Brighton in a Weekend

So as I keep yapping on about, I moved to Brighton at the beginning of the year. But due to lack of money and my general dislike of leaving the house, I haven’t explored as much as I like. I have like 3 friends here. Give me a break. But last weekend my honorary twin sister Orla came to visit from Ireland, so I had no choice but to go full tourist mode. And it was great.
So for your consideration, here is how to do Brighton in a weekend. It works better if you and/or your guest like vegan food and shopping. ‘Cause that’s kind of what Orla and I are all about.

As a side note: my blog photography is pretty dire in this post… it was more of an Instagram Story type weekend than a blog one. But then I realised it would make a great blogpost and I’m stuck with these wonky atrocities. Sorry, Blog Gods.

Friday


Oz came on Friday evening and after some screaming and carrying her suitcase up five flights of stairs, we were ready to EAT. We headed into Kemptown for drinks in what we thought was a typical old man bar, but turned out to be a drag bar. It was the perfect place to show Orla just how, well, Brighton Brighton can be. We then headed to Purezza for dinner. Purezza is a vegan pizzeria and it is AMAZING. Vegan cheese is hard to get right and it was my first time actually trying vegan pizza but I am in love. After demolishing our pizzas, we knew we couldn’t leave without trying more – so we split a vegan orange mocha cake. And guess what? Also delicious! Who said vegans only eat rabbit food?


We finished off the night with some drinks in the South Lanes, where I took Orla to two of my favourites: The Mesmerist and The Marwood. We then parted ways ready for a full day of FUN SIBLING EXPLORING AND BONDING TIMES WOO!
Saturday


On this day we had intended to meet at 10 or something… only to finally meet at like 12. Just another part of the family resemblance. For brunch we decided to hit up VBites, another tasty vegan establishment. I was sad we had missed the breakfast menu, but not for long after I saw they had a falafel wrap on the menu. I got said wrap and an iced green tea (my fave). Orla is more adventurous with her food and tried the vegan duck pancake – but she said it was great and judging by the quality of my falafel, I’m inclined to believe her. We also split some sweet potato fries with garlic mayo because FOOD. In fact, we loved this place so much we came back. More on that later.


We took a walk down the pier for some serious Instagramming (Orla) and Pokémon hunting (me). Then we both literally hunted Pokémon in the arcade. Please note the lack of pictures with any Jigglypuffs. We did not win. After the pier we explored the South Lanes by daylight and did a little window shopping, before heading into Churchill Square for some actual shopping. By this point, we were hungry again so wandered over to Glazed for vegan donuts. VEGAN DONUTS. We were exceedingly lucky because we got the last one and it was so good. But even better than the donut, was the doggy that worked there. His name was Donald and I love him. He wore a bandana. Sadly I didn’t take a picture of the dog as I was too busy being licked so here is Orla modelling our donut.

Suddenly, because BRITAIN, it begain to rain so we ducked into Black Mocha for some caffeine and shelter. I’d been meaning to try this place for a while but wasn’t impressed with my coffee. Other people have told me that it’s actually pretty good so I’m willing to give it another shot, but honestly, meh. Once the rain stopped we darted back to Oz’s hotel (via a quick detour for wine and crackers).

And this is the point I became an idiot. I didn’t book a table. When we did finally emerge from the room, we were starving. We asked about a table at The Curry Leaf and were told it would be an hour. We agreed and off we went to the nearest bar. An hour comes, still no call. After ninety minutes we go to ask. Basically we ended up standing by the door staring at them until we got a table. By this point I was so hungry that I would have eaten anything. Hence the lack of photo. There is no time for Instagram when you reach that level of hunger. I don’t even remember what I ordered, other than I decided “fuck vegan weekend” and ordered a naan bread out of pure starvation. I think it would be unfair to review The Curry Leaf when I probably  would have literally eaten my own shoe at this point, but it was good – just not a patch on my favourite Brighton Indian, Planet India. After this we decided on an early night to prepare ourselves (and our stomachs) for the next day.

Sunday


Sunday started off at my new love, Small Batch Coffee. I picked a vegetarian sausage roll as a snack and got an oat milk latte. I sat waiting patiently for my coffee arrive so I could take a picture of both together, but it took so long I got bored and ate my sausage. Turned out they forgot about me. Luckily they gave me a voucher for a free coffee so who cares? And honestly, that latte was so good I would have come back anyway. I’m just gonna go right ahead and say it, best coffee in Brighton. No, in Britain. NO. THE WORLD.

