A Court of Thorns and Roses Series Review | Part 2

 A Court of Thorns and Roses A Court of Mist and Fury | A Court of Wings and Ruins 

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 2.30.50 pm

 Sarah J Maas | Bloomsbury Australia

Welcome to Part 2 of my review of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas! In this review, I will be detailing everything I didn’t like about ACOWAR. (I liked the first two books too much to find any fault in them.) Keep in mind there will be spoilers ahead!

While Sarah J Maas has a penchant for creating picturesque worlds using a combination of imagery and metaphors and very, very descriptive language that generally causes me to gawk at how beautiful her writing is, I couldn’t help but notice her writing in ACOWAR was unpolished. I understand that when we talk, we sometimes pause in the middle of the sentence to search for the correct word to describe whatever it is we’re talking about and adding “…” certainly adds authenticity to such dialogues BUT adding an ellipsis every single time someone speaks ruins the flow of the narrative. Another thing I noticed was Sarah J Maas’s questionable choice of words. I’m not a great writer so I usually don’t criticize an author’s use of words, phrases, or writing techniques (I merely comment on the overall writing style ) but there was one phrase that made me laugh out loud at how ridiculous it was – “… the back of my palm” . Umm….did you mean the back of my hand?

 Romance

Look, it’s completely fine if certain characters don’t get their happily-ever-after. I would rather they be happily single than forced to pair up with another character out of sheer convenience. Isn’t it so convenient that Nesta and Elaine became high Fae and are paired up with Cassian and Azriel respectively. ( I don’t see Elaine and Lucien getting together and as Mor is officially out of the picture, I feel like Maas is pushing Elaine and Azriel towards each other) Amren’s sudden romance was also unnecessary. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with characters staying unattached so why did Sarah J Maas have to pair Amren, the deadly, formidable otherworldly being with a High Fae? Was it really necessary?

 Nesta and Elaine

Nesta and Elaine read to me like Cinderella’s two stepsisters. I understand that Feyre forgave Nesta and Elaine for failing to help/provide for the family in the years before ACOTAR but I’m unable to forgive them. Perhaps Nesta redeemed herself in ACOTAR by attempting to climb over the wall to reach Feyre, but that doesn’t change the fact that she would rather to watch her family starve to death and blame her father and everyone else in the world than get her ass out of the house and help Feyre hunt for food. It doesn’t help that she’s unnecessarily hostile to everyone and I certainly don’t care how powerful she is. She does not deserve Cassian nor a place in the Night Court.

As for Elaine, I think she’s even worse than Nesta. She reminds me of Bella Swan from Twilight. A beautiful damsel in distress that isn’t capable of physically doing anything to help out. No one got angry with her for not helping to provide for the family because she was kind? Really? That sounds to me like she’s just utterly useless. In ACOWAR, she spent a good few weeks wasting away in her room – exactly what Bella did in New Moon. What about during all the battles? Someone always had to look after her because she was so useless she couldn’t defend herself. Sarah J Maas attempted to portray her as a hero in the last few chapters but I guess even Bella Swan had her heroic moments eh?

Despite having issues with ACOWAR, I was satisfied with the ending. Sarah J Maas’s battle scenes kept me at the edge of my seat and everything played out perfectly. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be back for the spin-off series (I have no interest in any of the other pairings.) I am however, looking forward to Sarah J Maas’s future projects as long as they feature sexy male leads like Rhysand, Az or even Tarquin J

A Court of Thorns and Roses Series Review | Part 1

A Court of Thorns and Roses | A Court of Mist and Fury | A Court of Wings and Ruins 

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 2.30.50 pm

 Sarah J Maas | Bloomsbury Australia

***Spoilers Ahead***

 It is no secret that ACOTAR was my favourite book of 2015 and 2016’s was ACOMAF. Instead of writing a traditional review for each book, I’ve decided to post my thoughts about the series in general. This review is divided into 2 parts – Part 1 will convey why ACOTAR and ACOMAF are books that I believe delivers powerful messages to its readers while Part 2 will explore reasons why ACOWAR didn’t quite work for me. Note that I wrote Part 1 before I finished reading ACOWAR and Part 2 was written after.

Books are powerful. The messages they convey, the portrayals of characters, relationships and the dynamics between people, family members, friends, partners etc. are very likely to shape a reader’s understanding and perception of the world. Perhaps not always. But I know it does for me.

