Archive for ‘Uploads’

18 February 2014

Whatever you want it to be :))

by misslampa

I came to Australia thinking I went there mainly for the degree. And to a point, this was true. Anything that had something to do with studies was always given priority (okay, almost always Ü), and the world stopped whenever assessment period came around. It was clear to me that I wanted to learn as much as I could and finish the program well and on time. So those are some of the things I made sure I did.

After reading way too many journal articles and downing way too many cups of coffee, I earn the right to rock this academic dress.

After reading way too many journal articles and downing way too many cups of coffee, I earn the right to rock this academic dress.

 

But the thing about putting your life on hold and leaving the comforts of home for a while to accept a scholarship overseas is that you can – if you choose to – turn your time abroad into anything you want it to be. I mean, you’re already going out of your comfort zone anyway. You might as well make it worth the trouble.

 

And so I learned about various education systems with classmates from all over the world. I spent hours asking questions and comparing notes after class or over dinner or coffee. Besides, I’ve always been in awe of how much you can learn if you’re willing to ask.

It won't be an exaggeration to say that no less than 5 countries were represented in each class I took at the University of Queensland.

There were always at least five countries represented in each class I took at the University of Queensland. I’m not exaggerating.

 

I got introduced to other Filipinos from all over the country who remain as hopeful about the future of the Philippines, and who are choosing to stay here despite the opportunity to earn more abroad.

Of course, you can count on me to find a way to not have to wear the baro't saya. :))

We were asked to don our national costume. But of course, you can count on me to find a way to not have to wear the baro’t saya. :))

 

I tried so many things for the first time – from something as tame as eating kangaroo or camel meat to something as terrifying as jumping off a perfectly working plane. I volunteered to teach young Aussies how to read, and I put in some hours as a research assistant, too.

I really just wanted to touch the clouds, so I jumped and did just that.

I really just wanted to touch the clouds, so I jumped and did just that.

 

I picked up good habits like running and snacking on celery sticks. But lest you think I’ve turned into such a goody two-shoes, know that I learned how to flirt with strangers and enjoy wine in Australia, too.

Hardly anyone left on the course but I because well, I’m a slowpoke like that.

 

I also felt my heart beat for the first time in a very, very long time while I was there. I’m beyond grateful, actually, but that’s all I’m going to say about that. :)

 

And I traveled. Like crazy. It’s expensive, yes, but you learn skills which will continue to serve you well long after you’ve come home. There’s time management, spatial intelligence, packing lightly, budgeting, following directions, carving your own path, being okay with being lost, enjoying your own company, living in the moment, and I’m just going to stop here because the list goes on and on and on.

Don't do selfies. Just travel with photography enthusiasts who are more than happy to take your picture!

Selfies are for amateurs. What you need to do is travel with DSLR-lugging photography enthusiasts who are more than happy to take your picture!

 

All these, I owe to the fact that I chose Australia Awards – or maybe it’d be more apt to say that Australia Awards chose me. Either way, I am very grateful not only for the last two years of my life and all that’s been epic about my time there, but also for the opportunity to come home and make a difference. Armed with a master’s degree, I know I can be more instrumental in improving basic education in this country, and in proving to the world that we are capable of greatness.

AusAID no longer exists, officially (the program's now under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). But it will always be real to me. <3

AusAID no longer exists, officially (the program’s now under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). But it will never be nonexistent for me. <3

 

I’m very excited to see exactly how the universe will make that happen for me! Ü

 

 

—-

Donna Rasalan Lampa is one proud Pinay who took up her masters in Educational Studies from the University of Queensland in Brisbane under the open category of the Australia Awards program. Months after, she remains thankful for the two-year joyride.

 

Also, shout-outs are in order for Mylene, who took that shot of me during my graduation… and for Rod, for that breathtaking panoramic shot at Kings Canyon! :)

 

And hey, if you’re keen on starting your own Australia Awards journey, click here.

 

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10 August 2013

There are parts of me I didn’t know existed until I started running.

by misslampa
It's unheard of for the night owl that is me to be this perky so early in the morning.

Can I really be this perky so early in the morning? For running, baby, I can be. =p

 

Like this part of me that can be up and about – and happily so – before almost everyone else is.

And the part that can’t seem to get over the elegant burst of colors in the sky at sunrise.

Or this bit that feels like paying homage to whoever invented the treadmill. And the bit that rejoices whenever the display reads 10 kilometers or 1,000 calories.

Or this side of me that no longer minds getting sweaty so much. And in fact, now enjoys feeling the warmth of the sun on my back. Provided I’ve put on sunscreen, of course.

And the part that has gotten used to the early morning winter chill. The same bit that no longer uses it as an excuse to stay buried under the sheets and just go back to sleep.

Also, the bit that’s now okay with getting sore feet and water blisters and aching legs.

