The light at the end of the tunnel: study holiday planning

Well, we are halfway through semester already, but there is still hope for us… because holidays are close! I suspect that I am not alone in secretly saying to myself ‘Yippee it’s nearly holidays’. But it does leave me asking ‘Where did the semester go?’ If you are anything like me at the moment it all seems like study, study, study! Assignments… when will they end? And it would be so easy to think that with the mid-semester holidays coming soon I could just do nothing, have a complete break and forget all the assignments that are backed up halfway to Woolloomooloo.

holding booksBut I know that I would regret it at the end of semester when I go back to lectures and remember that those assignments are still due and aarrrrghhh! I haven’t started yet.

So holidays are an ideal opportunity to catch up on all the readings that you are behind in and get ahead on the assignments that are due before we get into the exam period. I find that a combination of relaxation, study and assignments works best for me during the mid-semester break. That way, when the last few weeks of the semester come around the stress levels are kept to a bare minimum. Well, that’s the theory anyway. It does work…mostly. Here are some options for studying during the mid-semester break:

  • Catch up on study and assignments one day, then take the next day off and catch up with friends.
  • Go crazy and work like there is no tomorrow, get everything done and dusted in the first week and take the rest of the holiday break off! The best thing about this plan is that when you get back to uni you feel like you have had a break and all your catch up is done.
  • Have a complete rest in the first week, do nothing, sit around, go to the beach, whatever you desire, then get into study in the last week of the holidays… but be warned! This plan does have a drawback! After a week of doing nothing it is really hard to get back into it and get motivated to actually start studying and begin those assignments again.
  • Do the mornings! Study in the mornings and have YOUR time in the afternoons.
  • Do the afternoons! Have YOUR time in the mornings and study in the afternoons.
  • If you are an evening person, have YOUR time during the day and study/ assignments in the wee hours of the evening.
  • If you are planning on going away for the holidays, take your laptop and assignment or study work. You never know, there may be a few moments that you will be totally inspired and a whole assignment can be completed in a few hours! Personally, this strategy never worked for me because I have always found the beach/family/shopping too alluring to resist!

But regardless of how you go about studying during the holidays, that is, if you do any studying at all, just remember that the holidays are a great opportunity to catch up and get ahead with your studies. Any effort you do manage to put into study will just make life after holidays and before exams so much less stressful. And remember: distraction is the enemy of study!

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Travel survival guide: Your map to enjoying the semester break!

We are almost halfway through semester, which means that the midyear break is fast approaching.  If you want something to look forward to once the hard slog is on hold, start planning your travels now!

Whether it’s a weekend away somewhere nearby or an overseas jaunt, these travel tips will help make sure that you’re prepared for the rest and relaxation or chaos and adrenaline-fuelled adventures you are dreaming of.

1.     Do your research (even if you like surprises)

When going somewhere new, it’s always a good idea to find out a little something before you go to ensure you stay safe and healthy and, for those who don’t like surprises, have a few ideas of what to see and do.  As a minimum, check to see if there are any health or safety risks if you plan to travel overseas – and take action now to prevent them.  You might also want to check that there aren’t any major events happening during your planned stay. If you’re like me and prefer not to pre-book, this makes it rather difficult to find a place to stay on arrival. Trust me, I’ve been caught out more than once!  It’s kind of like approaching an assignment – while it is possible to wing it, you’re more likely to do well if you know the basics before you get started!

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2.     Pack light (but have something for all types of weather)

There’s nothing worse than lugging a heavy backpack or suitcase on vacation, only to realise that you don’t use half the stuff you brought with you and need other things, which you left behind. Do you really need 4 pairs of high heels if you’re going to the beach for the weekend? Probably not, but make sure you pack one pair just in case you decide to go out somewhere more formal for dinner or dancing. And make sure you bring something warm – when the weather gets bad, even the seaside can become freezing in summer!  And don’t forget a pair of jeans: you can dress them up or down depending on your shoes, top and accessories. It’s kind of like preparing for an exam. You can’t prepare for absolutely everything, but by ensuring you have a broad understanding and focusing on core concepts, you are more likely to succeed.

