Category Archives: Distance study

Study in the Skies – Pursuing Aviation Management at Massey

By Belinda Birchall
Degree: Master of Aviation
Campus: Distance/Online

One of the best things about studying extramurally is the fact that you can study whenever you can, and wherever you are. This means I study from buses, from trains and from my work lunchroom. I study from hotels, and from friends houses. And the best place at all that I study? On a plane.

For years, I’ve had an interest in aviation and aviation management. My husband is a pilot with Emirates, and I’ve lived in Dubai for the last year and a half. However, I’m currently in New Zealand completing some contract work for the New Zealand Government. When I head back to Dubai in December, I’ll keep studying from my Masters Degree from the desert. Being able to study a New Zealand recognised degree while I’m living in one of the key aviation hubs in the world is pretty amazing – and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to study while overseas.

In my former life, I was involved with the allocation of funding to the pilot training sector in New Zealand, and I’ve always want to expand my knowledge in this area. Living in a place like Dubai, surrounded by aviation professionals, it’s hard not to get an interest in the sector. However, I have to admit, extramural study at Masters level is quite a challenge! I have studied extramurally before, at undergraduate level – and as a graduate at Southern Institute of Technology – but I think one of the key difficulties is feeling a wee bit isolated. This is magnified by the fact that there aren’t a lot of people studying my degree extramurally – making it hard to discuss assignments or course material. Ironically, one of my few classmates is in Dubai – and works with my husband.

In addition, fitting in the sheer amount of readings, on top of full time work, is pretty challenging! I commute a three hour round trip each day to my job as an Investment Manager, so I try to cram in as much reading as I can on the train and bus. The paper I am currently studying is 95% readings, so this certainly keeps me busy. The long commute is just a temporary arrangement, though – when I’m back in Dubai, I’ll be fitting in my study amongst my travel for 2019, which will hopefully include trips to destinations such as Kazakhstan, Antigua, the Seychelles and Tanzania.

To be able to study flexibly is a great benefit for someone like me, who would never be able to fit in study around my many adventures – or afford to attend university at the high fees charged in the UAE. I’m a keen blogger myself, writing about my travels around the world, and I think my studies have also helped me to develop a more nuanced writing style – clear, concise and interesting. I always appreciate the feedback I receive on my writing style, and this is something that I think university study really enhances.

Well, it’s 10.01PM on a Saturday night, and I’m off to continue my study – no rest for the extramural student. The weekend is our time to shine!

WHEN NOTHING GOES RIGHT…

By Eva Izard
Degree: Bachelor of Communication
Campus: Wellington

A step by step guide to handling those below average days.

So, you had a rough day. Nothing went right and despite trying to remain defiantly positive, everything is actually just bloody hard. Sound familiar?

The truth is that we’ve all been there. We all know what it feels like to arrive home and to want nothing more than to curl up into a little ball of nothingness. This sounds serious, but something as minor as the weather can have a serious impact on our mood. But back to the ball of nothingness. Pro tip, don’t actually do that. Don’t curl up. Unless of course you really want to, then don’t let me tell you what you should and shouldn’t do.

But if you want to get out of your funk, stay tuned for my top 10 tips. If they don’t work, then you may feel free to curl up, because sometimes that actually is all you need.

1. Have a good cry (if you need to). Or you can scream, or punch a pillow. Anything that releases the tension. Seriously, it’s never healthy to bottle this stuff up. Listen to your body, feel the emotion and set it free.

2. Take off your clothes. Have a shower. Wash off the day. Wash off the embarrassment, the exhaustion, the workload. Whatever attached itself to you and wore you down, wash it off. Bonus points for using some sort of nice shower gel, you might still be sad but at least you’ll smell good.

3. Put on something really comfy. It might be your favourite tights, it might be your pyjamas, it might even be your exercise gear. If it is, consider going for a run. Running is a great outlet for anger and frustration, so it depends how you feel! If you do want to take it out on the pavement, feel free to raincheck step two. You can come back to that after. Chances are you’ll feel instantly better anyway. All about that #endorphinlife.

4. Boil the jug. This is a very important step because you’re going to need a cup of tea. I’d recommend camomile, but that’s just me. If what you need is an 800ml energy drink, then you do you. Also, even if you make the cup of tea and forget about it, that’s okay too. Sometimes just the idea of it is therapeutic enough, that’s the power of tea (I know, it’s beyond me…).

5. Put on some mellow tunes. You know what I’m talking about, some calming and chill indie beats. This is totally interchangeable, if you’d rather listen to Black Sabbath, I support that! My go to is usually Coldplay, because who doesn’t like to listen to sad things when they’re already sad to make them sadder? Kidding. For some reason it seems to have the opposite effect.

6. Talk to someone. Vent to your flatmate, your mum, your cat – basically anything that will listen (pin them down if you have to). This ALWAYS helps. Sometimes you don’t really even know what’s actually making you sad until you open your mouth. True story. Bonus points if your chosen person (or animal) can offer some solid advice.

7. Don’t scroll away your worries. This is not possible. This is never possible. Avoid social media. The last thing you need is to be staring at a screen seeing what a great time everyone else is having. I repeat, this will not help. Hide your phone somewhere and turn it on mute. Unless it is providing your mellow tunes. In that case I’m afraid you’ll just have to exercise self-control.

8. Cook something nice for dinner. Cooking can be really therapeutic, so take your time. Listen to music or chat with your flatmates while you chop your veges. Not only is the process calming, but you’ll get a really great meal at the end of it. Win/win.

