Woo Hoooooo. Welcome to 2017! And aren’t we off to a flying start?! Where the hell has time gone?! I swear I blinked and suddenly I was back in Wollongong chilling with my friends, looking back on 2016 like it was all a dream. Luckily for me, it wasn’t a dream and I fortunately experienced so many wonderful things. So without further adieu, let’s recap on the start of 2017 which I can just feel, is already going to be a freakin awesome year.
California: SAN FRANSICO / LOS ANGELES / ROAD TRIP
To get the full scope of everything we did in California (there was a lot) I’d recommend checking out my YouTube video here. But beyond the video, CALIFORNIA IS FREAKIN AMAZING! I can’t wait until I get to go back again.
Absolute paradise. I don’t know if there’s anything else I can really say about Hawaii except the fact that it’s just honestly beautiful. It was so lovely to be back in the heat again! Hawaii was pretty much non stop swimming, eating, exploring and swimming. You can check out my YouTube video here.
OMG…. enough said.
BACK HOME: AUSTRALIA
So I’ve returned home after nearly 7months. It was so amazing seeing my friends and family. You know once you return home after a long time away, and your headspace is just so positive? It was so awesome to apply my new found outlook on life to life back in Australia. I think it makes me much more excited and grateful for everyone I know and everything I have here in Australia. At the moment I’m currently looking for a place to live in Wollongong, so hopefully by the next time you check into this blog, I will have found one and I’ll be showing you around!
Amy Shark – Adore. The first time I heard this song was on Australia Day while tuning in to the Hottest 100 on Triple J and OMG I’ve had it on repeat ever since.
Ed Sheeran – Castle on the Hill. The ginger ninja is back! Let’s be honest, this guy kills it every. single. time. And I’m absolutely loving it! I can’t wait for his album to be released!
War Dogs. I watched this film on the plane back to Australia and damn was that actually made my 10 hour flight enjoyable.
Please Like Me. OK So this one isn’t a film, but it’s a freakin addictive Australian show on Netflix! It is millenial comedy/drama at its best! I actually can’t get enough.
I’m happy to say that I actually finished a book this month… and damn was it a great read. I’m a huge fan of Mitch Albom’s after having read his book ‘Tuesday’s with Morrie’ and ‘Five People You Meet in Heaven’ whilst I was at school and I loved them. I picked up this book at the airport in Hawaii and I read it in a week. For anyone who loves music, books and a great story being unravelled in front of you, then this book is for you!
Blogs & Vlogs
Lost LeBlanc. Man, this guy has been killing it lately. His Bali vlogs were on point, his Philippines vlogs were on point and his Panama City vlogs….. DAMN. Honestly, this guy is definitely on his game!
Sawyer Hartman. I’ve been following this guy since I met him at BufferFest in Toronto. His drone shots and cinematography is superb! Plus, when I was in Venice in LA I actually ran into him. It was so cool to meet him and have a chat. PLUS I MADE IT IN THE VLOG! You can check out his video and my cameo below.
So I’m doubling up this month. The first one is be excited about everything. It honestly changes your perspective on everything when you get excited about things you’re doing or people you’re going out with! I’d recommend it.
And the second one is definitely related to the first, but also to always remember to be inspired and grateful, but to surround myself with people who share the same values.
Alrighty, so that’s my month wrapped up. Watch this space for some exciting things to come!
So you’re going to Montreal? LUCKY YOU! Is there room in your suitcase? Can I come? On the off chance that you said no, and you’re going without me (rude), here’s my ultimate list of thing to do, see and drink in Montreal.
Like all good things in life, Montreal is full of extremes and the unexpected. Summer is hot hot hot. Humidity central. And Winter… Ice Ice Baby. It’s so cold that your nose hairs freeze outside. And fall is simply splendid. The trees explode with colour and make for some pretty popping Instagram pics. Regardless of when you visit, keep in mind that this will ultimately determine what you do and when you do it. Because you ain’t going to be walking the streets of Montreal for hours on end in freezing rain (I know this because we tried and I swear our veins were starting to freeze up). OK – so now I’m done being weather woman, here’s my ultimate list of things to do in Montreal!
This is my number 1 thing to do in Montreal, and once you do it you’ll see why. There’s not many cities in the world where you can feel like you’re lost in the woods when you’re actually just on a mountain in the middle of the city. You can do this in all seasons and it’s still just as magical. Mont-Royal was designed by the same guy that designed New York’s Central Park (that dude knew his parks). Not only is the walk up easy and beautiful, but the top hosts some of the best views in all of Montreal (plus it’s FREE). If you’ve got a few hours, definitely explore the rest of the mountain. There’s a beautiful old cemetery, L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph and Beaver Lake (which you can go ice skating on in Winter).
2. Vieux-Port (Old Port).
This is the heart of culture in Montreal. Home to Basilica Notre Dame (Paris’ Notre-Dame’s little sister), Rue Saint-Paul (Montreal’s oldest street), and access to the Saint Laurence River, this is a place you simply cannot miss. In Summer there are markets, stalls and lots of street performers and buskers to keep you entertained whilst you soak up some sunshine on a Terrace. Exploring old port, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were lost in a little European town.
3. Le Plateau.
This is for all you coffee lover, hipsters out there. The Plateau is an area of Montreal, kinda the equivalent of Newtown in Sydney, but French. Yea – I’ll let that sink in. And this is where I used to live so I think I’ve earned the right to say I know the Plateau pretty well. You can get off at metro station Mont Royal and explore Avenue Mont-Royal. You’ll find some beautiful little cafes, thrift stores, restaurants and houses. The architecture in the Plateau is really something special and you can feel the buzz and vibe in the air. You haven’t been to Montreal unless you dip your toes in the hipster hood of the Plateau.
