Why I work and study: how working helps me as a student

krisi blog 1So I bet there are more than a few of us out there who are working and wondering if study is for them or are studying and aren’t sure if you want to take on a bit of work. As a university student and an employee, I am here to tell you it can certainly be done. In fact, it is truly worthwhile to gain some experience working while studying, just as it is important to have a source of income while you study!

krisi blog 2

My journey as a working university student can be seen as a bit of a road-trip. I was off and running, green lights all the way! I knew in which direction I was headed. I wanted to study and work towards my dream career but I knew that I wanted to keep working and earn some income to help me with the costs of studying along the way. I also applied for a few scholarships which helped purchase most of my text books, which also really helped.

krisi blog 3

After the excitement of it all started to wear off and I became well-versed in sitting down to a study session after a shift at work, I noticed myself take a detour from time to time. It is ok to procrastinate and everyone gets tired sometimes. After all, all this study and work… who could blame you if a yawn or two escapes from your mouth!

krisi blog 4

After a while I really started to notice a difference in myself:

krisi einstein

Ok maybe not quite Einstein, but I was growing personally and professionally. I had gained all of these awesome skills, like self-management, and I even got an exciting new role at work… which was great. I realised that all of my time and effort had brought me a long way on my journey. I began to feel so proud of myself; I had achieved some short-term goals already.

krisi blog 5

Then, all of a sudden, I found myself here, in the third year of my degree, powering through it seems, having countless valuable experiences that are inching me closer and closer to that dream career of mine.

My goal’s now are so much clearer than they were to begin with. I have even scheduled in time to do volunteer work in a related area to my degree. These experiences, studying, working and volunteering, have only driven me to learn more. I have been getting increasingly excited about the career ahead of me.

Everyone’s journey is different. I would love to hear your experiences about working and studying and what you have gained from doing both.

Til next time,
Krisi

My on-campus experience at USQ Springfield

By the words of Three Dog Night,

‘One is the loneliest number you could ever do’.

There are a few things I know about these lyrics:

  1. The man singing them was probably never sober enough to remember them.
  2. They come from a very catchy song, which was featured in the Disney movie Recess: School’s Out (best movie ever, don’t judge me please).
  3. They make a good point, especially when it comes to your university life.

Being alone whilst studying at uni would be like a Dyson vacuum cleaner and seriously suck.

Although university is awesome in so many ways, including giving a person a chance to discover how they can make a difference in the world, it can also be pretty tough.

Going from a comfortable and probably more controlled environment such as school or work to a place full of strangers, where you are much more responsible for yourself, can be difficult for a lot of people.

I remember feeling so nervous before starting university because I hardly knew anyone. I would practice introducing myself to other people in the shower because I was deathly afraid that I’d forgotten how to make friends. I remember thinking:

How am I supposed to remember how to talk to strangers and create a friendship? The last time I did that was in preschool and it isn’t as if I can bond with someone over our matching butterfly clips or the accessories we dressed our Barbies in, can I?

So even for someone like me, who can talk under wet cement, making friends can be a bit intimidating.

friendship-friendship-everywhere

That is why it’s so important to involve yourself in the on-campus experience.

Involving yourself in on-campus life gives you three things: support, super-lots-of-fun (one word) and a leg-up in your career.

1. Support
Involving yourself in on-campus life and activities can help you get through your uni years. Even just becoming good mates with the person who sits next to you in class can help you out. Not only is it far more fun to sit through an economics lecture when you have someone next to you to point out that your lecturer has something in their nose, but you’ll find that if you get chatting to the other people studying the same degree as you, you’re more likely to get along better because you probably have very similar life goals, and you most likely think the same way.

You may have been the only person in your family or friendship group to think that Django Unchained is the FUNNIEST MOVIE EVER, but once you get talking to someone with a similar sense of humour to yourself, you’ll find that you’re not, in fact, the only one who thinks that Jamie Foxx saying ‘The D is silent’ whilst covered in blood and battling oppression in the most violent way possible… is hilarious!

Knowing that you’re not the only one stressing about an assignment, or having someone to be able to talk to about a question in a study module that may as well be written in wingdings based on your understanding of it, can help you out a lot when you’re struggling.

