What do you want to do when you grow up?

This was my personal orientation project in Year 9:

FREELANCE JOURNALIST

Growing up, I have always loved writing essays for school, answering questions from a variety of topics and expressing my thoughts through writing. I was known as the girl who is silently observing everything that is going on in my surroundings. I remember and take notes of intricate details at most cases. One of my hobbies from when I was younger, until now, is reading newspapers and magazines while observing how articles are constructed. I am very meticulous about punctuations, grammar and spelling. I always try to use deeper, more complex words to describe something. The online thesaurus is my obsession. I consult it very often because I want to expand my vocabulary. I apply what I have learned when we are required to write reviews, reflections or reports for any subject in school. Needless to say, English has always been my favourite subject. I must confess that my guilty pleasure is reading Hollywood gossip on the internet. This provides me with ideas on how to express my opinions or tell a story with a lot of humour, wit, sarcasm and creativity. I am also a bookworm and I think that it helps broaden my perspective. I am extremely curious, inquisitive and easily intrigued. All these have led to my fascination with journalism. I also love traveling to all sorts of places, encountering different personalities and engaging in profound conversations. I am considering this job as my profession because writing is my passion. I want to inspire others and make an impact in someone’s life just as countless of men and women did in mine.

PHOTOJOURNALIST

I simply hate staying in one place for a long period of time. I love moving from place to place because I`m very curious. I always want to see what is beyond what I am seeing. It would be incredibly fulfilling to capture moments, places, faces, and just about anything and tell a story. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I like interpreting images and looking beyond the surface. The challenge of writing about a broad variety of topics seems quite interesting to me. Since this job requires a lot of traveling, my dream of seeing the world could turn into reality. I love writing reflections and opinions, thinking about local or global issues, simple or complicated messages from people, places or the environment. I want to receive projects such as capturing photographs of people in different living conditions, seeing the world through their perspective. I had a taste of what it is like to live on the other side of the world at the age of fourteen. I loved every minute of it. Through all the ups and downs, the roller-coaster ride, it was an amazing journey of a lifetime. Learning to adjust or perhaps deciding when to adapt to my surroundings and being more versatile to change are definitely essential. When one is not in their comfort zone, it`s amazing what we could discover. I was pushed to my limits and in which I realized that one could always go beyond what we think we are capable of doing or being. I felt a different sense of fulfillment, the kind that I cannot completely express in words but I am sure I would want to feel again and again. I am addicted to this feeling, this challenge of analyzing, interpreting and experiencing moments, simply ordinary yet extraordinarily surreal. The only acceptable report is telling nothing but the truth.

It was fun looking back at this. Three years later, here I am doing a Journalism degree. And it’s not as easy as my Year 9 self had thought.

Isn’t life funny?

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Strangers on the Plane

“Welcome aboard, princess!”

This middle-aged flight steward with a receding hairline greeted me with such enthusiasm and warmth that I must admit, remembering this moment still makes me smile to this day. I was only ten years old at the time, a chubby-cheeked girl who loves wearing colourful headbands and everything pink but I guess this lovely man made an impression. It was a twenty-hour flight but to the astonishment of my parents, I was never cranky. Every time the steward passed by, he would stop and check on me for I told him it was my first time on a plane. He was bursting with energy much like a busy bee that can talk a lot and laugh like no one else was there, generating buzz wherever he happened to be hovering.

About an hour before our arrival, he kneeled at the aisle to give me a memento – a map that traced our flight from Philippines to Canada. He even suggested that I use it for show and tell so my classmates would get jealous of how far I travelled. I tried to thank him but I knew, even at a young age, I’d never be able to repay his sincere kindness and perhaps, it is best to simply pay it forward. I wish I had known his name but wherever you are kind stranger, I hope with all my heart that your life is filled with happiness and whatever you wish it to be. Although I’ve moved houses a couple of times, I believe the crumpled piece of paper comfortably resides in one of my drawers and it holds more value than any other souvenir.

“Hi, can you pay for my food?”

He had a startled look on his face.

“What I meant to say was if you could use your card to pay for it and then I’ll pay you with cash. My brother and I, we don’t have a credit card.”

“Oh yes, of course.”

