Posts tagged ‘Australia’

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.


6 May 2012


by misslampa

If you told me some months back to consider living life à la Steve Irwin here in Brissy, I would have put on either one of these faces:

I gotta admit, they look good on Russell. But I am 28 years old, and that makes all the difference.


As much as I enjoy exploring the great outdoors, I’ve never liked close encounters with creatures I can’t converse with, much less read or understand. And unfortunately for me, animals fall under that category. It’s well and good if they’re being sweet and cuddly, but when they start tearing your skin off and biting your calves to bits and you can’t make them stop… well, that’s mostly why I steer clear of them.


But Brisbane – and I’m guessing most of Australia – makes that goal unrealistic, even impossible. There’s wildlife at the uni I’m attending, and although they scared me shitless during the first week, these humongous (in my standards, at least) water lizards delight me now, especially if I encounter them not in grassy fields but on paved concrete. The more unexpected, the better, so I guess their novelty and strangeness have won me over.

Say hello to my scaly, scary, icky friends.


Even at home, I’ve lost count of the spiders, toads and lorries with which I share my living space. I used to mind that a lot, but have long been desensitized. About the only thing I’m still afraid of is the nocturnal southern dwarf crowned snake which gave me such a scare when it decided to appear in my bathroom at 11:30 p.m. during my first month here. Good thing I have a veterinarian housemate who came to my rescue.

It’s only 30cm long, actually, but I still cringe
at the possibility of another chance encounter!


It was such a shame, having to wake up/bother half of the household at such an ungodly hour, looking like a poor damsel who needed saving. And from what, of all things? From this teeny weeny monster that’s not even long enough to coil itself around my neck twice, pfft. But I’ve redeemed myself since then, o-ha, and I have the pictures to prove it!


I’ve been told that kangaroos and emus can knock you out, but my curiosity got the better of me.Ü


If you can shell out $16 and stand the stink,
you can get one of the Lone Pine Sanctuary koalas to grope hug you, too!


A lot of things have been sealed with a kiss, but I bet
there aren’t as many who can say they’ve been kissed by a seal!
[Inset: A snapshot of the purple-and-white-and-orange
sea urchin I gamely held at UnderWater World in Maroochydore.]

Who knew I had it in me to hold a saltwater crocodile that close to my face, right?
I’m sure even the late Steve Irwin would be proud.


And my proudest moment, of course, is when I mustered enough guts to carry this murraydarling snake during my uni’s Market Day for the first semester of 2012.

Did. Happen. Ha!


Not bad for silly old me who, as a little girl, considered feeding the family dog the most terrible household chore in the world.




As requested, Mr. Cua. Thanks for keeping me accountable to my muse. :-)

26 January 2012

Aussie Notes: Brisbane and the Fine Art of Saying Thank You

by misslampa

I love being here. But not because of the usual stuff Lonely Planet tells you about. (Well, some of that, too. But more on that later. You can read about those things on other blogs anyway.)

So if you’re looking for a grand tour of Brissy and its tourist and even not-so-touristy spots, you’re in the wrong place, sorry.

Otherwise, let’s proceed.

1. I love the fact that people – locals, especially (I’m assuming it’s because they know the drill) – greet the driver once they get on the bus. It can be anything, really. Hey, Hello, How ya doin’, buddy?, Good day, Good evening, or a simple smile or nod. Students do it, too, and I think it’s great to grow up in a place where common courtesy is literally quite common.

2. I love it more that they say thank you before they alight. Even if they have to shout sometimes because they’re getting off from the middle of the bus. And the drivers shout back with anything from “You’re welcome” to “Anytime” or “Happy Weekend” or “Enjoy your day.” (There were some grumpy ones too, but in my experience, they’re more of the exception than the rule.) As mentioned in my About page, I am a big, big fan of the fine art of saying thank you – regardless of whether someone’s paid to do exactly what they just did for you. I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of these short exchanges of “hi” and “thank you” between Brisbane’s bus drivers and the commuting public, or at least not for the mean time.Ü

3. And most of all, I love being in an international house of sorts. I have some fellow Pinays a few doors from my room, a Thai next door (soon to be replaced by a Tanzanian, I was told), and people from Chile, China, the US, and Thailand living upstairs. Because of this set-up, I speak in at least four languages on a(n almost) daily basis! It’s just the usual “Buenas Tardes” and “ขอบคุณ” (pronounced “kap-kun-kap” or “kap-kun-ka,” depending on the gender of the person you’re thanking) apart from English and Filipino, but I am thrilled nonetheless.


Our Thai housemate made Tom Yum for my fellow Pinays and me earlier this week. We found the soup too hot but still, lucky us!


Two evenings ago, the father of the Chilean girl was running around in circles in the kitchen and was obviously looking for something. He doesn’t speak English and I wanted to be considerate so I asked, “Cuchara, Señor?” To which he replied, “No, tenedor.” So I got him a fork from the dish rack and he smiled at me. I thought that was the end of it, but a second or two after, he called out, “Gracias, hija.” And just like that, I felt like the hundred hours I spent learning Spanish back home was worth it – because I can recognize it when someone’s thanking me in that language.

My housemates have told me that a Canadian has already brought his luggage earlier today, and just this evening, my fellow Pinays and I met the (cute) French dude who might move in next week. I found myself saying “Bonsoir.” His eyes went wide and he smiled and said, “Bonsoir. Yes, very good.” My friends and I were in the middle of dinner, so he wished us a good meal by saying “Bon Appetit.” And then came my turn to use my favorite word, so I went ahead and said, “Merci.”

Of course, living with two fellow Pinays allows me to say my favorite word in my most loved language of all. =)) Hay, I must definitely get into the habit of using salamat whenever I can.

And you will, Donna girl. You absobloominlutely will. :-))