4. Parc La Fontaine.
This is one of my favourite parks in Montreal. There’s squirrels galore and you’ll see dogs running about like crazy. Summer is beautiful as you can sit under a tree and watch the fountain bubble over the pond. Winter is extra special because it honestly looks like something from a fairytale. If you can get your hands on a toboggan, you won’t regret unleashing your inner child and slipping and sliding down the hills. It’s located on Rue Rachel near Mont Royal Metro.
5. La Banquise.
The best thing about travelling is trying new food, we all know this. And if you go to Quebec, especially Montreal, you need to try their specialty, Poutine. La Banquaise definitely has some of the cities best poutine. Whilst people will tell you poutine is just chips, gravy and cheese… it’s so much more than that. My favourite is called La Boogooloo, fries, gravy, cheese, pulled port, sour cream and cabbage… OMG, it’s bringing tears to my eyes just thinking about it. It’s right around the corner from Parc La Fontaine on Rue Rachel, so once you’ve finished exploring, you can stuff your face with Poutine. Make sure you look after your food baby accordingly.
Speaking of food babies… make sure you go to this renowned brunch restaurant on an empty stomach. Wait times, similarly to La Banquise can reach 45 minutes, but I assure you it’s worth it. After taking 15 minutes looking through the menu and finally deciding what to devour, make sure you check out the bathroom. Just do it. Again, I assure you you’ll leave that place waddling down the street.
Check out Ben Brown’s vlog from when he was in Montreal and go to experience the extravagance of L’avenue.
7. The Gay Village.
One of the best things about Montreal is it’s liberal thinking, love and acceptance. They have an amazing gay village, right near Berri UQAM Metro. In Summer there were beautiful decorations lining the street that was closed off for pedestrians to stroll along. If you’re looking for some gay nightclubs, then this place has you sorted!
8. Jean-Talon Markets.
Fresh food and produce your thing? Make sure you don’t miss these incredible markets! Again, ensure you’re got an empty stomach and follow your noses. Are you noticing a trend here? Yes, I love food. Yes, Montreal has f*cking good food!
9. Boulevard Saint Laurent.
Think murals, street art, thrift shops, clubs, restaurants… the hub of nightlife in Montreal. Any good night out in Montreal starts and ends here. You’ll want to make sure you’re looking pretty flashy and jump in line pretty early for a lot of clubs, or you may find yourself just partying in the street. When you’re stumbling from the club at 4am, make sure you stumble by ‘Two Chow’ or ‘Toodles,’ $2 noodles. You’ll be devouring them in seconds and it will make the walk home much more entertaining.
Sundays in Montreal are honestly perfection. Especially in Summer. To enjoy your Sunday afternoon you can either go to Picnique Electronique or Tam Tams. The Jean Drapeau park with the theme park. Sadly I didn’t make it to this place, but hey, you’ve gotta have something to go back for. You take the yellow line from Berri UQAM and jump off on the island. My friend told me they built this island from all of the dirt from building the metro (thanks Rosa), and decided to put a theme park on it. In Summer it hosts an EDM event every Sunday afternoon called Picnique-Eletronique. And if you go in Winter, you can go to check out the view of the city, I’m told it’s pretty spectacular.
And to shake things up, you can spend your Sunday afternoon at this free unofficial community event called Tam Tams. Held in Mont Royal Parc near the big statue, every Sunday afternoon whilst it’s warm, you’ll see hundreds of people playing drums, Frisbee, hacky sac, and smoking weed. Montreal is pretty relaxed on smoking weed, especially at this event. Whether you smoke or not, it’s an incredible sight to see, people coming together to celebrate music, their community, friendship and good times.
So they’re my top 10 things to do in Montreal. There are sooooo many more, but that should keep you busy for now. Two pieces of advice, brush up on your French, and engage with locals. The locals of Montreal are so lovely and kind (and know how to drink), so to get the full Montreal experience, make sure you have a chat with some locals at a bar.
Well, get on out there! Montreal is waiting for you. Wait, I still need to get in your suitcase!!!!
On November 19, iconic daily vlogger Casey Neistat announced the retirement of his vlog. At first I was in disbelief. I thought it was just another clickbait video, and after 2 minutes in, I’d realise he was joking and we’d all go back to our lives knowing that Casey was out there on his boosted board capturing his day for us to see. But after watching the death of his vlog (video below), questions began to surface that I’d been thinking about for a long time, but the biggest
What is the future of Daily Vlogging?
After attending Buffer Festival,I was inspired by vloggers and YouTubers that I’d seen on my screen most mornings of this year. ‘Inspired, motivated, living life to the fullest, experience, risk and dedication’ were all words you could associate with that weekend. And nothing will ever take away from how amazing that experience was.
But I couldn’t help but wonder… how sustainable is vlogging, in particular, daily vlogging? When do they get to put their cameras down? How do they relax? What’s unique? Has this story been told before? What’s the point? What’s the goal? What if everyone starts daily vlogging, will it ever be interesting?
All of these thoughts had been circulating through my mind for a few weeks. I’ve had lengthy discussions with a lot of my friends about vlogging and where the line is between the fragile relationship of work/life, public/private, content/creativity. And then Casey made his announcement… So this post is about my thoughts of the future of daily vlogging. These are some of my questions and concerns for the people , the vloggers, out idols, who capture their daily lives, edit and post it online for the world to see.
