Monday, 28 January 2013

Adult life

So things have changed a lot it seems since my last post.
I've moved house (away from the ghetto and into the suburbs) and found myself 3 jobs!

I would be lying if I said that it all went smoothly and was a piece of cake. However, after numerous interviews and a lot of stressing out, I've finally managed to settle in Paris....Yippee!
So, despite my weird schedule of early starts, long days and Saturday classes, I feel at home and to be honest, I don't want to leave.

Paris is as amazing as you make it, which is true for any city around the world. It can be overwhelming, expensive and busy but once you see past that and open up to its charm, secrets and beautiful men, you do feel truly blessed to be able to live in such a fantastic city.

Referring back to the title of this post, Paris, a second time around, is a lot more adult and less Erasmus. I now budget, do cleaning and think about taxes, the epitomy of adult life I guess.
The withdrawal from student life has been hard too as seeing uni and home friends is particulary difficult when you're all living here, there and everywhere and when the student loans company is asking for its money back rather than giving you nice wads of cash every semester. But, bon, as the French would say. That's life.
However, having friends dotted around the world does mean one thing, an excuse to go on holiday. Guadeloupe, New Zealand, anyone?

Friday, 14 September 2012

Ah la vie parisienne

As you've probably guessed from the title, I am back in Paris!

After a hard month slaving away doing my CELTA course, I am an official English teacher, YIPEE! However, after two weeks of being in Paris, the job hunt continues. Despite being offered some reasonable hours in June during Skype interviews, the face-to-face interview in Paris didn't deliver the hours I'd hoped for.
So Plan B was put into place and I'm currently a babysitter/Egnlish tutor, which is going to pay my monthly rent and travel for the time being....not so bad after all.

I had my 5th interview this morning to be an English teacher. All interviews have gone well, but as with everything in France, I'm waiting impatiently for a response to find out possible contracts and hours. The French are clearly still in post-holiday mode!

I'm trying not to be too impatient but spending my days lolling around waiting for my evening slots of babysitting is nothing short of frustrating.

Let's keep the fingers crossed for some progress next week!


Friday, 6 July 2012

Back (for good)'s certainly been a while since my last blog.
What can I say, I've been in the final semester of final year hell.
But fear not, I'm back (for good, as Take That said). Uni is finished and I almost officially have a university degree with graduation in less than two week....hallelujah!!
But now, rather than being inlanguagelimbo, I'm inlifelimbo. After finishing uni, I pretty much increased my hours at work and have been working like a dog ever since, but hey ho, we all need the pennies especially as I'll be jetting back off to Paris at the end of August. Yes, you read correctly, I'm returning to my love, she's expensive but worth every penny. I'll be doing my CELTA teaching course in August back in the pool of life (Liverpool) then heading over afterwards.
I'm so excited but also a bit nervous and anxious as this time as I'll have a proper job and proper responsibilities as a teacher. WAHHH!
Ok, I'm more excited than anything. I'll have my old apartment back which I'll be sharing with my friend Lauren who was on her year abroad in Paris with me back in 2010.
I guess it's going to be a whole new experience though this time around as we'll actually have adult jobs and never have to leave. (unless the French authorities tell us to) YAYYY!

This is why I'm in limbo, I'm not a student, not a graduate and not full-time employed. Sounds like an Alanis Morissette song to me. This in-betweeny stage is weird. Plus this grim weather is not bringing me the beautiful Sheffield summer days I so wished for. Instead, since the day I finished exams, the heavens have not closed! Thanks, Mother Nature!

I'm praying for a little sunshine, as you should too, for my graduation on the 16th. Nobody pulls off the wet dog look do they?!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

2012 is going to be a good year!

2011 was definitely one of the best years ever, travelling and generally loving life but I can feel that 2012 is going to be even better!

It's graduation year which is scary as hell but really excited too! After a long weekend in Paris at the end of January, I am even more encouraged to return after uni. My 5 months stay in 2010 was just not enough! But what to do....?
I've applied for a few things so far, all involving teaching English in Paris, but it's all a waiting game until April :S eeeeek! I've also applied to do a course for teaching English abroad in the summer, to open up even more opportunities....hopefully!!

