Your degree can take you anywhere: travelling and studying!

Summer Reading

When thinking of university study, most of us tend to picture students sitting in lecture theatres and listening to lecturers impart their knowledge. We might also visualise the tutorials that follow, perhaps study sessions in the campus library and then the almost obligatory meet-ups at the campus bar. But with USQ, it’s different. Sure, you can study in this more traditional mode if you want, but you’ve also got the choice of travelling the world and taking your study with you. Does it sound too good to be true? Maybe it does but you really can do it! USQ’s online programs allow students to study from anywhere in the world – be it Rome or Paris, the Maldives or Seychelles, Istanbul or Muscat… the list could go on. I am one of those students and yes, some of these are places that I’ve found myself enjoying while completing my degree!

fullsizeEiffel_Tower_flowers_TU_(958x380)_11396898011

I am currently enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning and am based in Istanbul, Turkey. Although far from Australia, I have everything I need to be successful on this learning journey – computer and internet access and a good dose of motivation (though admittedly there have been times when I didn’t have all 3 at the same time!). Using my student ID and password, I have access to pre-recorded lectures which I listen to at any time of the day or night, online forums where I discuss course content (and sometimes a few other bits and bobs) with my peers and teaching staff, and online library access which links me with thousands of quality books and research journals. I am a bit too far from the USQ campus bar I must admit but there’s a pretty good one just down the road from my apartment which is almost the same!

During the first 6 weeks of this semester, I have taken my study with me on many travels which has seen me in the Netherlands, France and out and about in Turkey. I will soon be on my way to Australia where I look forward to completing some of the practical components of my particular degree. I truly am taking my degree everywhere!

Summer-Reading

For those of you who have been thinking about studying but worried about fitting everything in around work, kids, travel, Margarita Mondays or whatever else it is that fills your schedule, ponder no more. Studying online gives you the flexibility to go anywhere, any time. You can break up your weekly study into manageable chunks that fit in with your personal schedule, body clock or mental peaks. So what’s stopping you?! Get online and enrol today – you’ll be glad you did!

A day in the life of a uni student…

What does your typical uni day look like? To be direct, mine isn’t always eventful. Sometimes I feel like I’m on auto-pilot, doing the SAME thing every day. Nonetheless, does it make me geeky or cheesy to say that I am enjoying every single minute? No word of a lie, on a daily basis I find my uni experience more rewarding and the amount of ‘ah-ha’ moments I am experiencing is substantial. I’ll step you through the basics of a day in the life of Kristie with the hope that at least some of my uni student encounters match yours…

6:45AM: One eye opens, I roll over, frantically trying to find the snooze button ASAP to stop the noise that has just suddenly awoken my precious sleep, whilst questioning (every single morning) why I set my alarm so early, even if my first class starts in just over an hour.

7:00AM: This is when the constant battle between my head and my body takes place. My head is saying “GET UP KRISTIE, you’ll be running around like a moron trying to get ready in time for your first class”. My body objects “surely you can spare an extra five minutes of relaxation”. Who wins? That usually depends on how many hours sleep I have had. The class I have that morning perhaps could also be a factor, but shhh – that’s our secret!

8:00AM: The starting point to my uni day. This is usually experienced one of two ways – going to a lecture and having to face 3-4 flights of G Block stairs or switching on my laptop ready to chip away at one of my study schedules. I try and adhere to kicking off my day at this time on weekdays as I find that treating a uni day like a work day pays off with some free time you never thought you’d have.

Blog 1 - G Block Stairs

10:00AM/11AM: Around this time of the morning, my tummy is usually demanding my care. I also believe that breaks are so important if you have been in class and/or studying away for a couple of hours or more. Getting myself into the routine of stepping away from my computer/textbook usually avoids the aftermath of my brain simply telling me “no more” and my body shutting down. However, I attempt making this break a maximum of 20 minutes so I remain in study mode.

