Table of Contents Welcome Academic Course Format Textbooks Online Components Staff What to Expect Vaccinations!!! Wollongong Housing Utilities Transportation Shuttle Map Family Services Entertainment Shoalhaven Housing Transportation Entertainment Utilities WUMSS About Events SIGs International Students Visas Student Loans Arrival & Transportation Banking Contacts
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First and foremost, congratulations, you got into medical school at UoW, well done!
Now that you’ve leaped gazelle-like over the applications hurdle, you’re probably wondering: what the hell did I get myself into? Good question! But fear not, this guide has been written by people who have been there, done that, and are now writing the book on it. We authors are a highly-qualified (hah) group of first year students who hope to answer your burning questions and alleviate some of those premed anxieties about the course itself, textbooks, life in Wollongong/Shoalhaven, and of course we’ll address the pressing “will there be beer involved?” question. However, please be aware that you should take this guide as a document full of helpful recommendations and suggestions given by current students who may or may not have had too much of said beer. If you have anything truly important to ask you should email the UoW GSM staff - they are a wonderfully helpful bunch who can give ‘official’ answers to questions. Now, with that in mind, read on! Some quick information about this guide: 1. This guide is written and revised by the medical students of UoW. 2. The guide is broken up into sections and all sections may not be relevant to all students depending on which campus you have been allocated to. It may also help you to choose a campus if you have not already done so. 3. We have taken the liberty of underlining and bolding certain key points that you should take special note of. 4. This first section is a bit long but is full of good information. 5. The last page contains a list of current student e-mail addresses that you may feel free to contact should you have any questions or concerns relating to getting ready for med school, the program itself or this guide.
Academic Course Format
Medicine at UoW is divided into four phases. This is discussed in far more detail in the Phase I handbook you’ll be receiving at orientation. Briefly: Phase I - 1.5 years - the “pre-clinical” phase.
Phase II - 1 year - seven 5-week clinical placement rotations. Phase III - 1 year - longitudinal (40 week) clinical placement. Phase IV - 6 months - elective, selective & pre-internship terms. Your first 18 months in more detail: The majority of the work is taught through lectures and online modules. You’ll have two hours of anatomy and clinical skills each week, and two clinical placements (hospital & GP practice) each month. Blocks: Phase I is further divided into ‘blocks’ which focus on specific topics - ie in the first session you’ll have Intro to Medicine (6 weeks) and Cardiovascular/Respiratory (10 weeks). Each block is organized into fortnights (2-week periods). Fortnights: A cased-based learning (CBL) case is introduced at the beginning of week one and finishes at the end of the second week. Assessments: Assessments in Phase I consist of the end-of-year and end-ofphase exams, several essays (yes, there are essays to be written!) and clinical competency assessments.
Textbooks There are approximately a dozen “recommended core textbooks” for phase I. As students our collective advice is: Do NOT go out and buy them all before classes start! Textbooks are definitely not cheap, so it really is worth waiting to see what you decide you’ll need. The learning centers of both campuses have multiple copies of all of the most important textbooks so you will have easy access to each book to decide how much you like it. Some subjects are also doubled up on in the suggested text list - for example there are two suggested biochemistry texts, but there’s no real reason to get both of them. You may also find that you do the majority of your studying at the school, which means those texts sitting next to your bed at home aren’t doing you much good. Figure out where you’re going to be reading those books before pulling out the wallet. It is also well worth your time to pin down a second-year or two and ask which texts they found useful and which they did not. Some of the books will be used daily for a fortnight or two, but then never referenced again. Additionally they may have some advice regarding... electronic resources. Ask around. And bring a USB drive. When you do decide on some textbooks you’d like to buy, shop around a bit. The Unishop bookstore is the obvious first stop, but they don’t have very competitive pricing. There’s a co-op store at the University of Sydney that may have what you’re looking for, but you’ll most likely find the best prices online at Amazon or whatever your favourite online bookstore is. In the meantime, you can utilize the learning center texts and the ones at the main library.
The central method of communication within the medical program at UoW is through the online learning environment (OLE), also often referred to as Blackboard (many of you may have previous experience with this when it was called “Vista”). Your block schedule, lecture outlines, pre-readings, post-readings, lecture slides, lecture audio and a whole host of other things will be available online. If there’s an announcement, it’ll be conveyed via the OLE. You’ll learn to love it. In addition, the discussion boards on the OLE are widely used by students and staff to discuss concepts, resolve tech problems, and organize social events. Twice a week in your schedule you’ll see a ‘Guided Online Accessible Learning’ (GOAL) activity - these are purely online course components that you need to complete in your own time, and cover material that you might not get in your lectures. Falling behind in GOALs is an easy thing to do, and you should be careful to stay on top of them - they add up quickly! It is all pretty intuitive once you’ve gotten introduced to it. There are also links to useful library pages - the librarians have compiled databases & online textbooks that can be very handy when doing research for CBL objectives. 5
Staff The GSM staff will all be introduced in the first week, and five minutes after you’ve met them you’ll promptly forget all their names and what they do. But fear not, in the phase I handbook there’s a nice little section giving names (with pictures!) and contact information. If you’re not sure who to talk to about a specific issue try posting it on the discussion boards, or have a chat with one of the professional staff who are found at the front desk of the GSM on each campus.
