How USQ is like a kaleidoscope

“I love The Quad; the buzz of fellow students from every corner of our planet, adding a kaleidoscope, eclectic energy to daily student life. I savour breezy, kicked back picnic lunches on the shimmering ‘faux turf’, beneath the shady, ever-changing trees. I love the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of special events. And the free food. Those cheery goldfish and the funky, innovative walls of living, growing foliage watching over the much-frequented coffee shop. I install myself in the library, breathing in the shared endeavour, the multilingual conversations, the dynamic atmosphere of life and learning and growth.

image1image2

I love USQ. Catching up with my Chinese and Indonesian friends, and trying out my Mandarin and bahasa Indonesia studies – sometimes to enthusiastic applause, sometimes to hilarious, shared laughter – as the time I advised I was consuming bees, to assist my sore throat (in my defence, the word for honey is simply the other way around!) I love the individual personalities of College residents, our dining hall staff, approachable and personable lecturers; people from everywhere, drawn to this nexus of academic fervour, nestled in Aussie rural surrounds.

I love the richness and variety, hilarity and wisdom-inducing scenarios of community living. My youthful-esque penchant for Hello Kitty merch’ and a steady stream of uplifting cutesie cat videos is nicely juxtaposed with my almost 40 years of life experience, and view through such sobering windows as a previous incarnation as an Immigration Officer.

If the reassuring signs on the library’s toilet doors are anything to go by (I do try to use the Indonesian word for library – perpustakaan – at every opportunity, it has such a lovely ring to it) I am in good company, with 1 in 6 Aussies experiencing Depression and Anxiety during their lifetime. Whilst it pains me somewhat to quote an American actress, I feel Jen Aniston was wise with her comment ‘Life is tough – Get a helmet!’

Fortunately, USQ life is well-stocked with metaphorical helmets. Recently our College Community Advisor (a lovely, welcoming blend of professional Provisional Psychologist, and normal and approachable human being) has been leading us, free of charge, through the fascinating practice of ‘Mindfulness’.

image 2image 1   The flowers in the brown barren soil represent life without mindfulness. The flowers situated amongst the pink carpet of blossoms represents spreading peace and tranquillity into the environment through mindfulness.

I have been taking myself on daily ‘field trips’ to hone these skills, in our truly awe-inspiring Japanese Gardens. Some, beautiful Spring days, you could be forgiven for thinking of descriptions of Heaven you’ve heard over the years – a sacred space where every colour gleams near-incandescent in the warming, strident sun; and the rich, light greens of weeping willow trees and unapologetically bright pink azalea bushes smothered in flowers, compete with the trickling waterfalls and family of ducks, for your attention.

image3image4

See those small, impossibly fuzzy ducklings, all enthusiastically paddling with zest. High-pitched quack-peeps caught on the breezes, as they make surprising bow waves, paddling with gusto to catch up with Mother Duck.

I hope Heaven will be something similar to USQ. A library full of learning, the camaraderie of Community Living, and a stunning garden where living beings gather and feed and relax.

In the meantime, I hope to continue learning. Including how to master those word limit requirements…”

‘Living on College is a bit like going on School Camp’

1

Hi, I’m Kara, and I am an optimist…okay I’m an optimist when it is convenient, and when it comes to College living I will always be an optimist. Now I’ll be honest with you, college living won’t always be the, binge eating, 11AM till 5PM naps and the occasional classes…oh wait, it might be. Well they say everything in moderation, so I guess those things are all okay. But college life is about so much more, it starts off feeling like you are on school camp. You know, you’re away from family, from your house, you are staying in this new place and it doesn’t really feel like it’s your own, and to be perfectly honest you haven’t got a clue what is going on. But you smile and nod hoping to avoid any direct questions, or at least that’s what I did. College in the beginning is bizarre, here are all these new people, places and activities, and you finally realise after 12 years of school, years of working, sarcastically correcting your friends in order to feel smarted, that really you still just want your mum there asking the hard questions, mostly cause you aren’t yet smart enough to think of what the hard questions even are. Jokes on you, I did bring my mum…and thank god, cause then I knew how to navigate the washing machines.

