Green Spaces | Shanghai

Green Spaces | Shanghai

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This is a post about the ‘green spaces’ in Shanghai. As someone who is usually surrounded by nature when I travel, living and working in a city is something new to me; so of course I had to search out the little pockets in the city. There are some stunning places to visit and I will continue to update this post with new places I visit in the coming weeks. But I wanted to start with a few spots I have found so far…

Yu Yuan Garden

In the first few weeks of arriving in Shanghai I had to be a full on tourist, so hit all the hot spots in Shanghai! Yu Yuan Garden was one of the first things I visited and I was relieved to find a peaceful spot in amongst the beautiful chaos of the bustling city surroundings.

/ Yu / in Chinese means pleasing and satisfying

“Yu Yuan Garden is a famous classical garden located in Anren Jie, Shanghai. It was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan. Yu in Chinese means pleasing and satisfying, and this garden was specially built for Pan’s parents as a place for them to enjoy a tranquil and happy time in their old age.”

Entry cost is 30RMB so about £3! Super cheap for a great morning or afternoon visit and worthwhile trip.

I thought the gardens were fascinating to walk around and admire the old Chinese architecture. A bit surreal when you look up and notice skyscrapers towering around this tranquil ancient garden. The pond in the centre is filled with golden fish and terrapins for you to relax with. A nice chance to have a little space from the cramped city outside – as long as it is not too busy with tourists or locals! Plan an early visit to get the chance for a little more tranquility.

I’ve always thought Chinese #dragons were pretty awesome 🐉🇨🇳

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Finding the little peaceful spots 🙏 #positivevibes

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I’d definitely recommend a visit to this beautiful garden situated in the city. Once you’re done with the garden there are hundreds of shops, old Chinese style buildings and food stalls for you to grab some delicious Chinese cuisine and souvenirs.

Century Park

Along Line 2 on the Shanghai Metro is the stop for Century Park, a huge green space that has been designated for forest areas and a big lake with a backdrop of the skyscrapers surrounding the park. It costs 10RMB to get into the park for the day. You can grab food at some of the restaurants and cafes found scattered around the park, go on a small boat around the lake, listen to music at an open amphitheater, visit the small amusement park for kids or a spot of fishing.

Make sure you stay up to date by following my social channels – I upload regularly to Instagram and right now there are some pretty cool shots from my Shanghai so far. Check them out and connect!

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10 Things I’ve Learned From Travelling

10 Things I’ve Learned From Travelling

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If like me, you love the idea of travel and you love to learn new things; then you’ll be able to take something from this post! Travel is one of the best ways you can learn, develop and share ideas or knowledge. It can be between new people or a self-reflective way of learning. In this post, I will talk about 10 things I’ve learned from travelling and how they have had an effect on my thinking now.

Hopefully you’ll get a little bit of inspiration and see that travelling is about way more than just racking up air miles and crossing off destinations on the map. I always like to do a reflective post once every now and again to arrange my headspace full of little travel post-its!

Learning a new language (1)

Going to a different country also means hearing and learning a new language. At first it is difficult to pick up the basics, especially as new tones and sounds shape different languages words. Some dialects are very hard to replicate if you’re not a native. But if you are surrounded by the language, fully immersed in it and spend enough time there; you can learn a new language much easier than if you were trying to from home. There have been many cases were I have been thrown into a new environment; where I have had to learn the local language.

When volunteering in Nepal I had to pick up a lot of Nepalese for a good few months. Whilst staying in Ghana for 8 months I also had to learn a lot of the local language, Twi. At first it is frustrating because you want to be able to communicate but can’t even say a basic sentence. But with a little time, practice and getting incredibly good at charades you can start to have conversations in a whole new language! I have loved the times where I have had to pick up a new language, it is always a great challenge and an even better way to connect with the locals.

Tasted new foods (2)

Another learning opportunity is sampling the local delicacies to the country your travelling in. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love food: even better excuse to indulge in all the dishes whilst you’re there! Learning to try new foods is part of the experience of seeing a new place. Food makes up so much of the identity of a country, so you can learn a lot just by tasting the dishes. I’ve had the pleasure of having a few home stays whilst travelling; which provided me with an authentic root straight to the heart of local cuisine!

Eating Dal Bhat home cooked and then sitting to eat with a local family is such a truly authentic experience. I’ve not only tasted the foods, but also eaten locally – by which I mean tried eating without a knife and fork! Some places I have lived in use hands or flatbreads as scoops to eat with – it has all added to learning about the whole of the countries culture. Another food related lesson has been learning to cook the local foods. I’ve loved being able to learn how to make momos (a kind of nepali dumpling filled with vegetables & meat) or my new favourite red-red, click here to learn how!

