Content, Growth and Inspiration: BCM240 Reflection

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told” – Lena Dunham

The above quote from one of my idols, Lena Dunham, is so deeply motivating in my blogging career, because it gives me purpose and pride that I’m sharing my voice on my small blog, in the big wide world of the blogosphere. Prior to taking BCM240: Media Audience and Place, I had been blogging for approximately 1.5years and have been attempting to steadily grown my readership. Blogging is something I find relaxing, entertaining, challenging and exciting all at the same time and that’s why I’ve been attempting to grow beyond blogging as a Communications student, to, well… a blogger. I feel that whilst this subject required me to be blogging as a student, considering various perspectives and values placed on the complex relationships between media and audience, it also really pushed me to think of life beyond university and how I want to be perceived in the blogosphere. So I really focused on three areas, content, growth and inspiration. Through workshops, class discussions and countless hours trying to get that Twitter widget to work, I feel like I’m at a place with my blog that I’m not only happy with it, but maybe even a little bit proud.

My amazing Grandma and Grandad
My amazing Grandma and Grandad

Content. The most enjoyable part of blogging for BCM240 were the connections I made and strengthened, allowing me to produce some of my most valuable content. For my first several posts, I worked closely with my Grandad, as he told me beautiful stories from his childhood and memories when he was my age. As we explored the difference between collaborative and reciprocal ethnographic research, I attempted to engage in a collaborative approach. Whilst collaborative research requires a lot of time and attention, I feel that Grandad and I definitely worked together to explore various issues regarding the media and audience. I personally feel that senior citizens are generally overlooked in media research and deemed as people who are technologically handicapped. However I feel that there’s people out there like my Grandad who’s smashing this stereotype. Not only is this group of people, well connected technologically, but they’re also very aware and have genuine concerns regarding the role that technology and the media have in our lives. (To read a guest post by my Grandad, click here).

The Bloglovin widget
The Bloglovin widget. Source 

Growth. A way that I’ve found brings a lot of traffic to my site is to read and comment on other people’s blogs. Some of the spikes in views I’ve had were on days that I didn’t even post anything, but spent time commenting on blogs (and always including a URL to my blog at the end). I’ve found that by doing this I’m engaging much more with the blogging community and other like-minded bloggers. Also by doing this with other BCM240 blogs and students, it forms a great sense of community in the subject.

One of the toughest things that I had to overcome with my blog was its layout and design. However, A Beautiful Mess definitely offered some inspiration and thoughtful suggestions regarding layout and design. I absolutely loved the theme I previously had, however its primary focus was on my photographs and not my content or plugins I’ve embedded in my blog (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Bloglovin etc). After some umming and ahhing I decided to bite the bullet and endeavour on a near impossible journey to find the perfect theme. Whilst it’s still not perfect, I’m so much happier with the light colours, the side-bars which encourage interaction and the ease of navigation. I hope this will assist in the growth of my blog by being more interactive and engaging to readers.

Social media is a great way to connect with people all across the world with the click of a button. I’ve read countless articles about blog growth, however Heidi Cohen offers great advice on how to utilise social media for your blog. In June I created a Facebook page for my blog that has been steadily growing. I felt that this was a better way to share A Worldly Addiction, rather than constantly making status’ on my own personal profile. Through analysing my statistics, Facebook is my primary contributor to traffic. I also have an Instagram account for A Worldly Addiction (@aworldlyaddiction) that I’ve really enjoyed growing. At the moment, it’s very small and I’m still learning all the tricks to Instagram but it’s incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. I currently just have my personal Twitter account linked with A Worldly Addiction because I have to purposely and actively remember to use Twitter, so whilst I’m getting in the habit of doing so, I’ll just stick with my personal Twitter account (@missaaadelaide). great platform that I also use to share my blog and discovers others is Bloglovin.

The following link also gave me 101 Ideas on how to generate traffic to your blog.

