Two Years in Australia

It has been almost two years since I came to Australia. I can’t believe how quick time flies!

It was a fast decision for me to come to Australia but it turned out to be a decision that I will never regret. On retrospect, the past two years have been colourful, fruitful even though sometimes challenging.

Brisbane City View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still remember how nervous I was when I first arrived. My cousin took me to Indooroopilly shopping centre to get my bank card and mobile sorted, but I was too shy to speak English and I found it difficult to understand English.

Going overseas to study has always been my dream since high school, therefore I decided to get most out of my studies in Australia in the very beginning. So I joined a couple of clubs and went to as many events as I could where I met friends and practiced my English skills.

I kept myself very busy in my first year and was always outside. However I admit that I didn’t put enough time on study so I was really struggling at the end of my first year. Starting from this semester, I put more time and energy on study because this is the main purpose why I come all the way to Australia.

The place where I call home now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life here without family is not always smooth. I still remember how hard I tried to get a casual job, how depressed I was once while struggling to study and how much I missed talking to my old friends face to face.

Celebrating New Year in Fortitude Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a while, I finally found a balance between study, social and work although I still struggled sometimes. Meanwhile, living alone overseas taught me how precious family and friends are.

I start to cherish the free time I got and try to make the most of it, cherish the friends I met because it’s harder and harder to have a close friend when you grow older and study hard because it will bring more opportunities.

Now 6 months left until my graduation and I still have no idea where the future will lead me to especially when some of your friends already got jobs and you are still in the process of figuring out what to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just had a coffee catch up with one of my friends and we had the following conversation:

Me: Do you have anything that you regret or wish you could have done since you came to Australia?

L: Hmm, not really. In my first year I spent most of my time studying and wasn’t very active on campus. That’s probably the only thing. What about you?

Me: In my first year, I spent a lot of time attending events and being active on campus. I wish I could’ve studied more.

Our responses are like two sides of a coin and no matter which side we choose, we will miss the other side. But isn’t life like that? You can only choose once and no matter what you choose, it is your own life and experience. I never regretted what I chose and I’ll try to cherish all the experience and people upon encountering as every encounter is a once in a life time opportunity.

Cooking is Fun!

It has been one year and seven months since I came to Australia. I still remember when I first came here, I found the living expense was very expensive. So I almost cooked every meal for myself even though it didn’t taste that good.

Gradually, I got busier and busier with university and managed to find a job to support myself. As a result, I got lazy with cooking because:

  1. Prepare food took a lot of time.
  2. Even though I spent time on cooking, it didn’t necessarily taste good.

So after about 2 months, I kind of gave up cooking and bought meal outside most of the time. However recently, I started cooking and gradually had an interest in baking.

I guess it is due to the fact that I was inspired by a friend who loves cooking and always say to me: Food is life, good for soul! I lived with her for a month when I came back from my exchange and didn’t have a place to live. She cooked different meal everyday and they all tasted extremely good. Watching her cooking made me feel that cooking itself is fun and it doesn’t take that long to prepare for a delicious meal.

Spent 15 dollar making 4 portions of pasta.

That day I missed the pork meat bun so much that I tried to make it myself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After moving out, I started subscribing different Youtube channels on cooking and try to cook food according to it. So far I tried to cook traditional Sichuan style boiling fish, banana bread, pizza, pasta and sponge cake. Not only did I save money from cooking, I also felt a sense of accomplishment!

Lemon sponge cake

Home-made pizza

Banana bread!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking is life, good for soul!

Getting yourself organized at uni

I somehow miraculously managed to pull through my entire first year by solely keeping events of the day and week in my head, and setting the occasional reminder or alarm.

Now that I’ve started my second year, it would be joking if I told you I could survive using the same tactic.

Enter the ultimate tool *drumroll*: Google Calendar. Seriously, this is a gem of an app. Don’t wait until your second year to use this – star using it as early as you can to get yourself organised smoothly.

Basically, Google Calendars is a daily/weekly/monthly planner. All you need is a google account and a smartphone. You can set up events and reminders for your entire year as you please. Seeing it on an interactive interface will easily let you know when you’re free and will prevent you from being double-booked.

The best part is you can export your class timetable to Google Calendars, and BAM! You have your whole day on your phone, literally. It will show you your class name, time and location from the information on your QUT virtual Calendar. How awesome is that?!

