What has been perhaps my favourite year ever has come to a close, so here is my highlights reel. My heart feels so full scrolling through this finished thing – also word of warning, grab a snack as she’s long.
1. Travelled overseas.
Besides this January, the last time I travelled overseas I was in Year 3, I went with my entire family to Los Angeles, California, New York, and the entire thing was planned for me, obviously, as I was just a little chubba. It feels like a lifetime ago, so naturally gearing up to fly across the world without my parents to study Media and Communication in the Fashion Industry at the European Institute of Design in Florence, Italy (and travel more after) was daunting. But I was so excited? No plan has ever felt more right than booking that short term study tour to then hop around to Paris and London after. A lot of this comfort came from the fact that I would be travelling with my friend Natalie. Looking back, I have no idea if I would have gone completely on my own, but I’m so grateful to have experienced that oppourtunity, because January 2018 has been one of my favourite pockets of time in my life. I kept saying this throughout the year, but it genuinely just put me in the best head space to conquer the rest of the year.
2. Lived and studied in Florence for three weeks.
I can’t lump that entire experience into one bullet point. Getting ready to travel was a journey in itself, but then I lived it, and it was incredible. I don’t want to sound like a wanker, but screw it, Florence will forever have such a special place in my heart. I’ve never lived in another country before. Sure, it wasn’t a 6 month exchange, but it was perfect. I got to wake up, get breakfast, walk along the streets in Florence to university, learn about the fashion industry, get pizza during our lunch breaks, get gelato on the way home before going out for more sightseeing. I wrote about everywhere we ate in my Guide to Florence Food post here, which skyrocketed to being my third most popular post ever. There are so many highlights from this experience, from seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa to seeing the Ponte Vecchio, so that brings me to…
3. Visiting the Gucci Garden.
I know this word is so overused and possibly cringe-worthy at this time of the year but I’m still shook that I was in Florence, of all places, when Gucci decided to unveil their Gucci Garden, of all things. It’s so freaking beautiful inside. I had so many friends back home sending me their posts on Instagram going ‘ARE YOU GONNA GO?’ And yes, I did, twice, and I wrote about it here. But low key I am not done talking about this day.
4. Rode in a gondola in Venice.
This was such a pinch me moment. Throughout our ride I couldn’t stop thinking ‘I’m seriously riding in a gondola in Venice right now.’ I have no idea if I’ll ever visit Venice again (of course I would love to) so I made sure to soak up every second of that moment. My friend Michelle started playing smooth jazz from her phone as we gently glided along and my god it’s all just burnt into my mind forever.
5. Made incredible friends.
Speaking of friends, I made so many on this trip. The women Natalie and I were lucky enough to bond with are incredible. I’m so happy I got to share these experiences with them, because it was such a special time for all of us. What makes the deal even sweeter is we all still keep in touch, even though we’re literally all from different cities around Australia. There’s none of this ‘and we never spoke again’ nonsense. Thanks to the power of the internet, almost a year has passed and we all still snap each other in the group chat, or talk in Messenger or comment on each others tweets. Monique even sent us all hand written Christmas cards in the post (I wept). I love these girls so much and meeting them was definitely a highlight of the year.
6. Climbed the Eiffel Tower.
Once the Florence study tour was over, we parted ways and Natalie and I headed to Paris. It was freezing, rainy, I got a cold instantly (but luckily I felt fine? I just could not breath through my nose for 72 hours. Vicks Nasal Spray became my heroin, Natalie witnessed that.) Right before I got sick though, we climbed the Eiffel Tower (probably how I got sick.) Again, another pinch me moment. I couldn’t stop saying ‘we’re on the Eiffel Tower’. Queer Eye hadn’t even come out yet and I was still Johnathan going ‘can you believe?‘ It was hazy and cloudy af but I wouldn’t change a thing (okay maybe I’d make the weather better, but it’s just a reason for me to go back!).