9. Pick up a book. By keeping your mind busy, reading allows you to mentally escape the present. It’s basically like time travel, which is pretty damn cool if you ask me. Plus, it is far more conducive to sleep than staring at a little rectangle of blue light.

10. Collapse into bed. Don’t take your phone. Just lie down and feel the day lift away. You made it. You survived your below average day and you lived to tell the tale. The best thing about bad days is that usually (hopefully) they are few and far between. And do you know what that means? Statistically, tomorrow is going to be better.

So there you have it, my best tips for beating the blues at the end of a really long and really tough day.

Disclaimer – These rules are just a guide based on my personal experience, the most important thing to take from this is to be kind to yourself. You’re only human after all.

4 ways to survive distance studying.

By Lauren Byrne
Degree: Bachelor of Media and Communications
Campus: Distance/Online

Studying online can be intimidating at first but once you get started you may find it to be rewarding and even enjoyable. You get to be your own teacher and study in your own time; it is the ultimate way to study if you have a busy schedule and still want to maintain your independence (and sanity) while completing your degree. It can also be difficult to stay motivated and inspired when it gets tough but if I can do it, you can do it.

Here are my top 4 tips to get you started for your first year of distance study.

1. Find a support system.

You are going to be spending a lot of time on your own with your laptop so make sure not to isolate yourself. Massey has a brilliant distance learning support team that have distance student catch ups every semester, including overseas locations such as Sydney and Singapore. These catch ups are a great way to connect to your fellow distance students and get tips and tricks from mature students on how to manage your workload. Plus, there’s free coffee! You can find information for these meetings on Massey’s DVA website. A support system doesn’t have to be fellow Massey students, you can also organize study dates with students from other uni’s if you know any or even close friends or family that you can confide in when things get hard. Just remember you are not alone in this and many people feel the strain of studying and can relate to what you are going through. In each paper there will be a chatroom where you can talk to your fellow class mates and discuss ideas which is useful because they are all going through the same paper as you. Read their responses and make connections. You can also privately talk to your course tutor about assignments, work load and other matters. Reach out and make the most of these relationships.

2. Make a Study Schedule.

You are the best person to understand how your life functions. Think about how studying will fit into that schedule, make specific study times and stick to that. When you first begin your paper your course supervisor will tell you how many hours you should be spending on each paper so take that into consideration when making your schedule, after all they are the experts. Make sure that you schedule in ‘you time’ as well because if you don’t it will lead to a burn out. Pick a night of the week and that’s your night. Before I start each paper, I go through the course outline and write down all my deadlines into a weekly planner and a wall planner, so I will be sure I won’t miss anything. Having due dates in front of you helps visualize your week ahead and will get you motivated to start working through those milestones.

3. “Study Space”

I can’t study in my bedroom. There are just too many distractions in there and I just end up having a nap which is not exactly productive. So, I have made a study space in my lounge room where I have set up my desk, my books, my wall planner etc. and that is where I study. This works for me but you know what works for you. Make your study space as motivational, comfortable and as pretty as you can because you will be spending a lot of time there. Buy stationary that you are excited to use. Create a playlist specifically for studying (I like instrumental playlists so that I can’t sing along to the words). Basically, make it your own but keep it simple. It’s easy to get distracted by clutter especially when you are looking to procrastinate.

4. Treat Yo’Self !!!

To quote the beautiful and brilliant Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford from Parks and Rec “TREAT YO’SELF”. As uni students we may not be able to afford massages and expensive clothes, but we certainly do deserve a reward. Set up a reward system where after each assignment you submit you go out with your friends or you buy yourself a nice meal or you get yourself a face mask and have a spa day at home. Whatever makes you happy, do it! There are plenty of ways to reward yourself for the had work that you have done. You can use your student discount at the movies, at the zoo, at juice bars, online shopping. Basically everywhere has a student discount, find out what does and make the most of it while you can. Sign up for UNI days – a website that’s sole purpose is to provide students with discounts! This includes discounts on Spotify, the apple store, Gym memberships and more. Take advantage of this amazing time and live your best life.

Conquering Study Anxieties

By Kaitlyn Tyler
Degree: Bachelor of Communications
Campus: Auckland

It’s the beginning of a brand-new semester. You’ve purchased all the right textbooks, read and recited the course guides, and organised your binders. You’re ready for a full semester of uni, BUT, it hits you like a tonne of bricks. Although you’re up to date with all your readings, you feel emotionally defeated. You’re sleep-deprived, a pro at overthinking, and you can’t relax. In fact, every time someone mentions university you want to crawl back into bed and stay in the glow of your laptop screen.

As much as this goes unspoken, study anxieties are incredibly common. Believe it or not, they can be managed. This blog post compiles some simple but achievable ways into shifting the weight of all those textbooks from your back to the desk.

Establish a set study space

It’s important to establish a space where you study – whether you study strictly at university, or you buy a desk for your room. This so there is a clear space in your room dedicated to that one part of your life. The minute you drag it over to your bed, is when the stresses of university begin to gobble up your nights’ sleep. This simple change results in stronger and more regular sleeping patterns, which is precious during such stressful times. Starting my second year, I soon remembered how important it was to fall asleep and wake up at a reasonable time. By setting an alarm, I made sure I was up to tackle the day, and that I had left enough time to finish all tasks. This also helps study anxiety by not feeling as though you wasted a day or have left things overdue.