You can export your class schedule as an iCal file and import it online (on a laptop or desktop, not a mobile phone) and then you’re all set to go. It will alert you on your mobile app before you’re due at an event.

You can think of it as a central scheduler for your day – your work shifts, meetings, classes and other commitments all in one spot that you can see on the go. You can set up customised alerts to remind you of your events.

This is handy tip which I would have benefitted from knowing sooner. So there you go!

Uni 101

Hey! How has Week 1 been for you?

I get it, there’s so much to consider when transitioning from high school to university and the internet is stacked with various survival tips. Since you are here, I will try not to reiterate all the common advice but hopefully give you readers a more relatable and honest truth. No doubt it is an exciting time of self- development and acquisition of skills as well as knowledge. I’ll start off by saying that university life is more than just academic achievement, rather it is about the journey of a whole person.

Be organised

Don’t panic if you are not the most organised person in the world, neither am I, but I would recommend to have at least a copy of the Academic Calendar and a personal planner. Look through each subject and note down the assessment dates. The best thing to do is to combine all those dates into one place. By doing this you will know when your busiest week will be and when you can have more of a chill out period. It is true what they say, do not leave assessments to the last minute! This is the minimum that you can do to make sure you meet deadlines. Previously, I wrote an article about how I use my planner and to-do list which you can read here to give you some ideas and prompt you to find your style. Take my advice with a grain of salt and you don’t have to follow everything I do as well. Find what works for you and stick to it!

Endurance

So like every other student, I love to Youtube and Google time management skills or buy a fancy planner thinking that would motivate me to be a better human being somehow. The truth is, it is not hard to slot in studying sessions, breaks, more studying sessions and even more break times. EVERYONE can do that! I found that the real skill to develop is willpower to stay on tasks. Don’t sigh before you have not tried. I was horrible with time management but I am so much better now in concentrating and maintaining productivity. My point is, instead of focusing on how to manage your time per se, I think it is more worthwhile to train yourself to deal with the root of the problem first which is – a matter of endurance.

Tutorials

The best scenario is to attend every class but that is not always the case. From my experience, lectures are awesome because you get to be with your cohort and of course you will learn new materials. Tutorials are more intimate and deeper discussions can take place. Additionally, some information may not be available online or in the recordings. Hence, I recommend going to tutorials. Everyone has their own studying styles but if you are planning to skip a class, I have to stress that it is important to check if your classes are compulsory because your attendance may contribute to your final grades. Also, if you know that you are the type of person that has a tendency to be distracted then going to tutorials and lectures will keep you on track.

Be Involved!

If I could turned back time I would definitely be more involved in clubs and societies and give more time to volunteering. Let’s not forsake our academic goal but let’s not abandon the benefits of extracurricular activities. Nowadays, employers don’t look at only qualifications but the personhood as well. The chances of being employed are higher when you have qualities such as people and communication skills. Grades only show that you can hold information in your head but it doesn’t say anything about your work ethic or assertiveness which are attractive characteristics to employers. The best place to learn who you want to be and who you do not want to turn into is when you interact and work with other people.

Humbleness and Confidence

I saved this for last because I want it to be memorable. If nothing else on this post seems helpful to you I hope this one will. Doubt and fear is the #1 killer to all potential and talent. Being humble is not placing yourself below anyone and thinking that you are replaceable, worthless or not good enough. Neither is being confident about placing yourself above everyone and blowing your own trumpet about your success. Rather, humbleness is about knowing that you have potential to advance your skills, therefore, you are ready to learn and ask for guidance. Confidence is knowing that you are unique in your own beautiful way and you can overcome whatever is in front of you. This will not only help you be a better team player or workmate but also a quality that would bring you far into every aspect of your life.

Good luck for Semester 1!

The RoundUp

Brazilian student publishes his first book!

Brazilian student Pedro Franklin recently published his first book on travel and entrepreneurship, stating the feat was only possible through studying language skills at QUT.

Read more…

Tips for meeting new people

Our friends at Insider Guides share some great advice about making friends in a new country.

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Brisbane Comedy Festival

From late February to late March each year, the Powerhouse in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm will be your go-to venue for a dose of comedy!

Read more…

Get support from the QUT Student Guild

Whether it’s support with deferring an exam, getting a grade reviewed or any other academic relates issue

Read more…

Drawing for Contemporary Fashion Design

Experience fashion drawing in QUT’s Creative Precinct with an LA-based fashion illustrator and founder of the Fashion Finishing School in Los Angeles.

