Friday, 16 November 2012

What can happen in a year?

It's funny how much can happen in one year.

People whose birthdays I celebrated with last year have come back around, even though it feels like it was only a few months ago.

A Halloween which was planned for weeks in advance last year, was a last minute job this year.
A weekend camping in the sunshine by the river, now a wet weekend painting my nails all pretty.

Never would I have guessed that in a years time, I would be living in Spain, learning Spanish and still teaching.
But it's different this time. The school is much better organised, and they make you feel valued. You are a priority and everything isn't immediately your fault.

This time two years ago, I was on the first tour of Taiwan, by train, going around the coast. I saw the ground on fire - a natural crack in the earth's crust causing a gas leak.
With still relatively no Chinese, clueless as to the treasures that Taiwan had to offer.

Halloween 2010 was a lot of fun. So was Halloween 2011, but during the time in between, I hadn't really progressed, and that the difference between Halloween 2011 and Halloween 2012 - I've done so much in one year, it's hard to believe how quickly time has passed!

And essentially, that's why I left Taiwan. As awesome as it was, for all the comfort and familiarity, I need more than the odd party now and then.

This last year has been full of ups and downs but I've been to 5 different countries, studied two diplomas, had lessons for three different languages, caught up with friends and seen every family member, which is no mean feat in itself.

It's been a wonderful adventure. When I look back to two years ago, I see a younger more naive version of myself. In two years time I hope I will think that I am naive now!

Friday, 26 October 2012


Ah, I think I'm feeling homesick.

We learnt about Culture Shock and it's five stages in university to prepare us for our year abroad.
The five stages being:
  1. The Honeymoon Stage
  2. The Disintegration Stage
  3. The Reintegration Stage
  4. The Autonomy Stage
  5. The Interdependence Stage
*source: The Five Stages of Culture Shock: Critical Incidents Around The World - Paul Pederson 1995

The honeymoon stage is easy to recognise as you feel like you're still on holiday. Everything is beautiful. Everything still is beautiful here. I am so happy to be here. I look at my desk with the mobile phone plan in Spanish and a easy to read story book in French and I feel lucky. I'm learning new languages, which I'm discovering is a hobby of mine, living in a new country, in a beautiful city, with a happy warm family. I know I am in the 1% when it comes to favourable fortunes.

Yet for the last 2 weeks I've been feeling sick. But not the cool respectable sick, like flu. No, it's the kind of sick you get when you're sad. Can homesickness be literal? Like seasickness? And is there a pill I can take for it? Because it feels like I'm on a beautiful cruise ship but I can't appreciate the experience while I'm in the bathroom spewing.

This article on the CNN website says that homesickness isn't really about 'home' but about our need for love, security and protection which we associate with home. Thus when we are away from these things, we miss them, and home.
But then it goes on to say that previous experience being away from home inoculates against a future bout of homesickness.

Now if this were true, I should be so immune that doctors are using my blood to make the aforementioned pill to cure homesickness.

This is the seventh time I've moved away from (a) home for a period longer than 2 months. I should be a pro at this.

But I'm not. I find myself thinking about my family, my friends, my exes. Wondering what they're doing with their lives as I begin yet another life experiment. I drift in and out of conscientious consciousness.

When I am confronted with Facebook, I see people eating dumplings and going to the mountains in Taiwan, I miss that.
I reminisce about good times, friends I miss, happy days that we shared. 

Carries stoop in New York with Taz

Cherry Blossom season

Dominick's in Chicago - our local supermarket

My first meal in Taiwan

Going to Green Island

Riding the 'L' in Chicago

Love in the Philippines

The road trip

Spring Scream in Kenting

The Statue of Liberty

Going to the beach
Maybe most of all, I miss the family I had in Taiwan. I really do love these guys. The five of us in that apartment had such a great dynamic, probably impossible to ever replicate. If I feel homesick, it's probably homesick for these guys.

The article is right; I miss the familiar. I need ol' familiar to come and give me a great big hug right about now.

It's probably why I've found comfort in the songs that I used to listen to while I was in Taiwan including the playlist in the previous post.

It's strange for me that after all this time, I still miss Taiwan. I don't think I missed England for this long. Is Taiwan the one I let get away...?

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Flightless Bird

Autumn has announced it's arrival!