The on-campus life at USQ also includes some awesome, free, student support services. In Springfield, there is an entire floor dedicated to helping students in any way possible: we have on-campus counsellors, people who are there just to help you proofread and reference your assignments, IT support, psychology rooms and prayer rooms.

Also, and I really think this is the best idea ever, every week the university LITERALLY hands out boxes of free food to students. And it’s not just healthy, boring food either… last week there were Tim Tams!

2. Super-lots-of-fun

Two words: Mechanical. Bull.

Yep.

That’s right.

USQ goes out of their way to make sure that the whole getting through uni’ thing is as much fun as possible! Check it out:

Every Wednesday we get some form of free food, on top of the free boxes of food as mentioned above (FUN).

About once a month a bouncy-castle is put up, and almost every week there’s a stall set up about something… student tourism (FUN), sex ed (…), community involvement (FUN).

Bouncy bouncy

The uni also has some awesome clubs and sporting teams. The best part is anyone can start up a club or team if they want! Right now, there’s a Minecraft club, a Dungeons and Dragons club (DOUBLE FUN) and there used to be a pirate club, which I’m hoping someone starts back up again soon.

The uni also organises student trips down to the theme parks on the coast (FUN). And of course there are the common rooms accessible by all students. These rooms are full of Xbox’s, pool tables and a basketball court out the back for you to show off your mad skillzzz (FUN AND HEALTHY!).

See? Look at how much FUN we’re having!!

3. Getting a leg-up in your career
Getting involved with on-campus life also means getting involved with extra projects related to your degree. I’ve found this to be the best part of university life.

Because USQ is always putting on such awesome events, including mechanical bulls, they’re always looking for students with different sets of skills to help out. Essentially you can kill two birds with one stone… or two ‘roos with one truck… or two animal-product-free bars of soap with one bubble bath for the vegans out there. Anyway, my point is you can use the skills you’ve learned at uni to help out FOR the uni, and add a little something to your resume to help out your career.

Experience before I get experience

This is what happened to me. When the uni was covering a red carpet for the local council and needed a reporter, I put my hand up. By doing that, I was able to sharpen my skills and help out the uni. I was also able to make contact with local council members, which have been VERY useful!

Getting involved with extra activities on-campus has also shown my lecturers how passionate I am about my degree and my future in media.

Basically guys, it’s tough to do stuff when you’re alone, so get out there and talk to someone! (Yes, I know that rhymes, and yes, I am a rapper).

To demonstrate this again, I’ve summarised this blog in a little rhyme:

When I’m a uni (yo):
See someone I don’t know?
I introduce that.
Don’t understand something?
I ask that.
See a club I like?
I join that.
Met by an obstacle?
I challenge that.
Want to achieve something?
I step up to that.
…yo…

The 5 stages of starting an assignment

It appears as though semester two is well and truly underway again. Now is the time to start (if you haven’t already) moving through the motions of those assessment pieces, and for those of us graduating or taking a holiday over summer, these will be the final few for 2014! What’s not to cheer about? Oh that’s right… all the work we have to do beforehand. I was thinking… why don’t we make this a little bit easier for each other and share some of our rituals for how to get the ball rolling on our assignment work? I usually only get the opportunity to speak to classmates studying the same degree as me about what I get up to around assignment time and I think it would be really valuable to start bouncing ideas around with other faculties too!

Let’s get started, here are my top 5 super-secret psychology student assignment preparation stages:

1. Find your motivation and set yourself up for SUCCESS!
I personally like to blu-tac my study schedule to my lounge room wall so my goals are always there as a reminder to stay on track. If you’re a little bit edgy and competitive, maybe pair up with a fellow classmate and devise a challenge. Who can keep to a weekly assignment writing schedule? Word of warning: WINNER TAKES ALL. Kidding, but maybe the overall champ gets an IOU for coffee?

USQ success

2. Prepare… your time!
Prepare to be flexible when things might go off track and don’t beat yourself up if and when it happens. If you are working on a group assignment, allow yourself even more time so that you can be flexible and understanding of other team members time committments. Remember that there are some incredibly valuable skills to be gained from group work, and you may even begin building some new friendships!