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3.     Expect the unexpected (and hope that they’re only positive)

We all know how good it feels to finally be on vacation after a seemingly never-ending semester. You’re no longer on a deadline… you feel on top of the world! Nothing can get in the way of a great vacation… but just in case, make sure you take out travel health insurance, particularly if you’re heading overseas. In some countries, you won’t be treated unless you can prove that you have the money to pay beforehand and it can be very, very expensive. It’s like that last-minute cramming you do before you walk into the exam room – you might not need it but you will be so thankful you put the extra effort in to swot if you do.

4.     Go with the flow (unless of course it’s free flow all night!)

So you get to the airport and find that your flight has been delayed, or you check the forecast and that bright, sunny beach you were dreaming of is currently being pummelled with rain. Fret not, for vacations aren’t the time for precise plans anyway. Chances are that there’s some great free stuff to check out at the airport (movies, gardens, even slides for adults!) and reading a book from the dry sanctuary of your beach bungalow is still a more relaxing and tranquil experience than you would have if you were at home. Think of it like tackling the ups and downs of uni. You might not always take the path you had planned or get the grade that you strived for, but you gain that all-important knowledge and understanding in the end.. and it is this that sets you free!

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I wish you all a triumphant march to the end of semester.  Study hard, but don’t forget to take a break and plan a rewarding vacation to look forward to!

5 Ways to approach the Holiday Finish Line

Semester 3 activities have come to an end and it is finally time to breathe in the holiday air. Some of us may have no idea how or where to begin. With my brain running on overtime, I have come up with some ideas on how we as ‘sucker for punishment’ people (as defined in one of my previous blogs) can prevent squander of the time we have left before Semester 1 begins.

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1.       Go on an adventure

Get together with a group of friends, or go solely if preferred, and head off on an adventure. Travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. You’re probably thinking, ‘yeah, right, I’m a uni student, like THAT’S gonna happen’ but it doesn’t have to be exotic, nor expensive. Even a national park within your vicinity would suffice. Take along a picnic lunch, togs and your comfy joggers for the authentic bush experience. After all, swimming, eating and bushwalking are all elements of this serenity!

2.       Volunteer

Approach your local organisations who would welcome an extra asset to their team temporarily. For them, the additional assistance would be beyond valuable. For you, a stupendous encounter is virtually guaranteed. You may even decide to continue this once uni starts. A win-win situation really! Adding to this benefit is an appealing quality to add to your CV that employers admire.

3.       Watch new/favourite movies

The demands of study don’t always allow you to relax for a WHOLE couple of hours so what better time than now to do so. Pick up a packet of popcorn and curl up on the couch to watch your favourite movie or go down to the video store to grab one you haven’t seen before.  Otherwise, make an outing out of it and head down to the cinemas with family or friends – that way you can catch up with your loved ones at the same time as viewing the latest flick.

4.       Get active

Again, time always seems to be to blame when it comes to exercising throughout the academic periods of the uni year. To avoid this, start going for a jog or walk most days of the week to get into an active routine before uni starts again. Doing so is likely to train your body into a habit of exercise. If this doesn’t entice you, do some research on local gyms and/or exercise programs that you can afford. This option is fairly likely to provide motivation – especially if a personal trainer is involved. Or even worse, your bank details are required and keeping fit dips into your uni drained account!

 5.       Prepare for Semester One

Although even thinking about more uni work is the last thing a Semester 3 student would feel like doing right now, there’s nothing worse than starting a new uni year unprepared. This is admittedly one of my favourite times –  the prospects of different subjects, meeting new lecturers and other people involved in the program, not to mention my strange infatuation with stocking up with an awesome new range of stationery! I also look forward to walking into USQ Bookshop at the start of every semester, with my course codes in tow, to surprise myself with the cover of each textbook I am going to need. Yes, I somewhat sneakily mentioned “the cover” only. But in all seriousness, having your books, stationery and textbooks organised prior to the semester is a fresh way to start the academic year. It also isn’t a bad idea to access Study Desk to discover what you’re in for through Semester 1, so that everything isn’t too overwhelming come the first day!

