6 of the best destinations for students from the East Midlands Airport this January

Once January exams are over, everyone wants to relax and what better way to do that than soak up some winter sun in some of Europe’s best tourist destinations. Wherever you decide to go, please make sure that you check out the latest FCO travel advice and remain ‘Travel Aware’. Here are some of the best, budget places to fly to from the East Midlands Airport this January

  1. Alicante: Visit the Costa Blanca this winter and stay in one of Spain’s best resorts, such as Benidorm, Torrevieja or Alicante itself. Sample some of the fantastic Spanish cuisine such as paella or tapas and taste some sangria by the beach. With flights each way costing under £15, what’s stopping you basking in the Spanish sun?
  2. Berlin: Visit Germany’s capital to celebrate the end of exams with return flights for less than £13. Berlin is one of Europe’s most international cities so you can sample a variety of food and drink, and still get traditional English food if you need a taste of home. Explore the Berlin Wall and take a walk around some of the city’s museums.
  3. Tenerife: Why not go further afield and fly out to the Canary Islands with sun and warmth all year long. The long sandy beaches are lined with bars and restaurants, and there are some fantastic tourist attractions so there is always something to do. There are also world famous water parks and zoos which make it perfect for students to relax and have fun after exams. Plus, return flights are less than £45 which, for a break further afield, is excellent value for money.
  4. Malta: Enjoy the warmth of the Mediterranean Sea this January with flights for under £15 each way. Explore the island’s beautiful coastal scenery and beaches whilst sampling a variety of the international cuisine that this island has to offer.
  5. Rome: Go and explore Italy’s capital, known for its beautiful architecture and delicious cuisine. Visit the historic centre and St Peter’s Square to see for yourself. With return flights over winter for under £30, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you flying out there to eat plenty of pasta and pizza!
  6. Faro: Despite being one of the EMA’s more expensive destinations over the exam season, the Algarve in Portugal is the perfect tourist destination. Faro has plenty of restaurants, beautiful beaches and many historical and cultural places of interest. It is the ideal place to spend a week, with flights for under £40.

The best thing about all of these destinations is that they’re all in the EU which means you don’t have to worry about getting visas; you can just hop on the plane and enjoy some winter sun. Having said that, don’t forget to take your EHIC along in case you need emergency healthcare while you’re away, and make sure that you’ve taken out the appropriate travel insurance. Keep an eye on the FCO’s website, check out their Facebook page or follow @FCOtravel on Twitter for all the latest updates on whichever sunny destination you choose.

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Stranger Danger Abroad

The student culture of travelling, be it on a gap year or year abroad, or during the long holidays, often involves meeting new people and developing new friendships along the way. However, there is a risk of meeting unwelcome strangers along the way who may pose a danger. So, although it is exciting to meet new people and share travelling experiences with them, when should you steer clear of strangers to protect yourself?

Everyone has heard the stories of young people who go travelling abroad and end up being assaulted or worse, and it’s not just in the places such as Thailand, which are very popular with young people – it happens all over the world.

Unfortunately, many of the victims meet their attackers in hostels or clubs and are followed, before being attacked. One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, found herself being stalked whilst on placement in Spain. She had alerted her colleagues to the situation and immediately got the local authorities involved which helped control the situation before it got out of hand. But the man’s threatening behaviour made her realise that these incidents don’t just happen in the typical ‘gap year’ destination such as South East Asia or South America, and that it’s always best to be on your guard.

There are several ways to help protect yourself from strangers abroad. Firstly, and most obviously, if at any time you notice anyone suspicious watching you or following you, make sure you report it to your group leader, the authorities or tell your friends – another pair of eyes will help you stay safe. Secondly, keep your drinks safe so that you can’t be spiked and even if you aren’t drinking, try to avoid going places alone, especially if you don’t know the area. If you ever feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, get support from and alert the people around you whether that’s your friends or the person in charge of the establishment.

Try and make sure your valuables are hidden – you could keep things locked up in your accommodation, or wear a bum-bag to keep everything hidden. This definitely includes mobile phones and the best way to do this is to buy a cheap phone abroad whilst keeping your iPhone locked up back at your lodgings.

Finally, and most importantly keep in contact with people back home so that they know where you are, and that you’re safe.

