My two cents for my two semesters

I’ve covered some events and stories at La Trobe University Bundoora, around Melbourne, and featured some articles of what it’s like to be an overseas student in Australia. But for my last piece, I want to write about me.

I interviewed a former Bhutanese refugee who’s now running for public office in Moreland, and apart from the issues he aims to address in the city, he spoke about what it means to be a migrant here in Australia. He points out that despite the multiculturalism and diversity in Australia, communities in suburbs do not come together in joint celebration. Adding that integrating people of different ethnic origins is a struggle that still needs work in the country.

It made me think about disposition as a possible migrant and what challenges I’ll be facing.

My two semesters in La Trobe have been a constant adjustment. Not always pleasant but indeed necessary. I’ve mentioned on a previous post of what it’s like to be an overseas student in Australia, and it for the most part it was negative. Having to adjust to the language, lack of context with the social environment, and no family. Well, after two tough semesters I’ve learned a couple of things that changed me for the better.

Hopefully this can help other overseas students.

Be bold.

Don’t linger around. Do it. When you want something, go ask for it (politely). When you think you are mistreated, speak up. When you’re seeking help from your lecturers, don’t be tentative, be definite.

Your confidence and courage will scare people who are timid, and you may sometimes appear arrogant. But do not falter, your personality will attract success and it will grant you opportunities.

Be assertive.

It’s your obligation to make them know you. When you’re in a place where nobody knows who you are, and nobody will really bother to, you have to find ways for them to think twice. Remember, you chose to be here, and you have to accept that you might have to exert more effort in gaining certain things than the locals. Therefore, you have to dance along with music.

Do volunteer work, join a club, attend events, and meet some people. If you want to change you have to experience discomfort.

Be composed.

Always remain calm whether you’re ecstatic or distressed. Don’t make impulsive decisions when you are happy, because the danger is that when your expectations are not met, the recovery is almost impossible. When you are lonely, breathe. Remember you are just in school, and you are allowed to make mistakes.

In the end, it’s all about how much you want something and what you’re willing to pay for it.


I guess somehow some migrants feel like these animals. They are there and they are a part of society, but somehow they still don’t belong. If you feel alone out there, please know that you aren’t.

By Haj Songcuya


Your Next Read: The Girl on the Train


Are you looking for something to read over the break? Maybe something gut-churning, nail-biting and mind boggling? Look no further than The Girl on the Train, written by Paula Hawkins.

The premise seems simple enough; the unreliable, alcoholic protagonist Rachel takes the train to work every day and watches a perfect couple in their house outside her window as she travels past. As she does, she wonders about and envies their seemingly perfect marriage. Then one day on her way to work, Rachel sees something happening in that house that completely turns her world upside down. Later that day, she believes she is somehow involved in a murder and because of her alcoholic blackouts, she doesn’t remember how.

As she untangles her blurred past and complex connection to the ‘perfect couple’, secrets and lies are exposed. Along for the ride are Emma and Megan, two more first person narratives to add layers to the plot. The explanation may seem blasé but believe me, revealing some things about the narrative only spoils the enjoyment of you finding out yourself.

Hawkins perfectly fleshes out the three main female protagonists and readers become legitimately invested, even though you may pre-empt their fates. The non-linear narrative is confusing at first (the novel taking place between 2012 to 2013) but it doesn’t stop you in your tracks.


Repeatedly dubbed the next Gone Girl, the novel is not for the faint hearted and should not be read just before bedtime. Despite making you second guess catching public transport ever again, The Girl on the Train is as addictive as Rachel’s obsession with the murder. Once you start reading, you are afraid to put it down.

If the novel doesn’t feed your hunger for psychological thrillers, check out the novel’s newly released film adaption, with actress Emily Blunt portraying Rachel.

I hope everyone has a relaxing break and best wishes for the upcoming exams!

Oh Captain My Captain

Jordan Kallady is the captain that any Southern University Games (SUGS) basketball team would kill for. He’s not just driven on the court – off the court he’s hard working as well.

Jordan is studying a Bachelor of Health Science and a Masters in Health Education Management. Jordan is in his fifth and final year. He will be graduating at the end of the year.

“Majority of my education has gone towards project management, as there are new advancements in the field through computer systems. On top of that, sorting out legal requirements around medical records, more funding for a hospital, clinical coding and program development.”

