Juggling a career, family and study

First things first… tadaaa!

superstudy

There’s a superhero in each of us, albeit maybe not quite a latex-clad, dark, mysterious and cape-bearing kind! It’s no mean feat as a mum or dad to juggle school drop-offs, a job and university studies… it takes some awesome skills! We all need to start by giving ourselves a pat on the back. Whether you are a current studying parent, a parent, or maybe even working and just considering studying, I have some hints and tips on how I juggle it all.

Once you start your degree at university, it is important to know that you are not alone! There really are all kinds of university services that can help support you in achieving your dreams. In my time at USQ, I have personally have used The Learning Centre for some free advice on assignment writing etiquette, been to see Student Services and gained some career advice from the university’s career’s guidance officer. These services were particularly helpful in clearly establishing my career goals and were a great resource in my job hunting. I would encourage everyone to give them a go. I really can’t speak highly enough about the support I received.

krisi 2

When you are in the midst of juggling everything in your life, please don’t forget that your family can partake in this awesome journey that you are on (the kids included). By this I mean, from getting help with cooking dinner to making studying a fun experience, your kids can join in. As my son has grown older, he loves to ask me if I need my text book or if he can have a ‘read’ himself. This is very cute, so remember to take photos, as these are all special memories!

I find it really important to keep a diary. This way I can best manage my shifts at work, assignment due dates and special family occasions. It is just a really visual way of remaining as motivated as the day you started and keeping on track. The university sends out a super-large calendar at the beginning of each year. I pop this up on the wall for all of my family to see. I must admit that it has gotten me the odd dinner or two cooked curtsey of my family!

Occasionally I have taken a course off-campus and online. This meant that in the second year of my degree, I had some more free time during the week to get more work done. I really enjoyed listening to the lectures online, and I even downloaded some as audio files to listen to while on long trips in the car.

To sum it all up, I linked in with some support services at university, enjoyed getting my family involved, managed my time with ease by using a calendar and took the opportunity for flexible study options when needed. Everyone is different, but with the goals that I have kept in mind along the way, I found these methods to be key in my success along the way!

superstudy1

What are some of the things that you put in place while juggling carer, family and study? I’d love to hear some really creative brainstorming!

Touchdown in the comfort zone

“Sometimes it’s good to step outside your comfort zone.”

It’s that broken record you’ve heard your entire life, from parents, friends, teachers, and just about anyone you’ve ever spoken to. This begs the question: what actually is ‘the comfort zone?’

get outside your comfort zone

Given my background in debating, I thought I’d break down each word:

Comfort – Recliners
Going furniture shopping with my parents used to be an arduous task, until I realised I was in a room full of beds and lounges ready to be tested.

Zone – The in-zone
I don’t watch a whole lot of grid iron, but I do know that to score points you have to throw the ball to a player who runs the ball over the end of the pitch and into the in-zone!

Somehow, I don’t think the people who are always talking about getting out their comfort zone were referring to a sofa on a football pitch, so I took another approach to try and understand this directive… examples of people leaving their comfort zones.

Weirdly, the first thing that comes to mind is the movie She’s The Man. Amanda Bynes wants to play soccer with the boys team at college, so she pretends to be a boy. While the practical legitimacy of this movie can be questioned, it does prove that the protagonist went the extra mile to achieve her dreams.

She's the Man - out of comfort zone

So, how does this apply to university life? Whether you are fresh out of school, back from holidays or just needed a change, university is the chance to reinvent yourself. I’m not saying dress up as a man/woman, but you will find so many people with similar personalities and interests who you can connect with, even as an online student. There’s Harry Potter clubs, sport teams, chocolate appreciation societies, Dungeons and Dragons, and so much more, so get out and do something!

If you are attending university next year and are looking for a way to step out of your comfort zone, I would recommend going to a toga party. There is definitely nothing more uncomfortable than wearing a bed sheet around people you have only just met, but I bet you won’t regret it!

no toga no party - college toga partiesUntil next time,
Tom

Your A-Z Moving Away from Home to Study Guide

I don’t want to scare you or anything, but moving away from home to study is really daunting… if you aren’t organised. There are so many things to think about, do, plan, pack and organise. It’s definitely a ‘who said being a grown up was fun?’ moment, but trust me, it is all worth it in the end.

move out of homeBetween my experiences and having friends with similar experiences, I have put together the ultimate ‘A-Z Moving Away from Home to Study Guide’.

A: Application for study! There’s a reason this is first on the list. You need to get accepted into your course before you arrange anything else. Pour your heart and soul into achieving success in order to get there.

