New kid on the block

Hi there!  My name is Alice Galea, originating from Bundaberg with a passion for crafts and baking and am currently studying my second year of my Bachelor of Education, Secondary.  Since completing high school in 2012, I have undertaken a Gap Year, during which I changed my mind from going to the big smoke of Brisbane to the smaller, much more personable environment offered by the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba.  Since then, many good times were had throughout my first year.

After moving from my home of 18 years in Bundaberg and knowing absolutely no one other than my sister on college, let alone in Toowoomba, I was required to overcome my shy nature, epic homesickness and remain true to myself as a person, in order to make new friends and survive my first year of uni.  I also withstood the new challenges which presented themselves when I studied some third semester subjects back at home!

Some of my favourite events from my first year included a bush dance in o-week, which has thus far been a highlight for my second year.  As well as the fun that was had, the added bonus of this event was its assistance to help to adjust to the cold Toowoomba weather for a few hours (for a cold frog, this was great…but then winter came…)!  The red frogs’ café crawl soon after was also a highlight in order to get to know a some more college faces, as well as few of the fabulous coffee shops around town, of which the Park House is still a favourite (after all…who can resist their cherry ripe hot chocolates…that’s right people…CHERRY RIPE!!!!!!)!  For any first years who are reading this, hopefully they will hold one soon and it is DEFINITELY worth going! :D

coffee friends

Back on college, the social events of Semi-Formal and Formal were definitely the highlights for me for the year.  Seeing the creativity of outfits and the preparation which went into everyone looking their best for each of the nights was lovely to see. :)

semi formal

Thus far, 2015 has been off to a good start on Concannon.  I look forward to keeping you up to date with all of the goings on here and hope that my blogs are insightful.  Catch you next time!

My Study Abroad Experience- Six Weeks in China

It transpires that Kublai Khan, grandson of infamous Genghis Khan, established Beijing as the ‘Northern Capital’. Beijing, with its ‘amazingly mild winter this year!’ in which temperatures hovered around minus 5, and desert-like dryness such that it snowed slightly twice in the six weeks I was there remains China’s capital city. The supreme hardiness of the local people does, for me, hark back to ancient times when the world lacked thermal long-johns and central heating.

This reads 'Beijing' (literally 'Northern Capital')

This reads ‘Beijing’ (literally ‘Northern Capital’)

From mid-December ’14 to late January this year, I had an amazing time studying at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). I learnt Mandarin from 8am to noon each day for five weeks, at the Intensive Winter Language Course.

In class at the BLCU

In class at the BLCU

With dawn just breaking each morning, I pulled on layers of clothing, including facemask and set off for the massive three floor dining hall to start the day with a takeaway steamed bun breakfast, and a warming cup of freshly blended mung beans. The food was amazing.

In the Dining Hall and some of the amazing food that I ate while I was in China177 183 280

I had the luxury of my own room in the hotel on campus, which even included a TV. I tuned this constantly to the beautiful (if tragic) Imperial soaps; listening to Mandarin, even while glued to my desk, writing out reams and reams of new characters daily.

My class comprised mostly of lovely, friendly, sweet young South Koreans. I readily embraced the Asian tendency to ‘yi qi qu’ – let’s go together –enjoying many lunches and outings with classmates. We tackled the breathtakingly (literally) steep Great Wall and wandered for hours through the confronting Art Precinct. The Temple of Heaven – at a crisp minus 7, when the rash on my legs hinted I’d forgotten to don thermals beneath jeans – was another cultural highlight of my stay.

Ice skating with my friends

beihaibei 1034

China seems to have changed, as the flood of advertisements for Western products constantly reminded me. China has not changed, I reflected, manically photographing chubby-cheeked babies held aloft by proud parents ‘walking the babies’ in the subdued winter sunshine. The fleets of cleaners on the university grounds, expertly cycling ‘bike utes’ complete with brooms fashioned from tree branches. The shock to my friendly, country Australian system, of the famous Northern ‘lihai’ – formidable – public persona was that small talk was non-existent, along with eye contact which might have been interpreted as customer service.

