My Bucket List


I don’t have a lot of things on my bucket list yet, I’m still adding, but all of them have something in common: TRAVEL! After I graduate from university, I want to work whilst travelling so I can see all these places, you know, before I pick a career path and get a job and all. F*ck going straight into a job I hate for the rest of my life, I want to see the world. I’m still young and I have all my life ahead of me, so why not do all these things when I still have the time?!

  1. Learn to dive in the Great Barrier Reef
  2. Travel Australia for a year
  3. Volunteer with Big Cats in South Africa/ Gap360 Volunteer with Big Cats in South Africa
  4. Road trip in America – and go to Universal Studios and Disneyland
  5. Go to Cuba before it changes
  6. Volunteer in China with pandas
  7. Teach English as a Foreign Language in China and Cambodia
  8. Dive in Bali
  9. Graduate Mental Health Placement in Bali or Sri Lanka
  10. Travel around Italy – Rome, Venice, Naples, Milan, Florence, Pisa and Sicily
  11. Go to Santorini in Greece
  12. Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand and go island hopping

What sort of things are on your bucket lists? I’d love to hear about your ideas and future plans! I’m still thinking of things to add so I might borrow some of your ideas, who knows?

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Top 6 Things To Do In Amsterdam


I visited Amsterdam earlier this year on my 20th birthday, but I went with my university society and it was for about 4 days so we had enough time to do most of the things we wanted to do. And I thought I’d give you a list of what awesome things you can do there. It’s one of my favourite places in the world and I wish I could have stayed longer to do absolutely all the touristy things that I could possibly do there. Buy anyway, here’s the list:

The Anne Frank House. This was an amazing experience, and it was really emotional. There were pieces of her diary written all over the walls and pictures of her and her best friend, her family. And her father was recorded on video which you could watch. You can go into all of the rooms where they ate, slept, cooked, and there was even a mini model plan of their house. It told you all about their life and how Anne Frank really wanted to get published. And I didn’t know this, but they had another family living with them before they were ratted out. It really opened my eyes. But don’t get to this house too late, as in, you have to get there at like 9am so you don’t have to wait in the queue for 3 hours. The queue is a mile and a bit long, sometimes it’s even worse than that. So you have to wake up early if you want to get in with enough time to see all the other wonderful attractions in Amsterdam. Also, there’s a cafe. Yay for coffee. If you’re a fan of The Fault In Our Stars, yes, it looks exactly like that inside. And yes, the stairs ARE that steep. They’re even steeper in person.

anne frank house.jpg

Van Gogh Museum. ALL the pretty paintings and drawings! There were HUNDREDS of paintings and drawings, and a lot of them were Van Gogh’s inspiration and influences, including french contemporaries like Manet and Monet, key influences like Lhermitte, Daubigny and Millet and Delacroix, and also Van Gogh’s friends Gauguin and Bernard. I was kind of disappointed though because I didn’t see The Starry Night which is what I was expecting. It’s the largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh and each room was different. It takes around 2-3 hours to walk around if you want to read every caption next to every painting and see every model and listen to every letter Van Gogh wrote to people and their replies. Yeah, you can do that. I learned a lot about this artist, other than that he cut off his left ear on 23 December 1888. So if you’re interested in Van Gogh’s eventful life, this museum is for you. For the record, there are A LOT of self-portraits. It’s like the 1800’s version of a selfie but with more effort, and a whole heap of flowers/blossoms and landscapes. Turns out, though, that Starry Night, even though it’s probably the most well-known, is not all there is to Van Gogh. For one, I had no idea he also painted in Japanese style.

van gogh.jpg

The Sex Museum. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. Seriously. And it’s very detailed and very explicit. If you have an aversion to that kind of thing, this place is not for you. There were thousands of pictures of people having sex, which is what you would expect, obviously, it’s in the title. And there was a whole room entirely dedicated to BDSM. Yeah. So if that’s what you’re into, go ahead. You’ll love this place. If you want to be shocked and surprised and intrigued all at the same time then you literally have to go here. But go with someone else, it’s just weird if you go on your own. There are giant penises and boobs everywhere. I’m not even exaggerating. There a whole variety of interesting images, sculptures and paintings, and displays. It’s probably better than you think it is. You will not be disappointed but you may be scarred for life.

