OPINION / Uncategorized

2012: The year of Big Things

To give context to my decisions in 2013 it’s important I have a think about 2012.

2011 was a challenge and I came out of the year feeling a little stressed out and not quite myself. Luckily, 2012 proved to be much, much brighter. Although 2012 was infinitely brighter, it was also insanely busy. Bright, busy, brilliant but totally exhausted. Slow and steady did not win the race in 2012. It was amazing; I went on my first real overseas trip and less than six months later I went back on exchange. On both trips I made amazing friends from all over Australia and the rest of the world. In between these trips, I met my boyfriend.I picked up where I left off with acting and modelling and had a great time and really pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, but am now content to leave it behind and focus on other things. I did three internships in three very different organisations and met a variety of people with different skills and learnt more than I have in my entire degree. I held a leadership position in my student honour society and one other student society and in the first half of the year, got to focus on doing more charity work.

TRAVEL

My first big trip

I went on my first real overseas trip for a month and a half. Two weeks in Paris and then three weeks on a trip through about 8 European countries and 12 cities with an incredible group of people. It was sometimes the scariest but also the most exciting thing I had ever done at the time and I never wanted it to end. You can read more about my various travel adventures on my blog, wanderbug.

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I came home and vowed to return to Paris on my first evening home, as I lay facedown on my bed in a semi-comatose, entirely jet-lagged state.

“I’m going to go back this year, in July. In summer.”

“…You mean next year?” came Mum’s confused response.

“Mmm..no, this year.”

And then I was asleep. I don’t even remember this conversation. Mum informed me of it when only two months later, I was accepted for an exchange program in Paris that July, on part scholarship. I was a finalist in Miss World Australia by this point (something I’d entered on whim and then realised was not my cup of tea at all. I enjoy doing things that throw me out of my comfort zone, but it was not something I thought through at all!). I pulled out of Miss World, to my private relief and got excited for Paris.

Studying in Paris

I had started savings from scratch the moment I’d hit the Brisbane tarmac when I got home from Europe in February. Between returning to my casual job at the video store in February and finding out about my upcoming exchange in late April, I had saved $3000. Thank God. I still went and got a loan from the bank, because I needed a fair bit more to make the trip happen and I wanted to make the most of it while I was over there. I didn’t want to ask my parents for money, because I like to pay for my own travel.

I was back in Paris in July, on another international flight by myself and this time, there was no one to meet up with and hold my hand during the trip. I was the only person from my city in the student exchange program.

It ran for one month – it was a short term exchange at IESEG School of Management in Paris. IESEG is one of France’s top business schools and is part of the Grande Ecole. When the brochure told me it was under La Grande Arche de la Defense, I assumed this was advertising fluff implying that it was within walking distance, or that I could see it from my classroom window.

No.

Smack bang under one of Paris’ great monuments, there was a glass construction that looked like it belonged in the future. A circle glass construction with sliding doors, with criss-crossing escalators, leading to the lower level where IESEG was. It was literally beneath La Grande Arche. Location, location, location!

La Grande Arche: Directly in line with the Arc de Triomphe, La Grande Arche is so enormous I was miles away and still couldn't fit it all in!

La Grande Arche: Directly in line with the Arc de Triomphe, La Grande Arche is so enormous I was miles away and still couldn’t fit it all in!

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The business school has a strong international focus, so they ran the International Summer Academy, full of business subjects but open to students from many disciplines. 150 students from all over the world attended and I feel so lucky that I got to be one of them. I made unforgettable friends from other cities in Australia,  but also from New York, Canada, Argentina, Croatia and Brazil to name a few. Meeting such fun, amazing people from all over and spending a month in Paris was a dream come true, as corny as that sounds. I never even imagined something like this was possible, let alone that I’d one day get to experience it! The lecturers were brilliant and the subjects were interesting and useful, and the activities they took us on were also heaps of fun. Some friends and I also went on a day trip through the Champagne region and on another weekend, went to London. Again, you can read about my time in Paris, Champagne and London on wanderbug.

A bunch of us having a picnic & drinks under the eiffel tour - best afternoon!

A bunch of us having a picnic & drinks under the eiffel tour – best afternoon!

