These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: FEBRUARY 17

Ok, so I get that February’s a weird little month. 28 days, 4 weeks, 672 hours, and damn have they disappeared. My first full month back in Australia and in Wollongong. And it’s been a freakin amazing. Let’s get to it!

Discovery Days

Let’s be honest, I have one of the best jobs on earth! And the best time to work as a student ambassador is definitely the annual Discovery Days. Not only is it a heaps of fun for the kids, but it’s fun overload for us as well. And this year was no exception, pouring rain and sweltering heat… nothing could stop us from having an incredible time. I’m so lucky to work with such an awesome team of inspiring people.

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My Montréal Video

So I FINALLY put together my Montreal video. It took hours of gathering footage, editing and then re editing (because my original upload got muted due to copyright – oops) but it’s finally alive and chillin out there on the internet! I’m so proud of this video. It makes me so freaking happy to watch!

[If you haven’t yet subscribed, click here to subscribe so you don’t miss a thing! I’m nearly at 100 subscribers and I’ll have to do something epically awesome when I reach 100]

Finding a new HOUSE

If anyone knew me during the beginning of the month, they would’ve known how freakin stressed I was looking for a place to live. Khal, Rhys (my two amazing friends) and I were searching for a house to rent in Wollongong and damn is that market competitive. However, this goes to show how far positive thinking can go. I told the universe that I would have a house by Sunday the 5th Feb, and on Friday the 3rd Feb we got a very exciting phone call confirming this!

80s Prom Party

It was one of my beautiful friend’s 21st Birthday party and she decided to have it as an 80’s Prom Theme. OMG. First of all – why can’t I wear puffy pastel dresses around all day every day?! Secondly, damn it was so much fun! It’s always so nice going to a good house party, catching up with people you haven’t seen in forever and meeting new people. The night ended with a swim in the pool, me ripping the petticoat out from under my dress because I could barely breathe, and then crashing in an awesome van for the night. Top night!

Speaking at Orientation Week 

I know I’ve included a few little speech related moments through these posts, but every now and then, you gotta show yourself some love and be proud of what you’ve achieved. I was asked last minute to give a 10 minute presentation of a ‘Uni Survival Guide.’ I had prepared my slides but hadn’t really prepared much else. Yet I was able to get up there, smash out a great speech and speak confidently and calmly. I’m super proud of yet another speech I’ve made at UOW. It was even better when a student approached me afterwards asking me about my degree and uni experience, saying that I inspired her to look into doing exchange. (Awww).

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Tunes

Maître Gims. Yep, this whole French major thing has really got my head because now suddenly everything is in French. Regardless of whether you’re into French music, this song is actually freakin awesome!

Benjamin Clementine. I’ve only just discovered this guy and I’ve been listening on repeat. His music is so unique, the piano is enchanting and his vocal range is huge! Plus this video clip is just so stunning, I had to include it in my faves for this month.

Childish Gambino. So somehow last year I lived under a freakin rock and missed his amazing album that came out! Urgh it’s soooooooo good I’ve had this on repeat all month!

Flicks

Call My Agent. Netflix, you’ve done it again. This is a brilliantly dramatic yet light hearted TV show about agents and their crazy actors that they manage. It’s in French and I’ve been opting to have the French subtitles on to work on my French. It’s soooo worth the subtitles though! C’etait magnifique.

La La Land. Ooooh la la I’m in love. Emma Stone has been my ultimate girl crush since Easy A when I could finally relate to an awesome red head on screen being awkward and somewhat cool (at least, that’s what I thought I was). The soundtrack is amazing, it’s simple, beautiful and just so damn lovely to watch. Though I would recommend letting your friends know that it’s a musical before going. I somehow failed to mention that and they weren’t too happy! haha

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YouTubers 

RayaWasHere. I’ve been following Raya as long as I’ve been following Louis, but it’s not until recently that she’s really won me over. I think it was the video below, that really pulled me in. I feel that she has a very genuine and beautiful way of capturing her friendships and connections with people and I’d love to see more content like the one below! You go girl!

A Worldly Addiction.

I’m going to give myself a little plug here but I feel like this month I’ve really produced some great content. One of my favourite videos I’ve ever made is absolutely killing it and it’s received over 1300 views so far! WHAT?! I’ve been feeling super proud of myself and my drive to put myself out there, live life to the fullest and create beautiful moments, so why not do yourself a favour and chuck us a subscribe. If you go to my channel from here make sure to comment “Shameless Plug” on one of my videos. OK let the blog continue as per usual.

Books

I haven’t technically finished it (I kinda got caught up in Season 3 of How To Get Away With Murder ((OMG))! But it’s so so good! ‘I wouldn’t start from here’ by Andrew Mueller is a reflection on his career and experiences as a war and conflict correspondent. I love in each chapter you’re taken somewhere completely different and never quite sure where he’s going with it. From Kosovo, to  Palestine, London to Lichtenstein, it’s a fascinating take on ‘the 21st Century and where it all went wrong.’