After a little while exploring the North Lanes and avoiding the rain, we met my friends for a meatless roast at The Prince George. I was so excited for this. And I wish I could say it lived up to its expectations but… THEY FORGOT ABOUT ME. Yes, mere hours after the coffee shop forgetting about me, a restaurant forgot to bring me my food. I think I’m actually cursed, but whatever. Considering my food came when my friends were halfway through with their own, I didn’t take a picture. I just tried to catch up. I think I ordered the wellington. It was good, I guess, but my Yorkshire Pudding was hard as a rock. I’ll definitely go back, but only because I drank the best gin of my life in there and I need to taste its sweet, sweet nectars again. They didn’t offer me a free drink though. Hmmmph.


After lunch we did some more shopping down the North Lanes, but as it was Sunday, things were closing. We headed back to The Mesmerist and had a few more drinks before we got sleepy. Although we swore we wouldn’t eat anything else, we got Subway before leaving because we are ravenous monsters. #NoRegrets

Monday


For our Last Supper (ahem… breakfast), of course we headed back to VBites. This time we were in time for breakfast, so I had the most delicious hummus, spinach, and mushrooms on toast. SO. GOOD. Orla had the same, she agrees. After that it was time to take Orla back to the station. But we did have a little bit of time… so we grabbed some more oat milk lattes from Small Batch before we said our final goodbyes.

I had such a good weekend and am so glad Orla came to visit. I probably never would have gotten around to trying half these places if she’d never come to see me. So thank you, Oz, and I’ll see you in Berlin this August for Round Two.


You can follow Orla’s Twitter and Instagram here because she is much cooler than I.

The Best Of 2016


Since David Bowie left the mortal realm, the world has become a terrible place. But despite this, I thought it was important to look back at my personal positives of 2016… no matter how sad I am that Carrie Fisher is dead. 2016 was a year of big changes for me. After months of agonising over the decision, I decided it was time to repatriate myself back into British life. I’d gotten a tad complacent with everything… so obviously my brain decided to change it all at once. 2nd times a charm, right?

So, in order, I bring you my highlights of 2016.

Visiting Florence

I’ve wanted to visit Italy for as long as I can remember – and after almost two years of living on the continent, I finally got my chance. I traveled round the country by train – and although the trip was slightly derailed by the destruction of my passport – Florence was by far my favourite desintation. I saw amazing architecture, did fantastic shopping, marvelled at incredible art… and saw creepy fetus mannequins from the 19th century. I will definitely be back.

Reading Stephen King’s It

Much like visiting Italy, I had always wanted to read It. And although it really didn’t live up to the ‘omg so scary’ reviews I’ve been hearing my entire life, it was huge. Like, physically. And I’m glad I read it. And it makes me feel less terrible about failing my Goodreads Reading Challenge this year. Seriously, it was huge!

Giving up teaching

Although I have never wanted to end up as a teacher, it somehow became my job.  Yet it was always my means of staying in Madrid and getting a pretty decent income. So I stayed. But at the same time I was interviewing for summer camp positions to keep myself fed for the 3 months of Hell I was about to experience, I took a chance and interviewed for an unpaid editorial internship. And got it. Although I then had to decide between teaching and eating and gaining experience in the field I loved and starving – I’m glad I took the risk as it proved I was capable and qualified to do what I loved and gave me the push I needed to leave the safety net of Spain. Even if I did have to eat a lot of pasta to do so.

Seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Seeing this play was a long time coming. I first bought the tickets in October 2015 and spent an agonising year waiting for my time to come. I’ve written about the show in great detail already, so I won’t dwell on it too much, but it was definitely my favourite part of the year. Not only did it fill the empty place in my soul of the waiting for a new Potter release, but my quick trip to London was the catalyst for my eventual return to the UK. Thanks, Harry.

Doing a Brexit of my own

And finally, the most important change for me in 2016, moving back to the UK. Despite being on the top of my game in the ESL world, I knew it was time to move on. So after packing my entire life into two suitcases and a cardboard box, I took the leap and moved back “home”. I write this blogpost to you from my new place in Brighton. I have no idea what’s going to happen next, but I imagine it will begin with job interviews, vegan food, and maybe a new haircut.

Cheers to you, 2017.

Seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Last October I arrived home from work to see that the online queue was open to buy tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I had no faith that I would actually manage to secure tickets, but I knew I’d hate myself if I didn’t try. THIS WAS HARRY POTTER WE WERE TALKING ABOUT.

So I sat and waited, periodically checking the tab, and then boom – I was in. Now at this point I didn’t know you could set a price limit for your tickets but this turned out to be a good thing, because the tickets I was offered were £60 and in the Grand Circle.

