communicate better

6 Tips to help you communicate better

By Articles, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

communicate betterGood communication is one of the best life skills you can learn to help you successfully navigate adulthood. Being able to clearly get your thoughts across, is vital to all relationships with other human beings – whether it’s at home, or at work.

It’s no surprise that great leaders are also highly effective communicators!

You can use communication to share information, express appropriate emotion, or motivate others to ensure a specific outcome that you want or need.

Here are our best tips for effective communication:

1. Keep your tone positive or neutral

People don’t respond well to negative communication. Even in difficult situations, such as needing to tell someone that you are unhappy with something they have done, it is important to keep your tone neutral and understanding. This is true whether you are having an argument with a family member, or need to speak with a colleague or employee about their behaviour.

2. Be a good listener

When you have a lot to say, it’s easy to become so distracted by your own thoughts that you stop listening to the other person. By listening properly, you are able to respond appropriately. This shows that you are open to conversation, and not one-sided communication. Good listening includes non-verbal communication such as maintaining eye contact and nodding.

3. Be as direct as possible

If you need to communicate a complex idea, make sure that you are able to express yourself as clearly as possible. This may take some practice, and you may need to prepare in advance for important conversations. Being direct ensures that there are no misunderstandings.

4. Tell the other person what you want

Most communication has a specific goal in mind. If you are ambiguous about your goal, you will not achieve it. For example, if you need to ask for help, just ask. Don’t beat around the bush and be vague because you think it makes you ‘nicer’.

5. Be open to ideas and criticism

Effective communicators are not dictators. They listen, respond, are open to new ideas and want to find solutions. Feedback, even criticism, is important because it opens your mind to different solutions, and usually delivers much better results.

6. Be authentic but control your emotions

Great communication walks a fine line when it comes to emotions. It’s important to be as genuine as possible, show empathy and allow your personality to shine through in a professional environment. But it’s also important that your communication is not controlled by your emotions. The same goes for personal communication – if you let your emotions rule the conversation, things can quickly get out of hand and you can lose sight of the goal of the conversation.

eco-conscious

How Students Can Be More Eco-Conscious

By Studentdigz Cares No Comments

eco-consciousCOVID is a concern on everybody’s minds these days. However, we shouldn’t allow our anxieties around the virus to take any of our attention away from being more eco-conscious and maximising sustainability. Issues such as pollution and global warming are still as important as ever! With that in mind, here is a quick and straight-to-the-point guide on how to effectively start reducing your carbon footprint.

Meatless Monday

Did you know that the carbon footprint of a vegetarian is about half that of a meat lover? This is why it makes such a difference to reduce the amount of meat in your diet, even if it is just by one day a week. The great news is that by cutting down on animal-based protein, you will save plenty of cash on your grocery bill in the process, too!

Be school supply savvy

From pens and space cases to plastic folders and more, a lot of our essential school supplies are made out of plastic. Unfortunately, plastic waste and the production of plastic goods is contributing to the degradation of our planet. Plastic waste winds up in our oceans, while plastic production consumes high amounts of fossil fuels.

Avoid playing a part in this problem by opting for eco-friendly school supplies, such as biodegradable pens and cotton-based pencil bags.

Repurpose your old clothing

When your clothes become faded and worn out, your first instinct will be to chuck them in the bin – but don’t! With a bit of time and creativity, you can repurpose your old clothing to make new fashion favourites or other useful items for the home. For instance, a tattered old pair of jeans could become a fancy new pair of shorts, or a tired button-down shirt could become a stylish off-the-shoulder blouse.

Browse Pinterest for ideas on other ways in which to repurpose your clothing, such as to make plant hangers or crochet bathroom mats!

Go natural

This is especially important when it comes to everyday products, such as toiletries. Most local suppliers of natural products also place an emphasis on reducing packaging. You and the earth benefit from the elimination of harmful chemicals and you help to reduce waste.

Being more eco-conscious is all about making small changes to your lifestyle. Every small change contributes to making a much bigger difference, after all!

online exams

Preparing for and Taking Online Exams

By Studentdigz Cares, Time Management Skills No Comments

online examsUp until 2020, exams revolved around arriving at the examination venue at least an hour before sitting and getting started on completing the paper. Huddling outside with your friends and nervously quizzing one another on the coursework. Shuffling into the venue with a crowd of other anxious students and finally putting pen to paper.