2

Haven’t I made it sound great? No? Oh well perhaps I should mention the fact that living on college has given me some of the greatest experiences of my life. Oh, you don’t believe me? An example than; evenings spent watching the block with my block and disagreeing with everything the judges say, because showers need screens damn it, otherwise there is just water everywhere, that isn’t innovative it is hazardous, and the judges should know better.  Oh you want a better example? Fine, I can give you a fun, hip example, I’m cool…ish… okay fine, I’m friends with cool people, okay friends with people, fine friends with my mum, you happy now? Fine my favourite memories of living on college, the little things, play netball together, sitting around after dinner talking for hours, knowing that there will always be someone to go with you to get ice-cream at 2AM. College living is realising you have all this family you never knew about, and that you sometimes wish you still didn’t know about. When it comes to the challenges of life and uni and whether or not taking semester three is worth it, just turn to your fellow residents, they were always there, and they can’t leave.

3

Studying Externally

This is one of the huge choices to make when you come to University, as the allure of the Uni lifestyle is heavily influenced by the fact that, legend says, there is no punishment for not attending classes, and some courses can even be taken without classes, or, as the educated refer to it: Externally. I personally fell victim to the consideration that I could, in fact, do a class online, and never have to attend a class for that subject again!

Admittedly, my first year proved this impossible, as, in a theatre degree, roughly one in 27 classes is offered externally, and those that are, are rather different courses than their on-campus counterparts. Nonetheless, I had attempted to find a course that I could do externally to “lessen my workload” and this is something that I feel many students fall victim to early in their university careers.


I myself experienced the naivety of my own thinking when I, needing to do an elective and not wanting to do it while in second semester of third year, the busiest time in a Theatre Kids’ degree, decided to take Foundation Psychology A. Several of my fellow 3rd year Theatre kids also attempted this course, and did so with the same naivety that I had come to hold dear. Our first clue that this course would be difficult should have been made plain in the name, of the course of study- Psychology. Psychology, after all, is a science, and we failed to recognize that this would mean that we would be undertaking a particularly difficult subject.

Nonetheless, we soldiered on, enrolled, and prepared ourselves for the first assessment. It was hard, much harder than we had expected, but we managed. Next, was the second assignment. It was hard, harder than the first, but not so hard that we couldn’t manage it. Then came the third assignment. The third assignment was hardest, and managing was no longer an option. It was at this moment that the fear set in. The realization that I needed a solid grade on the exam to pass the course instilled a horror so deep within my soul that I realized my genuine mistake. I had failed to account for the difficulty of this course, and, while experiencing the weird blend of holiday and work mode, was having a very hard time getting the appropriate amount of work done.

Now came the period of study, the most study, in fact, that I’d ever managed to do for an exam. This was primarily because I had, in fact, failed to perform any of the course study up until this point, and was hoping to manage a pass based on a grueling weekend of hardcore study. Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for them, my study buddies had similarly failed to prepare themselves for the exam, and this meant that the lot of us crowded together to study. The moral for this is kind of all the same: Study and Learning is easier with people around you, be that in the form of your friends who are equally incompetent at time management, or the fellow people around you in the lecture hall. Know what you’re getting yourself into, plan ahead, manage your time.

 

And remember kids, Psychology is a science.

10 Handy Things You Should Know About College at USQ

They say all good things must come to an end.  After two years at McGregor College and one year at Steele Rudd College, I think I’m going to miss it.

