how to ask for help at uni

This piece was originally published on the UOW Digital Media Society website.

Asking for help in any situation can be intimidating. It can be difficult to face the vulnerability of admitting that you can’t do something alone. But, the great thing about university is that nobody expects you to have all the answers.

When I was in high school I was sold a lie by many of my teachers. I believed them when they said that my future university lecturers and tutors would not give a damn about me nor my personal struggles. That to them, I was just a number, just another face in a crowd, just another paper to mark.

After three years studying a Bachelor of Communications and Media at UOW, I can safely say that none of this is true. University is supposed to be a place of learning and growth and the academics here understand that journey. They are our advocates and we can trust in them to do right by us if we put the effort in.

Despite this, showing up at an academic’s door to ask a question can still be a challenge. So here are some tips to nudge you in the right direction:

Send an email

Sending an email can be a lot less scary than asking a question face to face. When you write an email, you get acute control over every little detail from the wording to how you frame your situation. If you’re anxious about not communicating exactly what you’re issue is then this is a great option. Alternatively, using an email as a prelude to a face to face meeting can help lay the groundwork for an easier conversation.

Ask after class

If your main concern is intruding on your lecturer or tutor’s time, then asking a question after class can be a good way to get around that. Most academics invite questions during or after their classes which makes this even easier.

Make sure you’ve covered all bases

Sometimes you might worry about looking naive for asking for help from a lecturer or tutor. Often this comes from a place of self-doubt about our own abilities as a student and budding professional. A good way to combat these feelings is to make sure you’ve searched for the answers elsewhere first. This includes looking in the subject outline, double checking Moodle, and looking through your lecture notes for any helpful hints that might have been dropped by your lecturer. This is also a good way of seeking help without actually having to talk to anyone, so if you’re a hardcore introvert then take note.

Try asking at the Library

A lot of the library staff are students like us. They have a lot of knowledge about the best ways to research, reference and do all manner of academic things. If you feel more comfortable talking to someone who is also a student then the library could be your best option.

The door is always open (during consultation hours)

The consultation times you can find in your subject outlines are there because your tutors and lecturers genuinely wan’t to see you. They wan’t you to ask for help if you feel stuck and they wan’t you to have the best chance possible to thrive. I can guarantee that you will be welcome should you choose this course of action

So if you need help with your studies then take a deep breath and consider which path to take. The only bad option is not asking for help at all. In the words of Albus Dumbledore from J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts UOW, to those who ask for it.”

what I wish I could tell first-year me

When I was a first year BCM student, I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted from life. Looking back at that girl who used to be me, I realise that she was adorably naive. If I could tell her a few things, some gentle words and hard truths, then maybe she would have more effectively used her time at university.

Alas, I can’t do that. But, what I can do is share my advice with the newest crop of BCM students who may be just as in need of help as I was.

Don’t get intimidated 

If you don’t know how to do something then thats okay, you’re here to learn. Nobody expects you to know everything about graphic design or film editing from day one. If you’ve never done it before then TAKE THAT SUBJECT. I can’t blame you for thinking that everyone else will be better than you because they might have done it before, but that’s their journey. You’re here for YOU. First year subjects are designed so that even the most novice of beginners can learn from the ground up. Over time you will get better – so much better than you would have been if you just let the opportunity to learn pass you by.

Try something different

Variety is the spice of life. A diverse skillset on a resume will add some spice to your job prospects. So use those electives to try something new. It might be outside of your comfort zone, it might be something that you would never have thought to try… but you might absolutely LOVE whatever it is. Even if you don’t then you will have gained a new skill that will give your resume an edge.

Get help with your resume (the one you wrote is way worse than you think)

There is so much conflicting information out there about how best to write a resume. It is very important that your resume makes a great first impression because thats your ticket to a job interview. As soon as I got help with my resume my luck with getting internships changed. It was like a switch had been flipped and I was suddenly a desirable candidate. There are so many people you can ask for help with your resume – a careers adviser, industry professional, an older student or graduate – so please, please, PLEASE ask one of them as soon as you can.