Community (3)

This word has taken on a whole new meaning and level of understanding that I didn’t have before I started to travel. The places or communities I have been have shown me that a community look out for one another, support and trust each other. At home you would never dream of saying hello to another random person walking down the street, but when you think about it, it is more strange if you ignore another human being. Travelling and living in some of the countries I have been to has taught me this. It has helped me to be more caring and to care about my own community.

Immersed In Culture (4)

Everywhere has its own identity and we call it culture. Travelling has enabled me to learn about more cultures that are completely different to my own. Since doing this it has helped me to learn new ways of doing things, wether it is cooking new dishes, interacting with different people or inspired new ideas for work. Travelling helps you to expand your thinking and learn a new way of doing things, because the world is such a diverse place. Don’t restrict yourself to your own surroundings.

Being more independent (5)

Travelling, especially travelling solo, has helped me to become so much more independent. I’ve learnt to book, organise and support myself whilst on the move in a different surrounding. At first it was daunting, the first time I was in an airport on my own I nearly freaked out, but you learn to be able to adapt and go with it. Independence is something not to be overlooked, because it is one of the sole drivers that enables me to keep doing it. If I didn’t feel confident or independent enough to be able to just go and travel; then I would never go very far or cope very well. Learning this independence whilst travelling has helped me in all aspects of life.

As someone who had always been more introverted, shy and anxious – travelling allowed me to learn to overcome and develop these attributes. Being more independent and as a result :confident; has probably been the biggest benefit of travelling for me than anything.

Organisation & Determination (6)

This leads on from my previous point, learning to be organised is something that has been enhanced whilst travelling. Making sure you are at places certain times for flights and having the skill to be able to plan whilst on the move has made me even more organised.

Determination: I’ve learnt that if you want something, prioritise it. Be determined with what you want to achieve. I am even more determined to travel than before I started travelling because I have realised I want to make this a lifestyle and not a one-off trip.

The world is a big, big place (7)

It may sound silly, but the World, Earth, life; is so much bigger than your home or country. But you only really get to understand this when you start travelling to further places and experiencing new things. The world is big, but once you start to explore, it seems a lot more possible to be able to keep exploring, than before.

‘Travelling is like a book, those who do not, only read the first chapter’

You’ll never truly be alone (8)

As cheesy as this may first sound, it’s 100% true. If you decide you can’t go travelling or explore other countries because you have no one to go with, think again. Travelling solo is daunting but there are so many people doing the exact same thing. You are bound to bump into people along the way and then it is only you deciding wether you want to connect with them, have a conversation or spend it on your own.

And Spending it on your own at times isn’t a bad thing either, it allows you to have room for self-reflection and development that is important in learning more about yourself or the country. But I can honestly say that spending a year travelling ‘solo‘ saw me have only a handful of days where I had some time to relax. So I welcomed those chances to be able to be on my own and listen.

A sense of adventure! (9)

Travelling, understandably has made my wanderlust & adventure seeking increase! I’ve learnt that there are so many more things I want to see, do, taste, experience and learn! I’ve learnt to be more curious and to try and learn at every opportunity. This has made me more assertive and inquisitive because when I’m in a country I want to leave feeling like I absorbed as much of the countries history and culture as possible.

I’ve also learnt to not always play it safe (I’m not saying be stupid) but to go off the beaten track, avoid the touristy hotspots and to ask questions you don’t know the answers to! You never know where something could lead or a connection you could make.

Always be sensible (well if you can afford to be a little loose with this then it is more fun) but there have been so many times where I have had such great experiences that I would never have had, if I didn’t have a sense of adventure. Travelling with a local friend I’d made to his local village for a wedding in India was amazing or travelling on top of a local nepali bus with livestock around narrow cliff edges – sounds dramatic – but so cool! Wouldn’t be memories I now have if I hadn’t learnt to ‘live a little‘ or ‘be in the moment‘.

Don’t always play it safe. But don’t be stupid!

Positivity & Appreciation (10)

A great way to end is to say that having been immersed in so many diverse and interesting countries’/ cultures; I have learnt the power of positivity and a whole new appreciation for my own life. From all of the aspects I have talked about you can learn to be more positive and appreciative.

When you are in a fortunate enough position to be able to experience and learn about all these amazing places how can you not be! I’ve also learnt to be more mindful and present in my own life. Not to rush, to stop and be thankful. I’ve learnt to meditate and develop more inner peace which before I started travelling I would never even of considered – now I realise how beneficial and important it is. There has been so much inspiration I have taken away from the places, people and countries I have visited which have all had a positive impact on my life.

