So I’m a student now…

Just thought I’d do a quick post to let y’all know what’s new. Obviously I’ve left Vietnam and moved to Brisbane, but why on earth would a proud Sydneysider like myself choose to move to Brissie – a city where you have to ride on the train through a few suburbs to get to good coffee (depending on where you live), where whole suburbs have no cafes with wifi, and where jobs in my line of work are far from plentiful?

Well, there are two main reasons. 1. The living cost is lower than Sydney or Melbourne, especially important when you consider that 2. I will be spending the next two years studying full-time.

I have started making my way through a 2-year Master of Arts in Visual Arts (of course focusing on photography) at the Queensland College of Arts (part of Griffith University). While Griffith is far from being a prestigious university, I chose it as my research brought me to the conclusion that it would be the best fit for me due to the strong connections with photojournalism and social documentary – something that seemed less apparent in all other Aussie universities’ photography programs. Had I done an undergrad degree, I would have actually been able to major in photojournalism and documentary practice, but I was encouraged to consider the post-graduate degree based on the level of aptitude I’ve developed over the years working out things myself.

So far, it’s been good. The Social Documentary course I’ve been taking is great, and the lecturer David Lloyd is inspiring and an excellent guide as I try to hone my skills and go from just taking some nice pictures to really telling stories effectively through my craft.

Studio Methodologies – worth half of my credits for this semester – is more of a challenge. Comparing myself to the other students in the class – the majority of whom did an art or photography-based undergraduate degree – I feel a little stupid. This is not a comfortable feeling for me, as I usually find myself among the strongest students in the class, but this time it’s the opposite!

It’s all good, though, as when it’s hard as hell, I know I can’t help but to grow and develop through the process, and that’s what I’m here for. I know I have more potential in me than I’ve been able to realise just fumbling around figuring things out for myself, and I really look forward to seeing the work I produce after this two-year burst of improvement.

Already I’ve had the opportunity to meet some people who have been really making a difference in the world through their photography (including John Rodsted who won a Nobel Prize for his involvement in creating an international treaty stopping the manufacture, use and trade of land mines). Taking pictures of restaurant dishes and street life are fine, but this is the kind of thing I really want to be doing – making a real difference in a positive way.

We also came here so my wife could do further study in her field (early childhood education), so we’ll both be students again. After that, we’ll follow our noses. Who knows where we’ll end up, although I have a feeling we may find ourselves living in Saigon again eventually. Anything could happen!

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