Keep your study schedule reasonable and organised

You should schedule your study accordingly – you don’t want to be up at ridiculous hours in the night finishing a reading when you should be working. Organize set periods of time to study each subject that work well around your own schedule. It’s good to have weekly planner that you can take with you day-by-day, so you can establish your agenda for each day. In my own personal experience dealing with study-related anxieties, I invested in a wall calendar, so I can note down class times, assignment due dates, and other important dates. They’re cheap and easy to get your hands on, all you need is wall space and blue tack. Another thing I felt made my days during university a lot easier was going over what I needed to do for the day the night before. It keeps you prepared for the day ahead.

Don’t forget your ‘me time’

It’s cliché, yes, but me-time will prevent study anxieties. Put time aside to go out for a drink, do your makeup, kick a ball around, or whatever it is that helps you wind down. It’s important to have time where you feel like you’re doing nothing that isn’t the time when you’re sleeping. Me-time will keep you feel frazzled, and prevent you ever burning out. You must remember that while university is a commitment of yours, it is not your entire life, and it’s up to you to keep it that way.

Get help

Massey University have incredible doctors, nurses and counsellors that can aid you in your journey to beat study anxiety. I found that group counselling sessions really helped, not only in voicing your own worries, but finding students that are in the exact same position as you. It’s a great way to make friends. You’ll become more comfortable with expressing your own emotions too, especially if that’s something you struggle with. If you want to get in contact with the on-campus counsellors, do not be afraid. It’s one small step to getting yourself back on track. For anyone interested in talking to a professional or becoming part of a group counselling session, I have taken the liberty of providing emails and contact numbers for each campus health centre.

Auckland
studenthealth@massey.ac.nz
(09) 213 6700

Wellington
healthandcounsellingwgtn@massey.ac.nz
(04) 979 3030

Manawatu
s.counselling@massey.ac.nz
(06) 350 5533

Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. University is a huge commitment, but you must remember that you can totally do it. With the support of friends, family, and professionals, you can push through and succeed. Keep those positive affirmations floating around in your head during stressful times. Believe in yourself. You’ll’ do great!

Why I chose distance study

By Tyla Ridsdale
Degree: Bachelor of Information Sciences
Campus: Distance/Online

I used to be just like a lot of you reading this. Wake up to the alarm, have some quick breakfast (and coffee, can’t forget the coffee), and then jump in the car and head to uni. Luckily for me, I have never lived more than 20 minutes from the campus, so the days where I had to make the trip for a single lecture weren’t a burden. I enjoyed studying on-campus. I liked the structure and routine.

I only had six papers left of my degree in Information Science, not long, considering I had changed universities, and then degrees in the past. Safe to say, I had been working at it for a while. I had every intention of finishing my degree internally, and then trekking out to face the big bad world. I felt like I was ready to take on a career, and was almost at the point where university was holding me back. Not because it wasn’t valuable, but because I just felt ready for the next big challenge.

And then it all changed.

Having worked part-time in the supermarket industry for over five years of my limited working life, I knew that it was an industry I was keen on sticking with and advancing further after my university life. At the end of 2015, a close friend of mine, who at the time worked for Foodstuffs North Island Limited, put me on to a job advertisement for the same company. Foodstuffs is the co-operative that operates the Pak ‘n Save, New World, 4 Square (the list goes on), and landing a job with them would be a true career booster.

I had one problem. I still had six papers to do in my degree. By the time I finished up, the opportunity would have been long gone. Dropping out wasn’t an option either, I am someone who needs to finish what they started.

For a few weeks I kept going back to the advertisement, wondering if I could possibly make this work, and finally decided to take a look at distance study, and whether it was a feasible option for me. I always thought of distance study as something only available to out-of-towners who didn’t have a campus nearby. I was wrong. I had a chat with the ever-supporting parents, and decided to go for it. The job in question was only a one year fixed term contract, so I figured I could always go back to full time university if it didn’t work for me.

I had concerns, like what support was available, or would I be able to juggle everything successfully? There was also the length factor – six papers, that would take only one and a half semesters of full-time study, would now take six semesters of part-time, one paper a semester, study. Could I really add an extra two years on to my degree? But if I was getting a head start on my career, what was the rush, right?

I decided to apply anyway, and thought I could always turn down the role if I decided that it wasn’t for me. Fast-forward to 29th December, 2015. I was in line at a music festival (like msot broke students, I had my priorities straight) when i got the phone call offering me the role. I accepted straight away, and knew that it was what I wanted to do.

Two years on, and I am still working full-time for Foodstuffs North Island, and completing one paper a semester. My job flies me around the country, and I now have only two papers, or one year left of part-time study, and I’m loving it. When I took the plunge, I was scraping through with my results. Since taking on this challenge, I have found my grades increased greatly, all the while being promoted twice. The best part? I am now two years into a career that I had always wanted, and I am not far off graduating and earning the degree I have always wanted. In my view, I now have the best of both worlds.

My advice to you is this – if you get offered the job you’ve always wanted, or an opportunity you’ve been looking for, there’s no need to say no. Massey University is here to help us prepare for the future, not to hold us back from the future. I found the staff at Massey extremely helpful in the shift from full-time internal study to part-time distance study, so ask the question!

Study by Socials from Sydney

By Katrina Terawsky
Degree: BBus – Property
Campus: Distance/Online

Modern connectivity has allowed me to initiate change and begin a degree, at an age where many simply elect to settle. All too often we hear about how the internet, social media and our inability to disconnect is destroying our relationships, and limiting our ability to center ourselves in such a fast-paced environment. For me, the opposite is true.

