, or join in a quick game of touch footy, soccer kick-around or basketball bounce, before dinner?

Fun and Frivolity old-school style!

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Few can boast a team of chefs creating soups, mains, salad, fruit, dessert, with endless ‘cuppas’…where you don’t have to do the washing up! You can even choose the self-catering option, if you prefer to scoff your own gourmet DIY cuisine and still enjoy the support and company of the College Community.

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Not only do you have the opportunity to embrace an instant, structured social life, but there is also the convenience of simplifying your financial outlay. It can be soothing to pay just the one bill which covers a range of things – Wi-Fi, heating, water, and parking, did I mention food? Oh, and the transport to classes is easy, simply walk! – and when the juggling act of life begins to toss in flaming torches, there is even an approachable, confidential no-cost Res College Psychologist you can chat too. Can’t ask for much more than that!

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Pitching in moral support at the cricket
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It’s a relief to have a team of approachable managers and administrators, cleaning and kitchen and maintenance staff, and the university’s gardeners, all working together, for your ultimate benefit. A sports complex – Gym! Yoga classes! – And a friendly university library; even a tranquil, tourist attraction, the Japanese Garden, is right in your backyard!

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Honestly, yes. There will come a day when Gough Whitlam or Wayne Goss pass away, and you weep openly into your cereal, when fresh faced friends innocently make enquiries such as ‘Who is Gough?’ mature age residency at College is a bit like Democracy really – never going to be perfection, but we’re parked as close to that bay as we can manage…

Cosy and colourful for a happy homePic 8tend to the Community Garden, or build your own, if that’s more your stylePic 10

So, if life really does begin at 40 (or 30 or 50 years old) for some of us, in cheerful defiance of The Plough…a Res College can be a very promising place to start, you won’t be the only ‘mature aged’ resident there.

The top five tips of college living

When I first decided to move to the USQ Residential Colleges, I panicked. What if I forget something (seemingly essential that is actually not worth owning in the first place), what if I don’t like my roommate, what if they cancel Game of Thrones as a consequence of me moving. But believe it or not, I survived! And from this here are my top five tips for living on college.

#1 Don’t over pack.

Now, when I first moved to college I was thinking I’d need everything; “oh my god, I certainly can’t not bring 14 pairs of shoes! That would be madness….apparently. We all do it though, think there will without doubt be an occasion that you absolutely need a million options. Trust me, there won’t be, and even if there are no rules saying you can’t go home (or get it posted).

#2 Be a good roommate. Kara and Michaela

I am incredibly lucky, my roommate is amazing, she is the one I go to Kmart with 6 times a week; the one who texts me if dinner is worth getting out of bed for, and the one who reassures me I can definitely finish that 2000 word assignment in one day, no problem. But on the off chance you don’t have the world’s best roommate, you should still follow these few rules; keep common areas clean and don’t be loud and annoying.

#3 Things you won’t think to bring.

  • A cup, a bowl, a plate and a fork. You’ll want them eventually.
  • A printer. Yes I know you could just print at the uni. But the number of people begging to borrow printers mid semester is crazy. If you can get one, get one.
  • Blue tack. I can’t even work out how much I have usedcollege colours during my time at uni. Bring it and bring lots!
  • Bring your college colours! You will play Res shield sport often and early, make sure you can show some college pride!
  • A fan. Summer is hot! I know that isn’t news to anyone, but during last year’s heat wave many residents attempted to buy fans, but they were sold out! Don’t let this happen to you, they can be pulled apart and put away. Be prepared!
  • A spare set of sheets and a spare towel. They will get dirty, and you will not have the four individual one dollar coins to wash them. Bring spare!

#4 Plan! Plan! Plan! weekly planner whiteboard

I am not good at remembering, I am so forgetful. I plan out my weeks and believe it stops those assignments from sneaking up so fast. Additionally when you have res shield every other week, and blogs are due (oops) this really helps to keep you on track. Additionally bring fun coloured whiteboard markers, just cause, fun!

#5 Don’t be scared.

I was so nervous when I moved to college, but after you actually meet everyone and you start interacting with other colleges it isn’t so scary. Don’t stay in your room cause you are too scared to talk to people, get out there and show some courage. There will always be something going on, and we want you to be there, the more people, the more fun!

So there you have it, my top five tips for living on college. A guide to a worthwhile experience.