That time I got to meet Brooke Saward, the genuis behind World of Wanderlust! Inspiration overload
That time I got to meet Brooke Saward, the genuis behind World of Wanderlust! Inspiration overload

Inspiration. Inspiration is all around us, especially in the Blogosphere. There are a few blogs in particular that I’ve been particularly inspired by and look to for guidance and how to’s. Firstly, my favourite, World of Wanderlust. You only need to look here to find how much I absolutely love her blog. And then there’s Secret Bloggers Business, who’s free ebooks are filled with useful blogging tips and tricks. I feel that once I am inspired, I’m more driven and focused. Kaufman also argues that ‘inspiration is the springboard for creativity and can increase wellbeing’ (Kaufman, 2011).

Eat. Sleep. Blog. Repeat. I know I have a long way to go in my blogging career, however it’s something I’m passionate about and absolutely love doing so I’m prepared to put in the hard yards to make that happen. I feel that BCM240 has contributed the greatest amount of practical advice, guidance and encouragement with my blog and also helped my professional networking ability. I have also explored various aspects of the intricately complex relationship between the media and us as the audience. And this is all so relevant to myself as a blogger. I don’t just jump onto WordPress and write a blog in one hit. I have 10 other tabs open, I’ve always got my phone within reach and sometimes even have the TV on. And this situation would resonate with many people reading this. The Centre for Media Literacy says that ‘studying the media helps us understand ourselves and other,’ and I feel this is the epicentre of BCM240 and the key to a successful blog.

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And before I go… Here’s some of my fave BCM240 blogs that I’ve stumbled across this past session.

The Blogger Life, What Happened to the family? by Eloise Neto looks at the role that parents play in influencing their child’s media behaviour, and that to avoid isolation and relationship issues, they must decide on a common ground for technology use.

Madeline Burkitt, by (you guessed it) Madeline Burkitt, is filled with not only media related ideas, but also various others, making it a great place to explore some of the thoughts and perspectives she has. I especially liked her post, The NBN in the home: an opportunity for some, as she highlights that this type of media research is crucial because it is so embedded in our lives, we must understand it!

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References

A Beautiful Mess, 2012, Blog Layout: 10 Simple Tips, A Beautiful Mess, 3 July, http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2012/07/10-blog-layout-tips.html

Cohen, H 2013, 25 Tactics to promote your blog via Facebook and Twitter, Heidi Cohen, 14 April, http://heidicohen.com/25-tactics-to-promote-your-blog-via-facebook-and-twitter/

Ewer, T n.d, 101 Simple Ways to Increase Website Traffic, Graph Paper Press, https://graphpaperpress.com/blog/101-simple-tips-increase-website-traffic/

Kaufman, S 2011, Why Inspiration Matters, Harvard Business Review, 8 November, https://hbr.org/2011/11/why-inspiration-matters

Worsnop, C n.d, 20 Important Reasons to Study the Media, The Centre for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/20-important-reasons-study-media

Wasted Space and Wasted Time?

We all know that money is time and time is money. So it makes sense to make the most of each spare minute we have. As the Swish Media Group says ‘it’s no secret that Australians are becoming increasingly time poor,’ and I completely agree. My calendar is smothered and my phone beeps every half an hour or so (I may have even slept with my phone by my side on the odd occasion). So I love my phone and so do all of my friends. But is multi-screening making us more productive?

People killing time immersed in their phones. Source UltraSlo1, 2011
People killing time immersed in their phones. Source UltraSlo1, 2011

These days you’d think that a mobile phone was supplying oxygen to people’s brains… people just can’t live without them. A few weeks ago, we talked about ‘non-places.’ Non-places are those spaces that are used for no particular reason or as a transition place (Bowles, 2015) like a hallway or an airport corridor. So whilst people are usually forced to use these non-places or even places they’re waiting for something, it’s natural to keep yourself occupied.

Even when we’re in public, we bring a piece of our private lives with us. Google’s New Multi Screen World’s: Understanding Cross Platform Consumer Behaviour Research Study says, ‘that smartphones are the most common starting place for online activities.’ We can see that people are utilising the power of their smartphones when they are out in public, and follow up with some further research on a PC later. After looking at the last tabe I had open on my phone, work intranet, my UOW SOLS page, an image search of Eddie Redmayne and how to find a book in the library… the majority of them correlate with a spontaneous ideas ‘must submit my work hours,’ ‘have I got my assignment marks back yet?’ ‘ah Eddie Redmayne is cute,’ ‘how do I borrow a book from the library?’ By having the ability to act upon all of these thoughts when I’m away from my PC brings me a lot more reassurance and leaves me feeling like I’ve accomplished a lot in a small amount of time.

