Help a stubborn student travel to SA?

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Earlier this month I was invited to attend an International Relations and Diplomacy Delegation in South Africa as part of the Scholar Laureate program. The delegation takes place in May 2016, and participants fund their own way there.

Unfortunately my current financial situation makes this impossible for me to do unassisted at the present time.

Through stubbornness and sheer determination I’ve not given up on this dream just yet…

I’ve started a crowdfunding page through OzCrowd to help raise funds for my deposit ($549 USD/$775 AUD). I plan for the rest of my tuition for this will come from future employment, loans or additional crowdfunding once I get approval.

If you would like information on how to help by donating, please click here.

If you would like information on the delegation I’ve been invited to be part of, please click here.

Donations close on March 1st, 2016. If the target of $900 AUD is not met, the money will be returned to those who donated. Thank you in advance to anyone who has chosen to help me.

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22 things I plan to do at 22

 

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I turned 22 on Sunday, so I came up with some goals to accomplish before 23 rears its ugly head…

 

  1. Learn Spanish – Last year while studying in Japan I decided that I wasn’t content just speaking English and Japanese, and decided that Spanish would be a good language to start off with.
  2. Learn how to roll my r’s – Because currently I sound like a dying cat while trying to do so.
  3. Lose weight – It’s a goal that’s been on my list for an embarrassingly long amount of time without any action being taken. Last month my mum and I joined the Impromy weight loss program and so far I’ve lost 4.6kgs.
  4. Get fit – Anyone who knows me will tell you that exercise has always been the bane of my existence. I’ve been avoiding it for long enough – I’ll be joining the gym that my dad goes to and aim to accompany him three times a week.
  5. Get a job and work so hard I’m an indispensable team member
  6. Start regularly contributing to a savings fund (once I get a job) – I have a long list of places I want to travel to, activities I want to try, and of course the more grown up responsibilities like eventually moving out of my parent’s home and paying off my student loans.
  7. Minimise my possessions to items that I need or bring me joy – I’ve been researching the concept of minimalism a lot over the past couple of months, and while I can’t commit to being a proper minimalist I can at least try to downsize my clutter and prioritise quality over quantity.
  8. Complete my Diploma in Languages (Japanese specialisation) –¬†this is 100% a cheat one I’ve thrown in as I’ve already completed all the requirements for this one ūüėČ
  9. Complete the International Relations component of my double degree –¬†which will just leave journalism.
  10. Participate in the UNITE leadership program –¬†I’ve already been accepted, I just need to complete all the requirements throughout the year…
  11. Be a great email mentor for my university
  12. Write blog posts regularly (every 1-2 weeks)… unlike now. That could prove to be difficult.
  13. Keep my work area (*cough* bedroom) tidy and organised –¬†this could also prove challenging
  14. Actively make an effort to see my friends more and support them
  15. Spend more time with my dog – he’s my friend too! Plus both of us could benefit from a few extra walks each week.
  16. Try very hard to drink water instead of Coke Zero and beat my addiction
  17. Learn to cook some healthy, great tasting food (without a recipe!)
  18. Undertake a first aid course and potentially learn how to save a life
  19. Stay up to date with global and local news – particularly focusing on international relations
  20. Find work experience related to international relations or journalism to complete over the 2016-17 summer holidays
  21. Learn to draw on winged eyeliner without ending up looking like a panda
  22. STOP PROCRASTINATING – find a good balance of work, university and social life (which does not involve spending hours daily on social media or youtube!)

What it means to be an atheist

As an atheist I do not believe there is a god or higher existence that created the earth and all that lives here. I stopped using that word to describe myself for a while as some people started to act a little standoffish¬†towards me. When asked what religion I was I would mutter “oh I’m not really that religious” – that was fine, but if I mentioned the word ‘atheist’ people would act differently in case I tried to push my non-religious agenda.

Recently I started to openly identify as an atheist again, and encountered a few misconceptions that I’d like to clear up…

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I determine what is morally right and morally wrong for myself.

I don’t have a list of commandments to tell me what to strive for and what not to do, but that doesn’t make me an immoral person. I know not to kill or steal or go after people in relationships – it’s common sense.

I don’t believe in God, but here’s a list of five things I do believe in:

  • Equality regardless of race, class, gender, sex or sexual orientation
  • Vaccinations
  • Access to education
  • Gun control
  • Adopting children and pets

The moral of this? Just try and be nice to other people.

I am free of religious biases, but not of personal, social and cultural ones.