The leaves are changing colour and littering the landscape, and the weather is decidedly colder.

Mandarins, pears and pumpkins are in season. Whispers of who's wearing what for Halloween.

Scarves are seen, hats and gloves will be soon, jackets seeing daylight for the first time since summer.

A timid sun plays peek-a-boo through the leaves.

The world has turned in to a blend of browns, oranges and reds.

Oh Chicago, I miss you.
For many it's their favourite season, and it's not difficult to see why.
Autumn turns the world a sentimental sepia.
My most beautiful Autumn was in America. All these photos were taken in 2007 when I lived Chicago and a couple from a camping trip I took in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. I have such happy memories of that time.

Autumn also brings the chill with it. And on those days when your brain is running slower than usual, and you're feeling a bit under the weather in general,
where do you seek comfort?

A mug of hot tea?
A long hot bath with scented oils?
A movie under the duvet?
Junk food?
A cosy nap?

Maybe even all of these over the course of a day.

I've been having such a day, and I've found comfort in sound. Snuggled under the duvet listening to this playlist on 8tracks.

Pop it on, close your eyes and close the door on the world with all it's worries.

It's a 31 minute mental massage for a tired and tightly wound brain that's got too much on it.

Before it's done, you'll have more clarity to face the responsibilities that don't care how you're feeling unless you're in the hospital. 

My first and last pumpkin carving!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

My wish to the universe

Have you ever felt like you go through life in a dream?
Where nothing is really real, everything is just the way it is. Routines pass days and emotions are never high and never low.

It's human nature to adapt, right? We get used to things that perhaps a few years ago we would've thought unbearable, or conversely, we dreamt about.

Does it have to be human nature to take things for granted? Because that's what it means to get used to something. You don't fully appreciate every little thing that you did at the beginning, every meal, every building, every sunbeam through the leaves because it's become normal.

I don't think there are many words that make me shudder as much as when I hear the word normal.

When used to describe someone, it's usually done in a positive way. But what is a normal person? How many "weird" people have you come across in your lifetime? Or even the last time you were meeting new people. There's always at least one person that you think, "oh, they're a bit weird."
If being normal means belonging to the majority, then are we who assume ourselves normal, actually the weird ones?

When the word normal is used to describe a situation, it acts to justify it. For example, a bank wants to charge you £$30 to transfer money to another account. That's normal practice. But you know it doesn't cost them a penny to actually perform the transaction. 

There are some things which are normal and we get used to it. Or perhaps we don't know any different. The normals where if the majority are doing it, then we'll follow almost without thinking.

Mullets were in fashion once.

What if all the banks told you tomorrow that you had to keep a minimum of $500 in your account to keep banking with them?

That's what banks in Hong Kong do.

Those are the normals that we shouldn't be used to. We shouldn't be used to a society that is dictated by materialistic goals and a bombardment of marketing that creates an imaginary need.

Then there are the normals where it's a blessing that people are able to get used to.
Things like poverty, hunger, famine, drought. If everyday is a struggle, a fight to stay alive, the peak that comes from getting a bit of food, the appreciation for clean water, that's what becomes the abnormal.

We are most apt at appreciating the abnormal pleasures.

If there is one thing I could wish for, I would wish for the ability to appreciate everyday. Not in the "man, I sure am glad that it's not raining today and I have food to eat." But I mean in the same way as those who are hungry appreciate food, those who are homeless appreciate shelter.

Think about it like this:

You save up for a year to go travel around the world for 6 months. You hold back from buying the new iPad, you restrict your unnecessary outgoings, and you work as many hours as you can to escape to a new beautiful exotic foreign land.
Then as you're on your trip, you go to 15 different places, you see waterfall after waterfall, beach after beach, mountain after mountain, city after city.
Somewhere along that 6 month trip, you start to feel like all waterfalls look the same, mountains are just mountains and beaches are just beaches.There are a couple of days when you just don't feel like waking up at the crack of dawn to make the most of the day. You'll catch the sunrise tomorrow, or the next place, where you hear it's even more beautiful.
The you come home and are relieved to be back, in your bed, eating familiar food, speaking a familiar language. Things that you couldn't get whilst you were away become fantastic, and even the feeling that you aren't going anywhere for a while is welcome.

Beauty is only beautiful when it's different from the norm.

