Connected Conversations | Michael Cullen
First year psychological sciences student, Michael Cullen, shared some valuable insight on the importance of the ‘small stuff’, creating new routines and the resilience in all of us, in our latest Connected Conversation.
Tell us about yourself…
My name is Michael Cullen and I am studying a bachelor’s degree in psychological sciences with a major in music. I was a mid-year entry student so I’m currently in my second semester. Although I’ve just started, I’ve had the pleasure of giving a vote-of-thanks to former Prime Minister, Professor Julia Gillard at Bonython Hall. She spoke about indigenous mental health and I had the chance to share my story and opinion on the topic. So far, I’ve achieved top marks in psychology and acquired a cadetship in research at Wirltu Yarlu. Outside of Uni, I keep active, drink way too much coffee and write and record my own music.
How have the current changes at University impacted your daily routine?
To be honest, the sudden changes dismantled my routine. However, I ‘ve adapted and created a new routine that fits the circumstances. It’s just a matter of being kind to yourself when you haven’t done enough and realistically rewarding yourself when you’ve completed your tasks.
What do you miss most about physically being at University?
The environment mostly. It’s like going to the gym and being instantly in the zone because everyone else is positively adding to the environment. Everyone was there because they had values and goals that were reinforced by the desire to make something of themselves. That’s a valuable resource to have.
What changes have you made to your study plans?
Instead of relying on the University to structure my study routine, I’ve had to create my own schedule. It’s tough but it makes you enjoy your downtime because it’s well earned.
Have you adjusted your expectations to what you can achieve at the moment?
I haven’t really added a negative or positive value on my expectations. I’ve slightly tailored them to the current circumstances though. I’m just treating this as a necessary challenge to prove I really want to be a clinical psychologist.
Name one thing during this time that has been pleasantly surprising for you.
I’m just surprised how fast everyone has adapted to this unexpected lockdown, especially the University. It proves humans are quite resilient when it comes to inevitable or unexpected adversity.
What are you doing to stay motivated?
Motivation comes and goes, what you really need is drive. I obtain this by taking a moment to be really honest with myself and define my core values then compare the outcome of following them, to if I didn’t. Comparing them will fuel you to at least 75% of the way, the rest is implementation. I achieve this by building on small tasks and comparing myself to how I was yesterday. Don’t discount the small stuff because progress is progress. Also, a healthy diet and physical routine to strengthen mental fortitude. The more you do it, the more you realise it.
What are you doing to stay connected to your lecturers, peers, friends, family etc?
I’m quite introverted, so I force myself to check in with everyone through text, email or social media.
Name three things you won’t miss about this current moment in time…
No gyms, the inability to attend physical lectures and tutorials and the clamp on forming additional relationships.
And, three things you won’t forget…
Toilet paper, our resilience and how much of a ghost town the CBD looks during the day.
Wirltu Yarlu is responsible for engaging with and recruiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as providing support to students during their time here at the University of Adelaide.