Add your own flavour ‘study parent’!

So you’re a parent and a university student or what I prefer to call a ‘studying parent’, among other roles I am sure. Then I bet you will be/ have been looking to strike a good study-life balance. Balance… you might be saying to yourself ‘pfft, what’s that’ but I am a firm believer that we can have it all! With the right priorities, a little task management and by drawing on our inherent ability to cope with the differing demands of our lives we can find this balance and adapt into the happy and successful studying parents that we crave to be.

Over the course of my degree, I have used many and varied tactics to study whilst parenting. To share more of my story though, I will have to give you the run down about my three and half year old son. He has light, golden-brown, scuffled hair, deep brown almond shaped eyes, is knee high to a grasshopper, the love of my life and FULL of energy. As my son has gotten a little older, we mostly like to ‘study’ together. At first he would read his own books and colour beside me. These days he prefers to copy, pretending to read mummy’s special text books and write with a black biro.

Sometimes before I sit down to write an assignment, I open Microsoft Word, change the page colour and let him type with some funky font and in his favourite colour of the day. After having the taste for feeling important and involved in my university work (or mummy’s Uni as he calls it), he happily resumes playing with his toys for a while. Other fun things that we have done together include making revision cards and sitting side by side wearing our headphones listening to online lectures and the dinosaur train ABC song.

I think the most important thing to take away from this is to add your own flavour to your ‘dual role’ techniques. You might do as I and my son have, or you may prefer do to something a bit different, more suited to your individual personality and unique family dynamic. Once you are settled into your new routine you will be well and truly on your way to achieving the ever elusive balance that may have seemed unrealistic in the beginning.

Til next time.

- a phoenix just like you, Krisi

The Year to end all Years…

In two days’ time I will commence what I have been told is the most grueling year of a student’s life. A year that will test my academic ability, jeopardize my social life, reduce my sleep bank balance, and compromise my sanity. In two days’ time I will begin a journey that may ‘make or break’ me – Honours Year*. I don’t think the reality of the situation will actually sink in until I’m sitting in that classroom, beginning an 8-day intensive workshop on multivariate analysis, research and thesis proposals, ethical dilemmas, and counselling techniques. For the moment my brain is still enjoying being on holidays, pleased to have completed my undergraduate science degree and to only have casual employment, volunteer work, coffee dates, and road trips to be concerned about. It is hard to comprehend that I should be preparing it for an onslaught of reading, researching, and revising. A week or so ago I was enjoying my 21st birthday with family and friends – not a care in the world – and now I am bracing myself for the return to study; my textbooks and laptop to be my most important companions.

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Thankfully, I am not to brave the storm alone. My family and friends – some of whom have already completed similar study – have been amazingly supportive so far, and I know they will be there again, despite how stressed out, cranky, or deliriously tired I may get.

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I am exceptionally lucky in that my boyfriend is also a psychology student and about to begin honours himself, as are several of my friends. I have been teamed up with an amazing thesis supervisor, and have been allocated the topic that most interested me for my research project (Autism Spectrum Disorders). I am confident in the USQ staff and facilities. Ultimately, I think I’ve been given the best chance to succeed that I’m ever going to get. I wouldn’t say ‘bring it on!’ but I’m also not running in the opposite direction just yet.

This year will be a balancing act – I hope to continue working and volunteering (I help at Lifeline one day a week) and maybe even to see daylight and my friends every now and then. Stupidly or not, I even have a cruise booked for July (everyone needs a break!). I’ll check in with you again in a few months to let you know how I’m travelling, and just how skilled I am at time-management…

I thought I’d end with the top three events from my holidays (holidays which are about to fade into nothingness all too soon): 1. As mentioned above, I turned 21! 2. My Rotaract Club organised a movie night that raised almost $1200 for Guide Dogs Queensland – thank you to anyone reading this who supported it! 3. Last but not least, I volunteered at the Woodford Folk Festival – and would recommend it to anyone; especially if you are a poor student and fancy a free ticket and accommodation.Image

Oh, and I also got be on a bus, wearing my new, free USQ t-shirt! Make sure to come along to the Phoenix Carnival on the 24th Feb (I am especially looking forward to the fairy floss, movie at sunset, and dunking machine hehe…) Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3CaOfSy5cU

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Well, that’s all from me for the mo’ – off to gather stationery for the big day! :S

- Gena

*For those asking ‘what is this insane-sounding honours year?’ Differences from an undergraduate program include:

  • Week-long workshop blocks (with class from 9am-5pm each day), which occur four times a year, rather than several 2/3-hour classes each week. Workshops are often held in the weeks usually considered holidays.
  • A research project/thesis due at the end of the year, as well as other ‘normal’ subjects each semester.
  • Though it is an on campus program (and cannot be completed unless you attend the workshops), more external-style study is required and students must take the initiative in catching-up with their supervisors and staying on task.
  • The program only takes one year of full-time study to complete.

