How’s about an update on my (very mundane and probably boring to all of you) life? Well, it’s been… 3 weeks since I returned from my infamous trip to the US! (I guess it’s really only infamous if you’ve read my blog posts up until now, including the ones on blog.com…) But I’m back! My five big weeks in America are very much over. I think I thought I’d be sadder than this to be back home, but let me tell you something: I love our gun laws here in good old Australia.

I mean, nothing happened. Really, there was no good reason for me to be scared of guns–everyone was pretty friendly and I never saw anyone get hurt or threaten anyone else. I guess my mum’s irrational fear of EVERYONE and EVERYTHING has sort of seeped into me.

Nevertheless, I had an AWESOME time. I got to climb to the back of the Hollywood Sign, drive along Route 66, watch the ball drop in New York, meet my pen pal, and, best of all, SIT NEXT TO GUS SOROLA ON THE PLANE FROM AUSTIN TO LOS ANGELES.
How’s that for a good holiday?

For those who don’t know Mr. Gus, you probably don’t care much about this story. But here it is anyway, for anyone on the internet to read (and to probably boil in their jealousy).

So, yeah. I was flying back from Austin to LAX to eventually fly back to Sydney. And, just by happenstance, I was seated in between two people who work at Rooster Teeth, a company that makes the best videos on YouTube (I mean, they also made a movie, but, you know… YouTube is free…). I was very nervous, unsurprisingly. But I still made conversation, because there was no way in hell I was going to leave that country without getting a photo or two. The other person I sat next to, in case you were wondering, was Bethany, the events manager for Rooster Teeth.

Blah blah blah, we talked, got photos, and made plans to see each other the next weekend! (No, I’m only kidding–it just so happened that RTXAU was the next weekend and I was a Guardian and they were both going so, yeah… naturally, we would see each other).
So it was really cool, and both of them recognised me at the event, which made it so much better.



Wow, okay, I went on a massive trip around the US and all I can talk about is sitting next to some people on a plane?
I SWEAR it was fun.
I think, truthfully, my favourite place was Austin. Those who know me know I’m not in the habit of liking the general population, and Austin was SUPER quiet, so we got along well. I mean, there were heaps of cars but just NO people. And we were in downtown! ‘Cause that’s where you go when life is making you lonely.
Apart from Austin, I loved New York City. I mean, it didn’t live up to London (sorry anyone who is offended by that, although I don’t know why you would be) but it was nice enough. I didn’t like all the people hassling us to do carriage rides around Central Park, though. They really dragged the mood down sometimes. AND our hotel wasn’t great. We had to change rooms TWICE because they just didn’t know how to do things right the first time. (Wow, that sounded harsh.)

Now that I’m back, I’ve got not much to do. I’m planning my next trip, and also planning to save money to eventually move to London. But I’d better be careful, ’cause life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.



I’m getting into baking a lot these days, and I’m gonna try to have a stall at some local markets to sell cupcakes. I don’t think it’s EVER been done before.
Are there any particular flavours that would make good combos? I’ve decided on a Boston Creme one, a choc-mint, a plain chocolate and probably some sort of vanilla thing. Also coconut. People are pretty coco-nutty about that these days. HAHAHAHA

I guess that’s all for now. TGIF, ’cause we can get some Aussie Maccas and watch The Mindy Project ’til we go crazy. Side note: did you know (or did you expect) that McDonald’s in America is actually a really big let down? I’m sorry, but their fries have nothing on our chips. Haha, terminology….




Troll your friends with personalized “Made in China” M&M’s this Christmas!

I have to try this in New York!


We’re all familiar with M&M’s, the colorful candy-coated chocolates, but did you know that you could create your very own M&M’s? Okay, perhaps some of you lucky people have visited M&M’s World and already know about this, but for the rest of us who don’t, YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE M&M’s! You can even print your Twitter ID on it! If you don’t have a Twitter account, that’s perhaps the best reason to get one.

Our reporter Kuzo takes us through the customization process!

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And hidden no more! If my countless followers on Twitter have been impatiently waiting to found out what Amy’s been hiding, you shall wait no longer! Here’s Amy’s story, told by the [insert adjective here] up-and-coming journalist my house has ever seen!

(You can view my ‘prelude tweets’ here.)

So, what exactly do Paul McCarntey, Michael J. Fox and Amy Layt have in common?

Amy Layt, a 24-year-old-but-soon-to-be-25, is studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts, majoring in creative writing, at the University of Wollongong. She has dreams of moving to the United States of America (more specifically, Los Angeles, the City of Angels) and becoming a screenwriter. Within the first few hours of meeting her, I knew her favourite show (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), her stance on music (she has no favourite genre or band, she just likes a range of music), and her love for tomato soup and tea in winter and watermelon in summer.

