About Chloe - USQ Student Blogger

Hi – my name’s Chloe. I am extremely excited as I am about to embark on my final semester of a four year degree, here at the USQ Toowoomba campus. I have been studying a Bachelor of Education (Secondary), majoring in visual art and mathematics. These clearly sit on the opposite ends of the academic spectrum, but I love the different experiences that I come across in teaching both subjects and feel very fortunate that I have been able to study these areas together through USQ. Before I began studying at university, I knew that I wanted to follow a career in education. However, it has been through my time here at USQ that I have really found out who I am and what I am passionate about. I have learnt through study, research and travel that I am also very passionate about social justice and volunteering. I have followed this passion through participating in many volunteer opportunities within USQ, the broader Toowoomba community and internationally (teaching children in Cambodia). I am heavily involved in selling Red Thread Bracelets (helping girls in Nepal) and am currently in the process of developing my own charity (raising money to educate very poor children in Cambodia). I am really looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead of completing my study, however I know that I will be really sad to leave USQ.!

What to expect when you are expecting to start uni.

Brace yourself – semester one is about to begin! Right now is the time to finish enrolling in those upcoming courses, choose class times and find cute stationary. The USQ campus will begin buzzing again with students checking where rooms are, rushing in to print study materials and buy textbooks. And, if you are anything like me, you will also be promising yourself that you will be extra prepared by beginning to read these before the start of classes…this time.

This has always been my favourite time of the year. The smell and feel of new textbooks, bumping into friends on campus, enjoying a carefree coffee with friends at the hub and long chats in the quad are some of the joys experienced just before semester kick-off. Exams feel as though they are a long way, distant into the future.

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After four years of study, I feel that I have perfected the art of preparing before a semester. I am able to confidently do what I thought I would never be able to do four years ago – find what I need, know where to go, who to see and juggle my really diverse study schedule which has included visual arts, mathematics and education courses. I have found that once you are into the uni ‘jive’ this becomes second-nature and a lot of fun.

This year however is a lot different for me. It is strange.

See, I finished my Education degree with USQ at the end of last year. I was so excited to be able to say ‘I am a TEACHER’. However, I am beginning to realise that this means that I no longer have pre-semester university preparations. I don’t have courses to enrol in, there are no new textbooks on my shelf and my friends have begun their new careers in various places throughout Queensland. Though post-university is exciting (I will also soon be moving to begin my career, a teaching position in Thailand), it is hard not to reflect on, and become nostalgic for, the life and routine of a university student.

So perhaps I can share with you what I have learnt. Provide some advice to those who are starting out for the first time. I always use ‘to do’ lists, so here is one for you –

UNIVERSITY TO DO LIST

Become a ‘yes-person’ (think back to Jim Carey’s character in Yes Man).

By remaining open to new experiences, you will surprise yourself and create some fantastic memories. I adopted this mentality early-on in my university career and as a result have met some wonderful people through volunteering, participated in an overseas professional placement in Thailand (as part of my Bachelor of Education) which resulted in the school offering me a position, have volunteered at a school in Cambodia, met a NASA astronaut, co-founded a charity, introduced Red Thread Bracelets to Australia, exhibited an artwork, regularly assisted at a local school, completed a number of additional vocational qualifications, became a guest education panel chair member and won a scholarship. I try to say ‘yes’ to every new experience and have really benefited from this. Image

 [You never know where ‘yes’ can lead you..in this case, into a tiger enclosure in Thailand during an overseas professional experience]

 Buy your textbooks early.

It doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes the bookshop will run out of particular books. It can be difficult to catch-up with readings a few weeks into the semester.

Start your assignments early.

I always put my assignments onto my calendar, a week BEFORE they are actually due. This means that I always had the assignment completed a week before it was actually due. I cannot tell you how much stress was saved through adopting this strategy! An added benefit (from my experience) – if you realise last-minute that you have misinterpreted the assignment, you still have a week to fix it! This was my number one strategy and really helped me get through uni.

Do a library tour in O-Week.

These are free and so worthwhile. Pay particular attention to where resources and references can be found through the library database. The library has access to online versions of journals and other publications which you WILL NEED throughout your study. Knowing how to use these properly will save so much valuable time.

Read, post in and follow all of the forums for your courses.

There have been times when I have realised that I was really not on the right track with assignments or course content. These are sometimes a lifesaver! Usually, questions that you have will already be posted and answered.

Go to EVERY lecture and tutorial (on-campus or online).

This will help you stay on track, find study-buddies and assist you with assessment.

ENJOY UNI LIFE! It doesn’t feel like it at times (particularly when assessment is beginning to pile up), but your university career will fly by! Enjoy it and do your best!

Image[Taken on my very last day of uni, with our amazing lecturer, Warren]

Good luck to everyone who are about to start their study! Feel free to leave a comment, especially if you have any questions about being a student and preparing for your university life.