This week is first week back in lectures and the workload has piled up already...wish me luck!!!!

Dum dum year!

The prospect of a new house and new housemates lessened the dread of coming back for final year, a year that everyone deems as 'hell'. I'm now living with 6 girls from my course in a house-come-flat. We all have our own en-suites but the 7 rooms are spread across 3 floors, it's pretty shweeeeet considering all bills are included, so perfect for freeeeeezing cold Sheffield in the winter months!!

So...where to start?
Freshers week was amazing and exhausting! From day one, as a house, we were all getting on amazingly which is still true today!
HOWEVER, final year really is a bitch, do believe what they say about it! Work, work,work, lack of sleep, more work and some evil essays to do aswel! But sharing that / moaning with your housemates and course mates who are all going through the same, makes it all a bit easier. God knows what I'd do without my uni mates...yer, probably go insane!
Apart from uni, a few crap things happened last semester, my friend not being very well for one, which was hard, you can't help but worry and want to just swish your wand and make them better again. But I'm glad to say that she is all well and good now :)
In November, came some good news!! Apart from FINALLY receiving my student loan (thanks for that one, Student Finance....saracasm definitely intended), I somehow, miraculously, got myself a job as a part-time sales assistant for the xmas period. This did mean a very short 4-day Christmas break at home with my family, but also a nice 'few bob' in my pocket. And even more miraclously...they've offered me a permanent job!

Christmas 2011 was possibly one of the best, and yet shortest, Christmases that I've ever had. The Bartlett sisters were reunited as my sister returned from Oz and obviously, we stook to our Christmas eve tradition of getting drunk (this year maybe a bit TOO drunk) at the local pub. But, after all, that's what Christmas is and getting very drunk with them.
New Year was also a good'un with a few sheff and scouse friends, not to mention, a Parisian visitor :) The night involved cocktails in Revolucion de Cuba (my new favourite bar!), Ring of Fire, lots of party poppers and David tonguing every girl in the room at midnight. Not to forget Caz falling over en route to the Harley at 3am...bless her! Even a very hungover New Years Day consisted of Nandos and cupcakes. 2012 had a great start!!

Final year has kept me away!!

Oh how I have abandoned my blog!

The past few months have not been short of travel, drama, new beginnings and being a busy bee.

Since my last blog, I've returned to the motherland from Peru and it was definitely a shock to the system! Despite it being so hard to leave Peru as I was going to miss my host family and the friends I had made there, 6 months without my family and friends had been tough, as was life without galaxy chocolate!!

But the travelling didn't stop there, two weeks after my return I jetted off to Barcelona, a place me and my friend Megan had been wanting to visit for years but had never got around to going.
It was even better than expected!! From mojitos freshly made by slightly odd Spanish men on the beach, to tonnes of sangria and my first ever Paella, all accompanied by some beautiful sun and a little top up of my South American tan. It was exactly the cheapest holiday but it was worth every penny. Getting accidently caught up in a street festival is always fun after a few too many mojitos in a Cuban salsa bar!
Early September I returned to my love, Paris for a week. I got to see my friends, eat cheese, drink wine, the usual Parisian treats. Then I jetted off to Portugal with friends from my old workplace in Paris...but my god, getting back into speaking French after 6 months in South America was TOUGH!! We stayed in a villa by Lagos, the villa of my friend's family and it was UNREAL. 4 double bedrooms, each with an en-suite and a private heated pool, we couldn't have asked for more. With a rented minibus for the week, lots of cheap supermarket alcohol, sun, beaches and our own pool, we has SUCH a good time. However, alcohol means drinking games, which meant a few skinny dips in the pool and embarassing dares for the majority of us. We were staying up til 5am in the pool and soaking up the sun from 11am, returning back to England for Freshers Week, I was already exhausted, but I had a CRACKING tan... see above ;)

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Cusco POR FIN (finally)