B: Books and stationery! Do some research on what textbooks you are going to need before starting uni as this will most likely require saving some $$$ before your big move.

C: Clothes! Packing my clothes is up there on my ‘hardest chore’ list. My wardrobe space at college didn’t compare to my wardrobe at home, so it’s important that you do this a couple of weeks in advance to prioritise the ‘I will wear this a lot’, over the ‘But I like this top!’

D: Desk for studying! If you aren’t planning on going to college, buying or moving a desk with heaps of space is essential. A large dining table also comes in handy in times of need, just ask my housemates who deal with my assignment mess around due dates (they may advise you otherwise)!

E: Entertainment! At times throughout the uni semester, it may seem as though you have no time for reading your favourite book or catching up on your favourite TV show, but do make sure you have something on-hand to use as a ‘I need to walk away from this assignment to be inspired when I come back’ tool.

F: Family time! Your life becomes very busy after relocating and starting study, so spend as much time with your loved ones as you can before you go.

G: Government funding! Moving away from home can certainly come at a cost but there are options for some students relocating for study purposes, so make sure you check these out to see if you are eligible.

H: Home reminders! I won’t lie to you, you WILL get homesick, so make your new place feel like home to lessen the pangs. My favourite reminder of home is a crotchet tea towel from my grandmother!

I: Internet! Your best friend as a uni student. Make sure there’s a will and a way to have it when studying.

J: Job! If you know you are going to need a job after working out your uni student budget, try to prepare a resume before moving.

K: Knowledge and advice! Although you may not always agree with them, consider the advice your parents give you and let them support you in your new journey.

L: Laptop! You will depend on this every single day so make sure you have essential software installed that you’ll need for study.

M: Money! Saving doesn’t seem very enticing before you go but you will thank yourself later!

N: Necessities! If this is your first move, pack only the things you will use every day, so that the unpacking process is far less painful.

O: Orientation Day and/or Open Day! Arrange your moving plans so that you can attend one of these days to meet new people while familiarising yourself with the uni and its facilities.

P: Photos! Sometimes having a little snapshot to make you smile will be what gets you through stressful and/or homesick times.

Q: Quality down time! There’s nothing worse than starting uni feeling stressed from moving – make sure you take time for yourself, to refresh before you start study.

R: Rent or a place to live! If you know you want to go live on-campus at college, apply as soon as you can so you don’t miss out on an awesome opportunity. If you want to rent, keep an eye on real estate procedures so you are prepared for the largest process of moving away from home!

S: Scholarships! USQ offer many different subsidies to help make your uni transition so much easier. Have a look at what scholarships you might be eligible for at http://www.usq.edu.au/scholarships.

T: Transport! If you don’t own a car or have a license, research public transport so it’s not a massive problem when you move.

U: Utilities! If you plan on renting, there are connections that need to be made before you move in, particularly electricity, phone and/or gas… unless you want to eat by candlelight and have cold showers!

V: Van or truck to move your belongings!

W: Weekend bag! Pack a medium-sized bag that will fit all the essentials you need if you decide to go home or away for the weekend.

X: X-tras! AKA Extras. Pack a couple of the little things that hold sentimental value to you and you know you won’t be able to go long periods of time without.

Y: Your very own office chair! Ok, so maybe this option is a little on the lavish side, but I absolutely love mine, and a comfy chair is essential for long days of study.

Z: Zen! Meditate, relax, have positive thoughts and most of all, enjoy this huge new journey of your life!

Have you got anything to add?

Studying with technology

I didn’t grow up with technology. As I have grown older, especially since I started studying at uni, it has been thrust upon me. I grew up in a generation where the most exciting technological innovation was colour television (1975), after having spent most of my childhood watching cartoons in black and white. I know it doesn’t sound that exciting in today’s terms, but you have to understand that, at the time, colour TV was cutting-edge stuff.

original computer

So, you must appreciate that trying to understand the digital world that we now all live in can be a little bit of struggle for me at times, although I do try my hardest. I have a confession to make. Before I started writing these blogs, I didn’t even know what a blog was and had to ask. Oh, I had a very basic understanding of computers, but I do mean very basic. I used emails and I was familiar with what a keyboard was but, unfortunately, that was the limit of my knowledge. I was not a complete fool because I was enlightened with regards to the any key.

press any key

At this point in my life, I would definitely consider myself a pre-tech geek. But when I started at uni, I had to learn… and fast! I started off with a copy of Office and sat down day after day in the weeks prior to starting uni trying to figure it all out. ‘I am going to be on top of this technology thing’, I thought. I clicked on this button and that button and even tried screaming at my computer, but I soon realised that the screaming didn’t help. It was frustrating, aggravating and somehow exhilarating, especially when I finally understood something!