What I didn’t find out was what she loved to do in her free time (apart from watching movies and going to concerts and Q&As). I found out that she once gave a Twix chocolate bar to Jason Alexander. I knew she could take a joke and wasn’t afraid to make one.

I don’t know how long it took me to find out her little secret. (Ooh, how ominous does that sound?) And I couldn’t think why she kept it a secret! Do you want to know what it is?

Drum roll…

Amy can play the guitar! (And very well at that.) She’s been playing for about 10 years now, something that started at a youth group and grew into one of her favourite hobbies. Amy said that only her family and close friends know about this secret. She loves practicing the tunes she writes herself and looks up to Billy Corgan from a band called the Smashing Pumpkins, due to his diversity. I heard the first song she learned was Green Day’s ‘Time of Your Life’.

It was very interesting to talk to Amy about her hidden talent. I even had the opportunity to talk to her mum, who took time out of her busy day to interview for me (thank you!). I learned that Amy’s great-grandfather also possessed the talent of guitar-playing, which might just be where she gets it from. I could tell Amy’s mum was proud of what her daughter has achieved and I am completely in awe of Amy’s guitar-playing.

Thank you very much to Amy and her mum for taking the time to speak to me.

(I respected Amy’s wishes by not having her face in any of the photos.)

Music: http://bensound.com/ and Amy Layt herself.

Not so hidden now, it is?

(Footnote: my Storify post with my ‘prelude’ tweets at https://storify.com/heidiraefj/whatsamyhiding.)

Thank you, one and all, for sticking with me through this process and taking the time to read or watch (or both) my work. I know my style takes some time to get used to… Hopefully the better I get the more you’ll want to keep up with my stuff!

You’re the greatest!


Salvation found in animals seeking salvation


Each year, hundreds of thousands of animals are left without a place to call home. Georgia Fait-Jeboult believes that all animals deserve a home, and spends the free time she has between her classes at Western Sydney University volunteering at a local pound. She says she just wants to give as much time as she can to the animals who may never belong to a family. Though she can’t save them all, she tries to give them some love and happiness in what may be their last few days as a beloved creature in the world. Here’s her story.

Music: http://www.bensound.com


Disclaimer: the audio editing software I was using let me trial it for free for thirty days. Unfortunately, the day before I was to cut this audio down to the required length, my subscription ran out, and the only way to be able to edit again is to purchase the software, which, given my current financial situation, I am unable to do. But please enjoy it nonetheless, though it may be 8 seconds longer than I intended.

The five ‘W’s (minus one ’cause we all know WHEN it’s due).

For our first journalism assignment, I’ve chosen my sister to interview because I know how strong her passion for animals is. She volunteers at a pound between university classes and always has a story about the animals there. Though I may not think they’re the most interesting stories, she thinks they’re so great because animals are the “greatest things in the world”. I hope to communicate her love for animals (and maybe skip her hate for humans…) and I plan to do this by recording her as soon as she gets home one day after volunteering. I’m going to include her rationalising why dogs bark so loudly and why cats really aren’t that high-strung. I think I’ll include her talking to the animals rather than me (or the audience) because she says she finds it easier to talk to them! I’ll ask about how she copes with knowing that she can’t save each and every animal that she wants to. This (hopefully) will create some suspense and make for a more interesting story!

Sound Cloud

Just getting a grip on using Hindenburg for journalism. I couldn’t find the sounds I was looking for but I did the best with what I could. It’s not great but it’s a start.
I was initially going to do my assignment on my baby cousin, but after consideration I’ve decided on a different idea.
I will be doing my assignment on my grandma and her dining room–the place where family gatherings are most lively and where she can spend time with her kids and grandkids. I have sounds of our family together, talking, but I need to record some more specific sounds (kettle boiling, laughing, singing, knife chopping, etc.). It shouldn’t be hard to get these sounds but I need to find a quiet time in my house (which is rare!) and do it then. I think editing the sounds together to give it the specific aura I’m going for will be difficult. It’s hard to plan when each sound would be the most effective. Hindenburg has been fairly simple to use, however, some features I’d like to use aren’t easy to find!

How would you get your word across?

Journalists have come to rely on more technology-based platforms to share their stories. As print media is being phased out, more immediate ways of sharing news are coming in, causing the world of journalism to change drastically to accustom to the demanding needs of instantanaeity with younger generations.

This article talks about the ways in which a single journalist can target as wide an audience as possible through the use of multimedia platforms for his work.

Meet my buddy


Karolina Ristevski just celebrated her 40th birthday while studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing) at the University of Wollongong. After deciding that her life just wasn’t fulfilling her dreams, she quit her day job and started a brand-new chapter in her life.

