Thursday, 26 February 2015

Personal Branding: The 8 elements and why you need to know them

According to an infographic from, on average, 118 people apply for every job. And only 20% of those who apply will get an interview. Those are not great numbers. How do you stand out from the pack and get noticed so that you can get the job you want? Read on to learn the eight elements of Personal Branding and why you need to know them.

What is Personal Branding?

Personal Branding in today’s world is not an option. According to Wikipedia, Personal Branding is defined as “the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands”. If you think your university education alone will get you the job you want, it is time to think again. With an average of 118 people applying for every job, how will you stand out? Your personal brand is your best competitive strategy to stand out and cut through in an over-saturated job market. By being aware of the eight elements that make up your personal brand, you can focus on developing each of them so you can set yourself apart and get the job you want.

8 elements of Personal Branding
  1. Appearance: This is how you come across non-verbally and takes into account things like your body language, your handshake, how you dress and groom yourself, and also the energy you give off. Present yourself at your best and “think positive” to leave a lasting impression.
  2. Qualifications: This is your education and the skills that help you to do your job. Having a good education does help, so ensure that you appropriately display your education and your skills on your CV and on your social network presence.
  3. Achievements: How have you made an impact in the world thus far? What projects were you successful in delivering? Have you won any awards? Completing a degree from a major university will require you to complete assessments and projects. If you are just starting out, focus on what you achieved while at university, and as your career builds, keep notes of achievements so you can use them in future conversations for new roles.
  4. Passion: What do you love doing? How does it reflect in your work? Is it obvious to others? Employers today are looking to employ team members who have a positive attitude, and if you are doing something you are passionate about, that positive attitude will just flow from you. Learn what you are passionate about and be able to talk about it.
  5. Value: How do you describe the value you will bring to the company and what will the return be to the company if they employ you? Today’s jobs require more than compliance with the minimum requirements. Top employers want to know what you can do for them, so think about how you deliver value and be prepared to talk about it.
  6. Reputation: How do others view you? What would your university professor and classmates say about you? What does your LinkedIn profile display? Does it display recommendations from others? When you feel like you have done a great job on a project, ask your teammates and supervisor or professor for a recommendation on LinkedIn so that you can start building a positive social media reputation that will work for you as your career grows.
  7. Personality: This is a mix of your values, hopes, dreams, identity, behaviour, goals and desires. Are you warm to new people? Do you make an effort to try and connect with new people? In the marketplace today, more companies are looking for transparency and authenticity with their employees, so start sharing your personality with others. This may seem difficult or awkward at first, but once you start, you will see others warm to you and it will become more natural.
  8. Differentiator: We are all unique in some way. What makes you unique? Research from the Gallup Research Methodology 2013 states, “68% of people won’t make a decision to hire you…because they can’t see the difference between you and the other guy.” Spend some time thinking about this. Once you figure it out, make it easy for others to see how you are unique.
For many of us, our culture has influenced our perception and taught us that we should not stick out and that we should conform. Unfortunately, this teaching works against developing your Personal Brand and will work against you in gaining your dream job. Now is the time to break free of these cultural barriers and get what you want. Think about the eight elements listed above and develop your Personal Brand. Once you know this information, be sure to update your social media pages to reflect your Personal Brand so that when a potential employer searches the Internet for your name (and they will) you are reflected exactly how you want. 

Have you ever thought about your Personal Brand? What will you do first to build your Personal Brand?

Scott Brunelle
Scott Brunelle is a Sales and Marketing Management professional and recently completed his Master of Commerce (Marketing) at the University of Sydney Business School. In the capstone unit, Succeeding in Business (BUSS6000), Dr. Helen Parker organised a guest lecture from Mary van de Wiel on "How to Create a Leadership Brand for the 21C". The information in this blog is based on the content from this lecture.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Farewell my beloved Jakarta

Juan Tjiong is a current student at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the 2015 New Combo Plan (Jakarta), an Australian Government initiative which aims to expand knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia and strengthen institutional relationships through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduates in the region.  

