6 Years in Australia

6 years. Yes, that’s right, it’s been six years since I came to Australia in April 2010. Looking back, it’s been an interesting journey so far, with lots of changes, yet some are still the same.

Why did I come?

Technically speaking, I came to Australia for my studies. But was that the only reason? Probably not. A key factor was that it was an easy way to get away from home. I also wanted to get away from work at that point as it wasn’t exciting anymore. So I think this seeking a new adventure and change was the main reason for my decision to move, and the opportunity to study paid for that chance.

What have I done?

So I ended up finishing my studies eventually (in about four and a half years) and got one tick for the whys above. But that’s only a small part of my time here.

Some of friends and family think that I’ve changed a lot, but others think I’m still the same person. I think both of those are true in a way. I think I’ve developed more as a person, with more passion to explore life and to be more carefree. In a way I’ve turned from a nerdy geek into a hippie geek (still a geek nevertheless).

I’ve also spent a fair amount of my time being on the road travelling, being a full-time activist, being unemployed for a while, and generally being silly. So that’s a fair bit of variation I guess.

What am I doing?

It started feeling like home within the first few years of being here. It’s not a bad thing, but that comfort is sometimes concerning. So I’ve been switching thing up a bit lately. I moved to Sydney a bit more than a year ago and the change has been interest to say the least.

I made a big switch in my career trajectory, and now working for a non-profit in a community services role. Don’t ask me why I’m doing this after studying engineering and IT, I don’t have a short answer for that. But it’s going great and the uncertainty is keeping me active.

On top of that I’m involved in some ‘brave’ experiments with couple of friends, making a band. Yes, that’s right a band that plays music. So that’s that.

Where am I going?

I think after 6 years in Australia, I’ve attained a temporal permanency as to how I see my life here. It’s exciting enough presently. And I’m looking for the next adventure to jump on.

The 2013 Recap

It is almost 2014 and for me personally, there is a lot of uncertainty as for taking the next steps, lot of plans from last year still to be realised, and yet a lot more hope for the new year. The year 2013 was an entirely different year for me, with many new beginnings and few endings. So this is me just recapping the past twelve months of my life and contemplating what is onset for the next.

The New Year

It was the third new year for me in Australia and having spent the previous two years in Brisbane, I decided to go to Sydney for this time. The difference began from the very first day of the year with spending the New Year’s Eve with Couchsurfing friends in Sydney. It’s not just the spectacular fireworks that made that day special, but all new ‘friends’ from all over the world whom you have just met hours before and having a great time till dawn. It was just the beginning of the year of making friends.

The Friends

I’ve never been a social animal. I always had few friends around me, but making new friends is not something that comes easily to me. In 2013, I made a conscious decision to make new friends going out from my current circles. A random Couchsurfing meetup at New Farm park turned into a solid group of friends in Brisbane, especially during the first half of the year. These folks were based in Brisbane for a few months at least, not just a transient group of people common with Couchsurfing. I spent the fun part of my year with this group of friends, mostly travelling, exploring, and partying. I also got connected with another social meetup group, through which I made few good friends and met few ‘characters’. Overall, these experiences enabled me to slightly redefine social persona (at least I guess so.).

Couchsurfing Friends 2013
With Couchsurfing Friends at Byron Bay lighthouse (February 2013).

The Thesis

The year 2013 should have been the year for completing my studies, but as with any normal PhD student procrastination took over and extensions followed. However by the end of the year I’ve almost reached the final stage of my candidature. I think I would have spent more days (aka nights) at university than at home this year. I started working more in my alternative hours, where I would come to office at 9pm and leave at 9am. There was a mix of Avicii, Beethoven and Chopin that became my writing playlist during these days. I was able to finish writing my thesis towards the end of the year and managed to do my final defence seminar with no major arrows thrown at. It in no way the end year, but at least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

The Artist

The best way to procrastinating is letting the artist in me to do silly things, and it helps keeping me sane. I didn’t do any personal project this year apart from finishing off couple of short sketches shot last year. The few scripts I started working on are still in drafts, and I’m not planning on proceeding with any of those in near future. The main thing in terms of my creative side was my involvement with a YouTube channel for a health coach in Brisbane. This was a regular project where I shot, edited and directed weekly and later fortnightly videos for YouTube. This in some ways compensated for me not doing any personal videos, and it also helped keeping sharp with my editing skills. Hopefully I’ll be able to do more personal projects next year.

The Beginnings

One of the most satisfying experiences this year was spending time volunteering with the Australian Red Cross. It was mostly with migration support services for clients who are recent migrants and asylum seekers. The engagement with a range of clients through these programs gave the sense of doing something useful. The insight from this volunteering experience motivated me to be more socially active for many related causes. In no way I’m an activist, but being part of grassroot movements for social change has shaped my views on many social issues. These beginnings are ongoing any I expect to have a greater engagement with these organisations and causes in years to come.

