Most stereotypes tend to be just that; stereotypes.

Unfortunately, the stereotype of uni students having to scrimp and save and live of two minute noodles is somtimes pretty close to reality.

Here are our tips on where to save some money while studying.

Second-hand textbooks

The average textbook can easily set you back $150. If you’re a full-time student, that can mean an awful lot of textbooks. Ain’t nobody got the cash for that.

Do yourself a favour and buy your textbooks secondhand.

There is an entire Facebook page for exchanging textbooks at the University of Newcastle: Textbook Exchange – The University of Newcastle.

If you can’t find the textbook you need there, try StudentVIP Textbooks. This is a nation-wide website dedicated to helping students buy cheap second-hand textbooks.

I was a bit skeptical when I bought my first textbook via StudentVIP. The last thing you want is a book entirely highlighted.

Much to my surprise, the textbook I bought of StudentVIP wasn’t only in excellent condition, but was even laminated. And I saved over $100!

Bring your lunch

Let’s say you buy lunch three times a week while at uni, and each lunch is roughly $10.

Multiple that by the amount of weeks you’re at uni, and suddenly you’ve spent $780.

*Internally screams*

Making your own lunch at home is a great way to cut back on the amount you spend while at uni.

Take advantage of the survival stations which can be found on campus, and are equipped with microwaves and instant boiling/cold water taps.

There really is no better feeling than a hot cup of soup from home on a cold day at uni.

Catch public transport to uni

If I ever happened to stumble upon a magic lamp with a genie inside, I am absolutely positive about what my first wish would be.

An unlimited supply of petrol.

Save yourself the petrol and cost of parking by catching public transport to uni.

UON campuses are very public transport friendly, with Callaghan and Ourimbah both being train-station adjacent, as well as being serviced by a number of bus routes.

Full-time students are entitled to a Concession Opal card, which means you can score heaps of discounts on public transport. Like only having to pay half the price of an Adult Opal fare! #winning

Plus, by catching public transport you won’t have to deal with the stress of trying to find a park. Just cruise on into uni. You could even use the extra time to catch up on some readings.

Better yet, for those of you studying at NeW Space, take adventure of the FREE Park and Ride service provided by UON.

Shuttle buses are run every 30min between Callaghan and NeW Space, removing the inconvenience of finding a park in the CBD.

Find out more about Opal cards.

Try RideShare

Ride sharing is great for a million reasons. It’s good for the environment, can help you make new friends, and removes the stress of having to find a park.

“But I don’t know anyone to carpool with you”, you say.

Don’t fret, UON has a solution.

Liftango is a new ride-sharing app for UON students and staff which aims to match riders with drivers so commuting to uni is easier.

The app supports you throughout the entire process and allows you to choose your rides on the days and times best suited to you. There are also dedicated parking spots on campus for rideshare users!

You’ll have your own carpool karaoke sessions in no time.

Use on-campus PCs and free WiFi

Data can be expensive.

Leave yourself more data for streaming by using the computers and free WiFi on campus.

Remember to make sure your phone is also hooked up to the uni wifi whenever you’re on campus! It’s little measures like this that stop your phone bill becoming astronomical.

UON has a plenty of PCs and Mac computers ready for you to use.

Check out where you can find a computer lab at your campus.

Discount courses through NUSA

If you were considering getting a first aid certificate, RSA or RSG, the Newcastle University Students’ Association (NUSA) is able to help you out.

Just by being a student, you’re able to access discount courses.

Get your first aid certificate for only $70, and both an RSA and RSG for $140 ($70 separately).

If you’re struggling financially while at UON, don’t hesitate to seek help through the Student Loans and Welfare Office. Please visit Financial Assistance for more information.

You’ve gotten past the resume and cover letter stage, and have reached the final hurdle.

The interview.

*Cue dramatic music*

Do you find yourself constantly falling down at this point? Nerves getting the better of you?

We spoke to Nicola Evans, Employability Consultant at the CareersHub about common mistakes people make during interviews and how to make a great impression.

1. Not selling yourself

Quoting the poet Eminem, “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow,
this opportunity comes once in a lifetime”.

