The feeling of being a student again is a strange one. The feeling of caring about what I’m studying is an even stranger one. The last time I had assignments, lectures, and the necessity to concentrate for longer than 20 minutes, it was a struggle only made lighter by the promise of a heavily inebriated Wednesday night social. I started my graphic design course just over 3 weeks ago. It has flown by and I’m finding myself wishing it would pass more slowly. In such a short space of time, we have absorbed so much information – practical skills, theory and ways of thinking. To say that I’m loving it feels like a gross understatement – it’s a challenge, a thrill and utterly enlightening.

I’m seeing design principles everywhere I look around Brisbane CBD; strange choices of typography, excellent uses of negative space and questionable alignment. Some of the information we’re learning seems like common sense, whilst some of it requires an element of unlearning processes previously ingrained. Using the technique of thumbnailing (rough sketches) before moving on the computer wasn’t something new to me, but the idea of plotting designs within a grid which is later invisible to the viewer was something I found harder to comprehend. Used to placing elements on paper by eye, I am learning that even the most chaotic designs often have an element of order beneath them.

The course itself is everything I expected and more. When a new group of people is expected to spend 40 hours a week together, there’s always the risk of personality clashes. The Shillobri class of June ’16 is full of different personalities, ages, and backgrounds – but as expected we are brought together by our love of design and our determination to make something of these 3 months we’ve chosen to take out of our lives. Not to mention we all appear to be foodies – Friday lunchtime resulted in Ramen at the famous Taros of Brisbane. Delicious.

The leaps and bounds we’ve made in just 3 weeks are astounding, especially looking back at first attempts from the first few days of the course. The environment and teachers are so full of positivity, possibility and motivation, it is unsurprising that we are all beginning to excel and produce things we would never have imagined. For the first time in 20 years, I find myself regularly looking forward to Monday mornings.

Outside of class, I have taken the advice I give to people in new cities; when you move to an unfamiliar area, find a community to become a part of. My go-to used to be rugby union, but due to cycling ~84km a week and the course, I can’t risk serious injury, an unfortunate side effect of the sport. Still very much a fan of funny shaped balls, I found the next best thing, rugby union’s slightly less violent younger sister – Touch. In Australia, there is a plethora of different versions of the sport, each with their own set of rules and links to the contact version; Oz Tag, Touch Rugby and TRL (Touch Rugby League).

Due to the need for the games to be within cycling distance, I opted for the latter and have become part of the team fondly named ‘The Hammies’. Our namesake is a perfect example of Australian humour after our captain tore his hamstring in the first match #toosoon. Having played Tag rugby in London, it seems to be a universal theme that rugby generally attracts a variety of people; from those who love the sport, to those who are just new to the area and want to try something new. It’s the only mixed-gender games I have played and I am constantly pleasantly surprised by the attitude of the men playing, compared to some rugby men I have met in the past. Teamwork, equality and a sense of sociable fun is the recipe for most touch teams. Such is my love for the organisation, despite playing on Wednesday (and the huge hilly cycle to the venue) I stood in for a drop out on Thursday and playing 2 games for a completely different team. It is a sport that truly engenders team spirit. If you have never played and are looking to try something new, want to get fit – find a local team. You will fall in love with it!