2018 Plans & Dreams: PhD and a New Country?

2017 is wrapping up. How do I know that? Christmas carols are sneaking their way into our shopping centres and it’s not even December! Which means that 2018 will come around faster than I’m ready for it. So whilst I’ve found a moment to catch my breath after graduating (you can read about it here), I’ve turned my hungry eyes to 2018. What’s on the cards hey? Well you’re in for a treat and I’m excited as hell because I’ve got some real exciting and scary plans, plus some options and decisions I have to make. 2018… damn it makes me feel old….

My Little Brother is Turning 18!!!

Speaking of feeling old, nothing will make you feel that way like knowing your little, baby, innocent brother is turning 18. Oh. My. God. Honestly – I cannot freakin wait! So Isaac, start preparing your liver. Haha just kidding Mum!

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PhD?

Ok not quite, but what I am doing is the quickest way to a PhD which is pretty cool. Next year (hopefully) I’ll be doing my Honours/Thesis/Dissertation/Whateverthehellyouwannacallit. Basically I’ll be writing 18000 words on a topic I’ve researched all year. At the moment, and this is subject to change, but I’m planning on exploring gender inequality amongst migrant women working in the United States. Skilled and unskilled workers who may or may not be documented and therefore impact their quality of life, jobs, education and services they can access. #nerdalert But seriously this is an area I’m super interested in, particularly after travelling to Central America in July (you can read about that here). A PhD isn’t entirely out of the question later on (what am I thinking?!), so this isn’t entirely clickbait. Maybe that’s a 2020 goal?

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Study study study

Moving

Woo another year another move! Fresh place means fresh start. Ideally somewhere near the beach where I plan to spend the rest of my 2018!

Learn Spanish

Just in case I won’t be studying enough, learning Spanish is on the cards! After travelling Central America I realised the importance of knowing the local language. I already speak French so hopefully (fingers crossed) it will be easyish. Learning languages are so underrated and one of the most valuable skills you can learn. We in the West have this naive belief that everyone speaks English. Well they don’t and we suck for only knowing one language. So, challenge accepted amigos!

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New Country….

I think I’ll go crazy with all of this study, work and serious business without a trip booked to motivate me through it. But where to go?! I’m open to suggestions so let me know in the comments where you’d recommend! I’ll probably only have the funds and time to be able to go away for 7-10 days. I’m thinking New Caledonia, Bali, Tahiti, Fiji vibes? Basically coconut trees and beaches.

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Maybe I’ll just live here instead? Source

 

This list is obviously not exhaustive but there’s just some really exciting things I’ve got planned for 2018. Of course I’ll be writing my ‘2018 Things I Want To Achieve This Year’ but sometimes it’s just nice to put your goals, plans and dreams out into the Universe. Or in this case the blogosphere for the blog fairy godmother to make come true.

I Don’t Know What I Want To Do After University: And I’m OK With That

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.

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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 travelVolunteering 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.

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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!]

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

Smash Those Study Blues

This week is the beginning of Autumn session exams here at the University of Wollongong. Whether you have 1 or 5 exams, they’re never fun and never easy. Whilst I’m one of those lucky one’s who only have 1 exam, I still find myself stressing out, freaking out and passing out each night after hours of excrutiating study. But too much of these bad vibes can bring you down emotionally, mentally, physically and just all round suck. So here are my little tips and tricks to surviving exams and studying, to ensure you make the most of your valuable time and come out on top!

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Have a designated study space. I personally opt for going to the library because it’s quiet and there’s minimal distractions. Many times I’ve tried to study either in my room or out in the lounge room and I find that I’m continuously distracted by people and just try to do anything else but study. Having a specific place to get work done will help keep you motivated, productive and focused.

Eat a balanced diet. Whilst it’s easy to pick up a packet of M&M’s (I’m currently sharing a packet with my friend), don’t forget to include lot’s of fruits and vegetables. Eating nutricious food will provide you with the vitamins and minerals that are needed for your brain to funciton.

Oranges are my favourite study food
Oranges are my favourite study food

Get some fresh air. Sitting down at a computer for hours on end is not good for you. Every few hours, be sure to stretch your legs, go outside, get some sunshine and just do some movement. Excercise is also important throughout exams, even if it’s just going for a walk around the block or a quick bike ride, about half an hour of cardio is enough time to get the blood pumping and distract yourself from any concerns in life you may have.

On that note, positive procrastination is key! No one really expects you to spend 12 hours a day every day just studying. BORING!!! However, instead of watching seasons of How I Met Your Mother in one sitting, is probably not going to help keep your brain and heart active throughout a stressful period. So I like to engage in some positive procrastination, which is exactly what I’m doing now. I think about what else is important in my life after study, blogging, keeping fit, travel plans, seeing my friends… and I try to make time to fit them in to my schedule. Balance is the key to success. 