Ditto for job interviews.

“A job interview is a very small window of time in which the organisation wants to find out who you are and how your skills are relevant to the role. You need to provide a clear summary of your qualifications, skills and experience,” Nicola said.

Show the employer why YOU are the best candidate for the job. Get to the point. Tell them your professional narrative.

Develop your personal brand as this is ultimately what will make you stand out from the crowd.

Ask yourself ‘what kind of impression do I want to leave behind?

How do you go about doing this you ask?

Nicola says, “have a good physical energy as well as convey a positive way of approaching problems. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact, and show confidence in who are and what you have to offer”.

2. Failing to research the organisation or industry

A quick way to see yourself out of the running for a job is by not knowing anything about the organisation or industry you are applying for.

Employers want to see you actually want to work for their organisation. Show the interviewer that you know how their organisation works. Even better, tell them how your skills and experience will be of value to their specific industry.

“Research the company before you go into the interview. This will help you to better understand their core operations and target your answers. It also allows you to develop targeted questions in response to the common question: ‘Do you have any final questions?’ Nicola said.

Also make sure you understand the job description. Read over the job description and focus on the required skills and responsibilities.

3. Not answering questions properly

Not providing evidence for your answers is an area lots of people fall down in. Just like how you would in an essay, you need to answer all aspects of the question.

Be specific.

“There is no point replying with just ‘yes’ of ‘no’ answers. Think about the types of skills your potential employer is looking for and then select from your list of strengths, to demonstrate exactly how you’re the ideal candidate,” explained Nicola.

If you’re feeling nervous, look up common questions online. Practice answering these questions with either your family or friends, or even in front of the mirror!

All that extra effort will pay off. Confidence in answering their questions is a sure way to impress the interviewer.

4. Dressing unprofessionally

Not making the effort to dress professionally shows the employer you couldn’t be bothered to prepare and don’t really care about the job. This is an easy mistake to avoid.

“Your wardrobe tells its own story. As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to match the organisation’s dress code as closely as you can. If you can’t quite determine the dress code pre-interview, err on the side of caution and look to slightly overdress rather than underdress,” Nicola said.

Often the employer will tell you the dress code prior to the interview, but if you’re feeling particularly unsure, call them and ask.

5. Winging it

You may be oozing with confidence, but in every scenario the person who prepares for the interview will be leaps and bounds ahead of the person who decides to just give it go.

As the saying goes, ‘prior preparation prevents poor performance’.

“The job interview is about you and how you can add value. Take the time to get to know yourself well – outline your qualifications, evaluate your skills, reflect on your strengths, review your weaknesses, and think about how you can add value to the job,” Nicola said.

She also recommends visualising yourself performing well at the interview and succeeding. This is a great way to overcome nerves and get comfortable talking about your achievements and abilities.

Basically, prepare prepare prepare!

Did you know you can book a practice job interview with a Careers Advisor and find out where you can improve? Check out CareersHub for the next available appointment. 

There’s something unsurprisingly, but still disarmingly, terrifying about leaving your family behind and travelling thousands of kilometres to study. For some students, home is only a few hours away. For myself home is 18-22 hours in the air (excluding time spent loitering in airports) during which I cross an entire ocean and the Australian continent.

When I first arrived I was like a chihuahua; perpetually anxious and shaking. That faded with time and I adjusted but the homesickness stuck with me. It gets easier over time but the initial months, once the excitement’s died down, can be hard.

After four years of studying at UON, here are my go to ways of managing when I feel the homesickness setting in.

Maintain a routine

There are certain things you do when you’re home, whether it’s playing sports on weekends or listening to the radio during your commute.

When you’re homesick you often miss the familiarity of life.

Everything changes when you move, especially when you move for university and your life starts to revolve around your studies.

Even the smallest things like streaming your favourite radio station while you iron your clothes, can help bring some normalcy back into your life and help you keep up with what’s going on back home.

