Things To Accomplish In 2015

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First and foremost, this is a not a new year’s resolution post. I’m not one for those. However, I can see why people relate a new year to a clean slate– and with the start of a new day planner comes a new outlook on life. Cliché, I know, but if it works for some people it might work for me too. Over the course of 2014, this blog has been filled to the brim with posts on how much my life has changed this year thanks to all of the out of character decisions I’ve made over the last twelve (well, about eight, if we’re honest) months. That’s way too optimistic for my liking. This is why I’m composing a list of things I’d like to accomplish in 2015, and then posting it on the Internet for everybody to see, so by the time 2016 rolls around I can look back on it and see all the areas I failed terribly in. Yeaaaaah negativity.

  1. Read at least 40 books. I’d like to go for 50, but seeing as this year I only managed an embarrassingly low 19 (what? moving countries is time consuming alright), I’m gonna go lower. Baby steps. I’d also like to broaden my genre horizons a little too– less fantasy and dystopian YA, more memoirs from my idols and proper boring adult books.
  2. Meet more new people. This is something I started working on last year, and I did very well for my poor little introverted self, but I think it’s something I need to keep working on until it becomes second nature to me. It’s way too easy for me to settle into a routine of Netflix and sleeping. Language intercambios and speciality groups might be coming my way soon.
  3. Minimalise my life. When I was faced with the nightmare of packing my entire life into a suitcase for an indefinite amount of time, I thought I’d arrive in Spain surrounded by echoes of ‘aaaah I knew I should have bought x with me’. And that might have happened a bit… with my Nintendo 3DS and Game of Thrones DVDs. But I’ve actually really enjoyed having about 70% less clothing than before. It’s definitely inspired me to streamline my life and possessions a bit more and I hope my Spanish bedroom remains the minimalist palace it is right now.
  4. Travel more. A simple one, but one I’m still working on due to thinking I’ll be murdered if I travel alone. If it were up to me, I could easily do a little European jaunt every month, but I’ve yet to find someone who is willing to live as impoverished as me to do so. Which is understandable, but still annoying. In 2015 I’d love to explore Prague, Marrakech, Copenhagen, Berlin, and Paris. I could keep that list growing, but that seems doable to me. Let’s see how embarrassed I’ll be with this one in twelve months time.
  5. Give everything my all. When I look back on my life, my choices, and my regrets– the constant theme is always ‘I wish I would have tried more’. It’s easy to say that in hindsight, but in the present it can be hard to think about the consequences of your actions and what’s important and what isn’t. So to avoid these situations in the future, I might as well just give everything my all when it’s in front of me. Easier said than done, right?

So for now I will leave this, until I visit it again in twelve months to see how much I’ve failed. Low expectations and all that. Obviously there’s some more boring stuff on the list that I won’t waste your time by including: practicing my Spanish more, being a bit healthier, and just being a generally nicer and better person. And I promise I won’t update my FB status eight times a day recounting my progress to the entire Internet. If you’re the type of person who makes new years resolutions, I think yours should to not be one of those people.

November Photo Diary: Temples, Volcanos & Palaces, Oh My!

I know, I know. A photo diary blog post– how cliché. But nonetheless, I have a few snaps to share from my November shenanigans, and it’s a good way to look back on things in the future. It probably won’t happen every month, but if there’s something worth writing about I’ll share it on here.

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November was a bittersweet month. It was my flatmate Lauren’s last month in Madrid, so we had lots of little excursions to the places we always said ‘oh, we should go there!’ and never did. November technically started off right after my trip to Segovia, because as soon as we arrived back in Madrid we rushed off to Allie’s real life American Hallowe’en party. I had pumpkin flavoured cookies and drank punch. So American. Even if there weren’t any red cups. As this picture was taken after midnight, it was technically November. And since I don’t like to spend money on things (total lie, but I’d rather spend it on shoes and pretty dresses, not Hallowe’en costumes), I wore my own clothes and donned some extra liquid eyeliner to be Alex DeLarge. One person knew who I was.