“AAAAAH WHAT DO I DO?”

“BUY THEM!”

“IT’S £240!”

“IT’S HARRY POTTER!”

My boyfriend swayed me. I clicked purchase. I was expecting buyer’s guilt to kick in at least once in the eleven months I’d have to wait until I saw the show – but it never did.

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So finally September rolled around and James and I hopped on a plane to London to have a week of Harry Potter madness. We saw the play on our second day. When picking up our tickets, the woman behind us asked the box office if she could buy some. Mate, I bought these tickets eleven months ago. Don’t even try me.

We killed some time in Foyles looking at books – some Potter, some not. Grabbed a drink in the cafe and headed over the show super early to queue for our seats.

Sorry to break it to you all, but I’m 100% about to #KeepTheSecrets. I’ll only let it slip that… the show is incredible. And that reading the script is not the same. I’ve seen a lot of negative stuff about The Cursed Child now but most of those people haven’t seen the show and are basing their opinion solely on a fraction of the experience. It’s a play, people, it’s meant to be seen.

Yes, there are some plot holes which contradict earlier established canon.

Yes, it does feel a bit like fanfiction.

Yes, reading the script isn’t a particularly enthralling experience.

BUT DAMN SEEING THE SHOW WAS MAGICAL.

The visual effects, the comedic timing, the incredible acting – particularly from Scorpius Malfoy. It was one of the best theatre experiences I’ve had.

A few days after seeing the show I started reading the script and whilst I’m enjoying it because hello I’m reading a new Harry Potter book, I can see that I probably wouldn’t have ‘got it’ if I hadn’t seen the show first.

I get that theatre is expensive and tickets are hard to come by, but if you ever get the chance please see the show. I went into it without any knowledge of the plot and enjoyed every minute. In fact, I was so mesmerised that I really didn’t notice the plot holes until later googling (my bad).

Overall, I just really wish people would stop attacking the show – or Jo Rowling. She gave us the books, she gave us the movies, and now she’s given us the play. Keep thinking of it as a nice addition (like the charity books) and not as part of the ‘Harry Potter series’ and you’re fine.

Seeing The Cursed Child was one of the best experiences of my life and I’ll be in awe of it for years to come. SORRY HATERS ‘CAUSE IT’S WONDERFUL. ❤

The Great Expat Dilemma: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Let’s get real for second. When I first decided to start my expat adventure I was a naive little 21 year old, fresh out of university, with no life or work experience. I was feeling defeated and like I was running out of options, regretting all of my life choices that had led me to that moment.

To avoid spending another minute wasting away in my teenage bedroom whilst all my friends went on to bigger and better things, I thought maybe I’d move abroad and teach English. I wish I could remember my thought process for deciding this, but I imagine a lot of it had to do with just wanting to prove that I could do something other than receive job rejection emails. Thus, I set myself a task to work towards (so my days could be spent doing something more worthwhile than watching Catfish marathons) and for the first time since education, my life had purpose again.

I chose my destination (Madrid), worked out my plan (to begin with a four week TEFL course and then wing it), bought my plane tickets, and off I went. Soon I was a qualified English as a second language teacher living in a capital city and hanging out with a crazy diverse group of friends. And my initial plan to teach English for a year and then head home then turned into two years with no plans to leave yet. But yet, that expat dilemma remains: when is it time to go home?

By moving to Madrid, I definitely accomplished what I wanted to do. Before I left I was crippled by intense social anxiety and could barely function in situations I hadn’t rehearsed in my head before hand. I couldn’t talk to strangers or look people in the eye or make small talk in shops. But moving to a place where you don’t understand a single thing anyone says, or have your mum to do things for you, really forces you out of your comfort zone. And whilst I still don’t revel in talking to others, I no longer feel like my throat is closing up. I can navigate through life without that omnipresent sense of dread following me around – and let me tell ya, it feels super refreshing. I recently spent a few weeks in the UK and had multiple people comment on how different I was so. So life experience? Check.

Another thing I wanted was work experience. And whilst teaching is in no way what I want to do with my life, it pays the bills whilst I embark on multiple unpaid internships – something that definitely wasn’t available for me in a place like Hull. I’ve managed social media accounts, learnt CMS, written articles about things I knew nothing about before I started – aka I’ve basically become a digital media wizard. So whilst teaching isn’t exactly where I imagined I’d be at 24, I’m getting that much needed experience all those “entry level” jobs somehow expect you to have already. It just took me a little longer to get there and I’m talking about verbs whilst doing it. Work experience? Working on it but let me give it a preemptive check.

