What They Don’t Tell You About Travelling

Angkor Wat, 2013You’ve seen the kind – the thrill seeking, adventure-loving, continually travelling folk who seem to thrive on sleepless nights and exotic street food. Tales of broken down Tuk Tuks and wandering abandoned temples are plentiful and you can’t help but envy their lives so very different from yours. Nevertheless, it seems all wonderful to be travelling the globe, meeting colourful characters and soaking up the sights, but here’s what they don’t tell you about the whole ordeal.

Sometimes, it just sucks. Not the travelling part, but the returning home to find that everything you once loved seems trivial and meaningless. The mission trip I went on to Cambodia earlier this year (read: most incredible and life changing experience I’ve ever had) was the best thing I ever did. Spending 5 days building a brick home for a family battling HIV/AIDS, and two wide-eyed weeks inhaling the culture isn’t something you just do and forget about, instead it never really leaves you and follows you around as you go through the unimportant and meaningless motions of life. It’s so hard to think about entering year 12 when your heart is still overseas and your mind still tuned into “don’t drink the water, you might get cholera.” It’s hard waking up on a Monday and trying to get ready for a day of lessons when you can practically hear the welcomes of “Hello lady! Are you from Australia?” that once echoed around as you walked the streets. Australian roads are so lacking in atmosphere, a heavy silence having replaced joyful honks and criss-crossing traffic, not to mention our lame excuses for a ‘market.’

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Life: When the future turns into the present

By Monica Welsh

When I was about 8 we went to an AFL game as a family and they were running this competition before the game. All you had to do was handball a footy into a box from a couple of metres back and then you would get to keep the footy. My brother (who was 5) and I lined up in the hopes of possessing the skills that would score us a free football and bragging rights for the next week or so. When it was my turn, I picked up that footy and handballed it with all my heart and soul. It fell straight from my hand and flopped onto the ground, bouncing around erratically. I spun around and ran back to my parents (who were laughing, along with what felt like the rest of the world), my cheeks burning with embarrassment. Moments later I heard the calls of ‘Hey, little girl, come back!’ The football had bounced about eight times, back and forth from where I dropped it at my feet, only to bounce right into that box.

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Life: The Perks of Having a Pen Pal

I have always found the prospect of having a pen pal incredibly appealing. Initially I was obsessed with the idea of someone who was from a land far, far away where the culture was completely different and exotic, but after having spent a whole year struggling to construct sentences in a letter to a girl from Germany (okay, Germany isn’t that exotic) I realised otherwise. Apparently I didn’t know as much German as I thought I did.

After coming to the conclusion that I would never be able to say anything more than ‘I have a pet dog who likes to eat and sleep’ in German, I decided that perhaps snail mail from one pen pal to another wasn’t for me. Of course the world thought otherwise and I ended up with a fellow Australian pen pal who lived only a couple of hours away but at least spoke the same language! Despite this, having a pen pal isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. It’s hard.

First of all, you must understand that you are to never break the unwritten laws of snail mail:
– One must never type their letter, rather hand write only
– One must respond to a letter within approximately one month of its arrival
– One must not only answer the questions or prompts from their partner but also pose their own questions too

This makes things very difficult.

For a computer reliant person like myself, handwriting two or so pages takes a considerable amount more time than it feels like it should and I end up getting terribly distracted. As for responding within a month – you have no idea how incredibly difficult this is. Every second of my day seems to be crammed with study or food or study or sleep or study, not letter-writing (though I wish such was not the case). Then it comes to the point where you have written your letter (and it has taken you ten times longer because you handwrote it at midnight after having reached the unofficial one month deadline) and you realise you have to come up with an assortment of questions so that your partner thinks that you are interested (which you are, but it’s just so difficult). It’s tiring. It’s hard. But it’s not all bad.

Letter writing has made me realise how amazing technology is these days. My pen pal and I send a total of about 12 letters per year (6 each). I send about a million emails/skype messages/texts etc. per year. When writing letters you don’t waste time talking about all the garbage you would normally ramble on about when chatting to friends on facebook. Instead you focus on the important things you have to say and sift out all of the rubbish. It helps put things in perspective and makes you realise how much (or how little) is going on in your life. Lastly, letter writing has this ‘feel’ to it that just isn’t there with other forms of communication. There is nothing better than opening your letterbox to a humble little envelope bearing your name and address.

