It’s the new year, and I’m hearing familiar advice being offered. Exercise, eat healthy, write down goals, and meditate. Another, albeit less familiar tip, is related to journalling. I have definitely heard something about the benefits of journalling before, but haven’t ever really paid much attention because it sounds ambiguous and like too much effort.

But the other day, it was mentioned on a podcast I was listening to and the presenter mentioned it could be done electronically, and not necessarily with pen and paper. And I had the delayed realisation that that’s what I’ve been doing on here over the years. Not only that, but now that I’m a provisional psychologist, I’ve also technically been journalling every day while completing my uni placements, although that’s called a ‘logbook’ and requires critical reflection as well as receiving feedback from supervisors.

So that inspired me to put pen to paper, or fingers to mechanical keyboard, once again.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed putting my thoughts down in writing  just to capture my thoughts and to try to gain clarity. The whole logbooking process during Masters is also incredibly beneficial. Some students hate doing it and put it off, but I absolutely love it. I realise now that it’s probably because I’ve always enjoyed writing my thoughts on here. It’s such a pleasure to write down my immediate thoughts and feelings and then to return to them later to find connections and deeper meaning with other things going on in life.

After a quick review of some studies on journalling, it also seems that journalling about thoughts and feelings after stressful events have been found to be more beneficial than writing just about feelings i.e. it led to greater awareness of the benefits of the stressful situation. And also, journalling is associated with increased self-efficacy (which is a good predictor of task completion, performance, and self-esteem).

So, overall, lots of benefits! As usual, I probably won’t write on here as much as I’d like to but I’ll definitely try to make an effort to check in.

If you’re reading this blog, Happy New Year and happy journalling! 🙂


Father’s Day 2015

Father’s Days and Mother’s Days are always wrought with so much emotion.  The media and facebook posts would have us believe that we all experience it in the same way but that’s definitely not the case.  For some, it’s an outpouring of love, for other’s, it’s much more complicated than that.

So on these days. my heart goes out to people who have parents who have passed away, experienced mental illness, or suffered abuse or neglect.

The good thing is that it seems like traditional gender roles are changing, albeit slowly.

From an article in The Conversation:

Today’s fathers are far more eager to take on the job of fatherhood and are determined to be less distant and more hands-on than their own fathers.

The most emotional part of my book Fathers, Sons and Lovers was when I got men talking about what they wished their dad had done. One said sadly that it would have been great to get a hug from his dad.

The result? Today’s dads are determined to take up the role and do it better.

Final reflection on the International Summer Session at Chonnam National University – South Korea

The time in Gwangju, studying with Chonnam National University students and the other international summer students was probably the best experience of my life.
For many of the others in the group, it was the first time away from family and friends, first taste of freedom and independence.  Although I’ve had independence, lived alone, spent time away from family and friends, it was still the longest time that I’ve been separated from everyone I know.  So for me, it was an opportunity to find out who I truly am, away from the comfort of familiarity, and away from roles that define me.
I know for certain now that above all, I need my independence and a sense of control.  I sought these out at every opportunity, and regular walks alone and 6am gym workouts kept me grounded.

I also know that I am drawn to funny kind hearted people.  I’m not interested in the loud, attention seeking people, who are like shiny baubles, drawing crowds of people to their side.  I look for the ones who spread joy and happiness without even realising it.  The ones who are such a pleasure to be around, and they don’t even realise it or flaunt it.  People who attract others naturally, with no pretence.  Above all, I value genuine human connections.  I treasure moments when I can get to know what someone is truly like, what their hopes and dreams are and what they believe in.
I know that I have strong morals and values, that can’t be swayed by other people.  Someone once asked me why I was studying so hard, I told them that I have high standards when it comes to my own work and I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  They immediately responded with, “yeah me too, but not while I’m here in Korea”.  Regardless of where I am, I have the same expectations of myself.
I also witnessed many guys jokingly calling the Korean girls ugly or dumb.  It was all in jest, but eventually I cracked.  Australian humour is all about self-deprecation and giving each other crap, but cheap shots at women who already have low self-esteem is just despicable.  When I told them exactly what I thought of them, the Koreans applauded me.  I hope they can do the same in future.
I now know for sure that despite being an introvert, I need people more than I think I do.  After spending 4 weeks surrounded by 120+ students, it’s strange not to have someone to talk to every second of every day.
This experience of being in a foreign country, surrounded by strangers, not knowing the local language, was exhilarating and eye-opening.  I think I stayed true to myself, but also found out things about myself and others that I want to explore.  Regardless of how adult/complete I think I am, there’s always more to learn and discover.


I’m much happier today! Physically, and mentally in a better place.  Thank you for witnessing my emotional roller-coaster.

I spent the night coughing more than I’ve coughed before (poor Angela – no one deserves a germ for a roommate), and then woke up feeling a million times better.  Not 100%, but my brain isn’t fuzzy and I don’t feel like I’m in a constant state of exhaustion so yay for that.

In Public Pol class I got my grade back for the comparison of constitutions, 19/20.  So in total so far I’m sitting on 94% for that class, with one more paper and exam to be assessed.