So after doing everything I set out to do (and spending double the expected time here), why am I still in Spain? The simple, gross, and horribly cliché version is that I fell in love. With the city, with a dude, with my entire existence here. And why ruin a good thing? I’ll stick with the cheap wine and sunny weather and good Mexican food, thanks.

But another major factor in my decision to stay in Madrid is that I don’t know what would happen otherwise. Here I know I can keep getting teaching gigs, keep living cheaply, keep enjoying this big city life I’ve grown accustomed to. Before I moved here my life was so uncertain – whether I’d get a job, be able to move out, the sensitive state of my mental health, etc etc. Shit was scary, but here I don’t have to worry. As I keep saying over and over again, this definitely isn’t where I expected to be, but as long as I’m paying the bills, having fun, and improving myself as a person, I don’t see what the problem is. I may not be as far along on the career ladder as my classmates but look at all that sexy life experience I’m racking up. And I’ve learnt more Spanish talking to supermarket cashiers here than I did in in four years of German in high school, so there’s that.

So although expat life has its flaws; friends leaving every year, language barriers, and cultural mishaps – and even though Spain is definitely not the utopia all those retired Brits make it out to be, it looks like for the moment I’m here to stay.

A misleading title? Mayhaps. ‘Cause I have no freaking idea what I’m doing with my life other than enjoying it. But at 24, I think maybe that’s okay.

Bumble BFF: Expat Adventures in Friend Dating

One of the biggest struggles of expat life, other than language barriers and cultural mishaps, is finding and maintaining friendships. Not every expat enters a country at the same, but most importantly, not every expat leaves at the same time. At any moment one of your closest friends can up and leave and you’re left with some major free time on your hands. Sure, the usual rules about making new friends can also apply as an expat: socialise with your colleagues, join a class, stalk out mutual friends. But with the need to seek out new friendships multiple times a year (particularly in the dreaded summer months), these leads can dry out pretty quickly. Enter Bumble BFF, a new app that is here to change the way we platonically meet other people.

The idea of choosing friends solely online might seem weird to some people, but most of the friends I made in my formative teenagers years came from the Internet, and I met my boyfriend of two years on Tinder. So an app where you essentially judge people on pictures and a short bio didn’t put me off too much. When I heard about Bumble, I knew I needed to try it. If I can handle Tinder in Spain, I can handle anything.

I’ve been using Bumble BFF for about two months now and I feel I’ve got a good idea of what it’s all about. Most importantly, how weird it is to market yourself for friends. I know you can say that your profile is just a natural reflection of you, but that is still marketing yourself. If all of someone’s pictures were taken in clubs, I know we probably wouldn’t get along. So no swipes for them. Not in a judging way, just that I know I’d probably never hang out with them if their weekends are spent in six storey nightclubs and mine are spent in bougie dive bars. So it’s a good way to weed out the people you probably couldn’t form a friendship with.

Over my time on Bumble, I had some good conversations. Some progressed onto WhatsApp and some progressed even further onto actual Platonic Friend Dates. I’ve been on three now and finally think I’ve figured out the best way to navigate the app, because each Friend Date has gone better than the last. I’ve bumped up the age category and said bye to the young’uns (whilst simultaneously accepting that oh god I might be in my mid twenties?) and I know when to tell if the conversation is just normal dull-but-polite pleasantries or a dead end.

Overall, I’m a big fan of Bumble BFF and cutting out the middle man when it comes to making new friends. Using the app pretty much screams ‘HELLO I’M HERE TO HANG OUT WITH NEW PEOPLE’ and I love how unashamed that is. Especially for expats, ’cause we need all the help we can get. Even if, like Tinder dates, some of your Friend Dates don’t go anywhere, you still get a nice time out of it. So far I’ve had ice lollies, after work drinks, and mojito bar hopping; when otherwise I’d be at home watching Degrassi on Netflix. Both are fun, but one is slightly more beneficial to my inner happiness. And it’s not the Canadian high schoolers.

But let’s be real, as someone in a long term relationship, I really just miss swiping people’s faces.

Pros of Bumble BFF:

  • Everyone is there for the same reason
  • Super convenient and not time consuming
  • You can scope people out before you meet (you’re given enough information to sufficiently Facebook stalk)
  • Swiping is fuuuuuuun

Cons of Bumble BFF:

  • You’re putting yourself out there to be judged
  • Not a lot of people are using the app yet (at least in Madrid)
  • There’s still a chance you can be murdered

Verdict: It’s great for expats and people moving cities, but also an easy and fun way for anyone to meet new people. I’m really looking forward to how this concept develops in the future. The Internet has already changed so much about our lives, it’s only time before it starts to influence our friendships too. Yaaaaay Platonic Dating!