You discover the humanity-affirming warmth and hospitality of Chinese people when you have established a relationship with them. I travelled to Tianjin on the high-speed train and met the family of my Chinese friend still studying back at USQ. As I hugged her beautiful, welcoming mum, I gave thanks for the priceless personal opportunity which Study Abroad had given me.

I was thrilled to be navigating the Beijing Subway on my own, attending 4 hours of lessons each day (taught in Chinese) and enjoying meals with classmates who didn’t speak any English at all.

Eating in a Café with my friend Yuri Chan

Eating in a Café with my friend Yuri Chan

I talked to students from North Korea, Djibouti, Benin and Kazakhstan. I coped with SWAT squads, sniffer dogs, an incredibly thorough airport pat-down…AND managed to not miss my flight from South Korea to Brisbane, despite chancing upon a Hello Kitty Café moments before boarding.

If you ever, ever get the chance to be a uni student overseas, my advice is, of course you should – surprise yourself! With the backing and assistance of USQ behind you, enrich your life by seeing how other people live! View your home through new eyes upon your return! It is an opportunity you simply cannot miss. Apply today. As the Chinese proverb reminds us “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!

RSC – The Crazy Folks

When you first move to college you hear about these Concannon Group Shotweird people who volunteer on your college RSC (Resident Student Club). Why are they weird you may ask? They volunteer their time to do stuff for the college and try to keep residents happy (not an easy job). They sound crazy, but they are actually kind of amazing for juggling everything they do. They plan all major college parties and events, they organise social sports clubs and college merchandise. And why do they do all this? Because they love college. As a second year RSC veteran, I can reassure you that being in the RSC is tough, you do a lot of extra work that often residents don’t notice or realise is necessary, and we do it for free. I like to think of the RSC as the college fun committee, cause it’s what we want college to be, FUN!

There are five positions on the RSC; Secretary, Treasurer, Social Coordinator, Sports Coordinator and President. And although there are different titles within the RSC, we all work together to make sure events are the best they can be.

So what does the President do? From what I have observed my own President doing they keep the team on track and make sure things get done. The President is kind of the boss and boosts up the team when things don’t go to plan.

Next is the Sports Coordinator, Concannon’s Sports Coordinator Alex has unwavering team spirit, the ability to motivate and a never give up attitude. He works with the other colleges to play regular sporting events so that we all occasionally leave our rooms.

On Tabletop mountainSocial Coordinator is next, and I actually have some experience in this role (a little bit last year). The Social Coordinator is in charge of organising all major college social events such as semi-formal and formal.

Secretary and Treasurer are often the forgotten roles, the nerds of the group (I’ve allowed to say it I’m one of them). These roles are responsible for keeping everything legal and everyone on track. Don’t take these two for granted though, they have their own important jobs to do too.

So, what is the best part about being on your colleges RSC? Getting to make college life better. If you see something that needs improving on college, do something or tell someone. We want you to enjoy college, and make it the best it can be. Don’t forget to nominate later this year for the 2016 RSC. THANKS GUYS!

2015 RSC

I didn’t succeed the first time, but don’t think that will stop me!

I don’t like to use the word ‘fail’ because you only truly fail when you give up. There will always be an opportunity to try again. This was something that took me a while to understand, particularly in the job market. I had two unsuccessful attempts at a job before I finally landed the role so I thought I would share with you what I learned on my journey and the eight steps that helped me land that job.

25 more letters

1. Plan
Separate each selection criterion and start to write notes. Plan exactly what you want to say and what examples you are going to use. I used to struggle to complete tasks like job applications and assignments without a plan. Now, my first step is always to create a plan, and that outlines the next steps.

success doens't just happen it is planned for

2. Write
This is where you turn your notes into meaningful sentences and paragraphs. Make sure that all of your responses to the criteria are to the point, that you have given examples of when you have used a certain skill or been in a certain situation, and never ever ramble. Your written application is the first impression you give to the selection panel, make it count!

be so good they can't ignore you

3. Read over and make sure you have addressed all criteria
Once again read over the position description and criteria, then read over the application you have written. This will help to ensure you have addressed the criteria and should help you identify any criterion that you haven’t addressed. This is an important step because the last thing that you want is to send in an application that doesn’t address the criteria or that isn’t relevant to the position you are applying for.