The reason why I’ve suddenly developed an immense gratification and admiration for Sarah J Maas is due to her willingness to incorporate important social issues into her ACOTAR series. I read ACOTAR 2 years ago and ACOMAF last year and only TODAY discovered the ‘hidden’ messages within the books. Perhaps I’ve become more in touch with my social surroundings and social media has alerted my attention to the grave significance of issues such as domestic violence, abusive relationships, sexual assault to name a few. There will be none of my usual fangirling in this review; I suppose this will be more of a personal reflection for me than an actual review.

Abusive Relationships

Reading Colleen Hoover’s ‘This Ends With Us’ was the first time I recall sitting down and thinking about something that is prevalent in our society but is rarely discussed openly. I myself am not too acquainted with this topic but I am aware of how important it is for men and women to identify the red flags and leave the relationship. I’m an active Reddit lurker, especially on the AskReddit subtopic and some of my favourite threads are ones that are marked “serious” where people from all over the world share their personal stories in response to whatever serious question is being asked. I recall reading several threads that were associated with people leaving a relationship/marriage because of physical and/or emotional abuse and it truly breaks my heart to read these stories.

I love how Sarah J Maas draws on this type of relationship in ACOMAF. Perhaps the red flags were evident in ACOTAR, perhaps not, but if they were, I certainly missed them.

“I trashed half the house,” he said, leaning forward to press his brow to mine.

I remember reading Beautiful Disaster years ago and a similar quote came up. I didn’t think anything of it at the time because I thought it was “romantic” but now? Holy shit this violence is disturbing.

“During that first week back, I wasn’t allowed out of sight of the house. “ | “He’d trapped me in here; he’d locked me up.”

Having her entire life dictated by Tamlin and treated like a possession as opposed to a human being was so upsetting for me. The fiercely determined Feyre from ACOTAR was gone and replaced by an empty shell. She withered away day by day, yet no one fucking helped her.

Sexual Assault

I’ve detected a gradual increase in Rape Culture interest/posts on social media and in newspapers in light of recent incidents that have made headlines over the last year. I’m sure you know which ‘incidents’ I’m talking about. (If you don’t, think judges handing out light sentences to rapists or blaming the victims for getting themselves into those situations in the first place.) There is no excuse for rape. None at all.

I’ve seen many personal stories about men getting raped and/or sexually assaulted and keeping silent about this their entire lives because there is a stigma in society that “men can’t be raped”. Yes they can. They can and society needs to stop thinking otherwise. The ‘relationship’ between Rhysand and Amarantha in ACOTAR was a cleverly crafted representation of sexual abuse – Rhysand being tortured and assaulted at the hands of Amarantha. Despite Rhysand’s cold, merciless exterior, this ordeal has left Rhysand traumatised and broken, as illustrated in ACOMAF.

I’m currently reading ACOWAR and so far I’m really liking it. I’ll most likely end up reading it twice – the first time for my pure enjoyment only and the second to pick up on things that I missed the first time round. Lastly, I need to mention that while Sarah J Maas seems to advocate very strongly for redemption and forgiveness, personally I could do without Nesta and Elain’s recurring appearances in all the books. In my opinion, there is absolutely no need for them to play such a huge role in the series – sisters or not.

2016// Review [PART 4]

May // Travelled along the west coast of USA, went camping, hiking and thought I was going to die because my shoes were too slippery. Went to a strip club in Vegas and thank the lord my eyesight was bad. Mid- May, I flew up to Montreal and stayed at Anubhav’s place with Jessie. Then visited Toronto, and met up with Marcus in New York. While bicycling to Brooklyn Bridge, I temporarily separated from Jessie and Marcus. I had no phone (Marcus had my phone) ,no money, no map and had absolutely no idea where I was. Luckily there was a map where I parked my bike and I was able to walk the rest of the way to Brooklyn Bridge, where I hoped to reunite with Jessie and Marcus. I walked the length of the Bridge twice and almost lost all hope of finding them but thank the lord once again, Jessie and Marcus had similar thoughts of finding me on the bridge and we bumped into each other. Apparently Marcus got hit by a car and during the chaos, I lost sight of them and rode ahead (instead of turning right.) Marcus and Jessie were considering calling NYPE if they didn’t find me on the bridge LOOOOOOOL and Jessie thought I was crying by myself HAHAHHAHAHA. Gooooood days!