Here’s a few bits and pieces I learnt about college along the way for Freshers and Returners alike:

  1. If you take one car load to college, it’s easy to forget that you need to go home at some point.  Make sure you don’t accumulate too much stuff over the course of the year – I’m so guilty of this.
  2. When taking lunches, assemble sandwich material on to a plate so you can build a non-soggy sandwich when you’re ready to eat it.
  3. Take bulk dollar coins before you leave in readiness for weekly washing loads.
  4. Bar fridges are optional and will fit inside your rooms.
  5. Head over to the Quad to eat your lunch on Wednesdays, there’s always something fun going on in common hour.
  6. You don’t need to use your cellular data when within the university – make sure you get your wireless sorted. You can always ask I.T. at the hub to help you out!
  7. Pillow toppers are great to put on your mattress at college if you like a soft bed. They are pretty cheap and make sleep much more comfortable!
  8. A college wide optional game of ‘assassins’ is often played at some point during the year. Feel free to pack extra water bombs in readiness.
  9. Make use of the fruit trees! There are orange, mulberry, white mulberry, mango, lime, apple, pecan and many more fruit trees scattered around the colleges, plus the vegetable garden outside the back of the Steele Rudd kitchens.
  10. Bring posters/photos and blutack to make your room a little home away from home.

All the best for 2015!

To the USA and back

You would have seen my blog previously talking about preparing and fund raising for a weeklong trip to Florida, USA to attend a showcase. Well… I’m home again and all I can say is that it was absolutely AMAZING!

To be honest, it took a long, long time to actually feel excited. Here’s why. I had never been out of the country before, hadn’t flown many times in my life before and was more scared of something epically stupid to happen. There was always the chance that I would forget something really important, remember something and then leave it behind in an airport or plane, my luggage could of gone missing or I could of made it all the way to Florida and my credit card could fail and I would be stuck helpless 8000 miles from home. As it turns out, I had to run through most of the airports to get to my planes in right time for boarding and only lost a bottle of body wash because it was too big. I felt like I was on a role and everything was running fairly smooth and then I rocked up to Orlando Airport and my guitar didn’t come through the oversize baggage chute. I had to run to the service desk and have a word with them. They assured me not to worry, BUT my guitar was on its way to Chicago.

Kent Singing

So I managed to book into the Marriott and my credit card worked, but I was without my guitar. Not only that, I actually didn’t feel excitement because it was so overwhelming. I had never been in such a big hotel. I had never seen such a big pool. I couldn’t get my head around the side of the road they drive on.

Kent Modelling

Anyway… I thankfully had everything I needed in good time and was healthy and ready for the sections in which I was entered. I got the biggest surprise when I came out of a seminar I was in and people started smiling at me differently and saying “you might want to check out the notice board”. This took the hype out of it a bit, but I managed to get into the top 10 vocalists out of everyone. This meant that I got to sing in the showcase show. I ended up winning 2nd place overall! Not only that, but I got 5 callbacks!!!

Unfortunately I didn’t get any recording deals or modelling contracts straight away but I did get some really great advice from some top professionals in the industry. I now have contacts for agents in New York and LA and have a list of things to now save up for and work on before I move to New York to pursue a career. (This will be in a few years, don’t say your goodbyes just yet).

I honestly can’t thank you all enough for your support and kind words.

I now need to go and make a boatload of money to make things happen.

Blessings,

Kent

 

5 More Cool Places around USQ You Might Not Know Exist

Here’s 5 more cool places you can check out without leaving your desk.

1.  O1:  Renovated from an indoor basketball court, O1 is the home of the USQ Social Media team.  This office is a hub of alternative interior design, home of the infamous gorilla statue and complete with the original basketball score LED display.

gill

2.  Y Block TV Studio Editing Room:  Where all the TV magic happens.  Did you know there is a full TV studio at USQ?

tv-i

3.  C Block Tunnel:  A storage area for the science department.  It runs all the way underneath the full length of C Block.

.  tunn

4.  Japanese Garden Gym Exercise Equipment:  The amazing view in fast forward when hanging on to the spin apparatus.  Let’s be honest, you probably already knew about this one.

park

5.  Z Block Roof:  A beautiful view and the spot for surveying students to learn about geodetic measurement methods, or measuring long distances and correcting for the curvature of the earth.  Thanks again to Simon Merange for coming along to take some photos.

Getting the most out of your time on college

I’ve reached the end of my 3 year college journey. This is a sad realization, but in part, it is also a joyful one. Accordingly, I’ve decided to write a blog about getting the most out of your time at college.