When I attended my first week, I realised that simply being able to write an assignment in Word was not enough at uni. They were talking about PowerPoints, Excel, Access, Publisher, MathType, Endnote and wikis. This was a foreign language. I started to wonder whether I had gone to sleep and had woken up in another country. I had serious doubts in the first semester that I would ever get it.

googleit

By the end of Semester One, I had managed to struggle through and, to my great surprise, even did pretty well in my Excel and Access assignments. But Semester Two was just around the corner. Well, it started off again like a broken record (that’s the original MP3 or iPod, for those of you that have never heard of a record): peer reviews, statistics, more PowerPoints and Turnitin. And yet, again, to my great surprise, I made it out the other end of another semester completely unscathed, apart from the occasional caffeine overload.

Now, here I am at the end of my second year with all of the tech frustration behind me… almost! I still forget to save my assignments occasionally as I am writing them and hit the delete key without meaning to. But I now know how to find them hiding on my computer and have just recently set my computer to auto save… I wish someone had told me this was possible two years ago. PowerPoints, Turnitin, blogs, wikis, publisher, MathType, peer reviews, social media, skype and studying online… easy! It all seems so easy now.  I no longer hit the panic button, reach for a strong coffee, go into denial or wish there was another, much more tech-savvy version of me when things go wrong. I now have the answer… Google it!

coping mechanisms

Learning about technology when you didn’t grow up with it can be difficult, but it is possible. In my spare time, apart from the standard boring hobbies that people of my era have, I do enjoy playing computer games. I still don’t understand many of the technologies that are about today and I still don’t have an iPhone, but I now consider myself well on the way to being a full-blown tech geek. Here is a bit of computer humour that I can now understand:

  • Some things man was never meant to know, for everything else there is Google.
  • Failure is not an option – it comes bundled with Windows.
  • You know you’re a geek when you try to shoo a fly away from the monitor with your cursor.

If you didn’t grow up with technology either, I’d love to hear about  your experiences learning how to use tech at uni.

How I study while travelling the world

Kaixo zer moduz? (Hi, how are you?) It’s the zany circus writer again, this time writing from a deck chair in a maze of hundred-foot bamboo, drinking a ‘Chai of the Tiger’ after packing for my birthday of travelling escapades this weekend.

Happy birthday to me…

Jose's birthdayStudying while travelling, how is it done?
The majority of people in this world believe travelling and productivity don’t go together. Mes amis, I am living proof that they can blend as well as Ben & Jerry’s and watching The Notebook! Unfortunately, as I value your wellbeing, I must tell you that (like eating a liter of B&J ice cream), it is not easy. But it can be done!

Being a successful travelling student is about making the decision to do the preparation and work. Here are a few tips to help you succeed:

Choose the right university
Choosing the right university is important in any case, however, it is of paramount importance when studying en voyage. It’s vital to choose a uni that provides you with great online support and flexibility, such as USQ, because you will be on the move.

USQ

Choose the right travel buddies
Nobody likes travelling with a bad group of people, so ensure you travel with people you enjoy spending time with but who will also respect you and let you study when you need to. You do not want to have to choose between their friendship and your study goals. Furthermore, you do not want your prior engagements to be a burden on the group; if you travel alone, this doesn’t apply.

Plan, plan, plan!
Make sure that when you leave to go travelling you pack all your necessary textbooks and stationery; you don’t want to have to orchestrate the shipping of a hundred-dollar textbook overseas! More often than not, it won’t arrive in time for that assignment… or at all. Also, make sure that if you need to access online services for your study, your accommodation has reliable internet access.

Doesn’t that view just enthuse the student mind?

Doesn’t that view just enthuse the student mind?

Be realistic and set goals
Before embarking on what could quite possibly be the greatest adventure of your life, make sure to ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ If you do, schedule out how much time you will set for study and how much time you will have for exploring your destination. Be realistic. Moreover, set out your goals for each study block. There is no point in sitting down to study for 5 hours and only getting through 2 pages because all you can think about is the local Marrakesh markets outside!