3. Organise food and drinks to ensure you remain well-fed and hydrated.
This is not difficult for me because I love procrasti-eating, but sometimes I do need to remind myself to take a break, stretch and grab a glass of water. I think it is important to be organised before you sit down to do some serious assignment writing by preparing a yummy study snack and having a bottle of water on hand.

4. Become mobile.
Set yourself up with a cloud storage account so you are able to access your assignment anywhere. Because USQ has set us all up with UDrive, this is easier than ever. MS Office is also free on mobile phones now and for those of us who are pretty tech savvy individuals, this can make studying on the go that little bit easier.

5. Get started!
Finally,  get comfy and pull out your study materials. You might be here for a while so it makes sense to make yourself right at home in your chosen study zone. I have heard of all kinds of elaborate set-ups during my time studying at uni, but my preferred study space is on the couch with a desk or two and lots of cushions to support my back.

These stages are critical for me to get the ball rolling on the assignment writing process, but they can change depending on the type of assignment.

There is always a new, different or smarter way of starting an assignment and I would love to hear yours!

Group work: playing to your strengths

Today we’re discussing what a lot of students see as the dreaded, soul-crushing experience of group work. I know a lot of people really, really, really dislike group work and I understand why. There’s usually one person who doesn’t show up or do their part and gives you a lame excuse. I once worked on a group assignment with a guy who would show up, but then literally fall asleep in the back of the room. Although he provided us with endless entertainment (we used to see how many pens we could stuff in his jumper pockets or how many sticky-notes we could stick to his body before he would wake up, he wasn’t very helpful when it came to the assignment. Had we been studying sleeping patterns, this may have been a different story. But guess what? Group work is an important part of uni life, so we need to learn how to make the most of it!

eliza teamwork theory

When we are first told we have to take part in a group assignment, our first thought is often ‘Why do group assignments even exist?’

Well… it’s unlikely you’ll ever find a job where you never interact with others. Unless your job is to be the first person to live on the moon or something like that. And when you think about it, a lot of awesome things wouldn’t exist without people working in a group. We wouldn’t have movies, much music, buildings… we’d all essentially be living like Tom Hanks in Castaway, yelling ‘Wiiiiiillllllsssssssooooonnnnnnnnn!’ at a volleyball with a face on it. In fact, we wouldn’t even have this analogy because that movie wouldn’t even exist. So, you see, group work is important.

When assigning the roles in your group, try to pick a job that you’ll enjoy, no matter what time of day it is or how stressed you are. Also, try to pick a role that’s going to help you in the long run. For example, I want to be a journalist, so I try to pick roles that involve writing or talking. And if you’re feeling up to it, challenge yourself! University is a safe place to make mistakes and ask for help, so you should feel comfortable knowing that if you get in a little over your head, you can always ask for a hand.

When you first plan the assignment, make sure everyone’s roles are as clear as possible so there won’t be any overlapping and all the gaps will be filled. It’s also important to communicate when you have a problem! If Disney movies have taught me anything (aside from the fact that I will probably never be a mermaid) it’s that you should always be straight up about how you’re feeling about someone.They might not realise they’re upsetting anyone, so by telling them, they can do something about it. Just make sure you go about it in the nicest way possible. Be gentle and positive in the words you use, and try to remind them of why this assignment, and their contribution, is so important. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If you explain to your group that you’re struggling, they may be able to help you, and should be more willing to, considering that your problems affect the group.

teamwork

Be careful to maintain a balance between your individual role and the ‘working together as a group’ part of the assignment. If you’re the sort of person who has a tendency to take over, then listen up! One of the things you learn by doing group assignments is how to trust others. I know you’re just trying to be caring when you’re looming over your group mates asking them constantly if they’ve written their three paragraphs yet, but they probably won’t see it that way.

teamwork

A way to do this is to inspire your team mates by reminding them how important the end goal is. For example, if you have a Facebook group for your assignment, every now and then post a reminder of what it’s going to take to get a High Distinction. This will inspire others to do their work and keep you motivated too.