IMG_2201 copyOne of the many ‘last chance to do x’ places that Lauren and I visited was tea and cake at my favourite brunch spot right by our apartment. I often come here in the mornings for a café con leche and a napolitana (just call it a fucking pain au chocolat, alright), but Lauren never joined me. So before one of our trips to the cheap English food shop that just opened in Madrid (vegetarian Oreos and Heinz Tomato Soup <3), we stopped by for a refuel. I got passion fruit tea, purely because I wasn’t wearing my glasses and couldn’t see if they had any of the green variety, and a chocolate cake. I think Lauren just got a boring old normal tea and a cheesecake, because our tastes are very different, but we enjoyed ourselves and it definitely made the (poorly planned on our part) rush hour on a Friday Metro journey a lot more bearable.

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Yet another adventure with Lauren involved one last trip to our favourite tapas place (if you could call it that). I actually ended up taking over one of Lauren’s classes when she left, so this day I just followed her around to see exactly where the building was. Whilst she taught her class I got sucked into an English bookstore and endless iced lattes at Starbucks… where the chosen name of the day was Dorothy. Not on my behalf though, that’s just one of the many ways that Spanish people hear the name Rosy. After that we trekked to Salamanca to the famous tapas place. Tapas and copas for 2.90€? Yes please. I always get the sandwich vegetal out of necessity, but I love it anyway. And I’m never going to turn down a nice cold glass of tinto de verano after a long day of walking around Madrid… even if it is raining outside.

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A lot of my month was spent doing some cover classes for my agency and working on implementing new social media strategies for my internship (so grown up, so adult), so we skip a week or so here until it was Lauren’s leaving weekend. Unfortunately, this coincided with my dad coming to visit, so her going away drinks were cut short for me. Because of this, Greg, Lauren, and I went out to another bar a bit earlier for some, uh, more tinto. After that we headed out to meet everyone at a Hawaiian themed bar with fish tanks in the walls. We were greeted with leis, flowers, cocktail umbrellas, and… ham sandwiches? Very Hawaiian. Six of us ordered a volcano drink which was an amazing 45€, but sadly it was the only overpriced smoking drink I got to experience as my dad text me to say he was at his hotel… and that means I’d get to stop spending my own money so obviously I was going to go meet him. And I guessed I missed him in the four months I hadn’t seen him or anything. Whatever.

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The next day I got up early to show Madrid to my dad. Unfortunately for us, it was the worst weather I’d experienced since I moved here in July. After breakfast we dipped in and out of a few stores in the centre, and I got to show my dad the Plaza Mayor Goat Thing, which is clearly worth the trip to Madrid on it’s own really. We didn’t really have a plan of action, so we strolled down Gran Via and I thought that maybe the market would be up in Plaza de España– it wasn’t– but a quick Google search of ‘touristy Madrid things’ did remind me that the Temple of Debod was within walking distance, so we headed out to see some Egyptian-y goodness. It’s something I’ve been meaning to visit since moving here but have never had the chance to, so it was great to finally experience it. We didn’t go inside the museum, but we did get to walk around the outside of the temple and see a great view of Madrid from the top of the hill. It was nice for my dad to see that Spain exists outside of Benidorm.

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We spent the rest of the day avoiding the rain and eating in the most Spanish restaurant I’ve been in since moving here… I wouldn’t recommend it. But the next day we got back on the tourist-y wagon. We started with breakfast, once again, and then braved the crowds of El Rastro, because you’ve gotta experience that at least one. And it happens on my doorstep, so I don’t really have that much of a choice about going if I want to leave my house on a Sunday. After a bit more exploring we got churros with Lauren and Greg, which then inspired us to check out the Palacio Real de Madrid. It was beautiful to see and I’m glad I got to go inside and learn a bit more about the history of the Spanish monarchy and how they lived… but I think I’ll always prefer the British monarchy and visiting run down medieval castles like I did for my birthday this year.

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Later that evening both Lauren and my dad left me, on the same plane no less, and I was back to a life of emptiness. LOLJK… my dad had brought me my Nintendo 3DS over and Pokémon Omega Ruby had just come out so I’ve had a pretty productive week. Six gym badges down, two to go. Nah, but really, I started my new teaching job on Tuesday so I’ve spent the week rubbing shoulders with the business professionals of Alonso Martínez. I’m definitely glad I bought this coat now, I feel like I can blend in with the soulless business corporate types I wait at crossings with quite easily and without judgement.

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12 days until I go back to the UK for Christmas and get to give my cat so many eskimo kisses that my nose starts to erode. Until then I’ll be teaching some business English, trying to revolutionise social media marketing, and watching all of the Game of Thrones DVDs my dad brought me. It’s been way too long, Jorah.