The second week of our field school was more centered towards our faculty. The business students had the opportunity to visit several companies in Jakarta. These companies included: Lowe Indonesia, Sinar Mas, Unilever Indonesia, Garuda Indonesia, MarkPlus Institute and Nielsen Indonesia. During these visits, we had the opportunity to learn about how each respective company uses marketing tools and strategies. We were also exposed to how consumers behave in Indonesia.

However, there was one company that intrigued me instantly. This was Garuda Indonesia. Garuda Indonesia is a service airline that values being efficient and effective, loyalty, customer centricity, honesty and integrity. Moreover, Garuda seeks to promote national economic development by delivering professional airline services to the world.

Given their past, this company visit gave me great insights about their present market position in both the domestic and global market. Despite this, it is important to appreciate that Garuda experienced many obstacles in its past. During the 1996-97, Garuda suffered two major accidents- one of them being Indonesia’s worst aviation disaster. Moreover, the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 also hit Garuda very hard, resulting in them reducing flights and suspending certain flight routes.

Subsequently, in 2009 Garuda announced a major five-year expansion plan called the ‘Quantum leap’. This expansion involved image overhaul, including a change in the airline’s staff uniform and logo. Reflecting now, it is evident that their expansion plan was successful.

The success of the ‘Quantum leap’ has given Garuda a solid platform. For instance, Garuda is currently the market leader in its domestic market for middle-high income earners. This market stance has also been supported by Garuda’s reputation of promoting safe flights, loyalty to its customers and great customer service.

Moreover, Garuda has also successfully addressed its present challenges in its domestic market. Their major challenge is to be able to compete with budget airlines such as Sriwijaya Air, Batavia Air, etc. This has been primarily addressed in its focus of Citilink. Citilink is a low-cost airline subsidiary of Garuda and seeks to cater for the lower-middle income earners.

In spite of this, one aspect of the company visit that I found interesting was when they told us how Garuda differentiates itself from its international competitors. Garuda attempts to differentiate from its competitors through “Garuda experiences”, meaning that they develop products in relation to Indonesia’s culture. For example, in their entertainment, Garuda has a section dedicated to only Indonesian movies and music. Reflecting now on our company visit to Garuda, I feel extremely grateful and blessed to have been given the opportunity to learn more about Indonesia’s leading aviation airline.

But more importantly, I feel extremely blessed to have been able to visit Jakarta for the past fortnight. I have learnt to not just compare Jakarta with Sydney, but to appreciate the beauty of Jakarta and distance myself from comparing the two together. I already miss Jakarta. I miss the people, their smiles of happiness. I miss the company of my peers every night. For sure, the two weeks here in Jakarta will be in my memory forever.

This blog was originially published on Sydney Life: Student experiences at the University of Sydney.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Beauty in Jakarta

Miles Tycho Hugh is a current student at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the 2015 New Combo Plan (Jakarta), an Australian Government initiative which aims to expand knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia and strengthen institutional relationships through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduates in the region.  

In 2002 Dove attempted to redefine the notion of beauty in their ‘Real Beauty’ campaign. Dove claimed society’s concept of beauty was informed by highly unrealistic images of supermodel size zeros who showcased the world’s leading beauty brands. They featured high cheekbones, toothpick legs and chins so sharp they could cut through steal. Recognising this, Dove released a series of campaigns featuring more realistic representations of the womanly figure, communicating that beauty was natural and accessible.

Most importantly, Dove recognised that powerful brands were symbolic resources of meaning, which individuals use to construct or extend the self. Thus, consumers who agreed in the morality of Dove’s attempt to liberalise society’s perception of beauty would express or confirm their morality by purchasing Dove products, empowering the consumer. The consumer was engaged in a social movement where Dove formed the connective tissue.

Yet, this unitive outcome did not emerge when Unilever brought the US campaign to Jakarta.

According to Unilever Indonesia’s prior head of Sunsilk, the Indonesian consumer wouldn’t have a bar of Dove's safe and accepting proposal of what the beauty-world was like. She said, “in Asia, appearance is everything.” Extrapolating from this, the Jakartan consumer seems to subscribe to a notion of beauty shaped by the physical exterior. The Jakartan concept of beauty seems exacting in its application, focused on what can be confirmed easily (skin, bones, hair), rather than seeking to somehow divine the individual’s inner, 'spiritual' qualities and detect the glowing radiance which miraculously emanates from the models presented in Dove’s Real Beauty campaigns. There seems to be very little room for shades of grey in Jakarta’s definition of beauty.

