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Dear fellow postgraduates,

Vice President of your PGC here for the second installment of the new PGC newsletter, YEY!

We at the PGC are very passionate about the wellbeing of postgraduate students. We are encouraging  “It’s ok to not be OK” which encourages you to discuss your feelings when you’re finding things tough. You can talk to your friends, family, colleagues, dog, basically anyone to relieve the load and make you feel more human again. We run monthly coffee catch ups at the Whitehouse so that you have a regular opportunity to socialise with other postgrads and talk about life as a postgrad student.

I’ve attached a letter I wrote to myself recently when I was finding PhD exceptionally challenging, despite being a generally happy person. I wrote it from a PhD perspective but it will also apply to a masters. I was quite nervous about sharing these feelings with you but feel it’s very important to show you that you’re not alone with the complex feelings that you can face when doing a PG degree. Think of it as a cheat sheet if you like. You can use this yourself, or you can give it to someone else so they know what to say to you when you need help (my family and friends have been primed with this incase I need to hear it from someone else).

Emma Gibson, 

PGC Vice President

Dear Me, it’s me.

A PG degree can exhaust you with the roller coaster of emotions you experience monthly/weekly or even daily. So here’s some reassurance for when things get you down

Surrounded by people but feel alone?

True: A PhD is a solo project but step back and realise you are certainly not alone, you have incredible friends and family supporting you. Not to mention your colleagues who will have felt this way at some point. So stop and talk to them and give them a big hug.

Spending all your energy trying not to cry?

Save your energy and have a good cry. The endorphins are good for you and you’ll feel more relaxed afterwards. Men, this goes for you too, you don't have to be a rock all the time, we know you have feelings too.

Feeling exhausted?

Take a night off, relax and sleep. Listen to your body.

Trying to remember why you decided doing PG studies was a good Idea?

Let’s make a list!

Why I’m doing a PhD (Here I'll start you off with some of mine)

  • To live in Australia
  • To learn new skills
  • To meet new people
  • To create different career options
  • Because I’m young and can
  • To grab the opportunities that comes my way
  • So 70 year old me isn’t disappointed with the decisions younger me made

Lost perspective perspective of life outside of the project?

It’s time you had a break… from everything. Step back and do the things that make you happy. Forgot what those things are? Let’s make another list!

Things that make me happy

  • My friends
  • My family
  • Chocolate
  • Good food
  • Outdoors
  • Exercise

When something does work, wanting to laugh with joy and hug everyone you see.

Do it, embrace these joyous moments. You feel this happy because you worked so hard. Celebrate the little victories.

Wondering where the chilled out person from last summer has gone?

They’re still there. Go back to your happy list and take time to enjoy yourself. The dramatic emotions are stress related so take them as a hint to yourself to take a time-out.

Wondering how within a few hours you can go from being on top of the world to feeling buried underneath it?

Roll with the emotions. Pretending they’re not happening is too tiring. You might want to give yourself a break (I thinkI might have suggested this before…)

Feeling guilty for having a social life?

You will go insane if you spend your weekends and evenings writing. A social life is healthy and necessary to get you through any job. Your supervisor will probably agree.

Relying on other people to keep you strong?

This doesn’t make you weak. Everything they say to you you’re capable of saying to yourself, you’ve just got to the stage where you stop believing yourself. It's ok to use the strength of others to help you take a step back and get perspective.

Falling apart when you’re on your own?

You are stronger than you think. When you get to this stage you’ve worn yourself out physically and emotionally. Take time to rest, consult your “why I’m doing this” and "what makes me happy" lists and you’ll be able to spend time alone comfortably.

Learning your limits go way further than you ever imagined possible?

PhD involves so much self discovery. You will achieve things you didn’t think you would even have to try. Most of these things won’t be at all academic related. But since it’s the academic ones which usually cause your stress you shouldn’t wait until your annual progress review to highlight your achievements. So much happens that you need to remind yourself of what you’ve achieved, particularly when you’re finding it tough. So list number 3:

My PhD achievements so far

( I've left this blank for your list)

Doesn’t sound so bad when you put it like that eh?

You can’t help feeling rubbish, but remember you’re doing a great job and give yourself some love.

Always here for a chat,


Word From Our International Students Officer

This summary captures a 4-day programme of presentations, panel discussions and interactive dialogue at the CISA National conference, which took place from 3-6 July 2017 in Canberra.

The event brought together some 100 International student representatives and key educationists from different parts of Australia. Notable government officials also took part in the conference. From UNSW Post-graduate council, Emma Jane Gibson (VP PGC) and Mustafain Akhter (International Student Officer) took part.

The conference began with a two-day pre-conference session. Conference started off with a flag raising followed by series of Q&A sessions amongst the participants. Among the many issues, Federal Budget cuts in educational sector and racism issues had important places. Reports by CISA council members were also given for their respective domains. The CISA members also looked into the progress of NSW travel concession campaign, and in this regard a formal committee is also in place. Anyone interested to learn more about it can talk to Emma Jane (VP PGC).

The Main conference started off on 5th July 17 at Australian National University, Canberra. The even mainly consisted of workshops on various critical matters such as Community and Safety of students, International Students legal rights and how international students can increase their chances of employability in Australia.

The PGC UNSW would like to congratulate the newly elected council of CISA and would like to work together with the body in order to ensure concerns raised by PG students of UNSW are addressed adequately.

Mustafain Akhter,

International Students Officer

PGC Vice President

Naqash Afzal

PGC International Officer

Ishpreet Singh Chawla