If you are getting unwanted attention from a stranger, you can always contact the British Embassy in the country that you’re in who can offer you advice on how to deal with your situation. Enjoy travelling around the world, but remain safe and happy! https://www.gov.uk/government/world/embassies

Erasmus & EU Referendum

As most of you should know by now (if not, have you been living in a bubble?) on 23rd June (this week!) the EU Referendum takes place in the UK. For my non-British friends, UK citizens are voting to leave (Brexit) or stay in (Bremain) the European Union. Whatever the outcome there will be big repercussions as it is pretty much split equally between those who want to stay and those who want to leave, so there will be many thousands of people upset by the outcome either way. I’m not going to discuss the politics/economics of the Referendum because, frankly, I don’t understand half of it, and there are so many politicians scaremongering voters that it isn’t worth it. I am, however, going to explain how it will affect my future as a language student.

As a language student from the UK I have had the most incredible opportunity to do a year abroad this year, and one of the advantages of being a member of the European Union is that I was free to go to any country within the EU without having to get a visa. Also, I have been entitled to an Erasmus grant which has allowed me to live comfortably during my time in Spain and Portugal without having to work alongside my internship (Spain) and studies (Portugal). I know many students that, like me, wouldn’t have been able to complete their (obligatory) year abroad if it hadn’t been for this grant. If the UK votes to leave the European Union many students will lose this opportunity as they won’t be eligible for the Erasmus+ program because it is only available for members of the EU. This would mean that students wanting to study abroad would most likely have to pay higher fees whereas currently, they are covered in the tuition fees paid to the home university. Therefore, UK students would have to get visas to study or work in the EU and they wouldn’t have access to the Erasmus grant which means they would need to already have lots of money to pay for food/accommodation etc. which isn’t always possible for students, particularly those from working class backgrounds like myself.

I think it’s very clear that my vote will be going towards the UK REMAINING a member of the European Union as the younger generation will definitely suffer from a lack of opportunities in an increasingly globalised world if we aren’t members of the EU. I beg any of you who haven’t already decided to think about the opportunities offered to us by the EU – we can travel/live/work/study freely in any EU member states. The chances are that if the UK leaves the EU, I will end up living outside the UK because being a language student, I need the choice to be able to live and move around the EU to use my languages.

Thank you for reading yet another EU Referendum post and remember, please vote on 23rd JUNE!

Hannah

Last, but not least…

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Gals on tour!

Well this probably the last one of these I’ll be writing on my year abroad because I finish in 3 weeks! That isn’t to say I won’t continue writing as there are lots of exciting things coming up soon. For those of you that don’t know, I will be spending part of my summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as the Producer of Like Clockwork, an original musical. So if you’re around please feel free to come and see our talented cast!

 

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Sarah and I in Parque del Retiro

I have so much to write about from the past month – life didn’t slow down after my many weekends of travelling around Portugal as after Lagos, I spent the next weekend in Madrid with two of my school friends, Laura and Sarah. I’d never been to Madrid so we did a quick tour around all the main attractions such as the beautiful Parque del Retiro, the Palace and many more! It was so lovely to catch up with them both, especially as we are all on our year abroad.

 

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Mum in a cable car!

The following weekend was strangely quiet as it was the first one in nearly two months that I wasn’t travelling. However, after that my mum came to Porto! There were a few touristy things that I hadn’t done because I wanted to do them with her so I knew it was going to be a brilliant weekend. On the Saturday we spent most of the day down by the river in Ribeira and in Vila Nova de Gaia (the other side of the river). I wanted to take her on one of the port wine tours so we went to Sandeman’s. We also went on the cable cars which gave mum a fantastic view of the city, right the way to the sea. The best part of this trip was definitely the free port that we could get as part of the price, so we spent most of the afternoon drinking port (no complaints there!). While she was here I wanted to let her taste as much of Portugal/Porto’s gastronomy as possible so for lunch I let her try a francesinha which is a dish from Porto which I like to describe as a ‘heart attack on a plate’. Basically, it’s a sandwich filled with different meats and cheese, covered in a kind of beer/gravy sauce. It does sound awful but I promise, it is delicious (and makes cracking hangover food!). For tea we went to Pedro’s Frango (a Porto favourite) for the classic chicken and chips that the Portuguese love so much. Needless to say, she loved both of them so mission complete on my part!