#PositiveVibes always ✌️

Here are a few things I have discovered that have helped in creating a more positive mindset in this digital world:

Paths to Happiness: 50 Ways to Add Joy to Your Life Every Day

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living

CalmCalm App

Positive News Twitter

Sunny Skyz

Action For Happiness

That’s it! I hope you’ve enjoyed the 10 things I’ve learned from travelling; feel a little more inspired to go out & learn some new things for yourself!

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10 things i've learned from travelling

Akwaaba Life

Akwaaba Life

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Ghana is known for its welcoming and hospitable people, which I am glad to say is incredibly true. From the moment you land, to the minute you leave, you will always be greeted with ‘Akwaaba’ welcoming you into the heart of the country. I wanted to briefly touch upon more of my experiences so far and start to paint a picture with the colourful palette that makes up this fascinating country.

FOOD

When I thought about what I would be eating when I came to Ghana; I’ll be honest my first thought was ‘great I’ll finally be able to shift the mid-way chub and have a serious detox’. Secondly, I imagined eating boring, repetitive and flavourless foods. This was of course based on no research or experience with the realities that I would actually face.

The Ghanaian dishes could not be further away from my initial thoughts at all. The meals here are packed with spices, flavours and colours that have had me eating double the portions I would normally. For the majority, I have loved all the new foods I have been introduced to whilst I have been here; apart from my relationship with fufu (a pounded cassava and maize flubber playdough like creation) I have enjoyed Baanku, waache, jollof and the almighty Red-Red plantain tastiness.

I have had the absolute bonus of having a caterer for my host mum throughout my stay here. She surprises me with new dishes and has given me the opportunity to sample a lot of the Ghanaian cookbook which I am very grateful for. From eto-eto to kele wele her culinary delights always deliver a satisfied stomach. I am also in awe of how she manages to get fried chicken to taste so damn good.

So far my food journey in Ghana has been a massive success.

MUSIC

It goes without saying that, as a whole, the African continent know how to make great sounds and put on a killer party. The music here is a colourful blend of hip-life and reggae beats. The music is always blasting from dusk till dawn. I’m now a passionate Shatta Wale fan throwing out ‘chop kisses’ everywhere I go and serenading people to ‘let me be there soldier’. It seems the chart here takes a little longer to change, so most of the songs you’ll hear, all year round, from every shop, taxi and phone; which you’d think gets repetitive but I see it as people really appreciate a great song.

There’s no slow songs for those moody, brooding days. Instead it’s upbeat and instant smile makers. Maybe that’s why I haven’t seen a sad face during my stay. The music is deep rooted into this culture and as well as a social outlet it is also an expressive art used to define regions, stories and the people.

DANCE

Being able to express emotions through dance is another integral part of the Ghanaian culture. Rhythm is everywhere you look here, from the pounding of the fufu to the intense tribal jama displayed through the beating of drums, clicking of fingers and unity of voices. Every part of the country has different regional dancing to express different stories, beliefs and celebrations.

Even the greeting handshake has its own rhythm and click that seems so strange to a rigid westerner’s hand.

LANGUAGE

What does language mean to you? For some its communication. For others it’s a sense of identity. My time here has led me to pick up a lot of the local language: Twi. I’ve learnt to slow my speech down to an almost grinding halt as well as incorporating a lot of the local clicks and sounds. I’ve always found the best way to learn a language is to be thrown straight into the deep end. In my case, 8 months in a rural community, living with a host family should do it. I don’t like to do things by halves.

I’ve ended up picking up a fair bit of the vocab and now things like ‘Ghanafuo pe kasa papaa’ just rolls off the tongue. More than anything, I found that even when I could hardly say anything at all the joy trying would bring to the locals faces was incredible. I guess it’s my way of saying I don’t want to forget your culture, your identity. Which is incredibly important today, when everyone is being pushed so hard to learn English; it is becoming harder and harder for people to hold onto their local dialects, heritages and identities.

LANDSCAPE

Bright sunburnt dusty roads contrasted by lush green jungles and mountain backdrops are some of the things I’m surrounded by when I wake up and drink my cup of coffee in the mornings.

Ghana is an incredibly diverse country in terms of landscape. You can go from the dry northern farming regions to the tropical south and infamous Gold Coast towns. There are the national parks packed full of wild gentle giants; as well as the lakes and waterfalls of the central regions.

An incredibly dynamic geographical landscape.

Reds, yellows and greens define this landscape.

This is Ghana.

 

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Life in Asamankese

Life in Asamankese

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So it’s been 4 months since I boarded the flight that would take me to my new home for the next 8 months, Ghana. When I cast my mind back to the first few days it seems bizarre to me that things like ‘Ghana time’ and ‘Obroni’ would become such a big part of daily life here.