Snapshot from Google's research
Snapshot from Google’s research

In keeping up with my collaborative ethnography, I sat down with a group of friends and discussed multi screening and the appropriate behaviour regarding mobile usage.  The points that I discussed with my friends reflected some of Google’s findings, like the fact that many of us ‘accomplish goals through spontaneous device uses.’ My friends said that they would often find themselves adding things to their calendars, booking train tickets home – just accomplishing other things that they’d need to do anyway. Instead, they just did it during a lecture, on the bus or even on the toilet.

But as the above video very nicely points out, that perhaps being always switched on, may not always be a good thing. We’ve let our phones into our dinner conversations, meetings, workplaces, classrooms, dates… everywhere. So whilst we seem to have all of this ‘wasted time,’ maybe it’s more important to take some time for ourselves and embrace real moments with others.

References

Bowles, K 2015, ‘Cinemas: Strangers in public’, BCM240, University of Wollongong, delivered 24 August

Google, 2012 ‘The New Multi-Screen World: Understanding Cross Platform Behaviour,’ US, https://ssl.gstatic.com/think/docs/the-new-multi-screen-world-study_research-studies.pdf

Swish Media

Elocution is Dead: Impacts of the Internet

Satellites, ISIS and elocution are not some of the first things I usually think of when I think of the internet. But they sure are to my Grandad. Building on my Grandad’s experiences of television in the home during the 1960’s, naturally the next step is to discuss the weird and wonderful internet to find out what sparks Grandad’s curious minds.

Satellites are a cause for concern. Source
Satellites are a cause for concern. Source

To engage in a more collaborative research practice I started by asking my Grandad what aspect of the internet he was interested in or concerned about, which immediately sparked conversation to flow. I must admit I was quite surprised when he immediately said that he noticed the GPS in his new car receives information from a satellite owned by the US military, which raised multiple questions of security and privacy.

“If they took the satellite away, what would happen?”

This is a very appropriate question, given the changing nature of the internet and technology. As Grandad said ‘people run businesses and rely on the internet in their everyday lives,’ so if anything were to happen to a satellite, a server or network, what would we be left with? I don’t know the question to the future of the GPS and our reliance on technology, but here is a brief history of the GPS and the military’s involvement.

I then asked what concerned him about younger generations use of the internet as he has grandchildren between the age of 10-16. ‘I’ve already noticed that the internet has affected young people’s spelling, reading and speaking properly. Elocution is dead.’ He is extremely worried about the effects of being addicted to the internet and games, again, I’m sure many parents and grandparents resonate with these concerns.

Concerns with teenagers and their devices. Source
Concerns with teenagers and their devices. Source

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom for the internet. Yesterday, my beautiful cousin gave birth to a healthy little boy. She lives in Queensland yet in a matter of minutes, a picture was posted on Facebook and my grandparents were able to look at their beautiful new grandchild. This is one of the reasons that Grandad thinks ‘the internet is a terrific aid for anyone wanting access to information, to keep in touch with loved ones far and wide, and allowing people to run a business from home.’ Further research explains that ‘older citizens able and willing to use the internet to communicate with their families and friends, and to maintain their independence and personhood.’ (Xie, 2003), the main reason my Grandparents are online.

I think the general public is quick to assume that older generations are a bit behind when it comes to technology, and whilst Grandad admits to being a little confused with some technological process, I think they’re a lot more knowledgeable with technology than we’d like to admit.

Next time I’m visiting, I’ll definitely be more observant of when, how and why they use the internet. I believe to engage in more collaborative ethnographic research, I could do a cross-comparison of Grandad’s versus my internet habits and see what similarities and differences we have. Something I would be interested in doing in the future.