No matter where you go in the world, seeking out pleasure, seeking out the next adventure, the next thrill, it will only ever be the difference between your last pleasure/adventure/thrill.

And to me, that's the biggest shame. I don't want to get used to living somewhere beautiful. I want that same feeling of wonder and romanticism every time I experience something. I want to appreciate the kindness of others as much the 150th time as I did the first time.
When we get used to beauty, then what was normal before becomes insufficient. Maybe even ugly.

I want the strength to think about things that are considered normal and come to my own conclusions as to whether it's right or wrong.

I hope beauty is never normal to me, I want to appreciate every day, every friendship, every act of kindness and recognise everyday blessings.
I want the ability to never, not even for a second, take anything for granted.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Living the dream in España!

3 months ago, I climbed in to the mouth of Britannia in the hope that a job would just land on my lap. Today she spits me back out for my arrogance and complacency.

And where should I go? Where nearly 400,000 other Brits have moved to - Spain!

The country might be in the grip of an economical crisis, but it doesn't appear to have hindered it's EFL industry.

That's what the EFL teachers I've spoken to have said anyway.

Unemployment is currently at 8% in the UK, that's 2.65 million people without a job. That's the lowest it's been all year. (Thank you Olympics)

Yet Spain's is at 25%! 
That's the highest in Europe for the fourth year in a row.

So isn't it a bit backwards to be leaving the UK and getting a job in a country that is struggling to keep itself running?

What's wrong with the UK? Well, nothing. The difference here is whether you'd be willing to be under-employed in one place over the other.

I'm teaching English in Spain because it's beautiful, sunny and well, what else do you need? The rent is cheap and the lifestyle is laid back (Sangria anyone?) It's a cheap flight home and you're surrounded by historic architecture and the beach is not far away.
Your salary here can provide you a pretty comfortable standard of living and it's easy to save a little at the end of each month.


Thursday, 16 August 2012

Nation of Brats

New graduates are facing higher hurdles and smaller hoops than ever before, with new "tricky" recruitment practices and employers filtering their candidates by arbitrary means. From application forms requesting the applicant to use green ink and ignoring all who don't, to companies ignoring any C.V written using Times New Roman (strictly off the record of course).

While graduates are facing an unemployment rate of around 16% - 19%, more are settling on a lower skilled job (source: ONS via The Guardian) and jobs that pay less than they would have preferred. Furthermore, according to HR Magazine  more than a third of UK graduates who have searched for a job for over 6 months are now claiming Job Seekers Allowance.

But during a time where our country is struggling economically, is our "nanny state" government's attitude towards people who claim benefits too soft?

The Job Seekers Allowance, aka The Dole has a mixed reputation.

While I like to think I'm somewhere in the middle, I do think that too many people in England feel like the world, or at the very least, the government, owe them a higher standard of living. New Zealand judge John Tapene summed it up beautifully:

"Always we hear the cry from teenagers 'What can we do, where can we go?'
... My answer is, "Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you've finished, read a book."

"Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun. The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again."

"In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It's too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you..."

Claiming benefits is a privilege that only those who really need it should be able to do. Our government provides a fantastic service to those who are willing to help themselves.
The unemployed do not need to be mollycoddled, and believe me, they are. This image is taken straight from the JSA website:

With rent being as high as it is these days, many unemployed fresh graduates will have no choice but to live at home. £56.25 a week is not bad pocket money. 
There are further seperate benefits for things such as rent and dependents. The government provides travel reimbursement for interviews, there's help with starting costs such as any special clothing required for the job, and they will even help with things such as rent or mortgage repayments during the first month of employment to tie you over until pay day. Pretty much all the financial bases are covered.

Part of the JSA process when you're over 25 is that you have to attend a mandatory group session where a lady will tell you not to undersell yourself, to use more "I" on your CV and not to worry. It's not your fault, it's just tough. You are there to learn about all the different ways the government can help you. No pressure to look for a job (you only need to show that you've applied for looked at 3 jobs a week), they don't shame you for being unemployed. You are just a poor unfortunate soul.

Are you though? Is everyone who's claiming JSA like some fresh graduates, who have spent the last few months looking for a job only to be still unemployed 6 months down the line? Or is our unemployment sofa, with the government cup of tea just a little bit too comfortable?