Even though Jordan is finishing his degree at the end of the year. It’s never too late to change your mind about what you want to do in life.

“I couldn’t imagine myself sitting behind a desk in the next 40 years. That is why I’m changing to Para-med next year, after I graduate.”

Jordan would be described as a very active person, who has ingrained leadership qualities. These strengths were utilised in this years SUGS when he was captain of the basketball team. “Captain Softie” the boys called him.


“I’ve been on 4 SUGS so far and the 2016 SUGS was definitely the best by far. Everyone was close on SUGS and became even closer after.”

A message from Jordan to the 2016 Basketball team this year:

“I enjoyed being your captain so much because everyone on the team was a good person, as well as a great basketball player.”

Jordan may be playing again next year either on La Trobe’s team as captain again or maybe on another? I guess you’ll have to wait and see.

By Brianne Keogh

Adventures of an Introvert: Swan Hill Province

My search for silence and serenity takes me 339 kilometres away from the heart of Melbourne. Swan Hill is situated along the border of New South Wales and Melbourne, on the stretch of the Murray River which is Australia’s longest river. The river spans across three states; Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. It takes approximately four hours of travel time on the train from Southern Cross station, and regular one way tickets cost about $40. It features landscapes and sceneries which remain unspoiled by urban infrastructure and commercialized tourist destinations.

There’s nothing better than spending some time away from the city and seeing Australia from a different light. I’ve seen Australia with a necktie, scrambling to find its Myki card while running late and trying to catch the 7am train to work. But now I see it holding a cup of coffee with some toast while watching strangers fishing on the river banks.

During this one week break I was fortunate to visit several attractions in Swan Hill such as the riverside park. It’s the perfect destination for a picnic on a sunny day, where you can take great photos, go for a jog, take your pet for a walk, feed the ducks, or take children on the playground. The Pioneer Settlement is a museum that features the lives of the early settlers in the region. The leisure centre is a sports complex which offers a variety of fitness programs as well as one on one training.

Here’s how I spent my week-long break:


That’s what I love about isolation – even ordinary things stand out


If only life came with train tracks that tell you where to go or when to stop


“Gem” – boat restaurant in Pioneer Settlement


Swan Hill leisure centre



By Haj Songcuya


21st century Journalism – Where do we go from here?

The manifestation of free speech has drastically changed over the last few years. The power over information which was solely in the hands of established media giants, is now divided amongst every individual who owns a smartphone.

However, this shift of power does not come without danger and consequence. The age of information has tilted power in favour of the consumer, which now threatens the existence of contemporary media.

The time where journalists functioned as the voice of the people has passed, and now people have the means to be heard.

Today, everyone has a voice.

Today, everyone can be a journalist.

That’s the dilemma of the modern journalist. How can I distinguish myself?


Four panelists

The Game Changer. A recent event hosted by La Trobe’s upstart magazine that took place at The State Library of Victoria. Four panellists discussed social media, politics, and 21st century journalism, which was then followed by Q&A and drinks.

The talk was moderated by Erdem Koc, lecturer, Department of Communications and Media, and executive editor for upstart magazine.

With guest speakers Tom Cowie, La Trobe alumnus and crime reporter for The Age; Mark Di Stefano, political editor of BuzzFeed Australia; Jess Gregory, Policy and Communications Officer for the Victorian peak body for family violence services, and former journalist.


Some key issues that were covered:

The gap between what’s important and what’s interesting

In an attempt to maintain continuous readership, news organisations are now inclined to cover stories that attract their target audience instead of what they deem to be newsworthy.

Ask yourself

No one wants to read it, so even if it’s important do we still have to tell the story?

There’s a mounting pressure for media outlets to keep track of social media trends, and to retain strong social media presence. It seems that the pressure is so great that some have resorted to clickbait with hyperbolic headlines and false claims.

Journalists need to find a way to be relevant in a ‘sea of mediocrity’

Today our professional value is often judged by the new things that we have to offer. As journalists we therefore have to find the stories that are not being told, or tell the stories in ways that have never been told before. You have to have the initiative to immerse yourself in the industry and at the same time, find ways of presenting your content in ways that allow it to stand out without being obscured by other relevant content.

Ask yourself

What do I know that other people can’t talk about, but me?