Cook familiar food

Okay so I know not all of us have stepped straight out of Food Network but there’s a lot of familiarity in food. These days you can find so many recipes online for different cuisines which you can adapt to make them more like your mother’s home cooking. It’s also an opportunity to share your (sometimes makeshift) delicacies with other people. The major supermarkets don’t always have the most diversity so keep an eye out for your local farmers’ markets, international shops and butcheries. A lot of vendors are super friendly and can hook you up with some great deals. I even struck up a friendship with a pumpkin farmer at the Sunday Markets who would bring me pumpkin leaves (a favourite of mine) in exchange for recipes.

Connect with people

Though we all need some time to ourselves, don’t turn into a hermit. One of the best ways to get over homesickness is to be around other people. These can be your housemates, fellow students or people from your own part of the world. If you speak multiple languages try to find others to have a conversation with and polish up your language skills, which can get rusty if you’re only speaking English. This can also be a chance to share your culture. While I can be uncreative when cooking for myself, as soon as I’m cooking for other people I go all out because I want to represent my culture as best I can. It makes me feel good and I get to teach others that there’s more to Africa than The Lion King.

Stay in touch

The busier we get, the harder it is to maintain our relationships from back home. Sometimes when you move away you want to make a brand new start and redefine yourself or just figure out who you are. This doesn’t always mean throwing out where you came from. Call your family once a week or once a fortnight. Start a family group chat on Facebook or Whatsapp. This helps those close to you stay up-to-date with what’s happening in your life and gives you an opportunity to do the same. However, try to avoid talking to them every minute of every day. Family is essential and your friends are important too but it’s equally important for you to be present to those around you.

‘Get amongst it’

Australia is a melting pot of characters, cultures and personalities and I urge you to go out and meet people. When you study at university you realise just how different other people are from you and how similar you are at the same time. I often warn first years from just staying in their own cultural groups all the time because one of my favourite things has been getting to learn about other people. It’s also opened my eyes to how much or how little I appreciate various parts of my heritage which has made me proud to be Zimbabwean.

Moral of the story is, being away from home is hard but it’s not impossible. Try all or a couple of these suggestions, make your own and whatever you do take each day as it comes. Studying at UON has been a pretty great experience for me and I know if you open yourself up to it, it can be for you too.

The prospect of studying at university can be daunting for anyone; whether you’ve come straight from having to ask the teacher to go to the bathroom, or helping your own kids through the HSC. University requires an independent level of study most people haven’t experienced before.

Follow our nine tips so you can start navigating university study like a pro.

  1. Get involved in Orientation Week. It has many activities and information stalls to dispel those first-semester nerves. There is a lot of fun to be had, and a lot of free food to be eaten.
  2. Be prepared for the very first tutorial. Bite the bullet and get all your course readers in one day.
  3. Do the required readings. Playing catch-up in tutorials will make you stressed from the very beginning. The afternoon/night before class is the ideal time to set aside.
  4. Get a folder, hard-copy diary or an online planner. Write down every assessment for each subject, as well as every semester break and every public holiday. Pen and paper or electronic device: only you know what works best for you.
  5. Form good habits. From leaving yourself enough time to find a park in the morning to studying for a specific subject each day, routine is key.
  6. Engage with the University. Follow UON affiliated social media pages and regularly check the website. UON is a huge and inclusive community and there is always something happening. Engagement is the key to improving your academic, employment and social success.
  7. Email your program advisor. If you have any doubts about your enrolment and subject choices, they will be able to advise you if you are on the right track to completing your degree.
  8. Keep a healthy body and healthy mind. There are many services at UON which promote clean eating and exercise. There are bike hubs at our Callaghan and City campuses if you’d like to ride to uni, and don’t forget to check out our Community Garden for activities such as planting days and harvests.
  9. Ask for help! Never hesitate to talk to staff or fellow students about anything and everything you are unsure of. We are all in this together. There is no question that the UON Enquiry Centre can’t answer. Or head on over to AskUON. Ask us, visit us, call us.



Phone: 1300 ASK UON

I only decided to follow the path involving computers in the beginning of my final year of high school. After that the next big decision lay ahead of me: choosing the right university.

First I had to decide where I was going to go. There are plenty of great universities in plenty of great countries. But as I had not taken any computer related subjects in high school, I decided to take half a year off and study at a private IT company where I learned a bit of the basics of what I can expect along the path that I had chosen.

