Through A Different Lens

Sep 28, 2013 1 Min Read

It has been two years since I sat for my SPM – no, I did not get straight A’s – and now I am at the University of South Australia (UniSA), Adelaide, in my third year. I transferred here from Taylor’s University, Petaling Jaya a few months ago.

Making a good and well-earning living is important, but to do so in a job that I would dread waking up to would not make it enjoyable. In fact, there would be no motivation to excel. That is my belief, and that is the reason I chose to further my studies in the field of communications.

Mass Communication is perceived by many to be an unprofessional field, unlike that of life-saving doctors or hard-grinding accountants. It is also perceived to be a subject that students opt for when they wish to have ‘the easy life’. My own family did not fully approve of my choice. Having taken the Pure Science stream in high school, they thought it was a waste that I went down the Arts path for my tertiary education.

When I chose to do the then newly-created Foundation in Communication s University, I knew there would be no turning back. The thing is, I have always been a shy person. Thus, it seemed a little ironic to be studying a course that mainly revolved around communicating. But that was the magic of it. It taught me to speak up, to voice my opinions, to become a better communicator. Becoming the link between sender and audience made me become more confident in myself.

One of the requirements that came with the course was to organize events – plan it, work with the budget, and make it happen. The School of Communication (SOC) Media Carnival held last year at the Taylor’s campus itself was one of them. It was hard work, but it was fun. Departments were formed and everyone had something to do because everyone was a part of it.

Being part of the Sponsorship Department had me calling up big companies like Apple and Celcom. It was nerve-wracking at first, until I made more than 50 similar calls. It felt like I was already in the working world, sitting at a desk in an office.

Since transferring to UniSA, things have changed slightly. Perhaps it is the environment that is different, or maybe the standard of education here is whatever it is, going overseas is a completely different experience. I remember entering my first class for Introduction to Film and Television and feeling utterly lost. Almost everyone around me seemed to know everything about cameras.

Heck, I did not even know that all those angle and shot names even existed, and that was just the lecture! Setting up the camera during tutorial just to suit the environment flustered me so much that I began to feel discouraged.

One of my assignments was to make a three-minute video that had to be well edited; every movement had to be a smooth transition from one shot to another. I had always been curious as to how movies and television shows turned out they way they did, and now I know. I had not thought of the little details during production, which led to a very stressful editing session that took me two nights to nail down (and I received a Distinction, which I am immensely proud of). Here is a tip for aspiring video-makers: take lots of different shots and angles, short ones too – it saves time on the end product.

From my studies to the people I am mixing with, life out here is different. I miss home, my family, and all the friends I left behind. But this is a part of my journey. There is something to be learnt with every step we take, even if they come in the form of mistakes made.

That is my story after SPM. I never thought I would be where I am today, much less known I would go through what I have. In the end, our stories can only tell you so much. What is important is that we all create that special little chapter in each phase of our lives. Know your limits, but always push yourself. May your chapter be greater than you could possibly dream – just do not be afraid to dream it.

Rachel Au is currently shivering in Adelaide’s snowless winter where she is in her third year of her B.A. in Communication and Media Management at the University of South Australia. She aspires to write a book one day and perhaps save a life as well.

Note: The above entry was written in 2010 for What’s After SPM?, published in 2011. This non-for-profit book project is a collaboration between Leaderonomics and a team of young Malaysians. Click here for details on the project and authors.

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This article is published by the editors of with the consent of the guest author. 

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