Outwitting the Thief of Time

Chances are – if your great grandma was Australian – she spent the formative years of education carefully copying out ‘Procrastination is the Thief of Time’ in her best cursive. These days, we have motor cars, computers and YouTube which all threaten to still away our precious time.

Here are some ideas to harness time to your advantage

1. Procrastination be gone!

Watch one of the good, helpful YouTube video on why you procrastinate (the task seems all too big and overwhelming?) and then ask yourself what you can achieve in the next 5 minutes. Then start. Right now. For five minutes.

The key here is to not procrastinate by attacking procrastination head on.

2. ‘You eat an elephant, one bite at a time’

It all adds up. Spend 10 minutes a day summarising the main points you have learnt, for one of your subjects, this week. Chipping away at the Mount Everest in front of you, is not as daunting as breaking out the mental TNT, and it all adds up…

3. ‘Stop Nesting, Start Studying’

This beautiful concept, nestled amongst the pro-tips included in the link below, can be good to remember, if you find yourself unable to start anything until you have all of your coloured highlighters in rainbow order, on your desk. While a tidy, efficient workspace is a great way to lift your mood and cue your mind to focus…there comes a time when fluffing the pillows needs to be tossed aside…

http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-7-dumbest-things-students-do-when-cramming-exams/

4. Live at the Library…

Great for avoiding the urge to redecorate your room, and great for avoiding social gatherings you would rather attend. I use a little suitcase with wheels, to transport loads of library books. Socially awkward, yes…but pretty sure both great-grandma and the average chiropractor, would approve.

Image 1

5. Smell the roses… while you are jogging past…

Image 2

Daily exercise really is an investment in better sleep, reduced stress, and more mental alertness. Aim for 30 minutes. Not a huge part of your day. If you can manage a walk in the morning sunlight, so much the better. Consider a brisk walk around the tranquil Japanese Gardens. Connecting with Nature, and getting your blood circulating is a great way to multi-task.

6. Multi-task and Multi-media

Look for sensible, productive ways to do two things at once. Download lectures and listen on bus trips. Walk on the treadmill while listening to lectures or watching relevant documentaries. Break out the coloured pens and butcher’s paper, and affix the main points to your wall, with stick figure cartoons – for fun *and* study, simultaneously.

7. Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

Having a daily timetable and diary seems really basic…yet, used to maximum advantage, stops that time slip-sliding away, never to return…

8. Real World in Real Time

Challenge the soothing sense of connectedness offered by Facebook, and meet up with your friends in real life – maybe even have Study Gatherings together. If you live at College, make maximum use of Study Hall. Keep each other honest and focused, and motivated. Encourage. Empathise.

Seek out friends and family with Real World features such as cuddly kittens, and build these little purring stress reducers into your busy week.

Image 3 Image 4

9. The Ol’ Cost-Benefit Analysis

Remember why you are at uni. Where do you want to be in 5 years? What will you be able to do (have a great career, afford to buy rather than rent your dream home?) in the years ahead?

Do a quick search of literacy rates globally, and reflect that – even though sometimes it seems never-ending and laborious – education is a privilege. Try to recapture the enjoyment you felt in learning, as a child. Do your best to work hard, in gratitude for your life opportunities.

Image 5

If this doesn’t help…think of all the chocolate you will be able to purchase, when you use your degree to be gainfully employed.

Do you have any never-fail time management and motivation strategies which work for you? Please let me know, below!

All the World’s a Stage: the Pros and Cons of College Life

Living at a Residential College can be a unique and incomparable experience; one you will carry with you for life. As with many aspects of existence, of course, there are pros and cons in the mix.

Location, location- Pro

Living in such a tight-knit community is often brilliant. Giving your all at a Residential Shield Event, clad in College colours. Enjoying a hilarious conversation over dinner. All the conveniences of living actually at the university, having one bill to pay, the internet on, and food ready and waiting for you, without fuss. You don’t even have to clean the toilet!

Finding Your Tribe- Pro

There is almost always someone keen for a chat or happy to share your chocolate. You are surrounded by people who know exactly what it’s like to be a student, in all its challenge and glory. Activities help you locate and befriend the people who resonate with you, and meet new friends from all over the world.

McG RAs

All the World’s a Stage- Both Pro and Con

People talk. This is great when you know half the smiling students on USQ advertisements. There’s no place like home!

Living in a fishbowl can also be initially somewhat daunting, particularly if you are a private or shy person. Having survived high school though, odds are you will adapt to College living A-OK. The intensity of community life is a blessing, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Seeing happy couples when you are single or seeing the person your own promising love story didn’t work out with every day can become too much.

The wise resident knows when to escape college, or at least find a quiet corner in the library or gardens, for a few hours to reset perspective and press the social ‘refresh’ button. Your RAs are bound by expectations of confidentiality, and your College Community Advisor, Mel, is a great ally if you ever just need to get something personal or vexing off your chest, knowing it won’t be going any further.

Missing your furry friends- Con

One of the most obvious down sides to Res College life is the absence of fluffy pets. Manically sharing cute kitten videos can only do so much to alleviate times of intense longing for those little furry friends so many of us love. Mobbing the cute quacky ducks and adorable lambs at USQ petting zoo events is a common side effect of Res College life.

The late night noise- Con

Student life is traditionally alive with late-night assignment binges, and occasional night club frivolities and merriment oft-enhanced by a quiet ale or three. If you like to go to bed early, you are a light sleeper, or you are not always a fan of sharing an enthusiastic neighbour’s choice of music, you may wish to invest in some earplugs, so you can sleep like a baby. That is, the baby which isn’t crying and waving its fists in frustration.

 I don’t feel like chicken tonight…- Con

Living in Catered splendor has its challenges: launching out of bed in time for breakfast, late night snack attacks when dinner finished at 7pm. You may not always be in the mood for the evening’s menu, until you see the diabolically delicious dessert… There is a self-catered option for those who prefer to cook their own food.

 Lifelong friends and memories- Pro

Every cloud has a silver lining, but living in a lively, supportive, buzzing Residential College Community, with people who will become lifelong friends truly is pure gold.

mcG girls

 

 

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’.

community and sunshine

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.

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!

Pic 2 Pic 3

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
Pic 6

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!

Pic 7

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.

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

beihaibei 1034

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!

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.

image1image2

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.

image3image4

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…”