 

There was a time where I had chosen to bury myself in my studies and my room, engaging in the world of my course and little beyond. Fortunately for me (and less fortunately for my studies), I grew out this thinking by midway through O-week in first year. I soon found that the best times I could have were times spent with my friends and colleagues. These times ranged from parties, to after parties, to the occasional dinner conversation that went somewhere weird, and are a massive contributor to my life on college.

Picture4  Debating-107Picture5

My encouragement to getting the most out of your time on college is to utilize opportunities. Opportunities to party, to go bowling, to hang out at dinner until 9pm talking about the intricate details of engineering. If something’s happening, then get amongst it. I was fortunate enough to be part of a group of people who, in part, forced me to be socially active, to hang out and spend time talking about random stuff. This group of people, strangely enough, were known colloquially as the theatre kids, and their input allowed me to branch out and spend my 3 years at college having fun, when study wasn’t being jeopardized.

 

My best memories at college have been the times when I’ve gone out on a limb, gone to something that I didn’t expect to enjoy, and had a corker of a time, these times, and pub crawl.

 Picture2Picture3  Theatre Sports-83 Picture1

The social avenues that college affords only last so long, so getting amongst them while it’s still an easy option is the greatest thing that I’ve ever done. Play assassins, get involved with the O-week activities, go to formal, and semi, have fun, do what you want, and do it with the people you want to do with.

Because if college isn’t the time for it, then when is?

To Blog, or not to Blog  

September: the air is cold with that recognizable Toowoomba wind is rolling in over the hills, many students are taking their mid-semester breaks, but one group of students can be seen. These students trudge into the dining hall at 7:14, eat their late meals wearing their uniform of all black, and bemoan the day’s torments amongst cold meals and instant coffees. You may know who these students are based on these simple descriptors. USQ’s Third Year Actors. The reason for their struggle? USQ Artsworx Shakespeare in the Park Festival. For us, yes, I too am a member of this ancient family, the entirety of our three years of training comes to fruition in this single week of production. For Toowoomba, the event is an opportunity to experience culture on a scale not otherwise accessible. The opportunity to sit in a park, with a dinner and some drinks, enjoying some quality performance by trained actors, with beautiful set, costume, props and lighting, is something that the public of Toowoomba repeatedly show up to support and enjoy. Having defined the cultural landscape of Toowoomba for many years, the festival is also a unique opportunity of learning for the Actors, which, for us, is pretty dang swell. We battle against the elements to bring a quality piece of theatre using some of the most difficult theatrical texts in the English Language, again, awesome opportunity.

Shakespeare in the Park Article Image- Students

This year, we were lucky enough to perform Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, A play that basically spends 5 acts partying. The show was massively energetic, with bright colours and badass characters, acting like fools as much as possible. In this regard, for an ensemble of young people, and an audience of college residents, it was the perfect choice. We had all kinds of fun with this show, and the audience enjoyed it immensely too. It was an energetic, crazy, action-packed and hilarious project to be a part of, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. The end result was strange, zany, sexy, awesome, hilarious and colourful. Truly an awesome experience for us, and the audiences.

Shakespeare in the Park Article Image

Now to move from making you feel bad about the experience that you might not have gotten to be a part of this year, Shakespeare in the Park will be on AGAIN next year!

 

Whattt!??

 

2015 3rd Years will be performing King Lear a fascinating and beautiful tragedy, with an awesome darkly comic undertone. The show’s on in March, from the 19th to the 23rd. You can already buy tickets, at the following link for what is sure to be a freaking awesome show.

 

http://artsworx.com.au/events/king-lear/

Why live on college?

There are literally so many reasons why living on college is a good thing. In fact there are so many that if you actually asked the question “why live on college?” and then read this entire article, you would probably find yourself packing your things and moving there right away.

