AUT Uni Life

Finding the perfect work-life-uni balance


By Loren Luisa

Hey all you students out there!

We’re officially four weeks into semester two. Congratulations on making it this far! Now’s the time to remind yourself that you made it through the first semester, and you’re almost halfway through the second semester. Make it through the next eight weeks and then bring on the Christmas break (unless you’re gearing up for summer school that is).

If you’re like me, then you enjoyed a nice inter-semester break and delved into your savings (eep!). So, now is the time you’re starting to realise that maybe that wasn’t the best idea. Well, there’s no time like the present to start raking in some more cash. Now you’ve got a good grip on your schedule for this semester, why not start thinking about how to get a good work-life-study balance? Or, if you’ve already got yourself a job, let’s look at ways to maximise your time so you can work, study, and maintain the social life that keeps us all sane.

Having a job while balancing uni can be stressful at times. That’s why I’ve got a few top tips on how to create the perfect work-uni (and social life) balance to help you breeze through the rest of this semester, and save some moolah for the summer break.

Plan it out
For those of you who aren’t familiar with a schedule or calendar, now’s the time to really get to know each other. I guarantee you that your calendar is going to become your best friend, your lifeline, and the one thing you can depend on to keep your life in check. My advice would be to print off a weekly planner, fill in all your classes (the days and times) and then look at the gaps you have in your schedule and see if you can work a job into those hours. This way you won’t have to worry about having an overlap of classes and work. For those of you who are already ahead of the game and have a great job already, use your calendar to plan out your classes and work hours. Look for the gaps in your schedule you can dedicate as time for studying, catching up with friends, or even just having that well-deserved ‘me time’.

Stay on schedule
I can 100% guarantee you that getting behind in uni is one of the worst things to ever happen to a student. My biggest tip for all you students? Stay on top of your workload. Speaking from experience, realising that you have a massive assignment you haven’t started is due that week (or even the next day) is an added extra stress you definitely don’t need in your life. Going home at night, writing up your notes, or planning out the first draft for your assignment that’s due soon, even if it only takes five minutes, can be such a help in the long run. Trust me, when those due dates start creeping up on you, you’ll be thankful that you started planning early.

Know your limits
One of the biggest struggles you can have in uni is knowing what the right balance between work and study is for you. Making sure you don’t over-commit yourself to working those long days or late nights is key. Set aside time in your schedule to go to class, study at home, and also make that moolah, but make sure you know your limit of how many hours you can handle working each week. If you don’t, finding that perfect balance will definitely be a struggle. Once you’ve mastered the art of organisation and you’ve found your perfect balance, I promise your life will get much easier.

Follow these three simple tips and you’ll find your work-study-life balance in no time.

Be smart about your procrastination!


By Brooke Stevenson

I think it’s safe to say at one point or another, we have all been guilty of procrastinating. In our everyday lives we put off things like going to the gym, cleaning our rooms or booking those appointments we dread because our mums always used to do it for us. However, there’s one thing we always find ourselves guilty of time and time again, and that’s procrastinating every single assignment. I mean, you’d think we would’ve learnt the first time round that maybe leaving it to the last possible second isn’t the best idea; clearly not.

I’m not here to judge, procrastinating is the norm for me, so I get it. However, if you think you’re becoming a serial procrastinator like myself, then I suggest you keep reading because I’ve got a few tips that will help you embrace your procrastinator side and make meeting those last minute deadlines a whole lot easier.

Tip 1: Go onto the library website and print off the APA referencing guide, it is so easy to follow and will literally save your life. If you feel like that isn’t enough, the library also has APA referencing workshops that you can book into. They have lots of sessions to choose from so you can easily make it fit in with your timetable.

Tip 2: AUT peer mentors are a great service that AUT has to offer. Peer mentors are senior students who are available to tutor you in a specific subject to help you prepare for an upcoming assignment or exam. All you have to do is book an appointment through the AUT website and you’re good to go.

Tip 3: This may sound obvious, but make sure you know the date and time your assignment is due. It is so easy to get it confused, you don’t want to leave something so last minute that you completely miss the deadline. So make a note of when it’s due and keep referring back to it, you don’t want to lose marks over something that could have been avoided.

