I’ve recently partaken in Snapshot Photography: Creativity Brings Joy – an online photography competition for Vietnamese students in the UK, organized by SVUK (The Vietnamese Student Association in the United Kingdom). The themes of the competition are “The Vietnamese in You” and/or “The Vietnamese Perspective”. More information about the contest can be found here: http://www.svuk.vn/snapshot-photography.html (The site is written in the Vietnamese language).
There is a special need to give a huge shout-out to my Mom, who encouraged me to take part in Snapshot Photography. I was a bit hesitant at first, but then I thought: with a passion for world exploration and the eagerness to grab my bag and get on the road whenever there is an opportunity, I’m lucky to have had some interesting experiences in the UK and other European countries, as well as in Vietnam when I return home, and have earned myself a travel photography collection from the trips I’ve done, in which I pride myself; so why not giving it a shot?
I submitted 5 photos for my entry, and named it The Roads of Youth Discovery (Những nẻo đường tuổi trẻ in Vietnamese). Believe me when I say it took me 284623836584293 years to try to pick
only 5 pictures to send to the competition, and come up with the best possible captions that can together convey a message about the Vietnamese youth. I shortlisted some pictures and sent them to some friends whose taste I trusted to ask for their opinions. They were all very helpful (thank you Alim, Astir, Henry and Liam!), although I decided to not follow any of their preferences and was really satisfied with my own final decision.
The theme of my The Roads of Youth Discovery album is: “Living young is exploring the world”. Through this album, I wish to bring a fresh perspective on the dynamic life of many Vietnamese students in Britain (including myself) outside lectures, work and busy exam periods, when there are also such exciting trips; as well as to express the thoughts of myself – a Viet away from home – about the places I’ve been to.
The album has been uploaded on Facebook by SVUK and receiving huge amounts of love and support, which I’m very much thankful to see. I thought it might be a good idea to post the photos in the album, accompanied by the English-version captions, on my personal blog. If you come here from Instagram (welcome! 😘), you may have seen some of these photos already, but I guess on here it’s a bit more special in a way ’cause they are grouped together and you can see the meaning behind each of them.
Without more ado, I hope you enjoy the album!
The Roads of Youth Discovery
This is one of my favorite photos in my travel photography collection. It was taken during the Eurotrip I did in summer 2016.
As a Vietnamese girl, I’ve worn áo dài (a Vietnamese traditional costume) on tons of occasions before. However, the experience of walking along the streets of Paris in my custom áo dài caused a special feel. I felt extremely proud and emotional as I was bringing a part of my culture to a Western country.
Paris was where Euro 2016 took place, and at the time this picture was taken, some fans of the Spanish, Italian and French soccer teams gave me and my áo dài such sweet compliments and kindly/playfully asked if they could be in the same photo with me 🙈 This made me flattered and even prouder, as the Vietnamese culture was welcomed in various parts of the world.
This was taken on the beautiful and picturesque University of Surrey campus, where I’m currently studying. The fall in Europe is so iconic with its own uniqueness with the pretty yellow, orange and red tree leaves.
Fall is also the back-to-school season, and such stimulating colors are the reminder of a new academic year, which also means that my time in the UK is one step closer to an end. This acts as my motivation for me to study hard for my degree and do even more exciting things during this unforgettable student life.
There is only one fall season left until I officially finish my BSc degree in Media, Culture and Society at Surrey, the “golden fall” would be one of the best memories I have of my dear university.
Perhaps every Viet living far away from home possesses this deep homesickness with the images of the rustic and peaceful countryside. As for me, after quite a long time spent in England, and the country has become my second home and part of my youth, the pretty little village houses here will be one of the things I miss the most when I leave.
Most people think of the UK as “the land of fog”, where there is hard winter. This photo of Saffron Walden would speak the opposite, since even when on cold winter days of December, there are still moments full of warm and bright sunshine.
The time in the UK has enabled me to land myself on beautiful lands. One of the best trips I’ve done is the one to Gozo Island, which is famous for the unique Azure Window. Until now, I can still recall the feeling I had when getting to see with my own eyes the “blue window” admiring itself on the Mediterranean sea; I was genuinely overwhelmed and proud of my decision to come here.
Over one month after I had visited Gozo, Azure Window fell down into the sea on 8th March 2017 due to a heavy storm. The collapse put me in extreme sorrow, but at the same time made me feel fortunate that I did not hesitate over my time and was able to admire this famous sight for the first time (and also the only time). Azure Window is no longer there, yet the memory about this beautiful blue window will forever stay in the hearts of those lucky enough to have been here.
People often regret things that they have not done more than things they have done. There are so many wonderful things out in the world waiting for you, therefore when opportunities come, especially when you’re still young, don’t hesitate but go out there and explore, so that the years of your youth will become even more meaningful and memorable.
Whenever I go traveling around Vietnam, I always feel proud as my country also has many of these amazing sights, which are no less magnificent and unique as other places that I’ve been to. Lying in the middle of the far-flung Red Sand Dunes in Mũi Né, Vietnam, I felt myself full of energy and youth spirits. I am lucky to have a valuable experience of studying and working in a developed country, to integrate with many different cultures across the globe, to see the world on my fascinating trips, through which I get some of the Vietnamese cultures exposed to the outside world, and capture many wonderful moments where I somehow still see the soul of Vietnam around. Then everytime coming home, I feel myself growing up more, appreciating my Vietnamese root more and becoming far more grateful to my parents for this incredible opportunity they gave me to explore the world.
There you have it! I hope you can feel my burning youth spirits through the The Roads of Youth Discovery album. With the love and support I’ve been receiving for this album, I am so glad to hear that it, in some ways, was able to inspire others to get out there, see the world and discover themselves. It makes me feel so useful, and “inspiring”, just like part of my motto: Be fearless and inspiring.
Again, I am thankful for all of your support for my entry in the Snapshot Photography competition. It is not too important whether I win the contest, what matters is that via this platform, I have been able to share with you what I do as a way of youth discovering, which is traveling.
I would also like to note that traveling is not the sole way to explore oneself, but taking a new sport, writing, learning a musical instrument, reading a new book genre, etc. could all literally do the same thing. Traveling has rendered me a lot more confident, independent and organized, and allowed me to learn new things around myself that I’d never paid attention to before. Choose something that you’ve always wanted to do but never got the chance to get around to, and try to commit to it; I believe doing new things can help you realize some aspects of yourselves that you’ve never known, strengthen your life skills and even uncover your hidden talents.
Text and photography by ᴊᴜʟɪᴇʏᴛʜᴇ1sᴛ
Featured image taken by Astir Le, retouched by ᴊᴜʟɪᴇʏᴛʜᴇ1sᴛ
Visit https://www.instagram.com/julieythe1st/ for more of my travel photos.
If you would like to use my photos, please kindly contact me for permission.