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Quote

The quote below has really helped me through this crazy month. It reassures me that if we want something, if we want to be something, then we must accept the change that inevitably comes with growing, learning and evolving. It reminds me to let go of things that are no longer important and embrace the new, the scary and the exciting.

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Well those 4 weeks just absolutely flew by! March is going to be absolutely hectic. I’m organising another overseas trip (can you guess where?!), uni will hit with it’s full blow, my little sister is turning 21 (HOW?!) and the adventures will continue as always! I hope March treats you well and you treat life even better! xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Travel Depression: It’s Real and It SUCKS


They say the hardest thing about travelling is coming back home…

It’s been exactly 1 month since leaving Montreal – how the hell has that happened? If you speak to Time, please tell him he’s working a bit too quickly lately, because damn has time absolutely escaped me. I guess travelling around the States for 2 weeks helped (if you missed it you can check out my videos from America here). Upon being back in Australia I’ve been equally busy. Seeing friends, family, getting back to work, finding a house, and finally sleeping in my own bed (luxury!), I’ve been busy enough to distract me from the void in my stomach. But now that routine is finally starting to kick in, I’m slowly but surely hitting that inevitable wall of post travel depression.

Post Travel Depression, I argue, is a real and genuine thing that overcomes you a few weeks after returning from overseas. And the worst thing is, that you’re never really prepared for it. No matter if you’re a seasoned traveller or a first timer, I promise that it will still hit you as hard every time. You come back from your holiday (or in my case, exchange) and you’re like a minor celebrity. You walk around, see everyone you know, everyone’s asking about your trip, your pictures, if you met any cute boys… and you’re ecstatic.

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Did That Really Happen?

But then a week passes by, you start working again, then another week passes by, and you’re hanging out at your old bar, then a few more days pass by and it’s honestly like you’ve never left. Everything you’ve experienced, just feels like a dream. But how could it be a dream? It was one of the best experiences of your life! And slowly but surely, you slip right back into your old life, and you start sinking.

Change

I think the worst part is when you feel that you’ve changed, grown and had your mind and eyes well and truly blown. You’ve basically created a new version of you whilst on your travels, but the people you know and love back home, can’t see it. Sure they may notice little things, that you’ve put on some weight from all those baguettes, or picked up a weird accent, but at the end of the day, they’ll never truly understand. And that contributes towards the ‘dreamlike’ feeling of your experience, it kind of leaves you questioning if it really happened, and you feel yourself loosing a part of person you created overseas. And that feeling…. it’s incredibly horrible.

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Missing Out

It’s even worse when some sort of major event or occasion happens where you were living or travelling, and you get an overwhelming feeling of missing out. For example, not long after I left Montreal, there was a festival called IglooFest. And if the name itself isn’t enough to sell you, all of my friends went. OK, so that wasn’t the end of the world, missing an awesome festival. But what really hit me in the feels, was when it was my best friends 22nd birthday. You see snapchats, Instagrams, Facebook posts and you just know, deep in your heart, that everyone is having an amazing time, and that you’re really missing out on something special.

And I guess that’s something that we just have to come to accept and deal with. You can’t be everywhere at the same time (unless we make MAJOR advancements in technology asap). And we can’t always do everything we want to do. Reality strikes, your visas up, your exchange is over, your return flight is booked and you’ve got things to do. This doesn’t mean you have to be boring, but it does mean that physical barriers exist and at the end of the day, if you can’t be there in person, I’m sure you’re there in spirit (drinking all the spirits at the party whilst killing it at beer pong).

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Expression and Communication

The best way to deal with these feelings, is to get it out there. Society almost expects people who return from travel, to always be happy and rejuvenated. But by talking about how you’re feeling, and spreading the word of the honestly shit feelings you experience when returning, then you’ll get a lot more support, love and kindness.

And keep in contact with your friends you’ve met overseas. Give them a random FaceTime, send them a card, Snapchat them your day, write them a message and tell them that you’re having a rough time and that you miss them. I assure you that your friends will be missing you too. The most important thing to remember is that the friends you meet whilst on exchange or travelling aren’t just going to disappear. In fact, I think you’ll cross paths sooner than you expect.

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Your Next Adventure

Whilst everyone will experience this post travel depression differently and adjust at different rates and in different ways, I promise you, you’ll get through it. Soon enough you’ll be planning your next trip and starting your next adventure. The most important thing to remember is that travel and adventure is not just an action, it’s a mindset. So keep positive, live with purpose and accept and respect your feelings. You’ve gotta look after yourself, so that you can adjust to life back home, whilst planning your next adventure so you can do it all again.