 

June // Said goodbye to Jessie and Marcus and commenced the next leg of my trip. Flew from New York to Milan, with a stopover in Iceland. I had almost a whole day in Iceland so I bought tickets to go into the heart of Reykjavik and explored what has now become one of my favourite cities in the world. If there’s one place I need to revisit, it’s Iceland. Arrived in Milan late at night, and slept in the airport. Reunited with Alicia in the morning!!!!!! Then on to Florence and Rome. In Rome, we got kicked out of “Altare della Patria”, got fined for jumping on the train without a ticket, almost missed our flight (we would’ve if we had waited to buy train tickets), and once we landed in Barcelona, realised that my luggage had never left Rome. Spent the first 2 days in Barcelona wearing Alicia’s clothes, and she used my makeup. Spontaneously bought tickets to see Diplo at Razzmatazz (one of the biggest/most popular nightclubs in Barcelona). Spent my time in Madrid with random nose bleeds and sneezing every 5 minutes. Had never been so glad to get out of there!! Budapest, Vienna and Prague all stole my heart….honestly don’t think I have a heart to give away anymore LOL.

We celebrated Alicia’s birthday in Prague, and went our separate ways. I landed in London for Summer School at LSE. Met a bunch of wonderful people from the states and finally got to hear first hand stories about frat parties HAHHAHAHA

July // Celebrated Fourth of July with my American mates heheheh. Then had to say goodbye to them after 3 weeks 😦

Finally came back to Sydney!!!!

August // Applied for Pandora and received my offer a few days later. Had a my first on the job training at the end of August! Also started applying for internships/looking at courses to do in the holidays if I didn’t get an internship.

September // Applied for KPMG and got accepted into their Audit and Assurance stream! Was probably one of the happiest days of my lifeeee heheheheh Went to Port Stephens with mum and dad – was pretty damn fun!!!!

October // Barely surviving Uni, went hiking, Night Noodle Markets, celebrated Bianca’s birthday and went clubbing for the first time in….forever haha

November // Completed my second last semester of Uni!!! Attended Bi + Jessie’s graduations, caught up with exchange mates over brunch and a trip to La Perouse, celebrated my 22nd birthday.

December // Officially started my internship on the 5th!! Met all the other interns in Corporate Audit as well as my engagement team. Spent the first 2 days training, the next 2 at client’s and Friday was spent at Barangaroo. Saturday and Sunday, I worked at Pandora. The following Monday, we got paid to literally run around the city being tourists. Tuesday and Wednesday were both spent at Barangaroo and Thursday was SCA’s Christmas Party. The vaccies weren’t told about the after party, which was apparently where the ‘real party’ started hahahaha. The firm wide party was held the following week and the venue was stunning!! Spent the other days of the week working at Pandora. I basically worked 7 days a week in the first two weeks of December and had my first day off in the third week, then back to work at Pandora. Celebrated Christmas with exchange friends on the 24th, and New Years at a house party on the 31st 😛 Went bouldering on the 30th, lost my grip, fell and hit both my ankles against the boulders. Luckily the swelling isn’t too bad.

Anywayssss, i hope 2017 will be as good as 2016 but that’s probably asking for wayyyy too much (since 2016 has literally been the best year of my life so far!) But *fingers crossed* 2017 will be just as great as 2016!

 

 

2016// Review [PART 3]

February // Went up to Grouse Mountain to ski and for the first time in my life I thought I was going to die. Celebrated CNY with friends from all over the world – yum cha for brunch and hot pot for dinner! During spring break, I set off to Mexico with a bunch of new friends and had a fantastic time! I was also the only person who didn’t get food poisoning after  eating street tacos. Came back to UBC only to be bombarded with 3 consecutive exams (all of which I passed – thank god!!) Went up to Cypress at the end of February.

March // My first frat party was rather….underwhelming. At least pre’s was fun 🙂 Had the time of my life at Blank Canvas though 😛  Also went on my first hiking adventure in Vancouver – one of my regrets is not going on enough hikes during my time there. Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by getting woken up at 6am by drunken neighbours and then spending the rest of the day periodically drinking. Watched my first UBC Thunderbirds Basketball Game (too bad we lost!!) Went up to Cypress again and tried snowboarding for the first time. I failed badly, but at least it was fun!! Later in March, the crew and I went on a cruise hosted by the Exchange Society and then spent hours at a nearby casino.  Joined my curry mates for an arvo full of fun at Holi! During Easter Break, I went to Victoria with a bunch of other mates; it was honestly the most boring place ever and tbh, I never want to go back hahaha.