Most people are actually embarrassed to be in a situation where they need to claim benefits. And it should be that way. Most of us are proud to be hard working, contributing members of society and that's the image that the government should be promoting. Benefits should not been seen as the easy thing to do, and definitely not encouraged.
"He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else."
 - Benjamin Franklin

Our unemployed don't need excuses, let alone excuses made for them. They are not sick children, they don't need baby talk and a teddy bear.
They should be treated as responsible people and the world expects them to contribute.  Motivate them and make them feel as John Tapene said: important and needed.

But there are still people in our country who think that the government doesn't give them enough.

While I was working at the Citizens Advice Bureau, I heard about phone calls from people who were angry about not having enough money, appealing for more benefits, and those people who had gotten themselves in a spot of bother by deals that were literally too good to be true.
You know those e-mails you get about how you've won a crazy amount of money, or from that guy in Nigeria who's minted but needs help transfering money? Well someone has to fall for it don't they? These are the people that call us.
Yet the government provide legal advice and a lawyer if neccessary.

I also worked in a government organisation that provides business advice. This includes seminars to help people start up their own business and personal advisors. It's a brilliant organisation with a vast source of information and resources. The minimum requirement was that people have some sort of business plan. From there, the advisors could suggest ways to improve it, recommend a specialised seminar, often with guest speakers who could provide further advice, and assist in securing funding from a bank.
What else could people want? A hand out apparently.
Pretty much every hour there would be someone calling up saying they had some sort of business idea, (usually selling things online) and needed £xxxx to set it up. No business plan, no further thought than how much money they need. When they are told that we provide assistance but no direct funding, they get angry and curse the government.

A Nanny State is a wonderful thing; we are looking after our needy and vulnerable. Helping those in desperate times. We can provide services such as healthcare and education to those who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it. But every nanny, parent, guardian, should be wary of raising spoiled brats!  

No one is born with the right to welfare. There are many countries who don't have state funded health care or an extensive benefit system. There are also many who do, and arguably have a more efficient system than ours.
Places like Norway have one of the highest tax rates in the world, do they think that they deserve more from the government? Probably. We are human after all, but why aren't they having riots about it?
Why is their rate of unemployment still one of the lowest in the world at 3% (source: Google public data) when their highest tax bracket 48% and their VAT is 25%?
What about their unemployment benefit? Well, they get almost 88% of previous income earned (source: Forbes 2008)
That unemployment sofa looks even more comfortable there, doesn't it?
So why, do the Norwegians have a reputation for happily paying their taxes?

Maybe they just have a better attitude than us. Maybe their government isn't pandering to those who are down, rewarding them consistently for "bad behaviour".

Sometimes, some people need help. They need motivation, not justification. People throwing a temper tantrums when they can't have their own way is symtomatic of a system that is obviously spoiling us.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The last 2 years feat. Pinterest

 When I was in school, through to when I graduated university, I wanted to be that proverbial change I wanted to see in the world. I had ideas about starting charities, helping people and being someone important. The ultimate dream was to work for the U.N. to travel around to the world, go to poverty stricken countries and feed the hungry.
I still hold on to this dream, although much less tightly than I used to.
Turns out that saving the world isn't easy. There's a lot of people in the world who also want to save it. They probably watched the same Oxfam ad that I did and decided that donating money wasn't enough. We wanted to feed them with our bare hands.
I got my dream after my first trip to China back in 2004. I saw a beggar on the street asking for money to feed his baby. The baby was in an oversized crib with a head 6 times larger than proportional to it's little body. What I had seen was the result of the baby milk scandal where powdered milk had been sold to families in China that had no nutritional value, leading to the malnutrition of hundreds of babies. This left me upset and angry, even years later and made me determined to do something so that this wouldn't happen again. I started dreaming up my orphanage scheme, where I would buy an orphanage and provide the same level of care to the children as those who were born in to more fortunate cicumstances. I remember an assembly in school where one of my teachers had adopted a baby from China and she told us of the conditions that they were kept in. I had further read about even worse conditions where babies were not so much cared for but left to die.
I wanted an orphanage that was more than just shelter, but a home, where the children would learn the same values and have the same opportunities and education as a child from an average family. There would be nurses with full training, playrooms where they are encouraged to develop their skills and a house parent - much like a boarding school.
I visit this dream every now and then and happily plant it in the future.