Everyone has biases whether they acknowledge them or not. I do not identify as religious, therefore my views related to the world are based on my personal experiences and upbringing rather than on what is ingrained through religious beliefs. Because of this¬†I suppose an argument can be made for me having a non-religious bias…

I do not see myself as better than anyone who freely practices religion.

I have religious friends who have taught me about their religious beliefs and customs. I think that the architecture of places of worship is intricate and beautiful. If asked I will participate in rituals or ceremonies because they are important to the people I care about.

I will not argue about the existence/non-existence of a god or gods because life is too short for that. I will not intentionally stir up someone religious and point flaws in their beliefs as I know some atheists tend to do. Accepting others regardless of religious beliefs is different to agreeing with everything they are saying – no reasonable person is asking you to do that.

Throwback Travels: India and the ugly topic of sexual harassment

This post was originally published on my previous blog this pink is the new black on Sunday, June 24, 2012

India: the ugly topic of sexual harassment

Oh my goodness – I’ve just come from Delhi to Adelaide, resulting in a four hour time difference, and a forty degree temperature difference. I’ve gone from 45 to 5 degrees¬†Celsius¬†and my body is not liking it!

In this blog post I’ll be addressing the serious issue of sexual¬†harassment¬†in what I would potentially call the “ugly” side of Indian society.¬†Being a young, white female I am perceived by a lot of men in India as “easy”. I blame Hollywood film culture for this portrayal, but that’s probably just my prejudiced nature towards the American film industry. Of course, not all men are like this, I have met a number of lovely males, but the number of¬†occasions that myself and other volunteers were harassed by locals was¬†phenomenal, and I believe that this issue needs addressing.

Main cities were the major locations of harassment. A number of men would grab their crotch as we’d walk past, raise an eyebrow, make kissy noises in our direction or just make an offensive comment. Some of the other girls would be subjected to groping (I myself got felt up on the Delhi metro), and in one instance a girl was kissed in the street by a random passerby! It would seem that there are no boundaries between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

I’d like to draw attention to two personal examples (of the many incidents) of sexual harassment that happened to me, which really could have turned out worse.

1. In Manali a group of us were staying in a hotel together. Everyone else had gone out for celebratory birthday drinks, and I stayed back at our room because I was ill. We had arranged to sort out all the paperwork the next morning. When I am ill, I tend to be a very sound sleeper, I generally won’t wake up for anything. Knowing this, I naively left the door unlocked with the intention of the girls being able to let themselves in, so they wouldn’t be locked out as I slept through their knocking. In the early morning hours (I’m guessing around one or two) a man let himself into my bedroom, turned on the light and sat on the edge of my bed. Knowing something was wrong, I begrudgingly woke up and found myself face-to-face with a man I had never seen before, claiming to be one of the owners of the hotel (he actually was, but that wasn’t the point). As he introduced himself I could smell beer on him. I explained that we’d spoken to someone who ¬†said we could sort out the paperwork tomorrow. He continued talking to me and helped himself to my kindle, which he looked through without asking. He then turned to me and asked if I’d like him to leave, or if I’d like his company (I later figured out what he really meant). I politely explained that he let himself into my room while I was sleeping and woke me up and asked that he’d leave. Before doing so he took the liberty of kissing me on the cheek, leaving me in shock for the next few minutes as I tried to comprehend what had just happened.

2. Whilst we were in Amritsar (location of the Golden Temple) we visited the communal kitchen, or the Guru-Ka-Langar for dinner. This dining hall feeds between 60,000 and 80,000 pilgrims per day, and with our luck ended up there at peak dinner hour. We were in a crowd in literally about a thousand people (luckily we ¬†were near the front) all waiting to be fed. We were all packed in tightly. Behind me was one man who thought that it was okay to rub up against me from behind and readjust himself. He also tried to get pretty close, attempting to wrap his legs around mine – he recoiled when I stamped on his foot. Then with his metal plate started fanning himself, hitting me on the head with it at the same time. When I turned around to scold him, he looked at me as if to say “well, what do you want?”

My point is, to many men Western women are merely sexual idols – simply objects for their enjoyment; hence the rude language and unwanted advances. Compared to others, I didn’t have it too badly, but I won’t go into that. Some men are prone to sexual harassment also – one of the boys I met was felt up on a train. Unfortunately there are many instances of sexual harassment that a lot of people get away with; and not just foreigners travelling in India. Sexual harassment is a serious issue that happens under a number of circumstances worldwide. Sometimes it happens too quickly for you to react.