Nowadays, as a result of COVID, exam time looks a whole lot different, with many institutions encouraging online exams. This change from the norm has resulted in a higher dose of exam stress for students who worry about what to expect. Here’s everything that you need to know.

Preparing for online exams

Most students will be wondering how universities will be mitigating the risk of students cheating when writing their online exams. You are, after all, in the comfort of your home with no adjudicator pacing around making sure that everybody plays by the rules. What is stopping you from reaching for your notes for a quick refresher when you’re faced with a challenging question?

Universities are implementing different tactics to prevent this, such as anti-cheating software and ensuring that students have their webcams switched on at all times. The nature of the exams written are also likely to be somewhat different, asking students to provide their opinions and summaries of the work in question, rather than asking for very specific, textbook-based answers. This opinion based answer is something that you can practice in the lead up to your exams.

Taking the exam

Do not let the fear of the unknown shake your confidence. For the most part, taking an online exam is endlessly less stressful than taking an exam in a cold and gloomy examination hall! Do your best to make yourself comfortable – brew a cup of chamomile tea for your nerves, slip into something soft and cosy, and open a window for some fresh air.

Do not rush when answering the questions but do remain aware of how much time is left over. Your approach should be similar to what you are used to in that you should strive to answer the questions that you understand really well before attempting to answer the questions that seem slightly puzzling. Be wary of over thinking your answers simply because you have more time and access to ‘books’ – this can throw you off balance causing you to run out of time before you realise it.

Most students will find the experience of studying for and taking an online exam pleasant and straightforward. If, however, you are still suffering from a touch of anxiety around the prospect, do not hesitate to speak to a lecturer or a counsellor regarding your concerns.

back to basics

Back to Basics: Wardrobe Essentials for Varsity

By Money Matters, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

back to basicsEven if you work a part-time job, money is likely to be quite tight for the duration of your time at varsity. So, how do you balance your budget with a wardrobe that is certain to turn heads on campus? You stick to the basics and invest in the right essentials, that’s how! Here is a definitive list of the few back to basics items that every varsity girl should have in her closet.

T-shirts

Grab yourself a handful of classic t-shirts in neutral colours to start off with. Add some variety by choosing different styles, such as v-necks and off-the-shoulder and throwing in one brighter colour that complements your skin tone. It is also a good idea to choose your t-shirts in varying lengths. We love them because they are versatile despite the season – wear them on their own over a fashion-forward pair of shorts in spring and summer, or as a base layer during autumn and winter.

Jerseys

You will need at least two or three cosy cardigans or jerseys to wrap up in when temperatures plummet. Steer clear of any heavier options that need to be dry-cleaned as these could end up costing you more money further down the line.

Shorts

Shorts look amazing on all body types, especially if you know which cut flatters your shape the best! We recommend investing in three pairs – one in denim, one in black, and the other in a pastel colour of your choice.

Jeans

Two pairs of good quality jeans will do the trick. Just be careful about trying to skimp here – with jeans, you always get what you pay for. Spend a little bit more and you are practically guaranteed a better fit, as well as improved longevity

Leggings

Leggings are every girl’s best friend! They can be used for working out, as a go-to for chilling at home, or as an extra layer underneath a skirt or below a longer-length cardigan for winter. Buy them in plain black for effortless mixing and matching or go bold with loud-and-proud patterns.

Walking shoes

Those stiletto heels look incredible – but are they really practical for varsity? Definitely not. Rest assured that you are going to be doing A LOT of walking around campus. Comfort is key here.

Statement jewellery

When the majority of your outfit is understated, you can bring it all together with a pop of creativity based on the jewellery that you opt to accessorise with.

Underwear

Breathable, cotton underwear is best – and don’t forget a few supportive bras, too.

Now that you know what you need and you are confident that it won’t break the bank, it’s time to shop. Enjoy!

blooming good greenery

DIY your digs this spring with some blooming good greenery

By Housekeeping Tips, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

blooming good greeneryIf the chilly weather and lockdown are making you feel decidedly gloomy, we have the perfect solution to help you brighten up your digs! Our homemade decor ideas are fun and colourful and budget-friendly too. So without further ado, let’s DIY your digs!