7. Had afternoon tea at Sketch, London on my 20th birthday.
Once our few days in Paris were up, we woke up, it was my 20th birthday, we packed our bags, jumped on a plane that went back in time which meant we lost no time at all, and landed in London, a place that exceeded my already sky high expectations. Once there, we hopped straight in a cab and headed to 9 Conduit St on Mayfair. “Just landed and headed straight to the pub, aye?” our cabbie said to us. But this was no pub. Sketch was, is, something else entirely. You’re paying for an experience. I had been travelled for three weeks and was wearing boots, jeans and a sweater (and a huge smile to match), but was treated like a celebrity. My tea cup was never empty, with doting waiters constantly topping it up without being annoying. Plate upon plate was placed in front of me, the reality of our 4 course afternoon tea becoming clear. Two wealthy mature women next to us discussed their expensive property ventures, only adding to the richness of it all. Also, everything is blush pink. What a way to celebrate the start of my twenties. I can’t be bothered to plan my 21st because nothing will ever top Sketch.
8. Hit 3,000 blog followers.
On February 27 I reached 3,000 followers here on my blog! I’m so proud of myself for reaching that milestone, but obviously I couldn’t reach it without everyone who follows me. So again, thank you very much! And to everyone who joined me throughout the year, thank you and welcome!
9. Reported on the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast for QUT News.
Back home now, and ready (or not?) to start my third and final year of university. This first semester was packed with real world experience instead of siting in classrooms. I got to go to events and report on the World Science Festival held in Brisbane, get an internship at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and became a venue reporter for the Commonwealth Games. I’m not a sports nut, but it was such a fun gig. Not everyone could go to the venues, but after applying and meeting the criteria, I got to go for free to events like the Swimming and Beach Volleyball semi-finals. The Volleyball was beautiful as it was right on the beach at Coolangatta. Afterwards, I got to interview the athletes, too. This whole experience was a long two weeks during the uni break, but it was fulfilling.
10. Got a job at the ABC.
My two-week internship at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation turned into a job and I couldn’t be happier. I’m currently a News Operations Assistant, so I help put their 7pm bulletin to air. It was daunting when I was being trained for the role, because it’s live television people, but so far, all good, and settling into the position and becoming more and more confident as definitely been a highlight for me.
11. Became the Digital Editor of Frock Paper Scissors 2018.
One of my final university subjects was Fashion and Style Journalism where we put together a physical magazine and create an online website as well. I pitched myself for the role of their Digital Editor and was so thrilled and honoured when I was successful. I spend so much time working on this blog because I just genuinely love it, so getting to take these skills and apply them to something so much bigger was really valuable. Frock felt like the world’s biggest group assignment. We were relying on more people than I could sometimes comprehend, but after weeks of planning, organising, collaborating, a lot of stress and a lot of happiness, Frock was finished. We now have a beautiful magazine to hold and a stunning online presence, which you can visit here. Massive thank you to my online-editor-in-crime Chelsea, our dot com space wouldn’t be what it is without you.
12. Dressed as Kylie Jenner for a pop-culture dress up party.
I love me a theme. When I heard my friend’s Amy and Jem were throwing a pop-culture themed end-of-year/semester one, I went into a deep dive. What could I go as that was so topical to the 2018 landscape? What would be instantly recognisable? But already in my closet? On top of all that, I’m coming straight from work, so my IQ Kitty Trixie Mattel idea was thrown out the window. But then it hit me – Kylie Jenner, and Stormi. Sitting in a cafe one night in Paris and seeing Kylie announce not only her pregnancy but THE BIRTH OF HER DAUGHTER, ONE DAY BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY, was such a 2018 moment. Real talk though I’m legit so happy with how this outfit came out. In a celebrity dress up pickle? Get yourself a body con dress, get yourself a little baby doll, swatch some (preferably liquid) lipsticks on your arm and boom, Kylie kostume komplete.