When I graduated, I knew I wasn't ready to enter the corporate world. I wasn't ready to commit to a life of slavery as I saw it at the time. I knew that if I did, it would be a long time before I would be able to do the things that I really wanted to do, which was travel. I figured that I was still young and this would be the only time in my life I could take the time to go off and do what I wanted without leaving behind a bucketful of responsibilities to worry about. I think a part of me believed that if I went and got that office job, it would shortly be followed by marriage, mortgage and children. All of which have more strings of responsibility than the world's worst bunny boiler.
Going travelling in retirement also wasn't an option for me. I saw travel as the portal to discovery. It would shape the person I am and teach me things that will be important for the rest of my life. Not things that I wanted to learn when it's already a bit late.
I also couldn't see a 75 year old version of myself going zorbing down a big hill or jumping off a waterfall.
I decided to do a CELTA so that I could travel the world and have a job that pays a little better than bar work.  I compared courses in different places, and decided that if a course in London, living at home was going to cost the same as going to Krakow and living there for a month, I would go to Krakow. It was a no brainer really.

When I completed the course, I was very excited about all the different places I could go around the world. Where would I live? What languages would I learn? Where would be a good spring board to go to other places from? When you're just starting out, it's the hardest. With no experience and nothing more than your qualifications, your bargaining rights are limited. I must've applied to 50 or more jobs, just anywhere and everywhere around the world that wasn't Europe. I wanted to get away as far as possible. I was one of those lazy applicants who sent out the same C.V and cover letter to every job. I had a phone interview with a school in Italy. It was a very small town on the coast and I remember being very nervous about finding a place to live and they had put me in touch with an older couple who could possibly help me. The pay was low and from what I could tell on the internet, living costs were high. But then I got another interview, this time with a school in Taiwan, but the interview itself would be held in London. I was very nervous the night before, but after the interview I felt great! I knew I had done well and exceeded their expectations so I was very excited. When I got the e-mail offering me the position I knew I would accept it and started planning my departure.

I received the job offer in January, but I wasn't due to fly out until April. That left me with a lot of time to work myself up in to a state of nerves.
A list of some the things that I was worried about:
  • It would be like China - a bit dirty and the people would be unfriendly.
  • I wouldn't fit in.
  • I wouldn't make any friends.
  • I didn't speak the language.
  • I didn't know anyone there.
  • I didn't know where I was going to live.
  • My living conditions would be really bad.
  • I wouldn't like Taipei.
  • What would my lifestyle be like there?
  • What would I eat?
  • What's there to do?
  • What if I don't make enough money to cover my living expenses?
While a couple of these were more curiosities than worries, every now and then it would pop up as a negative. The main one that worried me was that I wouldn't make any friends.
But, I'm a determined (and perhaps a little stubborn) person, so in the face of the fears I had I did my best to ignore them all and got very excited about living in a new country.

When I first arrived, I must admit, I was terrified. My language skills were even worse than I thought and the whole city seemed expansive. There was plenty to love about the city, but two of my scariest memories are when I was lost. The first time I was trying to buy a mobile phone. Someone had told me to go to Ximen and gave me an address. For those of you who have never been, this place is a maze where all the streets look the same - crowded and full of little shops and street vendors. I have no idea how long I was there for looking for this place, asking people if they knew where it was but no one seemed to or they pointed in a vague direction. Language skills would've helped.
In the end I felt completely overwhelmed, gave up and went home.

Me: 0  Taipei: 1

The second time, I was trying to get to Ikea. I spent 3 hours on buses and metros going around, back and forth to a place that was supposedly 30 minutes away. I was hot, frustrated, lost and scared. I almost ended up crying. But I refused to give up and go home so I conceded and took a taxi. Someone had been nice enough at the bus stop to write the address of Ikea for me on a piece of paper so I could give it to the taxi driver.

Me: 0.5 Taipei: 1.5

But this is just part of the process of moving to a new place. It happened to me in Chicago too where there is no language barrier. Cultural perhaps but nothing to hinder you asking for directions. The lesson I learnt is that obstacles are there to learn from. Being scared is just part of the process. Don't be scared of being scared.

