Personal

When the teacher becomes the student.

Since it’s Monday, now’s the perfect time to reflect on the weekend, amiright?

Well, WOW.

I wish every weekend was as wonderful as the one just gone.
Since I’ve only got a week (ish) left in England, some of my students wanted to organise a day together as a thank you / goodbye for me.

I’m not going to lie when I say my anxiety kicked in. I thought of all the millions of things that could go wrong, such as, they’ll realise I’m actually a complete moron, I’m the world’s fussiest eater, I’m not at all funny, I’m really lame, I’m totally boring…

Thanks for that little visit anxiety.

I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

We met for breakfast in this tiny, but amazing, Mediterranean cafe and had huge plates of falafel, hummous, breads and really delicious tea! We sat for about 2 hours just relaxing and eating – I wish every day started off that way!

We took a bus over to Poole (it took an hour!) but the weather was absolutely gorgeous, which meant walking around the town centre and along the harbor was just lovely! And much to two of the boys’ disgust, we went into the local museum. They weren’t impressed, which made us giggle like school girls.

I enjoyed it! But I’ve also been there before. It’s four floors of history about Poole, the harbor and has lots of artifacts and pictures – some of them are really, really, old!

Due to our trip to the museum we missed the last boat of the day, and that was probably the only disappointment of the day, since the skies were clear blue and none of us had been on a boat trip in absolutely years! Thankfully the boys rescued us with their AMAZING Arabic coffee – I’m completely in love with that stuff and really need to find out where I can buy some so I can make it at home.

We sat under one of the gazebos, drinking coffee, eating chocolate and laughing about the most random of things. It was such a calm, simple 30 minutes but it was perfect!

Since we missed the boat, and the guys didn’t want to play crazy golf, we decided to head back to Bournemouth so we could go bowling! I haven’t been in years and since the new place opened in the centre it made it really convenient. After Ahmed and I totally smashed the others at table football, we had two extremely competitive games of bowling!

Thankfully I won the first game (huge surprise! I’m usually terrible!) and the second game I was, true to my normal standards, absolutely awful. It didn’t matter at all because we all had some terrible goes, a few spares each, but mostly it was just such fun. We laughed almost the entire time we were playing, despite the obvious competitive streak some of us have!

It wasn’t late enough for dinner once we’d finished but we all agreed on one thing, we needed coffee. We sat on the balcony at Aruba for about 2 and a half hours just talking about everything and nothing. Families, football, travelling, languages – everything! 

I’m still processing some of the things I learnt that day. I learnt so much about Spain and Saudi Arabia and it’s all so fascinating – we could have talked for another few days about it all and it still wouldn’t have been enough!

Dinner was the same – we barely stopped talking! Pizza Express was extremely impressive and we all shared pastas and pizza – delicious food! We sat until nearly 11pm, until the restaurant was closing. I’d never thought it was possible to spend 12 hours with people without running out of things to say, but it is!

I honestly wasn’t ready for the day to end and I can only say how much I wish every Saturday was just like that.

For once, I wasn’t teaching (well, not really), I was listening, learning, being taught new things! I haven’t enough words to say how grateful I am for everything that happened on Saturday.

It’s been hard to socialize lately. Friends have moved away, or they work full time, or they’re not free until I’m finally home relaxing or without the car. Which made this day even more amazing that my students took time to plan a day out with me.

Plus Laura got me this adorable mug!

Thank you so, so much guys.

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Personal, travel

China, are you ready?

SO after 8 weeks of waiting for my work permit to be issued, I finally received the email last Sunday saying it was all done and ready for me to apply for my visa.

With Chinese New Year on the 16th, I knew I wouldn’t have enough time if I waited until Monday, so I applied for an emergency 48 hour visa (£250!) and sure enough, I had my passport back in my hands on Friday afternoon.

WOW! This is it guys… I am going to China. For real this time.

March 1st 2018.

I need to pack…

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Book 20 of January.
Book 20 of 2018.

I picked this book up in Sainsburys for £3.99 the other day (yay for Sainsbury’s books!) because I’d seen it on sooooo many peoples’ book instagrams, in the shops and in the Waterstones newsletter. I couldn’t keep ‘not buying’ it, right?

I’m currently off work for two days with an on-going issue, so I’ve mainly been sleeping, reading on the sofa or eating avocados.

I started the book the night before last and really struggled to put it down when I needed to sleep. It had me laughing continuously for at least 70% of the book, even though I knew something disturbing was either going to happen, or be revealed.

Sometimes I feel like Eleanor. I feel like not talking to anyone for days at a time. However, I thought about it and actually, I’m not like her at all. I couldn’t possibly not talk to people for 3 days or avoid social interaction, or not buy new clothes.

Her quirky personality develops as the book goes on, and we grow to love her and her friendship with Raymond. Despite Eleanor’s inability to filter anything that comes out of her mouth, her slightly warped sense of reality and the severely disturbing relationship she has with her mother, there’s something oddly charming about her.

The last few pages had me thinking, ‘What the f***?!’ but I’m so glad I read it.

