It’s been several weeks since I arrived back in Australia. It feels like yesterday that I was bike-riding through Tokyo’s backstreets and yet as if these moments belong to a time that doesn’t belong to me anymore.

My feature finally hit the AFP’s newswire this week and has been published by a number of international publications all over the world!

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A unique view of Seoul from the Bukchon Hanok Village in Anguk. Photo by: Sylvia Lee

I believe it is the people who make a city, and that is why I am so enamoured with Seoul.

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Coming into this internship, I was determined to have a story published by the AFP. While I knew this would be challenging to accomplish in completely new working and living environment, I completely underestimated the cultural and language barriers I would need to overcome to produce a feature-length story worthy of distribution (see last week’s blog for my peak self-doubt).

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Goodbyes are hard. Sentimentality took hold of me and fellow intern Lauren on our last day together along the lines of “This is the last time we’ll grab dinner here” or “This is the last time we’ll walk on this cracked footpath”.

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Final dinner with the ‘Asia Focus’ team. Photo: unnamed waitress.

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Thailand ranks in the top four countries in the world for time spent per day on social media. Wherever you are in Bangkok, whether it is on the underground train, at a food stall or waiting for a taxi, people are on their phones.

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A lady selling vegetables at the Klong Lat Mayom Floating Market. Photo credit: Lauren McNamara

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By the end of my third week at the AFP, I realised I had grown too comfortable here in Tokyo. Sure, I was in a new city and an unfamiliar workplace. But I had felt adequately equipped to take on my role at an international news organisation; like I knew my way around a newsroom and could navigate and avoid foreseeable challenges to ensure success. I was wrong.

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An orchid farm. Photo: Katherine O'Chee

Being Chinese-Australian, half of me has always felt an affinity with Asian cultures that have somehow ‘made it’ in the West. Think K-pop, from South Korea. Or Bollywood, from India. Or Pokémon, from Japan. We called this phenomenon ‘counterflow’ in our Media Globalisation class.

Because Australia’s European roots and strategic ties with the US has made it culturally and historically distant from its geographical neighbours, I’ve so often only seen that half of me through a Western lens. Yet my three weeks of reporting for the Bangkok Post have completely flipped this.

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About the Blog

Parallax records the experiences of final year students of the B.A. (Media & Communications) degree who have won competitive overseas internships to work in Asian, Indian and Latin American media organisations.
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