So, Grandad would like to leave you with some words of wisdom regarding teenagers using the internet in the home.

“You must use the internet in common rooms so we can keep an eye on you, and if you don’t like it then too bad. We’re only trying to look out for you.”

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The following video explores how social media is affecting the youth of today.

The following video takes a light approach to whether or not the internet is making us smarter or dumber-er.

For more information on collaborative ethnographic research, check out the following posts

BCM Alison – Ethnographic Research and its Value https://ambcm.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/ethnographic-research-and-its-value/

Flog My Blog Was Already Taken – You’re Never Alone With Collaborative Ethnography https://flogmyblogwasalreadytaken.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/youre-never-alone-with-collaborative-ethnography/

References

Xie, B 2003, ‘Older Adults, Computers and the Internet: Future Directions’, Gerontechnology Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4, http://gerontechnology.info/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/gt.2003.02.04.002.00/288

The Importance of An Insider’s Perspective

We keep what we have, by giving it away.” – Eric Lassiter – humanity

So now that we have a general understanding of ethnographic research, why is it so important? What’s the big deal? Personally, I believe many of the world’s problems stem from a lack of genuine understanding or misinterpretation of a situation.  Everyone’s culture, beliefs, outlook, perspecitves, values and way of understanding life are different, so it only makes sense when we try to fix a problem, that we consult directly with the people it affects.

An example of this misunderstanding and lack of effective communication is the Live Aid and Make Poverty History campaigns led by Bono and Bob Geldof. The whole initiative started when Bob Geldof saw confronting images on TV of malnourished children living in poverty on the brink of death in Africa. So their solution was to raise money. Awesome… Or is it?

Left to right: Prime Minsiter of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi,  US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil and Bono.
Left to right: Prime Minsiter of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil and Bono.

Their campaigning created awareness in the public, who then urged politicians to jump on board, to change legislation, and donate more foreign aid, and that money would be given directly to Ethiopia….’s President, Meles Zenawi’s pocket, who stole the election and who’s governmet is corrupt. Whilst this issue is a huge one and I’m not offering a single solution to poverty itself, Bono and Bob probably could’ve made a lot more of a significant impact if they discussed issues of poverty, development, agriculture and livlihood with Ethiopian people.

Collaborative research is research based on a ‘greater and deeper relationship between the researcher and the people being researched’ (Clerke & Hopwood, 2014) and implies ‘constant mutual engagement at every step of the process.’ (Lassiter, 2005). If the work you’re researching is hoping to make changes to a community, it should completely benefit the community and not be influenced by corporation power. Instead of contantly asking what you can gain from this research, you should be asking what the community wants and needs to change. This may direct your research in a different yet more rewarding and impactful way.

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So how can we relate all of this back to TV and the media space? Well thinking of my Grandparents and listening to them talk about when they first received a TV. There’s so many side stories and aspects that we could’ve discussed. What were the rules in front of the TV? Who got to sit on the lounge and who sat on the floor? Where did the children sit? Did they still play and talk whilst the TV was on? How much did it cost? Did you have to sacrifice other things to have a TV? Did you still listen to the radio? So many questions that arise from a simple conversation, and this is probably the biggest deterent from participating in collaborative ethnographic research, it takes a lot of time.

However, if we are willing to sacrifice our time, patience and understanding, like the quote above says ‘we keep what we have, by giving it away,’ what is it? I think it’s our compassion, empathy and understanding, and it’s important to hold onto it in order to make the world a better place and learn more about people from an insider’s perspective.

References

Clerke. T & Hopwood. N 2014, Doing Ethnography in Teams, Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-05618-0_2

Lassiter. E 2005, The Chicago guide to collaborative ethnography, University of Chicago Press

Clash of the Wellness Warriors and Health Professionals

“Wellness is more than just an obsession today. It’s a moral demand … when health becomes an ideology, the failure to conform becomes a stigma.” – Carl Cederstrom and Andre Spicer

We all have that friend that counts calories, keeps a food journal, is always on the hunt for the new super food (hello kale, chia seeds and goji berries), and hashtagging every meal with #cleaneating #doyouevenlift? #datass… And whilst we all roll our eyes at their weird obsession with green smoothies and kale (I’ve tried it, it’s disgusting), there’s this tiny part of us that thinks ‘damn, she’s doing well,’ as we look at ourselves in the mirror and rethink our indulgence in a block of chocolate.

