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!

Christmas Day as a student

The morning starts like every other. One wakes, yawns, and a quick thought flashes across the frontal lobe;

“Gosh, I want to go back to sleep.”

Then the rest of the brain kicks in with an uncustomary speed, usually only attainable with at least one of cup coffee.

It’s Christmas.

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Depending on your age, this may mean different things. For example between 2-16 years of age it means Presents. For 17-27 year olds it’s a cross between Presents and Party Time! 28 and above its one of several things

“Oh bugger its my turn to cook,”

“Do I really have to spend all day with them?”

or

“Gosh I want to see what they think of their presents,”

There are variations of course. Not everyone adheres to those guidelines. Take myself for example, my thoughts upon waking in the early hours of Christmas day bounce around incoherently until they hit a wall, fall on their arse, sit up and look around feeling rather bemused until they finally stumble upon,

“Oh Damn, there goes the diet,”

As a student however, Christmas comes with an additional sense of foreboding. Any money one may have had left after their bank account was sucked for cash, until they were as dry as a Twilight novel, immediately has the last drops drained to buy Xmas presents for family and friends.

However, despite the lack of funds, the age differences between members, and the new addition to the iPhone as an integral part of the family from which each member must not be parted, Christmas celebrations in the Mills household are jovial affairs. The aunts and uncles arrive, each party bringing at least a kilogram of prawns so that by the end we easily have 5 kilos of the nasty little bugs (My sister and I don’t like them, we stick to chicken shiskebabs). The cousins arrive, bringing bottles of wine, beer, and iceblocks. Someone in the mix has brought a tray of mangos, which will be lucky if it sees the sunset. I don’t know much of how other families do it, but for us, it’s a seething mass of talking, eating, drinking, swimming and general frivolity that even the Romans would be proud of.

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And luckily for me, someone else is paying.

Concannon College and the Chamber of Studies

I think Professor Dumbledore said it best, “I will only truly have left this place when none here are loyal to me… Help will always be given at college to those who ask for it.” Or something to that effect.

Like many students who attended Hogwarts, I moved far away from home not knowing a single thing about my awaiting destination or the people there. I received a letter in the mail saying I had been accepted into the USQ family at Toowoomba. At just 17 years of age, I packed my 3 suitcases (which did not impress my dad or my two brothers who had to help carry them) and set out on a nerve-racking voyage from Townsville. I have since learnt that packing my snow jacket was definitely a good idea this winter!

Before moving to Toowoomba, I had to decide between 3 Colleges – Concannon (the fearless crocodiles), McGregor (the fiery devils) and Steel Rudd (the soaring seagulls). My decision was made and I just needed to wait for the ‘Sorting Hat’ to have the final say. Lucky for me, I got my preference and Concannon was, and still is, my home. With countless college activities, uni club dress-up parties and intercollege events (10 points for Concannon!) it didn’t take long to settle in. While I sometimes struggle out of bed a few minutes before class begins the 2 minute walk to uni assures me I’ll make it in time. And after a long, hard day of studying I know there will always be someone waiting at college when the day is over. Even though I moved so far away from my family, Concannon has become a home away from home.

Living on college gives me the opportunity to meet people studying a range of different degrees from (defence against the dark) arts degrees such as theatre to science degrees like chemistry (potions classes).  If I need a distraction or help I can just open my door or window and I’m sure to see a familiar face. Or sometimes I just bang on the wall to get Hermione’s attention next door. She loves it when I do that.

Residential Shield competitions between the three colleges are obviously a highlight for most. With an event roughly once a week, members from all colleges come out in college colours like a pack of wizards gathering for a quidditch game. With events ranging from soccer and afl to trivia and idol there is something to cater for all (10 more points to Concannon!). The points are then tallied after each event and totalled at the end of the year where the overall winner is announced over a delicious feast. While these events often end in a group celebration or a group commiseration, it is always a group effort.

Even as Harry Potter fought against the difficulties thrust upon him throughout life, he knew he could rely on his family at Hogwarts to battle with him. I know if I ever come across He Who Must Not Be Named that my fellow Concannonites would join forces with the other colleges and stand behind me, Mrs Weasley style.

I think the message to take from Harry Potter is no matter where you are and the troubles you face, you will never be alone. Whether you’re struggling with study or an outfit choice, college life provides more than a place to sleep. Just like Harry Potter and those who attended Hogwarts, I have found a home away from home. So if you’re unsure about studying and living on college consider these words from some wise old man: “it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”