12PM/1PM: Another break and body fuel-up is in order, as well as catching up on other things that ‘need doing’ before getting back into the swing of things. Some may believe I am a perfect example of multiple procrastinators that are pictured below (you may need to zoom to read the blurbs). Either that or I experience a variety, if not all of the stages of procrastination, which can also be seen below.

USQ - a field guide to procrastinatorsUSQ - stages of procrastination

3PM: Yep, you guessed it! An additional break to revitalise and prevent mind-clog

5PM: Time to stop work. Living out of home comes with the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, washing, the works – all the joys of adulthood. Once I have attended to my household duties, it’s time to wind down and think about the day to follow (Home and Away may also be included in this equation). By doing my work during the day, I can enjoy this time of the night and I believe that relaxing before bed is crucial for a good night’s sleep. However, if I’ve had a slack day or a full day at uni, I do utilise this time for some catch up on study and assignments!

Of course these time frames depend on my uni schedule but this is the rough idea. You’ve probably just read this and thought – “Is that all she does all day, every day – studies, eats and goes to uni?” Not quite. I also try and fit in exercise as a source of my motivation. After all, sitting down all day needs to be broken up one way or another, and somehow I think sitting and eating being the consumption of my day wouldn’t be very good for me. When I’m at uni, I usually go for a stroll around the campus at least once a week to see what’s happening, and I also like to treat my eccentric fascination with the USQ Bookshop! Additional to this, I may spend some of my day baking, kicking a soccerball around, and I’d be avoiding the truth if I didn’t include a scroll or two on Facebook and Instragram. On the weekends I ensure I spare the time to enjoy spending time with my loved ones.

USQ Print Express

Becoming a volunteer is something I’d like to do again in the very near future. USQ are in the process of starting up a program called BEAMS which involves being a mentor for school aged students to assist them with believing in their potential and aspiring to achieve. I’m really looking forward to participating in this experience and I think it’s a fantastic opportunity being an Education student. If you are interested in becoming involved and/or want more info, see: http://www.usq.edu.au/current-students/opportunities/beams Tell me about your day as a uni student! Is it very similar or very different to mine?

Kristie

Flashbacks and a Fresh Beginning

The most exciting yet gut-wrenching time for ‘freshers’ (perhaps continuers too) arrived at the start of this week. You guessed it – O’Week! From a quick glance, the phoenix energy has definitely been circulating the Toowoomba campus this week with the scrumptious aromas of sausages sizzling, smiling faces at stands providing abundances of information, friendly tours of the library and university grounds, and long queues for your very own student ID cards. And let me assure you – it doesn’t end here. Work and other commitments don’t allow me to fully participate in O’Week this year, so I have decided to share with you all a few highlights of my very first O’Week, last year.

Toga Trivia Night
This night saw us college students pulling out our favourite Roman inspired bed sheets and some safety pins, searching and following “how to make a toga” on Youtube, followed by coming altogether at McGregor College to answer many questions unbeknown to some, yet familiar to others. Either way, you were bound to have fun – those who didn’t know the answer would humorously answer with a random  and arbitrary answer for the crowd to enjoy, and the others who had correct answers were that step closer to winning. It was so exciting to see USQ’s efforts on making this activity a university-wide event this year and I’m sure those who attended returned home with a belly sore from laughter and a head full of interesting facts, just like I did!

blog 1

Steele Rudd’s Big Day Out
On the agenda for Steele Rudd’s BDO was rock climbing, Latin dancing and a stop at Bon Amici’s café, all in Toowoomba’s CBD. These activities created a smooth transition to college life and it was a speedy alternative to meeting everyone and making new friends. The typical O-Week challenges of being yourself and having confidence were particularly tested on this day, thanks to the high demands of team work. Rock climbing was definitely a stand-out for me, having to trust someone you just met to hold your harness, while you climbed (and vice versa) was daunting, but definitely an experience I won’t forget!

