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.

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.

not-sure-if-i-should-sleep-futurama-fry

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.

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!

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 🙂

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.

 

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

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

25 more letters

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

success doens't just happen it is planned for

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

be so good they can't ignore you

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

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

proofreading quote

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

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

ask friends to proof read

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job interviews quote

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

keep calm and ace your interview

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

Go after what you want quote