I am a routine fiend, but after five years at university, I have realised that a structured day is a rare occurrence. Although I have managed to achieve some kind of daily routine, my days as an arts/law student at the University of Queensland (UQ) can be very varied.
Unlike many of my night-owl friends, I love an early start. It sets up my day nicely: not only is there less traffic on the roads when I drive to university, but it frees up my evenings so that I’m not studying through the night. It also makes those occasional lie-ins that bit more enjoyable.
If there is one meal that I will never fail to miss, it’s breakfast. I think that breakfast foods are anytime foods. Even if I am eating only a quick piece of toast, I never skip breakfast.
As an arts/law student, it is rare for me to have more than 12 hours of class time per week. Each semester, the starting time of my classes changes. However, I have been known to pick the 8am or 9am tutorial, if it is on offer. At the start of each semester, I try to schedule my classes strategically – squeezing my tutorials and lectures into blocks so that I attend university only two to three times a week. I don’t live near the university, so I try to maximise the time that I spend there when I do go.
I will often end up going to university five out of seven days anyway. I work as a University of Queensland student ambassador and my shifts often start on campus, so I need to travel in for those. I also schedule most of my meetings at the University of Queensland and the institution has a plethora of modern and resourceful libraries, so I will regularly travel in to study rather than stay at home and risk getting distracted. It’s amazing how many distractions there are once it’s vital that you be productive.
I always try to bring in food from home if I have a long day at university, so I can avoid having to buy it. If I do buy food, however, I try to turn it into a social event, so I’ll catch up with friends at one of the campus cafes. I also enjoy buying a coffee every now and again, and after five years on campus, I have sussed out that the best place for coffee is Merlo – it’s indisputable.
No matter what food I bring with me or buy, I’m always wary of the ruthless ibis birds that live on campus. They will steal anything if you aren’t careful!
Brisbane is blessed with many hot, sunny days (even during winter), so I always make the most of being outside. I have spent a lot of time sitting in the Great Court – a heavenly grass lawn surrounded by sandstone buildings.
International perspective: a Zambian student in Australia
Trading America for Australia: my mother sent me to study 9,000 miles away!
The 10 most beautiful universities in Australia
The cost of studying at a university in Australia
I have two part-time jobs – as well as being a student ambassador, I also work in retail. Often my retail shifts are later in the day. I feel as though everyone has a different opinion on whether you should work when you are a student. For me, there was no option. I had to work to pay for all the things that I wanted to do outside university, such as travelling. Although work is secondary to my studies, I have always enjoyed it, as it is not only a good way to meet other people, but also enables me to develop my skills.
On the evenings when I don’t go straight to work, I like to make the most of the city’s proximity. Whether it is going to Southbank for a bite to eat, visiting the central business district for a shop around, or travelling to Fortitude Valley for an open comedy session, Brisbane has a lot to offer.
Although a huge part of being a student is actual studying, I also think that it is the extra activities that I participate in that help to make university life exciting and enjoyable. When I first started at university, I signed up to everything and realised very quickly that I had overcommitted myself. In later years, I decided to focus on the clubs, societies and activities that I am truly passionate about rather than spreading myself too thin.
I study French in the arts component of my degree, so I will often get involved in the activities hosted by the University of Queensland French Society. They put on brilliant cultural events as well as weekly language groups, which allows me to practise my French in a less formal setting. I also try to get involved in the University of Queensland Pro Bono Centre. The centre is a way for me to participate in law projects that benefit the wider community and also meet other law students.
Stress and sleep
I feel as though my schedule is constantly “go-go-go” and I don’t take time to chill out. When I am trying to wind down and relax though, I love to indulge in some non-university-related reading and running. You would be surprised how doing some light exercise can make you feel better. Also, if I have a day to spare, I like to visit the beach. Anywhere along the Sunshine Coast is good.
As soon as assignments start coming in and the general workload of the semester increases, I find the first thing to suffer is my sleep. Sometimes, I think of sleep as a luxury. I would love to be someone who always gets eight to nine hours of sleep a night, but in reality I have about six to seven.
Read more: best universities in Australia
Bethanie Patch, who is studying at the University of Queensland, describes a typical day for a university student Down Under