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.

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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.

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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

Surviving semester, one movie at a time

Have you ever wished life was more like movies? I most definitely have! As a lover of superhero and sci-fi movies, I am envious of the superpowers, magical items and abilities which are used to overcome adversity and save the day. With the semester well past the half-way point, assessments have begun to pile up and time seems to be running ever-shorter. In this week’s blog I’ll be sharing my top five abilities, qualities and materials from movies I’d wish for as a student to survive this semester.

A “pause button” for everyday life

In the movie Click, Adam Sandler buys a universal remote which (to his surprise) can pause time, fast forward and manipulate the universe around him. With many students juggling work, study and a social life, time is scarce. With a “pause button” for life, you’ll be able to get the most out of every moment – adequately prepare for lectures and complete assignments ahead of time whilst being able to go out and work solid hours. While I continue my search for a universal remote, the best thing for students is to become experts in juggling work with study – check out a recent post by USQ Blogger Georgina who shares her experience in finding the work/study balance (http://usqedu.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/to-work-or-not-to-work/).

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The ability to learn really quickly

I can safely say that EVERY student wants to be able to learn really quickly! In the movie Limitless, Bradley Cooper plays a character who discovers a supplement which allows him to understand and learn quickly with ease. Unfortunately, not everyone has a photographic memory and when it comes to exam study many students spend countless hours cramming. Once again, although this ability is wishful thinking to most, effectively juggling study through building timetables can be an effective way to learn course material in the lead up to exam block.

A cure for indecisiveness

When it comes to university study, many decision are to be made – What degree will I study? Will I study full-time or part-time? Recently a dilemma I’ve been facing is deciding between what electives I will choose for my final year of university. In the first Harry Potter film, students were grouped into houses when the sorting hat was placed on their heads. As an indecisive student, I would love to have something like the sorting hat to help make those tricky decisions.

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If, like me, you are having troubles deciding which of the variety of electives available you want to take, check out Georgina’s blogpost on electives within her Psychology Degree (http://usqedu.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/eclectic-electives-why-my-degree-resembles-an-ice-cream-3/).

Time travel

The ability to travel back to the past and see forward into the future has been the subject of many movies, such as the Back to the Future series. As a law student, I would love the ability to go back in time and experience some of the landmark events in Australia’s history – including federation in 1901, to witness the Mabo decision and the removal of the Whitlam government in 1975. On the same token, I would be so amazing to see what developments the future has in store – will Australia become a Republic? Will Australia adopt a Bill of Rights? Will Queensland ever get daylight savings?!?

A Money Tree

Whilst not directly from movies, the number one item on most students’ wish list is for money to grow on trees. Juggling full-time study and an internship quickly fills the calendar and leaves limited time free for work. Although the idea of a money tree is wishful thinking, scholarships are available to university students which can assist by providing financial support. Whether you are a current university student or planning on studying sometime in the future, scholarships are absolutely worth applying for! Check out one of my previous blogs about scholarships, covering how to apply and resolving the many myths associated with eligibility (http://usqedu.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/scholarship-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow/).

Now that I’ve shared my movie-inspired wish list, what things would you wish for?

Jordan

Concannon College and the Chamber of Studies

I think Professor Dumbledore said it best, “I will only truly have left this place when none here are loyal to me… Help will always be given at college to those who ask for it.” Or something to that effect.

Like many students who attended Hogwarts, I moved far away from home not knowing a single thing about my awaiting destination or the people there. I received a letter in the mail saying I had been accepted into the USQ family at Toowoomba. At just 17 years of age, I packed my 3 suitcases (which did not impress my dad or my two brothers who had to help carry them) and set out on a nerve-racking voyage from Townsville. I have since learnt that packing my snow jacket was definitely a good idea this winter!

Before moving to Toowoomba, I had to decide between 3 Colleges – Concannon (the fearless crocodiles), McGregor (the fiery devils) and Steel Rudd (the soaring seagulls). My decision was made and I just needed to wait for the ‘Sorting Hat’ to have the final say. Lucky for me, I got my preference and Concannon was, and still is, my home. With countless college activities, uni club dress-up parties and intercollege events (10 points for Concannon!) it didn’t take long to settle in. While I sometimes struggle out of bed a few minutes before class begins the 2 minute walk to uni assures me I’ll make it in time. And after a long, hard day of studying I know there will always be someone waiting at college when the day is over. Even though I moved so far away from my family, Concannon has become a home away from home.

Living on college gives me the opportunity to meet people studying a range of different degrees from (defence against the dark) arts degrees such as theatre to science degrees like chemistry (potions classes).  If I need a distraction or help I can just open my door or window and I’m sure to see a familiar face. Or sometimes I just bang on the wall to get Hermione’s attention next door. She loves it when I do that.

Residential Shield competitions between the three colleges are obviously a highlight for most. With an event roughly once a week, members from all colleges come out in college colours like a pack of wizards gathering for a quidditch game. With events ranging from soccer and afl to trivia and idol there is something to cater for all (10 more points to Concannon!). The points are then tallied after each event and totalled at the end of the year where the overall winner is announced over a delicious feast. While these events often end in a group celebration or a group commiseration, it is always a group effort.

Even as Harry Potter fought against the difficulties thrust upon him throughout life, he knew he could rely on his family at Hogwarts to battle with him. I know if I ever come across He Who Must Not Be Named that my fellow Concannonites would join forces with the other colleges and stand behind me, Mrs Weasley style.

I think the message to take from Harry Potter is no matter where you are and the troubles you face, you will never be alone. Whether you’re struggling with study or an outfit choice, college life provides more than a place to sleep. Just like Harry Potter and those who attended Hogwarts, I have found a home away from home. So if you’re unsure about studying and living on college consider these words from some wise old man: “it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”