Blog #12: Don’t Just Take My Word For It!

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Having been back in England now for about a month I’m slowly getting back into the swing of English life. It seems surreal that I spent an entire year not being able to read anything in English! Maybe it means I don’t take it for granted anymore!

Anyway, I thought I should round off with some bits and pieces about where you can get more information! Continue reading

Lessons learned

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Oh my gosh, where did it all go, how is my Erasmus year already over?

I’ve just arrived back to the UK and it is bizarre to be back.

My year at Heidelberg university has been the best year of my life – and I consider myself to have had a rather good life so far!  So the fact that it’s suddenly over feels strange.  Very strange.  I don’t have any regrets, but the realisation that myself and all these wonderful people I’ve met over the last 11 months won’t ever be in the same place again is difficult to process. Continue reading

My Last Month

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Hello all,

I hope you enjoyed my little video tour of Sapienza. My friends and I spent a while filming all the little clips, including parts on the beach in Sicily!

This will be my last post on my year abroad blog. Everyone warned me, but my year abroad went by so quickly. It really feels like only yesterday I posted the farewell picture on Facebook and boarded the plane to Italy. With my final exams over (and successfully passed), I had some time to see all the final bits I wanted see in Rome. Friends came to visit me to celebrate their graduations/my end of exams and together we saw some of Rome’s ‘best bits’. Continue reading

Spring Cleaning

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I did a test-run with the packing today. I think I can just about get everything into one suitcase and a rucksack, if I can only jettison a few books. It’s always the books. If there’s one constant that’s true for everyone in my family, it’s that we’re all great accumulators of stuff. Not fridge magnets, not stamp collections, just… stuff.

I booked my flight home a couple of days ago. I booked my onward flight to Morocco the day after. I’ve been in a kind of denial ever since. Three weeks and two days to go. By this stage in Jordan I was getting feverish over the tally calendar in the back of my notebook. Right now I don’t even want to think about it. It’s a testament to just how much I want to hold on that I’m sticking it out right up until the end, rather than ducking out of the last two days like the others. I’ve got a job to do. It’s a bloody brilliant job.

I don’t want to go.

It was raining this morning. Rain… One of the only things I miss about England. Whenever I was home from university I used to put my bed against the window, draw back the curtains and go to sleep listening to the sound of the wind in the trees outside. The colder, the better. It was especially magical around Christmas time, with the street lit up with blinking yellow fairy lights and the chill of frost in the air. Nights spent wrapped up in bed watching Watership Down or Harry Potter.

Winter in England. It’s the only time I ever get nostalgic for home.

Three weeks remain. History lessons this week. I’ve been meaning to do a lesson on British  history for a while. We’ll do something time-travel related so it can span the year groups. I might even throw in a little Doctor Who. Tennant, though. Naturally. And no historians in these lectures, no sir. Just full-on individualism. Just the way I always wanted it when I was at school.

Cracks at the seams, I think. Did you notice? I’m nearing the end of the DVD collection I had sent out. I forgot that I took out at least half to make room for The Tudors and then forgot to replace them when I took them out separately. I guess that means I’ll have to fall back on reading again. That’s no bad thing. I’ve had a nice long break since finishing Shadow of the Moon. M.M. Kaye writes with a golden pen but she doesn’t half suffer from a Stephen King-esque page-churning syndrome. Pavilions took me months to wade through, what with all the research I kept going away and doing…

I tidied up my room today. Threw away a lot of junk. Found some things I haven’t even used yet. Stuff. The wryneck feathers were at the back of the drawer where I put them way back in October, along with the vulture feather I found in Badajoz, of all places. My first aid kit. Andrew’s adaptor. The condom from Fresher’s week ’13 – ‘just in case’. The diary that lasted all of two months. As is so often the case, it documents the build up to yet another one-sided love affair and then, like a candle, it snuffs out. I might add it to the pile when I get home. Or not.

There’s a sizable part of me that doesn’t want to go to Tetouan in June. A part that wants to toss in the towel with this two-and-a-half-year Arabic sortie for good. It’s the very same part that gave me cold feet the night before Arch and I set off for Morocco last Easter. The part that turns telephones into air raid sirens and bank clerks into drill-sergeants. The part that turned the vale of Jordan into a personal Hell.

I have strange triggers.

I don’t want to be a spy, or work for the government, or serve in the Middle East. I want to settle down to a quiet life teaching English in Spain, writing novels on the side and searching for the One, wherever she may be. I don’t need Arabic for that. I really don’t.

No. Hold it right there. I’m many things, not all of them good, but I’m not a quitter. I’m not quitting on this, nor will I ever. I fought for the right to go to Morocco. There’s no backing down now. This time, I’m determined to make it work. That’s why I’m pulling out all the stops: going solo, staying with a local family, extra classes on the side. It’ll cost me, both in cash and freedom, but it’ll be worth it. Besides, everybody gets cold feet from time to time. It’s perfectly human to be afraid of the unknown… but even more so to face it head-on.

I’ll be twenty-two in a month or so. The open world yawns and it looks a lot like Extremadura right now. But that’s OK. I know where I’m meant to be. BB x

P.S. I’m going to lay off  HBO’s The Pacific for a while. It’s put me in an odd mood this evening…

January – Exams, birthday and heartfelt goodbyes. The end of semester 1 – what a ride!

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So with the end of January comes the end of my first semester at Heidelberg, which has been incredible – seriously though, what an absolutely mammoth semester, full of surprises and experiences that I will treasure for the rest of my life!

This post will be divided into two simple parts, both of which I hope have some practical (if a rather nostalgic) benefit: firstly, how to deal with the end of the semester academically, and secondly, how to deal with it emotionally… Continue reading

Final Exams and Start of the Road Trip

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I have finished!

The last few months of my exchange were pretty hectic.The fourth year courses that I was taking were less prescriptive than the third year courses for which I was examined at the end of the last term. I found myself having to work very hard to keep atop of them. In the lead up to the final exams, I was spending twelve hours a day in the library. The exams themselves were spread sympathetically. I had at least two days between each exam and I am sure that this contributed to being awarded a mark of 80% back in Durham for my year abroad. Not that I noticed. My travel plans began abruptly after my final exam.
24 hours after my final exam, I was Boarding a plane for Vancouver with two friends, Tom and Joe.boys-Tom and Joe Continue reading