As a mature aged, distance student, working part-time, with a loving husband, 2 small children, and a Sydney-sized mortgage, studying has its challenges. However, it is within the challenge that I find myself. I find a powerful determination to flourish academically, I find myself breaking down my own insecurities, and ultimately I find a successful student, with endless opportunities.

Long gone are the days where distance learning was isolating and incomprehensible, my experience this last year has been the exact opposite. With access to online lectures, stream forums, and Facebook groups I am able to connect with my fellow students despite being overseas. With endless chatter about assignments, challenging concepts, and intellectual debate my social media feed has been transformed. What was once mindless pop-culture streaming is now replaced by academic arguments and supportive students from every corner of the globe, all members of Massey University.

The challenge, it seems has been the integration of two lives, one as an extramural student, and one as a working wife and mother. At a day-to-day level, finding the time, and the motivation to study can be difficult. After work, when dinner is done, the kids are in bed and new episodes of our favourite shows appear on Netflix, a glass of wine beckons. Many times my husband and I concede, we relax and enjoy a quiet night on the couch. But often a Facebook post or Stream notification appears like an invitation, and we hit the books. We are both completing a business degree, I will major in Property, he is yet to decide – he infuriates me that way, how can he not know? Nevertheless, we support and admire each other, and it brings us closer, perhaps as we are becoming a better version of ourselves (without mentioning the middle aged spread that we are still blaming on having kids).

The psychological impact of social media is a consistently hot topic, and it is something worthy of great consideration. I am no expert, but I like to follow the latest studies. However, we all know that you can find a study to support almost any argument if you really try, so what do we believe? Is the lack of down time having negative consequences, both psychologically and physiologically? Is it an addiction? How is it impacting our children?

I am not looking forward to my little ones navigating the online world, because having children makes you worry, about everything. I have some time though, my eldest has only just started school, and I think he believes all grown-ups are still at school too. Perhaps life to him is a perpetual classroom, I do hope he believes that forever. He tells us that he can’t wait to go to “Uni” and buy an apartment. These are the conversations remind me that the example we set for the next generation shapes their future, and the world they will create.

Amusingly, I am about the same age as Mark Zuckerberg, and I remember when Facebook launched. It was back when we didn’t really think it would come too much, after all, we were the generation that started with the live journal, then moved to myspace, how long would this one last? Although the platforms do come and go, with Twitter, insta and snapchat all in the mix, the ability to connect remains constant. I am so grateful for the opportunity to use this technology in such a positive way, and to belong to such a strong student community.

In a world that today seems so at war with itself, where social media can be used to spread so much negativity, I, like so many other students have elected to utilise this global connectivity to engage in such a positive personal experience, to some degree this was almost impossible only a decade ago. Social media and online communities have allowed me to study, something I thought was lost long ago, and for that, I am incredibly thankful.

Surviving Distance Study

By Erika Johnstone
Degree: Bachelor of Communication
Campus: Distance/Online

When going to classes each day and having to stick to a strict schedule became too much to deal with due to an anxiety disorder, I thought my university life was over. I was devastated when I had to leave university after my first year, as getting a degree has been a goal of mine ever since I was little. Having to drop out was extremely disappointing. I spent a year working for my dad, not doing much and I felt dissatisfied with my life. I love learning, and always have. I felt like I needed to be learning, using my time to grow and develop opportunities for the future.

Then my Mum suggested giving distance studying a go. I was doubtful I would manage considering my past experiences with university, however I’m 2 semesters in and loving it. Studying by distance has given me the flexibility a campus degree doesn’t. Days when things are a bit much, or if i’m feeling overwhelmed I can afford to take a break and come back to the work when it feels a bit more manageable. For the most part I can work to my own schedule, and the best part is I can view lectures in my pajamas from the comfort of home!

Although it can be difficult to stay on track, if you’re motivated and put in the work distance learning is a great option. There is plenty of support available and lecturers are quick to respond to emails. Sitting exams were a breeze as well, as you can select where you want to sit them in the location that suits you.

Even though you aren’t turning up to class a couple times a week with other students, it’s easy enough to get to know people online as there are forums people participate in and I’ve already made a few friends myself. It’s great knowing you’re not alone in studying via distance, and Massey really helps to make you feel every part the student as everyone else attending university.

Distance learning isn’t something I had originally considered for myself, but it’s a great option for people with disabilities, families, or jobs, and really makes achieving goals that much easier without having to commit to a specific time each day. So far studying by distance has been exactly what I needed and has given me the confidence to take on more papers and help me work towards achieving my goal. Now the first thing I do in the morning is tune into a lecture with some breakfast. I love being able to learn from home, and have time in between to do other things life calls for.

Although it’s not easy, if you put in the work and have the motivation to keep on track, distance learning is extremely rewarding and I would recommend it to anyone!

3 key factors in online study success

By Kenley Cowles
Degree: Master of Management
Campus: Manawatu

So, you’re on “MyEnrollment” picking your courses and…wait a minute, a course core to your degree isn’t available at the campus you’re studying at? Whatever shall you do? “DISTANCE STUDY!” booms Massey University! It’s amazing. You don’t even need to physically attend a lecture.

While on paper this may seem like taking any other course (you still learn the same stuff) it can be a uniquely challenging experience for a primarily internal student. You’re about to give up much of the structured learning environment that internally taught papers offer, which can be a slippery slope to many hours wasted on followed by many hours of stress when you realise you have a rather large assignment due in a few days’ time. So how can one overcome the differences in study modes?