I can’t pretend to know what cultural undercurrents contributed to this viewpoint. However, I can’t help but think that Dove’s presentation of beauty is born out of luxury. To be able to take the time to get to know someone, to see through a lens that is not on guard, and instead embracive of the outside world. To be able to feel comfortable engaging with anyone without judgment or concern for how they might react (potentially dangerously) towards you. These are all indulgences attributed to a gaze from a position of power.

In Jakarta, many are not provided with such luxury. Without wanting to seem melodramatic, the city is dangerous. I witnessed multiple motorcycle crashes, and just driving in the haphazard and uncoordinated traffic keeps one constantly on edge. While aboard the TransJakarta bus we were all searched after claims of pick pocketing, and women I spoke to only began catching the bus after womens' carriages were installed, citing previous experiences of physical abuse.

Moreover, the State seems to have limited capacity, or willingness, to enforce the rules and regulations designed to protect its citizens. The police and other law enforcement agencies seem to have little presence in Jakarta, contributing to a perception that one can commit offences without consequence. Moreover, the application of the law seems to be flexible depending on the status and wealth of the offender's family. This is indicative of a corruption systemic within the state’s bureaucracy, and thus its opacity and unpredictability. This also gives reason for Jakarta's citizenry to be ‘eternally vigilant’ and mistrusting of the state's internal workings (promises), and to only deal with outcome: the physically visible. Could these factors derive ways of thinking, and of seeing the world, which spill over into the way individuals conceive beauty?

Though Jakarta's physical-centric image of beauty may seem superficial compared to the ‘real beauty’ image Dove stands for, I’d argue that Dove’s previous campaigns have promulgated an image of beauty based on physical appearance. Disguising it has been their genius. Yes, their advertisements feature diversely proportioned women posing without make up, but they look stunning regardless! Most are naturally beautiful. Yet most people aren’t blessed with the ‘Yes, I-woke-up-like-this’ look.

Thus, Dove seems to have only re-framed beauty as: physically attractive without the help of makeup. I would posit Dove has actually raised the bar higher, implying beauty forbids cosmetic assistance. Ironically, this means Dove’s differentiating position depends on the cosmetic industry to continually enforce this ‘fake’ perception of beauty. It seems then, that perhaps the pragmatic and guarded perception of the Indonesian consumer may have saved them from becoming subservient to an even more demanding and commercially lucrative version of beauty. To let one’s guard down is a luxurious state of being, taken for granted by the world’s elite.

This blog was originially published on Sydney Life: Student experiences at the University of Sydney.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Terima Kasih - thank you Jakarta!

Isabella Dabaja is a current student at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the 2015 New Combo Plan (Jakarta), an Australian Government initiative which aims to expand knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia and strengthen institutional relationships through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduates in the region

The second week of our field school has been more faculty-centric and allowed us to focus on building our understanding of Indonesian consumers. We were welcomed by staff from Lowe, Sinar Mas, Unilever, Garuda Indonesia, Nielsen Research and MarkPlus consulting.

Our company visits and workshops provided curious insight into not only the Indonesian market, but the experience of doing business in such a dynamic economy. It is worth noting that all companies we visited mentioned the logistical challenges that accompany the distribution of goods and services to over six thousand inhabited islands. Further, the expanse of the world that these six thousand islands are scattered across itself consists of over seventeen thousand islands - magnifying the obstacle of supply.

Not unlike Australia, distance is a significant hurdle – the key difference, however, is that even the smallest islands of Indonesia present huge economic opportunities, given the sheer size of the population. The success of Indonesian companies in this era, where the burgeoning middle class make up over 55% of all Indonesians (Nielsen 2014) is dependent on their ability to service the sheer breadth of their own country. The reality of this alone is demanding, and needs to be navigated alongside the cultural distinctions that exist between every community. It’s clear that catering to the Indonesian market is no easy task, and that the overwhelming diversity that we’ve seen in Jakarta is merely a ladle in the deep melting pot that is Indonesia.