Get involved with everything and anything ASAP

Opportunity is everywhere at university for a reason. It is important to understand that university is not all about study and good grades, everything that happens in-between also matters. Your best chance at getting a graduate job is to have experience doing something. Getting involved with volunteering, clubs, UOWx, and special events shows recruiters that you have initiative and a great work ethic. These experiences can also often be tailored to your professional interests and are a good starting point for networking. On top of all of that, they are so much fun and you can make some great friends. 

Attitude matters

The truth is: the more effort you put into your studies, the more benefits you will reap. There’s no shortcut to get around it – hard work pays. The first step to get the most out of each of your subjects is to have the right attitude. Each time you enter a classroom you have to be primed and ready to absorb new information and level yourself up. Even if you think that the subject is not relevant to your future. Besides, being enthusiastic makes even the most challenging or boring of classes a little bit more bearable.

Be an advocate for yourself

There is a lot of stigma around the field of communications and media. Many see us as inferior or insignificant, and this has been reflected by the Australian government in the recent price hikes of BCM degrees nation-wide. But they don’t understand. They don’t know how important our contributions are to Australian culture, arts, commerce, news and so much more. They also don’t know that there is a crap-tonne of money to be made in our field. So don’t EVER let an engineer or a lawyer or anyone else walk all over you because their degree was “harder”.

Things don’t always go to plan

Finally, you need to know that things won’t always happen according to your well-laid plans. Life is irregular and so too will your journey be. So stop bloody stressing and enjoy this beautiful, hectic time while it lasts!

living in Spain for a month: what’s so good about it?

In January of 2020, before the whole world fell to pieces, I interned in Barcelona, Spain for a month. Living in Europe was every bit as magical as I imagined it would be, working in Europe… not so much (but i’ll save that story for another time!).

It might sound like a pipe dream right now, but if you ever find yourself living in Barcelona don’t miss these three spectacular experiences.

The food – don’t just stick to the American-style fast food joints

When in Barcelona, one can’t travel more than a few metres without being hit by heady wafts of fresh-cooked Catalan (Northeastern Spanish) cuisine. On every corner is a tapas bar serving up small plates of crispy potatas bravas, deeply blushing fuet or crusty pan con tamate. What surprised me most, however, was the spectacular Italian fare one can find dotted around the city. As an Italian myself I might be a little biased. But, a stand out memory from my time away were the flaky, orange cream-filled sfogliatella and the rich gelato I would frequently treat myself to.  One shocking thing to note though, Spaniards don’t always serve their pizza pre-sliced. So if you ever find yourself ordering a pizza in Spain, expect to put in a bit of elbow grease with a knife and fork.

The sights – treat each spare moment like a vacation

Barcelona has a rich culture embedded within it’s most popular attractions. I loved exploring the unique structures of the city’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi. I have never seen any building as imaginative as la Sagrada Familia. A photograph could not capture the wonder of its four peculiarly stylised façades nor the majesty of its brightly rainbowed stained glass windows.

My favourite place to visit whenever I could was the Old Town, the early Barcelona before it expanded into the vast city that it is today. Each narrow alley is brimming with history from the time of long-lost kings and queens. Some of the remaining buildings tell quiet stories of the Black Plague, of the Jewish history in the area, and of the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. These details intermingle with the artisanal shops, luxury restaurants and commercial clothing stores that occupy the space now.

The travel – take advantage of every opportunity to leave the city

Known as the ‘gateway to Europe’, Barcelona is in the perfect position to get pretty much anywhere in mainland Europe, the United Kingdom and Northern Africa. I’m warning you now though, plane tickets are not as cheap as everyone makes them out to be.

For my second weekend abroad, I travelled last-minute to London, England. It was a strange experience to all of a sudden be thrust back into an English-speaking country that was similar to (but not quite the same as) my hometown of Sydney, which was 17 000 kilometres away. Whilst I could only eat ramen and McDonalds for dinner – lest I spend $50 on a single pizza for one (exchange rates, man) – most everything else I could do was free. From exploring many of the world’s greatest (but also sadly stolen) treasures at the British Museum, to marvelling at the artistry of Van Gogh and Monet at The National Gallery. In addition to hitting up the classic attractions of Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Centre and Westminster Abbey, I also scored a ticket to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford. These days, I do not support author J.K. Rowling but I would be lying to say that this was not an absolutely amazing experience. I spent hours here, slowly absorbing all of the details about this story that I treasured as a child. 