Basically, we are all guilty of procrastinating to different extremes and sometimes that habit is hard to break. So instead of trying to fight it, just be smart about it. Make sure you know everything about the assignment and understand all of the requirements. If you know you’re confused about something get on top of it, so when you come to do the assignment whenever that may be, you are fully prepared and that late night cramming won’t turn out to be as late!

Generation Environment


By Courtney Johnson

Apparently, my generation is considered ‘Generation Environment’. This is because we are trying to improve the unintentional damage created in the past. It is inspiring to see sustainable start-up businesses all over Instagram, thousands of petitions shared on Facebook and endless tips and tricks for veganism, plastic alternatives and reducing waste trending on Pinterest. But is it making any difference? Does owning reusable bags and getting sad about turtles choking on plastic make me live up to my title of ‘Generation Environment’?

We love feeling like good people. Actually, environmental campaigns often encourage behaviour changes by using our need for validation. Unfortunately, feeling good about using your keep cup at Newsfeed is NOT saving the planet. We do little acts of good and think it makes up for everything else.

Breaking down our environmental problems into small actions makes being environmentally friendly seem more possible. If we feel like we are powerless, we are more likely to give up. Focusing on the small actions that are in our own capabilities make us feel like we can make a difference. It is easy to say no to plastic straws. However, one person’s choice to refuse one straw isn’t what inspired countries like Canada to ban them. It is a great first step; but that is all it is, a first step. It doesn’t automatically turn us into eco-warriors, nor does it change the environment.

For any of these small acts of goodness to mean anything, we have to ensure that all of us are playing our part which makes initiatives like AUT’s first Earth Week so important. Earth Week is a time where individuals can become a community. We listen and learn from others but also contribute our own ideas and passions. We can see the need for change and make connections with other people wanting to make it happen.

You may already know why recycling, refusing plastic bags, and reusing containers and clothing is important for the environment and the difference consuming sustainable and eco-friendly food and products makes. But the biggest difference you can make is spreading the word.

AUT’s Earth Week is running the first week of August and is an opportunity to learn new ways to look after the environment but it also forms a network of people making differences in their own lives. It inspires people to help the cause, because it shows we are not alone. There is strength in numbers. It takes a community to make a difference. Even the term, ‘Generation Environment’, implies that working together is essential to make an impact. What will make the difference is voicing these problems and encouraging other people to change their actions, even if it is just talking to that friend of yours that brings glad wrap lunches to uni. Yes, take on environmental action, but most importantly, be the inspiration for others to do the same.

There's something good in every day


By Kaitlyn Wislang

"Every day may not be good . . . but there's something good in every day."
Alice Morse Earle

University is tough. However, I feel as though I have gone on and on about that an awful lot recently, which is actually unfair towards uni. There are actually plenty of wonderful things going on too, but it is easy for these to be overshadowed by everything else happening. This is why it’s important to talk about all the bad things, and the good things too! It reminds our brains that not everything has hit the fan just yet, and that there are still sunshiney things out there. We just have to adjust where we are looking sometimes.

grumpy tshirt girl

To start off with, the journey to and from uni is pretty wonderful. Feeling the cool winter air in the early morning is one of my favourite things, as well as seeing the perfect lawn of dew masking all the gardens. Getting to wear cosy scarves and jumpers, and looking out the bus window watching the world go by outside. You can even be all dramatic and pretend you are in a music video, staring deeply out the window. You get to people watch, read books, listen to podcasts, and who knows, you might even meet a cool stranger. And if Wellington’s recent announcement of pets being allowed on their public transport isn’t exciting enough, who knows when Auckland might follow suit!

The studying part of uni is also pretty cool. Heading to the library, grabbing a few textbooks that relate to a course and going through each of them in conjunction with lecture notes is such a good feeling, even though it’s old school, and who knows if lecturers recommend it or not (if it’s not peer reviewed then should the text even exist?!). Maybe it’s actually the half decent notes that result which make this such a good time, or the whole studying in the library and feeling super productive as a result part, but either way, yes! Bonus good feels are added when it’s pouring with rain outside, and you are feeling all warm and safe, studying inside, listening to good tunes, and having winter bellow just metres away.