I loved the way it was written, the dialogue wasn’t forced and the characters had enough personality to them without being over-done or pointless. I felt like every word of this book was relevant.

I’d rate it 4 stars (out of 5) and strongly recommend this book for anyone looking for something a little different. It’s not crime, romance, or thriller, but weaves in elements of those three. And sadly, it could easily be a true story.

health, Personal

Time To Talk – Mental Health Day

February 1st. It’s time to talk.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll probably have seen a few of my posts where I’ve talked about my depression and anxiety, or maybe you’ve seen my Instagram posts.

I no longer feel the need to hide or shy away from my struggles and I no longer feel embarrassed talking about the things I’ve experienced.

NEITHER SHOULD YOU!

I believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and cared for, to feel hope and happiness, love and laughter – especially on their darker days.

I don’t wait until February 1st to talk about this, I try and talk about it at least once a month because although each of us experience things differently, just one shared experience may help one other person in some way. However, February 1st is the big day to talk and it would be ridiculous for me not to be a part of that.


What led to my depression, anxiety and PTSD is nothing out of the ordinary, and in many ways I feel ashamed that it affected me so badly when other women have suffered far worse events that I ever did. Over time I have learned to accept that I was entitled to my suffering, because what I experienced was the worst thing I had, in my life, been faced with. You cannot measure how much suffering someone should endure based on what they are faced with. Some people are able to handle so much worse than others, some people crumble at the slightest thing. THAT IS OKAY. 

One thing you have to learn to do is do not compare your struggle to others’.

Your struggle is yours.

Your pain, your darkest days are not for others to judge or to comment on.

This is one of the toughest parts of dealing with my depression. Was accepting what had happened, accepting that yes, many people have dealt with far worse than I have, but that will not change the pain I felt or take away the experiences I had.


The most important thing about your mental health is not to suffer in silence.

I know what it’s like to pretend it doesn’t exist. Fake a smile. Push yourself into those social situations you’re completely dreading. Get dressed every day and pretend your life is absolutely fine, when all you really want to do is hide under the bed covers and cry for hours and hours.

You do what you need to do. If you need to stay in bed all day, eat pizza and doughnuts and cry, do it. BUT you need to be talking to someone. Whether it’s an online friend, someone on instagram, your mum, your best friend, a partner, a therapist, a doctor, a teacher, a nurse. SOMEONE will listen. Someone will want to support you and help you through this.

The harsh part about mental health is not everyone is equipped to deal with it. Not everyone wants to be around the ‘sad person’ or the ‘party pooper’. But dyou know what we say to them? Fuck it. Fuck it. and Fuck you. If people don’t even try and understand or support you, stay away from them. You do not need that negativity in your life. Believe me.

Anyone who truly cares about you will support you, be there for you, try and get you through your darker moments. Don’t get me wrong, no one can be there for you 24/7, and they won’t be, because everyone has their own life to get on with, but that does not mean that they don’t care. 

I was extremely lucky, after 2 years of battling it out on my own, I admitted defeat and went home to live with my mum again. I stopped working. I saw a counselor. I took time for me. My mum went to work every day, and on her days off she cooked for me, we went shopping, we watched movies. We cried, we cried a lot. I was awful. Miserable. I felt like I was living in hell and all I wanted to do was end it all. Without my mum, I would have done. I would not be alive right now if it wasn’t for my mum’s never ending support.

And I understand that not everyone will have that, and that makes it worse. But, whether you have one person, or 10 people, you will have someone who will help you.

Please, please, please do not go through your dark days alone. Okay?

Promise me. 


I don’t like to say I’ve been ‘cured’ of depression and anxiety, because some days it hits me like a tonne of bricks. However, in the past year I fought with my own self to become a better, stronger and more capable person. I faced my fears of going back to work. I faced my fears of starting something new (a teaching career) and I faced my fears by openly admitting to my depression and anxiety on the days when I needed to care for myself. I learned to put myself first. Before my shame, before my fears.

The results were amazing.

I lost weight for the first time in 3 years (a lot of it).

I made friends.

I started reading again.

(P.S. Reading Bryony Gordon’s ‘Mad Girl’ made me realise I could have a life AND deal with a mental illness at the same time. This woman changed the way I faced my depression. I owe her big time!)

I started working. And I absolutely love my job.

(Although mental health in the work place, in general, is a huge issue. I may blog about this separately because it’s so important.) But I still get the ‘tuts’ and ‘eye rolls’ if I say I need a day off / at home / self-care day. It’s infuriating. 

I found a new enthusiasm for life.

I went on holiday alone.

I found a reason to feel alive again.


It isn’t easy. None of it is. Even without a mental health issue to deal with, everyone has bad days and none of them are pleasant. You’re not alone.

My message from this post is to please, please reach out to someone. Find the people you can trust, find a kind person on instgram (believe me, there are plenty!) and just talk.

If all else fails, I’m also here for anyone that feels like they want to rant, vent, talk to or share their worries – or even their positive vibes!

You are never alone.