What to Expect Obviously, med school isn’t a walk in the park. There will be an awful lot of work involved, but a lot of fun as well. It’s important to realize that medicine isn’t a particularly difficult thing to learn conceptually, it’s just that there’s a ton of information coming at you fast. The key things are to not freak out, keep on top of the work, find a study system that works for you, and again, to not freak out. Medical school at UoW is cooperative, not competitive. This course is pass/fail based, and there is no specific number of students that need to end up under that ‘fail line’ - the staff would be quite pleased if everyone passed. Working with groups is strongly encouraged in this program, as it’s been shown that those that learn cooperatively do better than those who plow through the work solo. There are plenty of tutorial and group study rooms in the learning centre, so make a couple of friends, grab a couple of textbooks, drag them in and start going through the material. Often it’s a fun, non-boring way of studying!A common source of student stress in the program revolves around personal study strategies and level of detail. There is an immense amount of detail in the coursework, and it can be pretty tough deciding how much detail you need to know things in. The staff is not going to give you exact cutoffs for what you do and don’t need to know - as far as they’re concerned, everything being taught is fair game, and the word ‘lot’ doesn’t even cover the amount of material involved. That being said, there are only 300 marks on the end-of-year exam for over a thousand class hours. While there will be some detail required for the exam, obviously they’re more interested in knowing whether you understand the big-picture concepts. Once you’ve been in the course for a while, you’ll start to see a fair amount of conceptual overlap and re-visit things you’ve seen before, which helps. You can use the first few weeks of Intro Block to figure out what study strategies will work for you, but don’t be afraid to change things up if you find it’s not working well. What you will have is a lot of resources. If you have a question, post it on the discussion forum and see what other people think, email the lecturer, bring it up in CBL time, or try all three. Each week a formative (practice) quiz will be posted on the OLE that lets you test your knowledge. These quizzes aren’t inclusive of
everything taught, but can be a good indicator of whether you’ve got a handle on the previous week or not. For the essays you’ll write there are formative assignments where you can submit a trial-run essay and have it returned to you marked, with comments. Formative assignments are not mandatory but it is highly recommended that you do them and get the free advice on how to ace the summative assignments (which are mandatory and have to be passed). There isn’t a formative end-of-year exam (and don’t bother asking for one, we’ve tried that more than once) but by that point you should be able to go back and have over a thousand formative quiz questions. If you’re keen on practice questions, try writing your own up as a study method. To a certain extent, you’re going to have to have some faith in yourself that if you A) attend lectures, B) revise the notes in a timely fashion, and C) do the readings, you’ll end up doing alright on exams. Ultimately your study style is up to you, but be aware that you cannot cram in medicine, there is just far too much information. When you first start at the GSM you’ll be hearing a lot about ‘adult learning’. In practical, non-PC, terms this means that the course will not be spoon fed to you, and you need to take an active role in getting things done. Excess whinging is not allowed. No one will be checking if you’re doing your readings or if you’ve kept up to date on your GOALs, that’s entirely yours to manage. Keep in mind that you’re in medical school to learn what you need to for the practice of medicine, not just to pass an exam!
Last year there was a lot of confusion and frustration over vaccination cards so please take special notice of this section: The following points SHOULD help you to make it through your vaccination card check unscathed… but the problems seem to be different every year so good luck: 1. Do not blame the GSM staff, they have nothing to do with this and they work very hard to try to make this as smooth a process as possible each year! 2. Get your ENTIRE vaccination card completed by your GP before registration day. (International students, we recommend that you get this done in your home country as it may cost you upwards of $500 to get everything done here). 3. Have your GP sign AND rubber stamp each vaccination, serology or test on the card. (Last year everyone had signatures but no rubber stamps, the year before it was rubber stamps but no signatues, get both) 4. Bring as much documentation with you as possible. Sometimes the nurses will sign off on certain things if you can show them the proper lab reports etc… 5. Don’t forget your TB skin test, MMR, DTP, Hep B (if you have already had vaccines you need proof AND serology). The flu vaccination is optional but you will be spending time in hospitals and GP practices which puts you at 7
higher risk than the general population so it is a good idea. Again, the vaccination cards are an NSW health unit requirement and are not regulated by the GSM. They are very helpful and can be your best resource with this issue but are ultimately not the ones who sign off on these cards.
If • • • • • • •
that was a bit long for you, here’s the highlights one last time: group work is good you’ve got lots of resources available don’t fret too much over the detail, you’ve got to draw a line somewhere no cramming allowed, stay on top of things have faith in yourself don’t freak out keep it fun!
***If you are destined for the Shoalhaven you may want to head directly to page 17
Wollongong is a fair sized university town with some of the best beaches in NSW. There are plenty of websites that tell you about all the wonderful amenities the “Gong” has to offer, so we’ll skip that bit and get right to the punch line on housing. We would strongly suggest that you plan your accommodation with one of the bus loops in mind, as it’s an incredibly handy way to get around town. Maps of the shuttle services can be found in the transportation section below (page 13).
Most medical students don’t live in campus housing because it’s a bit more expensive and also full of undergrads. While undergrads are acceptable in small doses, the normal university schedule doesn’t entirely jive with ours, and they can be particularly annoying during our exam time. People who moved into campus housing tend to wish they hadn’t, but it somewhat depends on which one you move into. If you are keen on campus housing you’ll probably want to check out the Kooloobong and Gundi residences over the other ones. Graduate house would also be an acceptable option (and is the only one that accepts couples/families if that’s you) but usually has a bloody long wait list to get in.
Off-campus housing can be a competitive market in mid January/February, so it’d be a good idea to get it organized as early as you can. Here are some overviews of the neighbourhoods involved (see map on page 7): • Keiraville - Immediately south of the university. This area is fairly residential and doesn’t have much in the way of places to shop, but you can walk to university from here. The walk to the train station, mall/grocery store, and the beach is a bit far, but you can catch the free uni or CBD shuttles from the school. • Gwynneville - This area is close to both the university and the train station, but also doesn’t have many stores. Is very similar to Keiraville in many respects - mostly residential, more houses than apartments, and the mall & beach are a bit far. The free shuttle loop scoots between Keiraville and Gwynneville, making it accessible to both.
