And with that, I’m officially done!

Every year the Residential Colleges host a Valedictory Dinner for graduating residents and their families. On Saturday the 24th of October, it was my turn to attend the dinner as a soon-to-be USQ graduate- Yes, the perfect excuse to buy a new dress! At the dinner I had the privilege of delivering the speech on behalf of the Steele Rudd graduates, and while I did get nervous, I got through it and managed to get a few laughs from the audience. #winning #success

New dress- ready for the valedictory dinner

I love an excuse to buy a new dress

Making the Speech

Despite the nerves, I made it through my speech

At the dinner we all shared memories, received advice for the future and were thanked for our contributions to the Residential Colleges community. We laughed and danced late in to the night, continuing to make memories and forge friendships at our final college event before moving into the ‘big wide world’.

Celebrating the evening with friends

Celebrating the evening with friends

I first moved to Steele Rudd College in February 2011 as a very shy and innocent 17 year old who had never been away from home for more than 10 days at a time. Looking back, I can remember I was extremely uncertain about what the next few years of my life would hold. I remember thinking things like, ‘What if I don’t make friends?’, ‘What if I don’t fit in?’, ‘What if I get homesick?’, ‘What if I fail?’ and ‘What if I don’t like what I am studying?’ It took me a little while to settle in, but I discovered that lots of ‘freshers’ felt exactly the same as me.

It didn’t take long for me to make friends in fact, the friends I made in my first few days at college are still my friends today. I discovered everyone is welcome and no one is left out, everyone fits it. I learnt it’s perfectly natural to get homesick and that it’s not something to be ashamed of. My friends stuck by me and helped me through when I was feeling really homesick. I made trips home to visit my family and friends whenever I could. I even spoke with my family on the phone every night, and still do.

First Year

Friends in my first year (2011). Myself, Sophie, Dimity, Cassie and Ash

Now

This year (2015) Ash, Myself, Sophie and Cassie at Dimity’s wedding.

‘What if I fail?’ While I’ve never failed a course, I did fail an exam in my first semester. While I was disappointed I’d failed the exam, I chose to learn from the experience. The next semester I was more dedicated to my study and started preparing for my exams much earlier. I’ve always told myself that I would only truly fail if I gave up, and I never ever give up.

In high school, two of my best subjects were business and legal studies, which is why I decided to study a double degree in business and law at uni. At the end of my first year I realised law wasn’t for me. I contacted my Student Relationship Officer (SRO) who helped me change from the double degree into a single business degree and apply for credits for the courses I had already completed.

I often hear people say high school is the best time of their life, but for me uni and living on college have been the best experiences of my life! The friendships I’ve forged and the memories I’ve made will stick with me forever.

Friends and memories collage

The friendships I’ve forged and the memories I’ve made will stick with me forever

Five years since I was first handed my key, I have grown as a person and have learnt heaps, and I don’t just mean academically. I’ve learnt how to be a good person, how to budget, how to manage my time and how to overcome the challenges life throws at me.

With the click of a button and nine minutes and 34 seconds to spare, I submitted my last assessment piece for my Master’s on Friday the 30th of October, I was officially done! 🙂

Last assignmnent finised

The last assessment piece of my degree submitted.

If you’ve never studied, are only just starting to study, are half way through, or have completed your studies, never give up! Embrace the opportunities life throws at you because, as Mark Twain once said:

Explore. Dream. Discover. Quote

For those of you who are still studying, good luck with your remaining assessments and courses. To all of you who are now finished your degrees, I wish you all the very best of luck for whatever your future holds, I hope all of your dreams come true.

2015: A College Odyssey

This past year has certainly been an adventure, full of changes, exciting moments and late nights of study. I would like to dedicate this blog to this past year and all the amazing people who I have shared it with.

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This year at Concannon we used O-Week to conquer (pun intended) all the parties, all the activities, and most importantly meet everyone. My personal highlights of 2015 O-Week include; Steele Rudd’s Rodeo, Concannon’s Beach party and the Concannon Wedding, always a highlight. Special mention to all the incredible Concannon freshers who spent O-Week looking fly in their sun safe hats.

 

Semi-Formal:

Concannon’s 30th Birthday party, was an amazing time, costumes that all started with ‘C’, and birthday cake, what more could I have asked for? Also the amazing semi-formals that Steele Rudd (Famous People) and McGregor (Superheroes and Villains) hosted, I was lucky enough to be able to wear the same costume to all the semi-formals, the best way to justify the purchase of an expensive costume.

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Concannon Parties:

Who doesn’t love a themed party? Life is too short to spend your time with people who don’t like dressing up for a themed party. Some of Concannon’s themed parties from this year included; St. Patricks Day party, Hero Day (to celebrate our graduates) and Golf Day (since we are such incredible athletes).

