The girl with one million dreams and two nationalities


6 JANUARY 2017


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It is already one in the morning when I meet with Valeriya. The future lawyer has to study for one of her final exams and kindly asked if I could interview her while she revised. I obviously accepted her request.

As I walk into the ground floor (the place where we agreed to meet), I can’t help but notice the absolute silence. I open the door and I see her, sitting by herself. However, she doesn’t seem lonely as she’s surrounded by a tremendous amount of books. I greet her and ask how the study is going, to what she answers “it is going, and that’s what matters”, which is followed by some laughter.

Valeriya Yakovleva has always been a very positive and outgoing person, mostly because life taught her to be like that. Moving from Ukraine to Portugal when she was only 4 years old made her world torn apart. When I ask her how it was when she first arrived, she says it was “The worst time of my life. I would cry every single day. I hated everything and everyone. Not that I wanted to go back to Ukraine, don’t get me wrong, I liked Portugal, I just think I got a little bit in shock when I got face-to-face with my new reality.” But this didn’t stop the 18-year-old from trying to have a happy life. She now even confesses “I feel more Portuguese than Ukrainian, but  I mean, once you go Slav you never go Chav, right?”

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As we dig deeper into her past, Valeriya admits having wanted to be a singer, a doctor and then a writer. However, the rockstar lifestyle seemed to be her favourite. “Singing was and will always be a part of my life,” she says “but when I was younger I thought I was actually going to become one. I had one million dreams, but singing was my biggest one.”

Despite dreaming of tour vans and big venues, her life took a different route. When applying to university, she had to choose between her dreams and her goals. She sorted out her priorities and settled into the law life. Being a member of the European Youth Parliament helped her realise how giving her time to help others was for her, a bigger deal than giving a concert. She grew a passion for the English legal system and so decided that London would be her final destination, at least for now.

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It is already 3.45 am when we both decide to end the conversation and go home. With that being, I ask her how it feels to follow a completely different path to what everyone (including herself) were expecting, to what she replies “It’s never easy for anyone, especially for us millennials. We are the generation who has been raised under the mantra of “follow your dreams” and constantly told we’re special. Things don’t always go according to plan and we have to deal with that. We have to learn to accept change.”

“It is everything I thought it was going to be and more” - Alice Heather


8 OCTOBER 2016


Originally from Hampshire, 19-year-old Alice Heather had to start working at a young age if she wanted to see her dream of going to University become real. Sister of four, Alice worked at the coffee shop The Paddle in her hometown, in order to save some money to have a nice head start in her university experience. When asked about the experience so far, she says “It is everything I thought it was going to be and more, even if the view from my window is a brick wall.”

During year ten at school, she studied English and Media, subjects which made her interests for photography, video and writing grow bigger, making her realize that “journalism is way more than writing for a newspaper”. Heather believes that, by studying journalism, she is being prepared for a job that “does not even exist yet” and hopes to find a place somewhere in an online publisher like Vice or Vox.

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Travelling is a big part of her life and, by having family all around the world, her choices get quite easy when it comes to picking destinations. Despite feeling lucky for having such great opportunities, Alice feels that she only gets to see the ‘good side’ of countries. With that being, when questioned if travel journalism could be in one of her future options, she answers “travelling for me is more a relaxation thing, not work. But you know, if someone asked me to stay in a nice hotel in the Maldives, I wouldn’t say no”.

University can sometimes be rather overwhelming, especially in London, and to fight that feeling Alice sets her alarm every single day, to try to make the most of her time in the big city. By doing that, she ends up spending only the time that she is actually asleep in her bedroom. Additionally, she tries to deal with the distance from her hometown friends and family by writing traditional letters and postcards, as they are “much more personal than a simple text message”, she explains.

After being asked what she would like to be doing five years from now, Alice answers with very simple words “I would want to be successful, not in terms of money, but in terms of where I have got to”.

Alice Heather

If your life had a playlist, which 5 songs would that playlist have?

Shakira – Whenever, Wherever
Britney Spears – Toxic
Drake – Hold On
The Weeknd – Earned it
Oh Wonder – Body Gold

 

Written for Journalism Foundations
(BA) Journalism at London South Bank University