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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

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…

Holiday Management

The year’s over, the res colleges contract has ended, and aside from a Christmas and New Year’s Eve party your calendar begins to look upsettingly empty. Three and a half months of holiday, and nary an idea to fill the time. The early days are spent playing Skyrim and marathoning Scrubs, but after the novelties of shouting at dragons and the shenanigans of ‘The Janitor’ dwindle, you are left with days that seem to be getting exponentially longer as the holidays go by.

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Thus begin the dark times, you realize it’s been weeks since you last ventured beyond the safety of your front yard, your parents have become frustrated with your apparent inability to accomplish anything with your holiday time. Perhaps you tried to get a job, join the gym, do prepatory study for next year, perhaps it worked, or perhaps it was such a dark, distant and unsuccessful process that you’ve blocked it from your mind forever. Regardless of the intricacies of your holiday so far, you’ve begun to experience a yearning, an overwhelming desire to return to the warmth and comparative comfort of college life, where doing things isn’t so hard, and you can feel a sense of accomplishment just by making it to breakfast on a weekday, but I digress.
My experiences of the holidays have gone a little something like the above, and I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the ways that I choose to deal with the separation anxiety and notable lack of structure that holidays bring.
First of all, I think that the holidays are an amazing time to reconnect with family, and your friends from home. It may sound obvious, but when everyone from college is now hours away, spending time with the people who are right there is the clear better idea. For me this involves family Christmas parties, finally being able to attend small family gatherings, watching movies with friends, and things tend to settle back into their old routine. Regardless, at times, an overwhelming sadness comes over my very being, as I remember that, while I am spending time with my friends from home, my friends from college are not being graced with my company. The highlights of my holidays have been the times that I get to reconnect with my college life, through the people and places. There’s something about meeting up with a couple of college mates in a college room and just having a chat that is an extraordinary experience.

As far as maintaining my sanity, time spent with college friends was highly valued, and often the most looked forward to times of my holidays. Road trips, parties and hangouts were some of the highlights of my social calendars.

Between Skyrim, Scrubs, Christmas and College Friends, it’s pretty easy to fill the weeks with completely non-useful activities. Good Luck!

Valedictory Dinner

Valedictory Dinner is an evening where the graduating residents from each of the colleges come together and enjoy a dinner in honour of their time on college. Mine, I’m sad to admit, occurred in October this year. I’m sad about it because it means that my time on college is finally coming to an end, a very sad realization indeed. Regardless, this was an opportunity for us to come together and celebrate the ups and downs of our journey, which, for most of us, has been many years. Between the good food and powerpoints, there was, of course, an important reminder of the significance of this moment.

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There were four speakers, the valedictorians from each of the colleges, and our guest speaker, to deliver the valedictory address. The three valedictorians were Alex Darton from McGregor, Steph Piper from Steele Rudd, and Lachlan Withnall from Concannon. Steph had spent her first two years on McGregor, so had some horribly embarrassing photos of all of the McGregor residents, myself included. We remembered strange haircuts, unusual activities, and peculiar goings on. Lachlan reminded us of the general superiority of Concannon College, and Alex brought us home with a reflection on the beauty of finding time for yourself amongst the crazy college environment.

 

The Valedictory speaker took the time to remind us of the merits of being kind, of knowing what you need to help you through the university environment. We were regaled with tales of cats, kindness, and University life. For me, there was a moment of learning not touched on by our speakers, and it occurred as I watched all of the graduates receive the beautiful photo frame given to us by the colleges. It was a reminder of the significance of community and comradeship. As someone who holds a strong need to maintain close relationships with people, I had the opportunity to see many of my closest friends as the people they’d grown to become, which was frankly a magnificent experience.

 

Valedictory dinner, beyond the memories and reminders of the friendships developed, was a wonderful evening full of great conversation, excellent food (and wine) and fantastic opportunities to reflect upon the magnificent years that had preceded it.

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Graduation from College Life? Here I come!

Professorial Lecture

Every year, the University hosts an event called the “Residential Colleges Professorial Lecture”. The lecture is a night in which the Residential College students come together in the Allison Dickson Theatre to hear a lecture given by a high-profile member of University Faculty. For many college students, this is an opportunity to come together as a group, excitedly dress in “Harry Potter” robes, and have a few wines and cheeses on the university’s dime.

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For those questioning how legitimate the alleged excitement over the “Harry Potter” robes is, it is worth noting that many if not most students choose to spend the afternoon preceding the event finding sticks from gardens around the university to use as make-shift wands for the evening, only to insist that indeed:

“The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Lyons”

Further, the most overheard phrase of the entire evening 3 years running goes to:

“It’s Wingardium Levi-O-sa, not Levi-o-SAHHHHH”

College Student Shenanigans aside, these lectures tend to have a much stronger impact on the students than we sometimes appreciate. This year, the lecture was presented by Dr. Ken Udas, on the topic of Liberalizing the Corporate University. Purely based on the title, I expected something akin to that one chapter of the History Textbook, which no one managed to finish in High School, much to the dismay of the year nine Social Sciences Teacher. However, despite the use of big words like “Liberalizing”, “Corporate” and “the”, even I, a Creative Arts Student with an unfortunate migraine as a result of the flu, which I was battling at the time, managed to be gripped by the content of Dr. Udas’ lecture.

The long and the short of the lecture is, that Dr. Udas, who has lectured and worked at many universities all over the world, has a lot to say about the purpose to which we run our Universities. He discusses that the purpose of the University, which should be the pursuit of truth beyond all other things, has become a desperate desire to better ourselves in the tangible statistics, employment rates, guaranteed pay for our graduates and similar.

As an aspiring actor, who will have a harder time finding employment than a tortoise that can do a backflip (which would be awesome, by the way), remembering to not always see the world in this light is really important. As young people, we’re often told things like “It’s about the Journey, not the destination”, only to realize that we can, in fact, pass a 3rd year University course by doing the assignments the night before and cramming the week of the exam. Our world, as it would seem, is about the destination. We measure our success by the tangible, the job that we will get, the money we will make and the grades that we got. What Dr. Udas took great pains to remind us is that University is about the pursuit of truth, and that first things first, we need to remember what we’re here to do, Learn.

Batman and the Bin Bandits

Every Year, as part of the Residential Shield competition, each college is required to submit a short film for judging and comparison between the three colleges. We are supplied with a set of unusual criteria, and asked to devise, write and film an 8-10 minute film based on these. As an Acting student, and someone with relatively few otherwise useful talents, this is one of the only competitive cross-college events that I’m any use in. That said, it’s also quite possibly the most fun of the lot. I’ve attached McGregor’s 2013 video, which consists of all things unusual from Batman to Bart Simpson, to Bandits riding in bins. The criteria for this video dictated that they each video must include:

A Glee Style Music Number

  • The Song Footloose
  • Bart Simpson
  • Brad Pitt
  • The 1950’s Batman theme
  • A dustpan and brush
  • A Cheerleader
  • A scene shot in the new Refectory

Naturally this peculiar mix makes for quite a unique artistic predicament among the creative team for the video, and poses a special set of challenges for us as a unit. We are, however, extremely confident that we effectively met almost all of these terms with our film, and, let’s face it, produced an award-worthy piece of art. We didn’t take home any Oscars, but boy were we worthy.
This masterpiece stars yours truly as Officer Niel Raymonds, and Emily Martin as his partner ‘Happy’. Filmed and Edited by Simon Merange and featuring the supporting Talents of Brendan O’Leary, Jennifer Laycock, Steph ‘Batman’ Piper and Thomas Pitt Hooley. Special Thanks to Steph for the Link.

Until Next Time,

Josh