Deciding the Right Time for a Cupcake

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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?”

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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!

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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 :)

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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The budding Psychology student’s guide to USQ Open Day

So you’ve pined over the USQ Psychology Program and Course webpage, and now you’ve cleared you social calendar to attend one of the USQ Open Days in August.  Well done!  You are already better prepared than I was, when I first considered going to uni.  Although I graduated with my first degree earlier this year, it wasn’t all beer and skittles.  I had to learn things the hard way, I made mistakes with my enrolment pattern, and I had no idea about all the resources available to me.  So, armed with my knapsack of real-life experiences, below is a guide to USQ Open Day prepared especially for you, the budding Psychology student:

  1. A Bachelor of Science (Psychology) is just the tip of the iceberg to becoming a Registered Psychologist.  Applying to USQ is too easy and can be done from your smart phone, on a bus, at 4am in the morning, whether you are sober or not.  Courtesy of hindsight, I’d recommend that before jumping in and making any impulsive, long-term decisions about your future, that you talk it through with people who have experience in the field first.  When you decide to study psychology it is important you know what you are getting yourself into.  When I applied I was quitting smoking, going through a break-up, wasn’t happy at work, and thought  “I need a change, I should study Psychology, I’d like to help people.”  Had I investigated further than just the front page of the USQ website and had a broader knowledge of psychology than what I had seen on Dr. Phil, I would have discovered that psychology is more than just couches and inkblot tests.  There is a heavy focus on statistics, report writing, and time-wise it takes at least six years to become a registered Psychologist.  Of course all of this is openly discussed when you talk to faculty members in the Health sessions activities or at the info pods, and is illustrated delightfully below.
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  2.  A Bachelor of Science (Psychology) doesn’t have to be an exclusive relationship.  Imagine my surprise when, one year into studying my degree, I realised I could use my elective courses to complete a second major.  It was perfect, I was going to combine it with the Business HR major and become a psych-commerce-powerhouse.  Unfortunately, I had already wasted an elective on a unit I wasn’t even interested in (Intro to Law isn’t as upbeat as Legally Blonde would have you believe).  The moral of the story?  Because I didn’t have enough elective units left in my remaining two years to complete the second major, I missed out on an opportunity to maximise my employability.  So as tempting as it may be on Open Day to just focus on Psychology related sessions, take some time out to visit the info pods of other faculties and check out all the courses on offer.  You will have eight electives, use them wisely!
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  3. Acronym Overload: Know your TLCs, OACs and SROs.  I’m just going to say it; a Psychology degree will require you to be statistics-savvy.  If, like me, you’ve been out of school long enough to forget how to use a scientific calculator, you may be interested to know there are free workshops held by The Learning Centre (TLC) that help you with just that!  If you have been out of school for a really, really long time, you may not even know how to start your uni journey, thankfully the Open Access College (OAC) can point you in the right direction.  Of course, I had no idea about either of these resources until after I needed them, so consider yourself ahead of the game there.  One resource I did utilise was my Student Relationship Officer (SRO).  Uni can feel like a big place, but the “Ask USQ” button on the USQ website will get you in touch with your SRO whenever you need a hand, without the subscription fees of Ask Bongo or Ask Jerry.  But don’t just take my word for it, TLC, OAC, and SROs have info pods at the Open Days, so remember to meet these acronyms in person!
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Although the Acronym IQ isn’t a scientific construct, I think it should be.  Masters thesis maybe?  Finally, to give you a taste of being a student, here’s some further reading… you’ll see this a lot :-/

If you’ve got any Open Day advice of your own, for Psychology students or others, share it below!

Nick

Holidays, where are you?

This is it. This is the last holidays I have to relax before I enter into my final year of uni – officially received my results and passed everything. YAY! While I love living on College, it feels so good to come home and not have to worry about uni work or being woken at 3am when someone comes home from the club. There are some days though where I don’t feel as though I’m on holidays. With work, my little brother graduating grade 12, trying to keep my boyfriend occupied and Christmas just around the corner, these holidays feel jam-packed– and it’s only just beginning!

My Parents, Alex, and his lovely grad partner, Kathrine, ready for graduation!

The day after I arrived in Townsville I began work as a Christmas Casual in Townsville’s newly renovated shopping centre; which seems to steal all my money. I traded in my study brain for a… working one? With the shopping centre already so packed a month away from Christmas, I have decided I should attempt to start my Christmas shopping early. Hopefully I can avoid the pre-Christmas freak-out and the dreaded car-park hunt.

With my parents living it up in New Zealand, I have been elected the official Christmas interior decorator while they’re away and I take this role very seriously. I love Christmas. I think my family is feeling the festive season early this year with Mum making an army of Christmas Snowmen and my brother’s also getting a jump on Christmas presents. It’s great to have everyone together to celebrate over a lunch filled with seafood and tropical fruits. I love receiving presents, and more importantly (cough cough) giving presents. I think there’s something about Christmas that brings peace of mind after several months of going crazy trying to find the perfect present.

Christmas shopping is going well and Mum’s little army of Snowmen gather around the Concannon Snowman, ready for a busy month ahead

So in-between helping my little brother organise himself for his graduation, working, Christmas shopping, watching the cricket and occasionally having a quiet day on my days off work,  I ventured out and went to watch a Crocs game. Unfortunately, this became their TENTH loss this season… out of 10 games! Being so busy, I have slowly gotten around to catching up with friends. With some friends still finishing exams and others working, it’s sometimes hard to find a time that suits everyone. Thankfully I’m home for three months.

When will the Crocs get their first win?!

Overall, being at home is a time to relax. It’s important to take time out to recharge before tackling the study workload again. Family are the most important thing and I think now that I live so far away that’s become more evident. It’s important to spend as much time as you can together because you never know when they’ll ditch you for New Zealand.

Merry Christmas!

Nearly there, nearly there…NEARLY THERE!

Hi!

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

NEARLY THERE!

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.”