4. Proof-read
Proof-read, proof-read, proof-read! This time when you read through your application, pay attention to your spelling and grammar because spell check won’t find all of your mistakes. Having spelling and grammar mistakes in your application can come across as unprofessional and sloppy and you don’t want to give that impression to your future employer.

proofreading quote

5. Proof-read
Hmm, but haven’t we already proof-read our application? Yes, but we can still make mistakes! Leave your application for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes. You’d be surprised how many mistakes you can find when you come back to your application later. This time when you are proof-reading, check again that you have addressed the selection criteria and that you don’t have any spelling or grammar errors.

6. Ask someone to read over your application
It is sometimes difficult to find mistakes in your own written work. This happens because you know what you were trying to say and so often you fill in the blanks yourself. Asking a friend or family member to read over your application will help to ensure you have addressed the criteria, your application makes sense and that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

ask friends to proof read

7. Make changes
Once you’ve had someone else read over your application, ask them for feedback and make any changes you think are necessary.

8. Submit
Read over your application once more and when you are happy with it, submit it to the selection panel.

While the written application is extremely important, it is only the first step in the process. Once you have submitted your application, you should start to prepare for the interview, even if you don’t think you have a shot at landing the job. Here are four tips for preparing for your interview.

1. Know your written application
Know exactly what you said in your written application because the panel may ask questions about it.

2. Practice interview questions with a friend
Ask a friend to help you prepare for your interview and run through questions and scenarios you think the panel may ask you. Practicing before your interview will make the real thing seem a lot less daunting.

3. Plan what you are going to wear
Make sure you dress appropriately for your interview because first impressions count. Wearing business/corporate clothing will go a long way to show that you are professional.

Job interviews quote

4. Remain calm
Nerves are completely understandable. Take a deep breath, remain calm and remember to talk clearly and at a reasonable pace.

keep calm and ace your interview

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t land the job or if your interview doesn’t go as well as you expected. Ask for feedback- yep, you can do that! You should always ask for feedback on your application and interview. Apply that feedback to all future job applications and interviews- Who knows, you might just be successful next time.

Go after what you want quote

McGregor and more . . .

Prior to moving to Toowoomba, it always seemed to be the place I travelled to go shopping or to eat out. Since moving here at the start of last year, I have become a regular at the USQ Residential College, McGregor. My home away from home. Unlike many other Year 12’s who find themselves lost and indecisive when wondering where to go in the future I made my choice at the end of Year 11. I decided that I was going to complete the Head Start program, which would grant me access to USQ and thought that on-campus living would be the best place for me.

If you struggle to get out of your comfort zone, suffer from severe homesickness or find it difficult to meet new people – USQ Residential Colleges maybe the place for you. When I first moved to McGregor I was in a totally different environment than I was used too – it was like not knowing which exit to take on the motorway. I was nervous and quiet, which was the polar opposite from my usual. It wasn’t until I started participating in College events that I actually started to resemble my old self. O’Week was definitely one of the best weeks of my life. We had Rudd’s Rodeo (with legit a bucking bull), Amazing Race, Market Day (where we stocked up on as many freebies as we could) and Sunday Funday (full of waterslides and Red Frogs giving out ice blocks). It was definitely a week I will never fImage 2orget. With the Semi-Formal of a Wild West theme, there were cowboys in chaps, cowgirls with whips and Indians and Cacti – it was quite the sight to see. The formal theme was Vintage and was chic and elegant for everyone. We had thImage 3e best of times dancing and the best meals you get the whole time at College.



Throughout the year, not only did I go to heaps of RSC events but we played sports all the time (ones I had never even heard of or played before). The day after the McGregor Formal was the Intercollege Touch game. I was so nervous because I had never played before and didn’t want to embarrass myself but they were desperate for players. I ended up having the best time and scored a full field try. From that moment on I wanted to participate in everything ranging from Indoor and Outdoor Cricket to Softball and AFL. I have some of the best memories from these days and truly felt as though I was a part of the College community. College Life is definitely something you want to be a part of. There are numerous hurdles that I have faced since moving to McGregor and I have no doubt there will be many more. Stay tuned!