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Aside from these activities, the rest of the holidays could be spent by simply picking up your favourite book, reading a new one, or even having a barbeque to catch up with family and friends that you normally wouldn’t have time to see as often. Whatever it is you choose to do, make sure you make the most of the time left and that relaxing is included in the equation. The last thing you want to do is burn out before the year has started!

How do you plan on finishing your holidays?

Kristie

Suit-Up for Summer!

Hello all and welcome to 2014!

While many students have been enjoying their summer on the beach, catching up with friends and   adventuring, I made the decision (unpopular to most) to complete a summer placement. During November and December, I completed a four-week summer program where I was able to experience criminal law in a practical setting. Over this time I was able to experience the day-to-day life in a busy law office, working alongside lawyers and their paralegals. I was able to complete a wide range of work, including legal research, communicating with other law firms, as well as drafting letters and documents.

As this was my first work experience in an office environment, even the minor aspects of the placement amazed me; I’d work full-time hours, dress the part (suit up!) and even have my own desk to work from.

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Although at times feeling like I was thrown in the deep end with some of the work, all of the staff were happy to answer questions and share their experiences with me. Learning first hand through practically completing work was extremely beneficial and allowed me to make several connections with concepts I’d learned through my law study.

Working alongside law practitioners also opened up opportunities to sit in court and observe a number of criminal law matters. Through spending time in court observing, I quickly became familiar with processes of a trial and the functions required by each of the court personnel.

The summer placement also had plenty of other highlights, including the opportunity to attend professional development seminars and was even able to tag along to the work Christmas party. The professional development sessions were beneficial in explaining the practicalities of criminal law, and in enhancing legal research skills. It was great to be able to take my learning beyond the lecture rooms into a practical setting, and I’m sure to use the skills I learned to my benefit in my final year of university.

At the end of the four weeks I had made a number of professional friends and I had the satisfactions of knowing the work I had completed was of great assistance. To step out of my comfort zone in completing tasks was a huge learning experience, which has allowed me to develop both personally and professionally. Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience and one which has helped me to think more clearly about career aspirations.

I am so grateful for the experience I had over summer and I look forward to taking up any opportunities the New Year has in store!

Enjoy the rest of summer!

Jordan

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!

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Hello Holidays!

What time is it? It’s holiday time!!!

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With the semester two exam season now at a close, the sighs of relief can be heard echoing from students across Toowoomba, Springfield and Hervey Bay.

After completing the usual post-exam ritual of returning library books, cleaning my desk, and packing away textbooks, I found myself at a loose end – there wasn’t any more study to be done, no exams to prepare for. With all the time I now had, I worked out that in the last 256 days of the academic year, I successfully completed 8 courses towards my double degree, which involved attending approximately 104 classes (lectures and tutorials), writing 25 assignments and sitting 5 end-of-semester exams!

Although 2013 seemed to speed by so quickly, I also managed to squeeze in time for a law internship, attended networking events and also had the opportunity to travel to Sydney to represent USQ at on a national’s level. With all the major academic hurdles now behind me, I am able to kick back and enjoy the holidays.

I know many people have exciting and adventurous plans for the summer, but after a busy year of study I’m just looking forward to relaxing and enjoying some well-earned peace and quiet.

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This summer, I’m looking forward to the little things like visiting grandparents and extended family, catching up on a mountain of TV shows and movies I missed out on during the year and playing the next Call of Duty game.

This summer will also involve celebrating two significant milestones in my life – the completion of my business degree (one down, one more to go!) as well as my 21st birthday. After spending the past two consecutive summers studying, this summer break has been a long time coming and it’ll be nice to have some time off to rest up before my final year of study at USQ!

What are you looking forward to this summer?

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

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.

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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.

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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!

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GRAAAAAHHAHAAHAHAHAHAH! SEMESTER BREAK IS FINALLY HERE!!!!!!

This past (10 week!) term has been the most epic, marathon like event of my uni life. I haven’t studied continuously for such a long period of time since school… which reminds me – this past month brought up 4 years out of school for me. Wow, just wow. Where did that time go?! (Just in case anyone was wondering if I dropped out, no – I was born and raised in the glorious state of NSW, but that is a story for another time).

