When QUT law student Sariah Christensen established the university’s Dungeons and Dragons Guild last year, she didn’t know that the role-playing club would become an isolation lifeline for its 400 student members this semester.
Members used to gather in rooms on QUT’s campuses but now they use video chat services to connect virtually and carry out their medieval missions.
“Previously we’d find a soundproof room on campus, play some music, have some snacks and all chat and play,” Sariah said.
“When social distancing came in we had to think of how we could still make it happen. It’s definitely different, but a lot of people find it’s easier now to have a game because we’re all at home and have more available times in common.
“We’re playing via video chats – Zoom, Facebook … and Discord is really popular with gamers and holds the audio well.”
If you thought Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) was a game of past decades, you’re wrong – it’s actually had a resurgence again in recent years (as the QUT club’s impressive membership numbers can attest).
“When I started the club last year I thought there would be a lot of maths students into it but we’ve actually got quite a lot of law students,” Sariah said.
“It’s a verbal game. You have a dungeon master who leads the game and describes a scenario and the players have to analyse the situation and be strategic and say what they’ll do next.
“A lot of people find it’s really good for getting out of your comfort zone – you have to be able to speak up and communicate so it’s good for public speaking.”
Sariah said clubs were also important for making friends.
“Most of the friends I’ve made at uni have been through D&D and through the QUT Law Society,” she said.
Sariah is in the second year of a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree at QUT and her lectures and tutorials are now all done online due to COVID-19 social distancing.
“Before all this happened, most of my lectures were usually recorded anyway,” she said.
“But because all the lectures and tutorials now have to be online, I’m finding a lot of the tutors and lecturers are really going over and beyond to make sure you’ve got really good content and notes you can access.
“In some ways the lectures are more focused when they are recorded – the information is really clear cut and structured and I like that.
“My lecturers and tutors have all been acknowledging that we are going through change and online is different, but they want to do everything they can to help us.”
Sariah attended Maroochydore State High School, where she studied Japanese. She took a gap year after graduating to live in Osaka for 12 months and experience school life in Japan.
“So I sort of did Year 12 twice – but didn’t have to do any assessments in Japan!” she said.
When she came home, she enrolled in a veterinary science degree, but soon changed to international studies and ultimately switched to studying law at QUT.
Sariah was a top high school student and her mum always thought she was destined to do law.
“But I didn’t want to do law because mum wanted me to do law … I thought: I’m not going to do it just because you told me to. So I tried other things,” Sariah said.
It turns out that – as is often the case (sorry kids) – mum was right.
“I did international studies, I did politics, and I kept asking all these questions in class and they’d say, no, that’s law,” she recalls.
“So eventually I realised I should be studying law.”
Sariah’s older sister studied communication at QUT and told her about the university’s Oodgeroo Unit that supports Indigenous students.
“She found the unit really great and had heaps of support from them,” Sariah said.
“And from day one I found that too. They called me after I sent my first email and helped me through the application process and have been great ever since.”
Over summer, Sariah interned at Brisbane law firm Norton Rose Fulbright for 12 weeks as part of a CareerTrackers internship – which cemented her decision to study law.
“It was so amazing,” she said.
“I did my placement with the corporate law team and that was really exciting. I was able to get hands-on experience in the office – being patiently taught by senior associates how to draft wills and contracts – and was able to sit in on client meetings.
“I’d done contract law as one my subjects in semester two so the internship meant I was able to gain immediate experience working in that area. It really reinforced that I’m on the right track.”
Sariah lives in an apartment at Kangaroo Point with her sister and their dog, so at least has some company while having to stay at home during the pandemic.
She said she understood the need for social distancing and online learning, as did her friends, even though it meant not being able to socialise in person.
“It was my 21st birthday on Saturday … so it was a pretty quiet one,” she said.
** Applications for mid-year entry to QUT are now open for many courses, including law. Interested students can find details here regarding their options – apply by May 28 if you want to start uni in July. **
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