So for all who dreamt of making friends with snail mail as a child, go ahead and do it because though it’s a real pain in the neck, it’s so worth it.

Monica @ frangipani princess xoxo

Advice For Those Who Don’t Fit The Typical Teenage Mould

By Monica Welsh

Teenagers are lazy, self-centred and care only about having good time at whatever cost. Or so I’m told.

You see, I can’t identify with any of these things. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a perfect human being and there are undoubtedly moments where do in fact display all of these qualities, but on the whole I don’t really fit this teenage generalisation. I attend a high school like most other 16 year old Australian girls, and I do understand that for many people such statement really is an accurate reflection of their life, however it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation here. To those who can relate to not relating, here is a breath of fresh air for you all.

  1. You are not placed on this Earth to work yourself to the point of exhaustion.
    If you are anything like me, this can be a ridiculously hard lesson to learn. Since I was tiny I have had the basic understanding that hard work leads to results and therefore is the only way to live your life. Though such may be true, I have since discovered that it is not sustainable to dedicate your heart and soul to everything you put your hands to and that believe it or not, it is okay to give 80% of your effort to the task, or even to say ‘no’ in the first place. Yes, a hardworking nature is something to be proud of but it’s okay to give yourself a break too.
  2. It is possible to exercise both compassion and selfishness, and a good balance is ideal.
    Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons that I have learnt is that you can only love and show compassion to others if you show that same love and compassion to yourself. I have learnt from experience that if you aren’t healthy and well both physically and mentally, then you cannot help others do the same. Once again, look after yourself.
  3. Having fun is important, but learning how to do so can be hard.
    It sounds silly but I never understood this. “Fun is a waste of time!” I would say, “You can’t possibly be doing anything worthwhile if you’re having fun.” Oh how very wrong I was, for ‘fun’ is what life is all about and the most valuable things can be produced while you are having fun. Without fun life is hard so treat yourself to doing something enjoyable because otherwise it’s like depriving yourself of life’s oxygen.

So take some advice from a fellow atypical peer and rest assured that it is okay to be lazy, to treat yourself with love and make an effort to have fun because that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Monica @ frangipani princess xoxo

Book Review: Creepy and Maud by Dianne Touchell

By Monica Welsh

People don’t have reasons. We think we do, but we don’t. How many times have I sat in class watching a teacher ask someone why they’ve done something? As if cracking that one mystery will change something, or everything. The problem lies in the assumption of a reason in the first place. Even if they come up with a reason, it’s a lie. But that’s okay, because the lie is accepted and everyone can get on with things under the auspices of mutual delusion.

Creepy dedicates his life to watching the girl who lives next door, their bedroom windows the only connection to one another.  He calls her Maud and is gradually exposed to the darker side of her life, her secrets, her desires, her obsessions. Both are lost, isolated, too advanced for their peers but too ‘different’ from the rest of the world. Their differences allow them to relate and share a highly unusual kind of friendship.

creepy and maud

Touchell is a genius, creating a character that is so highly perceptive and insightful that then allows for an entire novel to be written about a girl that is only seen through the wooden frames of the bedroom window. Bit by bit we are able to explore the details of both Maud and Creepy, and I found myself developing an acute sense of fondness for Creepy’s protective and loving nature despite his often invasive actions. Both characters are complex and fascinating and you cannot help but find yourself desperate to know more about them.

Never is this novel boring or predictable, with miscommunications and unforseen events breaking the underlying routines of the characters and aiding in the development and flow of the plot. There are times where the story is told through Maud’s perspective and though such is necessary, it can be somewhat confusing when the exchange between the two perspectives occurs and the reader is left unsure as to who is narrating.

Creepy and Maud is unlike anything I have ever read, and is the perfect balance of dark themes, relationships, love and humour. Purchase this if only just to witness Creepy’s thoughts on the world: “Conformity is invisibility. Doesn’t Maud realise that? If she conforms, she will become invisible. Too small to see. She is shrinking already.”

Monica @ frangipani princess xoxo