Saturday, 29 August 2015

21 Things I Learned Aged 21

Tuesday was my 22nd birthday, and that means very little to my life apart from allowing me to sing along to Taylor's '22' in whole new, passionate ways. 21 is regarded as an important age by most people, and it was certainly an eventful one for me. Here are 21 things I've learned over the past 12 months:

- If there's something you don't want to do and every part of you wants to put it off for as long as possible; don't. It'll be better for everyone if you do it right away.

- Primark's £2.50 t-shirt bras are a blessing to this world.

- Friendships where you're afraid to be yourself and speak honest thoughts aren't really friendships.

- Friendships with people who support the creative endeavours you find yourself in whilst having a bunch of creative goals of their own are the best and should be cherished always.

- Having a bank balance of £0.00 isn't as bad as it sounds. You'll be surprised at how resourceful you can be (and how many 10p coins are inside your sofa).

- Freelance writing and blogging and making YouTube videos for money is something that requires a full time commitment and a lot of luck. There is no 'easy option' when it comes to earning a living.

- It is completely possible to organise a wedding, write a first class dissertation, complete two third year university modules and remain a sane human being all at the same time. I probably wouldn't recommend it, though.

- University is great. But it changed how I think, and in some ways that's not a good thing. Suddenly I'm guilty for not applying for graduate jobs the second I completed my degree. Suddenly I'm too critical of literature to ever confidently write anything.

- Reaching the end of Gilmore Girls after spending a year watching every single episode was more emotional than reaching the end of university.

- Something I thought I had learned before but this time I have fully grasped it: DO NOT cut your own hair.

- If you are lying awake at night thinking everything is absolutely falling apart, wait until morning. Everything will feel a bit better.

- Collecting Nectar points and Boots Advantage points is a very boring but very important aspect of my life.

- When you're feeling a bit lost in the adult world, send a message to your childhood best friend.

- Busking in the street is so much harder than it looks.

- Sensory Overload is a real symptom of anxiety, not just me feeling like a brat when there are too many sounds going on around me.

- I can drive a left-hand drive car on the right side of the road. Level up.

- Icelandic sunsets are a whole other kind of beautiful.

- I generally hate spending money, but there are two things worth investing in: winter boots and dentists.

- Flower emojis are a good substitute for when you want to send someone flowers but can't afford to.

- Take multivitamins.

- There is no quota for terrible things that can happen in your life. However, I believe the support and positivity family and friends can muster is equally limitless.

Here's to 22.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Travel at 21: 48 Hours in Romania

Hello! We are having a very rainy summer here in Belfast, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Romania gets very hot at this time of year. We booked flights to Bucharest a little while ago, with the intention of flying there then travelling around without actually staying in the city itself. That didn't quite go to plan. Here's how our weekend unfolded!

1.30pm - Land in Bucharest after a 3 hour and 45 minute flight from Dublin. It served as a great reminder that I need to visit a dentist this week because I got severe toothache and mouth numbness due to cabin pressure. Whoops.

2pm - We discover there are no rental cars in the entire airport. Our original plan had been to rent a car and drive immediately to Varna in Bulgaria, then try to drive to Moldova the following day, so we had to hastily reconsider. We get some lunch and eventually decide a taxi is the best way to get into Bucharest.

2.30pm - Starbucks. Okay, not the best way to have a cultural experience in a new city, but they're comforting and familiar and they always have WiFi. We use the internet to find a nearby hotel and decide that once we're cooled down we can make a new plan. It was about 30 degrees and I was wearing a jumper.

3pm - We check into the Europa Royale which is right around the corner from Starbucks, and set us back €75 a night. Sweet, sweet air conditioning.

5pm - New plan with the help of the internet and a couple of patient receptionists. We make a plan for Saturday and finally feel like we can relax in Bucharest.

6pm - Dinner in a street of the Old City/Old Town, I can't remember the name of the place but we had a lot of pasta.

8pm - A sunset walk to the Palace of the Parliament and the beautiful fountains which centre the boulevard it looks over. I get a good sense of the 'Little Paris' nickname Bucharest used to answer to.

10pm - BED despite it being only 8pm in the UK. Heat is tiring.


7.45am - We meet our tour guide for the day, and learn that we are not going on a day trip with other tourists, but alone with our tour guide in the back of his Renault Megane.

8am - We set off for the border with Bulgaria. I visited Bulgaria 7 years ago in winter, but I looked forward to seeing it through the eyes of an adult in summer.

10.30am - We visit the Ivanovo Rock Churches; ancient cave-based churches dating back to the 12th century. The sun wasn't too high or hot yet, so we had a lot of fun climbing our way to stunning panoramic views.