Market Day
Held at the start of O-Week last year was Market Day, AKA Freebie Day. Did someone just say free stuff? Yep, awesome right? My favourite freebie was the large collections of pens I had accumulated by the end. These weren’t your average pens that would last you one or two uses. I can vouch that the majority are still working for me today! With freebies aside, having the opportunity to gain more information about USQ’s services and social clubs, as well as local Toowoomba organisations was very beneficial and was a head start to helping me feel at home after having to relocate for uni.

blog 2

As O-Week draws to a close and Semester commences, it’s time for us to knuckle down and get prepared for Semester 1. These are the tips I found handy being a new student last year:

  • Make sure you have your timetable on hand at all times, with your room numbers clear (I may or may not have gone to the wrong class in my first week of uni – luckily it was a class I was enrolled in anyway and the class I was supposed to be in happened to be scheduled again for that afternoon)
  • Create a study timetable including all other personal commitments (work, dinner, sport/hobby, and so on) – I cannot emphasis this enough, you will amaze yourself how much easier it is to fit everything in and get things done on time!
  • Sit next to people in class that you don’t know. You may be screaming at the computer screen saying to me “you’re crazy, right!?!” But chances are, your peers are just as nervous to approach you as you are them and they will be so thankful to have someone who can break the ice and to share ideas with!
  • Get enough sleep every night – I probably sound like your mum who nags about eating your vegetables, but it helps a great deal to be feeling awake and ready to learn/study. I would be lying if I said I have never woken up using my laptop as my pillow, feeling woeful!
  • Lastly, yet most importantly, have fun and embrace uni life, ask for help when you need it and have confidence in doing well!

If you need further tips on making friends or conversation starters, I stumbled across this clip where Jordan takes us around Toowoomba campus showing us just how it’s done! Check it out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP5WWmQRm9U&list=UUp0ShvPUKqiKvfj40bexawg&feature=c4-overview

Feel free to share your O-Week experiences and your starting Semester 1 clues or blues below!

All the best!
Kristie

The Facts and Myths about University Life!

Is it true that university lecturers don’t actually mind if you sleep through their lecture? Can university assignments really be handed in at midnight? Is it true that there are different clubs students can be involved in? Is there really such a thing as a 24 hour library? Are all university students poor? Do all first year students gain 15kgs? But most importantly, is university life fun?

All these questions and more will be answered in this mythbusting blog!

blog1

Three years of study completed, one more semester to go and then I’m done and dusted! My occupation will no longer be classified as ‘Student’, but as ‘Registered Nurse’. What a roller-coaster ride my university experience has been…there have been lots of ups and downs.

I will start with the ‘downs’, these moments are just like falling from the Giant Drop at Dream World. The first 6 months of my study was completed at a university in Brisbane and I lived on-campus as a college student. It is true that I gained weight in the first 6 months of my degree (fresher spread they call it). I was experiencing ‘culture shock’- Brisbane is very different from Hervey Bay and I missed my family. I comforted myself with chocolate and I always gave in to the yummy desserts that the college’s chef cooked. I would advise all first year students to say NO to that chocolate bar, but YES to going for a run or bike ride! It is surprisingly true that people sleep through their lectures without their lecturer knowing. In large Brisbane universities there are up to 500 students in some lecture theatres. I suggest you find a friend that is studious and will pinch you on the arm if you start to drift off to sleep or daydream. I was studying a science degree and HATED it, so the best suggestion I can give to any uni student is to study something you enjoy! A great thing about studying in the city is that there are over 100 different social clubs to join…from the chess club to the athletics club.

Don’t let my first experience of uni life in Brisbane put you off…I just wasn’t ready to hit the big smoke!