April // Started off April with a bonfire with the ENTIRE crew. Everyone was sad about our inevitable departure. Went skiing one last time at Whistler and had a blast! Celebrated the end of another semester by  attending this music festival-esque event hosted by UBC. Exchanged ended with fine dining and dress ups (men in suits, women in dresses and heels). Took one last group photo with the UBC sign. Went hiking at the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge park. Wrapped up April with Jessie, Ben, Simona and Zacq by flying off to the States for our West Coast adventure!!

2016 // Review [PART 2]

In my last post, I mentioned that my life had changed. 2016 has been the best year of my life so far, and I’ll forever be thankful for all the ups and downs that happened this year.

January // January 1st – I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime (literally). I left my parents at Shanghai International Airport and ventured into the unknown. To be honest, I can’t remember how I felt. I’m sure I felt a multitude of emotions inside – excitement, fear, nervousness, joy, anticipation and trepidation all at once but a year later, I honestly can’t remember exactly what was going on in my head. I met a high school student from a small city/town? near Toronto and we chatted about Canada. I was surprised everyone recognized my ‘Australian accent’ as in Australia, an Aussie accent…isn’t an accent.

I arrived in Vancouver on the 1st of January and I remember thinking the streets were so empty. The taxi driver said it was because it was still early and/or people partied hard the night before so they were all inside asleep. The streets, buildings and trees were all covered in layers of snow and I’d never seen anything so beautifully fascinating. The motel I stayed at looked tiny from the outside, but I was given a whole apartment to myself. It was literally an apartment!!  I spent the first and second day wandering around Downtown by myself. I bought instant noodles, and ordered pizza at 2am in the morning. I still remember after uttering 2 words, the pizza guy was like “are you Australian” and I just felt kinda exotic???

I wandered around Stanley Park and walked 15km each day. This is why I love travelling – I don’t know what public transport to take so I just walk and absorb every little thing around me. Nothing goes unnoticed; not the benches with writing carved on the back support – a dedication to a family member/friend/loved one who had passed away, similar to an epitaph; not the exquisite colour of the water and the families strolling leisurely through the park. While I enjoyed experiencing all this by myself, it was another story when I went inside a restaurant. I’ve never liked eating alone inside a restaurant – I feel so lonely while everyone else is chatting away and I always feel like I don’t belong. I remember because of that, I bought food from the local supermarket and ordered takeout.

Jan 3rd – I moved in to UBC. I remember tipping the taxi driver $10 because we couldn’t find the entrance to my house and he went around asking for me. We eventually found an entrance (not the entrance though haha) and I walked with all my luggage from the other side of Fairview to my house. That day was probably the most homesick I’ve ever felt in my life. I walked in to a house with 3-4 people lounging in the living room. They were polite and we exchanged pleasantries. One girl was actually from Melbourne and she lived in my room the previous semester, so we talked a bit. Then after a while she said she was going to leave to go to a bar. I felt….lonely. There was no one else in the house – the girl downstairs is a local and she left the house early, another local girl lived upstairs with me but she was at home with her parents, and the last girl hadn’t moved in yet. After reading all my YA books and watching romantic comedies, I had envisioned moving in with someone I’d become immediate friends with. Obviously that didn’t happen. I remember leaving my doors open to seem ‘inviting’ in case anyone came back home. No one did. I suddenly realized I didn’t know anyone at UBC – not my roommates, nor anyone from UNSW. I started imagining spending my entire semester at UBC locked in my room because I didn’t know anyone. I can’t begin to describe how traumatizing that was for me, but because of the sudden epiphany that I could end up wasting my time at UBC without any friends, I decided to message the only person from UBC who had messaged me several months back. Luckily, he was nice and agreed to meet up with me the next day. Turns out, he’s one of my closest friends now 🙂

Early Jan – Met a bunch of people from around the world who will later become some of my closest friends.

Mid-January (exact date is engraved in my memory) – I met a guy; a guy who was vastly different from all the guys I’d previously liked. He stood out amongst all the other guys I laid eyes on at the pub. This guy was very….different, which was probably why I found him so intriguing. He was self-assured in a way that people might mistake for cockiness; he knew how to have fun and didn’t give a crap about what anyone else thought of him. I initially thought he was the irresponsible type who actively sought out attention but after observing him I realized he was the opposite. There’s something so attractive about a guy who knows what he wants and doesn’t try to impress those around him. He was straightforward and sometimes too blunt and honest, but he was real . Not once did he try to be someone he wasn’t, nor did he pretend to be nice to the people he didn’t like. I’d never seen someone who could talk so easily with everyone and knew how to have fun the way he did. I fell for him…and I fell for him hard.

