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.

 

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.

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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. 🙂