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Arriving in MONTRÉAL: First Impressions

The time has arrived! I’ve finally made it to Montréal! It’s so surreal being here! After months and months and months of planning, emailing, organising, getting excited and nervous…. I’m here! Inspired by one of my blogger friends, Assia from Journal by Assia, I thought I would share my first impressions on this incredible place!

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The Architecture

The first thing that really struck me was the incredibly unique architecture! It’s a fusion of classic American red brick buildings, with cute French stair cases, balconies, pot plants and terraces. I really haven’t seen anything like it before and it’s quite amazing just wondering around and being constantly surprised.

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The French-ness & THAT accent

A lot of people told me that it will be useful knowing French in Montréal but no one ever said just how useful it would be! Literally everything is in French! Especially the area I’m living in – near the Mont-Royal metro – called The Plateau – it’s super French! It’s great because it means I get to practice my French on a daily basis!

I was also ‘warned’ about the Quebecois accent. But again – no one warned me enough! The first time I heard it I just assumed they were speaking a completely different language and were from out of town. Then I understood a word or two – then a phrase… and then it clicked that ‘oh my god… that’s French!’ It’s quite difficult to understand because they speak really fast and the accent is quite thick but I’m getting by!

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EVERYTHING is in French

It’s a good place to be creative

Even the streets of Montréal ooze creativity and artistry! There’s murals everywhere and they’re absolutely spectacular! On my first day here I went to a cafe to get some much needed coffee and read a book. In the cafe there were people filming a video clip for a song they were about to release! I said that I could leave so I wouldn’t disturb them, but they insisted I stay. It was pretty cool just chilling in this hipster cafe with such cool art everywhere, watching the making of a video clip! Definitely feeling the inspiration!

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Just a causal mural off of the main street

My apartment is simply gorgeous

It’s all well and good to see pictures of where you’re going to be living and thinking it looks nice. But it’s such an amazing feeling when you arrive to find it is even more beautiful than in the pictures! My room is ENORMOUS! I don’t even know what to do with all of the space! It’s got beautiful wooden floor boards, the wifi is fast, the shower is hot, and it’s in the perfect location! Literally 2 minutes to the metro and there’s coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques on each corner.

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My room slowly coming together with some photos, pillows and plants

Greenery is a must

Right outside of my metro is this cute plant store (picture below). And wondering around, the streets are lined with gorgeous trees, there’s pot plants and flowers on balconies they’re just absolutely adorable. Naturally, I had to get my hands on some!

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Flowers, pots, herbs and succulents galore!

So for just $3 each, I managed to get a cactus, a succulent and a purple thing (I forgot the name). They just make my room feel like home. Along with my cute candle, I also bought some incense too which is so soothing and relaxing! Positive vibes all around!

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So it’s only been 2.5 days here but I think I’m in love already! My housemate arrives on Monday (tomorrow) and I’m excited to meet him! It’s been good having these first few days to figure things out for myself. To speak franglais, to find cafes, supermarkets and my way around.

It’s scary and exciting at the same time! This place is going to be home for the next few months and I’m just so relieved I’m living in a nice place in an awesome part of the city! These are just my first impressions and I’m sure as time goes by, and I meet more people and get started at uni, my thoughts will continue to change and evolve!

 

Home & Away: Home Is Where You Make It

‘Home is where you make it, if you don’t expose yourself to your new environment, what’s the point.’

Meet my friend Bacon. I met him this year when he put his hand up to play netball for our college team. I was then lucky enough to attend a leadership conference at university where we were in the same team. Since then, I’ve come to know Bacon as an extremely positive, outgoing and happy member of our college community and a lovely friend. Bacon is from Malaysia and currently studying Commerce with a double major in accounting and finance. Having only been in Australia for four months, Bacon offered some very unique perspectives on the management of home in Malaysia and here in Australia.

My friend Bacon
My friend Bacon
Family in Malaysia 

Bacon’s parents and two older sisters still live in Malaysia. I automatically assumed he would spend a lot of time on Skype, and was extremely surprised to discover that he usually makes phone calls to his family back home. “I get 300 minutes of free international calls, it’s a lot easier and cheaper for me to just call them.” Then when discussing Skype and the wonders of new technology, he said that he rarely used Skype. I was pretty surprised because when I spent a year abroad, I generally Skyped my parents once a week. But then he proceeded to explain the frustration associated with dodgy internet connections and I remembered back to all of those frustrated hours spent loading and reloading Skype due to horrible connection. He concluded saying that Skype leaves him wishing he was at home with his family or wishing that his family were here with him, so he’d rather stick with his fortnightly phone calls.

Bacon knows that his parents and family is only a phone call away which is a reassuring feeling when separated by distance. It’s common for international students to have a ‘telepresence’ with their network back in their home country (Martin & Rizvi, 2014), which is the sensation of being somewhere else through technology. Bacon’s new ‘complex social networks exemplify the blurred lines between ‘here’ and ‘there’ (Martin, &Rizvi) and allow him to balance these networks despite distance.

