So yesterday I handed in my last ever uni assignment. Cue applause. While that is fabulously exciting, I also handed back the whole I-know-what-I’m-doing-for-the-next-few-years-safety-blanket thing, and in return, received this whole graduating dietitian thing.
Reality has hit and it’s time to accept that a life of working, living and weekend breakfasts in Melbourne’s inner suburbs one month after graduation is possibly a dream. But that’s fine, dreams do come true – I wouldn’t be who or where I am today if they didn’t.
To let you all get to know a little bit more about me and celebrate the beginning of my journey as a graduating dietitian, I am going to do what’s essential to dietetic practice and reflect. Reflect on the past four and a half years of my life.
So, what has happened?
On February 24, 2010 I left my home in Western Victoria and moved to Melbourne to start my university degree. Since then I have lived in three suburbs (Burwood, Chadstone and Chadstone Shopping Centre), at four addresses, with nine very different people, two rabbits, and a cat. Ah, student life.
I commenced the Bachelor of Food Science and Nutrition at Deakin with the aim of getting into the Master of Dietetics program. I soon learnt how competitive the latter course was. I remember sitting in my first nutrition lecture with 120 other first-year students – the lecturer (I think it was Tim Crowe) asked who was aiming to get one of 45 spots in the Masters program after graduation. I swear about 100 people put their hand up.So I worked hard. I achieved great results, volunteered with Nutrition Australia, became a Jump Rope for Heart student ambassador and emailed countless dietitians for work experience.
During this time my housemates and I hosted a glitter party in our apartment (I don’t recommend doing this at all), helped each other procrastinate, house trained rabbits and most importantly, became great friends.
The final Harry Potter movie was released, and my heart was stolen by Patrick from Offspring and Chobani greek yoghurt. I tried to sell surf life saving merchandise in shopping centres (I don’t recommend this either), and I stood beside my cousin as she married her high school sweetheart. I had stints at the gym, tried Zumba for a while (and never got the body they advertised), and a love for HIIT treadmill sessions came and went.
And I was accepted into the Master of Dietetics program.
Suddenly, spending weekends in the Deakin Library with my fellow APD2be’s was as social as my life got. I learnt how to get a good parking spot at uni, documented every single food product in the supermarket (tedious 220 page assignment – hope this years students realise how lucky they are) and formed friendships that will last a lifetime.
I started running. Not the scream-at-myself-to-run-more-than-100m running, but real running. I even participated in my first ever fun run, the 15km Run for the Kids, and have since completed the MS Fun run twice.
I became obsessed with all things peanut butter, breakfast, Urbanspoon and Instagram.
I also said goodbye to my dear grandmother.
A grandmother who made the best date scones, always asked for extra cream and if she could hear anything without her hearing aids, it was the sound of her liquorice all-sorts jar being raided. From the other end of her house.
Late last year, I hopped on a plane and flew 22 hours and 20 minutes to the other side of the world. Solo. For five weeks I climbed wonderful things, enjoyed mindblowingly good food, met amazing people and learnt so much about European history & culture. I celebrated the New Year in Paris and my dream of going to Hogwarts finally came true.
This year I have started enjoying long walks, and spent seven weeks living at my brother’s house, or should I say, zoo. Two snakes, a bearded dragon, two rats and four fish tanks. Oh, and Stumpy the footless budgie. Enough said.
I still smash out the occasional 10km run (just to remind myself I can still do it) and a few weeks ago I bought a bike.
Isn’t it beautiful?
I’ve seen the nutrition world evolve with ‘clean eating’ and coconut oil. Sugar became poison, and gluten free has become a way of life for many, even those without Coeliac disease. We began to eat quinoa, chia seeds and acai berry smoothie bowls, and everyone started hailing kale. Obesity rates in Australia rose to their highest and we were shocked to hear that a majority of Aussie kids don’t know bananas grow on trees.
My own views of food and nutrition have evolved too. Melbourne and foodie friends have expanded my palate, and I find myself doing crazy things like buying brussels sprouts. I no longer categorise foods as good or bad, and I believe it’s okay to indulge in the wonderful foods in life.
Just make sure it tastes good. Eat it slowly and savour the flavour. Don’t do it every day and try move a little more.
So really, life has been pretty good. The past eighteen months completing dietetics has been an emotional rollercoaster, but I’ve loved it and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Clinical placement was a ball-breaking (it’s the only way to explain it) ten weeks of my life, it really tested me. Goodness it was hard. Some days I just wanted to crawl under my patient’s bed and cry. But I pushed through, I learnt what my strengths were, personally and professionally, and I learnt my weaknesses. I loved it and I really can see myself as a clinical dietitian.
Taking on Europe solo was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done, for both me and my mother. I don’t think she slept for five weeks. But that feeling when you finally get off the plane and realise you’re actually on the other side of the world, wow. The first time you see a red telephone booth, a black taxi, a double decker bus, Big Ben or realise you’re exploring the Monopoly board, wow. And that’s just London.
The whole five weeks exploring Europe was wow.
I absolutely loved it and came home with a new appreciation of how lucky we are to live in Australia.
Overall, I’ve really learnt a lot about myself and who I want to be.
I’ve learnt that I need to experience difficult times because they challenge me, teach me appreciation and make me who I am today.
I’ve learnt to appreciate the little things in life.
Being able to move to Melbourne, attend university, travel the world.
Being able to run, eat home grown broccoli and spend time with my family.
I’m really lucky.
So, where to from here?
I don’t know. Whilst that scares the shit out of me, it’s all a bit exciting.
But for now, I hope you join me in my love affair with food.