I spent the first few weeks in team leader training, orientation in community and getting to know my counterpart – Hiki; a lady who knows her own mind, has a lot of passion and can stand up for herself. We instantly got along and I knew we’d become a dynamic duo to lead the team to the end.

Our teams of volunteers started arriving from early June and then we spent a few days training them all once again. It was intense long hours and already everyone was pretty drained. We finally made it to the end of the relentless flip-charts and later came to realise that nothing can prepare you for what happens in the field – not even conflict resolution technique no.14. We introduced everyone to their counterpart pairs and explained a bit more about Asamankese as well as the local partner F.L.O.W.E.R.

On the 12th of June we loaded our luggage onto the roof of the bus, said goodbye to the bathroom facilities of the hotel and started our bumpy journey to Asamankese.

Fast-forward the first few weeks in community where the teams were introduced to their new parents for the next 3 months and integration into the communities were underway. We were split into 3 communities around Asamankese the main town – Odjarde, Afranse and Oworam. The volunteers completed action research to identify issues that the people needed help with as well as get to know their surroundings and communities a lot better.

After a month our partner F.L.O.W.E.R came in to train the volunteers in livelihood skills – the main focus for cycle 3 was to teach bead making in purses, jewelry and hair pomade production. The volunteers would then train the community members in the hope that some of them might be able to make it a business or help to bring in extra income to support themselves.

One word that became integral to daily life was the loud shrill sound of ‘Obroni!’ everywhere you went. Obroni – meaning white person (but not in a racist way, more of an affectionate ‘notice me’) was something that was able to create an instant connection with a lot of the community members and if you spoke a few more words of Twi to them, then you’d instantly have made a new friend.

Having come from a place where everything was fast, efficient and strictly to schedules, it comes as no surprise that the introduction of ‘Ghana time’ had a massive impact on the team. It was a constant source of frustration and resistance throughout. Perhaps with hindsight something could be taken from the slower laid back approach to life; in the sense that if you turn up 10 minutes late the world won’t fall apart, but trying to tell this to frustrated emotional volunteers wasn’t the easiest.

A lesson that can be taken from living in a community and staying in a host home for a period of time is the sense of closeness. Everyone looks after one another and supports each other no matter what.You give the little you have and share it, you help one another get up and put each other in front of your own needs. The sense of community is something I’ve experienced many times before, but it always feels just as good each time you learn it again.

Life in community was upbeat, welcoming and a lot of fun, it came with its own challenges but overall it became like a second home or third maybe fourth; I’ve lost track of how many places I can call home now. I guess for me, now it’s the people that make somewhere home, not the physicalities of bricks and water.

I’m going to take a brief moment to give you an insight into a team leader’s daily life – of which can’t be narrowed down to a specific routine, as every day is like a lottery but here’s a few things that came our way during the course of the programme. Waking up somewhere between the hours of 5am – 6am to a message saying somebody is sick, wants to go home or wants more to do. This immediately creates a problem for your perfectly planned iteniary you did the night before, nevertheless adaptability comes into play. I’d go between communities, hospitals and the office to make sure everything ran as smooth as it could do. However challenging the programme was at times, the rewards far outweighed the problems. Getting to see a group of individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, ages and personalities grow and develop strong relationships to become a hardworking team, is the reward of having the perspective of the leader.

Coming back to here and now as I write this post. The volunteers have all departed back to their homes, reports have been written up and loose ends have been tied, I can’t help but reflect on the experiences and achievements we made as a team over the past few months. It takes a unique individual to decide to give up their own time and dedicate it to a cause. It is also an experience that not a lot of people realise will improve their own selves and developing a community is more of a secondary outcome to that.

I’m ending this experience with fond memories, lessons learnt and a team to be proud of. The bar is set high and I’m looking forward to what the next cycle can bring – even if it means I’ll be seeing my friends at the hospital once again.

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Pre-Travel Thoughts For Nepal

Pre-Travel Thoughts For Nepal

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It’s nearly time to head back to my village in Nepal! I’m super super psyched to return and see all those smiling faces. I visited and stayed in Nepal in 2014 for 2 and half months and it was honestly one of the best experiences I have ever had! Its been over a year since I left and I made the decision to head back and visit.

Unfortunately I was supposed to fly out in 2015 but due to the terrible earthquakes last April I was unable to go. I decided to delay my flight until this coming March 2016 and use the time I had to raise funds for re-building. I took on the challenge of a half marathon and managed to round up a £1000 worth of sponsorship which I’m really grateful for and proud of.

IMG_0029

 

Its a few weeks till I go now and I have mixture of anxiousness, excitement and energy. I can’t wait to see everyone but the situation is going to be a lot different to my previous stay out there. I know from speaking to them and other volunteers that they are still smiling and positive about the situation but it will be a shock to see it first hand.