Reflecting now on the fortnight that has just flown by, I’m confident that the greatest aspect of this field school has been the facility of perspective. I feel that as an Australian, I initially observed the complexity of Jakarta, but could only compare it to what I am accustomed to – the very different lifestyle of Sydney.

After two weeks, I've found that the real value in spending time in an unfamiliar environment, especially within the field school format, has been distancing myself from the exercise of comparison and coming to understand a place like Jakarta in its own right.

Having the opportunity to compare our firsthand observations of the city with the life experiences of the households we interviewed for our field work formed a starting block of sorts. From here, we were able to reconcile our own interpretations of the new environment that was around us with the familiarities of the people who comprise it.

In speaking to local university students and unlikely friends out and about – street vendors, shopkeepers, ‘taksi’ drivers and even beauticians – it seemed that for two weeks, my default role in a conversation was to end every sentence with a rising intonation. Questions, questions, questions – for every query I had, I was thrilled to be met by a kind willingness to share anecdotes and opinions.

I am grateful to have experienced even a small part of the fantastic and intricate culture of our neighbours in Indonesia. I already miss the noise and the constant sense of adventure, and admittedly, even the shocking macet (traffic jams) as Jakarta could never be less than exciting, even from the seat of a sedentary vehicle. Terima kasih – thank you Jakarta!

This blog was originially published on Sydney Life: Student experiences at the University of Sydney.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A difficult balancing act

Thomas Cleary is a current student at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the 2015 New Combo Plan (Jakarta), an Australian Government initiative which aims to expand knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia and strengthen institutional relationships through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduates in the region

Students from the University of Sydney Business School had an opportunity visit Sinar Mas, one of the largest conglomerates in Indonesia, which has subsidiaries in pulp and paper, agriculture, financial services, property, telecommunications, energy and infrastructure. Interestingly, the visit came about through a chance meeting a one of our transport academics had with an employee at a bus station. The company is the largest producer of palm oil in Indonesia (accounting for roughly 10% of total production) and the second largest globally (Sinar Mas, 2015)

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So why is this an issue?
Palm oil can only be successfully grown in tropical regions along the equator, meaning deforestation for the purposes of palm oil often occurs in areas rich in biodiversity. The expansion of palm oil poses a serious threat to a number of species, including the orang-utan, Sumatran tiger and rhinoceros (World Growth, 2011). Sinar Mas has been in a constant battle with environmental groups. The company was criticised in 2010 when it began cleaning land for plantations without receiving approval, and more recently, for hazing operations across the Raiu plane of Sumatra, which caused significant pollution in Singapore (Guardian, 2013)

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The economic argument
In 2013, palm oil accounted for 11% of Indonesia’s total export earnings, generated $5.7 billion in taxation revenue and employed an estimated 3.5 million people, particularly the rural poor living in Sumatra (Guardian, 2013). Globally, the demand for palm oil is expected to increase, given it is used in the production of popular cosmetics, soaps, pharmaceuticals and retail foods. To meet this demand, the Indonesian government plans to increase palm oil production to 40 million tonnes annually by 2020 (World Growth, 2011). This raises a number of questions about the prioritisation of economic interests over the sustainability of natural resources. Moreover, there seems to be reluctance on behalf of purchasers to buy palm oil certified by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Unilever purchases 100% of their palm oil from certified producers, whereas other multinationals such as McDonalds (13%) and PepsiCo (17%) are seriously lagging behind. (Guardian, 2014)

So what is the solution?
I don’t think there is one. With Indonesia so dependent on palm oil as a source of revenue and provider of jobs, it’s hard to foresee any serious change. Environmental groups often urge consumers to boycott brands – but an individual’s brand loyalty can often override their environmental conscience. Is a consumer really going to boycott Garnier Fructis shampoo for containing palm oil when the majority of its competitors do as well? Are people really going to boycott McDonalds or the myriad of products owned by Proctor and Gamble? The marketing power of FMCG companies will always outweigh that of environmental groups. I think the way forward is for changes to be made to the Indonesian regulatory environment, to ensure that companies purchasing palm oil are doing so from the 40% of Indonesian producers that are certified by the RSPO - this way the responsibility is shifted from the consumer toward the companies actually purchasing the product.