Something else which quite possibly beats all other Good Things on the uni front is the satisfaction and feeling of productivity, of accomplishing your goals. And oh my lanta, I feel like achieving goals isn’t a wide enough talked about subject. It’s like we are afraid to be seen as bragging or that we aren’t good enough or whatever. But anyway, shame to that I say! Set out small goals, and go out and get them done! And celebrate doing that! Crossing things off a todo list is also a fabulous way to feel in control of your life, and to get you to where you want to be.

pink balloon guy

All the good things! So many good things! Also sorry for this late warning about all the Parks and Rec gifs . . . can you blame me though? They seem to be appropriate for any situation.

"I know today is Monday and you assume it’s going to suck, but according to statistics, there will be over 5,000 weddings, 10,000 childbirths, and 42 million hugs occurring today throughout the United States. Also today, there will be at least 4 people that will win the multimillion dollar lotteries, 600 people will get promotions at work, and 3,000 people will lose their virginity. There will also be 600 dogs adopted, 35,000 balloons sold, and 800,000 skittles eaten. Plus, the words “I love you” will be said over 9 million times. So again, I know today is Monday and you assume it’s going to suck, but just smile, because according to statistics, it should actually be a really nice day."

happy puppy

Beyond our little bubble which is uni (though it feels massive and overwhelming and like it’s everything, I know), is  the comforting fact that uni actually isn’t everything. There is a whole world outside of uni, and there is a whole life to live beyond this season that we are currently in. One day we will graduate, and after that there will be different tough things and different good things, more than we can even imagine right now. Just think, there are awesome songs to discover that you haven’t heard yet, there are movies to laugh and cry to, there are friends and lovers to meet, there are desserts to try, there are so, so many dogs to pat, and there are all those moments, regardless of how small they are, where you just know, this is exactly where you are supposed to be. And you are intrinsically at peace.

On doing it all.


By Kaitlyn Wislang

A better title for this might be: On doing it all (or trying to). Or perhaps: On doing it all, and braving the overwhelmingness that comes with it. Or maybe simply just: Trying would be the most apt. But you know, confidence is key, so doing is going to replace trying here. It looks better when you are confident in your answer of Greenland, while everybody else argues over 10.4 or 12. I’m pretty sure you get brownie points for that.

For those of you out there who are in the final year of your degree –


This ride is crazy, and I understand it being a package deal of all the struggles and wonderful things too.

The sleep deprivation, the academic fatigue, the harrowing perfectionism, the imposter syndrome, and the not knowing if it’s even possible to make it through the week, let alone to the ever-elusive graduation.

Trying to balance all the papers, doing a year-long research project, somehow leading a club (I have no idea how that happened either), completing the AUT Edge Award, finances, all the work shifts, volunteering, relationships, keeping mental health intact (or you know, just literally having a sense of mental health at all), and trying not to accidentally burn down your flat while cooking dinner at 12:00 am when you finally get home – it is really tough to say the least.

It’s a lot.

So here are some tips from someone who has no idea exactly how to do it all, how she actually ended up trying to do it all, or if she will actually make it out the other end.

I don’t know what I’m doing, but I understand.

  1. Plan every day. But not like me at 4:24 am on a Monday, because the overwhlemingness of the week ahead is keeping you way too awake (and I’m definitely not writing this piece in the wee hours either), but at some sort of vaguely reasonable hour. You can utilise hundreds of notes on your phone, go the old school way of post-it notes, or go hard on the bullet journaling (mine has turned into an indistinguishable mess. Pinterest hates me). Pick any way, and get all of the muck and details floating around in your head out and visually portrayed in front of you. Things can seem more manageable this way.
  2. Talk about it. Vent out all those scary feelings of not being able to be it all, and of not being able to do it all. As cliché as it is, bottling them all up really doesn’t help, and who knows what will happen when you eventually explode. And let’s be honest, neither you nor your classmates deserve that.
  3. Take things day by day. Thinking about the week and months ahead can really prompt all sorts of mind explosions, mostly ruminating around “I can’t do this!” but with lots more exclamation marks and cold sweats. Focus on just putting one foot in front of the other, and making it through one day at a time. I’m going to be honest and say that yes, this piece of advice seems very wise, and also no, I don’t know how to do this very well either. We can only try, right?
  4. Know what helps you. What helps your mind take a break when you are feeling particularly overwhelmed? For me, it’s watching my favourite vloggers, tending to my little container garden, and (unfortunately) playing the new Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery mobile app. Here’s a bonus pro-tip though: don’t get sucked into setting numerous alarms for the middle of the night so that you can complete McGonagall’s transfiguration lesson. It really doesn’t help the feeling of being too busy to breathe.
  5. And lastly, my sweet uni friends:

  6. Know that you don’t have to do it all. Seriously. The sky probably won’t collapse on you. Your friends will still tag you in wonderfully bad memes. You will make it through, and probably more unscathed this way too. Evaluate what is actually important, prioritise that, and for the lack of a better word, dump the rest. It’s not going to help you if all it does is weigh you down.
  7. Be kind to yourselves.

How to deck out your flat without breaking the bank


By Loren Tomlinson

Aside from the mental calculation of how much money you ‘accidentally’ spent during O-week, the only other thing that could be worse is having a boring bedroom to live in for the year. The only problem being, how do you delve into a little home décor to make your flat more you and less the landlord without spending excessive money?

As a fellow flattie myself, here are my top tips on how to deck out your flat without breaking the bank:

1. Kmart is now officially your new best friend

Honestly, I think it’s safe to say that about 80% of the interior decorations in my flat are from Kmart. From cute duvet covers to wall hangings, to those adorable little succulents you line up along your windowsill, Kmart has it all!

Adding a few little plants in and around your flat can make the space look a lot livelier and inviting, and they’re all fake, so there’s no chance of them dying!

2. Canvas photos

Is your room feeling a little bland? Take a second and stare at that big empty space on the wall behind your bed. Now think about just how good it would look with a big canvas with a cute AF photo on it. Cool, right?! I was in the warehouse the other day and found one that I absolutely adore and it’s only $16!

Putting up a photo above your bed not only opens up the space behind it, but it can help create a scene / certain vibe in your bedroom. There are so many canvases you can buy from places like The Warehouse and Kmart that are all under $30 and come in all sorts of different colours that you’re bound to find one that matches your colour scheme.

3. Budget well and be a smart shopper

I know this hack isn’t exactly something you can buy, but it will definitely help you out when it comes time to buy things. If you budget well and set aside money when you know you are going to be shopping for more home décor, then you shouldn’t face too many issues when you find something you like.

Now that I’ve given you some hacks for how to deck out your flat without breaking the bank, let the move-ins begin!!

Happy flatting everyone!

Loz xx

Why the third week of uni is the toughest


By Kaitlyn Wislang

University is back.

And you’re back too.

Ready to rumble. Reunited like your seat and that wet dog smell on the OuterLink bus in winter. Reconnected like you dashing off to class and leaving your USB plugged in Tech Central. Rekindled like your grocery cart and a bulk bag of value penne.

There has never been anything sweeter, than yourself at AUT, right?

While being plunged out of the summer haze of beaches, never-ending work shifts, and popsicles for dinner, and thrown deep into the mosh pit of students outside WG403, isn’t necessarily the best, the first week back at uni is actually pretty nice. You get to properly catch up with your friends in those horrendously long gaps between lectures, free food is around, and for the most part, classes are relaxed.

The first week back is kind. It eases us back gently with hopeful promises of graduation and free pens.

Week two is also relatively pain-free. You have stood in the line for an eternity to get your tertiary concession on your HOP card sorted, and are feeling relatively productive.

“I’ve got this,” you chuckle to yourself reassuringly.

“I can totally be an adult.”

Your New Year’s resolutions to study harder and smarter are still shining bright; you haven’t skipped a class yet. Things are quietly manageable, and your notes haven’t yet evolved into that derelict scrawl (does anyone else still handwrite in class? Just me?).

You are making it.

You are surviving.

You are an AUT student.

Then, before you know it, your world drastically changes. The people who turn up only during the initial weeks, and who you had never seen before your third-year class, vanish without a trace.

It’s Monday 19 March. The third week back.

There are words and concepts and ideas and experiments that you need to understand, all hurled at you. You falsely believed the dodgeball days of primary school were over.

The pretty premise of this being your year evaporates.

You are somehow four weeks behind, despite it being week three.

And now, it’s too late to withdraw and become a goat shepherd on a remote island (if that thought hasn’t crossed your mind at least once; you’re lying.).