I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into helping them with whatever I can. They have finally got enough funds to start the re-build of the orphanage and I’m no builder but I’m ready to load up some baskets and carry cement around on my back with them! I cannot wait to see the children and find out how they are all doing with school and take them out a few gifts and surprises to lift their spirits as well.

Nepal is going to be a very different state to what I saw previously. They are currently not in the best political situation (but they never really were…) and the fuel crisis is another major pressure on the small landlocked country. Causing fuel shortages and limited accessibility and transport around the country.

However I’m still positive about the trip out there and the reunion I’ll have with everyone in the village! I’m hoping to vlog (for the first time on my youtube channel! say whatttt) some of the time I’m there to give you an insight into what’s happening and what I’m doing.

Stay tuned and up to date with all the details of my trip by following my social media links or subscribing to my brand new channel 🙂

What I Take In Hand Luggage

What I Take In Hand Luggage

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Packing in general can be a pain in the butt. But you want to make sure you are best prepared for your trip and especially when you’re on that flight. You want to make sure that hand luggage is organised for optimum comfort in flight. I usually try and only have hand luggage because its just way easier and quicker at airports but I realise that people may want to take slightly more than what I would pack, all I need is my camera really!

So here’s what I pack/ would recommend when travelling for your hand luggage!

1. CAMERA – Obviously the no.1 tech essential i’d recommend for your trip. You want to make sure you capture every view, face and place on that trip of a lifetime! I always like to carry tech stuff with me so its safe and not thrown around.

2. LAPTOP – If you’re going on a longer trip then you may want to consider a laptop for easy accessibility to work, emails, edits etc. If its just a short trip then you can probably wait until you get home for this, have a break from it.

3. CHARGERS – Most places these days have charging ports you can use for all your devices so make sure you take advantage of this and get all your batteries on full power before you land!

4. TOOTHBRUSH/TOOTPASTE – I always like to take one of these on with me to freshen up, especially if its a long haul flight and it breaks up the time going to the bathroom.

5. WET WIPES – Again easy way to quickly freshen up that face and any other place before you land after a long clammy flight. No one likes smelly people!

6. A GOOD BOOK – I always carry a good book with me in case I want a break from the screen. If you have any recommendations let me know I always like buying new books! I’m currently reading ‘The Shannara Chronicles’ and ‘The Path To Happiness’ both of which are great reads!

7. NECK PILLOW – This has saved me countless times on flights especially if I get stuck in a middle seat. Best way to kill time on a flight is to get some sleep in before you get to your destination so, like your devices, your charged up when you land. Get an inflatable one so it takes up as little space as possible!

8. EAR PLUGS – Team these with the pillow for uninterrupted snoozing time. Also very handy for airports and hostels!

9. CLOTHES – Not loads of clothes but I like to pack 1 rolled up t-shirt (maybe 2) and some underwear just in case theres a delay with your luggage when you arrive or you want to freshen up in a long haul flight in between. ROLL your clothes do not fold for less space in you bag!

10. HEADPHONES – Most flights these days have screens with movies, tv, music etc. and you don’t really want to buy headphones in flight they are usually pretty rubbish!

11. MONEY – Always carry a little bit of cash with you in case of emergencies.

12. SNACKS – Bring a few sealed snacks in packets like crisps or cereal bars for in flight munchies. Snacks are way too expensive in flight and at the airport.

13. PEN/NOTEPAD – Always great for jotting ideas down, scribbles, doodles or games.

14. JACKET – Even if your jetting off to somewhere really hot, planes are usually freezing cold from the altitude and the aircon, so bring something to keep you warm. Some flights supply blankets but they are usually really thin and flimsy.

15. CHEWING GUM/SWEETS – Pop one in when you take off and chew loads so you avoid the dreaded popping of the ears as you climb up in altitude. Wrigley’s has saved me many times from this torture.

16. TISSUES – Always handy in an emergency, spillage, sneezing fit or tearful goodbye/reunion at the airport!

17. HAND SANITISER – A small bottle of this stuff is great to keep on you especially if you’re headed to the east of the globe where sanitation becomes a little bit more sketchy…

18. EYE DROPS – I find my eyes get really dry on flights from the air conditioning so I always like to freshen them up after a flight with some of these.

19. SOCKS – Again if your headed somewhere super hot, it still might be a good idea to pack a pair of these even if you throw them away on the other side as flights get cold. (Some flights also provide some in flight socks for you to wear)

There you go, that’s generally what I like to take on a flight in hand luggage with me. I hope this gave you some inspiration while packing and I hope you enjoy wherever it is your jetting off to!