Four Spots In Florence


It’s been a while since I was in Florence, and I’d almost given up on writing a post about it. But no matter how much time passes, I can’t get that damn city out of my head. It’s definitely one of my favourite cities in Europe and I can’t wait until I go back again. So although it’s been a while since I visited, I couldn’t let the opportunity to post a few of my favourite Florentine haunts. They’re touristy af, but whatever, finding the hidden gems is for subsequent visits.

1. Museum of Zoology


Although when people think of museums in Florence, they’re usually referring to Renaissance art, the first museum I visited was the Museum of Zoology. This place definitely isn’t what you’d expect. Full of taxidermy, wax models, and other wonderfully weird creations. The insect section was super cool… I had no idea bugs could grow that big and it makes me thankful that the cockroaches here in Spain aren’t as big as my face. The human section was pretty interesting too, mostly because it shows how little people knew about the human body only a few hundred years ago. I’ll save you the pictures I took of sliced in half boobs, even though I kinda loved it. My favourite part though, was an exhibition on rhinos and extinction, which made me cry a little bit. If you need a break from all the Reniassance art, the Museum of Zoology and it’s boob models is definitely an eye opener.

2. Giardino Boboli


Even though it was petty terrible weather, no museums were open, so I risked the rain and a took a trip to the Giardino Boboli. I’ve never really been one for royal gardens and the like, so it surprised me how much I enjoyed my visit. The views of Florence are incredible, and it’s a great way to kill a few hours because it’s so damn big! The whole thing has a very Studio Ghibli feel, it’s very whimsical and kind of eerie. But my favourite part of the trip has to be the museums included in your ticket entry price. In the costume gallery, I got to see a great exhibit of fashion through the ages, with information about the designers/owners that was super interesting to me, particularly because of the feminist twist. It wasn’t what I was expecting upon entering a garden, but I was very happy to spend my day there.

3. Galleria dell’Accademia 


Everyone goes to the Galleria dell’Accademia when they visit Florence, but I noticed that a lot of people take a picture with David, then leave, but there’s so much more to see! Admittedly the building was way smaller than I expected, but it does have some hidden gems. Definitely not the place for you if the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who creep you out, but if you’re a fan ofRenaissance  sculptures, you’re gonna love it. Just make sure you buy tickets in advance, because otherwise you’re looking at a two hour wait in line.

4. Volume, Piazza Santo Spirito


Although I nearly picked the whole piazza for this section, really my love is all for Volume. This is the type of place we need more of in Madrid. Laid back, dingy, with amazing coffee and food. Aka everything I love in a cafe bar. I think I came here three times over my four days in the city, and it was mainly for the amazing jam croissant I had my first day. If you need a good coffee/food/book reading spot inbetween all the architecture and art, head across the bridge and relax a bit away from the crowds. Seriously though, get the jam croissant.

Forget Rome, Florence has got to be the ultimate Italian city break.

Cheap Eats In Madrid


I love Madrid and I think the reason I love it so much is that it’s just Un-Spanish. That particularly applies to the food. There’s so much variety of food in this city so eating out is never boring. That been said, there are certain places I frequent more than others. Usually because they’re yummy, but also because they are super cheap! Here are my favourite budget restaurants, all different cuisines, so there’s something for everyone.


The Place: Baobab (Calle Cabestreros 1)

The Meal: thiebou (€7)

Senegalese food is not something I’d tried before moving to Madrid, but damn. Baobab is in Lavapies, right by Plaza Nelson Mandela, and you’ve probably noticed it if you’ve walked that way through the barrio. It doesn’t look much from the outside, but isn’t that how you find hidden gems? This place is particularly great in warmer weather, ’cause their outside terrace has such a great vibe. Service is fast, although do expect them to tell you that you can’t have whatever you try to order on your first attempt. It’s pretty hit and miss in that retrospect. But if you can, get the thiebou, an amazing rice dish with either fish, chicken, or vegetables. The portions are huge, I’m not sure I can even get halfway through the plate. If you’re looking for good food, and lots of it, with a chilled out vibe, then Baobab is for you. Just be sure to get there early, as otherwise you’ll be waiting in line a long time to get a table. Yeah, it’s that good.

