Give back, and that’s that

Pic 1You are given two lemons, but are asked to make orange juice – how does that even work? A Good Samaritan gives you two oranges instead. Numerous things in a person’s life influence who they are and what they will become. Everyone has different things going on that affect them, just as much as the next person and just like the Good Samaritan, there are always people there willing to give you a lending hand. The Samaritan volunteered the two oranges so the orange juice could be made. So many things happen in life and for me, I have found that volunteering is the best way I can give back.

This year I had the honour of being elected the President of the USQ Charity Committee. The USQ Charity Committee originally started out as a group of students from USQ Residential Colleges who worked together to raise funds for charities through facilitating events for students. Just last year, the group was opened up to all USQ students to take part in when it became a USQ Club. The response to the endeavours of the club have been amazing.

Annually, the USQ Charity Committee holds a Gala Event, the biggest fundraiser of the year, for a chosen charity – this year, it was the Pancare Foundation. The Pancare Foundation raises much needed funds for those suffering from pancreatic, liver, biliary, oesophageal and stomach cancers. This organisation was agreed upon by all members of the committee and we all worked together to make the best event possible, to get the best results for the charity.

This year’s theme to raise money for the Pancare Foundation was White Party. All guests were required to wear white (but we didn’t turn away anyone that didn’t) and participate in different events throughout the night. Our biggest fundraiser of the evening was the auction. Numerous items were auctioned, from paintings to gift packs, all with a favourable response by guests. Along with the auction, we had coin tosses and the most popular event of the evening was the toilet paper competition. Guests were required to form groups and appoint one person to be the model; the group then proceeded to decorate the model in toilet paper and the best dressed model won a prize. There were lots of laughs and it was an enjoyable night for all.

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I have been a member of the USQ Charity Committee since I started at USQ and it has been one of my most rewarding experiences. Not only am I able to meet people and attend and participate in great events, I am able to give back to charities and people by raising much needed funds. Volunteering helps gain professional experience, brings people together and allows for personal growth and self-esteem. It is a truly rewarding experience and I recommend, if you aren’t already, to join an organisation you are passionate about – something close to your heart – and volunteer. It is your chance to give back. It is your chance to make a difference.

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.

When InSaNity takes over

As Hannah Montana once sang, “Everybody has those days … Everybody knows what I’m talking about … Everybody gets that way.” You’re on point Hannah, especially when it comes to uni!Pic 1

We all have those days where we just want to crawl up into foetal position in the corner of the room and rock back and forth. No? If you don’t, you seriously need to share with me how you keep a uni/work/life balance. I, for one, admit that I am a stress head – I stress about the smallest things to the biggest things and it all takes its toll, often at the worst times. It has taken me years to finally realise how to unwind and have some ‘me’ time, to minimise the effects that uni and study have.

It’s good to have stress in your life, it’s inevitable and sometimes a useful motivator. Some stresses can assist you in studying and some stresses can prevent you from studying. Imagine you are swimming in the ocean with waves. Assistive stressors are at the point where you are comfortable swimming, you are able to tread water and float over waves. Preventative stressors feel like you have gone too far into the water and a wave is crashing down on you and you are struggling for air. Hint: you don’t want to reach this point.

Here are some of the tips I use when I can see that wave of stress coming and don’t want it to come crashing down on me.

  • EXERCISE: I’m the type of person that doesn’t run unless they are being chased by a serial killer or see a snake. I personally despise exercise but incorporate it into my daily life (well, try too anyway). I find that when I am stressed, if I go to the gym for an hour I feel rejuvenated and ready to get back into study.
  • CALL MY FAMILY or FRIENDS: My mum is my go to person and I call her pretty much every night (I know, a mummy’s girl). She listens to my worries and gives me advice on how to deal with them. If she’s at work or I need a hug in-person, I go to the friends I feel comfortable with who are always willing to help me out (need those people in your life).

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  • DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY: Sport, painting, crafts or binge watching your favourite or new addictive TV Show. Everyone is different and enjoys different things. I personally like crawling into bed and watching my favourite TV Show (Friends or Grey’s Anatomy) for an hour or five.

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  • GO HOME: Living away from home takes its toll and sometimes all I want to do is be at home in my own bed surrounded by my family. Plan to go home to see your family and friends – it will be exactly what you need (because who doesn’t love a good home cooked meal).

Pic 6To minimise the effects of stress be organised and create a weekly planner of exactly what you need to have done and when you need to have it done by (INCREDIBLY HELPFUL WHEN ASSESSMENT IS DUE). By finding what relaxes you and how to handle and minimise stress, you will live a happy and healthy life!