The ‘ups’ to my uni life is just like the Superman ride at Movie World where you’d like to do it again and again. The last 2 ½ years of my study have been at USQ, studying nursing. Moving back to Hervey Bay to study nursing was the best decision I have ever made. USQ Fraser Coast Campus is such a great uni; you can get to know all your peers and your lecturers at a more personal level. The only down side is you can’t sleep through your lectures because the class sizes are a lot smaller and your teacher will hear you snoring. In reality the smaller class sizes are great; you are forced to stay awake and listen to exam content plus you can ask questions without 500 other eyes looking at you!

blog1Most assignments are to be submitted online by midnight (great for all those last minute assignment stress bunnies)! The student library at the Fraser Coast Campus this year underwent a huge refurbishment – it is now such a vibrant, fun place to study. Even better, the library is open to all USQ students 24 hours a day.

 

 

blog2Uni students aren’t always poor. We may not be the richest of people, but we learn to manage by applying for scholarships and bursaries. Part-time work is also an option and has been manageable for me personally. It’s always good to earn some extra spending money for those much needed shopping sprees!

 

 

blog2Uni isn’t always just about study. The Student Representative Committee (SRC) at the USQ Fraser Coast Campus in 2013 held many fun events. I attended their bowling night which was great fun to interact with new people and to win cool prizes! The SRC finished with a bang this year by holding a Gala Dinner with a 2 course meal, live entertainment and prizes to be won. Goes to show that uni doesn’t have to be about studying 24/7, but about having fun while you are doing it!

All in all, university is a lot better than what I thought it would be. I thought it would be really hard and scary! Thankfully it is nothing like that; with fun people, great job opportunities and more contact with lecturers means you can make friends of all ages. I have made friends for life! All of the staff want to see you do your very best and enjoy every moment…embrace it! I have loved being a university student and would do it again in the blink of an eye.

This blog has officially been busted! Keep an eye out for me in the future, I have thought about starting a new blog in 2014 as a graduate nurse. Thank you for reading my blogs this year, I have enjoyed writing them and sharing my knowledge.

blog4

All the best,

Kara :)

Summer Holidays: Taking a break to reset yourself

I was listening to John Mayer’s song Wildfire recently and he says, rather succinctly: “‘Cause a little bit of summer makes a lot of history.” Summer, what an opportunity. When I think back to my childhood, my high school years and more recently the years of study, summer has been the source of some of my best memories. New friends, road trips and holidays with family are just a few of my fondest recollections of past summers.

This summer I have a plan. It is simple. Enjoy, relax and grow. Hakuna matata. No worries.

Capture5
There is only one thing that really bothers me over this break though. How do I actually make the most of it? It is a pretty easy thing to sit down and do very little over the course of the holidays, and whilst it might be fun at the time, it is doing things that makes memories.

Here’s a shortlist of summer activities to make memories and don’t cost too much $$ (the essential for any uni student).

Capture4

Photo credit: @jewelszee_ on instagram
1. The beach. There is no doubt that this is the place to be over the summer. Whether for a day trip or week long retreats, the sun, waves, salt air and sand never fail to refresh body and soul. The options are endless: sunbathing, swimming, walking, fishing or surfing. One way or another a day or week at the beach will never be a waste.

Capture3

Photo credit: australiangeographic.com.au
2. Road trips. Perhaps this is one of the best ways to create memories over summer. Bundle a bunch of friends into a car and take off, either to a known or unknown destination. This one is about enjoying the journey. Laugh, cry but most importantly have fun. Travel south to the snowy mountains for a few days trekking Kosciusko or biking Thredbo, dare to travel further and end up in Melbourne or travel north to Hervey Bay, North West to Longreach or a short trip East and enjoy a day in Brisbane or Burley Heads. Do it. Find those unknown destinations and make memories on a road trip.

Capture2

Photo credit: Gourmet Traveller
3. Throw together a good barbecue. Invite a heap of friends and tell them to bring meat, drinks or salad and let the fun begin. I particularly love a summer barbie because the sun sets so late and everyone is able to sit around, beer or cider in hand (maybe a glass of wine too) and enjoy each other’s company. Add in a cricket bat, tennis ball and a bin and there’ll be a game going in minutes with plenty of guys able to show off while the ladies (excuse the stereotype) sit back and talk about their finds at the Boxing Day sales.