As Casey states, ‘are you really going to be vlogging your life into your 40’s?’ He responds with a definite no. Not discrediting middle-aged vloggers, I think their voices are incredibly value. But how long are people going to keep it up? 5 years? 10 years? 30 years? As we’ve already seen from numerous vloggers, life changes and not always for the best. Relationships end and when you’ve got the entirety of that relationship documented, will they be able to deal with their life changes and be able to move on?
Daily vlogging is a full-time job, so when do they get a holiday? I know it’s a bit of a ridiculous question given that many travel vloggers are ALWAYS on holidays. But a holiday to me is disconnecting with your work life and responsibilities and enjoying time to yourself and with your friends or family.
I know that if you willingly put your life online, then a lot of people might think you’re not entitled to privacy. But let’s be honest, whether you live your life through a camera and on social media or not, everyone values, loves and desires privacy. Those little intimate moments you share with someone you love, do they just need to accept that those intimate moments also include millions of subscribers?
The more vloggers I seem to watch, who are a part of the ‘vlogger elite,‘ the more I come to realise how similar they are. Many of them travel together, shoot with similar cameras, travel to similar places, use similar shots, music and edits… more or less, many vlogs are exactly the same! Just replace the person holding the camera with your favourite personality and you’ve got a new vlog.
The video below is a recent favourite of mine. He touches on how vlogging, particularly Casey, has inspired people to be creating, but not necessarily creative.
So I don’t believe vlogging is dead. AT ALL. Vlogging is an extremely revolutionary medium and YouTube is a powerful platform, that should be respected and understood. YouTubers are influential and can encourage, inspire, educate, motivate and connect with people all across the globe. And I particularly think that travel vloggers have a very important responsibility of educating people of other cultures, countries and ways of life. So here are some possible outcomes and solutions for the future of daily vlogging.
Move from daily to weekly
I think that by moving from daily vlogging to weekly or at least every other day would improve the quality of the content, and the quality of the vloggers life. No more late nights up editing and filming every single day.
I know that YouTube is a platform that gives everyone a voice and that it’s definitely partially my fault for not looking hard enough… but I seem to be seeing the same type of personality daily vlogging. White, males from America, the UK or Australia. And whilst they create amazing content, I haven’t yet stumbled across daily vloggers from other parts of the world with a diversity. Women, people of colour, disabilities… I think I would be ten times more engaged if I was seeing the same type of content (travel) produced by these voices. On that note, if you have any recommendations for YouTubers with a unique and diverse voice – let me know!
I recently stumbled across JacksGap channel and I’m in absolute awe. They’re using their creative talent to produce quality content, with an important message (you can see the video below). I think this is where the future of vlogging and YouTube is going (well, at least the next phase). Short, quality videos that entwine a ‘vlogging’ style with traditional ‘documentary’ style. Just check out Ben Brown and Steve Booker’s collaboration with the BBC for their mini-series ‘Mission Selfie.’
Vlogging is not dead. Casey is going to go on to do bigger and better things. And I think eventually, other YouTubers will come to the same realisation and conclusion.
So I’m about to finish my 3rd year of university, with only a year to go until that glorious graduation day. So it’s common that I get asked what my plans are for when I do graduate. And of course, I’m OK with people asking me this. I’ve got big dreams and big plans. But people give me a somewhat unsatisfied look when I can’t give them the name of a profession. Like somehow that doesn’t align with their idea of what my degree leads to or their expectation of me. I usually sit there trying to defend myself and the fact that I don’t know what I want to do, but that’s a good thing etc… but I can see it in their eyes. They think I’m delusional.
So this has prompted me to realise and accept the following…
The truth is, I don’t know what I want to do after I graduate, and I’m happy about that.
What ideas do I have?
Well let me name a few to get us started.
I’m considering doing honours (thesis). Taking a year off to work. Taking time off to travel. Volunteering for an NGO. Applying for a graduate program. Doing my Masters. Doing my Masters overseas. Start my own business. Become involved in politics. Be a foreign correspondent. Be a freelance content creator.
I have no shortage of ideas. But I feel like I shouldn’t be narrow on my focus or goals. That I shouldn’t discount anything just yet, because who know’s where life will take you. Or should I say, where I’m going to navigate my life.
The reality is, I’m only 22 years old. Some people at my age know exactly what they want to do in life and that’s fantastic, and I support that! But I feel that where I am right now in my life, it’s basically impossible for me to be sure which direction I want to go in. There’s endless possibilities out there. They say that young generations are going to switch careers multiple times during our work life anyway. At my age right now, I value life experience and the skills and lessons I’ve learnt outside of a classroom, more than pursuing a traditional lifestyle of finding a job, husband and settling down. Ain’t nothing settling down around here anytime soon.
I think the most frustrating thing is that the people who ask you this question, are usually the people who know you the least. You’ve usually just met and they’re making awkward small talk, which I hate. So when someone doubts my ability, accomplishments or ambitions, it’s extremely frustrating. Because they’re making an immediate judgement and assumption from our first meeting. Not cool.
So what can we do about this?
Instead of people asking ‘what you want to do when you graduate’, or ‘what career do you want’… let’s ask something more meaningful. Maybe we can ask them what goals they have? Does what they do make them happy? Where do you see your goals taking you? What’s your biggest dream?
I also think that’s it’s dangerous to put so much pressure on young people. I think society perceives us as invincible, but I feel kind of the opposite at the moment. I feel vulnerable and susceptible to societies expectations but I feel strong in my determination to make something of myself and make myself proud.
