Things I want to do this Christmas!

1. Christmas shopping amongst the lights! This is something I like to do most years, not even to buy presents (because I get most of them online), but to get into the Christmas spirit. I’m hoping to go into London at some point because I feel like the Christmas atmosphere is so wonderful there.

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This is the light tunnel in Norwich!

2. Watch Christmas films! I normally watch one or two on Christmas Day anyway but never that many, and then I regret it once Christmas is over. This year I’m going to try and watch some different ones than usual, so let me know if you have any recommendations!

3. Go to Winter Wonderland with friends! I’ve been there a few times already but it’s such a warm and happy atmosphere and I really love it.

4. Eat as many roast dinners as I can?! This is a must. I absolutely love roast dinners but I hardly ever have them except for when it’s Christmas, so I have to make the most of it!

5. Baking! Whether this is Christmas themed or not, I’d love to bake a cake or some cookies. Since I don’t get to do this much at uni, it would be a nice way to treat myself and others over the holiday.

6. Play games! Whether this is having a heated game of monopoly with family or playing a Christmas drinking game with friends, I think it’d be a fun way to spend time with others.

7. Eat lots of mince pies! Okay to be honest, I’ve already done a lot of this.

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I’ve got my fingers crossed for snow! 

8. Read some books for fun! It sounds insane, but I never get to do this because studying Literature at uni involves reading consistently for the course. It will be nice to sit on the sofa with blankets and hot chocolate and read without thinking about studying.

9. Enjoy travelling! I am going abroad to New York this year, which I am very excited about! It has been a while since I’ve been away with my Dad and brother, so it will be nice to spend some time with them!

10. Have a nice, relaxing break! The last few weeks have been incredibly stressful for me, due to countless essays, so it will be great to take a break from all of that and start the new year refreshed.

What are you looking forward to doing this Christmas?

Favourite Christmas Memories!

In an attempt to publish more Christmas themed posts this year, I’ll start by sharing my favourite Christmas memories from past years! Christmas is a time where the environment, the people you’re with, and the activities you do are really what makes the holiday so great. And even if you don’t have a huge family, I think it’s still nice to appreciate the small things.

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Ready for the roast dinner!

1. I normally spend Christmas at home but a few years ago we went to my cousins and it was a really fun Christmas! We played lots of board games, like Pictionary and game of life and it was really nice to spend time with them.

2. One year I spent Christmas Day in Australia! It was a really strange experience because it felt like any other day. We had a BBQ instead of a roast dinner, but we spent it at the zoo which was pretty cool!

3. The classic chilled out Christmas at home (which is what I do most years) – I watched Elf with my brother and we spent the whole day on the sofa eating chocolate. Later, we had a really lovely roast dinner my Mum cooked.

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Food stall at Winter Wonderland!

4. Visiting Winter Wonderland! This wasn’t on Christmas Day but my Mum and I went there last year to look round the markets and I got a hot dog and some mulled wine.

5. Quite a few years ago I spent Christmas with my Dad, brother and grandparents and that was really fun! We had roast dinner and played a lot of board games (including this game that’s similar to Pictionary except you mould the objects out of play doh).

I’m excited for this year as I will be spending a week in New York and I can’t wait to spend Christmas day amongst the snow (or at least, I hope I will!)

What are your favourite memories of Christmas?

Pablo Picasso Museum

I have just got back from my trip to Barcelona where I visited the Pablo Picasso Museum (it’s free for students wahey). I really love art in all kinds of forms but I haven’t had the chance to visit any art galleries in recent years which has been a shame – instead I wrote about my longing for it here. So it was pretty cool to finally get the chance!

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I can’t say that Pablo Picasso is my favourite artist, or that I would hang his art on my wall, but I don’t think these things have to be true for art to just be interesting. I have tendencies to analyse art as I look at it and so I ended up walking the halls thinking what does all this mean? What caused it to come alive?

As many of you probably know, Picasso’s artwork is abstract and to many may be seen as child’s art because it doesn’t accurately portray reality as we see it. But I think that just because it doesn’t seem like reality, doesn’t mean it can’t be.

What struck me the most as I was thinking about the way different shapes moulded together, was the way the paintings captured the jumbled nature of the inside of your head, on the outside. It’s almost a reverse viewing of the way your mind thinks except you actually see the struggle to comprehend rather than see a perfectly formed structure of a human being instead. This made me see the whole gallery completely differently. Picasso isn’t just imitating child’s work, he is perhaps imitating how he feels inside but through the conflicting elements of other characters and people. All his portraits are perhaps his way of trying to put himself into the mind of the person he is painting. And wow, do I love this whole idea. It makes me love his work even more.

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So if you ever get the chance to visit an art gallery, always remember that there are hidden meanings behind everything (even if they weren’t intentional). Art doesn’t have to be pretty or obvious to be successful. In fact, the ones I like the most are neither.

Why I Love Travelling

I absolutely love travelling and I’ve been lucky enough to go to a lot of countries over the years, though my aim is to visit a lot more in my lifetime! However, it was only recently that I begun to think about why I love travelling so much and I think acknowledging this has only increased my love of it even more.

