Rishab Pillai: Classroom on a tropical island

After a long semester and the dreaded exams, most students were prepping to make visits to their home countries or travel over the summer. In my case and I am sure my classmates were in the same frame of mind, we were excited for a few more weeks of study ahead. Yeah I used excited and study in the same sentence but that’s no mistake! I am talking about students who had enrolled in the upcoming block mode herpetology class. Herpetology (from Greek “herpein” meaning “to creep”) is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians and reptiles. When it comes to reptiles and amphibians, Australia has one of the highest diversity of these groups globally. People generally think of these groups in negative light, however, they play an incredibly important role in the environment and unlike what most people think, are not out to kill you! So, here we were, an incredibly passionate group of people ready to spend the next few weeks learning more about these interesting animals. This involved classes and oh! Did I forget to mention fieldwork on a tropical island!


A spectacular sunset on the beach at Orpheus Island Research Station (Photo by Harrison Warne)

Continue reading

Rishab Pillai: Exams! The final leg of the semester


All of us have powered through the last fourteen weeks, multiple assessments due within a few hours of each other, presentations and group work, it has all led to the final leg of the semester, FINAL EXAMS! Exams are inevitable and daunting, however, it is important to remember that we have gotten this far and like all other challenges, we will get through this one too. This is usually a time when you may have an overdose of advice, but I thought I’d share some things I follow leading up to exams. I have tried to keep it general as we all work differently and no one but ourselves can decide what works best for us. We all get nervous, we all procrastinate, we have our lazy moments and our fair share of brain farts, so it’s important to remember that none of us are alone. Continue reading

Rishab Pillai: A Classroom in the Rainforest

A Red- bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) we found on surveys. You can see why they get the name because of that striking red belly.

A Red- bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) we found on surveys. You can see why they get the name because of that striking red belly.

Hope everyone had a great lecture recess catching up on some rest or study. In my very first post I mentioned that when we study something we are genuinely passionate about, it doesn’t seem like an effort. Hence, I was looking forward to the lecture recess, which had in store an experience that only the tropics could offer.

No matter what you study, employers these days are looking for graduates that not only have good grades, but also have an extensive amount of hands-on experience. At JCU, we are fortunate to be given the opportunity through various field trips to gather some of these hands-on skills that cannot be acquired from text books or in a classroom. So I was really happy when I realized that I would be spending majority of my lecture recess in the rainforest. Continue reading

Rishab Pillai: Taking time off…… Productively

The much awaited lecture recess is here! I hope everyone did great on their assessments, mid-terms etc. Like all phases in life, even these hectic phases fly by before you realize it.

So let’s welcome the lecture recess! A great time to travel and explore Australia or maybe just kick back and relax and get some much deserved rest. With the numerous options around, it may be quite the task to decide on how to spend your week off. So I thought I’d share with you guys an option that I always consider when I have free time.

Being students in a new country gives rise to a few questions…… how do we make friends? how do we learn something new or improve our skills related to our course and mostly importantly how do we network?  (this one often comes up towards the end of course, however the earlier we start networking, the better it is). For me all these questions usually lead to one common answer…… volunteering! Continue reading

Rishab Pillai: Its crunch-time and you’re not alone!

As I mentioned in my earlier post, time flies when you’re having fun, or in the case for all of us, when we’re studying.  Which brings us to the end of Week 7! Well done everyone on making it through the first half of the semester! This also brings us to the phase where there’s barely any time to chill. Whether, its assignments, tests or presentations, this is usually a tough phase of the semester and we are expected to bring out our ‘A game’ to work through this phase. As much as we may hate it now, such phases make us efficient time managers and will prepare us to be an asset to any workforce!

No matter how busy or tough it gets, its most important for all of us to know that we are not alone in this. We are all learning and asking for help is part of the learning process. Fortunately for us, there’s a range of support and guidance available! No matter how good we are with the range of skills that are required at university, there’s always scope for improvement, as you’ve heard, The learning never stops………. So I figured I’d highlight the range of help available to us and hopefully it will be as helpful to rest of you as it was for me! Continue reading