sex museum.jpg

Cat Boat. CATS. ON A BOAT. It’s a refuge for stray and abandoned cats who are rescued and the boat actually floats on the Herengracht canal. The owners take care of the cats, make sure they are all vaccinated, micro chipped, sterilised or castrated and then care for them till they are rehomed. On any given day, you can find around 50 cats lying around this boat. That’s a lot of cats. 14 of those cats are permanent residents and cannot be adopted, though. You can pet some of them (the permanent ones) but you shouldn’t try to pick them up because the cats used to be feral meaning they can’t be fully socialised so they are quite distrusting of people. All the adoptable cats are allowed to roam freely and are very friendly and adorable. Potential adopters must sleep on the boat overnight so that the owners can be sure they are the perfect match for their chosen cat. But the cats and the water are separated by a fence so there’s no worry of the cats falling in whilst trying to pounce on ducks.

cat boat.jpg

Canal Trip. For when you want to avoid bikes. Pedestrians in Amsterdam are the lower class citizens, remember that. Don’t walk in front of a cyclist, they will give you the look of death. So if you want to see Amsterdam from the thing it is known most for, the canals, whilst avoiding angry cyclists, take a trip on a canal boat. You get to see all the pretty bridges and since the canals run all around Amsterdam (seriously, you can’t avoid them, they are everywhere you look), it means that you get to see all the attractions that are situated on the canal side. Perfect. But other than that it’s just a chill boat ride if you’re tired of walking around the city. Who doesn’t like a boat ride?

canal boat.jpg

The Red Light District. Firstly, you can only see it at night, for obvious reasons. Secondly, prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, it’s just another line of work. If you are a good looking guy, you will probably be beckoned by the women in underwear behind the glass doors. It doesn’t leave anything to the imagination. You are NOT allowed to take photos, though, it is strictly enforced, so put those cameras away. But you know, people do take photos anyway so Google Image it I guess. If you’re wondering why it’s called the Red Light District, well, there are red lights. Simple as that. Except the red lights are above each glass door, and when the light is off and the curtain is closed you know it’s occupied. The area is crowded with tourists every night and you can even do tours to make sure you see it all. And there’s a lot to see. The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows (you can see live shows), a sex museum, a cannabis museum and other coffee shops that sell weed. It’s quite a lively place. DISCLAIMER: Coffee Shops sell weed, Cafés sell coffee. Enjoy.

red light.jpg

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4 Things To Know Before Moving Abroad Alone


Moving abroad on your own is a massive step. It might be your first time so it will be nerve-wracking but also exciting and full of opportunities. Or it might be your 20th time moving country but you’re still as nervous and excited as you were on your first move. But panic and homesickness may inevitably hit you like a ton of bricks. It’s normal though, everyone’s in the same boat. But the panic will eventually calm down, “just breathe” I tell myself. These tips will help you (and me!) mentally cope, remove stress and reduce your fear.

movingabroad

Everyone will be concerned for your safety, especially your parents. They are usually right and just worried about you. Do not push them away. I arrived in Madrid yesterday and have stayed my first night. It’s hard, and it will be for a while. Seeing your parents cry for the first time is hard when they leave you at the departure gates because it’s a very emotional time. Especially if you’re their first born child and are leaving home for a long time like me! I had very strong intentions to stay home but I knew I had to go, and I felt a bit guilty about it. You’ll miss them and they’ll miss you. My dad especially looked out for me from when I told him about the job to when I actually got on the plane; he wanted to know absolutely everything and make sure I was safe. Understandably. And my mum made sure I hadn’t forgotten to pack anything and made sure I checked and double checked… and triple checked my luggage. They just care, don’t take it for granted. If you listen, they actually have some good advice.

Staying in your comfort zone is a waste – embrace new challenges and do what you’ve always wanted to do because no-one can stop you. When you move abroad on your own you will have more free time and fewer distractions, amazing right? Use it to your advantage, like pursuing a sport or a new hobby. There are plenty of things out there for you to choose from and you just have to decide. Living abroad without family and friends from home may push you to your limits, but you’ll get used to it eventually. It’s usually easier to stay in your comfort zone, because as the title says: it provides comfort. The only way to do what you’ve always wanted to do is to leave your comfort zone. Seriously. It is the perfect time to do it – you are moving abroad to supposedly change your life or “start over”, so do it. Make yourself happy.

