I remember the first time I ever set foot onto a CQUniversity campus. It was O’Week 2017, and I was arriving at the Mackay City campus with a hundred or so fresh-faced school leavers and a handful of mature students for the very first time, and I was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I didn’t know anyone, and I was scared out of my wits, but I was determined that just because it was hard and it really pushed me out of my comfort zone, there was no reason not to give myself this opportunity.
It was in that very moment that I decided, ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’, and that’s when I saw a piece of paper among the open-day stalls that read ‘UniGames’. I thought to myself, ‘cool, I can do that’. I’ve played sport all my life and it’s always been a good way to meet new people and find a place to belong. I was worried though that a younger crowd might not be quite as welcoming as I was hoping for, but I put my name down anyway.
After a few months, I was receiving emails about the upcoming Northern UniGames which was taking place in Rockhampton in 2017, so I submitted an expression of interest to play basketball. That was the single best decision of my University life, it was pretty much the turning point for me in feeling like I actually belonged at this establishment. I had met a couple of people through my classes, but mostly they were young kids and the gap between us was so great I always thought they were thinking, ‘OMG what is she doing here!?’, because rarely would any of the young ones talk to me. Turns out it was all in my head, but that’s how isolated and out of place I felt at the time.
Due to my playing history and achievements in my chosen sport, I was made Captain of the Women’s Basketball team and I remember how nervous I was arriving at the Rockhampton campus to meet up with my team mates. I had a phone conversation with another player who I had never met, who was feeling really nervous too. When we were talking, she said, “I’m no spring chicken you know”, and I just laughed. Neither was I and turns out that I was even older than her! That was the beginning of a very fast and special friendship that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Together, my new friend and I met the rest of the team one by one, and to our surprise they were pretty much all mature age students, although we were most certainly the most senior of that group. We played hard and formed bonds during that week that would carry over for years to come, and I think I can safely speak for the whole team when I say it was an awesome experience and one that we just kept coming back for, year after year.
Of course, sport was the main draw-card, but it was the opportunity to mix with students from other campuses, other areas of study and other walks of life, that really was the best part of the experience for me. Sport is a great vehicle for breaking through many social, religious, and cultural barriers and brings people together in the most positive of ways. It has always been such an important part of my life and has allowed me to make friends and put down roots wherever I have been, and it has been no different during my journey through University. It was the one thing that actually made me feel at home and not only accepted, but also valued.
Fast forward to the end of my time at University and I have represented CQUni as the Women’s Basketball Captain in three Division 2 National Competitions and two of these as the overall CQUni Female Team Captain. I have also completed in a Division 1 National Competition representing CQUni in Futsal, a game I had never heard of, let alone played, so that was something very, very special.
Another great sporting opportunity offered by CQUni which is geared more to the social side than actual hard-core sports, is the annual Chancellor’s Cup. I have attended two now and I can safely say that everyone who attends has the most fantastic time. This competition is about bringing men and women together to play three different sports over three days. It doesn’t matter if you can play the sport or not, so long as you give it a go.
It doesn’t matter if sport is not your thing, CQUni offers so many opportunities for students to involve themselves with and interact with other students and contacts outside of their studies. You just never know who you are going to meet, or what that might mean for you in the future. What I do know is that a University journey is only for a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things and I would urge students to be as involved with as many activities and events as they can.
So that’s it from me. It’s a teary goodbye as I prepare to graduate and close the door on this life changing and incredible journey I have been on for the last three years. I wish you all the very best of luck with your studies and hope you heed my advice. Just get involved! You never know who you’ll meet or what doors will open because of it.
Cheers – SID
Sidonie Cromb is a current Bachelor of Digital Media student and member of the Social Squad – a group of content creators helping to promote student and campus life at CQUniversity.