Late January –Went skiing for the first time in Canada and second time in my life!!!!!!!

 

2016 // Reflecting on Life [PART 1]

2016 may have been an absolutely horrendous year for many people, but for me, it has been the most challenging, rewarding and unforgettable year of my life thus far.

2013

In high school and for most of my Uni life, I’d been hesitant to try new things. I was afraid of failure and embarrassing myself so I thought if I didn’t bother trying, then I couldn’t fail, right? In 2013 (first year of Uni) I sat back and relaxed while my peers applied the heck out of societies as subcom members. I thought ‘well, it’s ONLY my first year so there’s no need to be so worried about my career right?’ The truth was, I was too afraid of being rejected because I had no leadership/teamwork/time management skills whatsoever to talk about from high school. The only thing I was proud of doing in 2013 was going to BSOC’s ski camp, where I met a bunch of people who have since shaped my Uni social life.

2014

In 2014, I realized the severity of my lack of participation in Uni societies. My friends were applying for internships at renowned firms and at 18 years old, they received multiple offers to said firms. Meanwhile, I was still too chicken to admit I had issues that needed addressing. In my second semester, I applied to become a marketing subcommittee member of Project Hope, a not-for-profit organization that raised money to assist disadvantaged children in rural China. I’d heard that almost everyone who applied got in (don’t quote me, but truth is everyone from my interview did get in) so I thought the chances of me being accepted was extremely high. While I admit I was disappointed in the lack of actual work assigned to me as a subcom member (there were simply too many people in PH Marketing), the tasks I did complete helped me significantly in future interviews/online applications.

In late 2014, Amy and I decided to start the Real Estate Society. For Amy, Real Estate was her ‘career passion’, but for me, the society was a way for me to catch up to where the rest of my peers were at in terms of career progression since I felt I was lagging behind. I thought it would be an exciting venture for me as I’d never done anything like it before and it would force me to stop being so afraid of trying new things.

2015

In 2015, I stepped out of my comfort zone by applying for GAP and the intensive one week program gave me a peek into the life I’ve always wanted. [Did I mention as a clueless 3 year old, I wanted to be a teacher and/or business woman? A teacher because I liked having people listen to me while I gave instructions HAHA and a business woman because on TV they looked so polished, well spoken, respected by everyone and seemed like they were conducting important business all the time.] Obviously my reasons for wanting to enter the corporate world have changed and my passion for teaching has intensified for other reasons but it felt good to be able to fulfil those dreams of mine, ya know?

In 2015 I also applied for a few internships but unfortunately I was rejected from all of them. I was at a pretty low point in my life in early 2015; I had gone for a director interview for a society and completely bombed it. Now I think back, the questions were standard but I stuttered, rambled and had a mind blank after every question. I was ashamed of myself and too embarrassed to do anything about it. I was truly terrified of interviews from then on.

After submitting a bunch of online applications for various internship roles, I was invited to complete psychometric testing online. My self-esteem and confidence plummeted again after doing those. For weeks I felt stupid and incompetent. 90% of my penultimate year friends/acquaintances/people I’ve heard of/seen around received offers while I was struggling to progress to the next round. Deep down however, I was slightly relieved as well because I didn’t think I was ready to face more rounds of interviews.

Sometime in March/April I decided to do something with my life. Late 2014, I had the idea of applying for exchange but after reading the instructions online and realizing how much time I needed to dedicate to research/filling out forms, I dropped everything and forgot about it. I was lazy and wanted everything to be handed to me on a silver platter. In 2015 however, I decided to just go for it and booked an appointment with someone from the Exchange Office. Not going to lie, I thought about giving up again but the night before the deadline, I spent 3-4 hours researching different Universities in Canada and matched up courses. I didn’t tell a single soul I was applying for exchange for fear that I would get rejected.

Once I received my nomination email, I gradually opened up to my friends and family about exchange. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d get in as a nomination from UNSW didn’t guarantee an offer from UBC. My official offer from UBC a few months later was a wake up call for me. I was going to spend a semester abroad, in a country with no friends, no family and I only had myself to depend on.

Hopefully my life would change.

And I’m proud to announce my life did change.

 

5 tips to save money while overseas

When I travelled around USA, Canada (Toronto and Montreal), Mexico and Europe earlier this year, I kept a very strict record of all my expenses. I was travelling on a budget as I’d spent the majority of my savings in Canada (all those ski trips and parties emptied my bank account) so my budget at each leg of my trip was around $AUD1000-2000 (for a minimum of 2 weeks).

