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.

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Tip 4: Write letters and postcards

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

Tip 5: Make the time to visit

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

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

Holiday Management

The year’s over, the res colleges contract has ended, and aside from a Christmas and New Year’s Eve party your calendar begins to look upsettingly empty. Three and a half months of holiday, and nary an idea to fill the time. The early days are spent playing Skyrim and marathoning Scrubs, but after the novelties of shouting at dragons and the shenanigans of ‘The Janitor’ dwindle, you are left with days that seem to be getting exponentially longer as the holidays go by.

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Thus begin the dark times, you realize it’s been weeks since you last ventured beyond the safety of your front yard, your parents have become frustrated with your apparent inability to accomplish anything with your holiday time. Perhaps you tried to get a job, join the gym, do prepatory study for next year, perhaps it worked, or perhaps it was such a dark, distant and unsuccessful process that you’ve blocked it from your mind forever. Regardless of the intricacies of your holiday so far, you’ve begun to experience a yearning, an overwhelming desire to return to the warmth and comparative comfort of college life, where doing things isn’t so hard, and you can feel a sense of accomplishment just by making it to breakfast on a weekday, but I digress.
My experiences of the holidays have gone a little something like the above, and I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the ways that I choose to deal with the separation anxiety and notable lack of structure that holidays bring.
First of all, I think that the holidays are an amazing time to reconnect with family, and your friends from home. It may sound obvious, but when everyone from college is now hours away, spending time with the people who are right there is the clear better idea. For me this involves family Christmas parties, finally being able to attend small family gatherings, watching movies with friends, and things tend to settle back into their old routine. Regardless, at times, an overwhelming sadness comes over my very being, as I remember that, while I am spending time with my friends from home, my friends from college are not being graced with my company. The highlights of my holidays have been the times that I get to reconnect with my college life, through the people and places. There’s something about meeting up with a couple of college mates in a college room and just having a chat that is an extraordinary experience.

As far as maintaining my sanity, time spent with college friends was highly valued, and often the most looked forward to times of my holidays. Road trips, parties and hangouts were some of the highlights of my social calendars.

Between Skyrim, Scrubs, Christmas and College Friends, it’s pretty easy to fill the weeks with completely non-useful activities. Good Luck!

My experience at McGregor Summer School

USQ McGregor Summer School has just recently concluded (8 – 18 January 2014) and for those who consider themselves an ‘arty’, creative or musical and have never previously attended, I would highly recommend getting involved in the future 2014 McGregor Schools – Winter and Spring respectively.

Even though I was unable to attend 2014 Summer School.  As a 2012/2013 Residential College’s student, I was fortunate enough to receive the Residential Colleges/McGregor Summer School Scholarship last year and attended the 2013 McGregor Summer School and completed the workshop ‘Manga Magic’.

So what happens?! 

It’s a ten day intensive learning experience within the areas of Performing, Visual or Creative Arts and Manga Magic (corny name, but the class was pretty cool!) was an introductory course to drawing Japanese comic drawing – Manga Graphic Novel

Our teacher was David Lovegrove a professional artist, author, designer, speaker and has a passion (and talent!) for drawing and creating Japanese Manga (comics).  David’s additional interests also include Anime, Japanese language, culture and film – from this, I knew we’d instantly click!

Over the ten days we covered an extensive amount of artistic territory which included:

• Drawing expression using a composed of movement with the eyebrows, eye and mouth
• Introduction in drawing perspective in a manner that allowed the drawer to tilt objects without causing them to distorted or incorrect
•Finally, a lesson in drawing the human body – firstly, by using geometric shapes to act as a guide when drawing the human body curves and then progressing to gaining drawing  inspiration from live art models!

Anyway, I couldn’t speak more highly of David Lovegrove.  For those who have a passion for comic art and Manga, please check out his website, in particular, the art galleries for some amazing stuff.

 http://davidlovegrove.com/

So my intensive fortnight workshop lead to my first ever Manga story creation which is displayed below.  It’s called ‘Fire & Ice’ and the story is about two brothers who are seeking to reunite with their father (reason is unknown).  One brother uses a honourable approach by using the police whereas the other sibling uses quite the opposite approach and is quite aggressive by using underground methods and connections to find out information relating to his father’s location.

Anyways, enjoy!

‘Fire & Ice’

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Second Semester Studies

Hey again everyone,

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays, even though they are over now and exams aren’t just around the corner – they are right next door to us. It wasn’t really that much of a holiday for me, as I took it as a chance to take up extra hours at work. So, I had been working every day of the holidays, what a way to make a living! (You can call me Dolly Parton). Apart from working and study, I also celebrated my 20th Birthday.

I still have mixed feelings about turning 20. On one hand, I am less than a year away from my 21st, which I am excited about. However, on the other, I am no longer a teenager, which frightens the living daylights out of me. My mum said to me on my birthday, “Nicky, with great age comes great responsibility” EEEEEEKKKK *Red alert!*. I chose to ignore her.

