How To Manage Stress @ UOW

Sometimes it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Effective stress management is crucial. Photo by: Jess Glover

Stress management key to student success

The stress of university can often be overwhelming. A report indicates university students are experiencing increasing stress, with more than half of the surveyed students reporting mild to very high levels of psychological distress, including depression and anxiety.

UOW offers a number of services to assist students manage stress whilst studying. Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) are a service offered by UOW that can help students better understand their course content, and achieve significantly higher grades as a result.

Ajay D’Souze, a PASS leader and third year commerce student says improving students’ understanding of course content can lower student stress. “PASS provides a group learning experience, where students are able to interact with and learn from each other,” he said. “PASS leaders are past students of particular subjects, so it enables current students an opportunity to seek guidance and get assistance with issues that might otherwise be very stressful for them.”

Elise Bedwell, a second year commerce student and PASS participant says the key to stress management at university is being organised. “It’s really important to keep on top of everything and don’t leave things until the last minute,” she said. “It’s also good to utilize the resources available to you, like speaking to lecturers during consultation times.”

UOW Learning Development offers academic resources to help students, including tips on report and essay writing. Photo by: Jess Glover

Other resources available to students at UOW to help manage stress include Start Smart, and Learning Development, which offers services such as academic skills workshopsonline study resources and information on effective academic writing. Students can also access free and confidential counselling services to help with stress management. Counselling Services can help with personal and study related issues that affect students stress levels such as adjustments in living situations.

Julie Allan, a UOW counsellor says counselling services aim to improve students stress management and coping skills, and encourage students to adopt a balanced lifestyle. “The best way to manage stress whilst studying is to strike a balance between study, sleep, good nutrition and leisure,” she said.

Students take a break from their studies and relax on the duck-pond lawn. Relaxation is an important factor in managing stress. Photo by: Jess Glover

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How To Stay Healthy @ UOW

Student health a priority at UOW

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle whilst at university can be difficult. Some suggest the ‘Freshman 15’ phenomenon is a worrying trend throughout Australian universities, with excessive alcohol consumption, late night McDonald’s ventures and unusual sleeping patterns affecting student health. Maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle at university is important, as it can impact students’ productivity, standard of work, and overall well-being.

UOW offers a number of services and facilities to help students maintain a healthy lifestyle. Students can access the University Recreation and Aquatic Centre (URAC) to maintain their fitness, keep active, and improve their overall health and well-being. URAC offers students a fully equipped gymnasium, a number of health and fitness programs, social campus sports such as indoor soccer, and an Aquatic Centre, which students can use competitively, or for leisure.

URAC offers a variety of group exercise programs, including RPM classes. Group exercise programs are held throughout the day, and are well suited to fit into students timetables. Photo by: Jess Glover

Jaime Hart, a URAC manager says that participation in URAC initiatives and facilities is highly beneficial for students. “Exercising is an effective stress reliever, and a great way for students to meet new people,” she said. “Students need some time away from their studies, and keeping active is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle.”

Dimity Scardanas, a third year arts student has been using URAC since she began university in 2009, impressed by its facilities, membership prices and convenient location. “I got involved in URAC to improve my fitness and reduce stress,” she said. “Because URAC is on campus I can go to the gym between classes, which is convenient.”

As well as a fully equipped gym, URAC offers a Member Benefits Program. Students can receive great discounts at local businesses including Boost Juice Wollongong, Mobile Activewear and Ibis Wollongong. Photo by: Jess Glover

In addition, URAC also offers physiotherapy, massage therapy, and nutrition and dietetics services for students through Phytness Health Care. Students can also maintain their general health and well-being by using the UOW Campus Health service, which provides students and staff regular access to an on campus doctor, dentist and optometrist. This is a convenient service for international and inter-state students who have moved to Wollongong to study and do not have access to their local doctor.

On Sept. 21, UOW students gathered on the duck-pond lawn to watch the final of the ‘UOW Fittest Student’ competition. It is a URAC sponsored initiative to promote active and healthy student lifestyles. Congratulations to Jessie Hernandez and David Mabon who were named UOW Fittest Female and Male Students for 2011. Video by: Jess Glover

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How To Overcome Challenges @ UOW

Kathryn Millar is a final year Communications and Media Studies/Arts student, with majors in journalism and history. Kathryn plans to undertake a postgraduate diploma in teaching. Photo by: Jess Glover

Determined to succeed 

Kathryn Millar is not fazed by the occasional odd stare she gets from other students as she moves between classes. “I have to show people I am comfortable with who I am,” she says.