So you see, guys? Working in a group doesn’t have to be horrible! Just remember that the people you’re working with are all in it to reach a common goal. You probably have a lot in common with your team mates and they are there to support you if you need help. Most importantly, you’re learning important teamwork skills that will help you succeed in the workplace.

How playing sport helped me succeed as a student

Soccer has been a big part of my life… a whole 12 years of it. This year I decided it was time to roll down the socks, unstrap the shinpads, pull the laces from my boots and have a year-long break so I could enjoy sleep-ins and having that extra little bit of time for study on weekends.

Apart from the many embarrassing memories of mis-kicks and clumsy falls (yes, there was more than one!), I got a lot out of playing soccer, because it has always been more than just a sport for me. Thanks to the many awesome people involved, playing soccer provided me with a whole new community and the opportunity to learn life lessons by being part of a team.

A massive kick later and the soccer ball has rolled into my life as a uni student, along with some team-spirit, and this is how…

Taking advice
On the field without the help of my coach, my skills probably wouldn’t have improved. Likewise, at university I have found it important to take on board any advice my lecturers give. After all, they have a lot more experience ‘in the field’ than I do and following their guidance help me to adopting the tricks of the trade!

USQ sport teamwork

Working as a team
Co-operating with others was a fundamental aspect of playing soccer, while support within the team was the key to our successes. These teamwork skills have proven beneficial to establishing life as a uni student given that there are many occasions when you have to work within a group. Whether it be the extremes of a group assignment or simply a class group activity, collaboration is significant if you plan on achieving your study goals. I have team sports to thank for getting me out of my control-freak ways (although some may argue I still am one) and for teaching me the nuts and bolts of working as a team to produce something better than what could be achieved alone. I’ll let you in on a secret… uni is so much more FUN when you have people to complete it with!

USQ teamworkApproaching new people
Throughout the soccer season, there are many people on the opposing team you don’t know. Some may have thought it was an evil plot for distraction, but I would take advantage of the ball being up the other end of the field to have a chat to someone from the other team. All of a sudden it hits you that you CAN be friends with someone you are in competition with. I know that once I graduate, all my classmates are going to be looking for a job around the same time I am. Because of this, it isn’t unreasonable to experience some rivalry within the cohort, but, just like making conversation in a soccer match, we are all in the game together so why not enjoy each other’s company?

With uni being the key to my dream career, I feel I need others more than ever to reach my goal. Thanks to the USQ community, I feel very much supported in this.

As the title of John Maxwell’s book reads, ‘Teamwork makes the Dreamwork,’ and I can hardly wait until I reach the last page!

Feel free to share how your team sport involvement has set you up as an awesome uni student!

About me: my application to acceptance

Hello, Bonjour, Hola, привет,

Fellow USQ students and future ones (do it!), I am so pleased to be writing on this blog. My name is Jose. I am a proud USQ student, with a bit of a strange story.

Jose in Paris in USQ onesie

A little while back my family got a call, packed up our house (which was a church), and well… quite literally ‘ran away with the circus’.

For the past 10 years, my family and I have been travelling the seven seas with CIRQUE DU SOLEIL. This dramatic, eccentric mix of circus arts, street performance, world-class acrobatics and rib-crushing comedy travelling company has become my home.

As you can imagine, this lifestyle is not an easy one and changing cities (sometimes even countries) every few weeks has posed a few problems. One of these problems was figuring out how to go to uni, in case someday I decide I want to stop this nomadic lifestyle. As doubtful as this may be, I still want to further my education.

Jose in front of a circus tent

This is why when I received my acceptance letter from the University of Southern Queensland (yes I did a little dance) to study a Bachelor of Business & Bachelor of Commerce EXTERNALLY, I was overjoyed at the realisation that I could continue my insane lifestyle at the same time.

Jose with surf boards

Since then, I have powered through my first semester with ease. This is in part due to the incredible support team at USQ, which have helped me every step of the way, from ordering my textbooks, downloading lectures, to organising how to sit one of my exams in Paris.