So, prelude aside, it is HOLIDAYS! Well, a holiday of sorts. We still have assignments piling up (some of us anyway) as we head toward the ‘pointy’ end of semester – THE EXAMS. But while it is here, we might as well linger a while in this honeymoonlike bliss that is the mid semester break and dream of the real break in just 6-7 short weeks (depending on your exam timetable). Where will you go? What will you do? The opportunities are endless. Roadtrip to Melbourne, fly to NZ, spend hours lazing around beautiful beaches to the south at the Gold Coast or the north at the Sunshine Coast. Nevertheless, summer breaks are ALWAYS a time for relaxing, having fun and making memories.

I was trying to think of one adventure for this post until I realised I couldn’t narrow down a lifetimes worth of holidays (admittedly only 22 years…) so here is the revised edition of all my holidays compiled into one big holiday. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to find an adventure of your own.

It all began with a roadtrip. Like most good adventures. Where are we going? Southward!The taste of excitement is lingering in the air as the car sets off. The first memory? Windows down along the highway. Hot air bursts into the car send forth an explosion of hair as the girl sitting next to me peers out the window. Of course, this trip is a family trip. We wait in eager expectation of our destination, asking regularly “are we there yet?” or laughing as the younger boy makes humourous observations about the family dynamic.

Destination 1: The bakery. OH MY! The delights! The smells! Apple turnovers, custard tarts, cream buns and jam doughnuts! Culinary sensations to tease the tastebuds and fill the tummy. The essential stop and destination in any roadtrip satisfies the hungry mouths and gives the adults some quiet as the back seat passengers take a nap…

Rocking rocking rocking. The boat rocks back and forth, but it isn’t harsh, if anything the rocking is gentle, enough to rock a baby to sleep. It is the Spirit of Tasmania. Land ahoy! After only hours we’re running into the fresh breeze around Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain. Take a moment to breathe it in. Glass-like reflections across the water, fresh mountain air, “crunch, crunch, crunch” goes the sandy gravel underfoot. In the blink of an eye you’re swimming in Wine Glass Bay. And before you know it you’re out. Way too cold.

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Jump to an airplane. The first overseas adventure. Burma. Orphanages, children, games and fun. The evening brings out all sorts of strange smells. Sounds to arouse curiosity. It’s the street vendors that sell their food for five to ten cents Australian. The guide shakes his head as you navigate the cracked and uneven footpath, it would NOT be advisable to purchase, despite the pangs of hunger. But alas, when no one is around the corn fritter-thing takes your fancy and…

… by some miracle it is delightful to both the senses and the stomach! 1 – 0 to the cast iron stomach.

Ahh CHOO! The dust from the road causes a sneeze to shake mountains and before you know it, it’s the lights of Singapore dot the horizon. What a beautiful city! Adventures to be had here there and everywhere. Chinatown market fun, Orchard road mischief and the Night Zoo! Monkeys scream at the approach of dusk and fire-twirling Islanders put on a fierce show, entrancing the mind as the rhythmic boom of the drums echo through the heart and mind, flashes of orange-red flames dart across the dark sky and ferocious war cries pierce the night.

A far cry from the streets of Burma, the stores of Singapore offer another enticement. Digital goods. Cha-ching! and the credit card is whipped out at the allure of a new camera. For what is a holiday without good photos?

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Finally, on the last leg of the journey, we enter the streets of downtown Kansas City. It’s cold back home but not here – a lovely 34 degrees. Singlet weather, definitely singlet weather. A monitor is on, advising residents of a “UV warning”. What the heck is that?! Try spending 5 minutes in the Aussie sun, then you’ll get some real UV exposure.

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Besides the lovely temperature, you take in the magnificent Spanish architecture and al fresco dining places highlighted by a faint orange glow as the sun begins to set.

Flying back to reality requires one final stop: San Francisco. Steep hills, COLD breeze and thick fog (you quickly discover the reason for the local saying “The coldest winter you’ll ever have is a summer in San Francisco”) and stunning character. Segway touring is a blast, rolling up hills, down hills and side to side slalom. One last snapshot: giant slices of SF’s best pizza and very sore feet, finally, you are satisfied. It is time to go home.

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Until next time!
Josh