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The beautiful Livraria Lello staircase

The next day we went for brunch in town and mum tried a pastel de nata which is essentially a custard tart, just much better! Next, and most exciting for me, we went to the bookshop that inspired J.K Rowling, Livraria Lello. If you are ever in Porto I highly recommend taking a visit here because you really do feel the magic. It is a beautifully preserved library with the most incredible staircase and it only costs 3€ to enter (you get 3€ off anything you buy). Of course, when I was there I couldn’t resist visiting the Harry Potter section to buy the Tales of Beedle the Bard in Portuguese just to add to my collection! Following on from that we spent the afternoon in Casa da Música which is another place I hadn’t yet visited. Inside there are many different recital/performance halls which were all built perfectly to make the acoustics just right. Luckily, we were able to catch a few piano recitals from teenagers at music schools around Porto. The whole weekend with mum was so lovely, and I’m very glad she got to see where I’ve been living for the past 5 months!

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The old cash register in Livraria Lello

This past week has been mainly revision as I have my end of semester exams. A lot of people have been asking why I’m studying even though I don’t have to do very well. I want to do well for myself. I want to see the results of being here for the semester because I do feel like my understanding of Portuguese and my writing has improved so I’d like something to show for that, just for my personal benefit (especially as my spoken Portuguese hasn’t improved at all!). Also, realistically, who wants to fail all their exams? I know a few other people that feel the same way, so this is for you guys!

Finally, today I’ve received some brilliant news that I have secured a part-time job for final year which is very exciting as it’s something that could lead somewhere after university! Before signing off, I want to use this platform to spread a very important message for ALL young people in the UK. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE register to vote in the EU Referendum by midnight tomorrow (7th June). This will affect all of us in the future so make sure you use your vote wisely. Even if you’re abroad you can apply for a postal vote, or a proxy! I wouldn’t have had the amazing year that I’ve had if the UK hadn’t been part of the EU so please please please vote!! I will be writing a blog on this specifically nearer the vote (23rd June) so keep your eyes peeled! Also, thank you for joining me on my travels and following my blog – I hope it hasn’t been too dull (like looking at someone else’s holiday pictures!).

Até logo!

Hannah xxx

“I’m going on an adventure!”

This month really has flown by! I am only 6 weeks away from the end of my year abroad which is the strangest feeling. Recently all of my weekends have been spent traveling around Portugal and seeing new places. I realised that I needed to make the most of my time here because when I was in Spain I barely had anytime to travel, so I am doing it here instead. So, here’s a little recap of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen…

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River Mondego, Coimbra

Firstly, a group of us went to Coimbra which is a very historic, traditional Portuguese town between Porto and Lisbon. A note to anyone who wants to visit: take sensible shoes because it is one of the hilliest places I’ve ever visited! The main attraction is the University of Coimbra which is one of the oldest in the world, founded in 1290, so there is plenty to see. In particular, there’s the Biblioteca Joanina, named after King João V which is magnificent! Anyone who knows me knows how much I love books and this was just incredible to witness. However, pictures aren’t allowed so if you want to see it, you’ll have to go yourself!
A special thanks to my friends’ friend, Rebekah for hosting us here!

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Sophie and I in Aveiro

The weekend after Coimbra we took two day trips. First, we went to Aveiro (just south of Porto) for the afternoon. This is a quaint little place known as the Little Venice of Portugal due to its canal network running through the town. Like Coimbra, there isn’t a huge amount to do here, but we wandered around, took many pictures of the azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles on buildings) and strolled down the canal.

