Wednesday, November 24, 2010


After taking advice from a couple of bloggers out there I managed to finish my scholarship essay! It's probably going to be way too long but I am just glad I have it done! Selina suggested I just write and worry about throwing in interesting/funny stuff later as I can always edit and hopefully without noticing it the essay will blossom of its own accord. This is probably why it's 11:54pm and I've only just completed it, I just started writing and didn't want to stop till I had it all finished . Plus now I can still edit it- as the majority of what I wanted to say is there and now I just have to fill in the cracks!

Linde suggested in my previous post that I do a mind map which was brilliant suggestion as I have used a lot of mind maps in my studying this year but had never thought to use one for this! I was feeling a tad on the lazy side so I googeld 'mind map maker' and ended up with the mind map below which made it 10 times easier to write the essay as I had the framework to construct my essay from. Even though it does look a little messy with all those boxes everywhere(which made my essay uber long) it just made everything 'click'.

(Click on the picture to see a bigger image)

I'd better get some shut eye so I can edit in the morning and send it off before I'm too late. Have a wonderful night/day everyone.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why I don't want to be a journalist

One of the reasons I gave my parents for letting me go on exchange was that EF(the exchange organization) offered a partial scholarship of $3000. I really need that money, it would cover spending money for the year, pay for a new laptop or enable me to go on one of the discovery tours on offer from EF throughout my exchange year. I figure my chances of receiving it aren't too bad as I know there aren't that many students going on the program in 2011 from Australia(there was only 7 people from Perth at the orientation meeting I had to attend the other week!). EF only offers the scholarship to full year students so that cuts out a bunch of people as many people wouldn't want to go for the whole year and EF offers short programs for 2-3 months which I assume would be quite popular. Besides the advertising information we've received to convince us to apply for the program I've had no other information sent to me regarding the scholarships, I had to email asking for more details about it so hopefully that means other people have forgotten about it. My writing skills aren't too bad either but I'm really struggling trying to write the scholarship. You basically have to write an essay and incorporate the following questions into it:

. How have your experiences with people from other countries affected you personally?
. What activities have you been involved with during the past two years that you feel will enhance your experience as an exchange student?
. What benefits do you hope to gain from the experience of living in another culture?
. How will the benefits help you with your future goals?
. What qualities do you possess to be a "Junior Ambassador" for your country?
. How will these qualities help you in a foreign country?

I've barely finished the first question which I'm still struggling with. I actually have fairly decent stuff to talk about and I do believe I'm worthy of the scholarship it's just that I want to write it in an interesting way that'll make me stand out from other applications so I'm trying to incorporate humor into it but it's hard when there's a lot of pressure to do a good job on it, it's just feeling very forced at the moment. This proves why I wouldn't want to be a journalist, whilst I like the idea of it all I don't think I'm cut out for the pressure behind it- having to write an article within a certain time frame and doing it on a subject that may be chosen by someone else. What I like about blogging is that I can talk about what comes to mind easily, it flows much better when it's not forced and when there's no looming thought at the back of my mind that if I don't do a good job I'll be letting down a whole company, my boss and may be kicked out of a job.

Did I mention I have till the end of November to get this essay in by? This is going to be a long, laborious process but if I can finish it I think I'm in with a good chance.

I'm off to for my interview at the US consulate in the city to get my visa sorted out, so I'll let you know how that goes tomorrow. Have a lovely rest of your weekend!
During last year's summer holiday I compiled a list of things I wanted to complete over the period from December 09' to January 10' and I did have a few of the things crossed off the list but I've since revamped it a touch and I have put together a list of things I want to do before I leave for my exchange to America. Luckily I've finished earlier this year due to year 12 exams; my last exam was on the 15th of November whereas the lower grades(except the 11th graders who also have exams) at my school will continue their schooling until mid December. As I have no school looming in Australia for 2011 I have no excuse not to get cracking on the following before my departure on the 4th of January:

-sew a piece of clothing

-crochet/knit something

-dye my hair with sage leaves

-write a song

-re-learn the piano

-read the 2nd harry potter book

-complete travel journal from china

-complete a puzzle

-print photos from my computer

-organise photo albums

-bake pumpkin scones

-put up posters in my room

-make banana icypoles

-submit an app idea

-organise visa for the USA

-watch Camp Rock 2

-complete scholarship application for exchange

-find christmas present for my mum

Well I'll have lots to keep me busy for the next couple of weeks and lots of things to blog about so I shall report back frequently to let you know how I'm progressing. Golly, I love a good to-do list!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Plan.

So I've kind of mapped out my life for the next 5 years, after that I have absolutely no idea what will happen so I'm trying not to think too much about that.

2011-spend a year abroad in america to attend high school & become more confident and mature

2012- return to Australia to commence my bachelor of business at the nearby university, spend time with family, get a part-time job and raise a guide dog pup.

2013-go on a university exchange for the year to the University of Missouri-Columbia and live in the university dorms and hopefully join a sorority

2014- Back again to Australia to find another part-time job and complete my final year of university and do work experience

2015- take part in one of the Disney International Programs in the US and take a course in human resources, experiential learning and/or organizational leadership (more on this in a future post...)

That way I get to spend lots of time in America so I can fulfill my desire to live the American Dream as much as humanly possible but still keep things going in Australia.

As I was filling out my US visa application today I was reading the conditions on one of the forms which I have to sign to say I agree to and came across the point "TWO YEAR HOME COUNTRY PHYSICAL PRESENCE REQUIREMENT". At first I was a having a major freak-out because I thought it meant that after my high school exchange I had to stay in Australia for two years which would have completely abolished my dreams of completing part of my university degree over in the states. However, I started to calm down when I read the fine print underneath:
"Exchange visitors whose programs are financed in whole or in part, directly or indirectly by either their government or by the U.S. Government, are required to reside in their home-country for 2 years following the completion of their program..."
Which means it won't apply to me as I've paid for this exchange trip so I'll be able to go on the university exchange. The only problem is that the university exchange is going to cost around $20,000 and I highly doubt I'll be earning enough in my part time job to cover that so I was planning on getting a government loan for it which would pay for half of the trip(so $10,000) but I think you can now guess my dilemma; if the same visa condition still applies I may not be able to participate in the Disney International Program which I desperately wanted to do. My university does do partial scholarships of $2500 for the exchanges but that is only going to be marginally helpful. I really hope this doesn't put a spanner in the works for my 5-year life plan.

My mum did buy her first lotto ticket today so maybe if the cards are in my favour she'll win enough money so that I won't have to rely on the government assistance for the university exchange. *Fingers crossed*

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To go or not to go?

I've actually been wanting, hoping, wishing and praying to go an exchange for several years. I'm going with an organisation called Education First(EF) which seems to be the front-runner in the exchange business as it's one of the oldest companies, having been around for over 40 years. I actually have to thank my school for exposing me to it(as much as I hate to admit it as that place has only given me grief for the last 5 years) as they had posters and flyers hanging up in the school library.

At first my parents didn't mind the idea and originally I was hoping to complete my final year of high school on exchange but after contacting my school about it they said I'd have to repeat a year once I got back as the schooling systems overseas would be so different. That was something I definitely didn't want to do but luckily I discovered you could still go on exchange after you finished high school and have it as your gap year before commencing university. Unfortunately as my parents gradually found out more about the program and how serious I was about going on exchange they began listing me all the reasons why I shouldn't go. They didn't want me to go to America as they wanted me to go somewhere I'd have to learn a new language, they said the cost was too expensive, they said I'd be wasting my time doing another year of high school and that I should just do a university exchange when I'm older.