To be honest, it took a lot of self-control and sacrifice to ensure my expenses were kept within my budget range. Occasionally I wanted to splurge on a succulent meal or purchase a souvenir but in the end, I was glad I managed to suppress my impulsive buying habit.

These are some money saving tricks I adopted while travelling:

1.Be flexible about your accommodation

I know a lot of people are very inflexible or uncompromising with their accommodation; some of my friends need a nice and comfortable bed to sleep in at night, especially if they’re driving the very next day. And that is completely fine. But what saved me a lot of money was not being overly picky about where I slept. Whether it was in Canada, USA or Europe, I was content to sleep in the cheapest hostel and share a room with 5 strangers or if my plane landed at night, I would stay overnight in the airport. In the states, my friends and I camped out in the National Parks for several days and this allowed us to save up and splurge a little in Vegas.

2. Take public transport/Walk

So I know when I go back to China (or anywhere really) with my parents, we would always take a cab to get from A to B. Cabs are generally extremely expensive, and ubers aren’t that much cheaper either, especially when you want to go to the airport or train station. At every destination in Europe, my friend and I took public transport to the airport/main train station and i’m not going to lie, that was tiring as hell. I had two massive backpacks that weighed a tonne and it would’ve been so much more convenient for me to grab a cab but I sucked it up and took public transport (even if it meant I had to run for the train or change trains a billion times.) Also, when touring around the city, I preferred to walk. Even if I ended up walking more than 20km a day, it was definitely worth my time and effort!

3. Don’t impulse buy plane tickets

This my friends, is one of the most annoying things about travelling for me. If I’m planning to go somewhere, I would HOURS researching and comparing different flight prices then decide it was still too expensive and come back the next day. I remember spending a whole week monitoring flight fares from Prague to London and then finally buying the cheapest ticket that I found! Also, be sure to keep updated on sales, discounts (e.g when you download the site’s app, you may be eligible for up to 15% off).

4. Save on foooooooood!

I know we go to different countries to try their authentic cuisine but there are definitely ways to save on food! In the States, the 5 of us would go grocery shopping and cook or make sandwiches for lunch/dinner. Breakfast was either included at the hostel/motel we stayed at or we would find somewhere to grab a quick bite before setting off to our next destination. In Canada, my friend and I cooked very healthy meals for breakfast and dinner every day but would eat out at local cafes for lunch. We would grab brunch maybe once or twice a week but that was it. In Europe, my friend and I splurged once in every country at an authentic diner, but would spend significantly less for lunch and dinner on the other days. Breakfast was once again included in the AirBnB or hostel!

5. Always have cash & DON’T EXCHANGE MONEY AT THE AIRPORT.  

I wasted almost 30 Euros in Milan. I had around US$100 on me but no euros as I never got the chance to exchange any in the US/Canada. For some reason on that particular day, the credit card machines weren’t working and since I didn’t have any cash, I couldn’t purchase a train ticket to get to my hostel. I then exchanged money at the airport and had to sign a paper that indicated a significant portion of my exchanged amount would essentially be eaten up as commission. I was so annoyed but obviously couldn’t do anything about it. So moral of the story: ALWAYS HAVE CASH ON YOU.

Obviously there were other things I sacrificed in order to spend within my budget, but these were the main tricks I used!

Exchange Updates

It’s not Thursday but feel like posting #throwbackthursday posts hehehe

This was written sometime in March.

13/03/2016 – 20/03/2016

Another week has passed, and I’m dreading the last day of exchange. I can feel it creeping up slowly, but surely, and honestly, as cliched as it sounds, if I could do anything to stop time,  or to rewind time to January/February, I would. People are saying how we should go to as many parties as possible, spend as much time with friends as possible, but exams are looming and it’s almost impossible for everyone to be free at the same time to catch up and do things together. I for one, need to study my ass off to pass my courses because right now I’m terrified I’ll fail them.

Over the past month I’ve noticed that I can’t even remember what my Sydney life was like. Was it really so uneventful and unmemorable? All I remember is waking up every day to go to Uni, spending a few hours 3-4 days a week tutoring little kids and high school students and occasionally (how often is “occasional” though) going out to dinner with friends.