Week three is definitely the toughest week of the semester.

And then the horrific realisation hits like that dreaded Studylink invoice - you have only made it three weeks in.

Uni tips


By Mohammed Ladha

Welcome back everyone, after a long summer getting back to the grind and getting the word holiday out of your system for the next 15 weeks, it’s time for some tips to get back to the usual schedule.

For people like me who have 8 am lectures, it is important to get at least 8 hours of sleep (Haha who am I kidding?) before to give it your best and never stay hungry, grab yourself a filling $6.50 meal at Refuel from their awesome varieties and menu that changes every day, going from curry days on Mondays all the way up to chef’s choice Fridays.

Workout! Use the services we have been provided out here at AUT and join the gym, it’s a great way to spend time between lectures and at $7 a week (including group sessions) there’s much more that can be done.

Volunteer! Sign up for the AUT Edge Award for an additional certificate when you graduate and gain experience, friends and memories along the way. You can also sign up at AUTSA to volunteer, and if you’re more into governance, join the SRC (Student Representative Committee). Make the most of your spare time.

Socialise! Here at AUT we have a tonne of clubs, ranging from social clubs like Soul Café to dance clubs like horizon and even a mature students club for the mums and dads on campus looking to socialise in their own age cohort.

Basically, put almost all you have into setting the foundation for your future whilst using the rest you’ve got left to make friends and have fun along the way. Just make sure that you never stress yourself out, for which again we have free mental health counselling services for students who need it.

To neatly sum it up, help will always be there for the students of AUT, all you need to do is ask for it.

Want to blog in 2018?


By Jeremy Raine (Student Comms Manager)

It's been a long year.

Most of you will be soaking up this amazing weather by now, even those doing summer school, no doubt! Right now I'm looking out at the perfect 26-degree day from level 9 in WO building and wishing I was at the beach. Oh well, one more day to go.

To those of you who are already at the beach... yeah, shut up. LOL

What a year it has been though. Between surprise election results, Donald Trump, love him or hate him, Stranger Things and... well everything, it's true, stranger things have happened, but not many, and not often.

Purportedly, there's an old Chinese curse that goes "May you live in interesting times." No matter what your opinion is on the state of the world right now, one thing is for sure - we certainly live in interesting times.

Many of you will be writers, bloggers or creatives of one form or another, and most of you will have opinions (strong ones, if I know students at all). This being the case, why not write for UniLife next year? You can contribute as much as you like and we welcome content on all aspects of life at AUT, life in Auckland or indeed, life as a human on planet earth (within reason!). If you're really keen, and can commit to regular contributions we can even pay you!

So, as you read this off your smartphone, while sipping a cold one at the beach, give some consideration to what life as a student has meant to you in 2017 and whether you'd like to share your thoughts with the wider AUT family in 2018. After all, writing is good for the soul. Maybe not as good as the beach, but pretty good - I feel better already.

Happy Christmas everyone - have an awesome break.

If you'd like to write for UniLife next year just flick me an email on

Young entrepreneurs shine at AUT X Challenge showcase


By Sharleen Shergill

The AUT X Challenge finals took place last week at the Quay Project. This competition gave students the opportunity to put their entrepreneurial skills to the test and develop an idea for a business, cause or project. The contestants were required to submit a detailed business proposal which included information such as what problem the idea is trying to solve, who the target market and competitors are as well as strategies on product launch. The competition was divided up into four categories; product, service, digital and social enterprise. After the initial submission of the business proposal, twelve teams made it to the finals with their ideas. Some had been working on it as a hobby and some had only put it together the night before it was due. You can view the full list of finalists here.  At the final pitch night, competitors had five minutes to present their idea followed by five minutes of q & a from the judges’ panel. This panel included; Lisa King, CEO of Eat My Lunch; Vaughan Roswell founder of Vend; Josh Comrie, CEO of Ambit and Dale Clareburt, co-founder and CEO of Weirdly. Big prizes were also up for grabs for winners of each category ($5,000) as well as an overall runner up ($5,000) and overall winner ($15,000). Winning teams also received KPMG, Tech Café, Lowndes Jordan and Xero packages.

