My Year in Canberra

Hello, hello, and welcome to the newest addition to my website, and the one that logically should have come first, my personal blog!

This first post will be about me moving to and leaving Australia’s capital city of Canberra for a year.

After 10 months of travelling (see my Travel Blog!) it was September 2013 and I had run out of money. After assuring my parents that “I wouldn’t run out of money and then ask them to buy me a plane ticket back home”, I ran out of money and they brought me a plane ticket back home. Over the course of my travels I had grown accustomed to the life of a nomad, but realised that at some point I would have to support myself. Living in the country of opportunities, I realised that supporting myself somehow wouldn’t be the issue, but rather supporting myself through a job I actually enjoyed would be. Because as I have learnt, you just can’t really escape the monetary system at all anymore, so deeply is it entrenched in every aspect of modern society. The trick is to actually enjoy living in the system as best as you can, which means taking advantage of the opportunities available to you. I am fortunate enough to have the luxury of actually choosing pretty much any avenue that I would like to pursue, and after lengthy deliberation (and mainly a lust to try something new) it was at this time in my life that I decided to start studying.

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The City of Canberra

I remember a moment in my travels when I was living in Bologna, Italy and I was just walking around the city one day. In that city, as well as most others in Italy, there are a certain amount of illegal immigrants from Morocco or North Africa that have arrived to escape whatever unfortunate situation they were in, to arrive in a slightly more fortunate one. They would walk the streets selling little bracelets for whatever change you had, and other small things like lighters and pens. I got into a conversation with one of these guys once, and he told me about his situation. He asked what I wanted for the future and I told him that I was thinking of studying and he suddenly looked me in the eye and said with upmost sincerity “Yes… If you have the opportunity then you must take it!” Not to sound cliche but when he told me this I really saw a mixture of sadness and hope in him and realised the simple fact that this man would never have that same opportunity. When he told me to study he wasn’t simply a person giving life advice, he was a man who saw an opportunity for me that he never had and urged me to take it.

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A nice photo of Bologna

After examining my options I saw that my high school ATAR score of 48 left me with the options of doing approximately shit all (minus going to some terrible university in the middle of the desert), so my only option (being of mature age) was to sit a 3 hour test which bypassed my HSC results called the Special Tertiary Admissions Test. This was basically a general comprehension/knowledge processing style test which I ended up scoring in the top 2% of Australia for the written English component. This opened up my options a lot more, but I was still only left with courses and universities that accepted this STAT pathway option. I looked around at things that I was interested in like digital media and film but there weren’t many options there so I decided to go for a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University, in which I was given an early offer. The BA was the only course ANU offered through this pathway, and I thought that a bachelor of arts would be nice and broad, allowing me to gain some knowledge about what I might be interested in and what I could specialise in. Another main motivating factor was that I got to live in a new place and live on-campus in a dormitory style environment which would allow me to meet heaps of new people and party a lot. I am not ashamed to admit that partying was, and still is, a major factor in the selection process!
So before I knew it I had packed my stuff and I was on the 3.5 hour bus ride to Canberra.

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The Australian National University

Over my two semesters of university there I lived in two different residential colleges, had four jobs and met a slew of interesting people. In the first semester I studied Sociology, Film Production, Photography (see Photography!) and Film Studies. My second semester was the same except I studied a course called ‘creating knowledge’ instead of Film Studies. The first place I lived was called Fenner Hall which was a residential college about 5 minutes drive from the university. It was a nice community with some friendly and interesting people, but I found that it didn’t have enough fun things going on and many of the people were really reserved and quiet, plus getting to uni every day and making my own food was a bit of a hassle. In my second semester I decided to move to John’s college, which was basically a catered college full of north-shore private school people, which was good because food was made for you and there was a solid amount of partying, but I found some of the people to be a little shallow and close-minded.

Partying with some people from Fenner Hall

Partying with some people from Fenner Hall

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Going skydiving with some friends from ANU

I first worked at QT hotel as a bartender, which was a 4.5 star hotel. To be honest I didn’t really like the job as everyone was so picky and annoying about everything just because they had money to burn and by the end of my time there I just stopped giving a shit. I eventually got fired because I walked into the kitchen and started eating a desert which a chef made. In all fairness though, it was in the area where they usually leave staff food… My next job was to be at Dendy Cinema which I quite enjoyed and there were some cool people there. At the same time I was also making some extra money at a bouncy castle installer and a wedding and events DJ. The bouncy castle job was just kind of boring, and being a DJ was not as cool as it sounded! Mainly because I had no choice over what I played, which was basically just lame 80s and 90s music such as the Greece Lightning megamix. Having been a bartender in the past, drunk people aren’t a problem for me but at weddings people seem to go out of their way to get absolutely fucked and just vomit all over your equipment.

Some people from Dendy Cinema

Some people from my job at Dendy Cinema

As far as my studies went, I really enjoyed Sociology and applying the theories I learnt to the world around me. I found a bit of truth in most theories such as the macro-sociologists examining the impact of capitalism and industrialisation in terms of alienation and disenchantment, and the micro-sociologists who examined the impact of our personal interactions. Photography was probably the one I enjoyed the most but I found a lot of my course was just a bit vague and it’s mainly just skills you can learn yourself with a camera and a lot of time. Also it was film photography so that doesn’t really apply to the real world as much as digital skills do. Film production was interesting too and something that I want to continue to study, but the teacher wasn’t very good and it was the most vague and unstructured course ever.

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Some friends from John’s College

As far as Canberra goes itself, I found it a little boring. The whole layout was designed by one guy which is a good idea because its all efficient and nicely done, but the problem is there are just no people! Canberra has 360,000 people in its busier period which means when you walk down the street there is a lack of vibrance and urban density. Which is a nice change from somewhere busy like Sydney, but it does get old when you live there. The city centre is also quite small and there is just a general lack of culture and fun, and it can be somewhat isolating there. Canberra is basically made up of three types of people: Bogans (many of the locals), public servants and students (many like me, coming from elsewhere). So if you go out on student nights, you are bound to meet lots of other students who live close by which would be nice if there was actually some kind of a nightlife in Canberra, not just a few packed clubs full of weird old public servants in suits and grumpy bogans. Living on campus is good but again it all just depends on the kinds of people that you live with.

Looking like a gimp rock climbing in a bicycle helmet

Looking like a gimp rock climbing in a bicycle helmet

So over my year in Canberra I finished two semesters of university getting credits and distinctions, made a bunch of new friends, had 4 pretty different jobs and most importantly got a year worth of university points. But as you can probably guess, Canberra was not the place for me, and after finishing my first year I decided not to stay there. So what am I going to do now? I have been accepted to study a Bachelor of Digital Media at the University of Wollongong! So on February 23rd I head down to Wollongong where I will be living on campus next to the beach to start my new degree.

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At my sisters graduation. Perhaps a preview of things to come?

So stay tuned!

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