I think that by asking these sorts of questions and being encouraging and nurturing of people’s ideas and dreams is the way forward. Questions and conversations that mean something to people. I believe that by moving away from the traditional conversations, we can adapt and change our conversations and belief in others to one that is nurturing, inquisitive and encouraging to ensure we leave a conversation inspired and not judged.
[If you’re still unsure what I’m talking about… check out this amazing TED Talk below, explaining why she, and many others don’t have one true calling – and that’s a good thing!]
This has got to have been one of the craziest months I’ve had! Literally every weekend I’ve travelled somewhere or had a major event on. The reality of living in Montreal has finally sunken in, I actually have to study (I did NOT sign up for this) and boy it’s getting cold outside! I’m so grateful for all of the incredible experiences I’ve had this month and intend to ride this wave of inspiration and happiness through til the end of the year. Donc, (probably one of my favourite French words around), here are my favourite things from October!
U.S of A
So I started October in the land of the free (or until Donald Trump came along), in Washington D.C. It was my first time in the states! And man could you smell the patriotism. I stayed with my amazing friends that I met in La Rochelle! It was so wonderful to see them again! I miss them all already and can’t wait to see where our paths cross again. Oh and yea, I guess I saw some cool things too – you can check it out below.
My friend Emma and I did a day trip to Quebec City and Montmorency Falls. Unfortunately it poured rain THE ENTIRE DAY! But the falls were truly incredible. It looks like I’ll have to come back for Quebec City another day!
TORONTO with CISA
This was a pretty hectic weekend! CISA is the Concordia International Student Association and a whole bus load of us went to Toronto for the weekend to set ourselves loose on the city. We were off to a rocky start because to get there, we caught an overnight bus. I may or may not have been (nope, definitely was) drunk. Whilst I got a good sleep, we arrived at 6:30am and couldn’t check in to the hotel until 4pm. Let’s just say the struggle was real. Our little squad consisted of Emma, Tim (Aussies as well) and Elena (this gorgeous girl from California). We explored Toronto together and made it up the CN Tower, and visited the St Lawrence Food Market. The next day we also went to Niagara Falls and tasted ice wine. On the way back to Montreal we stopped in Kingston (which I later learnt was the first capital of Canada) where we had THE BEST RAMEN EVER! It was a crazy weekend but I met some truly amazing people.
One of the best weekends I’ve had. Ever. Period! Not only did I get to meet some of my idols like Louis Cole, Ben Brown, Nicole Eddy, Tim Kellner, Raya Was Here, Steve Booker… but I was inspired beyond belief. I saw incredible performers and creators who live their lives so beautifully. They make the most of every day and try to capture the beauty of this world through a camera lens. Words really do fail me here so check out my video below.
OK so to some of you, it may be a surprise that Australia, doesn’t really celebrate Halloween… *gasp* I know right? But, it made me even more excited to be in Montreal for Halloween! It was – again – crazy fun. My friends and I went hard. We went out Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, which meant we needed 3 different costumes. And for those of you who know me – I LOVE dressing up! It was a pretty cool experience to go to house parties, clubs and bars, walking the streets with fake blood spilling out of my mouth and just having a great time with my friends!
[By the way if you couldn’t tell, I was Wednesday from the Addams family and a dead Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn]
Kings of Leon cover Robyn’s Dancing on My Own
I’ve had this song ON REPEAT! I love K.O.L and this song just fits them sooooo perfectly!
I’m basically just loving everything from these guys. I love listening to them when I’m writing and have a cup of tea in hand. I don’t know, I guess perfection does exist!
Vloggers & Bloggers
Well after BufferFest I went on a YouTube BINGE and found some pretty awesome creators!
Damn guys get onto this! I was lucky enough to meet Dan at Buffer Fest and he’s a creator from Montreal. I love his style and his personality is so genuine! He’s definitely inspired me to be more comfortable and ‘myself’ in front of the camera! You can subscribe to his channel here!
OK so you know me, I’m always a little late to the party, but now that I’m here… OMG! This guy is the epitome of entertainment. He’s probably definitely slightly very crazy. But he’s 21 years old and is carving his way in the extremely competitive world of Hollywood and damn he works hard for it. This past weekend I’ve binge watched about 15 of his videos so if you’re in need of a laugh – be sure to check this guy out.
So this month I was on a bit of a streak with books (I’ve been actively trying to read more because damn isn’t that feeling of accomplishment amazing when you finish a book?!).
‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Ansari.
OMG this book is way too real for anyone who has tried Tinder, waited a significant amount of time to text someone back or just caught in the delusional world of modern dating. What I love about this book is that it’s not just someone’s opinion – whilst he is absolutely hilarious! But he conducted a significant amount of research with sociologist, Eric Klinenberg. I flicked through this book in just three days and I’d highly recommend it to anyone.
‘You Can’t Touch My Hair’ by Phoebe Robinson
This is a great page turner. It’s light hearted yet addresses very serious issues of race. As someone who has benefitted immensely from white privilege, reading this book is extremely eye opening to the every day, casual racist behaviours inflicted on people of colour. At some points I wish that she had dug deeper and really hit the nail on the head, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be one of those books. This is her experience and thoughts on black culture and it was incredibly enlightening.
This one has really been resonating with me lately. I’m at this weird stage where I’ll be packing up and leaving this newly created life before I know it. But I feel like I haven’t exactly left my mark here yet. The friendships I’ve been lucky enough to create have meant so much to me and I’m incredibly grateful. And I guess I’ve been reflecting on past experiences (when I lived in London). Over time you forget the little details but you know how much people mean to you because that’s something truly unforgettable.