I had my Industrial Sociology exam, and while I don’t think I got over 90% (had to guess quite a few things unfortunately – it required rote learning as opposed to applying concepts/critical thinking, and my mental faculties aren’t up to memorisation at the moment), I’m sure I passed.

This afternoon won’t be much fun, more exam prep and some group work for the presentation, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I have almost beaten this cold.

Thank you Kathy for the email yesterday – cheered me up. 🙂

On a small evil side note… I experienced schadenfreude today.  Other people who haven’t had to study much and have been going out every night are now starting to catch colds too.  I’ve had so much FOMO, that I definitely felt a teeny tiny moment of happiness.  I know, I’m terrible.

Who needs a holiday when you can have a cold and back to back assessments

Sorry for the lack of detailed, interesting updates recently.  My cold has worsened, and this week has a ridiculous amount of assessments due, so I haven’t been doing so well.

Monday – Presentation in Industrial Sociology
Tuesday – Assessment comparing the US and Aus constitutions due in Public Pol
Thursday – Industrial Sociology exam, and assessment on an Australian public policy due in Public Pol
Friday – Public Pol exam, and a group presentation in Industrial Sociology
Today I’m meant to be going to visit the memorial site for the democratic uprising that took place in Gwangju, and it’s something I really wanted to learn more about, but instead I’m in my room, coughing up my lungs and studying.
I haven’t been to the gym in days because I can barely breathe let alone try to exercise.  And that’s really the only thing that guarantees my sanity here.
Just…over it.

We meet again, Seoul.

If I consider the Seoul trip in isolation, it probably wasn’t that great.  We didn’t actually see much, and the weather was crazy hot.  It was 36 degrees with humidity through the roof.

But, thinking about it in light of the fact that I’d already spent an amazing week in Seoul with Pete, it was a really nice trip.  One of the highlights for me is that I got to spend some quality time with my two Korean buddies.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my group and all, but they’re all rather….strongly opinionated characters.  So when they all said they had other plans for the day, I was quite happy.

We were dropped off at Gyeongbokgung Palace where we took a group photo.  From there, we had free time until 9pm.  The others all went their separate ways, and Hansol, Seongeun and I joined up with a few other groups to wander.

JP went off to shop, meet friends and get a haircut, Martin is a lawyer so he wanted to see the Supreme Court (turns out it was shut – but it was about an hour round trip to get there and find that out) and Candace was meeting an old friend.

Moving around Seoul on a hot day, with about 15 people is not ideal, so after we had lunch together, my buddies and I decided to split up from the others in Insadong.  A few other girls joined us, and Hansol was able to find my favourite tea shop / tea museum in Insadong, tucked away in a hidden alley.  We ordered the same things that Pete and I had last time – a green tea bingsu, a black tea bingsu and a plate of black sesame rice cakes.  The interior of the shop was cool, quiet and classy. Exactly what we needed after the hectic morning.

My buddies and I then split away from the other girls, and browsed Insadong.  Before we were finished, Martin showed up with a friend and we continued to browse around together in the shopping district.

In the evening, Hansol found an awesome little craft beer bar where we settled in to have some beer (some of the choices were: mango, grapefruit and peach.  Peach was soooo good!) and chips, and were joined by JP and his Korean friend who used to live in Perth.

That evening we hopped back on our buses and headed to our accommodation  (don’t let the pics fool you – there was no TVs in the dorms).  We were told that the doors get locked at 12pm, and anyone arriving after would miss out on the following day’s DMZ activity.  Of course people still got all dressed up and went out – but I just went to the local convenience store, bought alcohol and snacks and settled into the communal area.  Within about 10 mins, people started to join and it turned into a massive slumber party (with ghost stories and knocking on doors that freaked everyone out – I felt like I was 15 years old again).

On Sunday, we went to the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea (DMZ), a train station that was set up to facilitate some trade between the two countries, and we also walked down into one of the 4 tunnels they’ve found from North Korea to South Korea – it’s believed these tunnels were dug to set off some explosions near Seoul.


In the evening, we were meant to go to a folk village I think, but it got washed out so we went back to Gwangju (4 hours by bus) and my group ate near the dorms and chilled.


There are only 11 days left! I know I’m going to miss these people like crazy when I leave, but I have a cold, and I’m missing home so much.

I’m looking forward to…

  1. Pete pete pete Missy pete pete pete, etc.
  2. My bed, shower and couch
  3. Friends and family and the crazy people at work
  4. Putting toilet paper in the toilet (ugh the bins here…so gross..)
  5. Cooking and eating real food.  Takeout every single day and night is crazy.  (Pete if you’re reading this, I’d really like steak when I get back with so much veggies.  All the veggies.  Actually, you eat the steaks, I’ll just eat a plate of veggies.)
  6. Being in a city that I know like the back of my hand – not having to rely on taxis, translating apps and hand gestures
  7. Speaking to people without my accent being called ‘cute’ 😛
  8. REAL MELBOURNE COFFEE esfih;rag;hirgh;kgrj
  9. A massage.  Got one booked in with Jackel for the first Saturday I’m back. 
  10. WEDDINGS! There are two awesome ones within 2 weeks of each other.  I hope to god I can still fit into that bridesmaids dress…
Also, if you guys can spare a moment, please click the heart on this picture.  There’s a competition at RMIT. 
This weekend I’ll be in Seoul with the group, minus my laptop so no blog posts for a few days.