13. Saw more queens you could poke an acrylic nail at.
I have such a vivid memory of me in bed on Halloween in 2017 watching people’s Instagram Stories and feeling absolute FOMO for not going to the Sickening Ball in my city. So many of my favourite drag performers were in that show, and I regretted not going so much. But I was so hesitant. I had never gone to a show before, I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t know who to go with (especially on such short notice). No more regrets in 2018, I told myself, I’m going to see all the queens I wanna see. And I did! In 2018 I got myself together and got out of my comfort zone and saw Trixie Mattel, Tammy Brown, Alaska Thunderfvck (twice), Sharon Needles, Shea Coulee, Miz Cracker, Detox, Vivacious, Milk, Karen from Finance so many times because she was always hosting and so many local queens from Brisbane. And yes, I went to the 2018 Sickening Ball. Come on, full circle moment. (And to think I have Meet & Greets to Trixie in February, now that’s what I call growth.)
14. Got straight 7s and raised my GPA to a 6.
Hello 2018 goal. I don’t whip myself into a breakdown trying to get straight 7s at university. My degree, and future job prospects, aren’t looking at what exact mark I got for Radio and Television 2, or Online Journalism 1, you know? But dang it, I wanted that 6. My GPA was hovering around the high 5 all degree, and to hit 6 on my very last round of marks was so, so satisfying. Loved that for me.
15. Said goodbye to my old job.
I’ve been an Academic Tutor at my old high school since the start of 2016. That was also the time when I started university. Now three years later, with my degree in hand and a job under my belt in the field I actually studied for, it was time to say goodbye. And I got emotional! This job was incredible. I was treated so well, I made amazing life long friends who I can’t imagine my world without, and I was lucky enough to have a boss who is one of the most hard working, authentic, hilarious, generous and kind people I will probably ever meet. Now that my job at my old high school is over, it does feel like graduating from there again, but just like in 2015, I know I’m ready to move on.
16. Completed 100 hours of driving.
Look, I really hate driving. The road to getting my license has been…. long. And it’s still not over, but Jesus am I proud of myself for getting my hours done. I feel like such a weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and in a weird way I’m actually driving more often now that I don’t have to fluff around and fill out that book (yes I used the old fashioned book way). I don’t have my license yet, but it feels closer than ever and I’m really proud of how much process I’ve made this year. 2018 January Jess would be shook at 2018 December Jess.
17. Graduated from university.
Your girl went and did the damn thing! I graduated from university! I’m so proud of myself. Obviously they couldn’t do this because it’s not like graduating school but I wish I could watch a video and be reminded of all the things I did in the last three years because it honestly feels surreal and I feel like I’ve forgotten so much of it (but in like, a good way?). I still sometimes think about all the subjects I did and all the assignments I complained about. But those moments aren’t as vivid because instead I remember the uni ball we danced at for like 2 solid hours straight in heels, the feeling of prac being over, the time we went overseas and all the catch ups over coffee I had with my gang. It’s definitely been a ride, and I don’t think it will fully hit me for some time.
18. Completed another year of blogging.
I didn’t get a chance to ‘celebrate’ it, but this December my blog turned 3! She’s a toddler now. She’s growing and she’s gettin’ a lil personality. I’m really proud of myself for keep up with this side gig I’ve created, and even prouder for taking a rare break from it when I was finishing uni and needed to just stop and focus on one thing. I had no idea where to put this ‘thing’ in this post. At the start wouldn’t have made sense, and in the middle didn’t feel right. I wrote blog posts in my bed in Florence, I edited photos on plane rides. I scribbled down post ideas in my uni notebook during boring lectures, and I typed my thoughts out at the end of long, exhausting weeks. I’ve tended to my blog like a… well, like a hobby, and it’s given me so much back in return. My blog doesn’t make me money, it doesn’t get me free clothes and makeup. But it makes me happy, it lets me be creative, and it lets me house an online space for all the memories I create along the way. So another year of blogging feels like the perfect way to finish this off.
This has been an absolute doozy of a post. We’re 2,600 words in, ladies, so I say we call it a damn day. Tell me in the comments below something you did in 2018 that you’d like to share. It can be anything, it can be multiple things, but I wanna hear it! Be proud of yourself for making it through another year, and here’s to 2019.
Also, for the last time this year, if you enjoy this post, don’t forget to give it a “like” so I know!
All the love (AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!),