Capture1

4. Finally, one of my personal favourites: Go and see some sports. There’s plenty to see, especially with the cricket this year featuring the T20 BigBash at the Gabba and also the One Day International Series. If you happen to be in a major city around the time of one of the Ashes Tests be sure to go and see a day, it is well worth the time, especially if you’re with good company. And if you’re not into cricket there is also the A-league Football running over summer.

So this summer, take a break. Kick back with something cool to drink, have fun and make memories.

Until next time,
Josh

Advice for My Pre-exam Self!

Dear Kara McScardey-Cat,

You currently realised that assignment due dates are soon and exams are creeping up very fast. Panic mode sets in and you realise just how much hard work and study you have ahead of you…it already sounds tiring! But don’t stress, you only have 2 exams and a practical assessment this exam block…so think of yourself as lucky. And better yet, this is your last exam block for this degree!

30+++ pages of notes, that’s crazy you tell yourself. How are you going to remember it all? The simple answer is that you can’t. My tip to you is: remember the main points from each topic and focus on the exam preparation lectures (all the hints are in there). Writing and re-writing the main points from each lecture are the key to success…the info surprisingly sticks in your head this way.

blog1

Try to switch your brain “off” at night. There’s no point going over everything in your head, you’re only going to be more tired in the morning. So right now go to sleep…and dream of high-distinctions! Remember your lecturers are there to help you…there is no such thing as a stupid question (they want you to pass)!

Facebook will be waiting for you…so logout and reconnect with your friends after your exams. Stop stressing. Everything is going to be okay. Relax and keep on studying, you WILL get through this exam block. Treat yourself to afternoon tea with your friends for a break from study (you deserve it).

I will be waiting for you on the other side of your exam block to help you celebrate. In the meantime, good luck for your last ever exam! :)

From Kara McSmartie-Pants

blog2

Deciding the Right Time for a Cupcake

1blog

Leading up to the final weeks of university for Semester 2, I seem to be forever in procrastination mode. My question is: why do we procrastinate when we are aware that the time we have to complete our assignments is diminishing before our eyes? I constantly find myself in search of other things to do (nowhere near as important of course) like catching up on the Home and Away episodes I’ve missed, planning my holidays, online shopping… the list goes on. These breaks or ‘procrastinations’ are quite like the indulgence of cupcakes. The first few bites are liberating, right before the sudden guilty pleasure hits you. As you go to pick up another cupcake, you know you should be burning off the first one instead.

“To Glee or Not to Glee?”

2blog

My cupcake feast in the past week involved going to see USQ’s “To Glee or Not to Glee?” performance at the Toowoomba Campus. On a Wednesday evening, the 17th of October, into a bag went a picnic blanket, snacks and drinks, then off we went to witness some of Toowoomba regions’ great talents. Students of Concordia College, Downlands College, Oakey State High School, Scots PGC (Warwick) and Toowoomba State High School (Mt Lofty), singers from the Toowoomba Junior Choral Society, and dancers from The GRID and USQ Creative Arts students all amazed us with their clever compilation of choreography and outstanding vocals. Themes on the night were The Healing of Time, Young Love, Suffering, Forgiveness and Friendship. The event was a true representation of the welcoming atmosphere our university exhibits and certainly made me proud to be a USQ student. Spoiling myself with this cupcake was definitely a worthwhile break away from study. Our Creative Arts Faculty and USQ as a whole are often producing these events for the community to enjoy so make sure you keep an eye on the USQ website and/or Facebook page for the next upcoming exhibition!

Exam Preparation

As exams are fast approaching, it is important to allow yourself time out for that cupcake. Avoid getting so stressed out and caught up in study that you only leave your desk for the bare essentials – this will only send you insane and is more likely to do you harm than good.

Tip #1: Apply a tab to the open page in your textbook, put down the pen and step away from your desk. Assign enough time to lick the icing and the sprinkles (maybe even the paper and your fingers for every last bit). However, if you plan on doing more study that day, restrict your cupcake treats to no longer than ten to fifteen minutes at a time, and don’t go back for an immediate second one as finding motivation following this will be a strain (trust me!).