Now, for an international student, there are so many things to consider when looking for the right university to study at.

You need to look at the costs of the degree not just the university, but living and food and other general stuff. Also it needs to be a safe place with a good justice system. And most importantly the university must be well renowned. I had to do lots of research – lots and lots of research. After looking at universities in South Africa I decided to look overseas to see what the world had to offer.

I found information about the universities that even they didn’t know about themselves; that’s how in depth I went. I looked at overall rankings in the world and rankings in Australia itself, as well as if they had a gym nearby and the types of extra-curricular activities I could get involved in.

First I looked into universities in Japan (I’m a big anime fan) but the language barrier would have been a huge problem for me and there was no place in South Africa to quickly learn Japanese. Then my father suggested the United Kingdom. I took UK off the table immediately because I had heard stories that it was really expensive living there as a student. Most of the Northern Hemisphere countries that I wanted to choose were too cold for me as I despise the cold. So I decided to look into the southern hemisphere. I chose Australia because it always intrigued me how it was a continent and a country! Crazy right? Or is it just me? After choosing the right country I wanted to get into the right university. This is where the real fun began.

I found information about the universities that even they didn’t know about themselves; that’s how in depth I went. I looked at overall rankings in the world and rankings in Australia itself, as well as if they had a gym nearby and the types of extra-curricular activities I could get involved in.

The finalists were University of Melbourne, University of Wollongong and the University of Newcastle. What really attracted me to the University of Newcastle was the way it is built inside nature. A cousin of mine even messaged me and told me that the university is just trees!  I also had a good look at its technological achievements and found NUbots. I found the NUbots really cool as my reason for choosing my field of study was to work on perfecting artificial intelligence. I watched a lot of AI movies like Terminator and I, Robot and I would always yell at the screen what bits and pieces they can do to fix or stop anything bad from happening. One day I just thought, why just yell at the screen? Why not try and do something about it? But I didn’t think I had what it took to become a movie director so I chose to do programming instead.

Final year is weird.

Walking around campus you sometimes get a flash of just how many hours you’ve put into the place.

It’s hard not to build connections with the inanimate objects around the place as well as your favourite lecturers/tutors/classmates. That table in the library where you battled a sociology essay the whole day and were there until 11:57pm. That time, and then that other time, and the other time you were lost in the Hunter Building. That time when the sushi bar was giving away the last of their stock at the end of the day, and you had to give up sushi for the rest of the month or risk ruining it forever. Those times you drowned your sorrows and celebrated your successes at the Godfrey Tanner Bar, and marvelled at the fact that after the second schooner the sensation was exactly the same.

You’ll feel the weight of thousands of words buoying you along to that coveted hat and robe.

But beware, the false dawn is always the coldest part of the night. You feel done. Educated. Unbroken, despite all the bending over the last 3 years. But until you get that rolled degree slapped into your sweaty open palm, the university is not finished with you. That light at the end of the tunnel is getting close enough to feel the heat on your face, but you have to watch your step.

By now you’ve probably got your routine down pat. Study times, assignment methods, library navigation, that’s all sorted. The weight of routine, however, can be its own challenge.

I mean, the old compare and contrast essay can lose its savour the 17th time around. You can’t seem to bring yourself to give your assignments that last polish which turns a D into a HD. You know exactly what to do, and you know it will only take an hour. Yet you watch the assignment deadline clock run down, hour after hour and you just can’t bring yourself to touch it any more.

So for your last year, try something new.

Your study path is already (hopefully) set in stone, so find a deep end somewhere else. Investigate the nooks around campus that have become invisible from seeing them too many times. Start with the bike hubs. Ride to uni. Buy NUSA veggie boxes. Attend iLead Plus events. Fulfill your early morning yoga vow. Join a club or society. Become a PASS leader. Take a creative elective. Meditation techniques. Carpool through Liftango. Tanner Tuesdays. Enjoy the open air at Monday Movies by Moonlight. Fight against the instinct to be blasé.

