Across Continents and Beyond Comfort Zones: My 2023 Experience

Happy New Year! 2023 was a milestone year for me academically, as I completed my double degree in Communications (Journalism and Media, Arts and Production) and Creative Intelligence and Innovation. This year, I focused only on my second degree, engaging in interdisciplinary collaborations and tackling real-world challenges with innovative approaches. My work with organisations like Relationships Australia NSW, Service NSW, and Rewiring Australia was particularly enriching. Excitingly, I made it to the Dean’s merit list!

There were a few other happenings along the way… As 2024 progresses, I’m still laughing about the New Year’s Eve party I hosted with my sister, Ruby. The event, much like the year itself, was an unexpected adventure. Initially planned for 80 guests, the numbers soared to 110 as everyone sought last-minute plans. Guests arrived in sparkles, chatted over sushi, and then drank enough to try their hand at djing. We welcomed the new year with the stunning Sydney fireworks display on big screens, sparklers in hand, and the room filled with cheers and champagne showers. 

After the fireworks, my sister and I agreed there was a rather large group of people neither of us knew! They’d enjoyed their fair share of drinks and happily admitted to being party crashes – before walking out with snacks and beverages. Initially stunned, we laughed at the story for the next two days as we cleaned up the catastrophic aftermath. Hosting this event, with its unexpected guests and exuberant atmosphere, was a true highlight, encapsulating the spirit of the past year.

My 2023 journey began with an equally exhilarating and challenging study experience in India. I travelled to Auroville for exchange study with my Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, aiming to broaden my perspective and enhance my problem-solving skills. This experience tested my limits with stomach bugs and life without amenities like freely accessible drinkable water. Despite these challenges, I found inspiration in my friends’ adventurous spirits and joined them whenever I could to shake the dust off the routines and assumptions in my life. 

The adventures continued in Thailand, where my sister Ruby got going on the jetski… and then convinced my 83-year-old grandpa to join her! I wish I had a video of him flying through the air when Ruby hit a submerged rock. Short story – he survived 😅

I returned home to celebrate turning 21 on Sydney Harbour. 21 isn’t too big of a milestone regarding rights in Australia (we can vote and drink from 18), but it was a night to remember!

Professionally, I began the year with an internship at The Saturday and Sunday Telegraph. This opportunity allowed me to dive into diverse journalistic experiences, from local election coverage to exploring the impact of technology like ChatGPT. 

Over Australian winter, I visited Europe in summer! My first stop was Strasbourg, France, where I was working with my family at the newly opened SSW office. 

Afterwards, we visited family from my grandmother’s birthplace, Lemnos, Greece.

And then, we flew over to my grandfather’s birthplace, Ikaria, Greece.

It was a joy to have friends from Australia visit Ikaria – a place I’ve known since childhood – and show them the local festivals and hot springs the island is famous for. 

Moving on to party island Ios, the locals were so used to tourists that they gasped when they heard me speak Greek! I was often rewarded with free drinks and food!

I also visited Croatia for a party week with my friends on a boat! The first few nights were magic, but a fall due to a skipper mistake left me in Split Hospital, coughing for the rest of the trip. Safe to say, I wouldn’t advise anyone to go for a party boat week. My injury was just one of many. 

Attending the Kennedy Awards was a surreal experience where I was honoured as one of the three Student Journalist of the Year nominees. Although I didn’t win, representing the University of Technology Sydney and receiving recognition for my documentary, “Charging the Red Desert,” was incredibly rewarding.

My short documentary was also selected for the online film festival, Lift Off Syndey and Melbourne.

Once my university year ended, I returned to China, home to another SSW office and where my little sister used to go to school. It was great catching up with friends I hadn’t seen since the pandemic and exploring Hangzhou again. 

Then, I returned to Strasbourg, France, to work with SSW and visit the famous Christmas Markets. My family also enjoyed a white Christmas (my first!) skiing nearby at Meribel. We returned home for Christmas Day with my grandfather! 

Professionally, I advanced at ABC, moving into News Production for ABC Now. Although I didn’t secure my dream role as a cadet, I’m determined to explore journalism freelancing this year and try again next year. Looking ahead to 2024, I’m also keen to continue my work with ABC and SSW, embracing more travel adventures and, most importantly, cherishing time with my grandfather. 

Wishing everyone, including those unforgettable New Year’s Eve party crashers, a wonderful year ahead!

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