• North Wollongong – This is generally the more expensive area of town, however if you start looking early there are still good deals to be found. This section is full of apartment buildings and newer houses. North Gong is a bit hilly so you will get your exercise, but is a short walk to the mall, grocery store and beaches. North Gong is serviced by 2 free shuttle buses (Green and Orange). • Wollongong - There are many apartment buildings scattered through this area, and the free shuttle runs right through as well. Shopping and city beach can be nice and close to your front door, depending on location. • West Wollongong - Some areas west of the hospital are quite nice, others can be a little shady. Generally speaking, the closer to the hospital you are the better, as the bus turns up towards the uni at this point. • Other - Neighbourhoods not mentioned or off the bus route may be more trouble than they’re worth. Mt Ousley looks nice and close to the university on the map, but there’s no pedestrian overpass across the highway and it’s a long way around by foot. Fairy Meadow is on the bus route, but doesn’t have many apartments/rental properties. Areas farther out such as Mt Pleasant, Coniston, Figtree, and Mt Kembla are probably going to require a car, and unless there are 3 of you in the car (free carpool parking with 3 or more people in the car) parking at the university can be a nightmare. Since Wollongong is a university town, finding accommodation can be a challenge, particularly at the start of the year when things are very competitive. Be prepared to view 8-10 places before finding something you think is acceptable. Rent obviously varies by quality, but $125-150 per week should get you something decent, and you’ll pay less if you’re willing to share a place. Most of the house/apartment rentals in the area are done through real estate agents, but private listings can also be found on the UoW accommodations website. Housing Links Campus Housing: www.uow.edu.au/about/accommodation/residences/index.html Real Estate Listings: http://accommodation.uow.edu.au/about/accommodation/listing/search.shtml www.domain.com.au www.realestate.com.au
Utilities Depending on your accommodation, water, electricity, gas, etc may be included in your rent. Integral, EnergyAustralia and TruEnergy are three major electrical companies the Wollongong area. Phone and Internet are probably going to be your major concerns when you first get here. There’s fairly good coverage through the usual major phone companies throughout Wollongong, though there are some ‘black holes’. Optus and Virgin have pretty solid coverage of the area. Internet It is worth taking a second to give you a heads up on the joys of setting up an internet connection in Wollongong. First off, there is no cable internet service in Wollongong so your best bets will be dial-up, ADSL, ADSL2 or wireless internet. All have their strengths and weaknesses. When you first get here you may find that wireless internet is the best approach as you can have up and running very quickly, however if you are a high volume internet user we recommend ADSL2, which is available through most of Wollongong. Dial-up, ADSL and ADSL2 all require you to have a phone line connected for the initial setup (even if you are ordering Naked-ADSL). This means that you will need to setup a phone line through either Telstra or Optus and it will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $160.00 setup plus 3 months of service at around $27.00/month (if you cancel within the 3 months they just charge you $100 cancellation fee). Definitely try to haggle with them for free setup etc… if you can. If you would like to have a home phone line then this will work out to your advantage since most if not all companies have special bundled prices for phone and internet (Optus is good this way). If you don’t want a home phone and prefer to just use your cell, then you can go for ‘Naked’ ADSL and ditch the phone line once it is setup. Some quick recommendations from us are Optus if you are bundling and Internode or Exetel for Naked ADSL service (they do not count uploads as part of your quotas). *TPG also has great prices but have slower bandwidth speeds for you nerds out there*. You can find some more helpful information regarding general ISP company choice at: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/ *** As mentioned in the section about online components of the course (page 3) you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time on the internet. If you really want to avoid internet at home you can get this all done at school, but it is extremely convenient to have web access at home.
There are many options for transportation in Wollongong: Walking Depending on where you live, you can often walk to, well, almost anywhere, within 30-40 minutes. If you’ve got some time, why not do some exploring and enjoy the scenery? Biking Wollongong is a fairly bike-friendly city, and if you live in one of the closer neighbourhoods this can be a great way to get to class. One rather comprehensive store is linked below, but you can also find bicycles at a number of other stores in the Gong. http://www.wollongong.bikehub.com.au/ Busses There are three free shuttle buses that run in Wollongong and they run every 1030 minutes depending on the bus and the time of day. The major bus route is the Green line and it has the most extensive route. It runs every 10 minutes during peak hours and every 20 minutes the rest of the day from 7am – 10pm. This bus goes to the University, Hospital, Mall, grocery stores and Fairy Meadow train station. There is also the Blue line that runs strictly between the North Wollongong Train Station and the University, again every 10-20 minutes. And finally there is an Orange line that is still in the trial stages right now but has been getting great use so we hope that it keeps running. This bus goes from Kieraview-Gwyneville, and the University filling in part of the circle made by the Green line. We strongly suggest that you have a look at the bus route map on page 13 when thinking about where you want to live If you don’t end up finding a spot near the free shuttle route, there are two transit companies that may cover your area: http://www.premierillawarra.com.au/ http://www.dions.com.au/html/ Trains The trains are useful if you’re commuting from somewhere outside of bus range. There are three stations in the Wollongong area - the Fairy Meadow station (connects with the CBD shuttle bus), the North Gong station (connects with the university shuttle bus or a 20 minute walk), and the Wollongong station (CBD shuttle bus). See page 7 for these locations on a map. The South Coast train schedule can be found online at: http://www.cityrail.info/timetables/2009/pdf/South_Coast.pdf Cars If you decide you want to have a car after arriving here, there are a number of second-hand dealerships near the North Gong train station. Keep in mind that if you’re planning to drive to the university, parking is expensive and can be a bit of a nightmare. Parking
The University has a great “Free-for-3” carpool parking program at the Western Carpark (conveniently close to the GSM building) for cars with 3 or more people in them and. If you are short on people, and can’t find any randoms to hop in with you, finding a place to park your car at the university can be either expensive or a bit of a nightmare, since there are a limited number of free parking spots on the surrounding streets that get taken up very quickly. There is a multi-story carpark, but it cost $10 per day. http://www.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@bg/documents/doc/uow0 02386.pdf
Wollongong Free Shuttle Bus Routes
Family Services The Wollongong campus offers childcare services, while the Shoalhaven campus unfortunately does not. Medicine at UoW doesn’t involve many late nights, so it can be organized into a fairly family-friendly program. There are also many people who organize outside daycare for their children - if you’re interested in information on alternatives contact someone at WUMSS and we’ll put you in touch with student parents who have some experience in this area. For details on university day care, see: http://unicentre.uow.edu.au/kidsuni/
Entertainment Are you all dressed up with no place to go? Here’s a short-list of some of the venues for an entertaining evening out:
• North Gong Pub - Close to North Gong station, this is a nice place to grab some munchies, a beer or two & watch a game on TV. The huge patio is very popular with local university students. North Gong also has cheap Tbone/schnitzel nights every week, and has trivia nights to dominate at. • Five Islands Brewing Company “The Brewery” - Situated near City Beach attached to WIN stadium, these guys have some original beers to try and host the occasional live band. • Dicey Riley’s - This Irish pub is located right next to Wollongong station. It usually has an older crowd and live bands - this is definitely the place to be for St Patrick’s Day. • The Oxford - Located in the CBD, this pub has a devoted crowd and has live music on weekends. • A bit further out - if you’ve got transport you can also check out the Towradgi or Scarborough pubs, both of which are worth the drive.