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Formal, what would a year on college be without formal? Concannon’s Casino night
involved a little panic (setting up) and a lot of fun. And in classic Concannon fashion we made sure there was lots of laughing, lots of dancing and excellent food. Thank you to the RSC for organising the formal and getting everything done, to the Block representatives for all their support and to all the residents who attended and made sure it was an incredible night.

 

To all the college residents of 2015, thank you for making 2015 an amazing year, and of course, make 2016 an amazing year as well.  Have an incredible rest of the year and best of luck to everyone during these final weeks of university and during exam block!

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The formalities of McGregor College

It’s the day! You have the perfect dress. You know exactly how you are going to have your hair. You know exactly when you are doing everything. You are ready for one of the best nights of your life! Being a college resident gives you the best opportunities to spend time with your friends, especially at the semi-formal and formal. But, it’s not what you think.

During the first semester we enjoy the semi-formal. This year the theme for our semi-formal was Superheros and Villains. The costumes ranged from witches to avengers and from ninja turtles to Steve Irwin – it was quite the sight to see. Throughout the night, a number of proceedings took place ranging from residents getting silly awards to the photo booth being used. Not only do you have photographic evidence of what exactly happened that night but you get the best three-course meal you will ever have in your time at college. Not only do you create some of the best memories, you get to do it with all your friends.

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I bet you are thinking that formal is exactly like your school formal; that you have to be dolled up to the nines and have to wear your ball gowns. It is nothing like your school formal – it is much more relaxed. Yes, you have to wear a formal dress but it can be any type of formal dress. Men, however, you will be required to have your yearly shower around this date because you have to at least smell nice. Both last year, the year before and again this year, I have worn the same formal dress – started at Year 12 and now we are here. Moral of the story – wear what you have. Again, you get one of the best meals of your college experience – chicken or steak, anyone? Not only do you get to dress up and sit at a table with all your friends, it is the chance to honour those who are graduating, welcome the new RSC and congratulate outstanding residents. It is honestly one of the most fun nights, I have experienced and was better than my school formal.

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So, you are thinking about coming to college? DO IT! You get to experience so many events throughout the year, semi-formal and formal included, that allow you to enjoy time with friends and enjoy a great night organised by fantastic people. Hopefully, I will see you at the next ones.

The highs and lows of being a Resident Advisor

This year I am a Resident Advisor (RA) at Steele Rudd College, one of the three Residential Colleges at USQ’s Toowoomba Campus and have often been asked what it is like to be an RA. An RA is a resident and student who is trained to help other residents with academic, social and welfare issues they may be having while living on college. There is always an RA ‘on duty’ outside of business hours at each of the three colleges who assists residents with things such as lock-outs, safety or security and maintenance issues, first aid and the hiring of vacuum cleaners. Being an RA is both a rewarding and challenging experience.

2015 USQ Resident Advisors celebrating the end of training

2015 USQ Resident Advisors celebrating the end of training with cupcakes

For me, being an RA is rewarding because I get to help people, something I have always enjoyed doing. I have seen first year students grow from being shy and unsure in the college environment, to being an essential vibrant member of the college community. I get to smile with and celebrate the big and small achievements of college residents as they move through their university journey. And it always brings a smile to my face (and makes me feel like a bit of a superhero) when a resident comes up to me with a simple ‘thank you for your support’ or ‘thank you for being there for me when no one else was’.

RARecruitmentApplicationSuperhero

As an RA I even get to plan events for the residents of my block to help foster friendships and create some fun and stress relief in to the chaos that is uni. #winning! I love organising events! Movie nights and block BBQs are always popular events (who doesn’t love free food?)!

Being an RA can also be challenging. Sometimes, other residents think of me as the ‘fun police’ for asking them to turn the music down during quiet hours when other residents are trying to study or sleep. And occasionally my friends shake their heads at me for asking ‘are you sure that is a good idea?’ when they talk about their plans to prank another friend.

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Some nights the phone rings for a lock-out or noise complaint at 3am when I have been up until 1am trying to complete assessment I know I shouldn’t have left to the last minute. And very rarely, it feels like I don’t get any sleep at all.

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Occasionally I will be helping residents through stressful times at uni while also stressing out myself. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Being an RA has been one of the best experiences of my life. The skills I have learnt along the way outweigh the occasional night of sleep deprivation by a mile. I have had the opportunity to make friends with people I never thought I would make friends with. Seeing residents overcome the hurdles they face and succeeding on their path to fulfilling their dreams is possibly the best thing I have ever witnessed.

If you have ever thought about applying to be an RA, my advice would be to go for it. There’s no real way you can know what it is like to be an RA until you actually are one, but I’ve never regretted my decision to apply.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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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.