USQ has also shown a great deal of support for me to continue my training as an acrobat, providing me entry into the Elite Athlete Program. I am so pleased that now I don’t have to choose between training and study… I can do both!

Jose in Paris - acrobatics

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at USQ for enabling me to open the door to a new path in my life.

No matter who you are I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy your time at USQ and I know they will assist you at every step. Remember: knowledge is power!

Jose

 

From the circus boy, who is now also a proud USQ student.

Insider scoop: helpful things to remember while on placement

Did somebody say it’s time to get out in the world, get a feel for how your knowledge relates to the workplace, develop some awesome skills and plump out that resume of yours? If this is you at the moment, don’t worry. I have been through the same thing twice now and I assure you, you are going to LOVE it!

If you are anything like me, then you are just busting to get hands on experience and more involved, but it is also completely normal to feel nervous if you don’t know exactly what to expect. My suggestion, no matter how you are feeling, is to get eager! This is an EXCITING opportunity because you can get a bit more of a taste for what it is like working in a field related to what you are studying.

When I was on my most recent placement, I jotted down some things that were helpful for me to remember.

Insiders scoop on work placements

Here is my insiders scoop:

  • While placements are giving students work experience, it is still important to be PROFESSIONAL. Especially when your university, lecturer or a co-ordinator have organised your placement for you, it is important to do your student body and university proud as well as being professional in the organisation you are placed at.
  • Know your expected LEARNING OUTCOMES. Work with your course lecturer and placement organisation to achieve them and develop professionally. Don’t fall into the trap of being a bystander in this valuable opportunity; make the most of it. You shouldn’t just be making coffee!
  • Understand the terms of each particular placement. Every organisation and placement is different and there are different expectations about the days, times and hours you are expected to be in attendance. DON’T OVER-COMMIT to a placement if you won’t be able to fulfil the requirements. Placements provide a great learning experience, but they shouldn’t be hell on earth!
  • ASK QUESTIONS. This is your opportunity to gain valuable workplace knowledge. Don’t be shy and ask questions that will help to increase your knowledge about the industry.
  • VALUE-ADD to the organisation. Immerse yourself in your new role, practise the relevant skills and gain context for all off your theoretical knowledge.
  • Don’t forget to ASK FOR SUPPORT from your loved-ones. They can help by making dinner or washing clothes if you find that you’re a bit strapped for time during your work placement.
  • ENJOY YOUR EXPERIENCE. Develop professional relationships and broaden your network.
  • REFLECT on your experiences. Take the opportunity to sit back and see exactly what you have been able to achieve as a result of your industry experience.
  • Have a celebration! REWARD YOURSELF for all of your efforts. Completing your work placement probably wasn’t easy. Some of us study, work, have families and friends that we need to strategically work around in order to participate in and achieve this goal. So well done, you deserve it!

What do you guys, my fellow students, find helpful to remember when you’re on work placements?

What’s your insiders scoop?

The new semester equation

How do you determine your readiness for a new semester? Are you ever ready?

If you’re anything like me, feeling absolutely prepared isn’t something I experience often. I like to take advantage of every moment during the holidays to relax and enjoy things I don’t usually get to do throughout the semester. This time round I spent my holidays in the tropical, warm North Queensland weather laying on the beach, visiting the Great Barrier Reef and doing many other tourist activities that allowed me to wind down. But when I returned to my extremely cold hometown, I had plenty of time to reflect on think about what worked well last semester and the areas that need improvement.

For me, kicking off an awesome semester is like a fun version of a maths equation: ‘A New Semester + Me = A Fresh Start’. Just like many maths equations, there are many different ways to reach the answer.

make a fresh start - motivational

The method I use to configure this exciting equation involves devising new semester resolutions and includes the following sums:

Important dates + diary = organisation!

At the beginning of the semester, I write down all important dates, including assessment due dates, work shifts, uni classes, appointments and anything else I know that will be happening throughout the semester. It’s so easy to get caught up in study mode that you forget to go to one of your shifts or you forget about your dentist appointment! By writing things down, you can focus on uni while keeping tabs on your life-outside-uni at the same time.