Before the night took off, I chatted to some of the teams to see how they were feeling. Most were excited, they had been working on this for weeks and it was finally time to share their ideas. High energy filled the room with everyone supporting and cheering each other on. I also learnt that some chose to work on their proposal by themselves and some had teams of up to four people working on the idea. Furthermore, each group was also connected to a mentor, some of whom had their own businesses overseas and would check in with teams over Skype. I found this very impressive. TV presenter, Sonia Gray hosted the night and after an address from the Vice Chancellor, Derek McCormack the night was underway.

The product category kicked it off with PROTEANZ – a New Zealand produced redefinition of a sports drink presented by Tyler Lewis and Jonathan Leftley. Followed by Illu- mate –presented by Colin Anderson whose product illuminates plants based on their health needs. Concluding with Nina Lopes’ Better Butter a dairy-free plant-based alternative to normal butter. Nina’s presentation stood out as she handed out jars of her butter to the judges as well as passed around a plate with the butter on bread so people could taste it.  In each q & a, the judges got straight to the point and asked about how much the anticipated price point would be for the product, whether there was anyone else already doing this and how the product would get into the market faster than if a big company such as Fonterra or Coca-Cola were to do it. The amount of research the contestants had done was amazing, especially in building connections with people in their market. Some were already in talks with big companies regarding sponsorship and having their brand present at events as well as in talks with suppliers.

The winner of the product category was Nina Lopes – Better Butter.

Next up was the digital category. Michelle Extross and Amritpal Kaur presented Chat Grow, which designs unique chatbots to help small restaurants grow through messaging services. For example, you could message a busy restaurant using Facebook Messenger and get instant replies as well as place an order instead of having to call or scroll through a website. Moving onto Jarek Beksa who pitched a unique idea which revolved around changing the way blind or visually impaired people read documents – Mobile Finger Reader. The last one in this category – Outdoor Planner was defined as “disrupting pen and paper”. This app by Nairi Nasrallah and Mikey Stewart helps users to plan their outdoor trip safely, including checking the weather and route difficulty.

The winner of the digital category was Nairi Nasrallah – Outdoor Planner. This also went onto receive the overall runner up prize as well.

The service category covered a range of areas. First up were Mark Price and Kiran Sahota with Parcel Box – electronic parcel lockers that improve the experience of parcel deliveries. Followed by Unbounded Environmental Consultancy presented by Jamie Engelbrecht and later Rachel Cooper who joined us during the Q&A over Skype. The idea revolved around collaborating with local farmers to meet the environmental regulations while also financially helping farmers in need overseas in terms of climate change. The service category ended with Catia Batalha and Pedro Silva’s Yoga Psychotherapy. This service brings together the best of the West and the East by combining psychotherapy and yoga to address the issue of mental health in New Zealand.

The winner of the service category were Catia Batalha and Pedro Silva - Yoga Psychotherapy.

The last category of the night was social enterprise. The first team Twenty Eight consisting of Dayna Jackson, Aston Wainhouse, Mohini Manu and Shevonee Muthiah

presented their idea of a subscription service offering women comfort items such as sanitary products whose proceeds go towards supplying these products to women in need. Followed by brothers Michael and Daniel Lough who proposed an idea for the housing shortage with Little Big Construction. This involved architecting communities of tiny homes with shared laundries, gyms and utilities aimed at a generation who want to live a simple life. The last team to present were Holly Sutich and Bradley Hagan with Beta Energy. Something that stood out was that they already had their product – a sustainable energy drink – made, bottled and were able to give one each to the judges. This was inspirational, especially when thinking about how long they must have been working on developing their product to reach this point when they could actually give it to key industry leaders to try.

The winner of the social enterprise category were Holly Sutich and Bradley Hagan – Beta Energy. They also went onto receive the supreme overall winner prize as well.

Overall, it’s clear why these teams were all in the top twelve. The long hours and hard work paid off. I felt privileged to be in a room filled with these intelligent minds and am excited to see where they take their ideas in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m walking down an aisle in the supermarket and see Proteanz, Better Butter and Beta Energy products on the shelf – because they all deserve to be there. I would also like to be using Parcel Box, Chat Grow, Outdoor Planner while attending Yoga Psychotherapy and living in a Little Big Construction community. I encourage everyone to participate next year because you have nothing to lose and will come out with useful lifelong skills and valuable connections. I know I’m ready to sign up for next year!


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