He handed it to the flight steward. I can vividly remember the sumptuous gourmet pizza that I ordered because it was just that good. Being a fifteen year old, I had no idea airlines no longer accepts cash when purchasing goods during the flight. That was a good thing though. I realised I did learn a lot from a year of studying overseas without my parents and I had the privilege of meeting Tom, my seatmate on the plane.

The flight to Vancouver gave me time to reflect on the year I spent as a Year 9 student in a Canadian public school. Tom and I had a lively discussion about the Western and Eastern culture, the youth and life in general. Soon I discovered that Tom was in Montreal for a brief business meeting and he has two daughters, one is a veterinarian and the other one is a university student. He and his family hosted exchange students throughout their life and he thought it was brave of me to be so willing to travel to the other side of the world.

“It was nice meeting you. See you, Julia.”

“Same here. See you, Tom.”

Brief encounters with lovely strangers never fail to amuse me. I went to Canadaland two times, one as a visitor and one as a student. Oddly enough, two of the most fascinating, unforgettable experiences happened during the flight.

Have you met a kind stranger on a plane?

Published on http://socialjournalism.com.au/strangers-on-the-plane/

Five Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

Everything is new and exciting. I’m sure everything will be okay. New to university, new friends, new subjects (now called ‘units’), new clubs… simply put, a whole new world.

However, the reality is: I am a first-year.

I am a Freshman. Read: young and definitely naive.

Soon enough reality hits. University is a big, scary place full of strangers that you may or may not like. That’s not news for you though ’cause you probably hated and still hate a lot of people in high school or dislike colleagues at work. The difference is that people are always rushing off to get somewhere or trying to pretend they’re not lost. It has buildings that have secret alleys and shortcuts to the unknown or perhaps you just forgot to get a campus map from one of those orientation tents because you were too busy snatching all the freebies (like me). The gigantic buildings have letters and numbers as names, elevators that will take you to the fifth floor when you’re running late for your first tutorial in the third floor whilst although that was devastating enough, nothing beats a clueless staff member who complains about the super competent elevator only to do nothing but walk out and use the stairs instead. Despite these less than delightful incidents, there are five simple yet without a doubt invaluable lessons that I would not have learned any other way.

1. Bring an umbrella. Always. Never forget. Ever heard of Queensland as the Sunshine State? Yeah, that’s a big fat lie. Of all the three days of my orientation sessions, guess how many days it rained? Yes, you guessed it right. Three. And when I didn’t have to be in uni, Mr Sun suddenly appears and says, “Hello World!”

Note to self: Weather is unpredictable. Weather forecasts are unreliable. And what else? Sh&t happens – so deal with it, princess! Special thanks to my ever prepared, slightly over-protective mother who shouted with much conviction and certainly a command, not a request: JULIA, BRING AN UMBRELLA. I’m glad I did. Don’t you just hate the saying “Mothers know best”?

2.  A jumper is a must-have. Sitting in a lecture room is like visiting Santa Claus in his icy cold home. Or if you want to be shivering whilst listening to someone babble for more than an hour about things that may or may not be vital for your future like I did, then forget I said a thing.

3. Do not rush out of the lecture room. Take all the time you need or else, well it’s also okay to trip. Julia, just buy new comfy non-slippery shoes ASAP to avoid humiliation in the future.

4. Find your people or if you’re lucky, your people may find you so be open-minded. Making friends is daunting at first but it starts with a simple “Hi, I’m Julia” and then it’s either they’ll start talking and never stop or I’ll start talking and realise that they’re not interested in having a conversation with me. Either way, it’s best to try because if I never try then I’ll never know.

5. Public transportation can be a pain in the bum. Contrary to popular belief, there are things beyond our control. We can imagine and create so many amazing things, just look around you, the smallest object in your room is there right now because someone experienced a light bulb moment. But we can’t control when this magnificent invention will stuff up. There I was casually listening to music, dozing off a little and surprise surprise.

This train will be terminated. All passengers must vacate this train.

PANIC. NOW. PANIC. PANIC. PANIC.

The next train to Gold Coast will arrive in approximately two minutes.

OKAY. BREATHE. NOW.

Yes, university is a big, scary place and it might be seen as a test-run for the real world.

There’s a lot to learn and discover but who knows, maybe being young and naive has its perks too.

What has university life taught you?