Some other places that I travelled to in my time away include:

  • Girona, Spain – a medieval city that featured a number of times in Game of Thrones because of its beautiful architecture.
  • Copenhagen, Denmark – a city that mixes its visible history with ultra-modern technology and design. My favourite part of the weekend I spent here was visiting the statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid and watching the changing of the palace guard at Amelienborg palace.
  • Northern Morocco – I spent two weeks here at the start of February, after my month in Spain ended. I toured from Casablanca to Marrakech. My favourite stops were: the coastal town of Essaouira where I had an authentic Moroccan bathhouse experience; and the locale of Mergouza at the edge of the Sahara Dessert where I danced under a sea of stars and snowboarded down a sand dune.

Feeling stir crazy yet? Whilst it’s unfortunate that visiting Barcelona is off the cards for now, I highly recommend it be added to anyone’s bucket list of travels for the future.

‘again, but better’ is everything your YA book-loving heart desires

Shane has been doing college all wrong…

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

… She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5/5)

I was cringing with doubt when I first saw this book. YouTubers have a rough history with the publishing world—its always either hit or (usually) miss.

Christine Riccio may have been the first Booktuber I ever watched, but that did nothing to abate my nerves. Even Booktubers, despite their many opinions on others’ writing, are prone to the same mistakes as their digital contemporaries.

I was quite surprised to find that Again But Better is everything that makes YA rom-com so addictive and well-loved. All rolled into one (fairly) neat package.


Riccio even managed to breathe new life into tropes I constantly see overworked (and underpaid) across the genre. It was a delight to stumble upon these moments in situ, so I won’t spoil them for you.

This book is a fun read, peppered with early 2010s pop-culture references. And the distinct notes of Taylor Swift made the story more contextually believable (speaking as a long-time fan).

Riccio’s relatable characters are the stand-out in this story. Even against such star-studded settings as London and Rome.

Shane, the MC, is all of us who feel the pressures of young adult life weighing in, yet struggle to produce the diamonds of success we’re told we need to be fulfilled. And Pilot is all of us who grapple with the temptation to go the ‘safe route’ when faced with tough choices.

It was also refreshing to see so many distinct side characters and adorable friendships. I could easily care about these individually because they each had their own purposeful trajectories. They didn’t just two-dimensionally prop up the protagonist—a huge pet peeve of mine.

This story, these characters, are for the people who want to make more of themselves. Who want to define their own happiness. It’s for the free-spirits who are trapped within themselves; and the lovers who feel lost and alone.


A warning to everyone who picks up this book: it will make you feel inspired.


my top three rom-coms of the post-2010 era

Romcoms lived their golden era in the 90s and 00s. Loved for their idealistic yet relatable plots, these movies are cult favourites. But in a world where our screens are dominated by the likes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Games of Thrones and Stranger Things, postmodern romcoms need to keep up with the big-guns, or risk being left behind.

Admittedly, rom-com isn’t my favourite genre, but I like to believe that just means I’m more critical about what makes one good. Heres my top three romcoms (in no particular order), perfect for your next night in:

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Director: Jon M. Chu; based on the book by Kevin Kwan


Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) finds herself a fish-out-of-water when she visits her boyfriend Nick Young’s (Henry Golding) family home in Singapore for a friend’s wedding. Surrounded by unexpected affluence Rachel must navigate a viper’s nest of jealous socialites and controlling family if she wants to keep her relationship intact.

The epitome of contemporary rom-com, this movie is steeped in culture in a way that elevates the story beyond the simplicity of the typical American romance feature. It is enriched by nuances of family, tradition, duty and familial love which all play significant roles in Rachel and Nick’s relationship, as well as the other key romances in the story. This movie also has a lot of sass, and some great comedic moments—its impossible not to love.

Me Before You (2016)

Director: Thea Sharrock; based on the book by Jojo Moyes

Me before you

The effervescent Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke) becomes the caregiver for the paralysed and rightly cynical Will Traynor (Sam Claflin). The pair grow together as they learn about what makes life beautiful.

This movie takes your standard B+ romcom to the next level. The love, the heartache and the laughs are crafted in together seamlessly in a story I could watch again and again. Lou’s quirky charm and Will’s sardonic wiles make for a couple the audience can’t help but cheer for. Its an all-round take on the classic rom-com. Keep tissues on hand for this one.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Director: Susan Johnson; based on the book by Jenny Han


Lara Jean Covey’s (Lana Condor) private letters to all the boys she’s ever loved are exposed to them without her knowledge. Havoc ensues as her love life spirals beyond her control.