I want to go home!

I sat in my train seat, teary-eyed, intently watching the small Tilt Train TV screen as each stop passed, waiting for Bundaberg.  For weeks, all I had wanted was to go home…to see my parents, friends, sleep in my own bed, see and experience everything that I missed so dearly throughout my first term at university.  This was me a year ago.  My first month on college was so exciting…I had moved out of home for the first time, giving me a sense of freedom I had never experienced and I had begun the degree of my dreams!  It was all going so well until the excitement wore off and I began to realise the lack of friends, family and quirks taken for granted from home such as not being able to go to town without seeing someone I knew, which resulted in a severe case of homesickness.


Homesickness is a completely normal experience and just another hard part of growing up!  I know it may not seem like it now, but making the most of being away from home will result in some essential lifelong benefits!  These include developing a sense of self, coping skills and becoming grateful for many things in your life you may have previously taken for granted.  How may you achieve such great results?  I am pleased you asked!  There are many ways in which you can get through this experience, of which I would like to offer my top 5.

  1. Join a group

…Club, team, society or association that interests you.  This provides you with the opportunity to meet prospective like-minded friends.  These people can assist your new town to feel more like home, easing the burden of your homesickness.  If you have moved to be near your university, you will not have to look far to find such opportunities.  Within O-week each year, USQ holds a Market Day which, apart from the opportunity to grab lots of free stuff up for grabs, gives new and continuing students, the opportunity to visit all of the University’s student club stalls and join those of interest. This year, I took this opportunity to join the USQ Charity Committee where I have already met lots of lovely people at our AGM, who I will work with throughout the year, creating events both within the University and wider community, raising money for charities! If you missed Market Day, no worries!  The clubs are always happy to have new members.  For more information on all of the student clubs at USQ, visit the following website: If nothing quite interests you, contact Phoenix Central and start your own club!  They would love to hear from you!  There are bound to be other students at the University who will want to join your awesome new club!

  1. Do something you enjoy!

This could be anything…from something as simple as going for a serene walk in the Japanese Gardens, closest to Concannon; watching your favourite TV show, playing a sport, cook something outrageous, photographing, attending local markets or enjoying the many shopping opportunities that Toowoomba has to offer.  If you enjoy what you are doing, you will develop a far more positive attitude towards your new town and experience!




  1. Remember why you are here

You have made a life changing decision to move away from your home to attend the university of your choice and degree of your dreams!  You are here to be the best nurse, teacher, mathematician…whatever your dream job is.  Be proud of it!  Make the most of this wonderful experience you have embarked on.  You never know what may be around the corner.  Hang in there!  Your journey has only just begun!


  1. Talk to someone

All of us have adults in our lives who have moved away from home and experienced everything that you are experiencing at this moment.  It is hard.  They want to help you get through this!  I had been feeling homesick for a couple of days and had been doing a very expert job of hiding it from the world.  I was fine to everyone, until Mum called me and asked me how I was…that was it…cue the waterworks!  But it was ok.  My parents then knew how I was feeling and were able to help.


  1. Seek advice

If all else fails, seek advice from others to find strategies that work for you.  USQ College students have the support of both our Resident Advisors who live with us, as well as our College Community Advisor (Provisional Psychologist), Mel.  At USQ, Student Services also offers a range of services to assist USQ students through this experience, including their free counselling service.  For more information on the services available at Student Services, visit their website:


You can do this!  Homesickness is a normal human experience.  Don’t think you are alone.  All of us go through this at some stage.  Find strategies that suit you and your personality to make each day more bearable, and eventually overcome your homesickness.  You can do it!

How USQ is like a kaleidoscope

“I love The Quad; the buzz of fellow students from every corner of our planet, adding a kaleidoscope, eclectic energy to daily student life. I savour breezy, kicked back picnic lunches on the shimmering ‘faux turf’, beneath the shady, ever-changing trees. I love the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of special events. And the free food. Those cheery goldfish and the funky, innovative walls of living, growing foliage watching over the much-frequented coffee shop. I install myself in the library, breathing in the shared endeavour, the multilingual conversations, the dynamic atmosphere of life and learning and growth.