If we follow  food personalities and food bloggers on TV, cook books and instagram… then eating better, makes you a better person. And not only a better person, but better looking from the inside out. Apparently ‘fit is the new sexy’ (Kayla Itsines) and ‘eating veggies, not animals’ (Emily Hunt) is the new way to eat food. Whilst I’m a big believer in promoting a healthy lifestyle, I believe it’s important to be critical of the way that these ‘healthy lifestyles’ are marketed at us and ‘others,’ and question the legitimacy of bold claims made.

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Pete Evans, an Australian chef and TV personality who is a walking advertisement for the Paleo Way. He is a guest chef on My Kitchen Rules and is widely recognised throughout Australia and is reaching international audiences. Evans claims that his Paleo diet can ‘cure cancer and autism’ (Robinson, 2014). He also created a recipe baby formula (Paleo of course), which was high in Vitamin A which can cause serious illness, even death (Dieticians Association of Australia). 

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Pete Evans flaunting his Paleo is the new black shirt. Source

Evans is a chef. Not a dietician, nutritionist or scientist, however the claims he makes appeal to people with little hope left. Neuroscienctist and science writer, Dr Sarah McKay says that ‘”wellness” has been hijacked by pseudoscience’ and suggests that health professionals need to find a better way to connect with the public. (Randles, 2015) Perhaps this is a positive step in the right direction to promote efficient, safe health practices. Mansberg suggests that health professionals should ‘step up and provide better information to the public so Australians can make truly informed choices, before anyone else dies a preventable death using alternative medicines’ (2015).

Kayla Itsines. Source
Kayla Itsines. Source

There are many female ‘Wellness Warriors’ who dominate Instagram and have immense influence over their followers. Kayla Itsines is a Wellness Warrior who has over 3.5million followers on Instagram, promoting health, strength and fitness through her transformational ebooks. She sells the idea that if you work out, eat healthy, and post your progress shots on Instagram, that makes you a good person. And more than a good person, but that you’ll be happy, positive, get more out of life and embrace the full Wellness Warrior lifestyle.

‘The wellness blogger is, crucially, photogenic and young, which is why “wellness” looks so much more desirable than it did a decade ago,’ they tell us to ‘eat like me, look like me.’ (The Guardian, 2015). It’s a desirable lifestyle, but failing to conform to these ideals, can reinforce insecurities people may already have. As one physiotherapist has said, an increasing amount of teenage girls have adopted her programs, which is concerning due to the affects on self confidence, self worth and belonging (Wescombe, 2015). Lauren McGukin (a spokesperson for Dieticians Association Australia) says that the Wellness Warrior can be ‘dangerous and promote an unhealthy lifestyle do to their extreme nature.’

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In the world of the Wellness Revolution, power and influence is everything. Perhaps medical professionals can learn something from the Wellness Warriors because they certainly do have a lot of attention. But maybe the Wellness Warriors should leave the medical advice to the medical professionals (ahem, Pete Evans). I believe that it would be much more beneficial for Wellness Warriors to actually promote, being well. This means being happy in your skin, focusing not only on physical wellness but also emotional wellness. This way, the over arching message from both medical professionals and Wellness Warriors of ‘living a healthy lifestyle’ could be addressed more effectively without excluding anyone because you can’t reach an unrealistic goal.