Possibly the greatest high-school set rom-com of all time (big claim, I know), this movie is literal crack. Everyone loves a rom-com with tension, where the main couple are so perfect for each other and they don’t even realise it until things start to get in their way. This movie has that in spades, but its also so much more. It breaks the stereotypes of teen romance, friendship and family relationships in cinema. It’s worth noting that this also has the most stunning cinematography of any movie on this list.

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‘cursed child’, not so cursed after all

An Aussie reviews Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I had my doubts when I first heard that Harry Potter was set to become a play. Being so in love with JK Rowling’s ‘Wizarding World’, it’s hard not to feel protective. The books—excellent. The movies—cult favourites. And since then, a slow trickle of ‘HP’ culture in various forms. Some good, some bad. BUT, a play is a big deal, particularly if Queen Rowling herself has a hand in it, because that means canon and that means us Potterheads would have to accept whatever story we get—whether we liked it or not.

This whole venture was not off to a good start. With the release of the play’s transcript, outcry was rife across the globe.


People seemed determined to hate it, citing many a plot-hole and narrative confusion as their justification, forgetting that they were reading a script, not a novel. Naturally, it’s difficult to get a real sense of the story when all you have to go off of is dialogue. There’s no immersion into the setting, no characterisation, no tension.

To prevent myself from succumbing to this conflict, I had to make a deal with myself: hold off judgment until I could see the play. At least this would allow me to experience the story in its final form, permitting fair judgment. Still, I had low expectations.

As I sit here writing, not ten minutes after the curtain fall, I find it hard to wipe the smile from my face; to quell the feeling of exhilaration welling in my chest. A feeling one only gets upon experiencing something wonderful. Something magical.

And truly, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was special. After spending four and a half hours immersed in the story, I feel like I know these new characters (and old) as dearly as I did The Boy Who Lived all those years ago.


Our leads, Scorpius Malfoy (William McKenna) and Albus Severus Potter (Sean Rees-Wemyss), were the perfect combination of loveable and whimsical. They gave a modern and hilarious twist to the teenage perspective of love and family; themes which have always been at the crux of Rowling’s stories.

I have to admit, it’s weird to see Harry Potter (Gareth Reeves), and the rest of our old-faves, all grown up and dealing with real adult (TM) problems. I was worried that, since the actors weren’t the same as the ones I grew up with on the big screen, I would feel a disconnect. In light of that, I was shocked how even through the medium of theatre, I could feel their heartache and loss, and it made this play all the more beautiful—

— it was a melting-pot of comedy, charm, adventure, love and pain. A beautiful addition to the tales which many hold dear, and so far from the disappointment I was concerned it would be. So far from what many people believe it to be. I highly recommend to anyone who can, go see this play and feel the magic as I did. It’s as close to re-experiencing Rowling’s magic for the first time as you’ll ever get.

Other things I loved: (SPOILER ALERT)
  • All of the special effects! But I can’t tell you… #keepthesecrets
  • The score. The music was so beautiful, it elevated the emotion of the story ten-fold. My personal favourite, ‘Staircase Ballet’
  • Moaning Myrtle!! So flirty 😏, the best evolution of her character so far
  • Scorpius in general: so funny, so awkward, so sweet—the epitome of a precious boi
  • That feeling of sadness and heartbreak when Harry watched Voldemort and his parents, so real and visceral
  • The dementors (everywhere!)
  • Snape, spot on with the voice; definitely had the potential to be a real ‘hit or miss’ character–big, big hit on this occasion
  • Draco Malfoy, so much like his father, Lucius, yet so different at the same time both visually and personality-wise—loved seeing his relationship with his own son, Scorpius
Things that could have been better:
  • James was a bit too annoying (yes I know it was dramatised and all the characters were over-animated, but still!)
  • Ron was made to look a little bit too hapless and inadequate compared to his peers. I felt this was a bit of a disservice to his character from the books who was so much more than a ‘dumb sidekick’
  • No Hugo Granger-Weasley? It just seems like a bit of a gaping hole