So after 5 and a half months of every taxi driver asking me "have you been to Cusco?" finally I can now say YES!
I had waited so long to go to Cusco because over a year again, Shadia had organised this trip as a trip for volunteers of the VTP program.
The 23rd July we set off to Cusco, but to avoid the 22 hour bus journey we took the 1 hour flight instead. We dropped our stuff at the hostal (Marques de Saphy) which was ok for the price, it had a private bathroom at least despite Sarah's bad luck with the hot water.
We met Gian, Sarah and Jack in a little cafe off the main square as they'd arrived much earlier that morning and got some well-needed food down us!
We went for 'mexican' later on, however I use that adjective lightly as it didnt tatse very mexican to me, but it was tasty either way. Being Shadia's birthday, we headed to the bars afterwards. After entering the Irish pub and leaving pretty swiftly as it was packed full of drunk gringos in fancy dress and we definately hadnt had enough to drink yet. We ended up in a pub opposite playing 'Ive never' and downing too much fizzy beer. But we called it an early-ish night as we'd all been up pretty early.

The next day, somehow we didnt manage to get out of the hostal until 4pm but Shadia and Tulo had already been the market to grab some cheese, bread, coffee and a cheap-as kettle, breakfast/lunch was sorted! We then headed to the tour agency to see what prices we could get for tours to Sacred Valley or even water-rafting. Whilst we were asking about other tours, the guy asked us if we had bought our Entrance tickets for Machu Picchu as we were heading there the next day. DOOOOOOM. He told us there were no more left until the 28th, 3 days later! And we had already forked out 70 dollars for our train ticket...noooooooooooooooooo! What could we do?
Not only had we paid for the tickets, but Gian was flying back to England on the 28th, he couldnt postpone his trip to Machu Picchu.
The train to Aguas Calientes (the place where you stay the night before Machu Picchu) was that night at 9pm from a place called Ollaytotambo, 1 hr and a half away from Cusco, so Gian ahd to make a decision, he either had to go and risk it or not go at all. So after an evening of umm-ing and arr-ing, Gian decided to go solo and risk getting in the next day.
This was not just something that had happened to us, loads of other tourists alike had been faced with this problem and apparently there would be a protest the next day.

After all the stress of the afternoon/evening, we all needed a drink. Heather, Hannah and Lisa had all suggested a bar called Mythology in Cusco where everyone gets free drinks and dances on the bar, it sounded like just what we needed! A few hours later, me and Sarah were dancing on the bar getting Rum poured down our throats, classy birds of course!
It was a really good night, and we finally got off the bar so that Sarah could pratice her salsa moves with a few peruvians and I could teach Jack a few moves.

The next day we didnt have any plans other than to recover from our hangover and have a nose around Cusco. We actually made it out of the hostal at a reasonable lunch hour and headed to the main square to take a few photos not before munching on some amazing veggy food at Govinda despite its 45 minute wait. We then met Shadia who took me, Jack and Sarah to the market, a place of the locals and kind of out of the gringo trail. We picked up a few presents and then headed back to the tour agency to book some tours.

Sarah and Jack went that evening to Puno on a one day trip to see Lake Titicaca and so the next day, Shadia, Tulo and I headed to the Christ statue situated on a hill above Cusco, so we went up in taxi to catch a few birdseye snaps of Cusco.

The next day was the Sacred Valley trip visiting ruins in Pisaq, Ollaytatambo and textile works in Chinceros. It was just us four gringos who went on the trip but for 40 soles (about £8/9) it was really worth it. We got to pick up even more presents for family back home and saw some of the most famous ruins of Inca times, actually pretty interesting.

The next day , after having to pay 100 dollars for any train with another train company to Machu Picchu, me, Sarah and Jack said goodbye to Gian and headed off to Ollaytotambu to catch our train at 11.25am. To which we met another problem, the bus from Cusco wasnt going to leave for another half hour and would make us late for our train, we had to get a taxi. Thankfully, the taxi for an hour and a half trip only cost us £20 between the three of us and we couldnt risk missing our train. We arrived on time and full of relief at Ollaytotambu and stepped on to the lovely train. It was the best train Ive ever been on, amazing service, snacks provided and a beautiful toilet (the most important thing obviously), at least we have forked out alot of money for something worth it after all.