I have recently just got back from Budapest with one of my best friends and I had such a great week! It made me realise that travelling isn’t just something I do to visit cool places and learn about new cultures (which of course, it totally is), but also as an escape.

Whilst on holiday, my friend and I discussed how when being around people who speak another language, we somehow feel less conscious of the way we act. Suddenly, I don’t feel so anxious about certain things and I find I can interact more easily. Perhaps because I think they will be more forgiving, since English is not their first language and we are both different in nature. Either way, it’s a comforting thought.

I always find that when I’m abroad in another country, my mindset is totally different. It’s like I have started afresh and suddenly I don’t have all the negative feelings that sometimes drown me back at home (or at least I have less of them anyway). Maybe this is because there is an element of excitement that I don’t have back at home. But more so, I think it is because being in a new place causes your mind to acknowledge it’s surroundings more, so you pay less attention to your head.

This makes me think that, ultimately, change is actually a really good thing. Most of the time we associate it with bad and negative thoughts, but instead it actually erases them to create something entirely new. I love travelling because of this idea of starting fresh and experiencing life in a completely new country which is like experiencing life in a completely new world. Everything else is left behind.

Figuring this all out now makes me wonder how this didn’t occur to me sooner. Knowing I have the option to travel somewhere new is such a good thing to have in mind. If I ever feel myself caving in within the place I’m living, why not move somewhere else? Even if just for a little while.

Travelling to Romania (+ Flash Fiction)

So it feels like forever since I’ve published a blog post but I guess that’s because I’ve been away for a week volunteering in Romania and it’s been super busy! I went as part of a programme called Angloville which, if you didn’t already know, allows you to go abroad to help local children improve their English and in return pays for your accommodation and food. It’s a lot different to traditional teaching as the day is filled with conversational sessions which means you can talk about whatever you like, as well as play games such as dodgeball, table tennis, etc. I had such a great time so I definitely recommend it if you love travelling and want to help people out!

Travelling to Romania is the first time I’ve gone abroad by myself so I was pretty anxious beforehand, but it went a lot better than expected! Once I’d met up with the other volunteers and made friends, it wasn’t so daunting because we could all go around the city together and it was really cool to meet people from all over the world. If you want to see a photo of the cool umbrella street we found, check out my ig here: @mymindspeaksaloud

I’ve only applied to one Angloville programme – you can apply to three if you want to work towards a TEFL teaching certificate, but I wasn’t sure at the time if that’s what I wanted. I think I would do Angloville again, however I’m not sure if the next one could live up to this experience to be honest!

Now that I’m back in England, I still can’t believe how hot it is here. I turned up in Romania ready to wear my shorts and skirts and yet all the rain meant I spent the entire week in jeans! It’s nice to return home and finally be able to wear my summer outfits!

Whilst I was away I wrote this short flash fiction which I thought would be a good way to end this post:

Walking across streets bred from the whispers of unknown worlds, I fall into the cracks of foreign pavements. It’s strange to be known and yet no one to know you at all. It’s strange to be seen and yet your insides reversed, ingrained and found only in somewhere ashore. If not for skin as pale as the moon, I could be one of you. I could be anyone but me and maybe that’s why I like it. If I can pretend for a while perhaps my mind will grow back differently, a new currency of thoughts when I return to familiarity. Foreign streets will grow new seeds inside of me. Will they bloom a new flower or one that has sprouted before?

Interesting Facts about Hong Kong!

A few days ago I returned from my trip to Hong Kong and I had such a great time! Seeing as it’s so different over there than in the UK, I thought I’d do a post on some of the small things I learnt whilst I was over there and perhaps things you wouldn’t find easily by researching the country on the internet.

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Classic pano of a Wetlands Park

1) They often serve up hot water to drink in restaurants and bars and pretty much everywhere (can’t say I’m a fan though)

2) Not many people there wear make up which is kind of nice to be honest as everyone is just natural

3) They use bamboo sticks for construction rather than metal poles (and wow do they look unstable)

4) There is literally (and this time I really do mean literally) a Starbucks on every corner – I tried a chocolate chip cream frappucino in Starbucks and it was so good!

5) You’re not allowed to eat or drink on tubes or trains otherwise you have to pay a fine

6) The tubes are also air conditioned so much better than those in London so you don’t feel like you’re dying of heat

7) There are pretty much no houses – everyone lives in flats or apartments

8) At night markets you get people randomly singing, including crazy guys dancing and imitating Michael Jackson with a hoop that they never jump through

9) In restaurants they often give you free savoury popcorn with your drinks – I’d say it’s kind of Chinese spiced? though I’m not sure

10) You can get around Hong Kong on a tram for only 23p – how cheap is that?!

11) They have Haagen Daaz ice cream everywhere I swear

12) On the tubes the handles that hang from the ceiling are so low that I had to mind I didn’t hit my head on them

13) Asian kids are actually adorable

14) The humidity there is insane – it can only be 24 degrees and it feels like 40

15) And finally…the food is amazing! They have all different kinds of cuisine from around the world including English, Spanish, Italian, Indian and of course, Chinese.

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Hong Kong city lights!

I hope these facts were an interesting insight to life in Hong Kong! Have you been to any interesting countries that take a different approach to everyday life? I’d love to know – just drop me a comment 🙂