What is your long-term goal?

I have one exam and one assignment to go. That is it. In one week, I will have finished my four year degree.

I was asked recently, ‘what is your long-term goal?’. For once in my life, I was actually speechless.

My ‘long-term’ (at least it had seemed long term) goal had consisted of working hard at uni, achieving the best GPA possible, finishing my degree and then passionately teaching maths and/ or art to high school kids somewhere.

However, when I was asked the question recently, I realised that the once seemingly massive task of completing my degree was almost complete. I had focused so much energy into doing well in exams, assignments, pracs and internships that somewhere along the way, I forgot that this was all leading somewhere.

I began thinking back to the reasons I began the degree in the first place. There are many reasons, but a few pivotal moments stand out.

When I was in middle primary school, I was truly over-excited about learning. I would come home, quickly open my homework sheet, complete it, parade around with it in front of my parents and then set about creating a ‘homework’ sheet for my younger sister to complete. I loved teaching her new things. Though I had waited a few years after high school to begin formal study, I think that becoming a teacher was predetermined.

This passion for teaching and sharing what I knew continued throughout my life. It was then extended through travel, where I realised my passion for teaching overseas as well as helping those who are less fortunate.

The passion still exists. The degree has almost been attained. So, where do I see myself in 2, 5, 10, 20 years? What will be in store for the Rickard’s, long-term?

I think the answer here is teaching internationally and participating in long-term volunteer/ charity projects within the country. Ideally, of course.

How has USQ assisted with this? I have attained (almost) an internationally recognised degree from a university which is highly regarded throughout the world for its Education program. It is because of USQ’s connections with partner-schools around the world that I was given the opportunity to teach in Thailand, as one of my pracs. I have been given great guidance from lecturers, have met a wonderful bunch of like-minded friends and have found my inner-confidence.

The journey has been challenging. This is felt most during exam block, the current time of this semester. However, I think it is important to be reminded that this is a road which is leading somewhere – to a realisation of your hopes and dreams, the achievement of a goal in which you have chosen.

For me, it is with an excited heart that I reveal the new chapter in which I am about to begin, thanks to my journey here…

I have secured a mathematics teaching position in Bangkok, Thailand!

Thank you for sharing the latter part of my journey with me through my blogs. All the best.

Nearly there, nearly there…NEARLY THERE!

Hi!

As I am a preservice teacher, it will probably come as no surprise that I like to talk. A lot. In the classroom, out of the classroom, to big crowds, to little crowds… to anyone who will listen really. So in light of this, I have created a short recording – of me talking :)  I hope you enjoy it!

NEARLY THERE!

The Beginning of the End

Here it is. The beginning of the end. After 3 and a half years, 28 courses, 56 assignments (roughly) as well as several exams and quizzes, I am now staring into the face of my final semester at USQ.

For many, this semester will be their first. It will be marked with new and exciting experiences; the starting point in working to achieve their goals and dreams. For me though, this semester will be characterised through a series of ‘lasts’. The last uni textbook I buy, the last courses I complete, the last assignment I submit, the last prac I participate in – my university life is drawing to a close.

While I am excited about the doors that will unlock and open in the completion of an Education degree, I can’t help but feel nostalgic. I have loved my uni life from the very first lecture. I have changed, I have grown and I have discovered who I am as well as what my passions are. I have met some wonderful and inspiring people, many of whom have become part of my ‘uni family’, and have had some amazing experiences.

I have done things that four years ago I would never have dreamt that I would do. This is very true of an experience that I have had recently. I remember back to my first ‘O Week’, when I attended all of the information sessions that I could (in a desperate bid to ease my nerves). One of these was a lecture on professional placements (pracs; going out to schools to teach). Sometime through this, two fourth year students made their way to the front of the lecture theatre and discussed their recent prac, in Thailand. I remember thinking two things. My first thought centred on the public speaking aspect, I wondered if I would ever truly be comfortable speaking in front of such a large group. Secondly, I thought about actually teaching kids in another country. What a seemingly impossible task!

Less than three years later, I was boarding a plane with two other USQ students (who I had met previously but really didn’t know). We were off to teach in Thailand! The three week experience was unbelievable. I taught maths to high school children in Chiang Mai, observed and participated in many cultural traditions, rode elephants, played with tigers (yes – real life tigers) and was able to share these amazing experiences with two other USQ students who I now regard as family.  Since then, I have given presentations about this prac to large groups of students – just as the two students I envied had done! Through these reflections of the past 3 and a half years, I can see how much I have grown as a person as well as a teacher.

My first lectures of my final semester have just started. So, it is with my last textbook, pen and notepad in hand that I leave nostalgia behind (for now) and refocus on my goal – finish the degree. However, like a good Hollywood movie, I will leave you now with a small reflective montage of my uni life over the past few years. Enjoy