Well…. October. DAMN! November, you better be AMAZING because you’ve got a lot to live up to!
**Content Warning: This article discusses domestic violence.**
Dear Johnny Depp,
Mrs. Depp. That’s what I used to write on my school books. Ever since I saw the first Pirates of the Caribbean film I became completely and dramatically obsessed with my very first crush, you, Johnny Depp.
Your performance in that movie motivated me to learn more about the man behind the dreadlocks and eyeliner (which I thought was the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen). This interest (obsession) lead me to purchasing two biographies and a lot of god damn movies, with Edward Scissorhands, The Corpse Bride and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape being some of my favourites (hello young Leonardo DiCaprio as well).
Johnny, you made me believe that no matter what life throws at us, we can get through it. That we must embrace our flaws, our quirkiness, and our uniqueness. You made me feel like it was OK to be different. That is was good to be different. You helped me through those high school nightmares of worry, comparison and self doubt.
You ignited the rebel within me. Whenever I’d talk about getting a tattoo, or listen to heavy rock music, I’d think about the opening chapters in your biographies and your early career in music. You’ve inspired me to pursue my passions, to be daring and to embrace my inner artist.
But lately, something’s been eating me Johnny. Not all flaws can be forgiven despite how quirky or sexy you may have once been to me. Domestic violence is not something that one of your quirky characters can distract me from, yet you’ve done a pretty good job of deflecting it in the media. Somehow you’ve become the victim and walked away stronger than ever.
At first I found myself defending you – ME! An avid feminist and activist against domestic violence. That’s what you made me do. You – your fame, your characters, your artistic flair made me think for one second that, “no that can’t be true.” and maybe that’s why this entire conversation has disappeared from media discussions. Because you’re Johnny Depp, you’re untouchable.
The media reported Amber Heard’s statements as ‘allegations’ and that her reports weren’t ‘verified.’ However, like the majority of sexual assault and domestic abuse, there’s little to no evidence of these violations. This doesn’t mean that we disregard them and attack the character of the woman whilst the male character is able to walk away unharmed. I thought we had finally moved on from victim blaming, however the response from the media would suggest not.
This reflects a very dark side of society. Like Edward Scissorhands, we try to speak up and someone gets cut. Well it’s not going to be me, your wife, or your children. It’s you. I’ve loved you since I was a teenager. A 10-year crush shattered to pieces. Well Johnny Depp, my first crush, I’m letting you go. Maybe you’ll embody your character like in ‘Lone Ranger.’ But sadly, for you, you no longer have our hearts.
“Where we love is home- home that our feet may leave but not our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
Home is a concept I’ve always found interesting. Having moved interstate three times and lived in two other countries, it’s safe to say that I’ve had a fair few homes. Right now, I’d probably call where my parents live home. It’s where I went to high school, grew up, and it’s where all of my stuffed toys are stored. I love going home, but due to studying and working down in Wollongong, six hours away from my parents home by train, I don’t get to visit often. And because I don’t visit, I’ve found myself becoming very dependent on media technologies to keep relationships strong and alive back home, which got me wondering about how other students and friend that I have who do live out of home balance their ‘home’ and their ‘newly created home.’ This curiosity drove my research question of “how do people manage their life at home and their new life away from home?”
With any major research task, there are always challenges to overcome. Whilst I discussed my research idea with many other friends and I had intended to showcase more people and their stories, however some of Torsten Hägerstrand’s restrictions came in to play. The restriction of ‘can I get there?’ and ‘can I get there on time?’ influence and affected the amount of time I had to prepare due to end of session stress and work overload before a deadline. Whilst taking these into consideration, I decided to choose and focus on fewer stories but capture more insight and perspective from these people.
I decided use the medium of a blog post because firstly, it’s the platform I’m most comfortable and confident with and I’m always looking to add new and interesting content to it. Secondly, I felt like it was a nice thing for my interviewees to walk away with. Many of them had already read previous posts regarding the media through my blog so I thought it only made sense to have an element of continuity. It’s something that they can share with family and friends, and the feedback I received about being featured on my blog was extremely positive and encouraging.
A theme that was common between myself and my friends was the concept of a ‘double reality’ and occupying two spaces at the same time (Foschini, 2009). This theory furthermore sparked and encouraged my curiosity because I’d never thought about it in that way.
All of us used social media like ‘Facebook to facilitate the formation and maintenance of social capital. In addition to assessing bonding and bridging social capital, we explore a dimension of social capital that assesses one’s ability to stay connected with members of a previously inhabited community, which we call maintained social capital’ (Ellison, Steinfield & Lampe, 2007). Whilst I would argue the term social capital is too impersonal, sterile and serious, and perhaps communities or networks would be a better alternative, it was interesting to see that all of us predominantly relied on phone calls and audio to balance life at home and their new life away from home. However, this was exclusively for family. Social media was used to form and maintain social networks among friends.
The following video offers some words of advice to keep in touch with people once you move away. With a touch of comedy and a some accuracy, this video captures ways in which people manage their home life and their life away frome home.
I also liked the fact that ‘home’ meant something different for everyone. Bacon believes home is where you make it, whereas Charline believes that her home will always be Brazil no matter where she lives. For Luke and I we both associate home with where our parents live. This could potentially be influenced by cultural factors or age, however I found it reassuring that home meant something different to everyone.