Pretend you go to class

This one’s straight forward. With 2 or 3 other internal courses, it’s easy to neglect to even look at the Stream site for your distance course when you aren’t in a routine of physically attending it. So pretend you do. If your course is offered at another campus and you’re expected to watch lecture recordings, do this live. Mediasite and Adobe Connect (the primary lecture streaming services at Massey) both allow this, Connect even lets you chat live with other distances students and the lecturer themselves. Use the Academic Teaching Timetable or information on stream to work out when you should be ‘attending’ class. If your course coordinator puts up re-recorded lectures or podcasts try to watch/listen to these as soon as they come out. This is likely the same time every week. Getting into a habit of doing this means you’re more likely to be actively thinking about the distance course you’re taking, making it easier to keep on top of the work load.

Read quickly and selectively

Some courses will throw a whole pile of links to academic texts at you every week. This can be pretty demotivational, who has time to read and memorise all this stuff anyway? The answer is you usually aren’t expected to. Distance courses are usually designed for adults with other full time commitments and the expected work load should reflect this. Instead of becoming an expert on a handful of texts (which often cover the same material), quickly read them and summarise key points and topics in your notes so that you know what to re-read later come assignment/exam time (Bonus points if you note which articles offer different perspectives on the same topic). Be sure to complete compulsory readings, however.

Make your own time frames for assignments

Distance study often has larger and more flexible time frames for assignments due to the students it targets. Don’t fall into the trap of student syndrome. Allocate your time in a way which you’d expect an internal class to and stick to it. Just because you have a week longer to do something doesn’t mean you should start a week later. Some distance courses will give you access to all the course material from day one so make use of this and plan when you’re going to get things done. This is one of the real benefits of mixing distance and internal study, it means you can shuffle work around tighter internal deadlines meaning less of those stressful weeks with multiple assignments due.

While these 3 tips may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that distance study puts some of the onus on you to make sure your study is structured. Doing your distance study the same as any internal course is the best way to ensure you don’t accidentally prioritise other internal courses or just forget about it all together.

Crazy times as a distance student!

By Renee Luka
Degree: BA-Psychology
Campus: Distance/Online

My experience as a full-time mum and full-time distance student with Massey has been difficult, crazy, frustrating, enjoyable, exciting and has given me great knowledge on a vast number of topics.

Unfortunately, I signed my self out of high school just before I turned 17 due to falling out with my group of friends and various other personal issues. I felt immense sadness and confusion at the time and ended up moving back to Australia where I worked full-time at McDonalds, as a cleaner in various hotels and in hotel kitchens. I felt, because I dropped out of school that I shouldn’t bother applying for jobs that required a specific skill as there was no way I would be interviewed having only NCEA level 1.

When I was 23 I met my now partner of almost five years and when I was 24 I had my daughter. I loved being a mum but was overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness and I knew I did not want to return to any of the jobs I had previously done. With help from my partner I applied for a diploma in arts with Massey as we had heard they had an awesome distance program.

Just as the first semester begun I found out I was pregnant with my son and was extremely sick for almost 3 months. In this time, I was enrolled in compulsory arts degree papers, Critical Thinking and Writing and Enquiry and I cried a lot. I had no idea what I was doing and had nausea all day and all night. Looking back, I have no idea how I passed both papers and even got an A- in critical thinking! I loved critical thinking and began to feel excited when my marks were returned.

Juggling the study with now two children has been incredibly difficult but I feel addicted to learning now and love tackling the assignments. My son was born in October 2016 and I was enrolled for three papers for summer school beginning in November. As the summer school start date approached I realised three papers would be a bit much with a four-week-old and I called the Massey line to talk about withdrawing a paper. The guy on the phone recommended I withdraw from summer school altogether as I had just given birth. I definitely did not feel that way and knew I would be able to handle the condensed workload. I did withdraw from one paper though, mainly because I had no interest in it. This February I sat my first university exams at the Albany campus and passed both papers with B grades.

I have enjoyed studying with Massey so much that I have turned my diploma into a psychology degree as all my Diploma papers are transferable. Now, I am almost half way through a degree!

After one of my exams in February I got speaking to another mum that had just finished hers too. She told me she had previously been enrolled internally and found it a lot easier being able to go to the campus where she had direct contact. As well as specific time set aside to learn and write. I think either option poses its challenges.

From my experience, I would not say that distance study is easy because you are at home. Juggling the children, chores and work load that comes with each paper leads me to tears at times but I am ecstatic I have begun my journey to a degree and as I mentioned earlier I am addicted to learning!

4 Quick Tips to Distance Study Success

By Mathew Harris
Degree: Postgraduate Diploma Education (Counselling and Guidance)
Campus: Distance/Online

“So you’re studying by distance? You must be disciplined to be able to do that…”

The reality I have found however is that the determination and focus required to achieve while studying remotely doesn’t come naturally, it has to be intentional! Here are four keys I have used over my years of studying from home that have helped me get through…

1. Plan it ahead

Knowing where to get started was my number one cause of procrastination. However once I knew what I needed to do, I was away! Every Sunday, I will look through my courses, and see what is required for the week. I then plan out what I will do on each day at specific times, so that when it comes time to get started, I am already set to get stuck in, and not be overwhelmed by a mountain of work!

2. Break it down

Keeping that mountain in mind, the only way to climb it is one step at a time. During the plan ahead process, I break the work required down into sizeable chunks. If a reading is really long, then I will read it one section at a time. When planning essays, I will break the essay down into sections approximately 200 words long, and will attempt to write one section a day in draft format leading up to the due date.