Tip #2: It may not be preferable around exam time, but for other times of the year, take the time out to go to a social event once a week. Go to a USQ event, play a sport, have a hobby. Don’t restrict yourself to the four walls in your bedroom – this isn’t healthy. Just like a cupcake, these things are OK in moderation!

Some extra tips:

  • Make sure you get enough sleep each night as studying on a few hours sleep will only lead to brain-frazzle.
  • Eat properly and stay fully hydrated – it’s distracting hearing your stomach rumble over the sound of the computer keys or the pen touching the paper!
  • Avoid checking Facebook every five minutes (if only our News Feeds gave us the answers to our exams!)
  • Ensure you have a comfortable and roomy study space – nothing beats a big cosy chair, textbooks and notes spread out everywhere and not having to search through one big pile.
  • Create a personalised study timetable – even include everyday activities like breakfast, lunch, dinner, lectures, tutorials etc and plan around these. DO follow it to avoid last minute cramming (especially midnight before you exam)!

If you’ve done all of the above and still feel overwhelmed, approach the Student Services team at your campus who are supportive and can assist you in various ways with all kinds of stress. Remember: they are there to help, not to judge!

4blog 3blog

5blog

Last but not least, avoid the face above by having confidence and always telling yourself “I CAN DO IT!”

All the best with your exams!

Kristie :)

The pre-exam lull

It’s easy enough to notice how quickly the semester has passed. For most of us (the engineering students at least), the bulk of the assignment work has passed and now is the time to refocus because of the looming exams. Before that is the “in-between”, the break, the calm before the storm. If you are an education student, however, I’d say you know the storm pretty well right now from floods of assignment work, so here’s a chance to just sit back and laugh in the face of exams you may never have to face (that’s what my friends do anyway…). For the rest of us, I thought it would be appropriate to ‘refresh’ our perspective on exams in this blog. Exciting huh.

The most common attitude to exams that I see, and one with which we are most familiar, is the constant dread. It reminds me of some of the shows I watched during my childhood. Early into the piece, the main character is introduced to the monster, usually coming out of the dark, maybe a trap door entrance to their lair. The unknown scares the character but he or she finds some sort of inner strength. Finally, despite the overwhelming fear, our champion would take the plunge into the pit, only to find that the “monster” was as scared as he was, worried by the threat of the incoming warrior. Before the end of the half hour, our two characters – the protagonist and the antagonist become friends.

1blog

I think our fear of exams is much like the story, we fear them and dread them, worry over our results and sweat over the last couple of concepts that are impossible to pin down (although, to say we become friends would definitely be a stretch). However, at the end of the day we always pull through, semester after semester, year after year, we are still here.

Personally, I love this time of year, mostly for the reasons stated in the illustration above. I relish the opportunity to face the giant and come up against the trial. If you are competitive (I am, just in case you hadn’t realised), it is a great opportunity to better yourself. To challenge yourself to be better and finish stronger than ever before. I mean, we’ve only been preparing for 16 weeks.

blog-1

So, despite the apparent calm, now is the best time to be preparing. Going over past exams, notes, self-assessment questions and everything in between. This is a great opportunity to spend 3 weeks with heads down and to see great reward from the work that we are doing. So turn the cricket off (if you have been watching the Ryobi Cup like myself) and get a plan going for study. And if you need motivation, just think: holidays are just around the corner.

Until next time,
Josh

So what do they call people who aren’t students?

I ask as I am about to put my studies on hold for the first time ever. EVER.