1. Silk flower wall

You’ll need: a selection of fake flowers with long stems, a hot glue gun, wire cutters, nails or hooks, clear fishing line.

Cut your flower stems so that they are all the same length. Use the wire cutters if your flowers have wire stems (if they have plastic stems, you can just use ordinary scissors). Put a blob of glue on the bottom tip of one flower stem, then glue it into the centre of the top of another flower.

Continue glueing flowers together until you reach your desired length – about a metre and a half should be good – and then wait for the glue to dry thoroughly. Make enough strings of flowers to cover the area where you want to place your flower wall.

Tie a length of fishing line to the top flower of each string. Place small nails or hooks where the ceiling meets the walls, then hang your strings of flowers from the hooks. Because the fishing line is clear, it will look like your flowers are floating on the wall!

Bonus tip: Wind some battery operated fairy lights through your flower strings for an extra pretty effect!

2. Upcycled succulent holders

You’ll need: a selection of small containers, spray paint, fake (or real) succulents, sand, a hot glue gun.

Search your local junk shop for a selection of small pots and plant containers. It doesn’t matter what condition they are in – you’re going to spray paint everything to make them look new and trendy again!

First, wipe your containers with a damp cloth to remove any dust or fluff. Spray paint in your colour of choice (do this outdoors to avoid the spray paint fumes!).

If you’re using real succulents, all you need to do now is repot them into your new containers. If you’re using fake succulents, fill the containers with sand and use your hot glue gun to glue the succulents into the sand.

Bonus tip: You can turn just about anything into a succulent holder! Search your local junk shop for interesting things like retro phones, typewriters or any vintage tech that you can spray paint and fill with sand and succulents.

3. 3D Flower art

You’ll need: a small white canvas, a selection of fake flowers, a hot glue gun, a black permanent marker.

Take your canvas, and on the bottom half draw a vase or flower pot. Draw in pencil first, then go over using the black marker. Next, arrange your flowers so that they look like they are cascading out of the pot. Cut the stems as required. Use your hot glue gun to glue each flower in place.

There’s so much that you can do with fake flowers and a glue gun – DIY decor is easy and such an effective way to make your digs pretty for spring. Add a few potted plants, bulbs in tins or even a herb wall on the back of the kitchen door. Whatever you do, have fun, and make these ideas your own!

The Importance of Mentorship 

By Career, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

As COVID wreaks havoc on our learning, our emotions, and our bank accounts, many students will need to go in search of additional support to get through these challenging times. While it is always helpful to speak to a professional counsellor or psychologist, another wonderful way to seek guidance is through a mentor. Here are a few reasons why mentorship is so important, especially now.

Wisdom

It helps to find a mentor who is involved within the industry that you hope to break into following graduation. However, any older adult with plenty of life experience and stories to share can make the world of difference.

It is easy to feel lost and uncertain at the moment. In fact, almost everyone is feeling a similar way. The difference lies in learning the coping skills necessary to overcome the current circumstances and, if possible, to use these circumstances to your advantage.

Perhaps now with all of the extra free time on your hands, you can finally try out that hobby that you’ve been meaning to adopt. Maybe apply to take a short computer literacy course to boost your performance at varsity and beyond. A mentor can teach you how to bring out the best in yourself and motivate you to continue to do so every single day.

Encourage resilience

In trying times such as these, we could all do with a cheerleader and a regular pep talk. Mentorship is there to remind you of your strength and your resilience and help you to push through the difficult challenges with which you are faced.

Prepare you for life

By now, you will know all too well just how unpredictable life can be. One minute you’re sailing along with a smile on your face, and the next you’re struggling to keep your head above water. There are various life skills necessary to survive and thrive, such as time management skills, communication skills, conflict management skills, and more. Great mentors will be able to explain their importance and teach you how to hone them at every opportunity.

Ultimately, the best way to find a mentor is through people you know. Alternatively, you can connect with industry professionals online and request guidance. Building a relationship takes time, but it will definitely prove to be well worth it in the long run.

case for the classroom

The Case for the Classroom

By Articles, Studentdigz Cares, Technology No Comments

case for the classroomThere has been a lot of talk around how students’ and teachers’ approaches to learning are going to be forever changed as a result of COVID-19. The general consensus is that online learning is going to continue to expand and evolve until the world reaches a point where the physical classroom becomes entirely null and void. Is this really true despite the many benefits of classroom learning? Below are a few reasons why we believe there is still a case for the classroom.