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References

Carty, S 2015 ‘As health professionals call #fitspo stars ‘dangerous’ and warn ‘people should not trust them’, we ask: Are wellness bloggers doing followers more harm than good?’ Daily Mail Australia, 22 March, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3001594/As-health-professionals-call-fitspo-stars-dangerous-warn-people-not-trust-ask-wellness-bloggers-doing-followers-harm-good.html

Mansberg, G 2015, ‘Dr Ginni Mansberg: The Medical Profession has a problem’, News.com.au, 11 March, http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/dr-ginni-mansberg-the-medical-profession-has-a-problem/story-fneuzlbd-1227258347242

The Guardian, 2015 ‘Green is the new black: the unstoppable rise of the healthy eating guru’ The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/27/new-wellness-bloggers-food-drink-hadley-freeman

Robinson, A 2014 ‘Pete Evans says a Paleo can prevent autism. He’s wrong’, Essential Baby, October 12, http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/wellbeing/mind-and-body/pete-evans-says-a-paleo-diet-can-prevent-autism-hes-wrong-20141012-115356.html

Wescombe, S 2015 ‘ 5 Reasons not to let your teenage daughter do the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide program’, Happy Physio, 25 July, http://happyphysio.com.au/5-reasons-not-to-let-your-teenage-daughter-do-the-kayla-itsines-bikini-body-guide-program/

Where do I belong in the Media Space?

“Getting lost is a good way to find yourself” – Anonymous

Well then I guess I’m happy that I’m a little lost in life and especially the blogosphere. I’m one person, behind one laptop, my blog, with a coffee in hand, with a whole bunch of ideas that I happen to share with my friends and family and anyone (un)lucky enough to stumble across my blog. And after our first BCM240 lecture and asking myself the questions ‘where do I belong in this space called, the media?’ I was left feeling a little lost, confused and contemplating my life. And I’ve been reflecting on this and come to some interesting conclusions on finding yourself and your space in the blogosphere.

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1. Stay true to your voice. Everyone has a unique voice and it’s important to stick to yours. Like I said, there’s milions of blogs out there, but people want to read something fresh, offering them new perspectives and insights to things they wouldn’t normally experience.

2. Stick to your motives. Ask yourself why you’re blogging, what you’re hoping to achieve, who your audience is, what goals do you have and what’s your dream? You can never go wrong it you abide by your values.

3. Network, network, network. I always say that blogging is 50% writing and the other 50% is liking, reading, commenting and exploring other people’s blogs and posts. You need to establish a network in the blogging community… and then this can lead to…

4. Opportunities! I was lucky enough to meet an established travel blogger, World of Wanderlust last month. She’s one of my personal idols, especially when it comes to blogging. From that meeting, she instagrammed photos of us, shared a link to my blog, and I got thousands of views and a few extra followers overnight. It was such an incredible opportunity to meet someone as successful in the blogosphere as Brooke, and it was definitely one of the highlights of my blogging ‘career.’ (You can read about my experience meeting World of Wanderlust here).

5. Eat. Sleep. Blog. Repeat. The key to success (especially in the blogosphere) is persistance and determination.  I love blogging. It’s as simple as that. I’m not expecting to make millions of dollars or get paid to travel the world from it (but if anyone out there is willing to pay me for that I’m available). I’m doing it because it’s something I’m proud of and thouroughly enjoy.

In my happy place
In my happy place

So… where does that lead me in the media space? I’m surrounded by all forms of media in my life, but I’d say the most influential and valued is my blog. And as the quote at the beginning of this post says ‘getting lost is a good way to find yourself.’ And that’s why I’m incredibly excited to be taking BCM240: Media, Audience and Place, to find myself a little more in this crazy space that we call, the media.

xxx A

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

The Ultimate Study Playlist

Let’s face it, studying is less than enjoyabe, slightly boring and a drag. Whilst its necessary to chain yourself to your desk to force yourself to do those readings you should’ve done in week 3 to pass your exams, as lame as it sounds, you want to try and make studying as much of an enjoyable experience as possible. And the most important thing for me is having good but appropriate MUSIC! 

When I study, the type of music I listen to is very particular. I can’t have music which has too much beat because then I can’t stay still. I can’t have super catchy songs because then I want to sing along at the top of my lungs, and trust me, no one wants that. And I can’t have rnb playing because then I get stuck watching all the cool video clips. Instead, I opt for quite relaxing, etheral, chilled and inspiring music to keep me going through all of those study notes.

So here are some of the playlists I have on repeat when studying.

It would appear that Icelandic music is the key to successful study! What can I say, it’s a country that provides the goods!