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A collection of azulejos, Aveiro

The following day we got up very early to take a trip back to Spain! We visited a city just over the Spain-Portugal border called Vigo. It was a little rainy when we first arrived so we didn’t know how we could fill the day but the sun quickly came out and so we spent the day walking around the city. It is on the coast and there are beautiful views of the Cíés Islands with their gorgeous, sandy beaches. We (obviously) went to El Corte Ingles to soak up the Spanish-ness, and we took full advantage of the fro-yo shop we found with a view over the harbour! It was a very long but a lovely day with great company!20160423_152758

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One of the old trams to get you up the hills, Lisbon

Now for the exciting part! Last week was Queima das Fitas in Porto which is an academic week where the final years celebrate their approaching graduation. This is basically a week of parades and parties, so a few of us decided to go on holiday! We spent half the week exploring Lisbon and the other half in Lagos. Lisbon is the most beautiful city and it is full of history which makes it super interesting (especially when you spend the week with a tour guide – thanks Lexi!). We were very lucky to have fabulous, sunny weather as this always makes a place look and feel better! One of the days there we went to Cascais (the posh part of Lisbon) where I got to meet up with Susannah! This was lovely as we haven’t seen each other since leaving Valencia which feels like an awfully long time ago! We went to the beach and despite putting copious amounts of sun cream on, I still burnt! Once an English rose, always an English rose…

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Lagos harbour

After Lisbon we travelled south to Lagos which is in the Algarve. This half of the week was much wetter and colder but we still managed to have a great time! We did a lot of walking around the town and along the many beaches (despite the rain!) and finished each night with some vinho verde (because, why not?). Personally the best part of this trip was when we went to Ponta da Piedade which is a coastal zone with lots of breath-taking rock formations (see pictures). This day was probably the most tiring but so worth it for the view; I’d definitely recommend it to anyone going to the Algarve.

I’m back in Porto now, but not for long as this weekend I’m finally going to Madrid to catch up with some of my friends from school which is going to be wonderful!
I hope this hasn’t been too dull to read – I know that seeing someone else’s holiday snaps is never exciting – but I can’t stress enough how beautiful Portugal is! Special thanks to Sophie and Paul for making it a fabulous month!

Beijinhos

xxx

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Ponta da Piedade

Some minor cultural differences…

So far, so good. Porto is beautiful and I’m still enjoying my time here. I spent a lovely week at home for Easter seeing family and friends and THE CUTEST NEW BORN BABY! I don’t really have much to write about my time here so I thought I’d share some of the little cultural differences that I’ve noticed between here and England.

Smoking
In England smoking in public places is illegal, end of story. In Portugal it’s a different story because although it was banned, it is still allowed indoors if the places have ‘sufficient ventilation’. I don’t know who decided this was a good idea because the last thing I want when eating out, or going to a nightclub is to be surrounded by smokers which will make my clothes and hair stink! I don’t know how people coped with it in England before it was banned. The Portuguese definition of ‘sufficient ventilation’ definitely needs to be re-examined because there have been several incidents where I’ve had to leave a place due to the fact that the amount of smoke was affecting my asthma. Even in Spain this didn’t happen so why is Portugal so behind the times?

Shoes indoors
This was something that also happened in Spain. In Portugal, people find it odd, and sometimes rude, if you take off your shoes on entering a house. I find this strange because in England it is a completely normal thing to do as it keeps the houses clean, and most of us wear slippers anyway! Perhaps here it is considered odd to take your shoes off because they don’t use carpet generally – most floors are tiled or laminate which is much easier to clean, but much colder than carpet. So I just don’t understand why they keep their outdoor shoes on when socks or slippers are much cleaner and more comfortable.

Public transport
This is something that most people probably wouldn’t notice (or care about) but since being in Portugal, the way that people choose their seat on the metro or the bus has left me really bemused. Basically, it is very rare for someone to choose the window seat, with most preferring to sit in the aisle seat. When someone then asks if they can use the window seat next to someone, they have to climb over them, rather than the other person just moving up – which would make life a LOT easier. I always sit by the window, especially if the bus is busy, as it means no one has to feel guilty about asking for a seat. There have been many times on the bus where there are lots of free window seats, but because someone is sat in the aisle seat, no one wants to ask to sit down. I know I’m supposed to be the polite, English person but COME ON! If there’s a spare seat, I want it!

Eating out
Obviously, every country has its own etiquette regarding meals. When people dine out in England (and Spain from my experiences), the waiting on staff NEVER clear the table until everyone has finished eating because this is considered very rude. Yet, since being in Portugal it has become obvious that this isn’t an issue. As soon as they see that someone has finished eating, they will come and take their plate away, even if everyone else is still eating! The same happens with drinks, even if there is some left in the bottom! Maybe it’s because I’ve been brought up in the ‘English way’ but taking someone’s plate away while others are still eating just seems incredibly rude, especially in a restaurant!

Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not complaining about any of these (except maybe the smoking) – I am here to embrace the culture, and I completely respect that each country is different – these are just the cultural aspects of Portugal that I have found most peculiar! So now that I’ve shared some of my musings, I’ll go now.

Até logo

xxx

Olá Porto!

Well hello! I have not written one of these in an unacceptable amount of time. Since my last blog (mid-January) so much has happened… In summary, I left Spain, visited home and Nottingham and started the final phase of my year abroad in Portugal!

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English afternoon tea ‘almurzo

So I finished my placement in Spain on Friday 29th January which was basically a day of food and tears – I may have complained about work a lot but I couldn’t have wished to work with better people and after hearing about similar work placements, mine was definitely one of the best for improving my language skills. One of the traditions in the office is having an ‘almuerzo’ (late morning snack) on birthdays, last days etc., so Susannah and I decided to make ours like a traditional English afternoon tea. We had scones with jam and cream, shortbread biscuits and a variety of sandwiches. I wanted us to have tea, but seen as I was the only one who would have drunk it, we left that out! Surprisingly it was a huge success – they always used to mock our food but they actually enjoyed all of it!

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One of the last nights out with my favourite girls!

In the evening we had our final company meal which was lovely and very Spanish with some proper tapas to finish off my time there appropriately!
I said all my goodbyes that evening as I had to get up early for my flight on the Saturday so the meal ended with a lot of tears! Saying goodbye never gets any easier, but it had to be done!

Being home was lovely because the last time at home was a flying visit over 5 days for Christmas but this time I had a full 2 weeks to see people and relax! I had a fabulous evening seeing my best friend, eating tapas (you can take the girl out of Spain…) and catching up!

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Musicalilasses reunion!

My second week in England was spent in Nottingham! I had been looking forward to this for so many months as I was going to see the yearly musical, Anything Goes (which was wonderful!) and to catch up with all my friends there! Seeing everyone was amazing, but it made me realise how much I missed Nottingham – I can’t wait to go back for final year and get involved with lots of musical theatre again!

Speaking of… while I was in Nottingham, an exciting opportunity cropped up for this summer and seen as I hadn’t made any concrete plans yet I decided to go for it! So this summer I will be going up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Musicality as every year they take a musical up to the Fringe. This year’s is called ‘Like Clockwork’ and I am on the production team as the Publicity Officer so be prepared to have your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram spammed with lots of posts about it! (I’m not sorry –  you should all come and see it!)

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A gorgeous Church by the University of Porto

I am now in the gorgeous city of Porto in Northern Portugal! Coming out here I should have probably been scared as I didn’t know anyone here but actually, after doing the same thing last July it was a lot easier (and I knew that there would be plenty of Erasmus students there). Luckily I didn’t have to find accommodation as my friend had just left Porto so I moved into her old flat which saved a lot of hassle! I spent the first few days wandering around, getting lost, and attempting to use some basic Portuguese phrases with bus drivers and shop assistants before university started. I’m quite lucky in that unlike most British Erasmus students here, there is no obligation to pass my courses so I’ve taken the interesting ones rather than ones that I know I will do well in – however, having 12 hours of history/culture lectures in solid Portuguese is turning out to be pretty tiring alongside the 8 hours of translation! But I’m sure it will get used to hearing the language.

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A view down the Rio Douro of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia

I’ve already made some great friends out here from a variety of countries. The majority of my friends are from the UK but I also have friends from Spain, Brazil, and Germany to name just a few countries. All of us seem to be in the same position with our Portuguese after spending first semester in other countries. For me, the trickiest thing is the accent as I have only ever learnt Brazilian-Portuguese which is very different to European Portuguese. As my friend put it, “the accent here is literally like someone permanently has food in their mouth and is speaking” (thanks Susannah!) which is so accurate. Somebody asked me if I was Brazilian at a language tandem because that is the accent I have learnt! They also use different ways of addressing people which takes a while to get used to as I have always addressed people as ‘você’ which is used for everyone in Brazil, whereas in Portugal they consider this very formal, and only use it for strangers, or people in higher positions than them.