Mo-ti-va-tion time, come on!
Zig Ziglar once said, ‘People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily’. Apart from organisation, motivation would be the most important aspect to ensure you successfully complete your goal of studying while you travel. Thus, you should bring lots of motivational tools. My personal favourite motivational tool is to make a deal with myself, such as: ‘you can go exploring for 5 hours if you complete Module 3’.

Jose basque

Enjoy your time on stranger shores!
Finally, it is really important that when you are touring and exploring places, you enjoy it! You are so lucky to be one of the few people who can travel and learn!

As you can see, studying while travelling is in many ways similar to other student’s lives, you just have to amplify your organisation.

So go and travel the plethora of stunning and exciting places on this earth, while getting a top-notch education. As I always like to say ‘I got a PhD in travel life, without ever stepping in a lecture hall’.

4 Days before my birthday

4 Days before my birthday

Handy Group Assignment Tips

group assignment hangover referenceWe’ve all been here, haven’t we? The massive group assignment that nobody really wants to take a part in, but we have to because, well… we need to pass the subject! We all know those feels. It’s difficult to trust another person with a particular section or part of the assignment because we just don’t trust that they will do it, or do a good job.

But, I think there are a number of ways to help the group assignment process go more smoothly. I recently completed a 50% group assignment where we had to give a 45-minute presentation to our peers and I think there were a number of things that helped this assignment go relatively well.

To begin with, we’ve all been friends for a number of semesters now, which made things incredibly easy. We already have each other on Facebook, so organising get-togethers wasn’t difficult at all. We all knew each other’s personalities, strengths and weaknesses. If you’re able, I definitely recommend trying to create an assignment group with people you know and, better yet, people you are friends with!

This way, people normally feel relatively guilty if they social loaf, or turn up late to group meetings or don’t do their assigned part of the paper as well as they could. And, of course, it’s easy to tell them that they’re slacking off too (in the nicest way possible of course!).

Try to organise things early. Just like with every assignment, if you leave it to the last minute, it’s going to be difficult, especially with a number of people trying to organise its completion.  For my latest group assignment, we had it completed two weeks before the presentation date, so we had plenty of time to practice our presentation beforehand.

Try and make as many group get-togethers as possible. Texting, phone calls, emails and Facebook messages can only go so far when there are more than 2 of you. And this way, you can really figure out how far the others have gone with their allocated section, as well as brainstorming how to fit each section into the final assignment.

Try to have fun. I know… that sounds crazy, huh? I always try to at least enjoy one part of the assignment if I can. Whether it’s writing the actual paper (on something I really enjoy), or doing a fabulous job of researching, or even that great feeling of presenting on the day and absolutely nailing it! I find I normally get a decent mark on the assignments I enjoy and although that’s obviously not always possible, we can at least try, can’t we?

Having fun in group assignments can be as easy as having a chilled break in the middle of a get-together, going to get a coffee or chatting with your group members about things other than the assignment. This will build team rapport, and make the group assignment just that little bit easier.

I hope these group assignment tips have been useful, and will help you brainstorm some new ways to smash out a group assignment next time you have one!

Why my degree was right for me

Once upon a time, when I was a wee lad, a huge storm broke over the horizon. Gusts of wind picked up and threw everything around in its path, including our family trampoline. We woke the next day to discover our trampoline had landed on the roof of a neighbouring house across the road. Some years later, that same neighbour greeted me on my first day at university as a lecturer.

Tom's trampoline after stormLooking back, that was probably just coincidence and not really fate. However, there were some key indicators over the years that reminded me I was studying the right degree for me. One of these was the style of learning. At school, I really struggled with maths because I couldn’t apply myself practically. Had Applied Media been a textbook-based course, I don’t know that I would have made it through. Luckily, my course was much more like physical education than maths, meaning you couldn’t really be marked on anything you couldn’t physically create. It is always different for everyone, but this was a huge plus for me.

One thing I never did at school was hand in an assignment early. Maybe it was the thrill of pushing the limits of deadlines, maybe it was just laziness. Something must have clicked at university, because I handed my first assignment in one week early. This unprecedented event was rewarded with a 7 (High Distinction) and an enlarged ego. I was so excited about handing in assignments I seemed to forget… I WAS EXCITED ABOUT HANDING IN ASSIGNMENTS! Who had I become? Was this maturity or had I been brainwashed? It couldn’t just be because I enjoyed the work I was doing, could it…?

If you’re anything like me, the first time you went to Dreamworld you refused to leave the gates at 5pm. I’m not going to lie, that’s exactly how I felt at the end of my degree. Not to say knowing I’d never have to hand in an assignment again wasn’t a great feeling, but I was left with an empty void. Having spent three years at USQ, I felt like I was leaving a massive part of myself behind on graduation day. The first thing I did after I graduated was search for post-graduate degrees and similar courses I could study just so I could stay.