From left to right: Erdem Koc, Tom Cowie, Jess Gregory, and Mark Di Stefano

By Haj Songcuya

One of life’s choices and a sneaky tequila worm

Vasilios is a first year at La Trobe studying a Bachelor of Science Degree. Like every other University student though, he’s indecisive. He does not know if the degree he is doing is the right one for him. Many students face this problem towards midyear. Some drop out – others defer. Vas on the other hand is in the midst of changing his degree altogether.

Vas found, “science wasn’t for me, as much as it is interesting – I couldn’t see myself having a career in it in the future.”

Why be stuck in a degree that would give you future dissatisfaction?

He’s been researching what degree to change into and has settled on a Bachelor of Phycology. “It encompasses the science factor and also the human body. That is what I find fascinating. I also want to make a difference in society and I feel psychology can do that.” Vas is also interested in how people think, and what stimulates a person’s motive. “In psychology I believe I can research this.” Vas is one of those lucky people that change their mind about their degree. Some people after 5 years still don’t know what they want to do

He was also on Southern University Games (SUG) for LTU, playing basketball. Vas on SUG’s was known for offering everyone on the basketball team tequila worms on the first night. Some may think tequila worms are gummy worms soaked in tequila however, you are totally wrong. These are real dead worms soaked in tequila. Some teammates were in utter horror. Vas with a smile wouldn’t let them back out of it. Vas on SUGS nickname was Lazarus because he rose from the dead and played basketball after a massive night out.


Overall Vas is one of those guys you can easily get along with around LTU. If you ever feel like changing degrees go to him for advice because he’s been through it all.

By Brianne Keogh

Introventures: St. Kilda Beach

A true introvert knows that there’s nothing better than peace and quiet, all the more in the arms of mother nature. My first destination is St. Kilda beach.

Situated on the southern part of Melbourne, the city was named after the yacht Lady of St. Kilda by Lieutenant Charles La Trobe. It is known for St. Kilda beach which sits on the stretch of Port Phillip Bay near Luna Park.

What’s there to do?

There’s so many ways to unwind and relax at the beachfront whether you’re alone or with friends and family. If you’re feeling energetic you can ride a bike, go for a jog or a quick swim. However if you just want to relax, you can opt to take a stroll, grab a quick bite, have a chat over coffee, or go on a picnic. Whatever you decide to do, you won’t be spared from the beauty of the scenery.


(The contrast between the cool sand and the warmth of the sun made it the perfect day to go for a jog or lie on the shore)

There are café’s and restaurants on the seaside. I personally enjoyed fish and chips.

Why should I do it?

Because every now and then we need to cast our worries aside and ease our minds. Instead of spending your paycheck on a few drinks here and there, save yourself the extra dollars and go for a walk, or read a book instead. We spend most of our time indoors; it’s good to have some extra sunlight.


(The vastness of the water is humbling)

How do I get there?

From the city in Southern Cross train station, you can take Tram 96 which passes directly infront of St. Kilda beach at stop 136 ‘The Esplanade’.


(The tram goes all the way from St. Kilda to Brunswick road)

It’s amazing how something can be seen in so many different ways. Melbourne, a city buzzing with activity and life, and yet from here, the place we’ve all come to know and love looks like nothing more than a thin shadow stretching across the horizon.

All it takes is a matter of perspective.

Our fears and worries are not what they seem once we take a few steps back and realize that the world is a much bigger place. In the haste of life, don’t forget to breathe.


(A view of the bay overlooking Melbourne)


(Don’t forget to take your pets with you and head to the boardwalk)


The footprints on the shore remind me of the countless people that have been here from all walks of life. Strangers, widows, children, fathers, daughters… but isn’t that our destiny? That one day all the things we’ve ever done will be turned into footprints. I wonder what footprints I’ll leave behind.



By Haj Songcuya



Hann, the modern day superwoman

Hann Mrakov is possibly one of the most individual people you’ll ever meet. She’s literally one of a kind.

Hann is 6 foot 2 and she skyscrapers over the whole of La Trobe University. Hann isn’t discouraged by her height – she embraces it, in more ways than one. One of those ways is by creating her own clothes for herself. Every outfit you will see Hann in at LTU she has handmade herself. One of the reasons she started remaking clothes from Savers was to improve our environment, as she is an activist for the Greens. She believes “recycling is key to sustain a better future.” Maybe she’s right? Hann is an example of the future role models we’ll need in our society.