Remember: Stressed spelt backwards is desserts – eat a bunch of desserts!

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’.

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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.

Bush to City- the transition of a lifetime

Roma – 45°C heat, oil and gas industry, schools, churches, Darren Lockyer, largest saleyards in Australia

Toowoomba – 39°C heat, The Garden City, Empire Theatre, Carnival of Flowers, University of Southern Queensland

I grew up in Roma, a rural town 350 kilometres west of Toowoomba with my family. At the end of Year 12, I made the decision to move away to study at university. I was moving away from a town that only just recently got its first roundabout and set of traffic lights, away from the place where I was born and all my family and friends were. It is a big change that has taken a lot of getting used to. I was leaving my comfort zone and moving into the big world to achieve my goals.Inaug Group Photo

So, I had decided to move but didn’t know where I was going to go – share house, Student Village or USQ Residential Colleges. I didn’t know anyone in Toowoomba so I didn’t want to move into a house with a group of people that I had no relationship with – that just didn’t seem like it would work for me. I did some research – prices, facilities, how close it was to the university, if there would be a chance to meet new people, were there sports and events I was able to go to and many more. USQ Residential Colleges checked the boxes for all my criteria and that is how I ended up here!

USQ Residential Colleges are just across the road from the university, I got to have my own bathroom or the option of sharing one, it works out to be cheaper to stay there than renting a house, it provides an option to socialise and meet new people through different events. By attending USQ Residential Colleges I have made lifelong friendships and experienced so many things that have made me the person I am today.

So, if you need to move away from your home to achieve your aspirations, here are some tips!

  • Give it time – everything takes time. Don’t expect everything to happen in the first week
  • Plan ahead – assess every option, make a “pro-con” list to choose the right option for you
  • Meet people at O-Week – attend O-Week! Attend every activity! You will meet people who will become your new ‘family’.
  • Keep in touch with old friends – you have a phone, use it! It’s not as if you will never see each other again, it just won’t be every day at school like you were used to.
  • Talk to someone – talk to a friend, family member, counsellor, RA or someone you trust and are willing to confide in.
  • Attend everything (even breakfast) – Every sport, every event, every meeting, every opportunity. Attend them, even if your friends don’t want to! By attending you will meet new people.
  • Visit each College – pick the one that is right for you. Don’t just go off the pictures, actually go and see the one that you think will suit you.

Semi Group PhotoThere will be times when you feel like it’s the end of the world and being away from home will make it even tougher. Everything happens with your family that you don’t see. You may feel like you don’t fit in and just want to go back to your comfort zone, back home. You may feel like you just want to curl up in a ball and cry and have your mum or dad give you a hug. You may feel like it’s the end of the world. MASSIVE TIP – don’t quit! You are adjusting and getting used to the new place. If you quit and try and come back at another time, it will be harder – stick it out and you will be rewarded.

If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. College isn’t the place for everyone, but it can be if you let it!

Do I need everything except the kitchen sink or will I need that too?

Packing to move to Residential Colleges can be a very daunting experience. The stress of moving away from your family and friends, possibly for the first time is often compounded by the stress of remembering everything that you need to pack.

When I was packing for my first year, I was worried that I wasn’t pack the right things and that I would leave important things behind. Now, there is no reason for you to have the same worries.

This piece below is a great way to remember what you need to pack and help take some of the stress out of moving, I wish I had this information in my first year.

http://social.usq.edu.au/uni-lifestyle/2015/07/pack-res-college

Let me know if this piece has been helpful for you in the comments below!

Happy packing!

Kim 🙂

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.

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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.

Ahead of the pack

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

Process from school to uni to career

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

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

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

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

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

My Study Abroad experience- six weeks in China

It transpires that Kublai Khan, grandson of infamous Genghis Khan, established Beijing as the ‘Northern Capital’. Beijing, with its ‘amazingly mild winter this year!’ in which temperatures hovered around minus 5, and desert-like dryness such that it snowed slightly twice in the six weeks I was there remains China’s capital city. The supreme hardiness of the local people does, for me, hark back to ancient times when the world lacked thermal long-johns and central heating.

This reads 'Beijing' (literally 'Northern Capital')

This reads ‘Beijing’ (literally ‘Northern Capital’)

From mid-December ’14 to late January this year, I had an amazing time studying at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). I learnt Mandarin from 8am to noon each day for five weeks, at the Intensive Winter Language Course.

In class at the BLCU

In class at the BLCU

With dawn just breaking each morning, I pulled on layers of clothing, including facemask and set off for the massive three floor dining hall to start the day with a takeaway steamed bun breakfast, and a warming cup of freshly blended mung beans. The food was amazing.

