Countdown to Success

Four weeks ago, I posted the draft of my application essay to a graduate diploma in journalism here on my blog, used your comments to improve it, and sent it off. It was good enough to earn me a Skype interview. And so the countdown to the interview started.

I will now switch to the present tense for dramatic effect.
One week to go: 

I wonder why they would ever let in a French woman. Right now, they’re probably laughing at my application, laughing at my blog, and laughing at everything I’ve ever written. My chances are like a Canadian winter: below zero.

My friend Aurélie, some of my students, and my dad express their worrying faith in me: “Of course they’re going to accept you! How couldn’t they?” I imagine the look of disappointment on their faces when I’ll have to announce them that they were wrong.

Andrew, on the other hand, relentlessly makes fun of the way I say “journAlist” and “journAlism”.
Four days to go:

I fail a Skype interview with Nick’s parents just like I fail now to think of a simile describing how badly I failed. They are more prepared than I am with a list of all the normal questions an interviewer might ask, and play their role perfectly. They get me thinking about questions like: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

Even though these are typical interview questions, I’m not ready at all to answer them. Wendy, Nick’s mum, sends me the list of all the questions she found on the internet, coupled with a few tips on how to answer them.

Three days to go:
I read the questions from Wendy’s list and ask the Universe to give me answers.
One day before the interview:

The universe hasn’t answered yet, so I sit down and answer every question on the list. My strengths are my curiosity, my analytical spirit, and my motivation. My weaknesses are my impatience and my monomania.

Half an hour to go: 

Andrew gives me a mock interview by text message and asks me bizarre questions like: “If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?”

“I would jump up and try to climb out of the blender.” I reply.

“Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 how weird you are.”

“8,” I reply. “It’s good to be weird, people remember you.”

It’s so silly that I loosen up and forget to be stressed.

Ten minutes to Go: 

The stress is back. I practice saying the word “journalist” walking back and forth in the living room. Nick laughs and says: “Don’t worry, your accent is fine! They’ll like it!”

It would help more if he wasn’t saying it in an outrageous French accent.

The interview:

It starts well with the head of the program complimenting my “beautiful application” and my “outstanding writing”. A few minutes later, I ruin everything with a pathetic attempt at joking when she asks: “So, what are your weaknesses?”

I answer: “I don’t type very fast.” It’s a half-joke, because I really don’t type very fast. I thought it was this kind of fake weakness that isn’t really a weakness, like “I’m a perfectionist”. As my interviewer writes this down with a stern disapproving look on her face, I realise that typing fast is an essential skill to my future profession. What have I done?

She doesn’t see the flash of panic on my face because she keeps writing. I can’t see it, but I know she’s writing: “Tries too hard to be funny” as well. I’m doomed.

Three days Later: 
The answer should arrive in a few days. I’m making everyone’s life miserable and giving myself wrinkles.
Last Friday night:

I know the answer should arrive during the night, so I wake-up every half hour to check my emails. In the morning, still no answer. I hate Canterbury University. I hate the lecturers and their stupid Kiwi faces. I hate journAlism.

Saturday, 2 am:
I wake up suddenly and go check my emails immediately. An email from Canterbury is waiting. It says:

Following the selection meeting of my Board of Studies yesterday, I am delighted to offer you a place on the 2013 Graduate Diploma in Journalism course.

I wake Nick up and we have a celebratory snuggle. He falls back asleep right away while I lie in bed with my eyes wide open in excitement.



Thanks again to everyone who helped with my application essay. Your compliments made me feel more confident, and I took note of every suggestion of improvement from the comments and private messages.

The course will start in February 2013 and will last about a year. It’s exciting because it mixes theoretical courses and practical training, and I will be writing like crazy the whole year about every possible topic journalism covers: reviews, feature articles, court reports, business stories, and even sports stories including two match reports. I will also have to produce a portfolio of radio and television stories.