Anyway, I’ll leave you all with some pictures of this beautiful city, and I will try not to leave it so long next time!

Até logo
xxx

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A view of Porto from Vila Nova de Gaia

¡Feliz año nuevo!

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Happy New Year to everyone! Technically it is still Christmas here in Spain because on 6th January the Spanish celebrate their Christmas, otherwise known as Los Reyes Magos. For those of you who don’t know, this is when the Spanish are more likely to give presents as to many of them, the 25th December is just another day off work to spend with their families, eating copious amounts of food. For me this is perfect timing as not only do we get Wednesday off work, but one of my oldest friends is coming to visit me so I can spend much more time with her as opposed to working! The only downside to this late Christmas is that the sales haven’t yet started as people are still buying their Christmas presents – so not only did I miss all the sales in England, but I have to wait for them here! (That’s a first world problem right there).

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Cute selfie with my mum!

For the first time in 6 months I went home on 23rd December for a short but sweet 5 days with my family! I was so determined to make the most of this as being away from home for so long really makes you appreciate home comforts. Take carpet, for example – in Spain most places have wooden or tiled floors which, although easier to clean, is not the same as a warm, cosy carpet. The minute I walked into my house, I ran straight for the carpet. (Disclaimer: I know this makes me very weird, but carpet is now a luxury!).

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An afternoon with Megan

Being home for 5 days meant that I definitely did not see everyone that I wanted to see but very soon I’m home for 2 entire weeks which means that I can definitely have more catch-ups! After a VERY long time without seeing her, I got a long afternoon with my best friend when we exchanged presents and just caught up on life in general – yes we Skype A LOT, but it’s never the same as seeing someone in person.

One exciting/scary thing that happened while I was home was my annual visit to audiology to get my hearing checked. Nothing has changed as per, however as I have now have my amazing purple hearing aids for 5 years, I’m due an upgrade! So in February I will be getting brand spanking new ones which is super exciting – however… THEY AREN’T PURPLE! The specialist gave me the option of beige (ew), black (no) or silver and as the latter is probably the least conspicuous I chose that. In my head I’m trying to tell myself that I need to be more mature and have a grown-up colour – but where’s the fun in that?!

I got to spend NYE in Valencia which was super cool. This year the local council tried to make it more like NYE in Madrid with a big outdoor event. This took place in the main square and there was a DJ on the town hall balcony with confetti cannons (amazing, right?!). At midnight, the Spanish did their traditional thing of eating 12 grapes on each chime of the bell to represent each month of the year. This was really funny as we saw many people struggling to keep eating – it is much harder than it looks apparently! Normally I don’t do much for NYE but this year was so much fun and I can definitely see why people make such a big deal of it when there are events like the one in Valencia.

For now, it’s back to work for my last month in Spain. I can’t believe that soon I’ll have finished my 7 month stint here and it’ll be time to move to Portugal! However, I’m not doing that before a quick trip back home and to Nottingham to see many of my favourite people in Musicality’s production of ‘Anything Goes’ (sorry not sorry for that bit of promo!).

Hasta luego

xxx

Christmas countdown!!

Well this is a first – I am writing a blog less than a month after I published the last one! This is mainly due to the lack of work I have which means 10 hours day to fill with Facebook stalking, writing and reading all the news articles the BBC has to offer.

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Who’d have guessed it is November?

The countdown to Christmas has finally started! An interesting comparison between here and England is the lack of Christmassy things in shops until after Halloween, even in the big department stores. Whilst in England the Christmas countdown can start as early as August, Spaniards don’t really acknowledge it until 1st November. Whilst I absolutely love being in Spain (particularly whilst it is 20 degrees in November – well, until this morning that is), I cannot wait to go home for Christmas as the Spaniards don´t celebrate until 6th January. I do miss England, and I know that spending a whole 5 days at home will be lovely after 6 months away.