Arriving in Aguas Calientes, we dumped our stuff at the hostal, went to buy our bus tickets for Macchu Picchu and grabbed some lunch. The thing is about Menus including starter, main and drink for £2/3 is that its pot luck, sometimes they are amazing value for money, but other times, a pile of crap, where you get served cold veg with your meal or microwaved!

Later on, we headed to the Thermal Baths (its not called Aguas Calientes 'Warm Waters' for nothing) for a £2 entrance fee, not bad hey! Well I say Thermal Baths, theyre more like pools with naturally hot water in them, water which smells pretty funny too, but being able to order mojitos to the pool was definately worth it. It must have been an hour and half later when we left, slightly tipsy but majorly relaxed.
W went back to the hostel to disinfect ourselves from the grimmy water then headed to Govinda (the veggy restaurant chain that we went to in Cusco) and then went for a few mojitos and Jenga at a restaurant nearby. Note to all, 3 cocktails for £4 are never going to taste good.

We got into bed around 11 knowing that we had a 4.30am wake up call the next day for getting the bus to Machu Picchu :) Shadia and Tulo arrived around 11.30pm from Cusco and we all set our alarms for the next day.

It was DIFFICULT getting up at 4.30am, but with the thought of going to Machu Picchu and a cheese butty and coffee down us, we were ready to roll.
Even with a long queue ahead of us, we got in quite quickly, and headed up to the most famous view of Machu Picchu. (see below) We took an unneccessary amount of photos, jumping and planking and then took a time out to sit and relax and take in the amazing views! We then took a walk, sat down a few more times, took more photos and by the time we knew it, 7 hours had passed by. Machu Picchu really is incredible, the fact that nobody really knows why its there or the story behind it makes it so much more interesting. We didnt bother with a guided tour for this reason, we had Jack, his Lonely Planet Peru book and our guesstimations to entertian us.

We decided to call it a day and head back to the hostal after spending most of the day there. The day before we had bought only one-way bus tickets to Machu Picchu so that we could walk back down to Aguas Calientes. With amazing views, the aching feet thanks to wearing Converse and not walking boots and the intense heat.... we made it back down and were ready to eat asap!

Afetr eating, we were all feeling pretty tired, Me, Jack and Sarah went for a coffee then full-body massage whilst Shadia and Tulo searched for a room to nap in.
The massage was just what we needed, but Sarah and I paid a bit extra for a shower pre-massage after a sweaty day in the sun. Once we finished, it was time to get our train back to Ollaytotambo and after waiting for ages at the other end in a taxi, we finally made it back to Cusco around midnight, then popped the TV on and got into bed.

The next day was horse riding day, not that we hadnt done enough exercise in the past few days. The idea was to visit ruins but by horse, a bit nice than just being drove about. Sarah, Jack and I went for a quick breakfast then headed to the tour agency office only to be told that the horses were getting their yearly jabs that morning so it had to be postponed 2 hours, typical!
We went to the market to buy a few last-minute presents and then got a taxi to the horse place.
I was a bit nervous seeing as I hadnt been on a horse in a few years, but all the horses seemed pretty chilled until mine decided it wanted to bite Tulo's horse, but we survived nevertheless!

We got back and had lunch with Sarah who hadnt came on the trip. We went to Jacks cafe, a typical European restaurant, that has the most amazing Strawberry milkshake, huge sandwiches and WOW beans and cheese burritos.

Sarah headed to Arequipa that night to continue her travels and it was my last night. I packed up my stuff and we went for a cheap but tasty meal just off the main square before getting an early night before a 5am start for my flight back to Lima the next day.

I really enjoyed Cusco despite all the problems we seemed to have and all the money we spent. But as long as you enjoy yourself and are in good company, thats all that matters :)