“I just didn’t feel like I was doing what I loved. I’ve always wanted to be a writer.”

She decided to change her life when she and her fiancé made plans to visit Peru, where her fiancé is from.

“I didn’t want to waste a perfect opportunity to write while overseas, so that was the thing that sort of pushed me over the edge. I was already at the cliff, looking over, but it made me jump into the unknown.”

Karolina knew that this decision was risky, and would change her life forever, but she took it anyway.

“My family was very supportive, but they were worried. ‘What are you going to do about the money, Karol?’ was the question I got asked the most. But I had some money saved, and I knew if I could just make the change I would figure it out as I went along. I’m not silly, but I guess I don’t know many people my age making a big change like this.”

Karolina is loving her university life, and is doing really well. Although she felt a bit lonely at the beginning, she’s made friends and acquaintances with whom she likes to share a laugh.

“Everyone at uni is great. They’re all funny and accepting–it doesn’t seem to bother them that I’m their parents’ age.”

Karolina is so in love with university life that she doesn’t want to go back.

“I missed out on uni when I was younger, but now I feel like I’m in my twenties again! It’s great–the late nights, the close teacher-student relationships, heaps of friends… I wish I hadn’t missed out when I was younger but I sure am glad I’m here now!”

Karolina has a carefree, funny personality. She loves a good joke and is always there for you if you need to ask questions.

“I help people out with their uni work, and in turn, I get help back. It’s really great–there’s nowhere else in life where you have this kind of mutual support.”

When asked what she likes to do on the weekends and in her spare time, Karolina responded:

“I just started yoga, although I don’t think I’m doing it right. The class is ‘Yoga for Beginners’ but I think I need the basics class before I continue! I also like writing–I’m a morning person when it comes to writing–fresh thoughts on a fresh page.

Karolina will graduate UOW in 2017.

“I really will miss university. It’s just got such a great atmosphere–you never want to leave.”

Karolina’s got the sort of personality that brightens a dull day. I know I’ve made a friend for life (well, for the next three years at least! Ba-dum-bah ch!)

Journalists at UOW

Is the future of paper not so bright? Will the next generation know only of journalism as online? I think so. But I hope not.

Is the future of paper not so bright? Will the next generation know only of journalism as online? I think so. But I hope not.

I was lucky enough to interview four budding journalists at UOW to ask about future aspirations and issues in journalism today. What I found was interesting was how some answers were completely different while others were very similar. It seems that no matter what kind of journalist one wants to be, we’re all in this together.

When asked what the exact job they wanted was, my three interviewees answered very confidently:

“Chief Editor of a magazine … like Frankie.”—Sofia Casanova

“Video game commentator/reviewer.”—Scott Charman

“Host a news comedy show in Australia.”—Riley Jones

“Own [a] scuba business on a small island in the middle of the ocean.”—Lucy Daly

Some very different answers! However, when I asked them about issues in journalism today, their answers were quite similar. I asked if journalism has changed much in the last few decades.

“Paper is becoming outdated,” Casanova said. “With the transition from print to online, things are looking bleak for magazines because of how much people seem to hate hard copies.”

Daly agreed: “[There’s] the emergence of new technologies, the overwhelming presence of the internet.”

Charman spoke about the rise of satirical journalism, and the new focus on video media, which he says, because of this, “review journalism has become better.”

“I think comedy journalism has changed … with red tape and censorship, but has also become … more free with the Internet,” Jones commented. “It is really a new emerging type of journalism, only gaining traction in the recent decade.”

Aggregation has become a big issue in journalism, and each person also explained their ideas on it in journalism.

“I think it’s great! It’s simple [and] short,” Casanova said. “[It] gets the word out.”

Jones spoke about how both aggregation and curation have their places in journalism. “It is convenient and puts all the news in one spot. Laws around it … seem redundant as all news is aggregated to an extent.”

The only answer I got that was different was from Daly, who sympathised with the journalists who write the articles being aggregated. “They put all this work into their piece to have it spliced up and put into another story,” she said. “There should be some kind of permission granted.”

It seems each student knew their views on issues in journalism, however, when asked about their future, each person was uncertain, except Casanova.

“[I’ll be] the chief editor of a magazine,” she said. She added that she’ll be “stable, successful [and] having fun.”

The other weren’t so sure.

Charman said he’d like to be “doing something I love.” Jones would like to “be paid to be funny”. Daly said she’d like to be “weathered with experience,” and would still be travelling.

I talked with four very different journalists, four very different people, who had one common interest: journalism. Although journalism is competitive, journalists know they must band together to keep the profession alive. And I have hope that the future of journalism will thrive thanks to people like these.