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Balch, O. 2014, ‘Palm oil: WWF name and shame top global buyers’, The Guardian, 28 January, viewed 5 February 2015

McClanahan, P. 2013, ‘Can Indonesia increase palm output without destroying its forests?’, The Guardian, 11 September, viewed 6 February 2015, <>

Sinar Mas 2015, Agribusiness and food, Indonesia, viewed 6 February 2015, <>

World Growth 2011, The economic benefits of palm oil to Indonesia, viewed 4 February 2015, <>

This blog was originially published on Sydney Life: Student experiences at the University of Sydney.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Disruptions: Lessons from the New Combo Plan field school in Jakarta

Vicki Xin is a current student at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the 2015 New Combo Plan (Jakarta), an Australian Government initiative which aims to expand knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia and strengthen institutional relationships through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduates in the region. 

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
- Marcel Proust

With Indonesia’s growing strategic importance in the ASEAN region, rich resource base and proximity to Australia, it makes sense to proactively bridge corporate and trading relations with South East Asia’s largest economy, especially considering the rise of the “Asian century” (Commonwealth of Australia 2012).

Post program closure, I am definitely in accord with the government’s New Colombo Plan initiative to building more salience and longer-term engagement with the South East Asia region within young graduates; after all, a fair few of us (myself included) believed Bali was a country of its own prior to pre-departure training.

During the second week of the field school, we were warmly received by leading professionals in various global and local firms and exposed to areas of market research, public relations, product and project management, strategy and publications. Among these visits I became increasingly intrigued by Lowe Indonesia CEO, Joseph Tan; Graduate Management Trainee, Andrew Tobing; and Sinarmas International Relations Manager, Cannia Susanto’s decisions to embrace dynamic, fast-paced international careers and the importance of finding your ‘own voice’ within an organisation.

Moreover, discussions at Unilever pertaining to the competitiveness and the saturated state of the hair, health care and beauty (FMCG) market appears to be far more challenging than the Australian market, however, such conditions undoubtedly implores more creativity and innovation. Out of all the advertisements we viewed at the Lowe workshop, Unilever’s ‘Lifebuoy Tree of Life’ resonated with me the most; its disruptive message and grand scale emotive appeal is certainly more powerful than most advertisements aired and geared towards the Australian market. Prior to these industry workshops, I was never exposed to the idea or possibility of working in Indonesia, however, I now feel challenged to assess how much of the concepts and knowledge I have learnt in my Business degree at the University of Sydney would be relevant and applicable in the Indonesian region or South East Asian context.

Reflecting on this experience, I felt a heightened degree of cognitive disruption towards how often and quickly I used my own biases and automatic assumptions to determine how I feel about certain industries and career paths, and that these biases and beliefs are inevitably difficult to challenge or change. This sense of “felt difficulty” (Dewey 1933 cited in Carson and Fisher 2006, p. 709) in having a previously unconscious presumption challenged further, prompted me to contemplate how Indonesia has been portrayed in Australian media and how much I have allowed this to unconsciously shape my preconceptions about the country. This further reveals that our assumptions emanate from political and economic institutions, infiltrate our belief system and can only be recognised and contested through the process of reflection.

Acknowledging that I have been quite rustic in my thinking, and where good and bad are no longer so clearly defined, means that I will have to re-evaluate many of my other beliefs regarding cultural empathy in the corporate space and the ‘Asia fit’ concept.

The field school and reflective assessment component have definitely created disturbances in my thinking and provided a perfect opportunity to reconsider the skill and knowledge gap which I need to proactively fill to prepare myself for potential short-term international work experience.