Your confidence will grow.  Take Beyonce for example, do you reckon she started out THAT confident? Probably not. Moving abroad is scary, and you might be thinking negative  and doubtful things like “What if it doesn’t work out?”, “What if no-one likes me?”. Push those thoughts out and change them to “Wouldn’t it be awesome if everything worked out?” and I’mm going to make friends easily”. Feel better? Good. Yes it will be difficult adjusting to the new culture and sea of unfamiliar people but once you do adjust, you’ll be over the moon, jumping for joy and like Beyonce, nothing will be able to stand in your way. If you can move abroad alone and find a job then you can do pretty much anything.

You will become more independent and self-reliant. You won’t be able to rely on the people you trust the most: your family because they are most likely oceans or continents away. They won’t be able to make all your decisions for you. Because this support system is back home, you need to make all decisions on your own which have to be decided upon immediately. But you will learn not to need others as much as you used to. You can still call or text or even Skype your family back home for support and a friendly face.

And yes it will be difficult adjusting, you’ll miss home and want to go home straight away. That’s because you’re not used to it yet, so give it a chance. I know I need to give it a chance to get into a routine and I’m will be fine. Hang on in there.

xxx

 

How to become an Au Pair


Becoming an Au Pair is a chance to live in a foreign country and pay nothing for accommodation or food, whilst earning a bit of pocket money. You get an insight into the country through a native’s eyes. Living with a native family gives you experience in another language and culture, better than you would get on holiday. You help the family by looking after the children but at the same time get treated as part of the family. It will improve your CV and you will make lifelong friends.

mary poppins

If you love visiting cities like I do, being an Au Pair would be perfect for you. You can explore the city in as much time as you like, depending on how long you want to stay in that country for. I’ll be spending 4 months in Madrid this summer, so it will give me more than enough time to explore and find the nicest cafes and shops, unlike a holiday. On holidays, especially if you’re travelling with family for usually 2 weeks or less, you don’t have nearly enough time to get everything done that you want to, and it’s a pain. Your new country will be your home away from home, and in addition to doing all the touristy stuff you’d do on holiday, you get to do everyday things. It’s the best of both worlds. But HOW to become an Au Pair is a frequently asked question.

Find an agency. Agencies like AuPairWorld or GreatAuPair will let you sign up for FREE and create an account which matches you with families straight away. When you register, you will be asked to fill out a form with your age, gender, height and weight, number of years of education, if you can swim, if you have a driver’s licence, how much experience you have with children, and languages you speak. You will also have to say how many months you intend to spend/ work in the host country. Your host family preferences are also important i.e. which countries/cities you’d prefer to work in, the age range of the parents AND children (and how many children), whether they have pets, whether they smoke, how many hours you’d prefer to work (part-time/full-time), and wage range.

Search for a country you have always wanted to live and work in, and with a language you have always wanted to learn. The agency will try to match you with all registered families with most or all of your preferences. You may have to upload some pictures of yourself, and complete an online interview which gives you a better chance of families liking your profile.

Contact. With GreatAuPair, you can favourite the families which you would like to potentially work with. However if you are not a paid subscriber you will not be able to message the family directly. You have to wait until they contact you. I would not suggest subscribing to an agency because families are very quick to favourite or even message you without paid subscription. The family will message you saying that they are interested in you working for them, and give you their personal email address and ask to arrange a Skype call to get to know you better. The Skype call will be an informal interview, and they will ask you things like what you like doing, your hobbies, how much experience you’ve had with kids and it’s a chance for you to ask them questions as well. Remember that you are also interviewing them to see if they are a match for you. Over Skype you can tell what the family are like better than over email, and whether they seem to respect you or not.

In my other blog post, All Booked Up, I mentioned that if you don’t actually talk to a family, you won’t know if they are genuinely a REAL family. Be careful. You can always say no to a family, even after talking to them face to face. If it seems like you won’t get along, as you will be spending months with them, don’t go for it. You can always talk to other families, and you don’t have to say yes to the first family you come across.

Negotiate a salary. Negotiation is key. Ask for a higher salary than what they want to give you. Work is work, and you want to be paid a reasonable amount for the work you do. Usually, families will pay you “pocket money” so it won’t be a very high salary like it would be working in a cafe or bar. Plus, they are letting you live in their house and eat their food so you don’t have many expenses. You pretty much only have to pay for flights, which, if you go really early in the morning or late at night will be much cheaper than the middle of the day.