I love USQ. Catching up with my Chinese and Indonesian friends, and trying out my Mandarin and bahasa Indonesia studies – sometimes to enthusiastic applause, sometimes to hilarious, shared laughter – as the time I advised I was consuming bees, to assist my sore throat (in my defence, the word for honey is simply the other way around!) I love the individual personalities of College residents, our dining hall staff, approachable and personable lecturers; people from everywhere, drawn to this nexus of academic fervour, nestled in Aussie rural surrounds.

I love the richness and variety, hilarity and wisdom-inducing scenarios of community living. My youthful-esque penchant for Hello Kitty merch’ and a steady stream of uplifting cutesie cat videos is nicely juxtaposed with my almost 40 years of life experience, and view through such sobering windows as a previous incarnation as an Immigration Officer.

If the reassuring signs on the library’s toilet doors are anything to go by (I do try to use the Indonesian word for library – perpustakaan – at every opportunity, it has such a lovely ring to it) I am in good company, with 1 in 6 Aussies experiencing Depression and Anxiety during their lifetime. Whilst it pains me somewhat to quote an American actress, I feel Jen Aniston was wise with her comment ‘Life is tough – Get a helmet!’

Fortunately, USQ life is well-stocked with metaphorical helmets. Recently our College Community Advisor (a lovely, welcoming blend of professional Provisional Psychologist, and normal and approachable human being) has been leading us, free of charge, through the fascinating practice of ‘Mindfulness’.

image 2image 1   The flowers in the brown barren soil represent life without mindfulness. The flowers situated amongst the pink carpet of blossoms represents spreading peace and tranquillity into the environment through mindfulness.

I have been taking myself on daily ‘field trips’ to hone these skills, in our truly awe-inspiring Japanese Gardens. Some, beautiful Spring days, you could be forgiven for thinking of descriptions of Heaven you’ve heard over the years – a sacred space where every colour gleams near-incandescent in the warming, strident sun; and the rich, light greens of weeping willow trees and unapologetically bright pink azalea bushes smothered in flowers, compete with the trickling waterfalls and family of ducks, for your attention.


See those small, impossibly fuzzy ducklings, all enthusiastically paddling with zest. High-pitched quack-peeps caught on the breezes, as they make surprising bow waves, paddling with gusto to catch up with Mother Duck.

I hope Heaven will be something similar to USQ. A library full of learning, the camaraderie of Community Living, and a stunning garden where living beings gather and feed and relax.

In the meantime, I hope to continue learning. Including how to master those word limit requirements…”

‘Living on College is a bit like going on School Camp’


Hi, I’m Kara, and I am an optimist…okay I’m an optimist when it is convenient, and when it comes to College living I will always be an optimist. Now I’ll be honest with you, college living won’t always be the, binge eating, 11AM till 5PM naps and the occasional classes…oh wait, it might be. Well they say everything in moderation, so I guess those things are all okay. But college life is about so much more, it starts off feeling like you are on school camp. You know, you’re away from family, from your house, you are staying in this new place and it doesn’t really feel like it’s your own, and to be perfectly honest you haven’t got a clue what is going on. But you smile and nod hoping to avoid any direct questions, or at least that’s what I did. College in the beginning is bizarre, here are all these new people, places and activities, and you finally realise after 12 years of school, years of working, sarcastically correcting your friends in order to feel smarted, that really you still just want your mum there asking the hard questions, mostly cause you aren’t yet smart enough to think of what the hard questions even are. Jokes on you, I did bring my mum…and thank god, cause then I knew how to navigate the washing machines.

2Haven’t I made it sound great? No? Oh well perhaps I should mention the fact that living on college has given me some of the greatest experiences of my life. Oh, you don’t believe me? An example than; evenings spent watching the block with my block and disagreeing with everything the judges say, because showers need screens damn it, otherwise there is just water everywhere, that isn’t innovative it is hazardous, and the judges should know better.  Oh you want a better example? Fine, I can give you a fun, hip example, I’m cool…ish… okay fine, I’m friends with cool people, okay friends with people, fine friends with my mum, you happy now? Fine my favourite memories of living on college, the little things, play netball together, sitting around after dinner talking for hours, knowing that there will always be someone to go with you to get ice-cream at 2AM. College living is realising you have all this family you 3never knew about, and that you sometimes wish you still didn’t know about. When it comes to the challenges of life and uni and whether or not taking semester three is worth it, just turn to your fellow residents, they were always there, and they can’t leave.