Study with highlighters - note taking success

Highlighting + study notes = colourful study!

Highlighters have definitely become one of my favourite pieces of stationery since becoming a uni student. Having a range of different colours and using these to make my study notes pretty and colourful has made a huge difference by helping me remember information for exams and locate information needed for an assignment – it’s a huge time saver!

Less procrastination + more study = productivity!

Ok, so I’m pretty sure ALL uni students know how to procrastinate. Although social media is so much more interesting than study, I have told myself that this semester I will use it in moderation. TV is also one of my biggest time wasters, but now that most TV channels have apps that allow you to catch-up on episodes, I can reward myself with my favourite shows after I do my study!

New classes + new people = new friends!

Although the idea of meeting new people can be daunting, it’s usually the case that they feel the same way too. You won’t always have a class of entirely new people every semester, but I’ve told myself that if this is the case I will be brave and sit next to someone I don’t know. Uni is so much more enjoyable when you meet new people and are social! And, most importantly, I will continue to communicate with lecturers and ask questions because their help is invaluable.

Smile + relax = have fun!

At the end of the day, I see the most important part of my uni experience as being happy and making the most of it. It’s easy to get so caught up in study that you forget to give yourself time to relax. Look after yourself, smile and relax.

take a smile

Best of luck cracking the code to your new semester equation and showing your degree who’s boss this semester!

New semester plans

Alright everyone, I’m sure we have all now taken the time to reflect on last semester- the procrasti-partying (if you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll know that this is my specialty), the three cans of Red Bull a day, the late-night dinners consisting of raw two-minute-noodles and half a Snickers bar you found in the back of the fridge (yes, we have all been there), the constant concern you don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done, and of course that horrible feeling you experience when you’re rushing to get an assignment done in time. We’ve also seen the effects this lifestyle has had on our bodies – I find myself looking more and more like the girl from The Grudge – and our minds. If there was ever a time that I could have been cast as an extra in The Walking Dead, it was between 26 March and 18 June.

What's the plan? Planning for success

I think it’s pretty clear that something has to change this semester…

So here are my new semester plans!

Firstly, I really want to find that work/study/life balance people have been raving about. Now, considering I lack balance at the best of times, this could be quite a challenge. Finding this balance is a problem that I know a lot of uni students face; you may need to pay for rent, or maybe you have a family to support. This makes it hard to put your university studies as the number one priority.

For me, I have a problem with saying no. So if my boss asks me to work an extra shift or two a week, I find it really difficult to pass up on the extra hours. It’s not like I think the fate of the sales representative world couldn’t possibly go on without me (it turns out the world doesn’t actually revolve around me) and therefore I’m sure my boss could find someone else to fill my shift. I struggle to say no because I feel as if I’m letting my boss down, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way when they choose their studies over work.

But here’s the thing: the job you have now is probably not going to become your future career, whereas the opportunities given to you by studying at university will lead you to your dream job. I always think of uni as training for my future job, and everyone knows that unless you’re trained properly, you can’t do the job. So why skip training? Plus, you’re paying to go to university. I will admit that I don’t enjoy wasting my money; whenever I go shopping I am straight to the sales rack before I look at anything else, and the same goes with my university fees. I’m sure everyone wants to get the best value for money, and the best way to do that when studying at uni is to put one hundred per cent into your degree- don’t waste a minute!

Planning your career: from Plan A  to Plan B

Secondly, because this is probably my last semester as an on-campus, stereotypical ‘uni student’, I want to make the most of it. I want to go to the end of year ball, play laser tag and maybe even do a fun run. Not only do all of these events include free food, but they’re an awesome way for students to feel like they’re part of the uni community and provide an opportunity to network with other students. Connecting with other students can really help if you’re looking for some assurance that you’re not the only one stressing out about final exams.

Following on from that, I want to get myself ‘out there in the world’ this semester. I’ll never get over how quickly my degree has gone by. Seriously guys, I feel like it was just yesterday I was looking up formal dresses with my school friends in the back of class instead of listening to the teacher, because who REALLY needs to know how to figure out the volume of a triangular prism? Although I have tried getting myself out there throughout my degree (work experience with ABC Western Queensland in Longreach, covering media events for USQ and Ipswich), I feel as if my resume doesn’t have quite enough for me to feel one hundred per cent ready for the big, wide world that I’ll be exploring in the next few years.