The unfortunate part about sexual harassment in India is that the victim is often the one shamed, not the culprit. India needs to reverse this concept of victim-blaming, and instill the idea that sexual harassment is not acceptable under any circumstances, and should not be taken lightheartedly.

Down with sexual harassment, and down with victim blaming!

Throwback travels: India faux pas

This was originally posted on my previous blog this pink is the new black on Monday, June 25, 2012.

India: Faux pas

My time in India was characterized by a large number of misunderstandings. Having not learned Hindi, I was at a disadvantage. Whilst the schools I taught at were English medium schools РI could usually have proper conversations with my students, when I stepped out of the campus and into the village I was at a loss. Shivpuri, the location of my first teaching placement was in a sense fairly rural. The nearest big town Gwalior was a two hour bus ride away. The locals all spoke Hindi, with a very limited English vocabulary in most cases.

I’d like to share with you a story that I refer to as the infamous 15 loaves incident – Whilst Liv was still at our placement, she and I decided to attempt braving the street stalls of Shivpuri to do our food shopping. We visited one shop where we bought most of the food that we needed (butter, bread, juice etc.) The shop owner (who didn’t speak enough English to formulate a full sentence) announced “15” when we asked for some bread, which we assumed to be the price in Indian rupees. What he actually meant was that he wanted to sell us 15 loaves of bread, which he didn’t bring out until later. We paid for our groceries, which the shop owner insisted that we were to leave at the shop while we bought fruit across the road. Our driver had organised a rickshaw to take us back to the school, and had put our shopping into the rickshaw. As the rickshaw drove off I noticed a large box of bread sitting beside me and then it hit me – the shopkeeper meant 15 loaves, not 15 rupees! Too hot and tired from our¬†endeavor¬†to return (It was about 42 degrees) we took the bread home, laughing at our misunderstanding. It cost us just over $3 AUD, and we did make our way through most of loaves, or gave them away.

Another problem that we encountered was to comply with the social etiquette and customs that apply in Indian culture.

In India it is common practice to refrain from using your left hand to eat food, as in the lower castes the left is used for toilet purposes and any similar dirty jobs. For this reason when a severe crime or theft was committed the culprit would have their right hand cut off so that they were forced to eat with their “toilet hand”. During my time in India I made it a habit to use my right hand when eating in public, whereas in our room I would eat however I pleased. At La Montessori School in Kullu I would occasionally be required to assist in tutoring some of the students. In my free time I bought some chocolate, which got on my left hand. Not noticing, I went down for the tutoring session. It wasn’t until one of the students pointed out that I had something on my hand that I realised, and spent the next five minutes reassuring them that it actually was chocolate.

I am the primary source of my own embarrassment.

Musings from Japan: student exchange

For those who don’t know I’ve been living and studying in Japan since March, and I’ll be here until December. I’ve made some great friends, and had some incredible experiences. My anxiety and depression levels have decreased significantly since being here, and as a result I have been able to successfully halve my antidepressant intake. I have passed all of my Japanese classes and completed an online course that gave me a TESOL qualification. I finally have some idea of who I am and what I want to do in life.

At Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto with Anais

Continue reading “Musings from Japan: student exchange”

What happens when you stop taking prescribed medication?

When battling mental illness it is just as important to take your prescribed medication as it is with any physical illness.

Every couple of months I have a period when I stop taking my medication ‚Äď I either think I am well enough to function without it or I decide I want to be like a ‚Äúnormal‚ÄĚ, healthy person. Sometimes I just forget, even though taking my medication is the first thing I do when I get up in the morning.

Continue reading “What happens when you stop taking prescribed medication?”

I climbed a volcano (and then got rained on!)

Author’s note: this post was originally written in March 2015 and has been sitting in my drafts since then. Apologies to those who enjoy timeliness to their stories.

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It’s not everyday that you experience a perfect metaphor for your life, but when I was in Bali last month that very thing happened to me.

Continue reading “I climbed a volcano (and then got rained on!)”

Update and rebranding

I started Out of the Dark as a journalistic blog for one of my university projects in May 2014. When I was actively posting, the blog received 440 hits in June alone, which was more interest than I could possibly hope for. Since completion of the project I have been unmotivated to keep up with this blog, despite people expressing interest.

In 2015 I plan to revive this blog, and try to post frequently. There will be a shift away from the journalism side of things, and more towards personal experiences of myself and the people around me. Please bear with me while I try to work out what works best for me and the content of Out of the Dark.