On a lighter note, the Gatsby Gala was a success. After many hours and hours of hard work from the executive and charity committee, we managed to put on a great evening which was well enjoyed by all who attended. With many attractions such as Casino Tables, Live Band and Dancing, as well as a charity auction on the night..However, it is safe to say the highlight for many was the photobooth. Here are some photos from some of the awesome people who attended.

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We also raised $5000 for the Pajama Foundation and the AEIOU Foundation, which makes all of the hard work and stress worth it. If you would like more information on these charities and what they do, you can simply google them.

As well as charity ball, all of residential colleges also celebrated the ending of the Residential Shield. One of the best things about college, Res Shield brings the colleges together throughout the year, with their eyes on the prize. Unfortunately for me and the rest of Concannon, McGregor came out on top and took the shield this year for the second year in a row. Steele Rudd won the College Spirit Cup, which was well deserved.
Anyway, I better get back to my studying. Thanks again for reading, I will talk to you once exams are over.

The Dark Knight At McGregor

“What did you do on your holidays?”

This is the standard week 1 conversation starter. Well, I answer, what else do you do with your time when college has been over-run by middle school age rugby players and all the other Resident Advisors (RA) have left on ski trip?

Make a batman video, obviously.

Don’t question me.

Holidays, where are you?

This is it. This is the last holidays I have to relax before I enter into my final year of uni – officially received my results and passed everything. YAY! While I love living on College, it feels so good to come home and not have to worry about uni work or being woken at 3am when someone comes home from the club. There are some days though where I don’t feel as though I’m on holidays. With work, my little brother graduating grade 12, trying to keep my boyfriend occupied and Christmas just around the corner, these holidays feel jam-packed– and it’s only just beginning!

My Parents, Alex, and his lovely grad partner, Kathrine, ready for graduation!

The day after I arrived in Townsville I began work as a Christmas Casual in Townsville’s newly renovated shopping centre; which seems to steal all my money. I traded in my study brain for a… working one? With the shopping centre already so packed a month away from Christmas, I have decided I should attempt to start my Christmas shopping early.Hopefully I can avoid the pre-Christmas freak-out and the dreaded car-park hunt.

With my parents living it up in New Zealand, I have been elected the official Christmas interior decorator while they’re away and I take this role very seriously. I love Christmas. I think my family is feeling the festive season early this year with Mum making an army of Christmas Snowmen and my brother’s also getting a jump on Christmas presents. It’s great to have everyone together to celebrate over a lunch filled with seafood and tropical fruits. I love receiving presents, and more importantly (cough cough) giving presents. I think there’s something about Christmas that brings peace of mind after several months of going crazy trying to find the perfect present.

Christmas shopping is going well and Mum’s little army of Snowmen gather around the Concannon Snowman, ready for a busy month ahead

So in-between helping my little brother organise himself for his graduation, working, Christmas shopping, watching the cricket and occasionally having a quiet day on my days off work,  I ventured out and went to watch a Crocs game. Unfortunately, this became their TENTH loss this season… out of 10 games! Being so busy, I have slowly gotten around to catching up with friends. With some friends still finishing exams and others working, it’s sometimes hard to find a time that suits everyone. Thankfully I’m home for three months.

When will the Crocs get their first win?!

Overall, being at home is a time to relax. It’s important to take time out to recharge before tackling the study workload again. Family are the most important thing and I think now that I live so far away that’s become more evident. It’s important to spend as much time as you can together because you never know when they’ll ditch you for New Zealand.

Experiencing Flooding and Science

“Get up Stephanie!  The flood waters are at the back stairs!”

Projected my mother at volume.  As always, I returned from the Science Experience exhausted.   After only a day back at home to catch up on sleep, the unexpected smacks me in the face.  With a raincoat.  I’ll get back to my flood experience soon: “The Science Experience” is an 8 day Science Camp I attend annually in Brisbane.  Myself and roughly about 80 others staff the camp for years 10 and 11 students across many Brisbane University Campuses.  I was going to have a busy time at camp, and when I got home there would be no rest for the wicked.