A motivated academic, Kathryn manages a heavy study load of 5 subjects with impressive poise. Due to graduate with a double degree in December this year, completing university has been no small feat for the vivacious 24 year old.

Kathryn was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 12 months old, and has never been able to walk on her own. Up until 2005, Kathryn moved with the assistance of a walking frame, but during her HSC year her muscle spasticity worsened, causing her legs to become very weak. Forced to become a wheelchair user, Kathryn admits the transition into the chair was both physically and emotionally demanding. “The hardest part was accepting the full extent of my disability,” she said.

But with her ‘can-do’ attitude in tact, Kathryn was not prepared to give up on her aspirations of becoming a history and social sciences high school teacher. “Attending university was always a goal of mine,” she said. In 2008, Kathryn moved from Campbelltown to UOW residence Campus East, where she has lived whilst studying her degree. As Campus East is the only UOW residence to offer wheelchair accessible accommodation, Kathryn admits her accommodation options were limited, but insists she has enjoyed living on campus. “I live with a great group of friends who don’t see the wheelchair,” she said. “My disability is non-existent to them.”

Kathryn says her experience as a student at UOW has been great. “I’ve had a really positive experience with how well my disability has been catered for,” she said. Kathryn says the UOW Disability Services provide her with academic support, and act as a communication channel between herself, subject coordinators and Campus East. The spasticity of Kathryn’s muscles means that she tires easily, but the close proximity of the UOW campus eases the physical demands of moving between classes. “I chose to attend UOW because it is the most wheelchair accessible campus compared to the majority of Sydney universities,” she said. “I would encourage any prospective students who are wheelchair users to utilize the services available to them,” she said. “You are your greatest advocate, you have to have the confidence to articulate your needs.”

“I am a big believer in communication, making people aware of issues can translate into positive changes,” she said. Smiling, Kathryn recalls the buzz she felt when she first participated in the ‘Living Library’ program. Chatting to a young disabled girl, Kathryn was able to relate to some of the challenges she was facing. “I have a lot to be thankful for,” she said. “I am lucky to be in a wheelchair and still be independent, I want to give back in what ever I can.”

Kathryn hopes that her participation in community initiatives like the Living Library program will help to reduce the stigma surrounding cerebral palsy. “People with a disability have the capacity to achieve great things,” she said. “With hard work and determination, anything is possible.”


Kathryn does not consider herself wheelchair bound. Rather she feels her wheelchair enables her. Photo by: Jess Glover

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How To Broaden Your Horizons @ UOW

Opportunities for global experiences at UOW 

UOW recognizes the importance of cultural awareness as a key graduate quality, and offers a range of opportunities for students to expand their horizons and become global citizens. With campuses located internationally in Dubai, and partnerships with universities throughout the world, UOW truly is a global university.

UOW promotes cultural awareness among students by encouraging participation in the UOW International Exchange Program. Students can study abroad at over 140 partner universities located globally in destinations such as Belgium, Japan and Macedonia, and can receive financial assistance to help cover program costs.

Ashley Tanks, manager of UOW Study Abroad Exchange says that over 200 UOW students participate in the exchange program every year. “The most popular locations students chose to go on exchange to are English speaking countries such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom,” she said. “But exotic locations such as Mexico are becoming increasingly more popular among students who want to learn a second language whilst on exchange.”

Tanks says that participating in exchange programs gives students’ a global outlook on life and may boost their employability. “Participating in exchange programs adds an international dimension to students’ resumes,” she said. “It can give participating students an advantage over peers when applying for jobs after graduation.”

UOW also fosters cultural diversity and global awareness through extensive language programs offered on campus. The UOW Language Centre recognizes that proficiency in more than one language is a key asset in an increasingly globalized society, and offers studies in a wide range of Asian and European languages including French, Spanish and Mandarin.

Cate Eman, a graduating arts student says studying French helped her gain an appreciation for a culture other than her own. “It helped me to communicate with locals when I traveled through Europe this year,” she said. “Being multi-lingual is such an important skill to have nowadays.”