The Place: Shapla (Calle de Lavapies 40)

The Meal: menú del dia vegetariana (€8)

Possibly my most visited restaurant in Madrid and for good reason. As both a vegetarian and a Brit, I love Indian food. And Shapla is my favourite place for it in Madrid so far. Their menú del dia is a steal (you can pay €9.50 for the meat version, but let’s be real, vegetarian is the way to go for Indian food), and once again, I can never finish the damn thing. For €8 you get a starter, main, side, dessert, and drink. My usual combination is onion bhaji, chana masala with pilau rice, and mango lassi. Also vino blanco, something they’re very liberal with. This is another place where eating on the terrace is the best way to do things, as something is always going down on Calle Lavapies. Admittedly this backfired once when some sort of drumming and dancing thing was happening, but one bad experience out of 500 doesn’t sway me. Shapla forever.


The Place: El Azul (Calle Fúcar 1)

The Meal: menú vegetariana (€7.90)

If Senegalese and Indian aren’t for you, definitely head to El Azul. There’s also no terrace here, so I was going all out with this one. El Azul is just a cute little cafe nestled in the labyrinth of Barrio las Letras and I love it. Not only do they have a great selection of vegetarian food, but they have hummus! Do you know how hard it is to find hummus in Madrid? I had almost given up. I love coming to this place for coffee, tea, or cake, but if I’m going all out I’ll get the menú de dia. I’m a fan of the hummus and pita bread, and either the veggie burger or the vegan sandwich. At this point I usually want to burst, so I’ll switch the dessert for coffee. It’s often pretty busy in here, but if you can grab a seat, take it. Cafe culture lives on.

My vegetarian tendencies make eating out in Madrid a little difficult, so I’d like to think I have a slightly more unique take on dining here. Maybe I’ll keep adding these little tidbits of my food tastes to the blog. I’m currently on a mission to eat all of Madrid’s veggie burgers, so maybe blogging it will make me feel less guilty. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or have any other budget eats for me to try

A Day In The Life Of An Auxiliar de Conversación


For anyone keeping track, I’m currently what you call an Auxiliar de Conversación in Madrid. I’ve been doing this since February last year, and it’s a pretty sweet gig. I’m definitely not gonna complain about 16 hours a week for €1000 a month. That’s a lie. I am going to complain. Because it’s currently June, the end of the school year, which means I’m just about ready to nap forever now please. So to mark the end of my time at this year’s school, I thought I’d do a little day in the life style post, documenting what a typical day was like for me. Admittedly, if I’d written this earlier in the year this probably would have been a lot more positive, but that’s not my style. So instead, here’s a day in the life of a slightly frazzled language assistant approaching summer vacation.

If you’re currently applying for the programme, I’m sorry. If you’re currently in the programme, you get me.

6:00: Aaaaah I hate that noise. Even changing it to Taylor Swift doesn’t make waking up at this time any less painful for me.

6:15: Okay, so I should probably get up now or something.

6:40: I am leaving the house. Keys, phone, abono, money, okay. I hope the metros are running on time today. Also, what is breakfast? Who is awake enough to deal with that at this time in the morning?

6:52: Come on, metro. Go go go. We can do this. Do not make me miss my train dammit.

6:59: GET OUT OF MY WAY, PEOPLE OF ATOCHA. Maybe I should start leaving my house earlier or something? Nah.

7:01: Made it! Time to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack in preparation for my day. Revolution and teaching are practically the same thing anyway.

7:16: Everybody give it up for America’s favourite fighting Frenchman! LAFAYETTE!

7:44: Why is it colder here than in the city? Does all that smog keep me feeling toasty? Ewww, fresh air.

7:55: I feel I shouldn’t be expected to be at work yet if the bakeries don’t even have any napolitanas ready. This is just inhumane.

8:05: Time to say ‘buenas’ 82 times in a row whilst all the teachers appear. Why did I leave the UK again?

8:15: Game Face on. Let’s do this.

8:24: Aaaaaaand the teacher’s not here yet. How long do I wait before getting someone to help me control these monsters? How are children so loud at this time?

8:27: The sixteen year olds are revolting. Send help.

9:05: The first class is over and all I was asked was how to spell something by the teacher. I didn’t actually know, but can’t really admit that as I get paid to speak English, so I made it up.

9:10: About to give a presentation on popular books for teenagers. Let’s find out how out of date I am with the teenagers of today!

9:23: LIKE NONE OF THESE KIDS HAVE READ HARRY POTTER.

9:37: Teacher tries to tell the students that examples of genres are plays, poetry, and novels. Despite me just using the sentence “part of the fantasy genre”. I can’t tell if they just don’t listen to me or think I’m constantly wrong, but I’ve learnt to pick my battles.

