“The only place I really want to be is out on the water.”

“The only place I really want to be is out on the water.”

That's a paddlin'

That’s a paddlin’

As I sit across from Dylan Nicholson I can see he is a man who enjoys the outdoors, his skin gilded by the harsh rays of the Sun, his hair salted by the ocean. He may not have the shaggy, bleach-blonde hair but when he isn’t busy studying for university Dylan spends most of his time at the beach, “Whenever I have time and the weather’s decent I paddle or I surf,” Dylan says, “or I paddle-surf.” he adds with a grin.

Dylan has been interested in water sports for many years now, beginning with racing outrigger canoes, then making the transition to stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP) after he dislocated his shoulder in a game of rugby. Before jumping ship, he definitely made the most of his time in outrigger canoeing, “I won something like 13 state titles, including open men’s when I was 16, and a national title a while ago.” Remarkably, a mere three days after injuring his shoulder Dylan competed in national sprints and valiantly managed to take third place. “I couldn’t paddle on one side by the end of it.” As he neared the finish line Dylan was forced to stop paddling and was passed for second place.

His energy spent, Dylan says “I couldn’t get off my boat, I had to sort of flop myself onto the pontoon.” After this Dylan was unable to race for a year and when he returned he found himself unable to compete at the same level. Although for Dylan, it isn’t about competing in races, it’s about staying active. Not a fan of gyms, he prefers to be outside, “The only place I really want to be is out on the water.” Whether he’s paddling or surfing, Dylan just needs to be out there. He remarks, “I get grumpy and I get depressed and I don’t function as a person if I can’t get out on the water in some way or form.”

Unfortunately Dylan had to sell his canoe to get to Macquarie University last year, but he bought a stand-up paddle-board shortly before moving to Wollongong and has been paddling ever since. It is inspiring to see this dedicated student making time for both university and stand-up paddling without sacrificing either. One day even, he may return to outrigger canoeing “Maybe some day, it would be nice to race again.”

For now though, Dylan Nicholson is content with his paddle-board although as we head into Winter he’s concerned he won’t get down to the beach as often as he would like. We share a laugh as I silently hope we are spared a visit from ‘Grumpy Dylan’ this year.

Career Concerns

Career Concerns

Jarrah Bowley keeps up to date with current affairs.

Jarrah Bowley keeps up to date with current affairs.

Choosing the right career path for you. It is a choice everyone must make at some point, and not everyone gets it right the first time. The journalism students studying at the University of Wollongong (that is, the ones I interviewed), are interested in a wide variety of careers. Some would like to travel the globe reporting on various topics while others want to become radio or television presenters.

The ambitious Ryan Speed is one of these students. Becoming a presenter is his ideal job, for “either TV or radio, it doesn’t faze me too much.”Not bothered by the medium through which he will be presenting, Ryan is similarly unconcerned about what it is he will be presenting saying, “I’m open to all areas.” If pressed for a preference it seems he favours sports as he says, “it’s probably the area I know most about.” On a slightly different tack is Cassie Beale, who wants to travel, reporting on human rights issues like human trafficking, slavery, and poverty. “I want to let people know and show them what it’s really like out there for some people.” she says confidently.

At the other end of the spectrum are Jarrah Bowley and Tess Bickerstaff who aren’t entirely sure about what they would like to do career-wise at this point in their lives. Jarrah would prefer to be involved in traditional journalism saying “If I had to pick a dream job it would photo journalism or profile writing.” but she would also like to dabble in a lot of different aspects of journalism at one point or another. Similarly Tess is somewhat unsure of what exactly she would like to do saying “I’m not sure but I’d probably like to go into entertainment journalism and report on music.”

These four young students are also concerned about a number of issues affecting journalism today, but one of their main concerns is media ownership. Jarrah is worried by “the way in which major corporations influence the public and display biased opinions in their newspapers.”, particularly Rupert Murdoch and his blatant opposition to the Labor party during the 2013 election. Tess too, is worried by the implications of having one man control so much of the media. The rise of citizen journalism has also brought some up various problems, particularly with fact checking and a lack of research. As Cassie points out “information spreads like wildfire” even if the information is question is incorrect and Ryan quite rightly states, “the rise of citizen journalism is a big factor in your sources becoming less reliable.”

It is clear that whatever field of journalism you work in, be it sports or politics, television or radio, professional or citizen, there is a level of professionalism required that is curiously absent in places, particularly sources of citizen journalism such as blogs. Neglecting to fact check sources thoroughly seems almost unethical for a journalist, as it is their job to bring news to the public. Perhaps it is time for a new generation of journalists to enter the field and raise the bar. I for one would welcome the change.

JRNL101 – Portrait 3

JRNL101 – Portrait 3

Jarrah Bowley sits outside International House on a sunny afternoon.

Jarrah Bowley sits outside International House on a sunny afternoon.

“Wollongong.” is the unlikely answer to my question. “I mean I’m from Moss Vale, but I live in Wollongong.” It’s already clear that Jarrah has adjusted to life away from home. At “about one hour away” Moss Vale is Jarrah’s home, and although she is comfortable calling Wollongong home now it wasn’t easy to move out at first, “I guess leaving everything behind was hard.” she says, “My family, my friends, everything familiar. And my dog!” she laughs as we sit outside International House. Leaving Moss Vale was difficult but “meeting new people and the whole experience of living on campus” has made it worthwhile to this young student.

JRNL101 – Portrait 2

JRNL101 – Portrait 2

Portrait 2 - Dylan

Dylan Nicholson relaxes in his room after a long day at university.

In a room covered with band posters, Dylan Nicholson pores over his surfboard. “Every time I look at it I get sad, I haven’t had a chance to surf in ages.” Apparently university life hasn’t left Dylan with much time for surfing and, as he tells me, the surf hasn’t been too good lately. As he sets his board back against the wall Dylan and I begin to talk about what moving out of home has been like. “It’s good to be away from the family, my family are crazy.” he jokes. The 19 year old boy from Port Stephens does miss his family though, in fact he will be making the long drive back for the Easter break this afternoon. He says it’s “Three-and-a-half hours on a good day,” and he’s hoping it’s a good day today, “I want to get home soon.”

JRNL101 – Portrait 1

JRNL101 – Portrait 1

Tess Bickerstaff plays her guitar during some time off.

Tess Bickerstaff plays her guitar during some time off.

“The hardest thing has been doing my own laundry, and eating well,” Tess tells me as she sits on her bed, gently strumming her guitar, “as well as being away from my dog, Charlie.” A giggle, then she reminds me she does also miss her friends and family back home. Home for Tess Bickerstaff is Jindabyne, NSW, somewhere between four and five hours away. Being away from home isn’t all bad though, “No angry parents waiting up for me, worried sick… and having my own independence.” Yet truly isn’t that one of the hardest parts of growing up and leaving home? Whether you’re doing your own laundry or remembering to eat healthy, the independence certainly takes some getting used to. With no parents to hold their hands many teens are fast adapting to life outside the nest.