Sitting at my desk a mere forty-five minutes after North Korea launched their missile into the sky, I begin thinking about my work at The Korea Herald as I listen to the events unfold. Whilst young Koreans remain quite immune to North Korean discussions and activities, I can’t help but notice the wide range of international coverage and ponder whether or not I may be sitting in Seoul as history unfolds. Nevertheless whilst I listen to live updates and prepare for tomorrow's Lunar New Year (Seollal), herein lies the perfect time to reflect on my week.

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I must start this post with gratitude to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shinbun and its employees. From the start the deputy editor in chief, Takano-san, and foreign news reporters Sugiyama-san and Imamura-San, have been incredibly giving with their time and assistance in helping the solitary, tall “where’s wally” lookalike that has joined the Asahi Shinbun international team.

I was nicknamed “wally” on the first day at a team 歓迎会 (welcome dinner) which was incredible for two very pertinent reasons;
1. The sushi was exceptionally delicious because our office is located in Tsukuji, next to Tokyo’s biggest fish market.
2. The sake was equally as delightful
However, I quickly learned that I do not particularly love 塩辛; (light salted fish entrails).

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Where the magic happens!

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I've been working with the team behind Koreascape on Seoul radio station TBS eFM for almost a week now and it's a great experience.

Koreascape is a cultural show that runs six days a week between 9 and 10am. Every day is made up of different segments, exploring everything from Korean history to Korea's food scene. It also involves many members of the expat community, allowing them to discuss their experiences in Seoul, and their expertise.

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I've been in Japan for nearly a month now and I still feel like I have a million and one things to see and do. Between visiting the Australian Embassy and my first day of work, I've managed to squeeze in a visit to the National Museum, play spotto with girls dressed as geisha on the street, and do more than a little retail therapy in Ginza and Roppongi Hills. If the Australian dollar bumps up in the next week or so… I guess you can all thank me when I'm home!

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Geisha on the street. Photo: Emily Shen

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Before I came to Dubai, I blogged about the romanticism of firsts. During my last week at Gulf News, the romanticism of lasts has been weighing heavily on my mind. ‘Goodbye’ is one of my least favourite words. I think there’s a tendency to want to conceptually bookend life, and I’m just as susceptible to it as anyone else. “Hello” and “goodbye” are familiar, comforting ways of making sense of the universe, after all.

The thing about bookends – they can be moved, and they ought to be.

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The final sunset of my fellowship, from Gulf News’ home in Business Bay. Photo: Melissa Majdandzic

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Tokyo is so large it's unfathomable. Science suggests there’s a finite amount of objects, people and navigation that the human brain can calculate; Tokyo far exceeds those numbers.

During my first week in Tokyo, I went to the 42nd floor of the Metropolitan Building in Shinjuku which boasts a breathtaking view of the metropolis spanning in every direction.On clear days you can even see Mt Fuji peering over the city all the way from outer Tokyo. One of the most discerning details is the fact there is no difference from where the city starts and where it ends, as the streets, singular buildings and streetlights guide your view towards the horizon.

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A surprisingly empty street in Shinjuku


I arrived in Tokyo in September 2015 and have been attending daily Japanese classes for the past four months at Sophia University. Every day since, I’ve heard a bell chime across the suburb at exactly 5 p.m., providing a small moment of congratulations to those who hear it, indicating you’ve completed another day of being alive.
I've never been given a reason for this little reminder, other than the sun may have set/will set soon, and it's probably time to go home (which most people promptly ignore).
Finally after braving the mosh-pit of morning rush hour trains, finding time to complete work, eat, navigate a foreign language and eventually sleep, that suburb-wide bell is perhaps the most rewarding piece of white noise I experience all day.

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Class 270A finally finishing a whole book of grammar and celebrating with a mandatory photo

In Tokyo the population to density is a staggering 1:125, where most of the population lives on top of each other with polite acceptance.
This mega-city houses approximately 28 million people and without constant exploring and attempts to find its soul, it's easy to feel on the outside.
My internship at the Asahi Shinbun starts next week and with a readership of 8.8 million people daily, I hope to write a story which is not only specific to Tokyo but also provides a unique insight into the world's largest city.

After the excitement of the weekend, I rolled into the office with tired eyes, stiff limbs and the expectation that nothing could ever measure up to the experience of the desert Fun Drive. My colleagues were glad to see that I had not, in the end, been left behind in the desert (I privately agreed with them). That afternoon I set out for my first turn at playing food critic, heading to Downtown Dubai for lunch with Felice, manager of Taiwanese restaurant/café Taipei Dao. I’d coordinated the meeting the week before for a feature examining the rising popularity of East Asian-inspired bakeries in Dubai, so I was prepared for a casual dessert tour.

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The Burj Khalifa casually pierces the clouds in Downtown Dubai. Photo: Melissa Majdandzic.

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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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