She not only is an activist for the Greens, she plays a key role in rallies for freeing refugees in our detention centres on Kangaroo Island. She was the key person in the march that happened last week in the CBD. Hann recites the chants and leads the rally with the megaphone.

Hann also fed the Homeless last Saturday night. Hann isn’t just an angel she did admit, “I went to Anyway after and then had kick on’s at revs till Sunday morning”. Hann is a Revs regular and believes “Revs is the place to be”. She is also a regular at Doofs.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with DOOFS – “slang term doof or bush doof refers to a type of outdoor dance party in Australia and New Zealand, generally held in a remote country area or just outside big cities in surrounding bush or rainforests and similar to raves or teknivals.”

Hann believes “Doofs are better than festivals because there’s a sense of community within them.”

Hann also is a vegan and is very active in her local community against animal cruelty. “I once saw a chick be slaughtered in a video and couldn’t eat chicken again after it.” Now Hann says that her only favourite take out food is hot chips from Macca’s and fake vegan Parma’s.

Ever had fake chicken?

Hann suggest you should try it, before you judge it !

By Brianne Keogh

Sean Orr

There is no better way to spend an evening than to listen to local musicians play while enjoying a fine meal and having a drink. Small pubs and venues across regional Victoria regularly provide musician’s with the opportunities to perform in their hometowns and to new audiences. The Golden Vine Hotel, situated in King Street Bendigo holds regular performances that feature a wide range of artists.

Sean Orr, an acoustic artist originally from Echuca enlightened the Bendigo audiences at the Golden Vine Hotel with a mixture of his own original creations and cover songs from the likes of ‘The Boss’ Bruce Springsteen. It was very refreshing to be able to attend a performance that mainly encompasses newly created songs from Sean’s own collection.

Sean’s onstage presence was full of energy and showed that he genuilnely enjoys and takes pride in his music, always ensuring that he engaged his audience with any details about the backstory of his songs that was needed for listeners to understand the context and full meaning behind the songs.


Although creating your own interpretation of a songs meaning can be beneficial for audience members; the small, detailed descriptions gave listeners the context behind Sean’s creations – which worked very well in this small intimate performance.

By Rhiannon Lloyd

The climb down south

People think that when you’re living overseas, you’re having the time of your life. There’s this notion that life in a first world country is almost like having a permanent vacation, that life inevitably falls into place and burdens are easily lifted. This transition of moving from poor to rich has defined the way people of the 21st century perceive happiness. The disposition of economic conditions across countries has been the demarcation line of how people evaluate their lives.

Where there is wealth, joy will follow.

Well, at least that’s what I thought.

While most people overstate the cause, they belittle the effect. Life abroad isn’t as easy as they think it is. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

Living in Australia does have its perks, but not without its share of tribulations.



It’s difficult to feel fully accepted in a foreign country. Which is why I personally chose La Trobe because they’re welcoming to foreign students and they make things easier for me. After my first semester, I thought I would’ve fully adjusted but somehow I still feel like that transfer student. The student that comes halfway in the semester and sits in one corner while everyone else is mingling. I’m quite thankful La Trobe gives me opportunities to meet new people through school activities.

Language and Context

I didn’t know anything when I first stepped foot in Australia. Not the public transport routes, current news affairs, footy teams, celebrity figures, economic status, prominent journalists, social customs, and party places. I just wanted to be a journalist.

                  I had to learn how to use the word toilet instead of restroom.

                  Bin instead of trash can.

                  Chemist instead of drug store.

                  I had to learn how to spell the word flavor as flavour.

                  Center as centre.

And so in most of my classes in my Media and Communications degree, I’d instantly be lost when professors and other students start talking about the latest trends in news and sports. I wish I could understand what they were talking about. During our group sessions in La Trobe’s editing suites, some of my classmates would make jokes about Collingwood and I just sat there not knowing if I should laugh or smile.



The most difficult part of life overseas is having to live away from your family. I do have my uncle and his family, but it just doesn’t suffice with life back home. A country I saw through poverty; I now see as treasure.

The days and nights become terrifyingly quiet. There’s no late night eat-outs, sleepovers, out-of-town trips, gatherings, and everyday fuss. Social media becomes your closest taste of what’s happening in the only world that you know of. I’ve spent more time on Facebook in the last few months than I did years ago.

But in the end these sacrifices are the cost of the lives we want to live.

By Haj Songcuya