No matter what degree you’re studying, gaining practical experience and making contacts is super, SUPER important!

No guys, seriously.

Career and life planning: what direction?

Because let’s say you’re studying astrophysics: you may know all of the theory about how to dismantle and rebuild a rocket ship from the inside out. You may know exactly what every part of the rocket ship’s engine is called and what makes it work, but actually pulling apart a massive rocket ship, with your boss watching you and reminding you that this needs to be done within the next three hours, is very stressful!

My fourth and final plan for this semester is to ask more questions. This semester, I want to be a gross, bathroom mat. And by that I mean that I want to soak up all things possible (in case you were wondering where I was going with that). As this is probably going to be my last semester studying applied media, I want to obtain as much knowledge about film, television and radio as humanly possible.

So these are my four semester plans. There aren’t many as I’m not really the planning type. I plan on enjoying my studies this semester and spend time reminding myself how fortunate I am to be able to study at such an awesome university.

Keeping plans simple to ensure success

I hope we all can take on this next semester with a more positive outlook… and ditch the Red Bull!

Going the Distance

18 months ago, I packed my bags to set off on a new chapter of my life – attending university away from home. This meant a couple of things: One – I wouldn’t be seeing my family every day, and Two – I would need to become increasingly self-sufficient.  So here’s what I have found on my journey so far…

Technology is AWESOME
Nowadays with Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, SMS and phone calls, it is a lot easier to keep in touch with your loved ones at home without missing them like crazy. Generally, I call mum and dad most days to catch up on what’s going on in our worlds, just like we would at home. Sometimes I think that they don’t even realise I’ve left!

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Make time for visits
There comes a time when all forms of technology just don’t cut it and you start to have family-time withdrawals. I have found that treating weekdays like business hours and studying as much as possible in this time frame helps free up some time every now and then on weekends. Lucky enough for me, home is only an approximate 2 hour car trip away, so when I can, I try to go home for a weekend or my family comes to me. Sometimes we make an occasion out of it and go somewhere for dinner, or even have a nice dinner at home. After all, they say it’s the simple things in life that count!

Go out and make friends
Moving away from home is particularly daunting when you do so on your own and leave your family and friends behind. It isn’t very hard to get caught up feeling lonely and of course this is when the home-sick bug hits you for six. Making friends is the perfect solution to this. For me, I felt that living on college for the first year out of home was a wise choice as you are always surrounded by others and there’s no time to feel lonely. It was a great foundation for new friendships, getting to know the area, and to merely adjust to a new life away from family and home.

There are many other ways to build friendships including joining a sporting club or other hobby organisations. Funny enough, finding a job can also be beneficial for your social life as you mix with other people you may have never had the chance to.

Be organised
In the adult world of living away from family, all of a sudden there’s cooking, washing and cleaning all to be done with no help from your family. It really is a juggling act finding a balance between study and maintaining a house. For me, this is probably one of my biggest downfalls. Sometimes the ‘maintaining a house’ side of things outweighs the ‘study’ as I am professional at finding ways to procrastinate. “I need food to live, right? Cooking myself a three course meal is totally essential and study can wait” – yep, these are some of my famous words since moving out of home. Something tells me that a THREE course daily meal probably isn’t essential and there comes a time where study CANNOT wait any longer.  My biggest attempt at organisation includes preparing foods that can be frozen and used as needed after long days of study or uni, and that way I have no reason for house-procrastination!

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Although living away from family certainly has its challenges, there are many ways you can make this process easier. Simply, distract yourself by keeping busy and surround yourself with people who make you laugh and are purely good company.  When I have days where I really miss my family, it’s the simple things like picking up the phone that make a world of difference. Other times, it’s important not to let study take over, and remember that it’s OK to take some time out to travel to visit family. After all, they are the ones who have supported me to get here in the first place.

Until next time,

Kristie