avatar

About Lauren Wilkins

Hey, I'm Lauren! I'm a travel lover in my third year of a Bachelor of Justice at QUT and a 2017 New Colombo Plan Scholar. I am currently in Manila undertaking an internship with The Asia Foundation, and later in the year I'll be studying International Relations in Indonesia. Check out my posts to stay up to date with my journey!

The Beginning of an Adventure

Destination: PHILIPPINES!

Two weeks ago now, I left Australia to officially begin the next chapter, the adventure of a lifetime.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m Lauren, 19 years old, travel lover, tea enthusiast and extremely passionate about human rights and international affairs. I’m currently in my third year studying a Bachelor of Justice and I’ve just moved to MANILA in the Philippines!

The view from my apartment

I am incredibly lucky to have been awarded a 2017 New Colombo Plan Scholarship to undertake study and internships across the Indo-Pacific Region for up to 18 months!!

At the moment, my Scholarship starts out in Manila, with a two month internship at The Asia Foundation in their Law and Human Rights team, before I head to Indonesia to begin studying International Relations at Parahyangan Catholic University. I’ll tell you more about that in a later blog.

New Colombo Plan Scholarship Awards Presentation

It’s not all smooth sailing…

Leaving Australia, and in particular, leaving my family was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. The reality that I will be away from home for such an extended period of time really hit me hard.

After saying goodbye

As I collected my boarding pass and started walking to the departure gate, I started to realise that leaving on this journey wasn’t just any adventure. This time, I was not going to be coming home in a matter of weeks or months and seeing my family again. Here I was thinking I could be cool, calm and collected, instead in a bawling mess.  All I could think was how lucky I am to have people in my life that make saying goodbye so difficult.

The first few days were a rollercoaster of emotions, an anarchic mix of doubt, angst and euphoria, but mostly, fear of the unknown. At times, I’ve felt alone and so far out of my depth, just wishing I was back at home in my own bed. However, as I’ve started to become acquainted with Manila and explore this unique, beautifully chaotic city I am beginning to feel more and more at home.

So far, my first two weeks have consisted of, settling into my internship at The Asia Foundation, organising my accommodation and urging myself to wander the city.

I’ve found it a little strange adapting to the work environment here in the Philippines. The work is challenging with tough deadlines, and high expectations. Basically, I was thrown in the deep end, right from the day one.

Dinner with the LAHR Team

There’s no denying that taking that first step can be hard, but that first grim instance is so worth every single phenomenal experience you will have.

If I could give you any advice, it would be to just take a risk, and dive right in! Never pass up an opportunity because it’s a little daunting or because you’re scared of the unknown – the challenge part of the adventure!

Until next time, paalam!

Please feel free to connect with me if you have any questions regarding exchange, the Philippines, Indonesia, internships, the New Colombo Plan – anything, I would love to hear from you!

Read more