Teaching is about more than just delivering material

What makes a great teacher? Is it the teacher’s ability to deliver the required teaching material and facts to students within a stipulated time frame? Or is it his or her ability to ‘read the room’ and pick up when students may be struggling to grasp a concept. Should they instinctively know when to provide another example for clarity? Is it his or her ability to identify which students are engaging and which ones are zoning out? Online teaching doesn’t allow for all of this, which will result in more and more learners being left behind. The result being excessive foundational learning gaps forming over the years in a higher percentage of students.

Limiting distractions

A classroom is a space designed specifically to facilitate learning, concentration, and productivity. In contrast, very few students’ homes will promise the same idyllic setting. From noisy pets and siblings to a host of other temptations, such as smartphones, gaming consoles, and music, it is evident that online learning comes with a unique set of challenges in terms of dedicating one’s full attention and cognitive engagement to a lesson.

Classrooms promise inclusion

Not all students learn in the same way. For instance, some are visual learners, while others are kinaesthetic (or physical) learners. Unfortunately, online learning cannot always account for these varying learning styles. Classrooms, on the other hand, allow teachers to get more creative in terms of how they communicate concepts and information to their students. This helps to ensure a higher degree of inclusion.

Throw in the fact that a huge portion of South African students do not have access to the technology or equipment required to make the most of online learning, and it seems obvious that we are not yet ready to do away with classroom learning just yet (or ever).

How do you feel about classroom learning vs. learning online? Tell us on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

same storm different boat

Tips for propelling your future, even amidst a global pandemic

By Mental Health, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

same storm different boatChances are to get to where you are; there was most likely some sort of plan. Perhaps, you had anticipated that you would be at such and such a point by now to advance your prospective career forward. Your plan may have involved giving up student life activities to get a new skill, signing up for societies of interest in tertiary and around your digz, volunteering to get some much needed practical experience or giving back by doing community work. Whatever your strategy was in propelling your future to move forward, with a global pandemic upon us, it cannot be business as usual. With that said, you need not throw in the towel, but instead adjust your sails.

Be kind to yourself

It’s not easy to suddenly evacuate from your digz and be restricted by a national lockdown, whatever the level. Change is never easy, particularly of this magnitude. Your studies may have been disrupted along with your plans for work vacations and other student jobs you may have liked to pursue. Perhaps you were hoping to populate your CV and do more.

Give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself. Remember, students across the world are also finding themselves “in the same storm, but not in the same boat” situation, and employers will understand that this was not an ordinary year.

Do more to understand yourself

While it is easy to get carried away by staying fixated on social media updates, giving to others and trying to do your bit to uplift your community; spare a thought for yourself each day. Take time to get to know yourself better. Take a good look at how you handle yourself in times of a crisis. Are you hopeless? Are you fixated on dreadful stats or can you see the silver lining? Are you able to identify prominent leaders that stay calm and think of innovative solutions? How are you feeling?

Confirmation upon confirmation

What disciplines are captivating your interests? In a crisis, everyone tries to come together for the sake of moving forward. Think of the journalists who report the news, the medical practitioners and experts who put themselves on the frontline, the caregivers who look after the elderly, the IT gurus who come up with innovative apps, and entertainers who dare to keep our spirits high even at such a time.

The options go on and on. Then think of your chosen line of study and prospective work. Is it something that you would love to do someday? If not, what steps can you take to think of a way forward? This is the time to reflect and find confirmation, even if only within you, that you are where you ought to be. Don’t just think about it, act. One way can be by updating your LinkedIn CV.

Career advancements may have taken a totally different shape, but that’s just life. Sometimes we need to adjust and learn to be resilient. Your future need not be dampened by a storm – come what may. Realign your posture. Get back in line and think of innovative ways to spread some light, even now. This is not the time to buckle in and die. Soldiers are made for battle. Start to engage in the battle for your future. It is not the end. We believe in you! You’ve got it in you to arise no matter the adversity. Dig deep and get back into formation.

