How to make the most of your summer (while still having fun)!

Summer Loving Efficiency

SUmmer LOving, Grease - Sandy and DannyWhen you think about it, if Danny and Sandy spent less time over summer floundering on the beach and more time productively working towards their future, they probably wouldn’t have got caught up in all the gangs and drama they did.

I was one of the lucky students who never had to study over summer semester, so I was silly and did a Danny.  I spent my first summer off playing xBox and chilling with my ‘gang,’ but soon realised I hadn’t done myself any favours.  With hindsight in mind, here’s some options for you, so you don’t waste your four-month break.

1 – MAKE THAT PAPER
Going to university and the arduous study at home can really get in the way of consistent hours at work.  Having no money sucks, so don’t miss the opportunity to earn some hard dosh while you’ve got time during the week.

So much money! Spend wisely

Also, don’t be a giddy goat and spend everything you make.  Put some away and save towards a holiday, or just keep it as a back-up stash for next semester.

2 – GET OUT AND ABOUT
If you do happen to have money after Semester 2, get out and splash it (responsibly).  It doesn’t have to be as eccentric as going on a Contiki trip around the Greek Islands, but even a trip to Sydney or Melbourne can clear your head and serve as a reward for your hard work at uni.

Summer holidays - travel to ItalyYou might cause some jealousy among your friends with your Facebook photos, but you can always rectify that with some souvenirs.

3 – BE IMPRESSIVE
Summer is the perfect time to get ahead of your classmates and potentially impress a couple of industry professionals.  Get the feelers out early and butter someone up for a week’s work or even more at a company you want to work for.  Whether it’s an internship or volunteering, even if you don’t get paid, you’d be surprised how far making coffee for a week will take you in the long run.

Gandalf LOTR internships

Pro Tip: LinkedIn is the tinder of employment, get on that boat!

4 – DIY STUDY
Just because you aren’t enrolled in a subject over summer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep up to scratch with your learning.  If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it, and by ‘it’ I mean the urge to study.  It’s hard to come back from four months off and it can be a real drag to get re-motivated.  The library is still open over summer, so maybe just schedule a few hours a week to hire a textbook and keep it fresh.

I have no idea what I'm doing

5 – HAVE FUN!
After grilling poor old Danny and Sandra D earlier, I do admit that you should flounder about on a beach every now and then.  You should also play a bit of xBox and spend time with friends.  The same as you would if you had uni, practice a good work/life balance and make time for everything.  If you are organised, you can fit all five of these things into four months easily, so if you haven’t already, GET ON LINKEDIN!!  You’ll thank me later.

LinkedIn is the new Tinder

Until next time,
Tom

Holidays (what holidays?!) are over – And so it begins…

I’m finding it ridiculously difficult to believe that the uni break – that little beacon of light I’d been looking forward to during past weeks – is over already. I had planned to have a real chance to relax, but my classes start back tomorrow and I already feel under the pump. Where did the opportunities for sleep-ins, road trips, movie-watching days, and uni-work catch-up disappear to? Looking back over the last fourteen days I realise that this break has been more hectic than usual; and I use the term ‘break’ very loosely…

The first day of the holidays arrived; signalling a chance for freedom, relaxation, fun… For me, something else was in store – Monday 17th September for me meant an assignment due date. A week’s extension given to my one of my psychology classes seemed awesome at the time, but when met with my unrivalled knack for procrastination and extra work shifts, it lent itself to a very stressful first day of holidays. I heaved a sigh of relief when I submitted it online with less than twenty minutes on the clock; another close call for this third-year student who should probably know better. After a day or two of contented holiday bliss, I then realised (or chose to finally acknowledge – I had written all my due dates in my diary) that a major assignment for my external English subject was due on the last day of the break – BOOM went any hopes of a weekend away or a day trip to the DFO.

I got the English assignment in by 5pm Friday as required – tired, hungry, and dizzy – dozens of articles on rural masculinity and Australian identity floating before my eyes. I am sure you are wondering ‘Why does she do this to herself?’, ‘It really shouldn’t be that hard to manage time…’, and ‘This girl is carazzayy!’ Though I admit the following is poor defence, let me try and explain my last-minute approach. People may ask what students get up to on their holidays; I’m here to tell you it isn’t all channel-surfing and partying:

This break was BUSY. A shortage in staff at both of my jobs meant I racked-up plenty of hours at work, I was also housesitting for two different families (and the presence of one horrible paralysis tick on one of the dogs kept me worried and the vet busy), birthdays were everywhere – including two 21st parties, and there were committee meetings, trivia fundraisers, and music events to attend and support. The most amazing – and time-consuming – thing to happen was definitely my involvement in a program run for youth, held near Laidley twice a year (in a camp format). And when did the most recent camp occur? 14-16th September – it finished the day before my first assignment was due. As this was my third year as a leader within the program, I was really fortunate to be one of the two coordinators running the team this year (for the first time). The weekly meetings in the months leading up to camp paid off – the participants had an incredible time, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for all the early assignment submissions in the world. Here’s a random glimpse of what we get up to at the camp (filmed in 2011):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQD42VZUPgs

If you’re more of a visual person, here’s my break in pictures:

So you can see that assignments weren’t always necessarily my first priority, and it’s no surprise that the course readings I wanted to get on top of remain firmly where I left them two weeks ago. I really have a HUGE respect for those busy students who – on top of study, work and extra-curricular activities – also have a family to raise, and manage to take care of children and loved ones whilst knowing assignments are due and lectures need reviewing. I think that I’m busy, but you take it to another level. You really are SUPERHEROS.

What I actually wanted to mention in this blog (before I got side-tracked in reliving my holiday adventures) was the noticeable difference in students and the university atmosphere generally before and after the mid-semester break. The tension in the second half of courses is noticeable; assignments have been rolling in for a while, exam timetables have been released, it’s make or break time. Before you lose your mind contemplating how much you have to learn and how quickly time seems to be racing (as I often do), take some advice from someone who’s lived through the lead-up to USQ exam block eight times before:

1. Study tips I have found really helpful when short of time include:

  • downloading lectures onto a CD and listening to them as I drive to and from work, when going to sleep etc.
  • allocating one ‘group study day’ close to the exam (complete with junk food and lots of tea-drinking) as I’ve found it easier to be motivated when surrounded by others trying to achieve the same goal.
  • rather than try to read the whole textbook again in the lead-up to your exam, look closely at the key terms (which are usually highlighted), the glossary sections, and review questions

2. Don’t shut out the people who love you and who may be able to help you.

3. Take your study seriously, but also know that all the stress and worry will come to pass, and that it is definitely not the end of the world if you don’t do as well as you’d hoped. Other options will be open to you and will get you where you want to be in the end. In the scheme of things, this is only one or two months of your entire life. Breathe. Eat properly. Sleep properly. Study will always be there, your health won’t.

I hope everyone had the mid-semester break that they hoped for – and good luck with the second half of semester two!!