Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

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At the end of every year, it’s a tradition to look back and take stock of what has happened in the last 365 days.

We talk about how quickly the days have flown by, we discuss how we haven’t touched our New Year Resolutions, we joke about how the 1 January will be filled with people trying to fulfill their next year resolutions only to let them fall by the wayside by 2 January.

Well 2014 has definitely been a very eventful year.

In the world issues, it hasn’t exactly been the best year. Amidst crises such as airplane disasters, political upheavals and an Ebola outbreak, we’ve had to battle disasters that threaten the world on a global scale.

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With 3 big airplane-related disasters that dominated the news this year, it may have left some of us feeling very fearful about our safety. Malaysia Airways MH370 disappeared on 8 March 2014 whilst on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and still hasn’t been found.

Malaysia Airways MH17 on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down in Ukraine on 17 July 2014, killing all the passengers and crew onboard.

And most recently, Airasia flight QZ8501 disappeared off the radar due to severe weather. The wreckage was found in the Java Sea and is slowly being recovered.

Out of the 162 passengers on board the flight, the one that hit closest to home was Monash University student Kevin Alexander Soetjipto from Indonesia. We lost a member of the international student community in Melbourne, amongst others this year.

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With these disasters still fresh in our minds, we might be feeling wary about taking planes. It’s scary to think that those people on the planes might just be us. But the truth is, 2014 has been the safest year in terms of fatal aviation accidents. There were 8 reported in 2014, the number was 11 in 2012.

But at the same time, these disasters have made the world look at aviation safety, of whether there might be too many planes circling the air, of whether we need to upgrade the current technologies and systems that our planes boast.

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Ebola.

Yes, we talk about Ebola, especially when we’re heckling our ministers about why they aren’t taking a more serious approach in tackling the ebola outbreak.

But do we really know what Ebola is about? What’s the symptoms? How is it passed from one person to another? What happens after that?

We only know it by name and how fatal it is, but the truth is, so many of us don’t actually know anything about Ebola. We treat it as this otherworldly issue that’s happening in a continent so far away that we can ignore it, at least for the time being.

There have been other landmarks last year, specifically the 25th anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall that separated East and West Germany was destroyed 25 years ago.

Over 200 people died trying to get from East Germany to West Germany, and many more who were caught were sent to prison. On 9 November 1989, they finally opened the wall, reuniting Germany once again.

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On a personal level, 2014 has seen improvements in leaps and bounds. In several areas of my life, I got to hone some skills and learn new ones.

Writing.

My resolution was to write more. Because this isn’t something you can quantify, I assume my resolution every year is always going to be “write more”.

But write more I did. And a lot of it took time and effort spent in doing research and constant editing.

One, I took almost an entire year to write, and later to find a home for. I’m glad that it went above and beyond anything I could have expected, when it went viral and eventually got picked up by ABC International on their Australia Plus platform.

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An incredible surreal feeling the day I got the phone call. I’ll be writing something about this experience soon.

2014 also made me go out of my comfort zone to report on topics I wasn’t very familiar with, like sports.

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As the ASEAN Games Australia 2014 hit Melbourne, I was in dismay at first, having never reported on Sports before. But it was good training as I broke new ground, made new friends, and took selfies on the way (of course).

I’m proud of what I wrote, although I constantly look back and think that I could have done better. But I think this is normal for everyone in the creative industry. What’s most important is actually getting it done instead of imagining it in your head.

Acting.

On the acting front, I haven’t had much chance in Australia, but the opportunities in Singapore have grown further than I thought was possible. The TV show Exposed was one way I got to work with more people in the industry, and there are more projects that haven’t been released yet but they were great ways for me to hone my skills and bury myself further in the industry.

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Rejection is still something I had to face and I suppose I will always face it, but meeting some casting directors who helped me to put things in perspective certainly helped a lot this year.

Modeling.

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Modeling was always something I put on the backburner, and only took out once in a while. I enjoyed it, but it was never something I did often.

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This year though, I got to know more photographers and it just led to more opportunities. Sometimes you get them, and sometimes you have to make them yourself.

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It’s been a lot of fun though, and I hope it’s something I get to do more of in the coming years.

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2014 was also the first chance I had to walk in a fashion runway. I used to walk in hair shows, but this was different. A good different. Runway tends to be more difficult because designers have a certain size and mold of women that they design for. And I don’t have the generic height for it obviously. Had to try on a lot of clothes before they could finally settle me in this!