Usefullness to media industries
By sitting down and casually discussing Charline, Bacon and Luke’s ways of keeping in touch with family and friends back home, I was able to engage in a more ethnographic study to get an insider’s perspective on balancing home life and their new life out of home. All three of my interviewees seemed to encounter significant issues with Skype. Upon my self-reflection, I purely focused on phone calls home. I believe that all of their stories (and frustrations) could be used in an extremely convincing way to media industries. Firstly, on how to develop audio-visual communication. Perhaps people would be willing to pay if they were guaranteed exceptional connection? And secondly, the case of Bacon making phone calls back to Malaysia because of free international minutes, perhaps this could encourage other phone providers to follow suit to make prices even more competitive and consumer friendly.
I was extremely intrigued by Luke’s self-regulation on how he uses his phone when talking to his parents. Not only to show respect to them, but also to show respect to friends around him. It would be interesting to do further research on self-regulation around media use in social situations.
The most important thing…
The most significant thing that I will take away from this project (besides working on time management which is something I can always improve) is to always start with a discussion on the topic you are investigating. Instead of starting off with a list of twenty questions and firing away, it’s crucial to actively listen to what your interviewee is saying because they might just surprise you. I was surprised with themes that our conversations uncovered and I feel like these were invaluable to my research and telling their stories.
Thank you to everyone who helped in the creation of my digital storytelling project of how people manage their home life and life away from home. Special thanks to my awesome interviewees Charline, Bacon and Luke. Your opinions and perspectives have been so insightful and I genuinely appreciate the time you took out from your busy lives to sit down and talk with me.
Jessica Shaftoe explores the way in which we are always connected through our buzzing and beeping mobile phones. Her video that she created is especially well put together, asking the question ‘are we too accessible?’ This also ties into Bacon’s perspective and value towards living in the moment, and sometimes this may required disconnecting for a while.
Blogging… one word that can encompass enormous diversity. People blog to share thoughts and opinions, others to create and inspire, some blog about social events or political change and policies, whilst others blog about corruption in politics. Whether you blog about coffee or communism, blogging can influence ‘democratization, transparency and autonomy’ (Maynor, 2009). Blogging allows every day citizens to engage in an online community, allowing their voices to be heard. However it is apparent that blogging in different countries crosses various political, cultural and social values and the impacts of freedom of speech and cultural idealism vary significantly.
Blogging in a Western nation
I get up in the morning to the sound of my iPhone chiming away. I put on a cute outfit, not complete without a statement hat, lipstick or pants. I make some brekie, smashed avo on sourdough bread with a wedge of lemon and cracked pepper. My toast is getting cold but I need to instagram it first. I sling my MacBook Air under my arm and head off down the street. I drop by a local cafe and pick up a skinny cap. I instagram my coffee and tag the name of the cafe so I’ll remember to come back. I find a space to sit and whip open my laptop. Pinterest, Facebook, Bloglovin’ and various other tabs open as I search for inspiration. I tap away at my laptop until a post is done and I publish it into the wide world of the blogosphere. In the back of my mind I hear a voice saying “no one will read it,” but I remain hopeful that it’ll go viral.
Welcome to the life of a 21st Century blogger. Or should I say, a Western blogger. These bloggers are generally associated with travel, lifestyle, fashion or beauty (or in my case, a little bit of everything) and are unnafected by political or social intimidation or fear. Bloggers are crucially ‘young, photogenic and well,’ (The Guardian, 2015) and sell a desirable lifestyle. And when success hits, so do sponsors and the commoditization of their ‘lifestyle.’
Being a successful blogger is generally measured by having 100’s of thousands of Instagram/Twitter/Facebook followers, along with making money. Monetization is a significant aspect of modern blogging in Western nations. It’s one thing to have a blog that you treat as a public journal, but it’s another to generate money. There are countless ‘how to make money from your blog,’ pages out there. There’s even blogs dedicated to blogging. However, once your blog turns into a company and your company is sponsered by brands through product placement, advertisements, eBooks and Instagram shout outs… who are you blogging for? Why are you blogging? Would you still blog if you weren’t earning money? Whilst it’s obvious that people rely on blogging as a career, it’s somewhat worrisome that people are willing to commodify, curate and sell their lifestyle (ah hem… Kardashians). This illustrates that in Western nations, bloggers are permitted to write freely with the intent of monetizing their blog and way of life. Thank you, socialism.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – S.G Tallentyre
It’s evident that blogging in Western nations has provided freedom of expression and countless creative opportunities for millions of people, allowing people to shape a career from blogging. However, in many other nations across the world, where freedom of expression is not valued, being a blogger can land you in jail, or even get you killed.
Blogging in Bangladesh: On the Hit List
[Watch the first two minutes of the following video to set the scene]
Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim, ‘secular’ country with a focus on the separation of religion and state and has been ‘a long tradition of freedom of speech’ (BBC, 2015). However in practice, with the death of 9 from 84 athiest bloggers mentioned on a ‘hit list,’ freedom of speech is not looking promising in the near future (Kadam, n.d).
Avajit Roy was an American-Bangladeshi man on this hit list who was portrayed as an athiest blogger. He returned from America to Dhaka with his wife to visit his family. Horrifically, he was brutally murdered in one of the main streets of Dhaka with his wife also being attacked. He had received death threats for a significant amount of time for his writing against Islam (Roy, 2015). Bangladesh is supposed to have freedom of speech, however many Muslims in power believe that ‘criticising and speaking out against Mohammed is wrong, and should be punished by Sharia law.’ (BBC, 2015)
“Nobody is allowed to speak against the Prophet of God” (BBC, 2015).