Google App Storyboard Workshop with Andrew Tobing at Lowe Indonesia

Unilever (Wall’s floor)

Commonwealth of Australia 2012, Australia in the Asian Century, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, ISBN 978-1-921739-93-4, viewed 5 February 2015,

Carson, L. and Fisher, K. 2006, ‘RAISING THE BAR ON CRITICALITY: STUDENTS' CRITICAL REFLECTION IN AN INTERNSHIP PROGRAM’, Journal of Management Education, vol. 30, no. 5, pp. 700-723, viewed 6 February 2015, ProQuest Central, 195721938.

This blog was originially published on Sydney Life: Student experiences at the University of Sydney.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Big Red Button

Doris Xu is an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney Business School. She is currently in the United States as part of the Washington DC Placement Program, offered by the Business School in partnership with the United States Studies Centre.  

I used to get really drunk on jealousy when I scrolled down Facebook and saw my friends posting holiday photos in different parts of the world. I used to think- well, lucky them; I am just stuck at home being bored out of my skull.

Recently, as the uni holidays started to draw to an end, photos from Singapore theme park, a Canadian ski trip and Chinese festivals piled up in my newsfeed. I looked through them and caught myself thinking, ‘geez, that looks fun - better add them to my list’.

I remarked to a friend the other day that my world felt so much bigger now. I could hardly remember the person I was, falling into the routine of uni-work-study-society, and hanging out with the same group of people; too scared and too comfortable to reach out.

But the Industry Placement Program (IPP) has forced me to reach out, to break through my comfortable routine and to meet other people outside of those I already know.

It was horrible.

The loneliness of not knowing any of the people in my apartment, in my classes; not having the best friends on call when I felt down; not having the ready-cooked meal when I arrived back home; or the familiarity of transport and environment.

I had the biggest homesickness for days, and my extroversion took a huge hit.

But when you are on the edge of a cliff you have to take chances. I chose to not stand there and decided to simply jump into the unknown. I decided to get to know my roommate better by sitting next to her during her binge of ‘Jane the Virgin’. When Jane eventually shared a kiss with the dashing Rafael, and we cheered spontaneously - a knowing glance told me that we would be best buddies soon.

And I was right. What followed was girls nights in, shouting at each other while playing catchphrase and monopoly with new friends, sharing cooking tips, a trip to Philly and lots of late night shopping.

Then there was the corridor encounter; a friend of a friend opening a door and the smell of chicken curry escaping their apartment. We invited ourselves in, and spent the night playing cards against humanity and trash talking the other teams. It would soon become our Friday traditions that go into the late nights/early mornings.

It was moments like this, the beginning of something new and magical, that became really precious to me.

When I learnt the rules of American football on the night of the Superbowl. When I winced at the loss of the home team at my first Ice Hockey game. When I managed to work a laundry machine and befriended a girl who came to pick up her clothes. When I met Erin Gurwell, the teacher behind the Freedom Writers.

There is something magical about watching a game with a room full of people.

My classes made me forget how tedious studying used to be. Foresight made me choose two arts subjects - Arts in Our Capitol, and DC film and Theatre - and the subject choices were amongst the best decisions I have made in this program. I spent my night classes discussing museums and artworks, and how music is produced and experienced. I toured the largest library in the world and watched world-class concerts in the first row. I attended a play about President Lincoln’s widow, Mary, at the Ford Theatre where he was assassinated. I learnt about the film history of the depictions of Washington DC.

Front row seats at the Library of Congress Performance!

At the East-West Centre in Washington where I intern, I wrote articles on US-Asia Pacific relations; on topics of trade, politics and cultural exchanges. I worked on my project on the Centre’s connections with Australia and social network marketing strategies. Sometimes I attended events around DC, and listened to top experts talk about the region. The latest talk I attended was by Jang Jin-Sung, a North-Korean defector who was once the country’s top propagandist.

I missed home terribly for two weeks, and now I don’t anymore. I used to think it’s because I am having such a blast here- which is true, but now I know.

It’s because DC is home now. Like a typical DC-er, I complain when we are only getting 1 inch of snow when we are expecting 5. I consider 4 degrees beach weather. I think going to museums on weekends is extremely cool and free entries are a must.

Sometimes, it really does take one thing, one program, one experience, to open your eyes up and see the world differently for the first time. And I guess that is why I no longer feel jealous seeing other people’s travels, because I know now that they can be my adventures too.