12pm - After a nap in the car, we make it to Veliko Tarnovo, and sit down for lunch at Shtastliveca. We had two courses each and a lot of water and it cost around £10. If you've ever wanted to feel like you've been shrunken down to dine in a doll's house, this restaurant is the answer.

carrot and apple salad oh yeah

2pm - After lunch we explore this beautiful city, which is most famous for its fortress and views of the Yantra river. We did quite a lot of walking and got ourselves a little bit sunburned.

4pm - A short drive out of the city brings us to the village of Arbanassi, where we stop for some ice cream cake (consumed too quickly to be photographed) and drinks.

4.30pm - Still in Arbanassi, we take a tour of Konstantzalieva house, built in the 17th century and decorated to mimic its original style. I became quite obsessed with the idea of a giant bed. 

5pm - We skip the offer of tours of a church and another city, and set off on the journey home

7pm - Due to roadworks, we get very delayed at the bridge which crosses the Danube River, connecting Romania and Bulgaria. The sun is going down so most people abandon their cars and take some sweet photos.

9pm - We get back to our hotel and avail of snacks and WiFi.

8am - There's nothing I love more than a hotel breakfast. The novelty has yet to wear off.

9.30am - Our hotel room is filled with a choir singing at mass at the nearby Biserica Sfântul Anton, but eventually we go out and take a final walk through the city and end up trying on clothes at H&M and Pull and Bear. Typical. 

12pm - After checking out and ordering a taxi, we are back at Otopeni Airport. There's just time for some falafel and grapefruit juice (new obsession) before we have to board a noisy flight back to Dublin. On the flight I finish Stoner by John Williams and I really enjoyed it. A little bleak for travel reading, but I'd thoroughly recommend it. 

Facts and Figures
We took a Ryanair flight from Dublin Airport to Otopeni International, Bucharest. Flight time is under 4 hours.
The currency in Romania is Lei and £1 = 6.24RON. 
The currency in Bulgaria is Lev and £1 = 2.76BGN. 
The average August temperature for Bucharest is 21°C but we turned up in a heatwave. 
The day trip to Bulgaria lasted 12 hours and was arranged by our hotel at a cost of €100 per person. 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

This Is Where I'm At | August

Take a breath and count the stars, let the world go round without you.

AUGUST. What are you doing here!?
August is the month of my birth but a month I never enjoyed greeting because it meant summer holidays from school were as good as over. I don't have that problem anymore, but I still can't believe I'm almost ready to age-level-up once more, feeling like the infinite possibility summer brings is slowing pouring out of a sand-filled egg timer somewhere.

Okay, July.
We got back from tour right as this month kicked off, and jetlag affected me weirdly, making my body enjoy going to bed very early, and waking up with the sun. It lasted for a while but it's safe to say I am back to my old routine of going to bed very early, and waking up with my second or third alarm. Graduation rolled around and I haven't quite talked about this, but I was really disappointed with the marks I got when I finished my degree. I came very very close to getting the grade I wanted, but just missed it. For this reason, graduation was not something I was looking forward to, but I got my dress taken in (ASOS size charts melt my brain) and bought some shoes and attended. I harp on about education so much but GOSH I am grateful that I got a chance to study, often more for pleasure than for purpose. My parents never had that option when they were my age, yet they're right there encouraging me to return next year for a Masters degree, and just happy that I'm happy. FAVES. So graduation was weird and sad and happy and underwhelming and too much all at once.

It was approximately 12 hours after graduation that I realised I was too broke to make it through the rest of July, so I did what had to be done and I got a boring full time job. It's a weird one, because it's not a space where I can talk about Youtube or any of my actual interests, so I lead a bizarre second life where I just tell people half-stories and talk in half-conversations and I very much feel like a teeny tiny fraction of myself. But it is only temporary, do not fear.

August's plans include a little trip to Romania and some of its neighbouring countries, and also my fifth Summer In The City. I'm excited for both of those weekends because it feels like a return to normality after these past few weeks. (Okay, reality check: my life is very cool when normalcy involves flights and fun.)

I'm currently thinking about the wonderful Rudderless soundtrack, whilst trying to finalise merchandise designs for SITC and penning a long but completely fantastical shopping basket on the aforementioned ASOS. In July I really tried, and I know I'll continue to reap the rewards of that effort for a while to come. For some strange reason I find myself thinking of my star sign (something to do with the lyric I opened this post with) and how you can make a horoscope applicable to yourself if you try hard enough and clutch at straws. August will be AMAZING.*
*clutching may be required.

Yours, -38.75 hours a week,