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.

social media

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.

skype

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.

having cooked for myself for many years, it’s great to have someone else cook for mePic 4

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!

Extreme camping, for the young and young at heartPic 5

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.

Decorating and personalising your college bedroom

Before moving to college, many students don’t realise that they can personalise their college rooms. When I first moved to college I packed my favourite doona and pictures of my family and friends. These things are still in my room today, along with lots of other things to decorate my room with.

I thought I would share with you some of my tips to transform that standard college bedroom into your own personal space. Although I am a Resident Advisor this year and have more space than other residents, I still know what it is like to have a normal college bedroom.

  1. Decorate your desk and bookshelf

You will be spending a lot of time at your desk, especially towards the end of the semester when assignments are numerous and exams are creeping their head out from around the corner. Make sure your desk is welcoming so that you don’t dread having to sit there. To ensure that I am as productive as possible, I have created a wall of motivation to help keep me on track. I also have my pens and highlighters in close reach and my USQ wall calendar with all important dates nearby. I have never been the type of person who can sit still so I have also replaced my chair with a gym ball, which helps me to exercise while I’m studying. When personalising your desk make sure you leave enough practical space for your books and computer when you are studying.

Making the most of my study space at exam time20150604_22140320150513_154938My study space has always been personalised and practical. Now that I have my ‘wall of motivation’ I find it so much easier to achieve my study goals.  

  1. Personalise and decorate your bed to ensure you get the best sleep possible

 

It is important to get the recommended amount of sleep each night so that you have enough energy to get through your classes and study for the day. Make your bed as comfortable and personal as you can. I have additional pillows and my own doona my bed. Other residents also like to bring mattress toppers to make their beds softer and more comfortable. Cushions are also a good idea as your bed doubles as a couch when your friends come to chat.

 

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  1. Personalise your bathroom

 

Bathrooms are different for everyone. If you’re accommodation type is one in which you share a bathroom with the entire block than you won’t be able to personalise the bathroom. If you have an ensuite room or only share a bathroom with one other person, you will be able to bring some of your own style into it. Personally, I have some artificial flowers and pink towels and bathmats in my bathroom.

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  1. Photos and Posters

 

Don’t be afraid to put posters, pictures and calendars on your walls to make your room feel like home. I have lots of pictures up around my room (Command stick on hooks are a great way to mount photo frames). I also have paper lanterns, posters and other cool memories, such as invitations on my walls.

 

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  1. Additional items

 

Depending on the amount of space in your room, you might like to bring some additional items. You are more than welcome to bring bar fridges, small fans, small TVs and small bookshelves. Just remember that you have to pack everything up at the end of the year and storage space on college is limited. I have quite a few additional items in my room, including a bookshelf, bar fridge, TV and bedside table.

 

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I’ve had lots of fun decorating my room and making it how I want it to be. I hope these tips help you to personalise and decorate your college room.

Decorating my bedroom

While my standard college room was smaller than my RA flat, I still made sure to decorate and personalise it.

 

Ahead of the pack

High school – the place where all the decisions that need to be made regarding your future are supposed to be made and an action plan to follow through on them is created. Everyone’s path to university is different. Mine started when I was in Year 12 of high school and undertook the Head Start program.

Process from school to uni to career

I completed the Head Start Program offered by USQ to high achieving high school students who are motivated to commence their university studies. The program provides guaranteed entry into your USQ program upon completion of a course successfully, credit points towards your degree, points towards your QCE and the first course is free!

Some USQ Student Ambassadors visited my school and shared their experiences on how they came to study at USQ. I liked USQ because it was close to home (four hours), small classes, I was able to study my degree of choicQuotee full-time and on-campus, and USQ is the number one university in Queensland for graduates entering full-time work. I decided that I wanted to attend USQ. One Student Ambassador spoke about her experience with the Head Start program and I realised that it would give me the ultimate advantage. It gave me a glimpse into what the university experience would be like and what would be expected when I would study full-time, minimising the scare-factor of university (a little). I studied a core business course, externally – Accounting for Decision Making. Going that extra mile, compared to fellow peers provided me with the certainty that I wanted to pursue Accounting as a career.

I would recommend to all high school students to look into undertaking the Head Start program. However, there are certain things to consider:

  • School – your school studies needs to come first. Remember, you are still a high-school student and that is your main priority (there will be plenty of time for uni later).
  • Your Life – you might have dancing, band, sports training that should play apart in your decision. Don’t sacrifice everything in the ‘now’ for the ‘future’ – you still need to enjoy your life to the fullest!
  • Ask your parents/guardians – they know you and their opinions do matter
  • Ask your school teachers/career counsellors – they can are able to help you organise your application
  • USQ – USQ is there to support you 100% throughout the course and are there to answer all your queries and provide information.

The Head Start program has been the best thing I have done for my future career and I would do it again, in a heartbeat! It was a wonderful experience, where you have a graduation evening!

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 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

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I felt like China had changed since the last time I was here, with the flood of advertisements for Western products all around me. But, as I manically photographed chubby-cheeked babies held aloft by proud parents ‘walking the babies’ in the subdued winter sunshine I realised China hasn’t changed much. 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!