But it wouldn’t have been the same. Much like watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you can try and recreate the magic of the first time you saw the films on the big screen, but it will never be the same. Frodo didn’t get to the top of Mount Doom and say ‘let’s do that again.’ Instead, he got on a boat with Gandalf and began a new adventure, cherishing the memory of his nine-hour, multi-million dollar, blockbuster quest.

End of LOTR trilogySo, I figure, if you cherish the memory of your university experience so much so that you consider going back just so you can relive it, you chose the right degree for you.

Until next time,
Tom.

How to be a successful online student (using eCards as inspiration)

I love ecards. Whoever writes them just seems to get me. As an online student, scrolling through memes and ecards related to my interests and study area can take up a lot of my ‘study’ time. In order to make some use of this procrastination technique, I decided to use some of the humorous content I’ve found to help explain the online student experience.

If you study online, I’m sure you will relate to at least one of these ecards!

  1. Choose a subject you are interested in

Online study ecard: choose a subject you're interested in

One of the most important decisions when choosing to continue your education is making sure you study something you are really interested in and passionate about. This applies to your overall degree as well as to assignment topics. If you choose to study a topic that interests you, you are more likely to work hard to achieve your goals, and to enjoy doing it!

  1. Inspiration

What inspired you to study your degree?

online study inspiration

Discover what it is that keeps you focused and inspired throughout your studies. What was your initial inspiration for studying your degree? What do you want to do with your degree after you have graduated? Keep yourself focused and inspired by making a study playlist or hanging pictures of your family, partner, dream job or inspirational quotes where you study. Use this inspiration to help you keep on track and achieve your study goals.

  1. Stay positive!

online study: stay positive

Sometimes things don’t go to plan, and that’s OK! Don’t dwell on the disappointments or setbacks; use them as an opportunity to learn from the experience and grow as a student and as a person.

  1. Be realistic about your goals

online study: setting goals

Be realistic about your goals and what you need to sacrifice in order to achieve them. In an ideal world we would all succeed without studying, but the reality is you will need to put the effort in to achieve your study goals. This may mean you have to make some sacrifices, like cutting back your social life or replacing TV-watching time with study. Work hard and you will be rewarded with better grades, less stress at exam time, and being on track to graduate on time.

  1. Prioritise

online study: prioritisation

Prioritise your study goals with everything else you have going on. Being organised is important for many reasons, but make sure you plan enough time to actually study!

  1. Stay on track

online study: staying on track

Set yourself goals and study to-do lists and regularly check in to make sure you are on track. It isn’t a big deal if you miss some of your study goal deadlines, but it’s always better to stay on top of things as much as possible instead of having to cram like a crazy person at the last minute for an assignment deadline or exam.

  1. Procrastination

study online: procrastination

The procrastinator inside all of us tends to creep out during peak study times (you’re not alone in this!). It can be a welcome distraction from studying to starting an assignment. But there are ways to make your procrastination productive. Why not search some industry-related infographics on Pinterest or whip up some nutritious study snacks? Just remember, everything in moderation. You don’t want to get carried away and have the due date as the do date!

Find more ways to put the ‘pro’ in procrastination!

  1. Take regular breaks

Online study: take breaks

While it is important to study hard, make sure you also take the time to relax and unwind. Taking regular breaks helps to keep your mind refreshed and focused on the task at hand, as well as preserving your mental health!

  1. Celebrate the small things

Online study: celebrate

It can be difficult trying to juggle the competing priorities in your life, so make sure you celebrate all of your achievements, no matter how big or small. Whether you get the laundry done in the middle of the week, manage to cook and freeze the family’s meals ahead of time or receive an A on an assignment, take a moment to celebrate your achievements and recognise the amount of hard work you had to put in to make it happen.

10. Reward yourself

Online study: reward yourself

Finished a 30-minute study session and ticked all the boxes on your study to-do list? It is time to relax, unwind and reward yourself. Bake yourself a treat, order your favourite take-out or watch an episode of your favourite TV show. You’ve earned it!

Do you have any favourite memes or ecards that explain your study experience to a T? Feel free to share them or let me know which of mine you related to the most!

#usqstudy #usqonline #onlinestudy

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!

distraction

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!

packing essentials

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.

rainy day

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!

keep calm and plan your holiday

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!