Blog #9: Kasejladsen!

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Denmark is a strange country, and it gets no stranger than the competition in the University park called Kasejladsen. Students from all the different faculties set up teams to race across the pond in the centre. Oh, they have to drink a beer, spin round a pole and then paddle across. Apparently it draws around 25,000 spectators and I was one of them (sort of). Continue reading

What I Wish I’d Known Before Coming Abroad

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Hello again 🙂

I had many, many thoughts about what my year abroad was going to be like. It felt like I had imagined every possible outcome of every possible scenario. However, what has actually happened has been something completely different. 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…

Blog 7: Happiness is a Cold Country

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This month I visited Stockholm, the beautiful city in Sweden which is the biggest in Scandinavia. One million people live there, which isn’t very much compared to say Berlin (at about three and a half million) or even Paris (at two million). In fact, considering it is the biggest city in Scandinavia it’s quite small. But that’s quite reflective of this part of the world. Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is only a little bigger than Liverpool (although it has a far lower rate of Beatles/capita). In fact, the Nordic countries made up of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland (and a landmass that would make them the 7th largest country on Earth combined) are as highly populated as the South of England. Continue reading

Semana Santa: Stage 2

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Another retrospective blog, the first part of which can be found here:

 https://theadventuresofaliceabroad.wordpress.com/2016/04/09/semana-santa-part-i-cause-were-young-and-were-reckless-well-take-this-way-too-far/

 

My brief voyage to Paris started with an unpleasantly early train to another big city. Barcelona airport is possibly one of the hottest places I’ve ever been. Despite a slight delay I arrived safe and well by the afternoon, and what is perhaps most impressive is I managed to navigate an hour long metro journey, with several changes, without problems. Strong independent city woman points for me.

Once my Air bnb host kindly picked me up from the metro stop and helped me up the EIGHT (!) flights of stairs, I dumped my things and headed for Montmartre. Here I met up with a pal from home, where we ate dinner spitting distance from the sacré cœur. I’d only been in Paris about 5 hours by this point, but already everything felt a world away from Tudela.

 

paris-metro-map

 Crossing pretty much the whole of Paris with no disasters!

Continue reading

March Madness

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So, up to the 16th March I was still working terrifically hard and trying to enjoy myself.  On the 17th of March, however, I was free to go travelling, and my gosh, but was it the trip of a lifetime as I saw Norway and Sweden with some wonderful, wonderful friends and afterwards we visited an especially amazing girlfriend in Paris.

This post is an attempt to neatly surmise my travels, which were rather frantic at times as we were having a lot of fun.  We were also rather lucky in our travels.  It was during our trip that the terrible attacks on Brussels occurred.  We were due to fly to Brussels on our way to Paris just a day after the attacks and so accordingly booked other flights to Paris another way in the end.  My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones.

Anyhow, I’ve decided to divide up this post into both Oslo and Paris (our trip in Sweden was cut short and rather limited by our having to spend the whole day trying to cancel and rebooking flights).

So, here goes… Continue reading

Just a small town girl…

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Last weekend was a cracker. For language practice, probably not a 10/10, but for sanity 100%.

Living abroad is hard, and stagnation and mundane routine is not something I do well with. I was lucky that just when I was feeling the brunt of it that my friend Maya popped over for her second visit, with her keen-bean spirit and general lovely ludicrousness which was able to bring out my dormant silly side. Continue reading

Katie Turns 21 and Hits Las Vegas

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My life has become something that I wouldn’t have believed 6 months ago: I am a seasoned traveller! No, I may not have walked the wall of China, or been to a Full Moon Party, but I have booked flights for my road trip across North America, and I write this onboard a flight to LAS VEGAS for the weekend.

The joys of being 21 never get old. I always used to find it annoying when people would ask me on my birthday “how does it feel to be a year older?” because of course, being 14 feels exactly the same as being 13. But 21 is different. It’s more than just an age, it’s an opportunity. Yes, it is the beginning of a long, sometimes boring, and more responsible adult life, but it gives me the mark of freedom to do exactly what I want to (within reason of course). Continue reading