3. Stick to it

All the planning and breaking down in the world will be no use if you don’t follow the plan! Make it your absolute non-negotiable to stick to the path you have laid out. Reward yourself: I schedule my weekends to be as free as possible to have a break. That becomes my drive to get the study done during the week. The last thing I want to be doing on a saturday afternoon is trying to finish of an essay when there could be a whole lot more exciting things I would rather be doing! Do everything you can to tick off that last box on your weekly planner checklist!

4. Get ahead of it

Challenge yourself to get ahead! It’s always good to have a couple of days up your sleeve. I make a huge effort to try and get ahead of my plan, It’s easier to work harder on a Monday (sometimes!) than it is on a Thursday. I will try finish my daily allocation of tasks as quickly and thoroughly as possible, and then press on with the next day’s requirements. It may seem like a good idea at the time to relax and finish early at the start of the week, but I would much rather bank those minutes up for an early finish on Friday, or for insurance just incase I get thrown a curve ball.

Distance Study doesn’t necessarily need to be tough, all it takes is a little willingness to apply some effort and craft some discipline into your approach. The investment you are making to the study and yourself is worth it!

Trials and Tribulations

By Gemma Braithwaite-Ross
Degree: BSc Psychology
Campus: Distance/Online

As I sit here at 5.30am on a Monday morning drinking my morning coffee, a must have as a busy student, mother and full-time worker, I look at the black sky reflecting on my past five years at Massey University.

I started my degree in 2012 on campus in Albany. At the time I was new to Auckland and had moved there in order to be close to Starship Children’s hospital as my daughter required on-going surgery which by the way still remains. I completed my fist semester there but due to some rough circumstances at home decided to return to Hawkes Bay and be close to family.

That first semester was the hardest semester I have undergone, adjusting to uni life and meeting new people was the upside to it but in my personal life I was struggling big time with my daughter and her operations and a case we were going through against a daycare, my relationship dissolved and my housing was inadequate to say the least. I was alone in a rental that I just could not afford let alone the fact it was damp and mouldy with no heating and my daughter’s condition is respiratory. I lost a huge amount of weight and felt the pressure would sink me, but with the help of Massey staff and the few friends I had acquainted I made it through my first semester with semi decent marks.

I have since been studying as a distance student from Hawkes Bay and my journey has been a roller coaster of growth. What I have learned through my studies has broadened me as a person and helped me to understand so much in day to day life and likewise what I have learned in life has helped me to understand the texts I am reading as part of my papers.

Distance learning in itself has its own struggles as you need to be organised and I’m telling you now that was not my best quality up until the last year or so. Finding the balance between working, being a mum and completing my papers has proven to be difficult but at the same time has just taught me so much. I am up at 5.30 am so that I am able to get a reading in before the mundane chore of work and school routine set in for the day and my nights are long to finish assignments. Luckily I have great support here for my daughter and I which allows me to carry on. But don’t get me wrong there are so many advantages of studying via distance. I have freedom around when I choose to study and it allows me to create my own harmonious balance in my crazy life. I am also able to work full time which supports my family and helps to achieve our goals such as trying to buy our first home and traveling overseas! I am able to take my work with me anywhere and have flexibility in my routine…as long as I make the deadlines!

There have been many times I have wanted to throw in the towel because other things in my life were out of control and effecting my study. There have been times I have wondered if I am the subject of my own study and times I really thought I wasn’t going to make it through the night let alone my next assignment. I have been frustrated with the time it has taken me to complete my degree (I still have at least another year ahead) as I watch my friends graduate but at the end of it all each assignment I write I am proud of because I have worked my arse off to get that B average mark and every paper I pass is a small feat in my journey.

Life was never designed to be easy, it is here to challenge you and it is how you rise to the challenge and smash your goals out that matters. At the end of it all it is not about who gets there the fastest it is about really wanting something and going for it that will help you succeed.

On Cat Videos and University Degrees

By Brooke

Degree: Bachelor of Business

Campus: Distance/Online

I have this problem. With cat videos. And how easily they distract me.

I think it’s a common one these days, but it’s one that may shortly get me into some strife. Really, I’m blaming ‘cat videos’ but they are just a cute furry symbol of the huge amount of rich, abundant useless internet content that is going to distract me from Distance Learning at Massey University.

Having to study a Bachelor of Business full-time via distance learning AND working a full-time job does not give me many hours to waste. I have been one of the masses that has sat down with the very best intentions of completing something worthwhile on the internet. Healthy ambitions, like budgeting, planning my week and more! Only to be struck down by the terrible cycle of refreshing a Facebook newsfeed and wading through an endless Twitter timeline.

I could blame the websites, but really, it’s just another form of procrastination. As such, I’ve looked towards three tools to help me out before I reach for that ‘New Tab’ temptation.

Kill News Feed is an amazing little tool through Google Chrome that turns off your Facebook news feed. If you decide to switch on to Facebook, you are greeted by a lovely blank page. This still gives you the ability to use messenger, so useful if you are using it as a tool to connect with a study group.

Another great Chrome tool is StayFocused – this one allows you to block off those huge time waster websites. But it also gives you a break after a certain period, so you can boost your spirits with something fluffy doing something stupid on Youtube.

Guilt yourself into working hard with another productivity app on Chrome! When you open a new tab Momentum throws you an inspirational quote, photo and learns your name! You can even throw your current goal right up there in the middle of the screen. So, if you do open that new tab, it’s going to remind you what you are currently not doing at that moment.