My orginal plan was to go to Taiwan for one year, save some money and then go to Brazil for one year. I was firm in that plan until the time came where they asked me to sign another contract. I changed my mind and I didn't want to leave Taiwan at all. When I told them of my plan, which at the time was either:

a) find another job in another field in Taiwan
b) study Chinese full time

They told me they would accomodate my studies.
So after numerous job applications in different companies without success, I enrolled in the Chinese Culture University and study Chinese for three hours every morning and work in the evening.
I was very happy doing this. I made new amazing friends and worked in schools where I was happy.

The irony is not lost on me that you have to have the bad to appreciate the good. So was the case for this particular time in my life. A few months passed and I started feeling antsy. I had a very strong external influence, the other angel on my shoulder (from this post) reminding me that I had to settle down at some point. That I need to meet someone soon if I am to get married. Get a career to be financially stable.
This didn't sound like an awful idea so I gave my notice in to quit my job and made plans to move to Hong Kong to study diplomas in Graphic and Multimedia Design.

This is where I went wrong.

My mind was full of what I should have accomplished, where I should be, what I should be doing.

I went to Hong Kong and started applying for office jobs. I wasn't even that fussy about what kind. I ended up going to interviews for banks, and going on training courses which essentially taught us nothing but told us how easy it would be to make money if we worked for them. I made some cool friends, met lots of people from Mainland China and had a laugh but I could feel myself having the inner dialogue. One where Angel Me is telling me how this is everything I didn't want, but Angel Ma was telling me that the money is good and that's important for my future goals.

I was confused and unsure. I didn't know what my path was anymore and I felt lost.

I already knew the finance world wasn't for me when I did the internship in Chicago with Merrill Lynch. If I took this job, I would have to meet ridiculously high targets by selling investments to people. And when you're first starting out, the only people you can sell to are your family and friends. This isn't something I wanted to do. I didn't have enough experience or knowledge to be advising anyone where to put there money and I felt that I would be cheating them for the sake of my own gains.

I didn't enjoy my time in Hong Kong. I found it very difficult to get assimilated and after 3 months of still not feeling like it was home, I started to look for jobs elsewhere.
Happy coincidence was that it was my mum's 50th birthday and I decided that if I could get a job on a summer school in England, I would go back for the summer.
Which is what I ended up doing.

So while I'm back in England, I'm trying to get creative and focus more on practicing what I learnt on the diploma courses. I would like to improve my writing and try to build more of an online presence. I'm happy with the year I've had so far.

The summer school I worked at was amazing. I met some really cool people - no weirdos. Other than a lazy bum of a Rec Director and David Brent-esq Fat Controller look-a-like Course Director I really enjoyed my time in Epsom.
I got Grade 2 students, so barely beyond starter level, but some of them were 16! It was very challenging for me to teach things that they said they all knew but I still had to go over it. I tried to make it as interesting and fun as possible by playing ball games and utilising the smart board.
This is the video they made:
When they all passed the Trinity exam I was so happy. The whole experience was extremely rewarding and reminded me why I liked teaching to begin with.

I applied for jobs in Spain after hearing so many good things about it from the people in Epsom. My friend highly recommended one school after I told her I had applied to a few. It quickly became my first choice school and I was really hoping I would get it. I got the interview phone call while I was in Marks and Spencer rushing around to prepare for a party for four birthdays and our leaving of Epsom. It went really well and a few days later I heard from the school again to confirm their offer. I was so happy I couldn't stop smiling!

As happy as I was, I knew one person who wouldn't approve.

Cordoba looks beautiful. It's a short distance away from Seville and it's a historic city. It's not too large, it has all the modern amenities and the rent is cheap. I'm looking forward to living in a laid back environment, sipping on sangria!

All the picture quotes used are from Pinterest.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A late night pondering - A catch up if you will.

So yes, it's been a while since I've written anything. So much for that new years resolution. 

So in the time since I last wrote something, I left Taiwan, I went to Thailand for three weeks, then to Hong Kong for three months, completed two diplomas in graphic and multimedia design and now I'm in the UK. I've been back for 2 months, in which I helped throw a surprise birthday party for my mum's 50th and then worked as a teacher on a camp in Epsom for three weeks.

So, in a nut shell that's what I've been up to.

Oh wait, one more thing, I've taken a job teaching in Spain, starting in September. 

Now you're fully up to date.

The reason I've finally made it to write another blog post is mainly because I can't sleep. As the title of this blog would suggest, most of my postings are during twilight hours when I have some Zzzz s to be catching.