#TimeToTalk


NHS advice for if you’re feeling suicidal here

Mind – A fantastic mental health charity that works nation wide to support people with mental health issues.

Personal

Breakupdate

Week 3 Day 1

So I didn’t think I’d actually want to write about this, but it turns out I need to.

This week, I know, it’s only Tuesday, I’m immensely struggling already with poor time management and a huge amount of stress and pressure. Partially because of the China move… but mainly because of loads of little things.

Today, at least 4 people asked me how my boyfriend/fiancé/husband was… if we were excited for our big move… then made a big deal when I told them we’d broken up.

Please stop.

It’s hard enough as it is without people asking a million questions and demanding to know all the details.

I made the right decision but to suddenly lose someone you spent nearly 10 months, every day, with us not that simple.

We had a lot of fun together and I will keep many good memories, but for now I’d like to stop feeling so upset about it all.

Does anyone else understand where I’m coming from? Why is it so hard to leave the past where it is?

I’m not angry or bitter, but I feel like I’m not moving forward.

Help?

travel

Stonehenge and Salisbury

On an extremely windy, rainy and gloomy morning, I set off into Bournemouth ready to make our 9am coach. A group of 57 students, 4 teachers plus Ali and I were on a trip to Stonehenge.

It was the first time I’d been and in all honesty, I hadn’t heard many good reviews about the place. I can’t say I was excited. It absolutely poured with rain all day long. 

Once we arrived we were given audio tour headsets and bus tickets, we took a little bus up to the stones and… that was it. We walked up to the stones, walked along past them and then back again. Unfortunately that was about it. Especially as the rain was lashing down and my jeans were soaked through to my thighs.

Everyone was happy, taking photos and boomerangs, snapchats and selfies.

Back at the Visitor’s Center the gift shop was full of interesting souvenirs, beautiful jewelry, posters and loads of fascinating history and local books. It wasn’t long before everyone had piled into the cafe for coffees and hot chocolates – it was great to chill out with everyone.

When we arrived in Salisbury, Ali took us on a tour – giving us all the local information and even telling the students that the first McDonalds was down on Butchers’ Row – funnily enough some of them believed it!

The cathedral was absolutely breath-taking! I spent ages walking around, looking at every piece of it. Thankfully all of the students seem to enjoy it as well! How could you not?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much else to do in Salisbury once you’ve been to the cathedral and I found myself sat in Pret with a group of students for at least an hour, whilst we read, chatted and avoided the rain.

It was a pleasant day, but certainly nothing amazing and not something I’d particularly recommend unless it was a beautiful, warm day.

Book Reviews, Writing

Turtles all the way down

Book 16 of 2018: Turtles all the way down, by John Green.

After reading The Fault in our Stars last year and becoming completely obsessed with the story, I went on to read Paper Towns (then watch the movie) and then bought Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I am in love with the way John writes. I know he’s aiming at a younger audience but his words are so moving, simple to read, yet his messages are so important in teaching us how to deal with the world. Especially as a young reader.

Whilst I was desperate to reasd Turtles all the way down as soon as it was published, I was on a book ban because of the move to China, plus a little short of cash pre-Christmas. Thankfully, it was on a 99p ‘deal of the day’ on iBooks last week and I nabbed it immediately.

I couldn’t put my iPad down. I was reading until late into the night, reading on the bus, reading during my break time and a sneaky read during ‘quiet reading’ in class this week. I loved it. It had a real charm. It was soulful and sad, beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.

I can’t get enough of John’s books and I will have to start Will Grayson in the next few days.

What’s even better is that my students also love his books. I gave my second copy of The Fault in our Stars to one of my students and she’s thoroughly enjoying it, and another girl has read all of his books in Spanish, and is now moving on to the English version of Looking for Alaska. It’s fantastic.


John’s writing inspired me to write a little piece of my own – please don’t be too harsh on me, it’s only a quick scrawl to get my thoughts onto the paper but I thought I’d share it anyway. Here goes…

Ayala wasn’t real, but Aza was. The resemblance between the two were unmistakable. My best friend had turned me into some sort of monster. How could she does this to me??

Aza’s friend Daisy had undoubtedly betrayed her trust, their friendship, by putting a real-life Aza on the internet for the world to read about.

I’m going to be sick. I’m going to be sick. I’m going to be sick.

Her own mental health was just a platform for everyone else’s entertainment. A source of jokes and giggles over how ‘crazy’ Aza was. Now Daisy had taken it to a whole other level. The source of her increasingly popular fan-fiction was her. Aza. Her own best friend. Thousands of people read Daisy’s stories and know they all know that she’s best friends with an absolute lunatic. A sad, useless friend.

Gel. Get the gel. The thoughts will turn into bacteria and poison your brain. You only need a handful to get rid of the germs. There we go. Shit that hurts. 

Burning the lining of her throat and creating an instant, repulsive feeling of nausea, Aza couldn’t help but take another gulp of anti-bacterial gel. Just in case the thoughts actually became toxic and poisoned her.

You’re crazy, Aza, but you’re taking this too far. You know your own thoughts aren’t going to poison you. Or, are they?