Post Travel Depression

A lot of people have asked me what the hardest part of travelling is or praised me for my courage to venture solo into a completely foreign environment with no grasp of the language. Yes I have encountered difficulties caused by a communication barrier and once I missed my bus because I couldn’t find the bus stop and was also pointed in the wrong direction by a stranger, but these are certainly not “the hardest parts of travelling” for me.

Since I started actively travelling, I have had my backpack and valuables stolen, had no change of clothes because my checked-in baggage never left the city I departed from, been scammed by taxi drivers,  gotten so sick I was bed-ridden for a few days,  and had to visit a dentist in Italy, been the target of racist comments and have woken up on a stranger’s couch after drinking too much the night before with absolutely no idea who the house belonged to. Sure, the above were problems and challenges I faced overseas and I would rather never have to deal with them again but after spending the last 2 weeks in Sydney, I’ve finally realised what the hardest part of jet setting is for me.

It’s adjusting to life at home.

Last year after I came back from 8 months abroad, I suffered a short period of post-travel depression but this was swiftly pushed to the back of my mind as more pressing matters emerged: passing my final year at uni, applying for internships, looking for a part-time jobs etc. It was easy for me to move on with my life because I kept myself busy, and on my days off I managed to find friends who were willing to explore different parts of Sydney with me. I also made a decision to work hard for an entire year, save as much money as possible and after graduating, I would return to Europe for my graduation trip.  I therefore had something to look forward to in my life, and a reason to work hard and keep busy.

This is unfortunately not the case this time round. I returned to Australia 3 weeks ago and this post travel depression syndrome is hitting me at full force. I was fine the first week as I was busy preparing myself for my graduation,  but the last week and a half have been horrible. All my friends are either working full time, part-time or studying for exams and obviously don’t have time to chill with me on weekdays. I used to look forward to Friday and Saturday nights because usually my friends are free and I could drink and forget. However, it seems like most of them would prefer a quiet night in as opposed to a trashy night out. This is disappointing because what I need right now is to talk to people, forget that I’m not travelling anymore and have fun but the reality is, I’m stuck at home every second day and am about to explode.

I’m currently considering escaping Sydney again before Christmas, but at the rate my bank balance is depleting, I don’t think I’ll have enough money for another trip abroad. All I can hope for now is that this post travel depression will soon fade away and I’ll fall back into my daily routine.

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Review | The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: 24th July 2017 

 

Gorgeously written and emotionally charged, The Secret History of Us explores the difficult journey of a teenage girl who must piece her life together after losing her memory in a near-fatal accident.

When Olivia awakes in a hospital bed following a car accident that almost took her life, she can’t remember the details about how she got there. She figures the fog is just a symptom of being in a week-long coma, but as time goes on, she realizes she’s lost more than just the last several days of her life—she’s lost her memory of the last four years. Gone is any recollection of starting or graduating high school; the prom; or her steady boyfriend Matt. Trying to figure out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was. 

As Liv tries to block out what her family and friends say about who she used to be, the one person she hasn’t heard enough from is Walker, the guy who saved her the night her car was knocked off that bridge into the bay below. Walker is the hardened boy who’s been keeping his distance—and the only person Olivia inexplicably feels herself with. With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t remember living.

A quick, breezy read that I need every now and then to escape reality.

The story follows Liv, who miraculously survives a fatal car accident but has lost her memory of the last four years of her life. Her journey to recovery after the accident made me question how I would react if I woke up with the realisation that I’d lost the last 4 years of my life and whether I’m happy with the person I am today. After creating a quick summary of things I would change vs things I would like to remain the same, it turns out if I were to lose the last 4 years of my memory, there are definitely things in my life that I would do differently.

The message I took from The Secret History of Us is that we shouldn’t care about what other people thinks of us or what society expects us to do. Do what you want.

“You gotta go with what seems right to you, not what you think you should be doing because it’s what you’ve been told. You’re allowed to change. We all are.”

We spend half our lives living in fear that we’ll get judged for doing something unconventional or un-us. But who cares about what other people think? Life is short, do what you want for yourself.

Jessi Kirby continues to be on my list of authors to look out for every year. I can’t wait for her future books!

2013 | First Year

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2013 | First Year of Uni

2013 started off with a trip to Nanjing, Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan. When I got back in January, I remember thinking I needed to find myself a job but since Christmas had passed, it was unlikely any retail stores were looking for new staff. I decided to try my hand at tutoring and promptly signed myself up on a few websites where I basically advertised myself as a tutor looking for students. My first lesson was conducted at Epping Library; I was nervous but it was a successful lesson. I started receiving more messages from potential students until I was teaching enough students to earn a solid weekly income to support myself.

Semester 1 of 2013 was uneventful. I didn’t go to ANY of the Uni parties/camps because I didn’t know anyone else going LOL. I also didn’t join any societies because….it was too much commitment. I paid close to $40 during O-week signing up for each and every society that I found interesting, but legit didn’t end up going to any of the events. I therefore didn’t meet very many people; I probably made a total of 5 friends during my first semester, ALL of whom were introduced to me through a mutual friend.