I started to have panic attacks that I wouldn't be able to go on exchange- I couldn't get to sleep, I was constantly on edge and experienced this horrible feeling of anxiety that I'd never experienced before. The thought of going straight to university after year 12 petrified me. I had worked myself up to going to the states- suddenly I felt I was destined to go there. I was so determined to go there I pulled out every trick in the book in order to get myself a place on that exchange program. I listed all the reasons why I should go and also any arguments to counteract my parents' excuses of why I should stay in Australia. I told them how I didn't have a passion for any other nation as much as I did for the USA and that their high schools are so much more community spirited. I told my parents of all the new clubs and subjects I'd be able to try out for the first time. I told them I didn't have enough time in Australia to learn a language to enable me to go a foreign speaking country and that it wouldn't have been as enjoyable. I told them about how different the United States is in comparison to Australia and that it would be a completely different experience. I told them I needed this extra year to mature and prepare myself for university. I told them I truly believed the experience would be a huge investment into making a difference for the rest of my life. I told them I wanted to experience the life of American teens and how I'd met Americans on my school trip to China and they were the most wonderful bunch of people I'd ever met.

I also told my parents that I was willing to pay for the cost out of a bank account under my brother and I's name which had money we'd inherited from relatives who have since passed away. I think that was the main clincher that made them agree to let me go. Whilst I really did want to use the money to pay for university I knew that this was a much more worthy cause.

Being able to go on this exchange has been like a carrot dangling in front of my nose. It's helped motivate me to do the best I can in my studies this year. When I was at a point where I didn't think I was going on exchange I almost felt like, 'why bother with exams and study in 12th grade?'. If I did well at the end of it, my 'reward' would be going to university. It seemed more like a punishment.

It almost feels like I've won the lottery now that I've got my parent's permission and EF's acceptance for me to spend the next year in the United States of America. It's going to change my life and I know I'll be able to embrace university head on when I return- something I'm now excited about.

And you know what the crazy thing is?! Now my parents go on and on about how good the exchange program will be for me and boast about it to any person they meet. Even before I've stepped foot in America I've learnt something new from the exchange program; if you really want something and you persevere it will come your way.

Monday, November 15, 2010

When one door closes another one opens.

So I am finally free of the grasp of the Australian school system, exams, homework, terrible teachers, repulsive canteen food and people I'm sick of seeing each day. It was such a stifling environment, I don't feel at all prepared for the real world. Highschool in Australia has made me more reclusive if anything and I've felt the most antisocial I've ever been during this past year.

I don't even know what to do with myself now, I don't think it's really set in that I will never have to step foot in that school again. I do have my school graduation on the 29th though but I can cope with that, I'm looking forward to it- an excuse to wear my heels from the school ball again.

Originally the plan would have been for me to chill for the next couple of months until I started up university at the campus five minutes away, probably with most of the same people I've shared these high school years with. It would be something new and out of my comfort zone but I don't think I'd be able to take full advantage of it when I'm my same reserved self in the company of the same high school peers who expect me to stay that way. Deep down I know I'm more outgoing it's just that I've got stuck in a rut. Not only that but I'm afraid of getting older- I'm afraid I haven't made the most of my time and think people will expect more of me as I age although I don't feel any different. I can honestly see myself spiraling into a meltdown or some form of depression/anxiety.

I just couldn't let that happen. I knew I needed more time to prepare for university but staying in Australia wasn't going to help so I decided to take a high school exchange year abroad to the United States of America! I'll be doing an extra year of high school but as we finish school the year we turn 17 here in Western Australia I should be roughly the same age as all the American teens. Plus I'll be with a new year group at university so once again I can start afresh and make new friendship groups. In America I'll be able to start over, create a fresh new me and the wonderful thing is that no-one will know about my previous self in Australia. I'm going to introduce myself to everyone as Shivi(my real name is Siobhan) to reflect the new identity I'll be creating for myself. As long as I'm confident, cheery and chirpy on the first day I'll have no problem- I just need my first impression on people to be a good one and then people will just expect it of me.

There's a lot I'll share with you all about the exchange program but I'll leave that for another day.