And once you’ve done all that and have been offered a job, you can relax. And just remember:

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of FUN! You find the fun and SNAP, the job’s a game.”

xxx

Packing: 4 months abroad


I have never been on holiday abroad for anything longer than 2 weeks, disregarding the time I lived in Spain when I was younger. It’s a bit scary knowing I’m going to move abroad. It’s not so bad when you’re young! This time, I have to pack my life into a 20kg suitcase and a carry-on. I am at this point in time, facing the question “How do I fit everything?” But you have to remember that other countries do in fact have clothes shops and other essential shops. They aren’t barbarians and you don’t have to pack your whole wardrobe, bathroom, bookshelf etc. Consider packing half the things you think you need, otherwise, you won’t have space to pack the things you buy out there. Like presents. It’s tempting to pack everything you own, but it’s not necessary. Think to yourself “Will I actually wear/use this?” and if you hesitate, it usually means no.

packing

If you’re working as an Au Pair, you will be working with kids. They aren’t going to judge your appearance are they? You aren’t going to want to pack anything glamorous or dressy because chances are the outfit might get ruined. Unless you go out at night with friends in the city.

So, here’s my list:

Carry-on/ Hand/ Cabin Luggage

  • Boarding pass
  • Passport
  • Phone and charger (and a European adapter!)
  • Other ID e.g. driving license/ provisional
  • Debit card – If you live in Europe and are travelling to Europe make sure to NOTIFY THE BANK that you will be living in a different country otherwise the bank may freeze your account as you can take out money using your cashpoint card in European countries.
  • Cash in a purse (200-300 euros, or in the currency of your destination) – enough to get you by before being paid.
  • Emergency contact list
  • EHIC card
  • Book/ Kindle
  • Copy of accommodation plans – physical address of where you are staying
  • Spare outfit (for emergencies i.e. lost luggage)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hairbrush and hairbands/clips
  • Earphones and iPod
  • Lip balm
  • Snacks
  • Tissues (if the airplane doesn’t have toilet paper you’re in trouble)
  • Camera and Laptop, with chargers and batteries – can’t risk them being thrown about/ broken if in the hold.
  • Gifts for host family and kids

Suitcase/ Hold/ Checked Luggage

Toiletries

  • Shampoo, conditioner and body wash
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Acne cream and face wash
  • Moisturiser
  • Makeup
  • Deodorant
  • Sun cream and after-sun
  • Shaving razors
  • Tampons and pads
  • Face wipes

Just remember in EasyJet you are only allowed 10 x 100ml bottles in your carry-on. But take into consideration that baggage restrictions may be different for other flight companies. Normal size liquids are allowed in hold luggage. So you won’t have to leave your favourite shampoo at home, don’t worry! It would be a nuisance to try and find the exact same one in another country.

Clothes

  • Shorts (x4)
  • Jeans/ jeggings (x4-5)
  • Cardigans (x2-3)
  • Tank/ vest tops (x6)
  • Dresses – casual and dressy (x1-3)
  • Jackets (x1-2)
  • Coats (x1)
  • T-shirts (x5-6)
  • Dressy tops (x4-5)
  • Underwear – bras, pants, socks (2 weeks worth)
  • Pajamas (two sets)
  • Trackie/ Jogging bottoms (x3)
  • Going out outfit (x2-3)
  • Leggings (x1-2)
  • Jumpers/ sweaters (x2)
  • Skirts and tights (x3)
  • Swimsuit/ bikini (one of each)

You have to decide how many of each item to bring yourself depending on how large your suitcase is, and your preferences/ style. I’d suggest that you bring mix and match clothing, it saves space! If you’re going to be living in a hot country, you won’t need to bring loads of jumpers and jeans, but check the weather patterns because you might get caught out.

Shoes

  • Slippers (x1)
  • Heels for going out (x1)
  • Flip-flops/ sandals (x1)
  • Casual shoes – e.g. vans/ converse (I have about 6 pairs of vans, all different colours) – Pack the ones that you can match with all outfits (x3)
  • Boots (x1)

Shoes are bulky, so try not to pack lots of pairs unless you absolutely need to. There are shoe shops in your new country.

Although baggage is chucked around a lot, so you have to be careful if you want to pack cameras and laptops because it may not be safe. Some people say don’t even pack anything in your checked luggage that you can’t risk losing. I’d pack them in hand luggage instead of hold.

And once you have ticked off everything on the list, you’re good to go! Happy travelling.

xxx