Students at UOW can broaden their horizons without even leaving the university campus. The 2011 Global Highway festival was held Aug. 25 on campus to celebrate the cultural diversity of students living at UOW. Participants could experience traditional food, music and cultural activities of 23 different countries. Video by: Jess Glover

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How To Be A Green Student @ UOW

UOW embraces green thinking

Over a quarter of students surveyed in the 2008 Student Experience Survey considered the physical environment of the UOW campus, which has several natural bushland areas and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, as the best aspect of their UOW experience. Photo by: Jess Glover

As a signatory to the International Talloires Declaration, UOW encourages ‘green thinking’ by students, promoting environmental awareness and sustainability on campus.

The UOW Environmental & Sustainable Initiatives Unit (ESI) seeks to improve waste management and promote water and energy sustainability on campus. The recent ‘Turn Over a New Leaf’ campaign builds on the ESI motto of Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, by urging students to think innovatively and be environmentally friendly.

This year, ESI promoted environmentally friendly initiatives such as One SightNational Tree Day, and Green Life Photography. Coffee drinkers could contribute to sustainability on campus by getting on board the One Less Cup campaign. And Gen-Y tech savvy students could properly dispose of unused electronic devices by participating in an e-waste Cleanup.

Avoid the headache of minimal car parking on campus by riding to uni. Bike parking is made easy with bike racks on campus sufficient for 800 bicycles. Photo by: Jess Glover

Annie Moon-Arkell, a third year arts student was involved in the e-waste collection that was held on campus in September. “I had so many old phones and iPods that I didn’t use anymore,” she said. “The e-waste Cleanup is a convenient way to get rid of them in an environmentally friendly way.”

UOW also encourages students to choose environmentally friendly transportation options. Incentives such as free parking are offered to students who carpool, and public transport such as  free shuttle buses are available to students traveling to and from the UOW campus.

On Oct. 12, UOW hosted ‘Ride to Uni Day‘, which encouraged staff and students to embrace green thinking and ditch four wheels in favour of two. Participants were rewarded with free breakfast, complimentary bike engraving and bike maintenance, competitions and prizes on the McKinnon Lawn at the UOW campus. Will Stedman, a first year psychology student talks about why he got involved in the Ride2UOW initiative in the video below. [Video by: Jess Glover]

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How To Be A Well-Fed Student @ UOW

UOW – a foodies delight

UOW has a variety of cuisines available on campus, ranging from Asian to mod-Australian, students can satisfy their taste-buds with a delicious selection of lunch time options.

The ‘UOW Food Photo Diary’ slideshow below showcases a selection of food options available on campus to ensure students don’t go hungry!

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How To Live @ UOW

Campus East is located in Fairy Meadow, and is the largest of all UOW residences, offering flexi-catered and self-catered accommodation for up to 615 students. Photo by: Jess Glover

Living on a shoestring budget

Managing living costs on a student budget can be tricky business. It is estimated that a single university student living in Wollongong will need up to $12,000 per year to cover living expenses including accommodation, food and local transport.

An article published in the Sydney Morning Herald states that two thirds of university students living away from home are suffering from extreme rent stress, which occurs when rent accounts for 30 per cent of a person’s total income.

Boasting eight campus residences, and two affiliated accommodation facilities Wollongong Surf Leisure Resort and Rydges Hotel, UOW offers a range of accommodation options to cater for students living on a budget.

Amy Porritt, a part-time Campus East employee and former resident says living at UOW residences helps in the transition of moving out of home and living independently.

Weerona College offers fully-catered accommodation for 204 students. It is located next to Beaton Park sporting complex and has a vibrant social and sporting program for residents. Photo by: Jess Glover

“Living at Campus East made managing living expenses easier because I didn’t have to pay for bills, all my expenses were included in one payment,” she said.

Le-Tisha Kable, a current Weerona College resident agrees. “Having all my accommodation and food expenses included in one payment is convenient,” she  said. “Living at university residences is also a great way to meet people and make friends, especially in your first year.”

UOW residences hold a variety of social events and activities including inter-residence sports, movie nights, Sydney Harbour cruises, and annual inter-house events, such as this years Gangsters and Flappers Combined Residences Ball, which helps to build a sense of community among UOW residences.

However, some students consider living on campus to be quite expensive and availability is often problematic. Chad Maidmant, a third year law student says he used the UOW Property Listings service to find accommodation outside of UOW residences. “I needed more affordable accommodation, and I wanted a more independent lifestyle. Living off campus meets both of these criteria,” he said.


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