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QUT International College videos

Hear from students’ in their own language about why they chose to study at QUT’s International College and their experiences in Brisbane!

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Budget tips as a university student

We understand there are a lot of expenses involved in moving to a new country, finding a place to live, as well as other study costs. QUT is here to help you though!

Read more…

Become a QUT Digital Leader!

Our friend Aubrey Zhou is also a QUT Digital Leader which means she can share her experiences with the QUT online community. Find out more about this great opportunity for when you start at QUT!

Read more…

Have a great weekend!

The QUT Team

Check out these stories from QUT

Time – Friend or Foe?

Hello Readers!

For the most of us, this is the first week back to class but for some, it is your very first time in university. In fact, it might be your first year in Australia! First of all, welcome to Brisbane and I hope you find home at QUT. Also, congratulation for getting this far!

University is a great place to discover your passion and potential as well as your weak spot. Being at university is a testing ground and a safe place to explore what you can accomplish. With this newfound sense of freedom comes responsibility and it can get overwhelming. Hence, I want to dive into some of the challenges that I and many other students face all the time so you don’t feel out of place if you find yourself in the same rut.

The Gaps

One thing I realised straight away was that my uni schedule was the polar opposite to typical high school hours. In high school (well at least in Brisbane), we start at 9am and go home by 3pm. However, a typical week schedule at university is like the one below. At times we get long breaks in-between or none at all and sometimes we may get awkward one hour classes (and we contemplate whether to go to it!). If you are working part time or if you are a mum/dad who decided to continue your studies- the gaps can be a little tricky too. The gaps can be dangerous because that is a space where we can easily waste time especially if we are a full time student with no other commitments and it is definitely not ideal when the semester starts to pick up its pace.

An example of a class schedule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(TIP: I do not recommend cramming but sometimes timetabling does it for you and you have no choice)

For some reason, time flies very quickly when we start university which means we need to learn to maximise our time and maintain productivity. Some important skills I knew I needed to foster in order to stay ahead was task allocation, time management and endurance. I still struggle and mess up even till today but I can tell that I am building up these skills and it is serving me well not only as a student but also as an employee. I feel the need to emphasise the word “building” because we have to be consistent and practise these skills until it becomes a habit. Don’t freak out if you wake up late one day or miss the bus to uni or slack off on a Saturday morning. Time management is neither a superpower nor magic, it is not usually an innate ability but we can definitely train ourselves.

My essentials for time management:

A general planner: This is the most important item for me. In this planner, I write down meetings, appointments, hang outs, family affairs, classes, events, workshops and the like. The main role for this planner is for me to see where I need to be for the week so I don’t double book a meeting or miss a class or forget to attend a seminar etc. This planner is small, light, compact and easy to carry around.

General planner a.k.a the WHERE book.

As you can see, I write down the time first followed by the event and the venue. I also include a tick box just so I can mark it when I am done. This will give a sense of accomplishment and would encourage me to keep going about my day.

To- Do List a.k.a the WHAT book.

To- Do List: The best time to sort out a to-do list is at night before bed or the first thing in the morning. In this notebook, I write down everything I need to do. What I used to do after that was to simply choose one and do it but that doesn’t equal productivity. The second step after writing the tasks down should be sorting it out between high and low priority. After allocating the tasks, I would further review the high priority section and make an asterisk on maximum three things I need to get done on that day. This step will narrow things down to the smallest job as possible and before you know it, you have accomplish your daily goals! If you are up for it, then put three more asterisk and complete the task.

 

 

 

Sometimes I would add an action section, a shopping list or a reminder for things that are not urgent. I apply this method to my work and placement to-do list as well. I have a total of three to-do list because compartmentalising works for me. I don’t like mixing work with uni and my personal life just because it can get very overwhelming. Why don’t I just use an app? Well, I like writing things down so if you find a good app then go for it – I am just more old school.

Assignment planner: This is specifically for assignments and I would usually do this from Week 1. First, I will write down all the assignments in the first two pages so that I can have easy access to view what assignments I have without needing to search each subject individually. This can be very tedious in the beginning but it is worth it! Then, I will arrange the due date of assignments chronologically on the next page. So that gives me a timeline that is easy to follow.

Example of a semester overview.

Because my general planner is always with me, I make sure to write or make a note for each due date on the monthly and weekly pages. I have a yearly overview as well but instead of writing it down because of lack of space, I will either highlight or decorate with a small sticker just so I know an assignment is due.