Getting involved in extracurricular activities such as “The Science Experience” is invaluable in so many ways for learning about the industry, making contacts and having a ridiculously good time all round.  For other science students who might be interested, I’ll give you a brief run-down.  The first five days of the camp is comprised of staff training, like crowd control mechanisms, first aid, CPR, dealing with unruly teens and many techniques that would be old hat to readers studying education.    There is also a heavy social emphasis in this time with activities such as ‘The Amazing Race’, the Relay Quiz, dinners out, Wet N’ Wild trip, Movie night, Ice Skating and much more.  We also bond through our close quarters sleeping on the floor at a local school hall and through constant games and shenanigans.  Things get serious in the last four days, and we split off to our separate universities.  Before the camp begins, you can elect to staff Griffith University Nathan Campus, University of Queensland or Queensland University of Technology.  This year I staffed at the hilly Griffith campus and looked after a group of about ten students.  On the final three days, these students are shuffled in between workshops, lectures and excursions and kept entertained by the same games which entertained us.  It’s a great program for the staff and students, and if you are interested in staffing the camp in 2014, feel free to hit me up with any questions you many have.  Keep in mind that the camp is not just for people who study science.  There are many others from all walks of life who join in the fun, e.g. Arts and Law studies.  The only prerequisite is being younger than 26.  More importantly, however, if you know any years 9 or 10 students in the local Toowoomba area who are nurturing a passion for science, they can attend the USQ Science Experience on the 25-27th of September.  It is an engaging program with a wide variety of hands on Science activities and is great for answering any questions they may have about tertiary study in the sciences.   If you have questions about the program or would like to put forward any names, the lovely Debbie and Erin White are the ladies you need to speak to.   They are contactable at sciences.engage@usq.edu.au.

The rain begins on my way back from camp, and the day after I get home, before I know it, the floods have arrived.

“Get up Stephanie!  The flood waters are at the back stairs!”

Projected my mother at volume.  I open my eyes to see her dripping wet, sporting a raincoat that could probably be used as a tent.  It was 5am, and mum only uses my full name in situations where extreme emphasis was necessary.  My sleepy brain interpreted the rest of the shout, in haste, as something like

“The flood waters have the drop bears!” 

So I got out of bed awaiting the promise of something awesome to justify the early hour.  What I found, however, was the back veranda with a view of a sea of water stretching away into the horizon.  It was like waterfront living, except compulsory.  To get an idea of the magnitude of the flooding, the water had to cross 300-400 acres of grazing land at a depth of 15 metres overnight to land at our back fence.  And the water was still rising.

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With us cut off from the rest of the town and no power, phone service or internet, the water ended up rising about half a metre underneath the house and thirty centimetres into the shed.

Car Island

Lucky for us, no water came into the house so we fared quite well compared to many others across the state.  However, the neighbour’s German Shepard ran into a bit of trouble.  He was stuck in deep water past our back fence, entangled in a network of vines.  Mother and I went into Wildlife Warrior mode and managed to safely extract the animal without incident.

cut offCars on Ramps

When I finally regained internet access, I found out that USQ offers a fantastic range of flood and bushfire support.  Semester three exams can be deferred for those cut off by flood waters.  Those who are yet to accept University offers can rest assured that allowances can be made for those finding it difficult to submit their application due to the weather.  As always, the university offers free counselling services and study support if you need it.  Take advantage of these services if you need them, and I’ll leave you with a quote from our prime minister when speaking about the floods.  It’s optional to read this in a voice obscured by a scuba diving mask. 

“There are still more dark days ahead … but the spirit of Queensland is to face these circumstances with courage and determination.” – Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Checking out for Christmas

“If there were a prize for the most depressing day of the college year, I would award it to check out day in November.”

Check in day, on the other hand, is the opposite; exciting day full of promise!

You see all the friends you left behind four months ago, hear the holiday stories, and scrutinise the years ‘freshers’ (first year students) with a fine tooth-comb, to determine who might be living with you for the year. The best part is the ‘Little Head Voice’ (or LHV) is saying “Oh Goodie, this year is going to be great!” The LHV doesn’t even consider going home.

Then, as life inevitably does, it gets busy. Thus leaving the LHV to scream at you in moments of respite “Why on earth didn’t you start that assignment earlier! Its due in two hours; get cracking!”

Before you know what hit you, its time for mid-semester break. When the LHV calms down and starts nattering on about all the fun things to do. Then, the process is rinsed and repeated and with hardly more than a shocked look, the year is over. Bringing us once again, with dragging feet, to the Christmas holidays, and check out day.

Check Out Day 

Ah..that day, when many people who you’ve come to love and admire insist on graduating, and leave your life to enjoy and fulfill their own.

With them, they take the wonderful memories of years happily spent in the presence of like-minded people, leaving you to stare at the photos and reminisce while watching old block videos. At this point, the LHV quietly reminds you that one day, it will be your turn and you will then have to leave the safety of College to enter the big wide world and make it a better place for having been in it.

But as all mourning periods eventually do, it ends… allowing you to enjoy the four long (maybe too long) months of holiday between semesters, and look forward to seeing some of your friends again soon.

Many people work over the break, I certainly do.

The aforementioned sinking feeling of the approaching holidays. is matched almost perfectly by the sinking levels of my bank account.

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Whilst the country burns in this super heat wave, I while away my time in the cool hideaway of a travel health clinic – playing vampire in a way that even Bram Stoker would be proud of, and giving advice to people spending their Christmas visiting remote and far more exciting places than Brisbane.  Just today, my customers (girls my own age) were finalising their travel to Egypt, South Africa, England, Scotland and the Greek Isles for three months with friends…jobs can be depressing!

Choose what you will for the remainder of the summer break..

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..hoping it will end soon..

and bring the exciting promise of another exciting year on College!