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Keep motivated. I know it’s difficult, but try and hold on to it, because motivation is what will kick you over the finish line. Keep your end goal in sight, seek inspiration and when in doubt refer to the Ryan Gosling image above.

The night before an exam. Get a good nights sleep! This is something I still haven’t mastered but it’s really important to ensure you wake up energised and motivated. If you’ve got an early exam, make sure you set an alarm (or two or three). Get prepared! Pull out everything you need for your exam, pens, pencils, erasers, student card, clear water bottle, clear pencil case and anything else you may need and put it in a neat pile in the middle of your room so you won’t forget anything. If like me, you have a case of ‘I have nothing to wear,’ then pre select clothes that you’ll feel comfortable in the night before. It just means that in the morning, you’ll have one less thing to worry about. Have a healthy and hearty dinner and have a re read over your notes so they can circulate around your mind whilst you sleep.

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The day of your exam. Woo hoo! Exam day is here and you’re ready to smash it! Make sure you have breakfast! You need nutrients to keep your brain working! Have your coffee, have your orange juice, have whatever you normally have. Afterall, it’s just another day! Play some music that will get you pumped and feeling like you can and will do well! Get rid of all those negative thoughts and just breathe. Make sure you know where your exam is and you get there early to avoid unseen interruptions to your day. Once seated, just concentrate on what you need to do and do it.

After your exam. Make sure you take time to congratulate yourself. You’ve made it through another exam period! A common way to do this is at the uni bar.

Good luck to everyone with their exams! Do the best you can and remember to maintain some balance! OK, so I think this is enough procrastination from me for one day! Back to the books.

xxx A

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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!

Parlez-vous français?

French. The language of love. Featuring in T.V shows like Madeline since we were little, kick starting my obsession with everything French. And I know what you’re thinking ‘oh you’re just like every other girl who loves the idea of France and Paris…’ well… I’m different (of course). After visiting Paris 3 times last year, it’s only enhanced my love affair with the City of Lights more. I’m currently studying French at university and one day, want to speak it fluently! So, this is a way for me to a. share with you some reasons that I love the French language and all things French, b. to write some more in my blog, and c. a major form of procrastination (my french exam is next week). So this is what I LOVE about the french language!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvyMG0z0FZY The Music – Carla Bruni is definitely my pick when it comes to French music. Sweet melodies and meaningful lyrics (once you decipher them), I always have her music playing in the background and find myself humming along! If your music style is a bit more upbeat… try Stromae (to party and dance to), or Yelle (the French equivalent to Katy Perry). Listening to French music helps familiarise yourself with certain vocabulary and you sound pretty cool if you can sing a song in another language!

A Jazz band I saw at a Brasserie. The guy playing the trumpet kept taking swigs of something from his flask. Very entertaining!
A Jazz band I saw at a Brasserie. The guy playing the trumpet kept taking swigs of something from his flask. Very entertaining!

The Films – French films are renowned for their romance and quirkiness. Amelie is one of the most well known French films, highlighting the beauty of Paris and French cinema’s unique traits. Les Intouchables is a lovely feel good movie with drama and comedy, Un Secret is about the Nazi Occupation of France and Amour,  a beautiful love story where you’ll use a whole box of tissues.  These French films are some of my favourite and I’d highly recommend them. Watching French films helps you become familiar with the phrases, speed and intonations, all of which you can’t really learn in a classroom. The Drinks – Whilst one would assume that France (Paris) has good coffee, you are seriously mistaken! Instead, don’t miss out on happy hour cocktails! Usually 5 euros and they’re delicious! The more cocktails you drink, the more confident you get in your French speaking skills, an opportunity not to be missed!

Lovely cocktail in my favourite brasserie, Le Chat Noir, Montmartre
Lovely cocktail in my favourite brasserie, Le Chat Noir, Montmartre

The Food – If you order food/drinks in French, you’re waiter will be a million times nicer to you than someone who points at what they want. And if your waiter is nice to you, then the whole experience just becomes delightful! Also, don’t forget to tip! When You’re Lost – The amount of times a bit of basic French helped me get out of sticky situations, losing my way around Montmartre, can’t find the exit in the Metro, and asking how to get to x, has saved me a lot of confusing time! Make sure you scrub up on your directions before going! Les garçons! – And of course don’t forget about the most important reason why you’ll need your French skills up to scratch, the number of cute French guys you’ll see around.

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Some Common Phrases You Might Need

Hello = Bonjour

Goodbye = Au Revoir

I would like = Je voudrais… (you can then point or pronounce what you’d like to order)

Please = S’il vous plaît

Thankyou (very much) = Merci (beaucoup)

The bill please = L’addition s’il vous plaît

I’m lost = Je suis perdu

You’re cute (for the french boys) = Tu es mignon!

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? (just kidding)

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So if those spectacular reasons don’t motivate you to start learning French I don’t know what will?!

Bisous x

A

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My favourite Eiffel Tower picture to date. Taken from the Sacre Coeur, Montmartre