Recently, I find myself addicted to YouTube videos.
I told my 12-year-old student how I have been spending my time and he remarked “I thought you do not have time for watching TV.” I came up with a sheepish excuse that I have moved to a country (the UK) that has a slower pace of life (than Singapore) and I can finally relax and not feel too guilty watching YouTube videos.
Nevertheless, I have decided that I need to put a brake on this habit lest I may end up binge-watching videos and wistfully thinking that I have spent my time productively. To justify all the time that I have spent watching YouTube videos, I would like to share some of the Young YouTubers that I really enjoy watching and learning from.
1. Victoria Terekhina (a.k.a MinimalRussianGirl)
I first discovered Victoria from Russia through this video which shows what a typical Russian flat looks like. The background of the flats looks like a typical Singaporean public flat.
Like many of her fans, I was very impressed by her command of English. We (her audience on YouTube) were all scratching our heads wondering where did this girl come from and why she can speak such good English? She later revealed that she has been learning English with a skype tutor since she was 12-year-old. She is 23-year-old as of 2022 and she is already the mother of a cute toddler.
As she shared more about herself in several Q&A videos, I saw myself gravitating towards her, especially about her videos on the books she likes, how she practices minimalism as a mum, and also how earnest and conscientious she is whenever she makes a new video. There are many traits that I admire about her and I find myself checking out her new videos regularly.
She first appeared on YouTube during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the World was still in lockdown and most people were confined in their homes and countries. Her videos quelled my desire to visit a country that I have been so curious to learn more about. The interest was seeded after reading a book in 2018 and it lingered on to date. (I think that’s how powerful books are, unlike videos in which the memories will probably fade within a few months.) I want to witness how the passage of time has altered this country since the time of Catherine the Great. It is always nice to reread books right before a trip and I am already fantasising about how I can curl up in bed with my book and not feel guilty about taking time out to read.
While visiting Russia in the next few years may not be the best idea when citizens of both Ukraine and Russia are fleeing their countries in flocks due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Mar’22, I do hope that I will be able to visit Russia when peace is restored.
In a community that was inundated with US, European, and Asian content producers, Victoria Terekhina certainly stood out as an English-speaking Russian sharing about her life as a middle-class Russian. I can’t help but confess how jealous I was when I saw how her videos were amassing millions of views in just a few months. Nevertheless, that jealousy was swiftly replaced by admiration when it occurred to me that it took so much courage for her to be doing something so different from her Russian peers. She deserves every success that she has achieved and even more!
Why she may be interesting to you as a parent from Singapore?
Victoria did not complete her University education in Russia because she thinks that Russia’s higher education system is uninspiring and inadequate. From a Singaporean perspective, she may be someone who is not academically inclined, but that is so untrue. From what she shared in her videos, she is clearly someone who thinks deeply about issues and exercises independent thinking.
I grew up in a time (the 90s) when Singapore still had a very narrow definition of success. My biggest aspiration as a child was to get into college to make my parents proud of me. When I achieved it at 22-year-old, I found myself faltering in my adulthood as I had no idea what I wanted to do in my life. I was not interested in pursuing a career in the field that I had picked when I was 19-year-old.
That struggle has set me on a frenzied search to discover my passion and hone the skillsets to achieve my dreams in life. It had also made me question the qualifications-chasing culture in Asia as well as how I should be helping my future children to discover their lives’ passion while growing up. The search is still ongoing and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you on this journey right here.
To top that off, I think that she certainly has far-sighted parents who made her learn English when she was young. It will be interesting to get her to share more about what she thought about her parents’ upbringing.
2. Sarahyak (The Vanlife Girl)
If your child is showing signs of free-spiritedness and artistic inclinations, you should definitely check out more videos of this young lady.
She grew up in Austin, Texas, and was raised by a Chinese Mom who believes that there are only 3 careers options in life – A doctor, an Engineer, or a Failure.
She fought hard for what she wanted to do in her life in her early twenties, and for this, I applaud her for pushing through her dreams and taking all actions to make them happen.
Her journey transformed her from a directionless college student who took drugs and alcohol into a young adult who took charge of her life and saved every penny for 2 years to buy herself a van so that she can travel and explore.
I am really impressed by the quality of the videos she produced and the breathtaking, picturesque backgrounds that she is often seen filming in.
Here are some videos that I will recommend to parents who want to understand what their “rebellious” young-adult child is thinking:
One of my favourite quotes from Sarah is ” Never ask for permission to pursue your dreams, instead, ask for forgiveness.” With this, I would like to remind parents that there will come a day that our children will no longer listen to our advice and start making decisions for themselves. When that day arrives, will you be confident with your children’s abilities to make their own decisions?
Is a college education really worth taking on a student loan to fund it? Rose from New York shared about the struggle of paying off her student loan in her twenties. She questioned the necessity to take on a debt of around USD 15,000 every semester to fund her education.
It is also interesting to hear her perspective as a Korean immigrant who faced discrimination in the US when she was young. Her desire to fit in manifested into habits of splurging on make-up products, fast-fashion clothes, and personal care services.
She confessed that when she looked back at how she had spent her money in her twenties, she thinks that they were excessive and she was not able to resist the materialistic culture that predominates in the US.
Personally, my favourite idea that she has shared thus far is to “fail forward”. That’s a very positive mindset and I think this is what keeps her subscribers coming back to her! She is upbeat, she is not afraid to talk about her past behaviours and she is very willing to share with the world what she had learned in her life. She is one YouTuber that I will certainly check in regularly in the next few years.
I confessed to my student that I am watching Youtube videos excessively because it fills the void in me of not having many friends in a new country. I do not feel an active need to make friends at all because I have these “screen friends” on YouTube who are inviting me into their lives. When I feel lonely and bored, I can just tune in to their channels and a few hours will slip away. To this, his response was, “that’s so sad!”
I guess the only difference with such a “friendship” is that I know them but they do not know me. I have been warned that if I do not go out to make friends, I will forget how to talk to people. To this comment, I am still figuring out about its truism… will certainly update on my findings in time to come.
Since I can’t reverse the time that has slipped away, with this post penned, I feel happy to share with you what I have learned from my newfound “friends”. Hopefully, like me, you will find them useful and rejuvenating!