A view of our picnic group taken from the top of the eiffel tower by a friend

A view of our picnic group taken from the top of the eiffel tower by a friend

Arriving at the vineyards for Moet & Chandon

Arriving at the vineyards for Moet & Chandon

London was buzzing with Olympic-fever, a great time to visit!

London was buzzing with Olympic-fever, a great time to visit!

I could talk about IESEG all day, but I’ll push on.

Two weeks before I left for Paris, I met David, my boyfriend. I won’t wax soppy, but I’d be lying if I said meeting him wasn’t the highlight of my year, even among everything else. I didn’t want a boyfriend when I met him and was very happily single. I’ve never been the girl who feels insecure or alone without a boyfriend. In fact, I’d started to think relationships when you’re young hold you back. David has proved the exact opposite every day since.

INTERNSHIPS

I got home in August and returned a little late into my second semester of uni, which was tough. I found it hugely challenging and I was still exhausted from the exchange, but I got through it and managed to get grades I’m happy with. I then began my first formal internship ( after doing informal work in publicity for a sporting organisation and a Paddington boutique). I worked at Volunteering Qld and loved every minute of it, working on projects that are valuable to the community and working with a team of incredible people. It was intense, working all day at an office and then heading straight to my new casual job, which has a clock-off time of between 10pm and 1am. But I survived!

I finished up with Volunteering Qld and then found myself with 4 internship interviews. To say I’m a little ambitious would be the understatement of the century. They were all great positions, and I was lucky enough to be offered all four. One was a tourism position, another in heavy machinery marketing that would pay me straight away and lead me into a job when I graduated, another was a tourism position in another organisation and the final one was a corporate affairs internship in a bank.

I was first offered the bank position, which I accepted. I decided that even if I was offered the position in the heavy machinery company, I didn’t want to work full time on my holidays in an industry that didn’t excite me in the least. A job at the end was no reward, because I felt I’d be stuck in a job I wouldn’t enjoy because of the industry. It was great interview practice though. I considered it, but my gut said no.

I’m glad I did, because the  larger tourism organisation offered me a paid internship, which I also took and then had to decline the smaller tourism organisation because the other 2 internships would keep me busy full time.

In the year, I also became the Social Director of my chapter of Golden Key International Honour Society, which was a lot of fun and I got to work on my public speaking, talking in front of a huge audience, plan and run events and introduce new events and initiatives to improve the club. I also met even more wonderful people. I also took on the role as Corporate Communications for the Economics & Finance Student Society and was offered a position as a Marketing Director for an AISEC national conference ( which I turned down because I was already interning and had more coming up!).

I ended the year on the Gold Coast with David and then resolved to have a much quieter 2013! 2012 was crazy and full of big things – but to do all that in the space of a year involves moving at lightning speed and sacrificing other areas of your life. I started seeing good friends less frequently and as many hours as we’d spend catching up during our occasional dinners, it’s not enough.

My room was in a constant state of flux and as petty as it sounds, I hardly bought any new clothes so right now only about 20% of my wardrobe still fits and is useful.

I was always, always, ALWAYS tired.

I don’t think I exercised once.

Nothing in my life was organised or in the right balance.

It became really clear that I needed to slow down and make some changes for 2013. Before I talk about how 2013 will be vastly different in my next post, I want to just wrap up on 2012. It was the scariest, busiest, most exciting, most accomplished year of my life. I met a huge number of new, amazing people who have impacted on my life in one way or another and made what I believe will be life long friends. I learnt more than I have ever learnt before – at IESEG, in the good uni subjects I finally got to do, in my internships. I got on-the-job experience. I saw countries and only ever dreamed of – or never even really planned to visit! I went on several international flights all by myself, which was daunting but rewarding. 2012 had it’s own challenges and tragedies, including the loss of a friend who left us far too young. Although there’s no silver lining in events as tragic as that, it has helped me gain clearer perspective on the necessity to find a balance between appreciating what you have and making time for the little things and striving to live the biggest, brightest life you can imagine.

At first I was a little scared and sad for 2012 to end, because for the most part, it’s been such a good one. How could 2013 not be a disappointment in comparison? I thought.

As with most things, I realised 2013 won’t be better or worse than 2012, but it will be different. Still amazing (fingers crossed!) but different. That’s another post though!

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