Distance learning promises to be challenging, so developing healthy study habits early on is incredibly important. Alongside a good physical workspace, we must keep our online study space clear and structured. Setting careful hours for each paper, keeping off those ‘danger’ sites and reminding yourself of your current goals…

…and maybe the occasional cat video.

Classics: Alive and Kicking

By Elliot Tremlett
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Classical Studies and History
Campus: Distance/Online

I’m a Classics major, which means I get to study ancient Greece and Rome. It’s pretty great.

Unfortunately, the public perception of Classics focuses more on those dusty clichés of memorising the dates of battles and the names of long-dead kings – which is a shame, because when you start to learn about the ancient world, the more and more entertaining it gets. This stuff is full-throttle Game of Thrones madness – complete with its own fair share of war, backstabbing, incest, and general chaos and strife. Greece and Rome produced some of the greatest stories – both true and fictional – of all time, which have entertained readers for over two millennia.

So here are a few of my recommendations, from epic poems detailing mythical wars to comedic plays (with fart jokes galore). All of them are in some way exciting, entertaining, or interesting – and all of them have influenced literally all of western society and have shaped the way we think about the universe and each other.

Homer

First off: the ‘Iliad’ and the ‘Odyssey’, by the semi-mythical poet Homer. These two ‘epic poems’ are perhaps the hardest for general audience to comprehend out of the list – they detail a society that was old even before the Greek world had properly emerged out of the Dark Ages. But the reason that I put these first on my list is because, quite simply, they are the foundation that all of western literature rests upon (so no big deal).

The Iliad details a particularly brutal section from the mythical Trojan War, where the Greek hero Achilles refuses to fight after being wronged by the Greek commander, Agamemnon. Needless to say, the Greeks soon find themselves on the back foot against the Trojan forces, leading to a series of tragic and horrific events.

The Odyssey, on the other hand, is the story of the Greek hero Odysseus and his journey home from Troy, detailing the problems that he faces along the way and his desire to get back to his wife, Penelope. Both poems deal with themes of love, death, and war – whilst also being highly entertaining reads. Starting here would be the equivalent of jumping into the deep end, so if you feel overwhelmed by the style and density of it all, come back to it later when you feel ready – it will be worth it.

Plato

Next up is something a little less heavy. The Athenian philosopher Plato wrote many long and detailed ‘dialogues’ (so named because they detail conversations between different characters discussing the subject at hand) on a huge variety of subjects, from the running of a proper state to the meaning of life itself. If all that sounds daunting, that’s okay. It is. This is why Plato’s ‘Symposium’ is a perfect entry point. In this dialogue, Plato asks “what is love”?

A Symposium, what the poem is named after, was basically a great big party where all the best and brightest of ancient Athens would get together and drink, eat, and discuss. The characters involved are real life people that Plato was familiar with, each one as interesting as the next. Plato’s teacher, Socrates, takes the place of resident know-it-all (which is probably why the Athenian government forced him to drink poison). The comic playwright Aristophanes has a very entertaining vision of love which may have influenced our conception of soul-mates. And, stealing the show completely is Alcibiades, who arrives half-way through to drunkenly confess his love to Socrates. Needless to say, not only does this make for a highly enjoyable read, it also brings up a whole load of interesting ideas about love.

Aristophanes

Aristophanes didn’t just sit around discussing love with his friends – his scathingly political comedies were incredibly popular in ancient Athens and would even go on to influence Shakespeare. Whilst the Greek tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides are more famous (and highly recommended), Aristophanes is particularly unique. His comedies were performed in ancient theatres, like the one built underneath the Acropolis at Athens. Both rich and poor would view his comedies, which was especially important, as he often made jokes at the expense of the rich and pompous faces in the crowd. Aristophanes wasn’t all political, either – most of his plays have plenty of sexual innuendos.

Aristophanes wrote a large number of plays, of which only a few survive. In one, ‘Lysistrata’ (named after the main character), the women of Greece deny any and all sex to their husbands in the hope that in doing so, they will stop fighting and return home. Because of this, towards the end of the play many of the male characters strut around on stage sporting comically large erections – much to the enjoyment of Lysistrata and the other women. Other recommendations are ‘The Frogs’ – where the god Dionysus must travel into the underworld to retrieve a playwright who will help stop the war tearing Athens apart – and ‘The Knights’ – where Aristophanes attacks the politician Cleon in a way even today’s comedians would be afraid to.

Julius Caesar

Last – but certainly not least – we turn to the glory of imperial Rome, and its greatest champion: Julius Caesar. What many people might not know is that Caesar was not just a commander and a politician – he also wrote down his great conquests and wars in two books: ‘The Gallic War’ covering his conquest of Gaul, or modern day France, and ‘The Civil War’ detailing the wars against his former friend and ally, Pompey.

These two books are fascinating reads, detailing the plans and logistics behind his conquests. If you ever wanted to learn how to command and lead a Roman legion into battle, this would be the place to start. They are also fairly easy to read and the fact that they are written by Caesar himself lend them a certain power that two thousand years has not diminished.

So there we have it: four recommendations to get you into the wild world that was Greece and Rome. And if you’ve read through those and want more, it just keeps coming – the histories of Herodotus, the biographies of Plutarch – even notes on how to life a life worth living by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius!