With a well organised hand luggage bag you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.

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Why I’m Choosing Travel Over A Career

Why I’m Choosing Travel Over A Career

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So, you’ve finished your studies and come to the beginning of your 20’s. You should get a ‘proper’ job now and start building your career right? It’s time to act like an adult… or so society tells us that it should play out like this. Get a job, find a partner, get married, get a mortgage, have a baby and so on. But what If I told you there are other options and paths YOU can take. You don’t have to complete these milestones or do them in the conventional order. I have realised that you don’t have to live your life in what you think is expected of you from what society tells us to do.

Travel over a career…

As a recent graduate I struggled with the idea of conforming to one role, one job and one way of thinking that I thought was expected of me. Ever since I was young I had this idea of life and life’s milestones that you should move towards and complete. Everybody has the same expectations, grading system, steps to take. Not many other options are exposed to you as you grow up. University was pushed heavily on my college and it made me feel like if I didn’t have a degree then it would be harder to go anywhere else further along the line.

I realise now that that could not be more wrong! There are so many other routes you can take that do not fit in with societies expectations and thats a good thing!

I have always loved to travel and experience new ways of thinking and living which is clear by the content on this blog and my ethos of a travel lifestyle. I tried to tame it by taking a few holidays here and there and taking a few months out to satisfy my desire to travel. This did the opposite and further ignited my passion to continue to explore. It made me realise that for me to find happiness in what I do, I need to find something that involves travelling within it.

I learnt way more and gained so much more experience from my travels than I have ever done reading a text book. Yeah studying gave me an in-depth knowledge about a particular field and on paper I can say I can do that but its not until you get into the ‘real’ world that you realise you have a whole lot more to learn, that studying can never teach you; you need that first hand experience with things. And travelling has been my greatest teacher so far.

I tried the corporate lifestyle for only 9 months before I decided that I needed to get out of it. I’d landed a junior design role that offered on the go training. Straight out of uni you’d think that this was the dream! I thought it was but I realised I was just doing what I thought was expected of me. I was stuck in a monotonous cycle of traffic jams, office desks and paperwork. I wasn’t living, just existing until the next pay check. This wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing, I wasn’t living up to my full potential slaving away at a desk 5 days a week with no real life at the weekends either.

I started to get really bogged down with it, not depressed, but I know if I had continued on then that’s the way it may have headed.

I decided enough was enough.
I took the leap and quit my job.

I guess I’m having a quarter-life crisis? But in a good way…

I had no back up plan or financial stability to fall back on. yikes. But I remember being so happy that I had escaped it so soon! I had taken control of my ship and I was set on battling the ocean waves. Maybe a little dramatic but the english literature student comes out in me sometimes. I was not about to settle for what was expected of me. I choose to get out find a part time retail job to tide me over for a few months while I concocted a plan. I was starting to feel happier, I got the chance to do some freelance design work and start putting in place the foundations for enabling me to travel and work. I studied a TEFL qualification, I trained for a half marathon to raise funds for my Nepali village, I was taking steps outside of my comfort zone. I was pushing myself.

Fast forward to the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. I couldn’t have been happier to see that clock strike 12 on new years eve! I’d made it through and I am so ready for what this year will bring. I’m choosing travel over a career because I feel that whatever you do should make you happy; for me that is travel, for someone else it may be that corporate lifestyle. Whatever you do, do not settle for the comfortable option, whats expected and the ‘norm’. Grab the bull by the horns and live life. If you don’t do that then your just existing.

Why am I writing this? Because I want to encourage anyone who happens to read this that travel is awesome! I want to inspire you to grab that bag and book that flight because it WILL be one of the best things you ever do. Even if its just a short period of travelling or a lifelong passion like me. You’ll gain so much from the experience and learn so much that you just can’t do if you stay at home in your comfort bubble. I don’t want you to be afraid of travelling solo or put off by what you see in the media because the world is a much less scarier place than what it makes out; just use your common sense.

Travel over a career

So that’s why I’m choosing travel over a career.

More reasons to travel…

Travel for the VIEWS

Travel for the BONDS

Travel for the FESTIVALS

Travel for the GROWTH

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to keep up with my adventures and get social;

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

Travel. Create, Be Nice!

How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip

How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip

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Hello and welcome to 2016! I love the new year as its a chance to make a fresh start and plan loads of new stuff! There is a lot coming up this year in this blog so stay tuned for more adventures and travel stories. For now here’s my Top Tips on ‘How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip!’ Why not do something great this year and give something back, Enjoy!