However, are these bloggers purely being targeted for being athiest? Some believe that this is because they are focusing attention twards the extremist Jamaat-e-Islami group and attempting to hold them accountable for war crimes. The bloggers feel that instead of it being a religious differences, it is the opposition to political power and interest (Bidhan, 2015). Instead, free thinkers are considered dangerous to how the political leaders view Bangladesh.
The hit list that was accidentally leaked to the media, has sparked fear among bloggers. Some have fled the country, fearing for their lives. Others remain, lying low and concealing the online identity. Fear forces silence and silence perpetuates violations and inequality. Therefore, the role of the blogger in a country like Bangladesh is paramount.
Blogging in Ethiopia: Blogger or Terrorist?
Ethiopia is under an ‘authoritarian regime’ (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2013) with atrocious Human Rights violations and abuse of power. Due to dictators governing the country, there has been imense suppression of freedom of expression and a decreased belief that voting in elections will contribute towards change (Nnamdi, 2014). A group of bloggers called Zone 9, blog about social injustice, corruption, education, politics and human rights, attempting to bring it to the attention of Ethiopians and the global news. Generally, blogging about these issues in developed nations (in Australia, like I am right now) is acceptable and even encouraged.
However, in 2014 the Zone 9 Bloggers were arrested for ‘inciting violence through social media to create instability in the country’ (Greenslade, 2014), eventually the 9 bloggers were charged with acts of terrorism (Human Rights Watch, 2015). Ethiopia’s new anti-terrorism laws make it that even “doing an interview with the media or talking to Amnesty International can be considered terrorism” (Nnamdi, 2014), let alone talking to actual terrorist groups.
Freedom of expression = Freedom (Free Zone 9 Bloggers Ethiopia, 2015)
The imprisonment of journalists generally creates a public outcry (like the case of the imprisonment of Australian journalist Peter Greste). Most journalists ‘self censor’ their writing due to magazines and newspapers having strong ties with government officials. Bloggers on the other hand have the ‘freedom’ from government supervision to publish openly and freely. Consequently, bloggers do not have the same protections as journalists and therefore find themselves susceptible to severe consequences the government decide to impose on them. This furthermore highlights the important role that bloggers play in influencing democracy, however this can obviously not be achieved if they are behind bars.
Comedy skits in the UAE aren’t funny
Whilst not strictly along the lines of blogging, comedy videos on youtube still come under freedom of expression and can land people in some countries in jail. In 2013, Shezanne Cassim published a parody video of Dubai youth cultures on Youtube. It was not political nor was it critical of the government. Cassim, grew up in Dubai and was aware of local customs and laws, so imagine his shock when he was ‘charged under vague new Cyber Crimes Laws, accusing him of endangering national security by presenting a fictional image of Dubai’ (Cassim, 2014). These harsh and unjustified actions against Cassim contradict the revolutionary and promising images that Western people have come to associate Dubai with.
In a recent email exchange with Cassim, he stated that whilst he is concerned with freedom of expression in Dubai and the UAE, he is more concerned with the modern legal systerm (or lack thereof). In nations like the UAE, violations of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, article 9 which prohibits member states from engaging in arbitrary arrest, detention and exile, were violated. Cassim was not notified of his charges until he had been detained for 5 months (Bolduan & Forrest, 2014) and spent time in a maximum security prison in Abu Dhabi. He was also not permitted to have legal representation and experienced difficulty being informed of why he was detained, what was happening and how he could do something about it.
Global Voices picked up on Cassim’s story and eventually made mainstream media news headlines. However as the following Young Turks video explains… what would’ve happened if he wasn’t an American citizen?
Global Voices gives a platform and a voice to those who are silenced. It offers contributors the opportunity to publish anonymously and in their mother tongue. Their mission is to ‘find the most compelling and important stories from marginalized and misrepresented communities’ (Global Voices, 2015). It also bridges communities around the world by offering people to translate articles into different languages. By translating Amharic, Bengali or Arabic, this helps reach a wider audience and encourage global engagement on the issue. Global Voices encourages more people to share their stories of concern around the world, to stand up for social and political issues they deal with, create awareness and generate change. It turns global voices into citizen journalists and in turn creates global citizens (Mohamed, 2011).
‘Bloggers have forced the traditional media to increase freedom of expression and to adopt issues that were taboo for the traditional media in the past. Bloggers are setting the agenda and are imposing most of the heated issues that have been raised recently in the newspapers.’ (Mohamed, 2011)
Bloggers and citizen journalists who contribute towards Global Voices, are also contributing towards a more democratic and just world.
Had you ever heard about Global Voices before this? And if by a chance you had, how often do you actively seek out news from this site? Being a global citizen and using our global voices require energy and effort to add value to freedom of speech throughout certain countries.
One thing is for certain, people will continue to write. If human rights violations, abuse of power, unjustified detainment, corruption and extremism continues, so will bloggers. Whilst the monetization of blogging in Western nations is a primary focus, there are still bloggers who do commentate social and political issues within the Western world. The difference is that they have the protection to do so. By highlighting the disparities between reasons, effects and consequences of blogging throughout the world, hopefully this allows you to appreciate people’s voices around the world and value the gift of our voices.
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Shezanne Cassim for corresponding with me and sharing his story. I respect the fact that you speak openly about what you experienced, in the hope that you can generate awareness and change in an injust society.