Friends in Australia 

Bacon is extremely independent, so it makes sense as to why he has already created a new home here in Wollongong. Bacon says he has two sorts of ‘groups’ here in Australia; one is of International Students, and a group of other Asian students. He likes being apart of both groups because it’s nice to connect with other people who share similar cultural traits, however he enjoys making the most of his new Australian friends. Living at college makes it easier for him to embrace the opportunity to live and study in Australia and create a home here. He’s also taken on the challenge of adopting some Australian slang like arvo and dodgy (which he used effortlessly in our conversation). ‘I’ve noticed that a lot of Asian international students tend to stick together. I love hanging out with them, but at the end of the day I came to Australia to immerse myself in this environment. I want to make the most of this opportunity.’ 

Bacon represents people who keep in contact with their friends and family back home, however don’t let it interfere with their newly created home. He lives in the moment and makes the most of opportunities, whilst balancing different friend groups here in Australia, all with a smile.

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Thankyou Bacon for your time, energy and insight into communication in Australia and back home for International Students. Your opinions and perspectives are incredibly valued. 

Further Information

“If you spend your time absorbed in your phone, you’re missing out on living in the moment”

The following video is an information clip for outgoing exchange students heading to Denmark on exchange. It covers very interesting points about keeping in touch and making the most of your time abroad.

References

Martin, F, & Rizvi, F 2014, ‘Making Melbourne: digital connectivity and international students’ experience of locality’, Media, Culture & Society, 36, 7, pp. 1016-1031, viewed 31 October 2015, http://japanfocus.org/-Audrey-Yue/4268/article.html

Have the attitude of an Exchange Student

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some incredible exchange students throughout my time of living at university college. People from all over the world who have embarked on an epic adventure to study for six months or a year are lucky enough to spend their time in beautiful Wollongong. And whilst they’re from all over the world, from many different cultures, they all have one thing in common… an incredibly positive, spontaneous and adventurous outlook on life. And whilst I’m so grateful for the friendships I’ve made, I’ll always be grateful for showing me how to truly make the most of every opportunity. And here are some of the most admirable thing about Exchange Students.

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They’re spontaneous. If you ask an exchange student what the did on the weekend, don’t expect your stock standard ‘aw, not much,’ because chances are, they actually did something awesome. ‘I went to Melbourne… road tripped up the coast… went camping in the Blue Mountains… went skydiving…’ Exchange students are always doing the unexpected, saying yes and have their bags pakced just in time to get on the next train to, well, anywhere. Their answers will leave you reconsidering your saturday night Sex & the City marathon.

They’re productive and balanced. When they’re not jetsetting around the country, they’re busy doing everything else the physically have time for. Playing sports (and trying new ones), being involved with clubs, going out every second Wednesday night, going hiking, surfing, swimming, exploring… And then on top of that, they get all of their assignments done. It must be the all rounded balance that they have in their lives which keeps them motivated and lifted, and this is one of the biggest traits that I’m trying to adopt myself.

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They’re positive and optimistic. Maybe it’s because they’re free to reinvent themselves in a new country, but most exchange students tend not to dwell on the little problems that life throws at you. Instead, they’ll look at the bigger picture and think ‘hey, it’s not so bad, look at where I am, in a beautiful country with so many opportunities and I’m stressing out about a little essay.’ It’s such an beautiful outlook to have on life because it’s so easy to worry and worry and worry even more about all the little things. But instead, we should just take one big step back, take a deep breath and try to look on the bright side.

They’re ridiculously friendly. You say hello and introduce yourself and next minute, you’re talking about travelling and your favourite country/city/food. They’re all open minded because they’ve travelled across the world to study and here to make friends.

(One of the bonuses) You’ll have a lounge to crash on in the future. Think of all the people you know from all of those countries around the world and all of the lounges that are just waiting to be slept on. Plus you’ll have a local tourguide to show your around. It’s a win-win situation.

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They’re focused and driven. They’ve obviously got their shit together. They’ve organized a semester or two to study at another university (and as someone currently going through this process, it’s time consuming and difficult), plus accommodation, living expenses and travel plans to organise, as well as doing something which will positively contribute towards their degree and future… they’ve definitely got a bigger plan. It’s incredibly motivating because it’s something I also want to achieve and lucky for me, I have awesome people to show me how it’s done.

But the WORST thing about Exchange Students… Despite all these amazing qualities about all these incredible people, why do they love you then leave you?! You create an awesome friendship and even more awesome memories… and then they leave! So to all the wonderful exchange students out there, past present and future, if you could just fix one tiny little flaw for me, that’d be great… please don’t leave!

*Dedicated to all my incredible exchange friends here and across the world. Can’t wait to crash on your lounge some time soon.

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xxx A