• Illawarra Hotel - Located on Keira street and one of the busiest dance clubs in town, this place is booming most nights of the week. Check out retro night on Thursdays. • The Glasshouse - Right next to Crown Street mall, this is a favourite of the undergrad crowd with a notorious reputation and a constantly packed dance floor. • The Ivory - Also on Crown Street, this place can be hit and miss as it’s sometimes oddly empty. It’s worth a wander by if you’re in the area. • The Grand Hotel – Recently renovated, this CBD pub now has a dance floor and outdoor seating
Wining and Dining:
• JJ’s - In the mood for Indian food? These guys have a varied menu with dishes that are great for sharing. • Amigos - Mexican food with some uni student specials - $3 tacos & tequilla shots are hard to argue with. • Jasmine Rice - While there’s a Thai restaurant on almost every street, Jasmine Rice is one of the best. Other honourable mentions include: Thai Basil, Coconut Thai, and Mylan. • Diggies - A sit-down restaurant attached to a beach kiosk located on North Beach that has some pretty great dishes to try. Great for Sunday breakfast or brunch. • Johno’s - A great place to take someone special out to dinner and a walk along the north beach, Johno’s has daily specials and excellent French food.
At the Uni
• URAC - The university recreation centre has a nice gym, a pool, squash courts, tennis courts, sports teams you can join, and fitness classes. Memberships for students are pretty cheap, and this is a great place to meet people if you’re new in town. • Campus Health - If you’re looking to find a GP you can book an appointment at campus health, which is located in the unicentre. • Unibar - The campus restaurant/bar is a good place to stop off for chips and beer after a long day of class. Unibar often holds very cheap concerts and random school events (line dancing anyone?). • The GSM - If you haven’t been by yet, the GSM has a common room with lockers, fridges, microwaves and sandwich presses. • UniMovies - UniMovies is a nice and cheap way to catch a movie (or two). They switch what they’re showing every week, so keep an eye out for one you want to watch - they have a website linked from the UoW site.
• Crown Street Mall - the shopping centre in downtown Wollongong has a wide variety of shops, restaurants & places to grab coffee. • Beaches - there are two main beaches to stroll down to for a swim - City Beach is just next to the lighthouse, and North Beach is up the coast a bit. There’s a seawall between the two areas that is a popular walking/jogging/cycling route. North Beach is the only area to have year-round surf patrols, and also has a large park adjacent to it. • Beaton Park - this recreation park has multiple sports and exercise facilities including a multi-lane running track, indoor pool, and a pretty decked-out gym. • Greater Union (Wollongong Cinema) - if nothing at UniMovies catches your eye, take a look at what’s playing at the bigger theatre in Wollongong. This theatre usually has 5 or 6 different movies showing.
Some Extra stuff!
Once you arrive, you may not know where to go to get, well, anything! Furniture, bedding, clothing and everything else you can imagine can be purchased at reasonable prices if you know where to look! Crown St Mall This is the major shopping area in Wollongong. You’ll find a wide variety of shops here. If you’re looking for pretty much anything cheap, you can usually find it in The Reject Shop or Best & Less. There’s also a market every Friday. Bunnings Similar to Home Depot or any other local hardware store, it has a good variety of quality products at decent prices. Sam’s Warehouse Once again, this place is pretty much good for anything but slightly more expensive for better quality. They sell anything you could possibly need in your place including furniture and bedding, food, lighting, kitchen items, and other accessories. Leisure Coast Market A little out of the way but again, the green shuttle runs right past it, this local market has some of the best produce and has great deals on meat. Definitely worth checking out whenever you can. There are two Woolworth’s and Aldi’s in town as well.
The good thing about living in Nowra is that everything is so close and convenient, no matter which part of town you live in. And rent is really cheap – cheaper than Wollongong! If you want to live with other med students, Nowra is the place to do it. Before session starts, Lyndal assists in getting you in contact with each other (via email and facebook) to organise housing arrangements – most of the Shoalies end up living in groups of 2-4. Nowra is also a family friendly area to live. The price of a “cosy” (budget) unit in Wollongong could get you a new, roomy house with a large backyard in Nowra. Below are some brief descriptions of locations that have been popular: • Nowra - there’s plenty of decent housing close to the centre of town, but it’s best to visit houses (or check out Google Street View) here first to make sure you don’t end up in a dodgy street. It’s 5-10mins drive to the campus, and 20 to the beach . • North Nowra - this area is on the other side of the river, and is a nice suburban spot with a selection of shops and restaurants. • Bomaderry - similar to North Nowra but closer to the industrial area. Bomaderry is also at the end of the train line to Sydney, which makes it handy for transport. It’s about 15mins away from campus, and 15mins to the beach. As for Nowra, check out the street you intend on living in, as some area might be less desirable. • East Nowra – Probably a place to avoid. Well known to have many “issues”. Cheap rent to say the least, but replacing your property every 2 months isn’t. For those who are ‘criminally inclined’ this might be the place for you. Upside It’s only 5-10 minutes away from campus. • Worrigee – new, developing suburb with affordable, modern houses – rent is pretty cheap and it’s a really nice, family-focussed area. It’s 10-15 minutes to campus from here. • Jervis Bay (Culburra Beach, Huskisson) - gorgeous beaches! These are small towns with a good variety of shops and restaurants, but are a bit further out being 20-30 minutes away from the campus. • Gerroa/Gerringong - a bit higher in the price range and a bit further away (30 minutes to campus), this location has great surf beaches and trendy cafés and shops. • Kiama - this is the biggest coastal town between Wollongong and Nowra, and is a beautiful area that is popular with tourists. It’s 45 minutes to campus from here. An advantage of living in Kiama, Gerroa/Gerringong is that they’re located half-way between Nowra and Wollongong so if you don’t mind commuting, you can have the best of both worlds. 17
When looking for a place to live, check out the Shoalhaven campus website, which keeps an up-to-date list of places for rent in the area, as well as the local real estate agents and listings. See the links listed on the next page. Some tips: Make sure to check what “furnished” includes so that you don’t have to buy extra stuff when you move down here. If you decide to furnish your own place, there are some big furniture shops in South Nowra. If you don’t want to live by yourself but don’t know anyone in the course yet, students from previous years have used the WUMSS facebook group as a way of finding housemates before moving to the Shoalhaven, but maybe go for a short lease just in case there are some personality clashes. If you’re coming to the area from out-of-town, you’ll have to find somewhere to stay while you find housing. There are some reasonably priced motels here that you can use as a base camp while you find your own place - but alternately check out the facebook group to see if anyone would let you crash on their couch while you get set up! Housing links: Campus Housing: http://shoalhaven.uow.edu.au/accommodation/index.html Real Estate Listings: www.allhomes.com.au www.domain.com.au www.realestate.com.au
Transportation There is little in the way of public transport in Shoalhaven - just a coach that comes through town a few times a day - so you will need a car to do most of your getting around. The good thing is that you’ll probably find someone to carpool with very quickly! Another nice thing about driving in Shoalhaven is that parking is free most places - something you definitely won’t find all that often in Wollongong. Most current Shoalies think having a car down here is pretty indispensible. If you’re a keen cyclist you’ll find that the Shoalhaven is pretty good for it, being generally flat and making for easy riding. The school campus isn’t in the town it’s a bit off the beaten track, so you’re probably not going to be walking to school unless you live really close to campus. Classes are held in Wollongong for everyone one day a week – the GSM provides a free bus service to get you to and from Wollongong Uni. The bus has various pick up points along the way (eg Campus, Bomaderry, Berry, Gerringong, Kiama).