Maynor, J.W 2009, Blogging for democracy: deliberation, autonomy, and reasonableness in the blogosphere, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 12:3, 443-468, DOI: 10.1080/13698230903127937
Mohamed, AS 2011, ‘On the Road to Democracy: Egyptian Bloggers and the Internet 2010’, Journal Of Arab & Muslim Media Research, 4, 2&3, pp. 253-272, Communication & Mass Media Complete, viewed 28 October 2015
Where am I? Physically, I’m sitting at the library at the University of Wollongong, typing away at my blog. My mind is daydreaming about the end of session spent at the beach. I’m texting my friend in Sydney, reminiscing about our weekend. And I’ve just Facebook messaged a friend in Mexico to see if he’s OK in Hurricaine Patricia. The question stands that if I am physically in one place, however engaging in another through the media… where am I and how is this managed?
I’ll be speaking to 4 different university students about how they manage their home and their new life out of home. The relationship between media, audience and place is complex, especially when it comes to making your parents happy that you keep in touch, mainaining old friendships and making the most of your time whilst living out of home. So, I thought I would begin with myself, and explore the ways in which I manage my home-new home relationship.
I grew up and attended high school in Port Stephens near Newcastle where I still have a large friend and family network. After graduating high school and spending my GAP year abroad. Then in 2014 I moved down to Wollongong to study. I am now living at my second university residence and after three years of living out of home and balancing my home – new home life, I’ve come up with some strategic and productive ways to do so.
I’ve previously discussed wasted time, and I seem to accumulate quite a lot of this. To make the most of this ‘wasted time,’ I will call my parents when I am walking home from work, the gym or the train station. My Dad is always on his mobile, and he will ‘walk me home.’ Even if the walk is just a few minutes this allows me to debrief him on my day and what I got up to, whilst at the same time, I feel safe knowing that he’s ‘walking me home.’ I also find myself having long conversations with my Mum whenever I’m cleaning my room. Whenever I’m at home, Mum will usually sit on my bed and help me fold my clothes while we just chat for hours until my room is clean. So when I find myself cleaning my room, I’ll call Mum, put her on speaker and it’s almost as if she’s sitting on the bed with me (except I’m folding my own clothes).
We can recreate the notion of a ‘double reality’ (Foschini, 2009) where we can ultimately occupy two places simultaneously. I remember being young and saying to my Mum ‘there’s so many things I want to do, I wish there were two of me.’ And whilst there may not be two of me (just yet) by creating a double reality, it allows me to keep connected and occupy two spaces at the same time to increase productivity. This removes physical boundaries like distance and blurs the line between home and my new home.
Whilst I may not have yet managed to fulfil six year old Adelaide’s wish of having two of me, I’ve definitely been able to transcend distance and space through the use of technology and have my parents walk me home.
So you’ve met some pretty awesome people throughout your travels, adventures, nights out and days here there and everywhere… now what? The amazing people that I do meet, I just can’t deal with the fact that I may not see them again. And whilst I realise this is a reality for a lot of the people I do meet, the second best thing is to keep in touch and wish them the best with their life. I like to think I’m pretty good at keeping in touch with people. And I do so because I just want them to know how much I value our friendship. So here are my ways to be the best modern day penpal with your friends around the globe!
Take advantage of social media. There’s no need to explain how revolutionary social media is to our everday lives. But make sure you take advantage of it. At the double tap of a finger you can like someone’s Instagram photos, send a snapchat, or like a Facebook post. Comment on someone’s photo telling them how much you see missing their face around, or just to say you’re thinking of them. While it may seem like nothing, it really does mean the world.
Make a phone call. Again, with the cost of phone calls being so cheap these days, there’s no reason you can’t call your friend (probably wouldn’t recommend for international calls but within your country, there’s no excuse). It doesn’t have to go for hours, but sometimes… just hearing the sound of someone’s voice is so comforting. It’s easier than texting back and forth, you can express your emotions and if you close your eyes, it’s almost like they’re there with you.
(If you can’t call your friend because they do live oversees and those fees are just too high) Record your voice. OK give me a chance to explain. I know it sounds weird but it’s actually the coolest thing to do. My friend who’s always galavanting around Europe and I usually communicate via voice recordings on Whatsapp. The time difference makes it hard to organise a skype sesh (and the quality is always shitty), and she doesn’t post much to social media because she’s so busy…. soooo sending voice recordings back and forth is the best. I usually sit on my bed and pretend as though she’s sitting at the other end. Sure it may look weird to people walking past your room and listening to you talk to yourself, but it’s the best thing to receive.
Snapchat!!! It took me a while to jump on the snapchat wagon, but now that I am, I don’t know how I didn’t live without it? I love sending snaps to my friends that I don’t get to see all the time just to fill them in on what I’ve been up to. And I love I get a snap of them on a night out with friends, or jumping on a plane, of their breakfast or when they’re hungover. It just makes me feel like I’m there with them.
(And if you’re game) Physically write a letter. Do you remember the last time you received a physical handwritten letter or postcard? You become overwhelmed with excitement, joy, intrigue and happiness! Now imagine one of your friends having the exact same reaction because of something you sent! It’s absolutely beautiful! Whilst sending parcels is like murdering your savings account, sending a letter or postcard is super cheap and the reward is absolutely priceless. I still have a whole box filled with letters, notes and postcards from friends and family, and it’s something I’m going to keep forever.
So as much as it sucks that you’re not going to see these amazing people around everyday, by doing the above things, it will definitely keep the friendship alive.
Do you have any tips or tricks to keep in touch with your friends overseas? Let me know in the comments below?