Firstly, the most obvious benefit of living on campus is the convenience of it. Even if you have a dreaded 8am class, you can still afford to sleep longer than you would in a house because you just have to get dressed and walk to your buffet breakfast where you can eat what you like amongst the company of your friends who are also up at that time. When you finish with your plate, the amazing friendly kitchen staffs wash it up for you and you walk your way across the road to your class. Speaking of convenience, all your bills are also put together into a single bill so that you don’t have to waste your time paying a million separate things. You have Internet in you room as well as WIFI around the common rooms and surrounding areas. Oh and did I mention there’s a gym just next door that gives us sweet deals because we’re students? It’s seriously so convenient that we almost become lazy. However it does allow for us to focus on the study.

Block party #redfoo #nurses #degree #stereotypes #swag #yolo

A photo posted by Kent Tonscheck (@kenttonscheck) on

Secondly, college is fun. We have a big contest each year between all colleges called Residential Shield, or “Res-shield” as we all call it, that basically consists of lots of different sporting and cultural events throughout the year. There’s no reason for you to ever get bored if you’re one of those people that study something that allows you free time. It’s so important that you get involved in these types of events because they help you to take your mind off study and reduce stress while keeping your body and mind healthy. Other fun aspects of college are things such as block films for Semi-Formal and Formal. Lots of times we make them so bad that they’re good and really focus on making something funny. As you can imagine, after the formal is finished, everyone is in fits of laughter and makes for good stories for weeks to come.

Lastly, college is supportive. While on college I made friends with so many people and they’re contacts I will have forever. Everyone looks out for each other and when you need a friend to talk to, there is always someone just down the hall. If there’s not, there is always someone in the next block. You literally have friends living a small walk from your bedroom door. If you need support with your studies or want to see a councillor, there are support teams just across the road or an email away. If you’re like me and come from a family farm struggling through tough weather, you can find financial support and scholarships specifically for you.

My degree was three years in duration and I lived there from start to finish. I wouldn’t change a thing! I learnt a lot, completed my course and will have friends for life thanks to college.

P.S. I’d totally love it if you could check out and buy my debut EP just released

https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/life-love-tales-ep/id939931395

Packing for the year

 

10am is the deadline. All of your stuff in your car is the aim. Fear is the emotion. The clock strikes 9, your room is still a mess, time is running out, you’re sweating, you need to vacuum, but the vacuum’s in the office. The cleaners have started knocking on your door to ask if you’re out yet. The clock strikes 9:30, which I know doesn’t make sense, but hey, you’re panicking. Your car is very close to being full of the random collection of stuff that you’ve managed to accumulate, and, through your tears of frustration and pain, you promise yourself that you will never let this happen again. You’ll throw out that poster your friend gave you, leave your collected works of Charles Dickens at home, only bring the clothes you need.

 

This is the panic of the college resident who, upon discovering the 4th set of shoes they didn’t wear all year failing to fit into their hatchback, realizes something. That they need to, somehow, learn to pack smart before they inflict this entire process upon themselves again next year.

 

Packing for the year can be one of the hardest things to do. It’s hard to balance what you will need, what you might need, and what you definitely won’t need but how awesome would it be to have it right there. For me, these categories sound a little more like these: Textbooks and Living Material, Musical Instruments, and posters of wolves. Considering I had 7 musical instruments in my room at the end of last year, as well as a poster of a wolf, one can guess that I didn’t do that well at packing for the year. If I were to throw out advice for new and returning evidence, it’d be the following:

 

Prioritize what you need. If your ‘rents are happy to look after the remainder of your stuff, then leave it with them. If they do mind, then it might be time to give away those Jammies you haven’t worn since primary school, throw out the costume you wore for that 21st that one time, and sell the textbooks for the first year course you didn’t ever even want to do. At the end of my first year I had the pleasure of helping an overly stressed hoarder vacate her room. She had a hard time getting everything out, and the tension in the air was palpable. She had, however, learnt her lesson, and managed to go the entirety of the next year without her mini-muffin-oven.

 

Mildly irrelevant anecdotes aside, many people have trouble managing with the amount of stuff that they can fit in their comparatively small college rooms.

 

But when I see people with entire, and very large, sets of drawers in their rooms, I can’t help but consider how much trouble they’ll have when they set out at the end of the year, all because they didn’t prioritize…