10:15: I’m with the oldest kids in the school now. They keep forgetting I’m a ‘teacher’ and insult the real teachers in front of me. I try not to laugh but sometimes they’re just too hilarious with their insults.

10:34: Would it be unprofessional to eat a banana right now?

10:49: I am definitely not qualified to be teaching the suffragette movement and got all of this information from Wikipedia last night. Sorry not sorry.

11:00: BREAK TIME. Finally the banana is mine.

11:20: I have a free period but no one else does. I’m sure I’d be much more productive if the WiFi worked, but this is Spain.

11:51: Is this job really beneficial to my future? Let the existential dread sink in!

12:15: Now for the youngest kids in the school. Who speak literally zero English. We’re gonna listen to Justin Bieber.

12:20: Apparently 12 year olds in Spain do not like Justin Bieber.

12:31: “What are the Spanish lyrics?” That is definitely not the point of this exercise.

13:10: THE BELL HAS GONE. I AM HOME FREE. Oh wait, I’m not. Because I have to wait around an hour to then spend another hour in a ‘staff meeting’ that I won’t even speak in. Sixteen hours a week, suuuuure…

13:40: *sits*

14:17: Like only half of the actual proper teachers show up for this but you know if any assistants bailed there’d be CONSEQUENCES.

14:20: “We’ll make it a quick one” Sure you will.

15:10: WINE WINE WINE WINE.

17:00: Finally heading back home. Can I nap on this train?

18:30: Oh look, an email asking me to plan a lesson sent a day before said lesson. I love when this happens.

18:50: How does one sum up the British political system in a single powerpoint?

19:30: I just want to watch The Office until I morph into Netflix.

20:15: I guess I should eat something that didn’t come free with a glass of wine.

21:00: It’s hard to adult when your day job is so SOUL CRUSHING.

21:45: Gonna pack my bag for tomorrow and lay out all my clothes so I can stay in bed ’til the last possible moment.

22:00: I guess I should probably think about going to bed if I want a decent amount of sleep. This is what my life has become.

As much as I may complain about this job, I actually really enjoy it. The teaching part and the kids are great, it’s just a little hit and miss with the schools (I’ve experienced both). But overall, as someone whose own language education was pretty underwhelming, it’s a pretty rewarding job. And if you’re looking into the programme yourself, I hope I didn’t scare you off too much.

Traveling As An Introvert


Traveling with another person when you’re a self-confessed introvert is difficult. Even if you think you’ll be compatible travel companions, everything changes when you’re forced to spend your entire day and night together in a foreign country.

I’m writing this in a piazza in Florence. I’ve just gorged myself on pasta and have sent my travel partner off to explore whilst I chill for a bit. I did it under the guise of being too full to move, which is true, but mainly I just needed time alone to recharge before we’re forced together again. Unfortunately, I am the only one with a working phone and any sense of direction, so my much needed rest will be over shortly when my companion decides that they need Google Maps again.

I think my main problem here is not only that I’m an introvert, but I’m an introvert who is too nice for her own good. I don’t want to rock the boat. I just want things to run as smoothly as possible and if that means doing everything with another person to avoid upsetting them, then so be it. As an introvert, I‘ve always believed that I was the defective one. People are supposed to want to be with other people, right? We’re social creatures. Yet here I am, in an amazing city with someone I consider* a friend, yet all I want is to be alone on a bench rather than discovering the city together. I’d rather sit and stare at the same gelato store and listen to the same constant drilling noises than have to make any more polite attempts at conversation. And I feel like this is my fault. This shouldn’t be the option I choose. But it is, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

I see lots of solo travellers from my little stone bench, or maybe they are people like me escaping social interaction for a while. I have often wondered whether solo travel is for me, and this trip would seem to confirm these suspicions. However, I don’t necessarily think I should be confined to experiencing new places alone just because I need time to myself every once in a while. Instead, I’ve been thinking about the best way to go about such a trip in the future. A Guide To Traveling With The Overly Cautious Introvert, if you will. A way to do things differently, so both people on the trip have a good time.

1. Make it clear you are an introvert (and what that entails) before you agree to travel together

I thought it was pretty obvious that I was introverted, but you can never expect an extrovert to know the full extent of your mental psyche. But on the other side of the argument, I never fully anticipated just how much not having any alone time would affect me. You need to make this clear to your partner before you do anything else. Even just a simple “hey, I might need to just hang by myself for a while, is that okay with you?” should suffice. Before this trip, I genuinely didn’t think I would be expected to do e v e r y t h i n g with another human being, so that’s definitely something we both should have clarified with one other.