I do remember how every time my friends and I wanted to organise a dinner to catch up, at least one person would be busy because of work or some other commitment, and then this dinner would get cancelled and then everyone would forget to reorganise it. There were never any spontaneous dinners or drinks because everyone simply lived too far away. No one could be bothered to get out of the house at 9pm to go to the city for impromptu drinks. But in Vancouver? Since every lives on campus, it’s so convenient to walk 5 minutes to Mahoney’s or someone’s residence and have an impromtu party there.

img_9624

Love you guys ❤

I distinctly remember one Saturday when everyone was at home studying or just chilling, one friend messaged “Guys, drinks tonight” in the group chat and immediately, everyone replied with a thumbs up. It turns out one person was a little upset due to personal issues, and a few of us started messaging other friends to come join as well. Within an hour, everyone – and I repeat, everyone we messaged–  rocked up and I was quite literally floored at how supportive everyone was. A few came directly from grocery shopping (didn’t even go home to put everything away), and others turned up in sweatpants because they didn’t expect to go out that night. Thinking back to that night, I’m filled with love and gratitude to have met such an amazing bunch of people who would drop everything to come comfort a friend in need. It’s times like this that I really appreciate what exchange has shown me; back in Sydney, I don’t think it’s possible for someone to say “hey guys, this happened, come out for drinks tonight” and expect the entire gang to arrive. It’s just…not possible. But on exchange? I’ve witnessed it happening and it’s a scene that I’ll always remember.

UPDATE: I think I wrote this while I was extremely stressed and unfortunately it feels unfinished, but these were my naked thoughts at the time and finishing it off now will just smear the authenticity of it so I’ll simply leave it as it is.

UPDATE 2: OMG I MISS EXCHANGE 😦 😦 

 

Don’t Give Up

I’m writing this post in the midst of completing a bunch of assignments that are due next week; Entities on Tuesday and Audit on Friday (although my section is due by midday Monday).

The past week was probably one of the busiest but happiest weeks of my life. I survived my very first corporate interview, and sat through 3 quizzes for 3 of my subjects. I remember I started writing notes for my entities quiz 2 weeks ago, then on Friday, received a call from a big 4 firm inviting me to their offices for a partner interview the following Tuesday. I was absolutely ecstatic to be shortlisted for an interview especially as I never imagined I would get so far in a vacation/graduate application process. (The furthest I’d ever gotten was a video interview which I unfortunately stammered my way through – needless to say, I was cut after that round.)

I didn’t tell anyone – I have this abnormal superstition that if I tell people about an upcoming interview or receive any sort of help/advice regarding said interview, I would fail . Luckily I’d spoken to many people in the past regarding their partner interviews/ACs and had researched everything there is to know about interviews for the past year, so I felt quite confident that I had all the information I needed for the interview. That didn’t stop me from repeatedly googling the same questions over the weekend though; I’m pretty sure I googled and downloaded every single behavioural question there is on the internet over the 3 days before my interview. (Jks, maybe not all but I definitely had answers to like 200 different questions.)

I divided my research into several parts:

  • The firm
  • News Affecting the firm
  • News in general
  • Audit & Assurance
  • Behavioural Questions

The day of my interview, I was so nervous I couldn’t eat. (Even after the interview, my nerves still hadn’t settled so the only food I had before dinner was half a banana bread.) Anyway, the interview wasn’t anything like I’d imagined. I was expecting to be bombarded with behavioural questions and questions about what was happening in the business world and why I wanted to join the firm (hence all the research and practice) BUT the interview was more of a conversation to get to know me as a person and not so much about drawing upon my past experiences. My friends had told me that their interviews were conducted in a very chill/relaxed environment but the interviewers did ask them a lot of questions, and that was what I expected; best case scenario -a chill interview with numerous behavioural questions and worst case scenario – grilling.

I was definitely surprised but extremely grateful that my interview took the form of a conversation. My interviewers (who were seriously the nicest people ever) made me feel welcome and comfortable as soon as I stepped inside the interview room. There  was a bit of small talk, which really helped to settle my nerves because I felt I was chatting with two people I’d just met on the street and not two people who were assessing my suitability for a role at their firm!

They introduced themselves and talked about their experience. The next hour consisted of me telling them a bit about myself, my reasons for choosing Commerce & my majors, travelling, my past individual tax return internship, tutoring and blogging, and then they would take turns telling me about the firm, its culture, values and auditing. I could feel they truly enjoy working there, and as I listened to them, a light switched on in my head and I became dead set on joining them. I remember thinking, “if I don’t get an internship this year, I’ll be back next year to apply for grad.”

I walked out of their offices feeling relieved as I felt the interview went rather well!

And guess what??

