My prediction of another list before the new year didn’t come through, but I might as well use the turn of the calendar to look back on the time since the millenium. It encompasses almost half of my life so far… and it has been an adventure!
I finished high school in 2002, then spent six months camping in southern and eastern Australia with my dad in 2003. Our travels ended with a trip to Bali, which was a massive culture shock – the region was still reeling from the Bali Bombings and tourists were thin on the ground. It gave the hustle of Kuta a desperate edge, made all the more memorable by the refusal of the locals to give in to the hard times – it takes courage to put on a friendly and welcoming face while poverty looms.
Returning to Australia, I rounded out my gap year with six months of full-time work at the most global of institutions, McDonald’s. It taught me valuable lessons about dealing with incompetent managers and gave me a taste of working for less than minimum wage. I did manage to put away some money, which served me well later in the decade. My weekends off were frequently spent making the trek down to Victor Harbour in Tom’s Barina, listening to the likes of Incubus, Motor Ace, Refused and Eminem – associations which stick in my mind when I hear these bands even now.
Pursuing my passion for surfing science and nature, I moved to the Gold Coast in 2004 and promptly failed to attend pretty much every non-compulsory component in Griffith’s Bachelor of Science. The lure of Straddie was too much and the first semester subjects were a rehash of everything I’d done in year 12, which failed to stir my interest and resulted in grades lower than I’d expected. I pulled my finger out from then on, as the going got a bit tougher, the courses piqued my interest (especially Clyde’s Global Environment, still my favourite course ever) and my competitive streak kicked in more. In mid 2005, I put my McDonalds funds to good use with a 3-week trip to Java, Bali and Sumbawa, which coincided with my 18th birthday. It was a very different experience to my first trip, with another suite of unique memories, everything from lying awake on a local guy’s floor listening to Muslim prayer chants at 4am in Java, contemplating just how different Indonesia is to Australia, to scoring epic Scar Reef with a small crew of mates.
A fairly uneventful couple of years passed as I finished my degree; I was working weekends and studying on weekdays, though a fun trip to South Oz at the start of 2006 offered some respite from the Gold Coast crowds and way of life.
Meanwhile, a gnawing sense of concern and dissatisfaction about the way the world was heading had been chewing at my insides. In my Honours year, I applied for and completed Green Steps, an eye-opener both in terms of the things I learned but also the opinions of others doing the course. While we were all concerned about the environment, there were still lively debates on a number of topics, especially ethical issues (is it OK to use subconcious cues to make people act more ‘green’?). My subsequent internship with Photon VFX was extremely challenging, as I had never completed a resource audit before, let alone in a business setting where my mentor was overseas securing the company’s contracts for coming projects. I did manage to make myself a media tart for the program, though, and some of the novelty photos taken during the shoot at Photon even showed up erroneously in a Griffith publication 2 years on!
My Honours completion was celebrated with a month in the Cook Islands with 3 mates, which involved treacherous mountain climbs, pumping waves, debauchery and sunburn in a tropical paradise.
For the final 2 years of the decade I worked at Griffith as a Research Assistant in a number of roles, including my own Honours work and a couple of Gold Coast City Council projects, published 3 papers, taught into 8 courses, went to my first scientific conference, went skydiving and islandhopping in the Whitsundays, took up a position at Gold Coast Waterwatch, returned to Green Steps as a trainer, learned to play the guitar, took up photography and found the time to start a blog (among other things).
If the increasing pace of the past 3 years has told me anything, it’s that I have a lot to look forward to in the next 10 years!