2. Don’t be a pushover about your needs and feelings

If you want your alone time, say so. There have been times on this trip where we’ve been stuck in a dance of “so what should we do now?” “I don’t care” “me either” repeat ad infinitum, when all I’ve wanted was to scream “I JUST WANNA GO TO X AND DO Y, MAN. WITHOUT YOU”. What ended up happening, however, was I would spend the next few hours doing something I didn’t want to do, thus putting a downer on the whole trip. Your extroverted pal doesn’t get a monopoly on your happiness whilst traveling. They’ll be fine going to explore by themselves for a bit whilst you grab a coffee.

3. You do you, boo

Like I said before, you aren’t the defective one. If your fellow traveler wants to get lost in a crowded market place and the idea of all those people makes you want to kill yourself, say something. Just because they’re the “normal one” it doesn’t mean that their idea of how to spend time in a new place is the right one. The idea is to enjoy yourself, and that means you too. If you want to find a cute cafe and people watch for an hour, then great, that’s just as right of a way to spend your vacation as an extrovert’s way is.

And if all else fails (or like me, you avoid confrontation at all costs)…

4. Go to a museum

You don’t have to talk to each other if you’re looking at art. It’s the best of both your interests.

* After this trip, it’s definitely become considered. I was waaaay too kind in this post. But I’m sure this advice will still work if you’re traveling with reasonable human beings.

Expat Friendships: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Making friends as an expat is a weird experience. On the one hand, everyone has a shared experience linking them together; on the other, you’re introduced to people who you might not otherwise choose to socialise with. As many of us as there are (even in a city as big as Madrid), it can be kind of slim pickings on the friend front. Such is the life of an expat.

When someone moves abroad and begins the transformation into an expat, they follow a specific pattern. This is something I call the We’re All In This Together Mindset. But honestly, that only really works in Disney Channel Original Movies, not when it comes to building a solid foundation to base your new little expatriate life on. Sure, this theory works great at first. You arrive in a new country, nervous and second guessing yourself, and then boom… a whole bunch of other people in exactly the same situation as you. Of course you’re going to latch on. And this can be useful in the beginning when it comes to exploring your new city and figuring out the basics. But is it enough to base a long-lasting friendship on? Nah. As people become more comfortable in their new life, they begin to gradually move on. And I’m not just talking about your new found friends, you’re included in this too, Hypothetic Baby Expat Reader. It’s like the advice you always get before moving away to university: “don’t settle with your first year flatmates, there’s more people out there!” It was true at university and it’s true as an expatriate.

Obviously it’s not the case all the time, and I still have friends who I met when I very first arrived in Madrid two years ago. But for the most part, after everything settles and people feel more confident, they move onto bigger and better things. And that includes new friends. Which brings me to my next point…

You’ll meet people in the weirdest places. I’ve already spoken about how to meet new people whilst abroad, but I never really touched on the completely bizare places I struck up conversations with strangers. Trying to find my way into a locked building, searching for a bank, on an Irish pub crawl. People are everywhere. Keep your eyes open and don’t write off a way of meeting someone just because you wouldn’t do it back at home.

In a slightly related note, don’t completely dismiss people either. I’m friends with a whole bunch of people I probably wouldn’t roll with at home. If anything, my time in the expat pool has made me a less judgemental person. Of course, there have been exceptions to the rule. Times where I’ve been proved right and people have been exactly who I thought they’d be, but than can happen anywhere. At least in Spain you can dull the pain with churros.

And of course, the most obvious and painful part of any expatriate friendship: you go into it knowing it has an expiration date. It might not seem like a big deal at first, but as the months draw on it gets a little distressing knowing that L Day is approaching. The dreaded Last Day. This is especially annoying with those pesky Americans and their even peskier visas. EU friends are in it for the long haul, so stick with us. But it’s also disconcerting to know that eventually, it’s going to be you leaving one day. Everything is temporary! Time is fleeting! Aaaaaaaah!

So… expat friendships. In my two years here, I’ve experienced:

THE GOOD: Meeting a diverse group of people who have helped me grow as a person and have understood all those #expatprobs better than any family members or friends back home.

THE BAD: Finding your platonic soul mate and having them leave a year later. Then repeating the process every year until your little heart can’t take it anymore and shrivels up to die.

THE UGLY: Befriending someone you usually wouldn’t because of how tiny the expat bubble is, until they one day just completely snap and call you a “c*nt-faced bitch” for no reason and then you’re stuck in their social circle FOREVER*.

*Note: forever is only a year for expats because lol visas.