For more information, The University of Southern Queensland website is more accurate than I (check out http://www.usq.edu.au/handbook/current/sci/BSCH.html).

Wishin’ and hopin’…

…And, as Dusty would say, “thinkin’ and prayin’, and plannin’ and dreamin’”. The end of my science degree – which occurred on the 5th of November with my final exam – marked a time of relief, celebration, and sleep; but also a period of anticipation. Not only was I awaiting the release of end-of-semester results, I was wishin’ and hopin’ for an offer into the honours program next year…

For those of you considering a future as a psychologist, be warned: the road is a long and competitive one, especially at USQ (as I am beginning to find). From the hundreds of students enrolled in the three-year Bachelor of Science (Psychology) program at the start of first year, less than forty will be accepted into the honours program that follows it – and it’s your GPA that determines your fate. And, if you do get in to honours, you still need two years of supervised practice in the ‘real world’ or a Master’s degree in psych (which – you got it – is ridiculously difficult to get in to as well) before you can become a registered psychologist. ‘Registered psychologist’; two little, very elusive words that will take a minimum of six years, a lot of hard work, and some luck, to call your own.

So, be warned, the mentality that “c’s get degrees’ at uni won’t get you very far if you dream to be a psychologist. That being said, I really enjoyed my science degree and the journey so far, and though I struggled with some of the statistical courses and medical jargon I’m happy I stuck at it. The support was there for me and I’m proud of my achievements. And the holidays have never been better! Since I chose to study year-round (taking on subjects in the summer semester) in my first and second years, this is my first real break since I started – ♪SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER!!♫ now has real meaning.

So how have I spent the last few weeks of freedom? Well until recently they were comprised of waiting, nail-biting, and checking my emails religiously every few hours, hoping for a few little words that would determine what I would do next year. Did I succeed in my quest for acceptance? You’ll need to wait a little longer before you find out (I’m trying, and most likely failing, to build in you the suspense that I felt). During the first weeks of the holidays I also applied to be a volunteer at Lifeline, trying to gain some experience in the world of counselling and human services. I now work voluntarily one day a week there, and it’s incredible – the people I work alongside are so inspiring and the programs really make a difference in the lives of many.

Aside from this I’ve been continuing to work at my retail job of two years, and also helping to organise a fundraising event with my local Rotaract club. “Fundraising event?” I hear you ask “I am dying to know what you mean”. Well, because you asked (and in an act of shameless promotion)…

Lion King

So, if you’re in the Toowoomba area, a Disney fan, and wanting to support a great cause, leave me a message and I’ll get you some more information.

Anyway, now that I have sufficiently harassed you with that, back to my holiday goings-on… It hasn’t all been uni anticipation, work, and movie organisation, I’ve also been able to sleep-in (YES), catch-up with family and friends long-lost to the perils of exam block, and even managed to see a band or two. And what about the reckless partying engaged in by newly-finished uni students everywhere? You may wonder. Well, I’m not much of a drinker but I certainly know how to partayy… As you can see below…

Being pretty hard-core late one night drinking chamomile tea whilst watching a 'gig' (as they call it) at the local pub.

Being pretty hard-core late one night drinking chamomile tea whilst watching a ‘gig’ (as they call it) at the local pub.

I didn’t reallyyy let loose however, until after the 26th of November, when I received a certain email, and later, a certain letter, which looked something like this –

Is this the news you've been waiting for?

Drum Roll

Drum roll…

Offer Letter

The week following  the 23rd of November was an eventful one – I received my semester two results, my official academic transcript, a letter saying I was a graduate of USQ (you may now call me ‘Georgena BSc’), and a letter offering me a place in honours next year. I’m SO excited for what the year ahead will hold, and though I’m told it’ll be one of the toughest of my academic life, I’m just grateful that I’ve been given the chance to take a crack at it.

No more wishin’, waitin’, or hopin’ for me – BRING ON 2013!!