‘Unlock your freedom’, by Tara Lupus

I’ve just finished summer school. I spent some of my time staring longingly through the dining room window, imagining I was at the beach, soaking up the sun everyday…but I have to admit in the end missing out on a proper holiday was worth it because I developed new skills over the break. I thought it was time for me to share with you some of the most interesting and valuable things that I’ll take away from the two units I took over the summer. I chose two online units so I could go home for the Christmas break and organise an internship. A lot of things happened over my summer and I knew it was important to have fun but also needed to stay focused on my studies. Like most things, it was a balancing act but I managed to get through.

I don’t know where to start. Some friends have told me I have a really good memory and I’m glad I can recall a lot of my memories of uni so far, both small and big moments. I think one of the best things about university for me is the fact that every single unit is a unique experience with lots of memories. I have loved every moment of uni but haven’t documented a summer school before so I thought while it’s all fresh, I’d write about it.

I had the opportunity to pick electives over summer…I wanted to pick units that didn’t have exams. Sounds logical right? Haha! Yes, I picked two without exams but both units had two assignments which were both 50%. So while there wasn’t exam pressure, I certainly felt the assignment pressure. Of course, I’ve had 50% assignments before but the last two became a bit of a handful… But I was up for the challenge over summer!

The two units I chose were quite different from each other, one was about digital media and online participation and the other was a feature writing unit. I remember saying to myself a few times, “uh why didn’t I pick two units that are similar to each other?!?!” but there were other times I would think to myself, you know, I’m actually kind of glad I picked two units that cover different topics. I’m very thankful for that now. I developed and strengthened different skills. For example, looking at a 2014 Inquiry into the child care sector in Australia, conducting interviews, analysing my online persona and developing a stronger Twitter presence. These are the kinds of things that stand out to me when I reflect back to my summer school experience.

Digital Media and Online Participation

I may not be looking for love at this stage of my life but believe me, you CAN fall in love with a university unit.- and this is totally okay because you don’t need to share your fav food with this kind of significant other. I fell in love with the online participation unit, I was so passionate about this unit as I felt I was able to explore my creativity both online and offline. Most of the engagement for this unit happened on Twitter, a platform I wasn’t so keen on a few months ago. It changed my perception of Twitter, constantly using it created an obsession to the point where I’m now checking it everyday. I know what you might be thinking, how could one unit change your perception? Well, to be honest I don’t know how it happened, but I think it comes back to the fact that it played a huge role in the unit and going into it with an open mind, open to change. Not to mention, a few lecturers have reminded us that as communication students, we need to understand Twitter. We had to create content and share it to Twitter in order to gain digital badges.  My competitive side jumped at this opportunity to obtain these badges and motivated me to succeed through this unit. 

I absolutely loved this unit and the flexibility throughout it was like a breath of fresh air over the summer period. Developing a love for creating Infographics, blogging, becoming a tweeter, understanding my online presence and how I want to take shape of my personal brand online overtime. The thing I loved the most about this unit was the opportunity to explore the online sphere and look further into topics which interested me. I enjoy independent research and this unit allowed me to find sources I wanted to use too. I enjoy studying, but this unit took it to another level for me, understanding and participating in a different type of learning method. This unit was perfect for Summer. We didn’t have a textbook, however we were told at the beginning we will get out of the unit what we put into it…

Feature Writing

This unit from day dot was a challenge for me. I’ve taken a couple of News Reporting units before and loved them. I thought it would be fun to try another Journalism unit. I have never written a feature story before and we were allocated a sector to research. I was given the child care sector, which I don’t have much knowledge of, despite my mum working in the industry! Mum didn’t actually give me as much help as you would think, she basically told me to just research it. Also, I don’t cheat and trying to use my mum as a source of information would not sit well with me anyway, otherwise it’s not my work or the mark I deserve.

That’s what this unit was all about, educating yourself and making that intellectual effort – I remember something like that in one of the e-mails. As frustrating as it was at times, especially over the Christmas period, having to send out e-mails asking for interviews and trying to get my head around an Inquiry was hard work! I’m sure you can understand how difficult it was to get through to people around the Christmas period. It was no after no after no, both over the phone and through email. My heart sank and I felt like I had a ship achor pulling me down, because really what could I do about it? It was a stressful waiting game, in hope that someone would say yes and I needed five people to agree to participate in the assignment at this stage.

Trying to wrap my brain around a complex sector, I constantly had to remind myself, this unit is teaching me to pull out info, find a human interest angle and create a story, but sometimes I would feel uncomfortable or feel the pressure of not quite understanding how something in the sector works. This was particularly evident before I interviewed my sources, I wanted to feel that I knew enough to get me through it, I couldn’t think of anything worse than conducting an interview and having no real clue about the source’s industry.

A piece of advice for student’s who are about to take on summer school:

This summer school was a roller coaster, but I didn’t fall off it. I tried hard to submit my best work and take in as much research as my brain could handle over summer. I guess one piece of advice I could give someone if they are about to tackle summer school is: just hang in there! This one went quite fast for me and even though you might just want to give up and go to the beach for days with your friends and forget about need to have discipline. Treat summer study like you would if it was any other semester but have some fun in between. I rewarded myself with chocolate, movies and quick catch ups with friends…that might sound sad but this technique works wonders for me, fun and university is a balancing act for me personally. You can still have fun but you need to know how you study. I make a few sacrifices. Mine was an obvious one, cutting back on the socialising.- Though I am strict with my social life during all Uni semesters, it still sucked not being able to do heaps while I was back home in Tasmania over Christmas. But, I’ll be sure to make up for it once my degree is over. 🙂

Results were released a couple of days ago and I achieved 1 High Distinction and 1 Distinction. I passed and it was a great summer school experience! Making the effort to explore topics and finding particular passions create an emotional impact alongside the result.

Put everything you’ve got into your summer study if you can. I know it can be hard, but trust me, it can be both fun and rewarding.


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