Nowra is on the Princes Highway, and Wollongong is about an hour drive up the coast, with Sydney being a further hour away. The train service runs every day and will take you all the way up to Sydney - the complete trip takes a little over three hours. The train station in the Shoalhaven is in Bomaderry, which is 5-10 minutes out of the centre of Nowra.
There is never a shortage of things to do in the Shoalhaven, especially if the weather is good! The Shoalhaven City Council website (http://www.shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au/ ) gives a great list of clubs you can join including kayaking, scuba diving and many other common sports - just look under the community directory. The website is also a really useful guide for pretty much anything you’re looking for, from religious groups to arts communities to health services.
Wining and Dining:
Here’s a list of places to wine and dine in the Nowra area written by one of our students with a particularly discerning palate! • Socrates Cafe (Berry Street) - Greek styled lunch and breakfast, great wraps, Grinders coffee, has a vague Melbourne feel. Open later on Fridays for souvlaki! • Coffeelicious (Berry Street) - open earlier than many other cafes in town, this place is a haunt for cyclists. Good standard cafe fare and the coffee isn’t bad either. • Red Raven (Junction Street) - excellent mod oz food for a special night out. Even better if someone else is paying. Good news - it’s BYO! • The Tea Club (Berry Street) - a hippie sort of place, with live music in the courtyard in the evenings. Good home-style food. • Oasis Cafe (Junction Street) - this is not a cafe but a takeaway joint - some say, the best in town. Excellent burgers, fish and chips, and a range of traditional Australian deep fried delights from the potato scallop to home-made spring rolls, battered saveloys, pineapple rings and the ever popular Chiko Roll. • The River Deli (Kinghorne Street) - the verdict on the food and coffee varies at this place, some swear by it while some are not so keen. Make up your own mind - it’s a good big space to spread out and study or catch up with mates. Be nice to the wait staff or else! • Shoalhaven Ex-Serviceman’s Club (Corner of Princes HWY & Junction Street) - the words students love to hear: All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet. Depending on the night of the week you will pay around $20 for as much country-style Chinese food, pizza, seafood, roast meat, salad and dessert as you can eat. Saturday nights the buffet includes crab and local oysters. Being a club, the drinks are also very cheap.
• Woodies Wood-fired Pizza (East Nowra shops, another at Shoalhaven Heads) - this is pricey but good wood-fired pizza with the usual assortment of trimmings available – by far the best pizza in Nowra and well worth the extra dollars.
Pubs and Clubs
• Bottlerocket (Kinghorne Street) - the hottest new venue in town, it’s a cafe and cocktail bar all-in-one. It’s a bit of a classy establishment so there’s a no thongs dress-code. Happy Hour cocktails go down a treat. • Postie’s Bistro (Corner of Junction & Berry Street) - OK well you can drink in the front bar of the Postman’s, and then travel back in time to the Bistro with a menu straight out of the 1970s. Beef Wellington, Carpet Bag Steak and Chicken Kiev reign supreme. Visit on Sundays for the roast meal deal, which in case you’re wondering is a steak stuffed with local oysters. • The Bridge Hotel (Corner of Bridge and Moss Street) - the pub food here is really good. This is an occasional Thursday night haunt for us, and when you get here we’ll tell you why. • North Nowra Tavern (Illaroo Road) - the bistro is great if you like cheese and bacon on everything - seriously, on everything. Even the sticky date pudding comes with bacon. Good place to have a few drinks at the end of the week •Bomaderry Bowling Club (corner of Cambewarra & Meroo Rds) – Cheap Tuesdays are a big hit. Steak, roasts, chicken parmigiana, burgers are all worth a try. •Legends – a nightclub we’ll let you discover for yourselves – maybe ask the locals first ...
Other Things To Do Outside The Uni In Nowra
Gym The Gym, North Nowra has a good selection of Les Mills Classes, including a weights room, cardio machines, spa, sauna, squash courts and even a childminding service http://nowragym.com.au/ Ben’s walk – a nice loop along the escarpment. Somewhere around 5km in length, many people use it as a running trail. Access is at the show-grounds near the hospital. Tennis courts – there is only 1 free court in the whole area (from what we have found) in Worrigee. Otherwise there are plenty of pay courts scattered throughout the area. Surfing – there is plenty of it on the South Coast, although keep in mind if you are in Nowra you are looking at 15 minutes minimum (by car) to the ocean. Ask around (or search the net) to see what you have available. For those new to the sport just make sure that you always have a surf buddy. Cinema 3D has just hit The Roxy Cinema
Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre Has great live shows – everything from Troy Cassar Daley to Puppetry of the Penis to Melbourne Comedy Road Show. Sports There is no shortage of sporting activities to do in the Shoalhaven – here’s some we’ve been involved with: basketball, netball, AFL, rugby league, touch football, kayaking, dragon boating, cycling, scuba diving, surfing, swimming, tennis, squash – plenty of ways to take your mind away from study.