Who knows, you might enjoy yourself so much you’ll go for another lap.

Just writing the phrase “uni/work balance” feels like filling a bottle with snake oil. It sounds made up, even the look of it is unnatural. But there are ways to minimise the insanity.

There are ways to make the semester more of a trial and less of a tribulation. Of course it’s hard. There’s just no escaping that. The goal is to get to the end of semester still employed, with marks you are happy with, and no lasting emotional damage. Surely that isn’t too much to ask?  

Actually tell your boss you’re studying

Hopefully, your boss already knows you are going to university. It’s kind of tantamount to declaring you aren’t happy with your job and are taking active steps to leave, but it’s a conversation you pretty much have to have. Study can benefit your employer as well. There are ways to put a positive spin on it rather than trot out the tired “it’s not you, it’s me” line. Let your boss know that the job is an essential part of completing your studies, and that you will be dedicated and reliable for as long as your degree lasts. In the coming years the company may have grown enough for you to take on a role which your study will complement. Bosses like hearing that sort of stuff.

Keep ’em in the know

The knowledge that you are studying will also go a long way in explaining the abrupt change in your moods and avoid a possible intervention. From the sullen depths of assignment hell, to the barely restrained jubilation of mid semester break, a bit of awareness of your university schedule will allow your employer to adjust accordingly. There are always going to be scheduling dramas throughout semester, especially in your later years of study. With any luck, your employer has attended university and can empathise with the work load it entails, or, failing that, has had previous experience with employing university students. An experience which couldn’t have been all bad, seeing as though they have hired another one.

Find a middle-ground

Rapport, communication, compromise. A trio of very trite buzz words, I know. I have discovered no easy solution to the work/uni conundrum, but the only thing that goes even a little way to easing the pain for both parties is being open. There will be times where you absolutely have to come in, and there will also be times which you absolutely have to take off. Just remember, a good agreement is one which leaves both parties feeling a little bit cheated.

Lecturers can seem scary. It’s completely understandable. They are all knowing (yes, they know you haven’t caught up on that lecture), so asking for help can be a pretty daunting prospect. But guess what: their main goal is to help you. No matter how intimidating approaching your lecturer might appear, it’s best to just bite the bullet. Here are our top tips to overcoming that lecturer-induced anxiety.

Read the Course Outline

They say there are no dumb questions. But if the answer you’re looking for is right there in the course outline… you risk testing that theory. Read it a few times, put it down for a while, read it again. Once you’re a few weeks into the course, read it again. Your lecturer will appreciate the research. If your question reveals something missing in the outline itself they may even make an announcement on Blackboard.

Introduce Yourself Properly

Lecturers are busy people. Chances are they’re teaching more than just the course you have with them. Despite their superhuman knowledge, not even lecturers can remember EVERY student’s name.

Their time is valuable. So don’t waste it by writing an email that leaves them wondering who you are and what you even study. When composing that all-important message, remember to greet them by their professional title, and include your full name and what course you’re studying.

Don’t Leave It To The Last Minute

If you are having trouble with an assessment or think you will need an extension, contact them ASAP! Lecturers receive a lot of correspondence, especially around assignment due dates and toward the end of semester. Give them time to reply. Leaving it to the due date to message them might not result in the answer you’re after. Even better, approach them in class if you’re having trouble grasping the course content. They’re more than happy to help.

Communication Is Key

Never underestimate how valuable having a one-on-one session with your tutor can be. It’s as simple as sending an email and finding a time to meet up to discuss that assessment. If you find yourself disappointed with a mark, talk about how you can improve in the future. You never know, it might just be the difference between a Credit and a High Distinction!

Adverse Circumstances

Lecturers understand that sometimes things happen in your personal life that affect your studies. Before submitting your adverse circumstances application, tell your lecturer/tutor about the situation. They may be able to work out an alternative to adverse circumstances, and will appreciate being kept in the loop.

Remember: Lecturers Are People Too

Surprising, we know. But turns out, they didn’t start life out as being a super smart lecturer. They know how hard university can be. So next time you’re feeling nervous about approaching your lecturer, remember they have stood exactly where you are now.