An example of a visual reminder for my assignments.

 

As you can see, I have two assignments due on the 24th of April and having a visual reminder will assist my progress over the weeks. I can adjust how much work I need to get done on other assignments, if I can spare some free time or whether I need to gather all my focus and cut down on leisure depending on the workload.

Hopefully when you adopt some of these tools, it will help you learn how to fill the gaps between classes wisely or how to organise huge projects into small daily tasks and realistic goals. These methods have really helped me to get all my work done and I really mean it! Yes! You don’t have to worry about sacrificing sleep, in fact, you can even afford a nap. I have not pull an all-nighter since high school and I don’t intend to do any in the future.

We have discussed task allocation (to-do lists, high and low priorities etc) and we have talked about time management (having planner, creating weekly and monthly timelines etc). Writing tasks down and making our planner look pretty is super easy – anyone can do it. The deal breaker is our attitude and character towards completing what we say we will and what is given to us. A way to keep ourselves accountable it to treat university like being at work and what do we need to do to keep a job? We turn up, we show up on time, we meet deadlines, we find our way to be organised, we keep our word, we push ourselves a little bit over the usual and we contribute. It does take awhile to master it all, but if we start now I can guarantee it will pay off in the long run.

Here’s to Semester 1, 2017! For those who have just started, enjoy the ride! For those who are graduating soon, thank you for making uni great – we hope you share your knowledge with the rest of the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your QUT Story? #QUTLife

About this time last year, I saw a campaign somewhere on the QUT website calling for voluntary QUT digital leaders. The main job that QUT digital leaders need to do is to share their own QUT life with the wider QUT online community through a hashtag: #QUTLife.

As I like writing blogs and taking pictures, I submitted my application in the form of a video and was very lucky to be part of the 5 digital leaders. Each of us are from different faculties and we formed great friendship in the past one year.

We attended some QUT flagship events together such as QUT Business Ball, Mental Health Week, Global Cafe and so on. I was also pushed to communicate with more QUT students as this is part of my job to listen to their thinking and share their story as well as mine.

Attending global cafe

Attending workshop together

Attending business ball as digital leaders

Recruiting campaign for the new year

Now on retrospect, I can see my footprint in different corners of QUT and as the new year will begin soon, I’d like to encourage my fellow international students to apply to be one of the new QUT Digital Leaders (click for application). It will be a wonderful opportunity to let the QUT community hear what you think as an international student and share your story with others!

 

Choosing accomodation

Having never been to Australia before, I was not pleased to know QUT did not have on-campus accommodation because it seemed every other university within my knowledge had on-campus housing for students.

However, QUT does have an Accommodation Service that helps you with settling down, and it’s free! So make use of it, because they provide you with reliable information regarding which realty agents to use and help you find a property within your budget. They may also assist you with going on inspection rounds to visit different property until you find something satisfactory.

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On choosing accommodation here’s a few points for consideration:

  • Firstly, set a budget. A reasonable budget for weekly rent would be between $150-$250. A room for less than $150 is rather difficult to find and if you do find one, it’s often not worth the price. Work out your weekly pay, or if your parents are sponsoring you talk to them, and set out an appropriate budget. I’d advise you to have some degree of flexibility over this as it is rare to find a room we like for the exact price we want
  • See as MANY houses as possible before settling on one. There is no rush! Please see lots of property before settling down
  • Consider things other than just your room: what amenities does the weekly rent cover? How long does it take to get to uni? How far is the nearest public transport and how frequently do buses/trains arrive? Where is the nearest supermarket or grocery shop? Is the house in a remote/isolated area?
  • The housemates – who are they and where are they from? Do they speak English? Is it a single-sex or mixed house? How many housemates do you have? Does anyone smoke/drink and are you OK with this?
  • Carefully consider if you need a single/shared room. If your budget is super tight and you need a room for less than $150 a week, you may have better luck finding a shared room. If your budget is not constrained, I would HIGHLY recommend a single room. From personal experience, I implore you to meet your roommate BEFORE you sign the lease and talk to them. Set some ground rules – ask if they have any conditions that you must comply with, set your own conditions. DO NOT MOVE IN BEFORE MEETING YOUR ROOMMATE if it’s a shared room
  • Try and get a 6-month lease, because personalities clash sometimes and breaking the lease is expensive. Your loss will be less if your lease term is shorter.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or talk to someone. If you would like to talk to another international student and chat with them about their accommodation experiences, contact QUT and ask them if they can put you through.