Spinning plates – life as a mother, student & wife

By Kathryn Wright

Campus: Distance/Online

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

You know the old circus trick. The performer spins multiple plates on poles, they must constantly pay attention to which plates are slowing down and give attention to those who need it. Welcome to my life – mother, student, wife. Sometimes there are many plates, other times not so many. Sometimes, you have to know when to place those plates gently on the floor, take one, and serve yourself a large piece of cake.

I turned 40 a few months back, and I have 2 daughters, one at primary school and one in her last year of high school. I am about to embark on my second year at Massey, I am doing a Bachelor of Arts, a double major in sociology and psychology. This time last year, I felt a terrified excitement at what was to come. I had never studied at university before, and felt the inevitable self-doubt surrounding myself, constricting my confidence, even though those around me were so encouraging.

Getting into a routine was a challenge as I study full time. I chose to only study while my children are at school, and to fit housework and cooking around my study. The biggest challenge I faced, was being so engrossed in what topic I was studying that day, that suddenly it was 3pm and the washing was still in the machine and nothing was out of the freezer for tea. By the time the second semester rolled around, I had far more of a handle on things. I found that taking micro breaks really helped me clear my head – and for me, those micro breaks were hanging out washing, peeling spuds for tea or vacuuming the floor. When my children walk in the door, I down tools and I am there only for them.

As far as the study goes, I have never felt so inspired or enlightened. It’s like a whole new society has been placed in front of my eyes, I am learning and seeing so many things in a different light. The things that I have learnt apply to so many situations in my every day life, mostly to do with why people do what they do and how they got to where they are in our society. A new emotion has surfaced within myself – curiosity. I am asking questions, I am critically evaluating everything I see and read, right from watching the news to what I see on social media. Enlightenment is precisely how I would describe this self change.

Sometimes I still feel self doubt – I believe this comes with any challenge. When the going gets tough I think it is only natural to question our abilities. Each challenge is like speed humps on a highway – we navigate them as best we can, and seek help when needed. There is always help and support through Massey when it is needed, and sometimes just a few words of encouragement are all I need. When I received my results from last semester, I wept happy tears. All those days tucked away in my office, hours scouring text books in my car while waiting on my children, it was all worth it in that moment. I am already a worthwhile member of society, but I am becoming more so.

I am competent.

I am curious.

I am capable.

I am confident.

Why Distance?

By Hamish Dick, A Kiwi in Edinburgh, Scotland

“So you’re student, eh?”
“Indeed.”
“What do you study?”
“I’m in my third year of full-time study towards a BA majoring in both English and Politics. Not a natural combination, but one which I enjoy!”
“Neat [insert comment about Trump]. So where do you study? Edinburgh Uni?”
“I’m a student at Massey University.”
“Huh? Where’s that?”
“New Zealand. I’m from New Zealand [if the accent wasn’t a dead giveaway].”
“I’m confused [insert puzzled expression]. So you’re taking a year or two off study while living in Edinburgh?”
“No, thankfully. My uni allows me to study a normal course, but via a distance programme while I’m living abroad. This way, I get the experience of an OE without sacrificing my studies. It’s tough, but well worth it!”
[Puzzled expression remains]

“Let me explain…”

This conversation is all too familiar to myself, and to most distance students. Every single time, when asked what I “do”, the above confusion ensues. I am so sick of it. Perhaps putting my explanation into words will somehow prevent the next roundabout conversation — I hope that I have. One day when, upon being asked the above, I wish to simply refer the interrogator to this blog post: “That’ll explain it all.” Is this a false hope? Perhaps, but I feel like such a cracked record, anything, no matter how radical, is worth a shot.

So, why distance?

As a Kiwi who lives in Edinburgh, I see two options: The first is to study at a UK-based institution, paying exorbitant international student fees (I regret to say that I do not have a money tree growing at home); the second is to study through Massey. I gave no consideration to a “third” alternative of living in New Zealand whilst studying, such was my Kiwi desire to travel and move abroad. Being an ambitious, academic individual, nor did I ever see ‘taking time off from study’ as the right option for me. I had, and still have, a very strong desire to make progress academically, and not to forsake this ambition for a few years’ adventure. With the opportunity provided by Massey, I haven’t had to.

I admit freely, that this mode of learning is not for every one. It comes with many, many challenges. The first is the financial challenge: Living abroad means (for me) living away from home. Uh oh, no free rent… With the right motivation to work, this challenge is in no way insurmountable, however it leads to the second: The time shortage.

Working full-time to pay the rent, the bills, and the costs associated with distance study (not to forget to fund the travel, also), means that studying according to a “full-time” schedule (40 hours per week) can leave little time for recreation and socialisation — but only sometimes. My friends and colleagues will be the first to admit that I become hard to reach during exam and assignment periods. But isn’t this normal? During regular weeks of the semester, it is possible to manage my time in such a way that allows for the opportunity to help lead a pipe band, socialise (Edinburgh has the best pubs and bars in the world, plus it doesn’t help when you live directly above one….), and travel. I will admit to anyone considering the possibility of distance study that this is never always easy, but it is possible.

What it comes down to, I say, is this: I have not made academic or notable financial sacrifices to study while living in Edinburgh. Instead, what I have gained is a world of experience. This experience has furthered my independence and allowed me to gain valuable work experience and skills associated with living overseas.

So, what am I banking on? I’m banking on the fact, that at some point in time, when applying for a position or job, the recruiter or potential employer will look at two candidates: One has a run-of-the-mill degree and limited work experience. The other, he has a degree which not only proves himself academically capable, but adventurous, ambitious, aspiring, and enterprising as an individual. I know perfectly well which candidate I would employ.