Volunteering is one of the best ways you can get the opportunity to interact with locals and help make a positive impact on your travels. Once you’ve got your destination and project it’s time to get prepared for your life changing trip! If you haven’t chosen yet then read my review of my experience with IVHQ for some inspiration! I’ll give my advice on how best to prepare for it and what to expect to gain from embarking on a volunteering project.

Pre-Departure

  1. Before you go research. Research everything you can find through blog posts, articles, videos and reviews of the place your staying at and what it has to offer along with all the possible problem areas to look out for.
  2. Get your visas sorted! It’s something that is often overlooked in the planning process but it is a vital part to be able to enter the country: find out where you need one for, for how long, the price, how long it takes to get approved approx. before you go, wether you’ll need to renew it if your staying longer than the ‘normal’ amount of time ( for example visas for Australia are free to apply for online as a tourist for up to a month, after that you’ll need to renew it or get a different visa category) 
  3. Check what/if you need vaccinations for the place your staying at, a great resource is fitfortravel also make an appointment to see your local travel nurse to make sure your covered.
  4. Collect all contact numbers for in country support and out of country support. i.e. support officer, government, host-family, immigration office, airport, taxis, family. 
  5. Get your travel insurance sorted. I would definitely recommend getting some cover especially if your heading to more rural, high risk areas. Also if your planning on taking valuables such as cameras/laptops then get them covered just in case! 
  6. Try and find out if the host-family/project your involved need any resources that you could take out with you to help. 
  7. Look into setting up a fundraising page for your trip – also look at doing some sponsored races, events or collections to help raise some money for your chosen project. I use www.gofundme.com 
  8. Make at least 4 copies of all your documents (passport, money cards, project info, visas, vaccinations, contacts, travel insurance) Give a copy to someone at home, keep one copy in your bag, give another copy to a program coordinator if you have one. This is a great way to make sure you always have someone with a back up of all your important info if anything happens. Its also a good idea to create a new folder in your email account and store all this digitally as well so you can access it via a computer if needs be or you need to email a document. 
  9. Change a small amount ( enough for a couple of nights stay in a hotel/food) into the destinations currency just in case your unable to get your money travel card up and running straight away – tip. check this works before you even leave for the airport in an atm in your own country so you can check everything in order. 
  10. Give your parents/guradian a list of all possible numbers/ emails they may need whilst your away or in case of emergency 
  11. Check social media for any links to your chosen project and see if there is anyway you can make contact with any other volunteers before you go. It’ll help you introduce yourself before you have even left and probably calm your nerves or get you more excited about your chosen project! Social media is such a powerful tool these days which you can take full advantage of before you trip! 
  12. Find out the basic phrases and vocabulary in the local language ( hello, goodbye, please, thank you) before you go to give yourself a head start in greeting and interacting with locals – tip learning the numbers 1-10 is also quite useful!! 

Now all the important stuff is planned and sorted, you can focus on packing!

13. Pack what clothes you want to take. Now unpack it and take half of them out, you won’t need that much! If you get stuck whilst your out there, you can usually pick up a few new t-shirts cheap or just hand wash them!

14. Include practical items such as a hand torch, head torch, batteries, swiss army knife (multitool), plastic bags, padlocks, universal plug adapter.tip take a throw away camera, no need for charging and great fun as a surprise to wait and see what the snaps look like when you come back!

15. Pack some medication i.e. paracetamol, ibuprofen, dehydration tablets, water-purifying tablets, insect repellent.

Once you bag is packed your ready to take to the airport!

Fast-forward the nervous, excited and sleepless flight to your volunteering project.

It’s overwhelming, especially if this is your first experience abroad or in a developing country. Just remember your here for a short amount of time and you will be heading home so make the most of the time you have. Take in as much as possible from the sights, smells, people, lifestyle, language and culture. Be open and accepting that you’re in a different country with different values/views to your own. They may not be what you are used but be respectful and embrace it.

Be Open

Be Respectful

Throw Yourself Into It!

Enjoy your experience of a lifetime and thanks to your well planned pre-departure you know everything is in place, so your able to just enjoy it and help out! Make sure you write down and take loads of photographs to remember your trip by!

Lastly my biggest tip for getting the most out of your volunteering experience or any experience is to just open yourself to it fully. Embrace every opportunity to learn and discover something your not used to, everything that challenges you helps you to grow.

Happy travels!

If you’d like to see what A Day in the Life of a Volunteer is like or Teaching in Kenya then check out my experiences!

If you’d like to keep up with my adventures and get social;

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!

 

My Travel Goals 2016

My Travel Goals 2016

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My New Years Resolutions of 2015…

We are at the end of 2015 already! I can’t believe how quick this year has gone by, I swear every year it seems to go by quicker and quicker.