Good writing should never be underestimated. It's the difference between Adrian Mole and your neighbours angsty daughter's diary. Or Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and Twilight. Or Twilight and 50 Shades.... Eurgh...

It's not something I've given enough thought to when writing this blog, mainly as I figured my audience would total in at one - that one being my mum. But as many others have demonstrated, a blog can gain popularity quite quickly. So perhaps rather than literally writing down words as I think them, maybe I should start thinking about what I actually write. 

You might be able to tell that this isn't happening with this post, but hey, give me a chance. 

This post is more like a diary entry. In that, I need to get my thoughts out. Albeit nonsensicle and probably lacking in any entertainment value whatsoever. No matter, this will be one of those posts that will get deleted some time in the future as it's too muhc gibberish to keep on the internet. There's enough of that already.

I'm just being considerate.

In the theme of Bridget Jones' Diary, Sex and the City, and all the other chick flick genres where the female protagonist finds the biggest problem in their otherwise pretty sweet lives is men, I find myself at a crossroad. 

I'm sure that this is not unfamiliar to many women.
It's like having a conscience, but instead of a bad devil there's a mini me, doped up on too much Travel Channel, on the pursuit of adventure. And in place of the good angel, there's my mum, aka responsibility. Both are ever present, contradicting each other.

An adventure to me means freedom. Freedom to do what I want, go where I want, whenever I want.

Responsibilty means getting a career, staying in one place long enough to have a career, meeting a 'parent approved' guy, getting married, getting a mortgage etc etc etc.

I can never quite fully commit to one without the other tugging at me, whispering in my ear, making sure I don't forget, there's something else you're not doing....

And in the kind words of my (actual) mother, "You're not getting any younger, if you don't marry someone soon, the good ones will be taken and you'll be left with the rubbish."

Or as someone else's nurturing parent said, "Some people marry later because obviously they're difficult to get along with and no one wants them."

Are they both right? Unfortunately, the answer is possibly.

I mean, that's still no excuse for saying these things out loud to vulnerable unmarried women. And we can all think of reasons why they're wrong. 
I may as well throw in the fact that both sources have been divorced.

So while I stand at the precipice of a new adventure, I still have the little mother on my shoulder tutting with her arms folded and shooting me looks of disapproval.

On the topic of men, it's not like I don't want to get married, it's just that it's hard when you're always going from place to place. Or when the specimens you meet are either past their sell-by date or about as ambitious as an Iceland ready meal. 
There have been some real gems along the way but I'm so messed up I couldn't hold on to them if I was a 14th century wench and they were the plague.
(Funny how that part of London's history was missed out of the opening ceremony huh? I think it'd have been rather entertaining to see people covered in boils and swollen groins dancing to some obscure but you should so know it hispter music.)

But should you settle? At what age should you start considering that really nice unassuming lad who's always been a bit sweet on you but boring as hell? 
I mean, he'll treat you nicely, he'll be there for you, you'll probably be the love of his life. But he won't be yours. When you have a fight, will you really respect his opinion? He'll have some stable steady job, and his exciting news for the day is that his office is getting a new printer. You'll suggest going to India for a month and he'll tell you all the economic reasons why you shouldn't and therefore won't.  

Being in Asia didn't help me much either. They say there's plenty of fish in the sea, but I was in a pond. And all the fish were trout. But all I wanted was salmon. I'm hoping being back in Europe will improve my odds. It better.

Right I've gotten to the point where I cannot keep my eyes open, so I should get to bed. I will start a new blog page for my travels. A new blog for a new era - Spain! 

Sol, Sangria, Paella! Vamos a la playa, a mi me gusta bailer! 

Oh yeah, didn't you know I could speak Spanish? 

Yeah, I really can't. Turns out just downloading a 'learn Spanish' app and listening to a few Spanish songs doesn't constitute as 'knowing' Spanish.
But hey, I'm like Tesco; every little helps!

And just like that, I've come up with a name for my new blog - Spanglish Senorita!

wut uuup

Link will be posted soon, watch this space!

D x

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Yesterday I flew from Taiwan to HK.
Today I flew from HK to Thailand on a Hello Kitty plane.

Hopefully will find time to write a regular update.

Tomorrow: Temples and shopping!