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In July 2013, I made a huge decision to join BSOC’s Ski Camp. I can’t remember exactly why I decided to go; maybe it was because I’d missed out on the BSOC camp, cruise and other Welcome Back parties and I wanted to do something society related, or maybe it was because I genuinely wanted to go skiing/see snow. I don’t know. But I did sign up and went with a high school friend of mine. It was at BSOC’s ski camp that I was allocated a cabin with several other first years whom I’d never met before but quickly became friends with. Now, I don’t remember what I wanted to get out of Ski Camp; maybe it was simply to learn to ski, or maybe it was to meet new people, but whatever my intentions were I definitely did not expect to become so close to 10 other people who have ultimately shaped my Uni life.

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I’m going to be completely honest here and say that at first, I didn’t feel as close to these friends as the world believed. We were this massive group that posted photos every other day where ALL 13 of us were tagged and some of the people in this group were very active within societies and therefore had a huge social media following. I’m pretty sure we spammed half the first year Commerce population with our frequent updates, photos and posts on each other’s walls. Everyone thought we were this really close bunch of friends who met up every day and spoke to each other every day, which was true, but initially I wasn’t close to anyone. I was close to them all as a group , but definitely not individually. These were some of the nicest, caring and considerate people I’ve ever met in my life and I soon realised this when I started getting to know them individually. I honestly don’t have words for how grateful I am to have met them; I was a shy and awkward girl who had no idea how to navigate this complex realm of University and out of nowhere these 12 super cheerful human beingss literally infiltrated my life and showed me this whole new world of clubbing, eating out, road trips and basically going to every University event and Sydney event as a group. I love them. Seriously. My life would have been a dull, black abyss without them.

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It was thanks to #SeriousYOLO that my University life became more wholesome and fulfilling. I went to BSOC’s annual ball, BSOC’s BSXC dance party, Round House party and a whole heap of other events in Sydney at their encouragement. Suddenly, I wasn’t staying at home everyday or dining out at the same places. I was trying new things, eating out at new places and just stepping out of my comfort zone in general.

If I could use only one word to summarise 2013, it would be #SeriousYolo. I became more adventurous and outgoing thanks to these legends ❤

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Goodbye Uni!

I received my 2017 Semester 1 results yesterday and I can happily say I’ve passed everything and I’m set to graduate!!! My ceremony will be in November but according to the email I received this arvo, my “graduation date” is 31st July 2017. 

The last 4.5 years have been life-changing for me and I’m considering writing a few posts reflecting on my time at Uni, starting with detailed summaries of each year. I’ve come up with a few topics I’d like to reflect on:

  • First Year Summed Up 2013
  • Second Year Summed Up 2014
  • Third Year Summed Up 2015 – 2016
  • Fourth Year Summed Up 2016 – 2017
  • Regrets
  • Biggest Achievements
  • Happiest Memories
  • UNSW vs UBC
  • High School Grad vs Uni Grad 
  • Plans for the Future 

Of course, the list isn’t exhaustive and I will be adding more to the list as more ideas come to me.

For now, I’m going to start writing/reflecting and hopefully the posts will be up soon!!

Q&A with Patrick Ness

Thanks to Walker Books Australia, I have an exciting Q&A with Patrick Ness on the blog today! A Monster Calls was published in 2011 by Walker Books and the movie will be released in cinemas in Australia on 27 July 2017. 

I’m currently reading A Monster Calls and I’m really enjoying it so far! You can find more information here:

Book: 
Goodreads | Walker Books | Patrick Ness

Movie:
A Monster Calls Movie

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The following Q&A is an extract of an interview that appears in the back of A Monster Calls: Special Collector’s Edition . A Monster Calls: Special Collector’s Edition is a deluxe hardcover edition of Patrick Ness’ masterpiece featuring the entire illustrated novel as well as more than one hundred pages of extraordinary film-inspired content. 

From Story to Screenplay

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How did you feel when you found out that the book was going to be turned into a film?

Well, it was great, but I am always skeptical. I’m skeptical about everything, even my books – I never believe they’re going to exist until they do, with a film even more so. So much had to be in place that was completely out of my hands. I was optimistic: there were really great creative partners, who knew what they were doing and really wanted to make this happen. But I thought, movies don’t happen to people like me! So I didn’t ever count my chickens – I’m still not counting my chickens!

You have written several screenplays. What did you find interesting about adapting your own book into a screenplay? How different a writing experience was it?

I’d been very protective of the material right the way through so I held off from selling it for a very long time. Then I thought I’d actually like to write the screenplay because I thought I knew how the story works and how it could be changed. You don’t always know that something’s going to work; you just hope.

I’ll always consider myself a novelist because in a novel, for good or ill, all the choices are yours. You’re in charge of it and it’s one hundred per cent an expression of you. That’s a great freedom and a great responsibility and a great challenge – the tyranny of all that choice! It’s hard, but really rewarding, and I love it.