Phone & Internet
There’s fairly good coverage through the usual major phone companies throughout Nowra, though there are some ‘black holes’. Telstra has solid coverage of the area. Telstra, Vodafone & Optus get 3G iPhone coverage in Nowra – 3 is available as far south as Kiama. Internet can be obtained from a variety of providers, some of which are significantly more expensive than others. Naked broadband is not available in Nowra, so you’re either looking at dial-up, ADSL, ADSL2, or wireless internet, all of which you will need a landline for. Wireless internet through a USB drive is an alternative but it is not as cheap – Telstra has the best coverage. Internet access is available 24/7 at the Shoalhaven Campus in a computer lab (something Wollongong students aren’t privy to). The GSM has wireless and computers available and is open until midnight. Unlike at the busy Wollongong GSM, there are always free computers at the Shoalhaven Campus.
WUMSS is the Wollongong University Medical Student Society that all med students at UoW automatically belong to. The society is run by an elected council that does all sorts of busy-work for your benefit - we sort out everything from getting a new fridge in the common room to organizing formal dinners and pub crawls to helping restructure parts of the curriculum. You can check out more about WUMSS on our website at www.wumss.org.au The elected council consists of the President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Sponsorship Officer and two representatives from each cohort. We also have appointed positions for Social Coordinator, Academic Reps, Communications & Publications, Health & Welfare Officer, and Australian Medical Student Association reps. WUMSS provides the official student representation of any issue to the GSM. This means that if your cohort has a problem with the GSM computers not being loaded with iTunes (for educational purposes, of course!) we’re the ones you go to. Need more practice time scheduled in the anatomy lab? Think the GSM should have a textbook they don’t? Want information on potential elective positions or future career options? Writing this guide? Yep, that’d be us. And next year, it’ll be you! The first thing we’ll be looking for are two cohort representatives that will give your year voice at WUMSS council and on the 2011 cohort committees. We’ll also be head-hunting some people interested in organising social events and the like. Self-nominations will be opening in the first month of class, so keep an eye on your message board.
Med Camp - Feb
Med Camp (aka orientation weekend) is the first big shindig of the year. This is the best way to meet classmates and previous students! During the day there’ll be events like a suturing workshop and a global health session, as well as several activities. In the evenings we’ll be having some theme parties - last year we had an op-shop formal and a rubics cube party! Tickets are going on sale the first day of classes, and med camp will be happening the first weekend - we’ll tell you more when we see you in week one!
Pub Crawl - Feb
Another event early in the year, pub crawl involves just that - we wheel and deal with various pubs to get some food and drink, and the lot of us stomp across Wollongong in search of the ultimate pub.
Cocktail Party - March
The annual cocktail party is a two-part show, we have a mingling session with GP & hospital preceptors with drinks and nibblies, and then later head down to a more casual location to dance the night away!
Med Revue – April
Ever driven a spotlight? Crave a bit of a public boogie every now and then? HAVE WE GOT SOMETHING FOR YOU! MedRevue is coming to the IPAC Gordon Theatre in April 2011 to strip bare the collective arses reputation of the staff, students and the wider ‘family’ of the GSM. Now in its second year, the UoW Medical Revue is a theatrical outlet for the many highly creative and talented students of the GSM to get on a professional stage and let loose. Anything goes (literally), it’s a big show with room for you. The inaugural show – ‘Sick and Twisted: the Untold Horrors of the GSM’ – kicked off this event with a bang. We’ve done it once and it was good, now we’re doing it again – that makes it a tradition!! GSM students from every year contribute to this great event, musical, dance, comedy, video and animation, some absurd and some quite serious acts; everyone comes together to make a show that gets talked about for the rest of the year. The 2011 Show is being put together as you read this Fresher’s Guide and you can be a part of it. In fact, we’re waiting to hear from you right now. Email now to firstname.lastname@example.org and join our Facebook Group : UOW Med Revue
Med Ball - Sept
Med Ball is the wine-and-dine event of the year, with all cohorts being invited to a fancy dress evening with speakers, prizes and dancing. Med Ball is the mustattend event of the year (after Med Camp of course!) so girls - start dress hunting!
The events listed above are just the big guns - we’ll also be having lots of smaller get-togethers and academic events. Our special interest groups (below) put on a whole variety of activities throughout the year, from blood smear workshops to bush-costume dances. Make sure to keep an eye on the WUMSS website (www.wumss.org.au) for news and updates about future events!
Special Interest Groups
WUMSS is associated with several special interest groups (SIGs) who hold multiple events. We support these groups by promoting their events and helping with funding where we can, but they’re independantly run and can be a great way to get involved. Check out the SIG section on our website for more information. Tanna Island Aid Trip The Tanna Island Hospital Relief Fund is a registered Not-for-Profit organization that was founded by Wollongong medical students after organizing a medical aid trip to Vanuatu in July 2010. The Fund is dedicated to providing medical support to the inhabitants of Tanna Island as well as giving students the opportunity to practice clinical skills, interdisciplinary work, and capacity building in the third world. There is only one doctor on the Island of 20 000 and the people there live very traditional lifestyles. We’ll be returning to Tanna Island in July of 2011, and we’re looking for dedicated students (from both campuses) to bring alongTo find out more about the fund and about Tanna Island, check the following links: http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/news/local/news/general/uow‐medical‐mission‐ in‐vanuatu‐an‐eyeopener/1899344.aspx?src=email To get involved look us up on Facebook, or email email@example.com
WUHOW - Wollongong University Health Over Wealth Major events: Red Week (HIV/AIDS Awareness), Timor Trip SSS - the Student Seminar Series Major events: Lecture series by students, for students CCASSIG - Critical Care and Surgery Special Interest Group Major events: Practical Workshops (blood smear, suturing) & Lectures from Specialists GPSN - General Practice Students Network Major events: Practical Workshops, Lectures & Events with the larger GPSN Network SHARP - Students’ Health Alliance for Rural Populations Major events: Bush Dance, Rural Roadtrip, Conferences & many others
International Student Info
As you all have probably gathered, there is a ton of stuff to sort out before you arrive in Australia. Don’t worry, we all got through it, and so will you. Here are a few tidbits of information that we picked up along the way, and maybe wish we’d had in our back pocket before getting here.
