“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.
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’.
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.
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…”