I promise to follow up on another post with more accommodation advice for you guys. Happy house-hunting!

The RoundUp

Apply now to study at QUT!

Thinking about starting your university journey at QUT in Semester 1, 2017?

Make sure you submit your application now so you don’t miss out.

We hope to see you on campus soon!

Read more…

QUT, looking to the future

QUT’s Real World Futures program discusses future thinking, future working, and future living.

QUT offers many innovative courses, such as the Bachelor of Information Technology (Computer Science), the Bachelor of Biomedical Science, or the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Medical) …just to name a few!

Watch the video…

QUT graduations – an exciting time of year!

December is the month when we celebrate the success of our graduates!

So, what do our graduates think of QUT?

“QUT is the University for the real world! I can’t agree enough on that statement. Many of us including myself got employed even before graduating. Throughout my degree, most of my lecturers and tutors are people from the industry, teaching us based on their many years of experience.”

Dalilah Kamil, Bachelor of Urban Development (Quantity Surveying)

Read more…

Experience Christmas in Brisbane

If you have already arrived in Brisbane and are wondering what to do over the holidays, fear not! Brisbane will be buzzing with Christmas activities.

From Christmas lights and fireworks, to market stalls and parades –there will be something for everyone this festive season!

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Be part of QUT’s Harmony Day

At QUT, we recognise and celebrate the diversity of our students and staff.

As part of this, QUT celebrates Harmony Day every year.The message of Harmony Day is everyone belongs! This is one of the many fantastic events held on QUT campus.

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Business school student experience!

Read about some of the exciting opportunities our QUT business students have been able to experience and share on the Business School Student Experience blog.

Blogger Danielle Vaz posted about her Startup Catalyst Youth Mission journey in the heart of the tech world, Silicon Valley!

Read more…

Follow the Brisbane International Student Ambassadors!

Brisbane’s International Student Ambassadors are tagging, posting, tweeting, and hashtagging their way around Brisbane to share their student experience with you!

Students come from all over the world (there may be someone from your home country!)

Read more…

We hope to see you in 2017!

This is the last issue of The RoundUp for 2016 (but don’t worry we will still be in touch in other communication!)

Stay tuned for more great tips, QUT news, and Brisbane events when The RoundUp is back in 2017!

Have a great weekend!

The QUT Team

Check out these stories from QUT

The RoundUp

QUT to host MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp
The bootcamp is a short, intense course that challenges people to start up a company in a week. The event will be held from March 26-31, 2017 at QUT Gardens Point campus in Brisbane – bringing together the brightest future entrepreneurs from across the globe.

Read more…

QUT researchers helping save the Great Barrier Reef!!
The Great Barrier Reef lies off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia. A must-see destination when you arrive in Australia! QUT researchers have been working to protect the reef into the future by teaming up with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Their low cost ‘robo reef protector’ recently won the people’s choice award in the Google Impact Challenge Australia!

Read more…

Interested in studying fashion at QUT?
QUT Bachelor of Creative Industries (Fashion) students, Fiona and Evelyn, share what inspired them to study fashion at QUT. QUT Creative Industries Faculty is one of the largest Arts, Media and Design entities in the Asia Pacific, and we invest heavily in collaborative learning and interdisciplinary research environments. Come and experience it for yourself!

Watch the video…

QUT startup space opens on campus
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? Need some support in developing your business idea? QUT recently opened a startup space on Gardens Point campus, where students can meet and be mentored to achieve their entrepreneurial goals.

Read more.

Apply for an equity scholarship
Interested in studying at QUT in 2017 but worried about how you will finance your studies?
QUT offers Equity Scholarships to support your university journey. Apply by 6 February 2017 to know the outcome by early March 2017.

Read more…

Studying in Australia
Looking to study in Brisbane, Australia? We hope so! Before you start studying it’s important that you have a student visa. The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection website has all the information you need to help you with your visa application.

Read more…

Connect with other students
The Brisbane Student Hub recently opened in the Queensland State Library. Students can go here to receive advice and referrals on healthcare, employment, budget management, accommodation, and legal services. Best of all, it is a great place to study and connect with other international and domestic students using this communal space.

Read more…

Until next time, have an awesome weekend!

The QUT Team

Check out these stories from QUT!