In the Dining Hall and some of the amazing food I ate while I was in China177 183 280

I had the luxury of my own room in the hotel on campus, which even included a TV. I tuned this constantly to the beautiful (if tragic) Imperial soaps; listening to Mandarin, even while glued to my desk, writing out reams and reams of new characters daily.

My class comprised mostly of lovely, friendly, sweet young South Koreans. I readily embraced the Asian tendency to ‘yi qi qu’ – let’s go together –enjoying many lunches and outings with classmates. We tackled the breathtakingly (literally) steep Great Wall and wandered for hours through the confronting Art Precinct. The Temple of Heaven – at a crisp minus 7, when the rash on my legs hinted I’d forgotten to don thermals beneath jeans – was another cultural highlight of my stay.

Ice skating with my friends

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I felt like China had changed since the last time I was here, with the flood of advertisements for Western products all around me. But, as I manically photographed chubby-cheeked babies held aloft by proud parents ‘walking the babies’ in the subdued winter sunshine I realised China hasn’t changed much. The fleets of cleaners on the university grounds, expertly cycling ‘bike utes’ complete with brooms fashioned from tree branches. The shock to my friendly, country Australian system, of the famous Northern ‘lihai’ – formidable – public persona was that small talk was non-existent, along with eye contact which might have been interpreted as customer service.

You discover the humanity-affirming warmth and hospitality of Chinese people when you have established a relationship with them. I travelled to Tianjin on the high-speed train and met the family of my Chinese friend still studying back at USQ. As I hugged her beautiful, welcoming mum, I gave thanks for the priceless personal opportunity which Study Abroad had given me.

I was thrilled to be navigating the Beijing Subway on my own, attending 4 hours of lessons each day (taught in Chinese) and enjoying meals with classmates who didn’t speak any English at all.

Eating in a Café with my friend Yuri Chan

Eating in a Café with my friend Yuri Chan

I talked to students from North Korea, Djibouti, Benin and Kazakhstan. I coped with SWAT squads, sniffer dogs, an incredibly thorough airport pat-down…AND managed to not miss my flight from South Korea to Brisbane, despite chancing upon a Hello Kitty Café moments before boarding.

If you ever, ever get the chance to be a uni student overseas, my advice is, of course you should – surprise yourself! With the backing and assistance of USQ behind you, enrich your life by seeing how other people live! View your home through new eyes upon your return! It is an opportunity you simply cannot miss. Apply today. As the Chinese proverb reminds us “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!

McGregor and more . . .

Prior to moving to Toowoomba, it always seemed to be the place I travelled to go shopping or to eat out. Since moving here at the start of last year, I have become a regular at the USQ Residential College, McGregor. My home away from home. Unlike many other Year 12’s who find themselves lost and indecisive when wondering where to go in the future I made my choice at the end of Year 11. I decided that I was going to complete the Head Start program, which would grant me access to USQ and thought that on-campus living would be the best place for me.

If you struggle to get out of your comfort zone, suffer from severe homesickness or find it difficult to meet new people – USQ Residential Colleges maybe the place for you. When I first moved to McGregor I was in a totally different environment than I was used too – it was like not knowing which exit to take on the motorway. I was nervous and quiet, which was the polar opposite from my usual. It wasn’t until I started participating in College events that I actually started to resemble my old self. O’Week was definitely one of the best weeks of my life. We had Rudd’s Rodeo (with legit a bucking bull), Amazing Race, Market Day (where we stocked up on as many freebies as we could) and Sunday Funday (full of waterslides and Red Frogs giving out ice blocks). It was definitely a week I will never fImage 2orget. With the Semi-Formal of a Wild West theme, there were cowboys in chaps, cowgirls with whips and Indians and Cacti – it was quite the sight to see. The formal theme was Vintage and was chic and elegant for everyone. We had thImage 3e best of times dancing and the best meals you get the whole time at College.

 

 

Throughout the year, not only did I go to heaps of RSC events but we played sports all the time (ones I had never even heard of or played before). The day after the McGregor Formal was the Intercollege Touch game. I was so nervous because I had never played before and didn’t want to embarrass myself but they were desperate for players. I ended up having the best time and scored a full field try. From that moment on I wanted to participate in everything ranging from Indoor and Outdoor Cricket to Softball and AFL. I have some of the best memories from these days and truly felt as though I was a part of the College community. College Life is definitely something you want to be a part of. There are numerous hurdles that I have faced since moving to McGregor and I have no doubt there will be many more. Stay tuned!