Screenplays, on the other hand, are kind of like puzzles: a movie at best if a long short story, so how do you take the essence of your story and communicate everything in it in a shorter space? That kind of creative challenge can spur you on. I’ve always found limitations can be a great spurt to creativity.

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What needed to change in the story? How did you feel about altering things from the book? Was there a strand from the book that you wanted to be emphasized in the film?

The bullies get emphasized in the film because they’re Conor’s connection to the outside world and, given Conor’s world is so interior (he’s always in his home, or his grandmother’s house, or in the tales), it’s important to have this visual link to the outside world in his film. We need to know what the outside looks like, and how the world regards him, and how small his world has shrunk.

There were some changed Director J.A. Bayona wanted – the director always brings things. He was very interested in the idea of legacy and what a parent leaves behind. So he had the idea that Conor loves drawing because his mother is an artist, and this works perfectly visually because it links right into the tales, which erupt from his drawings. It comes together just gorgeously at the end. Throughout the whole film there’s been a locked room in Conor’s grandmother’s house. At the end we discover that the grandmother has been making it into a room for Conor and it’s full of all his artworks and all his mother’s old drawing pads. The final shot shows him opening one up and finding a drawing of the monster on his mother’s shoulder, so she has clearly seen the monster herself, probably when she lost her father. So the monster had come for her as well and they share that. It’s a beautiful addition.

 Were you involved in the casting process for the film? What do the individual actors bring to your characters?

Casting is half desperate desire and half chance. You make lists of actors you want and they’re just ridiculous because, if you were to get them all, the salaries alone would be $300 million. Liam Neeson is so perfect for the role it’s almost slightly obvious, but we thought, let’s try him anyway. And he turned out to love the book, and he’s a truly lovely man so getting him involved felt like a bit of a blessing.

As for Sigourney Weaver, I don’t think we thought she’d be available, but then Bayona called me one day and said, “We’ve got Sigourney Weaver,” and I thought, whoa! And she’s perfect – she is physically perfect and her manner is perfect.

Bayona and the producer Belén Atienza suggested Felicity Jones and got her before The Theory of Everything – before she was too busy! So that was a great bit of timing. I once talked to a director who said casting is important but, in some ways, if you get good people, the film will sort of shape itself to fit them. But still, how amazing to get Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver for a film that didn’t have a huge budget! And among all the kids who were auditioned, Lewis MacDougall just stood out. He’s auditioned for three things in his life and he’s got all three, so that says it all really.

 Did you spend much time on set? What did you enjoy most about the film-making process?

I was involved in the process all the way through. The director, J.A. Bayona, and the producer, Belén Atienza, were very generous and very collaborative. There were lots of script meetings in Barcelona where we’d talk and talk about scripts, scenes and order. We hashed it out until we were all happy. I was on set about ten or twelves times. It was a fairly lengthy shoot because they had a juvenile lead, so could only shoot a certain amount of hours a day. Throughout the whole process they would send me scenes. They would always ask me about additions to the dialogue – every single line of dialogue they were thinking of adding in. Sometimes actors suggest things on set, and some of it’s just fantastic and needs to be woven in.

The first two weeks were spent with Liam Neeson in a suit doing motion capture for the CGI monster. Because the monster is created using CGI, they had a big model of the monster’s head on set to give Lewis something to act to. And the final tale, which is set in a graveyard, was filmed in an abandoned hospital-studio on the outskirts of Barcelona, with a huge construction of a graveyard. It looked half impressive and half not there, but then in the film it looks amazing.

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A Monster Calls is a very emotional novel. How difficult was it to translate into motion onto the screen?

I think we’re a good match, me and Bayona (Director J.A. Bayona). He’s very outwardly emotional and passionate, like a lot of directors are, and I’m very reserved (which doesn’t mean unemotional, just privately emotional). So I thought between us we could probably get to a really good central point which neither of us could get to on our own. I would always want to make sure the emotion is really true. I want ugly crying, not pretty crying. I don’t want any easy outs (not that Bayona would have gone for easy outs), and he probably instinctively distrusts lack of expression in emotion. So, together, we find the right path that most people are going to fall into.

In a movie it’s the performances that are going to do it, and all the actors understood that it’s not a movie about grief, but about sadness and anger.

 Both film and illustration are activities that transform a writer’s words into images. What do you feel about that visual process?

I’m not an artist, and I’m not a film director, so I felt a huge curiosity about how Jim Kay, the book’s illustrator, and Bayona would respond to my work. Jim is so talented! Some of the stuff he drew I could never have thought of and some of the stuff Bayona shot I could ever have thought of. That’s what you wish for – somebody who knows different things than you know and brings those to the work. The important thing for me always is to keep learning. I never want to be complacent – that’s why I wanted to do the screenplay myself. Even if I failed I wanted at least to try.