Happy Studying!

Celebrity Certified Feminism: Visual Essay

This is a visual essay I made for a subject at university. It looks at the misrepresentation of feminism by celebrities in the media and why we need feminism to focus on basic human rights for all women. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Beyoncé and Miley, however I think more responsibility needs to be applied when representing serious social issues like gender inequality. It can’t all be sequins, booty, free the nipple etc because how is that going to help the women in the world where gender inequality affects their everyday life? We need to not only act for ourselves, but also for those who are not given the opportunity or right to.

xxx A

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Pilot Survey: Media Influence on Romance in Everyday Life

My group assignment for BCM210 is about the influence of romance films on our expectations of romance and relationships. We’re focusing on three films, An Affair to Remember, Dirty Dancing and Friends With Benefits from the 50’s, 80’s and 00’s respectively. I recently drew up a brief survey to pilot on a friend to evaluate what worked, what didn’t and what we can perhaps change.

http://www.keepitahundred.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/1334518676880_9162394.png
http://www.keepitahundred.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/1334518676880_9162394.png

I surveyed my friend Chantelle who I assumed would be our prime target audience for our research topic.

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1. What is your age?

18-24   25-30   31-40   41-50   51+

  1. Gender

Male   Female   Other

  1. Relationship Status

Single   In a relationship   In an open relationship   married   divorced   widowed   It’s complicated

  1. Circle the films below that you’ve seen

An Affair To Remember     Dirty Dancing     Friends With Benefits

  1. Have any of the previously mentioned films influenced your ideas on relationships/romance?

Yes/No/ Other- Not really, though Friends With Benefits is one of my favourite movies. Not personally but I can see how ‘friendly’ behaviour is deemed acceptable through this movie

  1. Have any other romance films influenced your ideas on relationships/romance?

Yes/No – they set a lot of high expectations and standards which I think can be realistic but especially being a girl, I think it’s easy to expect too much

  1. Name 3 romance films that you feel has the greatest impact on your personal perceptions of relationships/romance
    1. Couldn’t think of any notable films
  1. On a scale of 0-5 (0 being never and 5 being frequently), how often do you watch romance films?
    1. 4
  1. Do you think the media has an important role in shaping opinions on romance?
    1. 100%, romance films perpetuate the same idea of love and romance. Boy meets girl, boy chases girl, boy performs huge romantic gesture for girl, that’s a lot of pressure to live up to. 
  1. What film would you base your idea of an ideal relationship off of?

An Affair To Remember     Dirty Dancing     Friends With Benefits- the ending when they end up in a relationship

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http://schedule.wttw.com/ulphoto/wttw_1355259677.jpg
http://schedule.wttw.com/ulphoto/wttw_1355259677.jpg

In this case, I think it’s easier to begin with what didn’t work. An issue was Chantelle hadn’t seen all of the movies we had been using in our research, which immediately limited the amount of information we could get and restricted any comparisons we could have potentially made. When asked to state the 3 most influential romantic films she has watched, she couldn’t really think of anything too prominent. Perhaps asking for 3 films is quite a lot, especially with no assistance or guidance from us in the form of suggestions. However suggestions would be quite leading so that’s something we’re going to have to look into further.

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/dvd/lionsgate/DirtyDancing4-lg.jpg
http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/dvd/lionsgate/DirtyDancing4-lg.jpg

Perhaps some research methodologies we could do in the future would be to conduct a focus group where we show parts of the movies we selected and have a discussion about what we’re watching and how the audience feels. I feel this would be a more effective way of getting more detailed and insightful opinions. Whilst we were selecting the three movies we wished to use as case studies, we chose them based off of our our personal views of what was a romance film reflective of it’s time and maybe we need to revisit these and choose films which are more widely known and have been seen by a larger audience, for example, the Notebook, Titanic, Gone With the Wind.

Other than these revisions we should make, the majority of the questions worked well and were interpreted and answered well and without hassle.

This pilot survey has been very insightful in regards to the direction of our research and what steps should be taken next.

*Special thanks to Chantelle for participating and gossiping with me about our favourite films and our ideal man