Being as inept at sports as a Japanese person eating pizza, I’m a bit nervous about having to write two match reports. Andrew finds it hilarious, though, and already wrote something on his blog called: Cecile writes Sport.

Me writing sport will be at least as ludicrous as that

I feel so grateful to have the opportunity and the possibility to go back to school and to attend a course that will lead me to be paid to write. I’m incredibly lucky to have Nick’s support in this new adventure. I can’t wait to get started!


(click on image for more info about the course)

41 thoughts on “Countdown to Success

  1. Pingback: Switch On To The News « Trying to be Conscious

  2. Pingback: Happiness Is Not In The Box « Trying to be Conscious

  3. Fantastic news. Congrats! New Zealand is an amazing place so this should be a fabulous combination of study and adventure. Journalism is, at its best, the most fun/important thing one can do for pay. I know. :-)

  4. Yay, yay, yay! All of your preparations and revisions paid off. They’re lucky to have you. You’re heading into a new and wonderful chapter in your life, not just a new place. That’s so exciting!

  5. Congratulations Cécile! Best of luck to you with your program (and the sports writing). You have already proven that you can excel at anything to which you put your mind! :)

  6. Je te l’ai déjà dit mais encore Félicitations!!! :)

    J’adore la manière dont tu as raconté ce compte ä rebours:ce sont toujours des moments horriblement stressants…Mais assez inoubliables, surtout lorsque le dénouement est si heureux!

    Bonne chance pour la suite!

  7. That was exhilarating! You actually showed what you went through very accurately…with all the drama..hell, I’d have gone through much worse drama! You made it seem like a story where I’m rooting for the heroine every sincere second. I waited with bated breath until the end. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod, you made it cecile! All the people who had that ‘worrying’ faith in you are right. You, indeed, are a very talented, sensitive, intelligent, funny, thought-provoking, endearing writer. I wish you all the happiness, all the good luck, all the positive vibes in the world. I’m sure you’ll experience the time of your life in canterbury.

    Supremely well-written post

    Love, xoxoxo

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Iris :-) Sometimes reality makes good ficition, doesn’t it?
      Thank you so much for all your kind compliments and well wishes, they’re much appreciated.
      I hope you’ll find inspiration to write on your blog again soon.

  8. You need to loosen up. They accepted you and said you write wonderfully! They would not say this if they didn’t believe it. I enjoy your writings. Just don’t put yourself down so much; you are a great and fantastic person!!!

  9. Congrats Cécile ! You rock! Now you can start to 100% plan for your new life in NZ. Great post once again. Love that you had such kind people around you during this stressful time. :)

    Same here about sports! J’suis nul.

  10. Bravo Cécile! je ne suis pas étonné. Nous sommes de la même famille, mais surtout de la même “race”: de ceux qui croient à leurs rêves, de ceux qui ne se laisssent démonter par rien ni personne dans la quête de leur mission,de ceux qui croient au pouvoir de la pensée et au potentiel illimité de l’intelligence universelle. Pour les articles sur le sport, je pourrais te filer un coup de main si tu veux ;)

  11. This post is awesome – I’m glad they didn’t leave you waiting too long for a response. The Journalism course sounds really interesting and I’m sure it will suit you perfectly. It’s also great that you’re going to New Zealand with Plan A already sorted. That must be a relief. :)

    • Yes, it’s a great relief to know what I’m going to do once I’m there. I had a plan B, but that would have been infinitely more stressful. I hope you’ll get through your application process pretty soon as well…

  12. Tu vois qu’on avait tous raison de croire en toi ! Et de croiser les doigts, les doigts de pied, les cheveux, les sourcils et même les yeux pour forcer le destin, juste au cas où ;-) Encore félicitations, c’est le début d’une grande carrière pavée de succès!!!

  13. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! This is wonderful news! Added bonus: you will be able to meet people with similar interests right away in your program which should make your transition easier. The kiwis are lucky to have you.

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