The Endings

With some new beginning, 2013 also marks few endings in my journey. I decided to drop my regular engagement with the community radio program to avoid the internal backlash, and towards the end of the year I said final goodbye to our listeners on air along with my co-host. The leaving was not pleasant, but this experience has taught me to be wary leaders with a false persona and hidden agendas. It seems like I’ve stopped blogging and vlogging all together. There were few random posts from previous drafts, but it’s not what I want and hopefully it’s something I can catch up on next year.

The Next

I rarely have my life figured out and it’s the same this time. I don’t have much as for plans for next year apart from finishing my studies, graduating, and continuing with things I’ve started in 2013.
The one thing I want to do is a bit more travelling. Even though there was a bit of travelling in the first part of this year, I haven’t done much travelling lately. So possibly a motorcycle journey around Australia, or even few interstate trips through country towns is in my list. I managed to dodge the bullet on relationships and marriage this year, and hopefully I can do the same for few more years to come. Apart from that I have no major plans for 2014 and it just about going with the flow as always.

Happy New Year

Another day out with friends: Farm Fantastic 2011

Farm Fantastic 2011
Last Sunday I got a chance visit the Farm Fantastic 2011 expo in Caboolture, with some the fellow Brisbane International Student Ambassadors. Farm Fantastic claims to be the Australia’s biggest outdoor retail expo and this year was their 10th anniversary.

Camel Ride at Farm Fantastic 2011
Farm Fantastic 2011
Farm Fantastic 2011
We got on a Caboolture train from Central station and there were connecting shuttle buses from Caboolture station. We reached Farm Fantastic by noon. What’s a better way to start than with a lunch. We had some delicious burgers at the Outback Eatery with a flavor of Aussie country music. Some of us choose to top it up with some ice cream for dessert and my choice of passion fruit was ‘different’.

Lunch at Outback Eatery at Farm Fantastic 2011
Farm Fantastic 2011
Farm Fantastic 2011
For the next couple of hours we had to roam around Farm Fantastic, looking through a great range of exhibitors and entertainment and stopping by at few.

Farm Fantastic 2011
Farm Fantastic 2011
Farm Fantastic 2011
We had a great time at, I think this is a great way to link the country life to the outer world.

Farm Fantastic 2011
Brisbane International Student Ambassadors at Farm Fantastic 2011

Find more details on the Farm Fantastic website:

Over 900 exhibitor sites, you can find anything from a pair of socks, to a luxury camper and a 10 tonne truck. Experiences include the new Health & Body Centre with its tranquil atmosphere and numerous health professionals offering information on healthy lifestyle. Destination Food – Food for Thought marquee has cooking demonstrations, and guest appearances. There is entertainment for the whole family with an action packed main arena with junior stockmen experience and more.

Photographs by: Leong Ming En

Into the Wild with Araucaria Ecotours

I love traveling. I love nature. So what’s better than putting both together?

I’ve been to few places around Brisbane; Glass House Mountains National Park, Springbrook National Park and handful of beaches up and down the coast. Yet, I’ve never got a chance to experience the real Australian wildlife.

Nimal at Daisy Hill

Last week I got a chance be part of an Australian wildlife tour with some Brisbane International Student Ambassadors. It was with Ronda and Darren of Araucaria EcoTours, covering a three-day Wildlife Tour and the Tamborine Mountain day-tour, in one day.

Daisy Hill

I was partly awake after a sleepless night at university/office, but I manage to bounce back as the day progressed (I guess). Our first stop from Brisbane was Daisy Hill. The start was a bush-walk, through the eucalyptus and tea-tree forests while learning about the different types of flora and fauna native to Australia. We weren’t lucky enough to find any wild koalas that day, but we spotted a wild red-necked wallaby. We spent another half-hour at the visitor information center and for a short coffee/tea break.

Daisy Hill

Our next stop was for a walk to a waterfall, but the rain was not kind enough to let us continue with our plans for a picnic lunch in the national park.

Walk

We stopped next at the Skywalk on Tamborine Mountain, and a stroll through the tall forest floor to giant trees and mountain streams. After the Skywalk excursion, we found shelters for lunch at the Jubilee Park in Beaudesert.

Skywalk on Tamborine Mountain

Kooralbyn was our last stop for the day. It was rather a drive through into the wallaby and kangaroo land. There were plenty of red-necked wallabies, whip-tail wallabies and eastern grey kangaroos. They were roaming around houses like domesticated animals. We stopped near an airstrip for a relaxing chat before heading back to Brisbane.

Kooralbyn

Araucaria Ecotours also provides many wildlife tours such as bush-walking, wildlife-viewing, bird watching, rainforests/glow-worms night tour, and Coochiemudlo Island tour to name a few.

Check out their website at http://www.learnaboutwildlife.com/ for more details on the available tours and Australian ecotourism. You can also get in touch with them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AraucariaEcotours

Nimal

Study in Brisbane