Studying Externally

This is one of the huge choices to make when you come to University, as the allure of the Uni lifestyle is heavily influenced by the fact that, legend says, there is no punishment for not attending classes, and some courses can even be taken without classes, or, as the educated refer to it: Externally. I personally fell victim to the consideration that I could, in fact, do a class online, and never have to attend a class for that subject again!

Admittedly, my first year proved this impossible, as, in a theatre degree, roughly one in 27 classes is offered externally, and those that are, are rather different courses than their on-campus counterparts. Nonetheless, I had attempted to find a course that I could do externally to “lessen my workload” and this is something that I feel many students fall victim to early in their university careers.

I myself experienced the naivety of my own thinking when I, needing to do an elective and not wanting to do it while in second semester of third year, the busiest time in a Theatre Kids’ degree, decided to take Foundation Psychology A. Several of my fellow 3rd year Theatre kids also attempted this course, and did so with the same naivety that I had come to hold dear. Our first clue that this course would be difficult should have been made plain in the name, of the course of study- Psychology. Psychology, after all, is a science, and we failed to recognize that this would mean that we would be undertaking a particularly difficult subject.

Nonetheless, we soldiered on, enrolled, and prepared ourselves for the first assessment. It was hard, much harder than we had expected, but we managed. Next, was the second assignment. It was hard, harder than the first, but not so hard that we couldn’t manage it. Then came the third assignment. The third assignment was hardest, and managing was no longer an option. It was at this moment that the fear set in. The realization that I needed a solid grade on the exam to pass the course instilled a horror so deep within my soul that I realized my genuine mistake. I had failed to account for the difficulty of this course, and, while experiencing the weird blend of holiday and work mode, was having a very hard time getting the appropriate amount of work done.

Now came the period of study, the most study, in fact, that I’d ever managed to do for an exam. This was primarily because I had, in fact, failed to perform any of the course study up until this point, and was hoping to manage a pass based on a grueling weekend of hardcore study. Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for them, my study buddies had similarly failed to prepare themselves for the exam, and this meant that the lot of us crowded together to study. The moral for this is kind of all the same: Study and Learning is easier with people around you, be that in the form of your friends who are equally incompetent at time management, or the fellow people around you in the lecture hall. Know what you’re getting yourself into, plan ahead, manage your time.


And remember kids, Psychology is a science.

10 Handy Things You Should Know About College at USQ

They say all good things must come to an end.  After two years at McGregor College and one year at Steele Rudd College, I think I’m going to miss it.

Here’s a few bits and pieces I learnt about college along the way for Freshers and Returners alike:

  1. If you take one car load to college, it’s easy to forget that you need to go home at some point.  Make sure you don’t accumulate too much stuff over the course of the year – I’m so guilty of this.
  2. When taking lunches, assemble sandwich material on to a plate so you can build a non-soggy sandwich when you’re ready to eat it.
  3. Take bulk dollar coins before you leave in readiness for weekly washing loads.
  4. Bar fridges are optional and will fit inside your rooms.
  5. Head over to the Quad to eat your lunch on Wednesdays, there’s always something fun going on in common hour.
  6. You don’t need to use your cellular data when within the university – make sure you get your wireless sorted. You can always ask I.T. at the hub to help you out!
  7. Pillow toppers are great to put on your mattress at college if you like a soft bed. They are pretty cheap and make sleep much more comfortable!
  8. A college wide optional game of ‘assassins’ is often played at some point during the year. Feel free to pack extra water bombs in readiness.
  9. Make use of the fruit trees! There are orange, mulberry, white mulberry, mango, lime, apple, pecan and many more fruit trees scattered around the colleges, plus the vegetable garden outside the back of the Steele Rudd kitchens.
  10. Bring posters/photos and blutack to make your room a little home away from home.

All the best for 2015!