I received my verbal offer the following day!!! (Immediately after my entities quiz hahahah)

I can’t express how excited, grateful and BLESSED I felt in that moment; I was legit speechless. The only words I could form were “THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY”. Gawd, I was so over the moon I probably wasn’t even coherent over the phone ahahah!

I signed my contract on Friday and now, I’m looking forward to my first day of work! (Actually I’m praying that I’ll pass background checks! HAHA I just have this habit of worrying unnecessarily about anything and everything.)

Just one bit of advice for my future self; DON’T EVER GIVE UP AND KEEPING PURSING YOUR DREAMS. A year ago, I was getting cut left, right and centre after the online assessments. I felt pretty hopeless and stupid – I mean, people my age had already received offers and here I was, struggling to pass an online test. I remember mentioning to a friend early this year that I would “apply to the big 4 firms then try the mid tier firms and then if I don’t get anything I’d try the small accounting firms” and he said that I wasn’t ambitious enough, but at the time, I had literally no faith in myself so I was willing to take whatever I could get. Fast forward 8 months,  and I spent the better part of an hour (or more) researching, drafting and creating the perfect response to demonstrate why I wanted to join the vacation program, felt confident as I completed their online assessments, had faith in myself as I proceeded to record my video interview and remained calm throughout the entire process, and then successfully received an offer after my partner interview.

I’ve realised after this process that we should always chase after what we want and to never give up. It may take 10 or 20 tries before we master the online assessment or before we can comfortably talk in front of a video camera, but we will master it eventually. Practice makes perfect, and if we fail the first 2,3 or 10 times, it’s okay. We can learn from our mistakes and try again. After all, without failure, there is no success. 🙂

Post Travel Thoughts

Once upon a time, I was comfortable with life.

I mean, why wouldn’t I?

I have parents and relatives who treated me like a princess and the most amazing friends who have gone above and beyond to surprise me every year for the past 3 years on my birthday. I’m studying at one of Australia’s most prestigious schools and working as a tutor and earning enough to afford high end luxury goods every now and then.

But my life was pretty….boring. I could easily predict what would happen every day and there were no challenges for me because every day was just the same. The same routine repeated a billion times. I go to Uni, hang out with friends and study for bit, go to work, come home, eat, do some homework or watch a new tv show, rinse and repeat. But of course, at the time I was satisfied with it because that was the life of every other person my age, right?

Then I went on exchange, and travelled to 10+ different countries in 8 months and boy, was I wrong about life.

Doing the same thing every single bloody day and liking it became a foreign concept to me. When I was overseas, everyday was different.

Everyday was a challenge.

Everyday was unpredictable.

This was especially the case when I travelled to the US and around Europe. I mean, how do you predict what’s going to happen when you’re not even 100% sure if you’ll even arrive at your intended destination the following day, or whether you’ll have a place to stay in 2 days time?

Sure, you know you’ll be sight seeing and eating food and driving or walking around a lot, but you’re in a foreign country, can’t speak the language and can only rely on google maps for direction. God knows how many things can go wrong.

But you know what? The fact that I had no idea whether I’d be homeless or possibly meet the love of my life the next day was exciting. It filled me with anticipation to discover what awaited me next and I was eager to embrace whatever life  hurled at me. It felt like I was taking on the world since I was basically welcoming anything, good or bad, that came my way. I loved the spontaneity of life and the sense of adventure that truly restored my passion for life again.

Now that I’m back in Sydney, I feel like I’m living in a box again. I’m back at Uni and everyday is basically the same. It doesn’t help that so much has changed in the last 8 months. When I talk to certain friends, I feel like there’s a small gap between us that can’t be filled..or perhaps will take a while to fill. It’s just that so much has changed and there’s so much I have to catch up on and so many inside jokes that I’m not privy to anymore. My friends from different groups have merged and become inseparable and sometimes I feel like an outsider watching them banter, all the while smiling politely as if I understand what’s going on. I mentioned to a few close friends that it felt slightly awkward talking to some people the week I got back and for certain ‘friends’, our ‘friendship’ faded over the past 8 months and we had to chat and become friends all over again.

The thought of meeting up with my exchange friends again somewhere on the other side of the world is now simultaneously exciting and terrifying; exciting because I’m eager to see them again and relive those exchange days, but terrifying because if it’s awkward talking to someone I’ve known for half a decade after 8 months apart, what will it be like when I see these exchange friends I’ve only spent 4 months with?

Having said all that, I do love Sydney. My dream right now is to work overseas for several years and then return to Sydney and continue from there. 🙂