Of course, you need to visit the immigrations website to get all of the specific details for the process. But here is the streamlined version: • Application: Easy. Online. You are required to have your COE (Confirmation of Enrolment) to apply. This means that you need to pay your tuition, have it processed by UOW, and have the COE sent back to you before you can send in your Visa application. You also need to get all of your health checks completed before the Visa application is complete. See below. • Timing: The COE has roughly a 1-2 week turnover time. The visa can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks. Aim to have paid tuition and received your COE by early November if you are planning on flying over in January...otherwise things get a bit dicey. • Cost: Roughly $550 for the application alone. See below for the additional costs for the health checks. • Regarding Spouses/Partners: Unless you’re with an Aussie, they’ll be going on your visa as a dependant. There isn’t much extra paperwork to get filled out, and they’ll need a physical and a chest x-ray but not the blood tests if they’re in the low-risk group.
Student Visa Health Checks
Keep a close eye on your online visa application status to see if you need to get one of these checks done. It is possible that you may sneak through the whole visa process without having to do a Health Check, it has happened. • Process: Look at the Australian immigrations website (bellow) for the certified doctor nearest you and make an appointment – there can be a 1-3 week wait depending on your location and their schedule. You will need to print off the appropriate documentation to take with you (available online). Requirements: Physical, Chest X-Ray, unrinalysis (dipstick), blood test. This should all be doable in one day. http://www.immi.gov.au/e_visa/ • Cost: This may vary between doctors but the standard fee can run anywhere from $125 - $250 (regardless of your health care plan – this isn’t covered). If you have a spouse you’ll be paying for everything but the blood tests twice.
Yes, there is a requirement for a First Aid course. This is cheaper to do at home than in Australia - it’ll cost $150-$200. There is a minimum number of training hours. A weekend course is generally sufficient and just needs to meet the 14 hour training requirements laid out on the UoW website. The courses are really easy, just pick a weekend and get it done and out of the way.
Criminal Record Check
There are multiple ways to get this done. Some of us filled out online forms, some of us strolled down to the main police station with a couple of pieces of ID. At any rate, it is about $20-50 and is pretty quick and easy. If you opt for the online version, expect a 1-2 week turnaround before it arrives in the mail.
Get everything done before you arrive in Australia. We really cannot stress this enough!!! Last year nearly every student (International and Domestic) got pulled up for at least one thing on their vaccination card. Hence why we are taking the time to comment on it again here. Special considerations for International students since it is a lot harder to just run back to your normal GP and have make any adjustments are as follows: • Have your GP sign AND stamp everything on your card, they may think that this is overkill and not necessary but that is actually what the nurses wanted last year (and we do mean a stamp beside every signature) Bring any and all paperwork that you have and can get with you!!! This includes vaccination records from when you were a child (in Canada you should be able to just ring up the local health office and they can fax or mail them, check online). Ask your doctor for your serology results where applicable etc… Bring it all. Scan all of your documentation and e-mail it to yourself or put it on a disk or flash drive (better to be a little over prepared). Do not skip anything and hope that you can just get it done here, it is much more difficult and expensive.
What to send?
There are quite a few bits and pieces of paperwork that are listed as requirements. Most of these you can just bring with you - your criminal record check, vaccinations, and first aid certificate. Things you want to mail in are your official university transcripts and notarized documents (for CoE/admissions stuff). Keeping your own photocopies of all of these things is a good idea, just to be on the safe side. It is not a terrible idea to mail copies of everything to the school ahead of your arrival so that they have copies incase you somehow forget or lose yours along the way.
For Canadians Almost all of the Canadian banks offer a medical student line of credit (Scotiabank does not do them for international students *their loss) - the amount varies from roughly $100 000 to $250 000 depending on your cosigner. You will definitely need a cosigner because you are planning to leave the country, so make sure your parents etc are on board. With a line of credit you pay interest immediately, so taking out a large sum and depositing it in an Australian bank account may not be the most cost effective way of managing your money. ***A note on interest: Do not feel compelled to accept whatever interest rate your first bank offers you, shop around and play them off of each other. You may go to one bank where they offer you prime+0.5% and then speak to another bank who will offer you prime+0.25%. Last year it was possible for some of the students to get prime+0% (you will be paying plenty of money in interest by the time this is all over, it is very worth while to spend a bit haggling to get the best price. Always remember, you are doing the bank a favour by borrowing their money, and they know it.) You are also eligible for provincial and federal student loans, so be sure to check into that. For Americans The University of Wollongong will not be eligible for government funding until it produces two years of graduates. (Two classes will have graduated by December 2011, and approval for the school hopefully will come soon after that.) This leaves the funding options to private sources, which will almost certainly require a creditworthy cosigner. Students have previously gone with funding from the loan company Sallie Mae. However, recent post-financial crisis changes to lending have made things more difficult - changes include more stringent requirements for cosigners and the elimination of deferring interest payments. Unfortunately, until government funding becomes available there are few other options for funding.
Arrival & Transportation
Wollongong Transport from the Airport Limousines provide a free ride to Wollongong from Sydney airport for all incoming first-time international students. Go to http://www.uow.edu.au/future/international/prearrival/airport/index.html and follow the instructions. Alternately you can take the train to Wollongong. Where to stay? The best deal in town for the first two weeks is the local YHA, Keiraview Accommodation. It is located right in town (near all the pubs/restaurants that you’ve read about in this guide) and offers a special discount for incoming international students. It’s an easy starting point for looking for apartments and getting to know the city. Once you’ve planned your arrival times, make sure you book in. http://www.keiraviewaccommodation.com.au/ Shoalhaven For the students heading to the Shoalhaven the free bus is not available. You can catch the free shuttle to Wollongong, but will be out of luck if trying to get directly to Nowra. There are a couple of options available: For those with a reasonable amount of luggage you can catch the train from the International Airport. Cost is about $20 and the 3-4 hour train ride (depending on how your transfers work out) is quite spectacular. Keep in mind that you will have to transfer at least 2 trains on the way down. Also, you will arrive in Bomaderry which is an easy cab ride to Nowra, just remember that you will likely need to give the cab driver some direction as to where you want to be dropped off. Check out accommodation to stay when you arrive. www.cityrail.info Shoalhaven shuttle is a shuttle service that can pick you up at the airport and take you directly to your destination in the Shoalhaven. Cost is $50-100pp depending on the amount of luggage you are bringing. They typically run 12x/day so drop them an email early to determine if they are a viable option. www.shoalhavenshuttle.com Finally, for those with a sense of adventure, a rental car may be a good option for your first few days. The area around Nowra is pretty vast which can be a pain if you are trying to sort out living arrangements upon arrival. Hertz is the rental company in the area that you can pick up a car in Sydney and drop off in South Nowra for a reasonable price. Check them out online to get an idea of prices. Also, make sure you opt in for the insurance. Driving on the opposite side of the road takes some getting used to.
