Part 1: Bolivia

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La Paz

After showing my home-town bestie Alice around the city I’ve called home for the last five months, and a heavy-hearted final goodbye to Santiago, our true backpacking adventure began in La Paz. Due to extensive research on all the horror stories and scams that tourists get tricked into (fake policemans and tourist officials, street violence, kidnappings and the phlegm scam to name a few), it’s fair to say that we arrived in Bolivia’s chaotic capital with our money belts securely fastened and a distrusting attitude. To overcompensate, we stayed in the Wild Rover, the city’s self-proclaimed (and indeed well-deserving) party hostel for gringos. As soon as you set foot into the building, it feels more like a Durham college on the night of a big social or formal rather than cheap accommodation in the heart of La Paz. Whilst it’s far from an authentic Bolivian experience, it’s great fun to meet fellow llama-jumper-clad backpackers and make the most of the affordable British pub-grub served in its bar (I had long been craving a cottage pie!)

Sky high

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Heading Down Under

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Greetings, or more appropriately, g’day mate! Welcome to my blog, in which I will try to record the next twelve months as I move from small town Durham to the thriving metropolitan capital of Australian culture. It has been little over a week since I touched down here in Australia, on the other side of the world, and in a sense the UK already seems much more distant than twelve days away. Continue reading

Ce n’est qu’un au revoir, Paris

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Beautiful background for an ‘au revoir‘.

My time in Paris is coming to an end. The year has passed very quickly and it feels weird to leave this beautiful city now.
In order to have a proper good bye I crammed lots of things I wanted to do but never have into the last few weeks as if this was my once-in-a-lifetime chance to do so. I am certain though, that a return won’t wait for long. Ce n’est qu’un au revoir, Paris [It is only a so long, Paris].

Of course, I came to Paris to study, so towards the end of the semester I had the usual bulk of essays and exams to get through. At least this semester I was a lot better organised and managed to squeeze the presentations into the first few weeks so they were out of the way. Still, it was a lot of work as I had some highly demanding professors this week that didn’t quite realise that exchange students are not that prepared to invest loads into extensive research papers.

However, let me concentrate on the nice things that filled my last month here. Continue reading

The Sam’s Tailor Experience – Bespoke Suits in Hong Kong

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Ask any of the businessmen nursing pints in the frenetic party district of Lang Kwai Fong what their priority is when visiting Hong Kong and you’re sure to hear about Sam’s Tailor. Crossing the harbour the next day, to the Kowloon side, take Exit B1 from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station and prepare to be greeted by a barrage of men on street corners trying to poach your custom before you can get to Sam’s. Continue reading

A (Belated) 春节 Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

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Loyal readers (so, probably only my mother) I owe you an apology. Why? Because I have failed, quite comprehensively, to do anything out of the ordinary this Chinese New Year (春节 – Chūn Jié), much to my chagrin. I’ve been a boring Hong Kong tourist.

It wasn’t for lack of trying though. Promise. Continue reading

How to Speak Chilean, by a Gringa

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I stepped onto my 15-hour flight to Santiago de Chile feeling reasonably confident with my Spanish. Never mind nine years of studying it at school and university, I had five months of experience of living in Spain under my belt. Although I’d been warned by a few Latin Americans I’d met in Salamanca that Chilean Spanish was notorious for being one of the hardest- if not THE hardest- to grasp out of the entire Spanish-speaking world, I naively thought to myself, how different could it be? Continue reading

Skiing: A very specific list of what not to do.

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img_9194Howdy, all you fabulous readers! Wow, what a crazy few days it’s been! I just got back from skiing at Sunshine Ski Resort in Banff and I must say I’m shattered. It was an extremely eventful and stressful trip and I’m still not entirely sure I’ve recovered, but overall it was an absolute blast! So whilst it’s still fresh in my mind, let me tell you all the things that went wrong and give you a few pro tips about what not to do when you go skiing. Continue reading

Top 5 Moments in Salamanca

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As my time in Salamanca comes to an end, it’s time to look back on the blissful highs and hilariously tragic lows of my first semester abroad in Spain. Exams, losing just a few of my personal belongings, frustration at Spanish bureaucracy, language barriers and homesickness aside, the innumerable highlights by far outweigh the lows. Since there were so many memories to choose from, I decided to pick moments and trips I hadn’t mentioned in previous posts! Continue reading

How a Year Abroad can make you Happy – Derren Brown and Stoicism

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If you’re not a philosopher, then Derren Brown’s new book, Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine, may be a pleasant surprise. It’s an accessible foray into stoicism, an ancient greek philosophy that’s gaining momentum in the modern day amongst philosophers and non-philosophers alike. Returning to Hong Kong this week, one element of stoicism that he touched on seemed particularly poignant in the context of a year abroad: appreciating those things in our lives that we take for granted. I want to explore, briefly, how a year abroad can facilitate such reflexive activity. Continue reading

Vancouver: The Dream I Never Woke Up From

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Hello guys!

Somehow today represents my two month anniversary of studying at UBC in Canada and I can’t believe just how fast it’s gone. Since I last wrote I’ve been to Banff, Victoria, Seattle, joined a sorority, had fun at frat parties and had an abundance of more amazing memories, which secures to me that choosing to study in Canada has been the best decision of my life. Not only is the way of life less stressful here (and the academics have been easier – Durham works us extremely hard!) but I am just overall a much happier person because of my experiences and the people that I have met here. Continue reading