In less than a month’s time I will lose one of my defining features. No longer will I select ‘student’ as my primary occupation on the demographic section of surveys, or flash my ID card for discounts at the movies. My days spent studying/chatting/sleeping in the library are numbered and I may well have had my final picnic (for many months anyway) in the Toowoomba campus quad. The most astounding thing, which definitely hasn’t hit me yet, is the fact that I won’t constantly have assignment due dates in the back of my mind or exam study looming over me. My diary will be devoid of highlighted study reminders, my USB will lose its ‘Uni’ folder, and many trees will be saved from all the journal articles I won’t have to print.

blog1

It’s a freaky feeling to be putting my tertiary education aside but, after much deliberation, I have decided that it is time for a break. I feel like I’m ending a relationship: ‘it’s not you, USQ, it’s me – and I need some space’. Twelve years of schooling followed immediately by a three years’ bachelor degree have taken their toll on my sanity and stress levels (especially as my bachelor’s degree included two doses of summer semester and thus no real Christmas breaks). And then they were followed by this year. Honours year, which is due to be finished in a month (…tell that to my two outstanding assignments and thesis – so close but yet so far it seems!). Sixteen years of being a non-stop student. And to think that at the start of this year I was planning on applying for the 2014 master’s program as well, which would have brought the count to 18 years!

I guess the dilemma which is faced by many goes along the lines of ‘well if I stop studying now to _____ (work full-time/travel/have a family/become a lion tamer and run off with the circus), then will I ever return to obtain the education and qualifications that I want?’ Coming out of high school I figured I’d just ‘knock over’ the six additional years of study taken to become a registered psychologist – better that than be interrupted and lose focus on the end goal. I was naïve and didn’t realise at the time that it would take some kind of super power (that I am yet to possess) to stay focused for so long without my brain making mad attempts to escape through my ears and never come back.

blog2

I am someone who likes to be involved in lots of things and unfortunately the life of a successful student isn’t always compatible with that. So, after many hours deliberating over what to do next year I have come to the ‘take a break’ conclusion. Though I wouldn’t pinkie promise you on it, I do think that I will return to study at USQ sooner rather than later and that time off to relax, refresh, and reassess can only be a positive thing.

So then I had to think ‘wow, well if I’m not going to be a student then what will I be?!’ ‘Well,’ I thought, ‘what better to be than an adventurer?’ I need a real break next year, and whilst I also considered full-time work, in the end travel seemed like the best option, and something that I may not get the chance to do if I go down the career path now. Added to this is the fact that I was born in the UK, have British (as well as Australian) citizenship, and have 95% of my extended family living overseas. Aside from these things, wouldn’t you choose a traveling holiday over work?! So, not being one to mess around, my flights to the UK are booked for April next year (after graduation), and my British passport is in the process of being renewed. The tentative plan at this point is to gain some work in mental health whilst in the UK and then apply for Masters in 2015 when I return to Australia, but I’m also happy to just ‘go with the flow’. Farewell to the student and hello to the happy-go-lucky explorer! Oh wait, I’d better deal with those assignments and thesis first…

So, dear reader, I have a feeling that you may hear from me again before I depart, but if you don’t then all the best on your own study journey, and perhaps you will see another blog from me in a year or so!

blog3

How-to tips for study problems most of us have but don’t want to admit

I love a good Google, and my favourite image search is usually “little yellow cars”.  I can’t explain why they make me laugh- they just do.  My other favourite search (especially this time of year) is “study tips”.  Not because I find them particularly helpful, I just find them funny too.  Funny because so many of these so-called tips are heavy on what to do, but light on how to do it.  Telling a first-time uni student to not panic, stay positive, set a routine, get organised, and manage your time, is like you telling me to change oil in a car (yellow, or otherwise).  If I had to change the oil in my car, I wouldn’t know where to start!  I probably wouldn’t even get as far as popping the hood before giving up in frustration, and returning the olive oil to the pantry.  To prevent you from giving up in frustration when it comes to revising for exams, I’ve got some how-to tips for study problems most of us have but don’t want to admit.  So let’s get started by first answering the following three questions honestly with a true or false:

blog1

If you answered “true” to all three, congratulations, you’re completely normal and in touch with your own limitations.  By accepting these limitations, you can begin to work with them rather than fighting against them, leading to more effective studying and resulting in better grades.  Now because you’ve already identified yourself as easily distracted, I’d better get to the tips!