The consequences of breaking lockdown – do you get a criminal record

By Studentdigz Cares No Comments

There’s been a lot of talk regarding South Africa’s lockdown regulations. Some people think they make sense and are adhering strictly and staying at home when they can, while others are blatantly breaking lockdown.

Whether you agree with the varying lockdown level regulations or not, you should know that there are some pretty serious consequences for not complying – and yes, you can get a criminal record for breaking lockdown.

Admission of guilt fine for breaking lockdown

If you are caught breaking any of South Africa’s lockdown rules, you have the option of paying an admission of guilt fine to avoid having to appear in court. If you pay this fine, you automatically have a criminal record (which can take 10 years to expunge!)

There have been talks to change the system, so that admission of guilt for minor crimes doesn’t result in a criminal record. However, don’t bank on this happening any time soon. It’s a lengthy process that involves changing legislature. In addition, the government is unlikely to address the issue while Covid-19 is still a concern, as getting a criminal record is a further deterrent to breaking lockdown regulations.

Consequences of breaking lockdown – fines you can expect to pay

Parties, drinks with friends, clubbing, certain sports – these are just a few activities that are part of ‘normal’ life but are either restricted or not allowed during lockdown. Here are a few fines as of 11 May 2020 that you could expect to pay for breaking lockdown – click here.

Many of these “illegal” activities have since been removed from the list as we move from one level of lockdown to another; For example, exercise restrictions have now been removed, you can buy alcohol, shop at most stores kids can go back to school and most industries can return to work, but there are still constraints.

Visit premises or places closed to the public – R1 000

Going to the beach during lockdown is prohibited, as is visiting any place that is closed to the public.

Illegally moving between provinces, metropolitan areas and districts – R1 000

Without a permit, you still may not travel between provinces, cities, and in some cases even suburbs.

Sell tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products – R1 000

Including private sales to friends and neighbours – and note that vaping products are also included in the ban.

Convening of a gathering – R3 000

Having friends over for a party during lockdown could land you with a very heavy fine if you’re caught.

If you are caught breaking lockdown and don’t want a criminal record, the best thing is not to pay the fine and rather wait for a court hearing. Better yet, just sit tight and adhere to all lockdown regulations. It really is for your own safety!

*Please note, all information contained in this article is correct at the time of writing.

All day Pj's

Guilt Free – All day PJs!

By Blogs & Events, Studentdigz Cares No Comments

All day Pj'sHands up if you’re spending all day in your PJs? No judgement – same here! There’s a lot of talk going around about how we should use the forced downtime of lockdown to be productive, and that living in your PJs is kind of at odds to this.

Here at Student Digz we think a little differently. We believe that you can totally be busy, get stuff done, and stay virtually connected to the world, and STILL enjoy the most comfortable clothing for lockdown.

So, if pyjamas are 2020’s new fashion trend, you need to up your game. Toss out those ratty old sweatpants, and invest in some new sleepwear that is both cute and comfy!

Here are our fave trends:

Silky satin

There’s nothing like satin PJs to make you feel like a vintage movie star while you lounge around the house. Satin feels so good against your skin, and many beauty experts swear by silky sleepwear as it apparently reduces wrinkles. Bonus – in winter many stores offer brushed satin pyjama sets to keep you warm.

Good old flannel

Flannel is so cosy, it’s like sleeping in a warm hug. Go full flannel top and bottom, or just wear flannel pants with a long-sleeved T for a cute tomboy look.

Snazzy sweatpants sets

Sweatpants totally count as PJs, so get yourself a few new pairs with hoodies to match. Athleisure is a big trend, especially now during lockdown. Look for interesting colours and textures to glam up your downtime style – we love the idea of pink velvet sweatpants!

Onesie anyone?

Onsies came onto the scene a few years back, and they haven’t left. Granted, wearing a onesie is a little annoying when you need the bathroom… but the cuteness and comfort factor 100% outweighs any convenience. Opt for pretty prints, or even an animal-themed onesie that turns you into your favourite furry critter.

A snuggly bathrobe

A soft, cuddly robe is the ultimate lockdown accessory for chilly winter nights, plus it’s an essential item to add authenticity to your stay-at-home spa days.

Good news is, that clothing shops are now open for in-store shopping as well as online deliveries. Mr P and Woolies have some lovely PJs in stock – so go on, and treat yourself to some fab new PJ threads!