Bank Accounts Setting up a bank account in Australia is quite straightforward, you can actually do it from abroad and transfer money over before you get here. All you need to do once you arrive in Wollongong is take your passport to the branch, sign some papers, and you’re ready to go. NAB and Commonwealth are both readily accessible around Wollongong, and NAB has a branch right on campus. Transferring Money Everyone seems to have their own way of doing this. Some people have their parents mail them money orders that they cash, others do wire transfers through their banks or use online brokers to transfer their money. You will need to decide for yourself but it is a good idea to start following the exchange rate since even a 2% change in the exchange rate from say 0.93 cents on the dollar to 0.91 means a difference of $400 come tuition time. Bring a money order with you when you first come so that you have money to secure accommodations and get yourself sorted, then speak to the current internationals to find out what they think is best ($2000 - $3000 should be more than enough).
Cell Phones (“mobiles”)
Most cell phones in Australia are pay-as-you-go plans, and contracts are difficult to get without a credit history here. All you need to do is buy the cell phone, buy a $30, $40, or $50 card (depending on how much you talk) and you’re ready to go! The only tricky part is picking your network, because it’s cheaper to call phones on the same network as your own. The majority of us this year are on Optus, which has pretty good coverage. Other networks are Vodaphone, 3, and Telstra. Finding a place to live The most terrifying thing of all! Students flood the housing market in January and February, so ideally you’ll want to get here in early January for house hunting. The majority of apartments are rented out via real estate agencies on 6 month or 1 year leases, and there are fully furnished places available. For the Woolies, we’ve teamed up with a local real estate agent to make your life easier. All you need to do is let him know that you’re an international medical student, when you’re arriving, and make an appointment for him to take you around to the available furnished apartments. Tim Bartlett - Clayton Real Estate Office: 02 4226 1074 Mobile: 0412 126669 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org It’s still a good idea to look online at some places before you arrive. There are quite a few real estate agencies in Wollongong with a variety of things to offer. For an overview of the different areas and links to some of the online databases 29
for rentals, see page 6 (Wollongong) and page 13 (Shoalhaven). Information on utilities (specifically internet, which you sadly may be paying much more for) is also in those pages.
Cost of living is roughly $1000-$1500 per month in Wollongong, depending on how frugal you are. Roommates are a good idea as 1br apartments are hard to find. Housing runs from about $250-350/week for a 2br apartment, on the higher end if it’s furnished. Alcohol and food are definitely expensive in Australia. The main grocery stores are Woolworths, Aldi and Coles, and there are a few fruit and veggie markets around. If you are eating out at restaurants, remember that all prices are listed including tax, and this is a non-tipping culture so your tips are also already incorporated into the prices (although as usual, if your service is exceptional then feel free to leave a tip!). A bit of an idea: Pint of beer - $5-7 depending on your taste 6-pack at the liquor store - $20 750mL bottle of Spirits ~ $35+ (although there are some $26 foreign brands that you may come to know) Typical dinner out - $15-25 (but definitely keep an eye out for the student specials) Petrol - $1.23-1.35 per liter Your student visa permits you to work 20hr/week during school session, and fulltime during breaks. Realistically, you don’t have that much time. If you choose, there is plenty of work in the food service industry, making roughly $15-20/hr.
Health (AHM), Travel, Life and Car Every international student is required to buy overseas health cover as a part of their student agreement. This allows you to get a rebate (roughly 75%) for doctor’s visits and medications you purchase. Unfortunately, you are still required to pay the full fee up-front for any services, and you need to take in your receipts afterwards. A standard doctor’s visit is about $50. Your overseas health cover only kicks in on the first scheduled day of classes. This means that you’ll potentially have the entire month of January in Australia to get yourself injured/attacked by a shark/bitten by a funnel web spider. Buy travel insurance before you go, your travel agent can set it up for you easily. Life insurance is also a good idea for those of you who have had your parents/friends/other family members co-sign your loans. We don’t like to worry about things like that, but if anything happens to you, that’s a pretty hefty amount of money that still needs to be paid back. Car insurance is done by private companies, but you have to get certain things
(third party liability etc.) to get your registration (“rego”). The rego costs about $500 for a year, and the insurance will vary with your coverage - check out the RTA website: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/. Also, you will be able to drive legally on your home country license.
If your spouse or common-law partner is coming to Australia, there are some work restrictions that are going to apply to them. As per the immigration website, spouses are only allowed 20 hours of work per week. The MBBS degree in Australia is classified as a Bachelor’s degree, which makes us unfortunately fall into the undergraduate crowd. Yes, this makes very little (if any) sense, but so far there’s no official way around the regulation. Those of us in this predicament have investigated finding a loophole through the school, lawyers etc., but so far there’s been no good news. The Australian Medical Student Association (AMSA) is behind us on this issue, and is trying to get the regulations changed specifically for international medical student spouses. However, this is going to take some time and you may want to consider temporary work visas and the like when you first arrive.
Meeting the other international students
Above all else, get to know each other and have some fun! Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Hunter Valley, Jervis Bay...there is so much to see and do before medical school takes over your life. Use Facebook, figure out when everyone is arriving, and meet at the beach. The first group to find a house usually ends up hosting a lot of barbecues... Don’t forget that some of us second and third years will also be around, and happy to meet up for dinner/drinks sometime. Don’t hesitate to contact us, especially if you have questions when you first get here.
International Student Facebook Group
If you haven’t found it already or just have questions that we haven’t answered here, check out the Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=109784539644. We may be a little preoccupied over November (exams are looming) but we’re always happy to answer questions! Can’t wait to meet you all in person!
Questions & Concerns?
We have taken the time to revise this guide for you guys because we have all been there ourselves and know what a big leap it can be to come this far. One of the greatest things about this school is the group of students who are selected to participate. The previous cohorts started this guide and we are continuing it in their tradition, so please feel free to fire us e-mails if you have questions or if we have written something in here that just does not make any sense to you. Jonathan Lloyd Chris Zweerman Ashley Davis Kim Benson Darren Hinton Tim Roach
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Acd024@uow.edu.au email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com