2015 Universiade in Gwangju

Last Friday, I was extremely lucky enough to go to the opening ceremony of the 2015 Universiade games in Gwangju.  Universiade is basically like the Olympic Games but for university students. There are 170 countries being represented.

Tickets were expensive and impossible to get, however my buddy’s mother knew someone and managed to arrange it all for us.

The night was spectacular.  There were a lot of famous artists, including K-Pop bands, traditional Korean singers, a famous Opera singer, as well as celebrities from other fields such as actors and athletes.

The show represented both the traditional aspects of Korea and modernity.  There were large warrior tribes battling it out, as well as colourful music and dance with giant smart phones and Kia cars zipping around.

For myself, Candace and Martin, one of the highlights was seeing our respective countries coming out onto the field.  I haven’t had the time to watch games or follow the scores, but there’s something special about coming across your home country when you’re in a foreign place.

Tomorrow, as a group, all CNU ISS students will be attending the swimming finals.  If I can see some Australians compete, that would be great.  And if they could win some medals, that would be just perfect. 🙂

A long ramble about love

This trip has put me in a unique position of being around 100+ university students 24/7.  As a result of this, I’ve heard a lot of interesting (sometimes insightful, other times strange or funny) conversations and opinions.  These opinions have been formed on the basis of their age (and experience) as well as cultural norms, so it’s been a fascinating insight into how these factors can shape people’s values.
I’ve heard so many interesting things that it’s hard to pick one to share with you guys.  But one that’s piqued my interest is the opinions on love and relationships.
In Korea, the concept of what love should be like and what it is in reality, is complex and multi-faceted.  My first exposure to this was at Lotte World in Seoul, when Pete and I went a few weeks ago.  I immediately noticed two things – first, in relationships, men and women often wear identical outfits from head to toe and there were a lot of men who wore cute cat/bunny ears and other cutesy things.  Secondly, the men were extremely polite and chivalrous to their girlfriends (carrying bags for them, purchasing food and drinks for them, etc.).  This led to my first impression of Koreans and love, that they are romantic by nature, and they highly value/prioritise the conventional boyfriend and girlfriend relationships, to the point of fulfilling traditional roles in the relationship.
In contrast, Australians would never wear matching outfits except when dressed in formal attire, most men would only wear cute animal ears in a humorous way and even then it would occur very rarely, and although men in Australia can be quite chivalrous, it is not a constant occurrence that can be easily witnessed in public.
My second impression was formed when spending a day sightseeing with CNU students (including Korean buddies).  During conversation, a Korean friend mentioned that guys must never comment on another girl’s attractiveness if they already have a girlfriend.  Apparently they should also not talk to other girls much, look at them, or touch them in any way (e.g. hugging).  It seems that some Korean girls expect complete and utter devotion to themselves.   
An Australian friend who has been here for 5ish months let us know that Korean guys on the other hand, have multiple girlfriends.  This was corroborated by a Korean student later on – when asked why guys here are always walking and texting at the same time, he said 2 reasons: firstly, they are texting their girlfriend and secondly, they are texting their other girlfriend.
In addition to these two examples, I’ve encountered another one that hints at the impact of media.  A friend of a friend (who has a girlfriend) has started seeing a Korean girl here (who also has a boyfriend).  He arranged a trip for them out of town, and her response to this was that it was “just like a drama!”.  The limited amount of TV I have watched has consisted of music videos, and a large proportion of these have portrayed straying partners, and make it seem exciting and adventurous.
In contrast, while cheating definitely occurs in Australia, I don’t think it’s glamorised at all.  Nor are men or women expected to associate only with the same sex.
The last thing I wanted to touch on in regards to Koreans and love is the extreme views on gay rights here.  It’s such a traditional society, that any form of relationship or gender identity that doesn’t fit the heterosexual norm is considered ‘unnatural’.  We have encountered a few young Koreans who are open minded, but the majority appear to be holding onto archaic values, based on Confucianism that was designed to promote producing offspring in an era where pestilence and early death was a common occurrence.  Unfortunately, these values appear to still be ingrained, but it seems like a slow shift is occurring.  Hopefully exposure to some of our liberal views will lead to more Koreans questioning what’s considered ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’.
So I’ve just talked about Koreans – but other nationalities have amused me too, and here I think it’s just lack of experience.  My roomie came home last night to find me skyping with Pete and studying for my exam with him, and apparently this was funny, strange, novel.  I’ve also heard a lot of comments from young Australians (both here and back home) about how ‘cute’ Pete and I are – I think because we play video games together, cook and clean together, and other random things.
I think our relationship seems novel because the everyday, little things that make relationships long lasting aren’t talked about openly.

If I had been skyping with one of my best friends and studying with them, or if I play video games with my friends, no one would comment.  But the fact that a partner should be your best friend seems to be understood only in theory, not in practice.