So despite being here to practice my Spanish, I now have to speak a lot more French than I ever thought I would. As our French-speaking colleague left last month, all the French calls get passed to me. Surprisingly it has come back to me fairly quickly but every time I have to speak in French, I get that pre-speaking exam feeling of dread in my stomach! It’s fair to say that Google Translate has become my best friend when dealing with French clients. With the Italian clients it is not so easy – on several occasions I have attempted to speak to them in a mix of Spanish, English and the few Italian words I can remember, before giving up and just sending them a Google Translated email instead! So it would turn out that the Spanish side of my year abroad is very beneficial for the other languages I used to speak! I just need some more Portuguese clients to shock me into preparing for my semester in Portugal!

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Girly night with my Belgian flatmate!

On the topic of Portugal, I have now received official confirmation of my place at the University of Porto for next semester which is super exciting! Honestly though, I’ve got so used to not being a proper student with working 9-7 each day, that I’m not sure how quickly I’ll get used to having a lack of things to do! Even though I know my language skills will be very sketchy, I cannot wait to explore the beautiful city of Porto!

I now have a huge amount of respect for people who work full time – being out of the house for nearly 12 hours a day, 5 days a week really does take its toll! I completely get why people become boring once they leave uni because working can be so tiring! I think next year I will definitely try to make the most of my time as a student because I’ve seen how quickly life can change when you have a proper job. If I’ve learnt one thing from my job in Spain, it is that I NEVER want to work in tourism again… however that only narrows down my career choices by one sector so it hasn’t really helped me all that much in deciding what I want to do!

Anyway, that’s enough of my musings for now as I should probably get back to doing nothing at work.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Is it November? It still feels like summer!

November and still 26 degrees!

November and still 26 degrees!

Time really needs to slow down! I am into the fifth month of my year abroad and even though we have reached November already, it definitely does not feel like it! This week in Spain we are still reaching temperatures of 25-26°C which is much better than what I’m used to in England. In the past month I have really settled into life in Valencia and it feels so much like home – it will be so hard to leave in January. I’ve explored new areas, made fabulous friends and I turned 21. So here is a little recap of what I’ve done…

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Little Venice

Earlier this month I went on a day trip with my flatmates to two small towns near Valencia. The first one we went to was Sagunto which is famous for its beautiful architecture and historic castle. To boost tourism, an amphitheatre has been installed into the ruins and here there are a huge variety of shows for both the tourists and the locals. The only problem with Sagunto was the hills… I have not had to climb any hills since being in Spain because where I am is extremely flat and so, having to climb what felt like a mountain to see this castle was challenging but so rewarding at the end. However, I definitely need to prepare for the hills for when I return home!

After Sagunto we went to a place known as Little Venice which is exactly how it sounds. The centre of the town is built around a water network and all of the houses are painted in gorgeous pastel colours giving the town a truly picturesque look. Although my job is very rewarding, I do wish I had more free time to explore places like these because Spain has some beautiful scenery that I’d love to see.

12122604_10205145500452479_4856017939092691256_nBy far the best part of October was my family visiting me for my birthday! It had been four months since I had seen them and whilst I did miss them during the summer, I did not realise just how much I had missed them until they were here. I did not expect any presents as they were already paying to come out here but I got some very special presents, including a signed John McGuinness autobiography – for anyone who knows me, the motorsport geek inside definitely came out! I had a wonderful day with them as we went to the Bioparc zoo in Valencia which is one of the best zoos in the world as many of the animals are allowed to wander around freely so that the visitors can get up close and personal with them. I would fully recommend this to anyone visiting Valencia.12191958_787574061372388_8360928558188342149_n

This past week has been extremely exciting for me as we have the final round of MotoGP in Cheste, Valencia this weekend and so over the past 7 days there have been more and more motorbikes around the city. At work we have been fully booked as so many people have come to see the final round – so as I was in charge of arrivals, it was perfect for me! For those of you who don’t know about MotoGP, this final round decides whether Valentino Rossi or Jorge Lorenzo wins the 2015 championship. Being a very strong Rossi fan is fantastic as no matter where the races are in the world, there are always thousands of his fans present, even here in Lorenzo’s homeland. I have definitely bonded with a lot of people about this! The city just feels so alive with so many people here all for one thing – MotoGP – so I really do feel like I’m in the right place!

Anyway, as the race is just about to start I am going to stop with my ramblings and let you all get on with your day!

Hasta luego!
xxx