There’s also this part of me that loves reading up on lactate thresholds and minimalist running and Fartlek. And the side that equally loves carbo-loading and oversleeping after a long run. (I’m doing it wrong, I know. Go ahead, sue me.Ü)

 

I’ve also discovered this side of me that can get everything in the world to shut up – myself and my thoughts included – by repeatedly putting one foot in front of the other until my lungs give out. I seriously don’t remember being able to do that. Ever.

(Okay, in all honesty, my lungs have yet to give out. The only person in my life who’s seen how slow I am when I run refers to what I do as a nice, long stroll. How supportive, no? )

Running has also turned me into one who doesn’t keep track of time, and remains mighty proud of herself even if she’s always one of the last few to cross the finish line. But check back on me after a year or two. Perhaps when I’m no longer the newbie I am now, I’ll relish the thought of having some slowpokes eat my dust. Or not, let’s see.

 

Among the many new pieces of me which I now carry in my heart, though, what I am most surprised and happy with is this part that doesn’t want to go through the ordeals and triumphs of running alone, and is grateful beyond words that this didn’t have to be the case for me.

If you had an adorable minion cheering you on, I'm sure you won't mind running, too. Ü

If you had an adorable minion cheering you on, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind running, too. Ü

 

It’s mildly unnerving for someone who, for most of her life, has been all about tackling things on her own. But as all the old and new parts of me are slowly but steadily finding out, that is simply not how runners roll.

And well, I’m a runner now. So, umm…

Wait, what was it that was supposed to unnerve me again? :-)

 

 

This one’s for the patient and kind-hearted John Tsai, without whose coaching, cheering, and occasional cajoling I wouldn’t have taken up running in the first place. For everything you’ve done to help me get to this point, thank you.☺

17 March 2013

The Look of Love

by misslampa
Giddy and grateful, definitely. But in love? Whatever.

Giddy and grateful, definitely.
But in love? Whatevs.

 

At no other point in my life have I been told this often that I am sporting the look of love.

I don’t remember exactly when it began, just that people started pointing it out some time last year. There’s something about my aura in the pictures I post on Facebook, they say. Or something about my eyes when I remove my nerdy specs. Or something about my smile. And before I can even say a word, they follow up right away with query after query about this supposed someone who’s bringing this something  into my aura, about this guy who’s putting this something on my face.

They don’t use those words exactly. There are way too many somethings in the last paragraph, and of course, my friends are more eloquent than that.

So for the most part, they skip all the polite inquiry and just repeatedly accuse me of being in love.

And I, for the most part as well, just laugh it off. Then I attribute whatever it is they’re seeing to whatever I feel like saying at that moment – from living in a foreign country to getting enough sleep or even having better makeup skills.

It’s  one habit I’m starting to get good at, actually, which is why I was surprised when reading this bit on a message thread with my MA-classmates-turned-friends got me to shut up:

 

We are all different now… Donna has the look, hair, eyebrows… as if she is coming into a romance.

Here are some of my friends from the uni. Hieu is the pretty girl in a pink dress.

Here are some of my friends from the uni.
Hieu is the pretty girl in a pink dress.

 

It’s not the simple yet poetic phrasing that got me, I think, but the fact that the words came from someone who does not know me as well as everyone else who has been insisting all this time that that look on my face is the look of love.

Ha! It’s funny how we sometimes choose to ignore feedback from the universe until it’s delivered through someone who knows close to nothing about us.

Granted, Hieu’s not a complete stranger to me and we’ve actually become quite good friends. We’ve taken a lot of classes together and talked about life at and outside of grad school. But apart from classroom teaching and the English language and good food, she doesn’t know a lot about what and who I’ve loved in this lifetime. She’s not privy to what and who I’ve stopped loving, and more importantly, what and who have a hold on me still.

 

Because I can’t accuse her of prying into my affairs or insinuating something about my past or having an agenda, I’m left with no other choice but to listen and consider if there’s truth in what she’s saying.

So in the wee hours of this quiet Sunday morning, I stand in front of my bedroom mirror and stare at my reflection for a good five, ten minutes, all the while thinking of my other well-meaning friends who have dared to ask that one thing I don’t even dare ask myself these days:

 

"What and who has your heart, Donna? What and who do you love?"

“What and who has your heart, Donna? What and who do you love?” Ang hirap naman! (That’s such a tough question!)

 

I don’t have the answers just yet, so it’s a good thing I don’t feel such a strong urge to know them all at this point.

Likewise, I still don’t see that something which is supposedly in my aura or on my face. But at least, for the first time since it has been pointed out to me months ago, I’m starting to believe that it’s there. Ü

 

 

—-

Short but sweet thank-you’s go to Dee, Nasime, and Chris who took the pictures I used for this post.^^