blog2

There are many different flavours of procrastination.  Some people procrastinate by getting out and about and taking $10 study breaks, but lately I’ve been more of a procrastinator at the keyboard.  After all, just sitting down at the computer with the intent to study is half the battle, right?  And just when I thought I had read everything on the internet, I discovered the internet archive!  Want to see the USQ website circa 1997?  You can!  In fact, just for laughs, here’s a link http://goo.gl/o4R5Wr.  And that my friends, won me a gold medal in the Procrastination Olympics.  But procrastination gets dangerous when you’ve been scouring the internet archive for five hours, and that assignment is no closer to completion.

The solution?  I tried waking up earlier, scheduling my day, and rewarding myself, but all I ended up doing was snoozing my alarm, being late for appointments with myself, and eating chocolate for breakfast.  So in a moment of clarity, I removed temptation.  StayFocusd (http://goo.gl/Q35ly8) is a free extension for the Chrome browser that lets you only access certain websites at certain times.  And without the internet, what else is there to do but study, watch mid-morning TV, or go and exercise?! Needless to say, by comparison, study suddenly looked really appealing.

blog3

The fact you’ve read this far has impressed me, because, to be honest, even I’m drifting in and out- and I wrote it!  That of course isn’t a reflection of the (incredibly insightful) content of this blog; it’s more a symptom of the fast paced world we live in- there’s always something that has to be done or something more interesting to do.  It’s one thing to master the fine art of blocking internet sites, but what do you do when you’ve been going at it hard for a good 11 minutes, and your mind starts to wander?

The solution?  A humble stopwatch, which, before it was an app, was actually a thing (http://goo.gl/9x9eav).  When studying, I quickly realised that when you’re not really in the mood, nothing sinks in, so I decided to tame my short attention span.  Here’s how I did it.  When I first sat down to start revising, I committed to a period of time I would spend studying that day- let’s say six hours.  As soon as I started studying I would start the stopwatch.  At the first sign of waned interest, or in one instance a burning desire to do the laundry, I’d stop the stopwatch, get up, and do something else for a little bit.  Then when the inevitable happened, and the new activity bored me too, I’d go back to studying and resume the stopwatch.  Rinse and repeat until that six-hour milestone was reached.  It will only take a few days of spending 14 hours to finish six hours of study to curb that tendency to take long intermissions, and just get it done!

blog5

I’ve yet to find a single event that slows down time like waiting for the exam room doors to open.  In that time, you can feel every single nugget of knowledge you have studied for the entire semester slowly evaporating.  Then, in your traumatised state, you are given the impossible task of finding the correct desk to sit at, which even though they’re alphabetised, has in some courses been harder than the exam itself.  Finally, you are left waiting for the perusal time to start.  That was always the part that got me the most.  The sitting.  The clock.  The anticipation.  The Nerves!

The solution?  Many courses have their own bank of practice exams, so if you’re going to practice, you may as well PRACTICE! Why not simulate the whole experience?  Before you start your practice exam go and stand outside for ten minutes (bring your stopwatch!) and stare at the door.  As you stand there visualise how you will feel and what you will hear while you are waiting for your real exams to start.  No matter how bored or silly you are feeling now, it’ll only be amplified on the actual exam day- so you may as well get used to it now!  Then, without talking, go inside and sit at your desk for five minutes.  Just sit there, and again, visualise how you will feel sitting in the exam hall waiting to get started.  I like to stare at the clock, because that’s exactly what I do in a real exam.  After five minutes, give yourself some perusual time, and then start working through your practice exam.  I’m not sure if I’ve heard it somewhere before (or even if it’s true?) but I think professional sports teans use visualisation, and if it’s good enough for Dunedoo Swans and the Wee Waa Panthers, it’s good enough for me!

Got your own how-to study tips? Share them below.