A new semester is dawning, and it’s finally time to head back to campus after a few months of isolation and physical distancing. Whether you’ve missed the fresh air and green canopies of Callaghan; the stunning ocean views from NUspace or the quiet tranquility of Ourimbah, you might be wondering what’s happening this semester outside of the classroom.

I caught up with Student Events Team Leader, Rowan Stevenson, to find out how we can use the skills we learnt in isolation to get re-immersed in uni life.

Pottering around in the garden

If you spent lockdown covered in soil or admiring Costa’s beard on Gardening Australia, I’ve got just the thing for you. Nestled behind Callaghan’s Wollotuka Institute on Oval 4 is a flourishing green space which is open to explore.

The Callaghan Community Garden is made up of five harvest areas and is tended by University staff and student volunteers. Rowan says the garden has been a great outlet for students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with wide outdoor spaces lending themselves to physical distancing.

“It’s not only student residents helping out. We get a lot of PhD candidates coming along, as well as undergrads and members of NUSEC (the Environmental Club).”

A bonus of the Community Garden program is that volunteers can have their work recognised on their AHEG Statement upon graduation.

“We identify that people are putting in significant time and it’s helping other students. When we do harvests, our student volunteers can’t eat all the food produced, so it goes to the wider student community,” Rowan says.

To start digging and planting in Semester Two, join the Community Garden Facebook page or email student-life@newcastle.edu.au.

group of university volunteers posing at the community garden

Dancing, jamming, eating or modelling

As a celebration of our return to campus, Student Central is putting on a series of COVID-safe events from August 10th – 14th.

Admit it, you attempted some YouTube jazzercise workouts during lockdown. It’s time to show off those moves and bring your leg warmers out to play at a Fonda Style Exercise class run by the experts! Be sure to register to secure a spot at your favourite campus.

If you became a movie buff or musical connoisseur in isolation, jump in your car (pack some pillows) and settle in for a Drive-In Movie or Drive-In-Gig from the uni’s best live student performers.  

Maybe all you seemed to achieve in iso was eating a lot of food. Not to worry, that skill can also be explored at The Big Picnic on August 12 at noon.

“This is the event we’re really excited about,” Rowan says, “There will be 10 picnic locations across the three campuses with free food and entertainment all done in a really safe way.” Woohoo! Guess there still is such a thing as a free lunch.

Finally, some of the uni’s clubs and societies will be running stalls or performances during Welcome Back to Campus week, which could be a great way to scope out a club to join. The folks at Yak Media are running a photoshoot and want YOU to model. The theme is ‘post-iso fashion: what you wanted to show off but couldn’t.’ If you’ve been trialling a new look at home, wear it to Callaghan on Thursday 13th at lunchtime – all photos will be available on the Yak Facebook page to download and the best few will be published in Yak’s next digital magazine.

Creating and critiquing art

For those who picked up a paint brush or sat at a pottery wheel during lockdown, this is a sign that you should enter CREATE Festival. Running from August 31st – September 11th, CREATE sees our students and staff produce artworks which activate the campus and make passers-by say WOW. The best part? There’s up to $2000 funding on offer to bring your vision to life.

photo of three painted hippocampi at the callaghan campus

So, there you have it, proof that those time-killing activities you tried in isolation may prove useful at uni. See you on campus my talented friends!

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