Walking in the fashion runway for RMIT fashion design students was another way to connect with people in the industry and have fun at the same time. It was an unexpected opportunity but one I’m glad I took.

Explored Melbourne.

Living like a citizen of a country is a lot different from travelling to a country as a tourist. It’s being there everyday, not necessarily going to tourist spots all the time, having a look at the way natives live and work and play.

Most of the time people in Melbourne recommend brunch spots and coffee joints. That’s common I guess, and it’s the culture of the city. But getting out and about brings you to places you might never have expected to go or see things you’d never expect to see.

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Padlocks on the bridge at the Yarra River.

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Night Noodle Market that came to Melbourne in November. Also marked the first time I cycled in Melbourne, and it was nice going down tracks I’d never walked down before. For a noodle market, there weren’t many stalls selling noodles…

Mount Macedon

Conquering heights at Mount Macedon, an hour’s drive away from the city. Truth be told, I hate heights but it’s a great view up there. Not to mention the feeling of accomplishment when you finally reach the top!

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Not at all a typical of shot of Brighton Beach. Usually people pose at the touristy spots of the colourful beach houses. But we found our very own mini canyon! Filled with jellyfish and seaweed.

Found role models.

I found new role models this year in people who have struggled so hard to get to where they are now. They are real inspirations to me, and I love reading success stories of people who defied all odds to get to where they want to be.

Red Hong Yi

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Red Hong Yi is a Malaysian artist-architect who creates art using tools like basketballs, flowers and coffee stains. She painted a portrait of Yao Ming and put it up on YouTube, which went viral, and she eventually was contacted to do a portrait for Jackie Chan made out of chopsticks.

When she was a guest speaker at the Melbourne International Student Conference in September, she made the entire room sit up and take notice of her. But it wasn’t just her creativity that made us all admire her, she shared how hard it was for her to struggle to finish her projects, how she took months trying to complete just one. The Jay Chou portrait made out of coffee stains had to be done twice because of a filming issue.

She also talked about trying to find her path after graduation, and her parents feeling fearful about her future. I’m glad her talents are being appreciated, and she is now able to choose to do projects on a large scale without worry from her parents.

(THAT IPAD DROP AT THE END :D)

My personal favourite quote from her is:

“Done is better than Perfect”

And it’s true. We’re constantly so obsessed with making sure that our plan is perfect in our head before we even begin doing anything about it. And that problem stops us from actually starting a project or learning a skill or even just doing something.

Gavin Aung Than / Zen Pencils

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Gavin Aung Than is a Perth-born Melbourne-based artist who is the creator of Zen Pencils. You might not be familiar with him, but you’ve definitely seen his artwork somewhere on the Internet. He uses inspirational quotes from famous people and turns them into cartoon strips.

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My personal favourite from Gavin is his tribute to Nelson Mandela, with the poem Invictus.

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I had no idea Gavin was based in Melbourne though, but when I found out he had a book tour with a stop in Melbourne, I wanted to go meet him.

Unfortunately on that day, I got lost and was rushing to get to a dinner. So when I reached the right bookstore, I grabbed a book, ran over, took a quick selfie with him and fangirled all over the place.

It was messy.

I’m fairly sure he thought I was a little insane, but that’s okay. I got to meet him!

Martin Heide 

Architect and owner of Flipboard Cafe

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Flipboard Cafe is a little cafe in La Trobe Street, Melbourne CBD. People have called it an adult tree house or a jenga game, because it looks exactly like that. It’s got little spaces for you to conquer and hang around, while watching everyone else run around the city.

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Martin Heide never meant to be a cafe owner though. He was an architect who wondered what he could do with this tiny space instead of letting it go to waste.

Thanks to his creativity, we now have another cool cafe to hang out in. I’ve visited his studio as well, and it’s just as awesome.

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I actually have no idea if he’s okay with me putting this picture on the World Wide Web. Brolly Studios, if you want this taken down, just let me know!

But the studio looks so awesome! Can you imagine sitting up there…. playing Starcraft? HAHAHA.

Every year, you take a look back and know that you want to do better. 2014 was mostly very kind to me (maybe because I remember the good parts and have forgotten the bad parts?).

I hope 2015 will be the same to me. But in the end, the truth is, we all write our own story and our own year. If you didn’t have a good 2014, there’s always a chance to do better, to get to where we want to be.

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2015 is a blank page, whether we had a good 2014 or not. Are you ready?

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