At the beginning of this year my main priority was to try and find something that would make me happy in my working life. I’ve struggled this year to really find something that satisfies that box but I have realised that my passion is travelling – so if I can try and make some kind of career that involves this in my life then I’m half way there. I’ve spent this past year building on myself personally through research, preparation and knowledge. I have thought about lots of different careers or paths that will incorporate travel in them and so have taken the necessary steps to create the foundations needed to pursue them.

Every year one of my resolutions is to be healthier (I mean everyone says that right?) and every year it never really happens. I think the problem is that I keep ending back in a place that I’m not 100% happy with and so fall into the same routines and habits. My hope, is that once I start making moves to change my entire lifestyle; that diet, exercise and general wellbeing will shift with it. I want to make every effort next year to tackle it.

I also wanted to get my site up and running and start blogging – which I am happy to say I have succeeded! There’s a lot more to be done and a lot of work ahead but I can at least say I have my online platform up and running for when I go away which I’m proud of! I also managed to get some freelance projects up and running this year which is exciting and adds to my expanding portfolio of work.

What’s happened in 2015?

Well, 2015 for me was a lot of changes and confusion. I was a recent graduate in January and a recently arrived traveller. I started the year going from job to job and ended it still switching jobs! I just couldn’t settle in any of the work I was doing, something was missing. I realised for me I find it hard staying in one place and extremely difficult working in an office environment. I felt like it was restricting my freedom, creativity and passion. So, October I made the decision to head back to a small shop job and concentrate on making travel my priority; whilst working part-time and trying to start up my website/blog. I continued to do some freelance design on the side along with my part-time hours and trying to create a reliable blogging schedule with a new post at least once a week.

I also made the decision to start studying for a TEFL qualification so I’d have an option to make money on my travels and also get some amazing experience teaching abroad.

So aside from working a part-time (full-time in retail for anyone who knows what working in a shop is like…overtime), creating a blogging platform, writing, freelance designing and studying for a TEFL. I thought i’d apply for a volunteering team leader role that would start next summer in one of 5 locations. Turns out that I got accepted onto that so now I’m going to be leaving for that as well next year!

The whole process was daunting at first and I had (still have times) where I think what am I doing!? Is this the right idea? Did I blow a good opportunity for another career path? But in the end I know that one thing makes me happy: travel. And not just going on a jolly somewhere, I mean real travel. Exploring, learning and meeting like-minded people like myself. I have always liked getting involved with projects and volunteering so this decision is th right one for me at this point in time.

What can you expect from this blog in the next year?

Well my travel goals 2016, are hopefully a lot of travelling! Tales of adventures and insights into different projects I’m working on whilst i’m on the road. I’ll be writing, reviewing, sharing, photographing and uploading anything that I come across on my travels throughout the year!

My rough plan for the next (few) years is firstly to head back to my village in Sipadol, Nepal next March for a few weeks to go and see the children and villagers. I’m so excited to head back there and see everyone over a year later. And with everything that happened with the earthquakes this year it’ll be great to see everyone is doing ok and help out with anything that they need. Re-building work has just started on the children’s home and the estimation is up to 6 months to get everything done so I should be able to lend a hand where possible!

I’ll pop back home after that for a week or so and then head for the volunteering team leader role; which if I get to choose will be heading to Dharmsala, India for 8 months! I’ll be a team leader that co-ordinates with other volunteers and community projects whilst I’m there. It should be a highly valuable experience and a tough challenge but I cannot wait!

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02574/india_2574432k.jpg

After 8 months as a team leader I’ll head over to China to do some teaching with my TEFL qualification! A chance for me to test the teaching waters and get the opportunity to live as a local. I’ve wanted to explore this part of the world for some time now so I can’t wait to take it all in and of course take a lot of photos! Another big challenge but a great experience and lots of cultural adventures and places to explore!

http://www.thewingsofhope.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Emal-China-Trek-Photo-645591.jpg

My plan after that is to use the money that I earn as a teacher to do some more travelling around that part of the world, not much of a plan as of yet but I want to keep it fairly flexible and open to anything that  may come up – so a lot more of Asia to discover!

If I have anything left over I’d love to head over to Australia again but that is quite a few years away so anything could happen!

How can I follow the adventures?

I’m on lots of social media

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

I really hope I can continue to upload content here and share all these experiences with you. So if you want to keep up with my travel goals 2016, then make sure you follow my social links and look out for posts every Tuesday (usually)!

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Travel Goals 2016

 

 

Festivals Around the World

Festivals Around the World

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With Christmas 11 days away! I thought I’d talk about some of the different festivals around the world. Celebrating events is something that every culture anywhere can relate to wether its religious beliefs, a landmark in time or spiritual. There are so many I want to experience on my travels that I wanted to write a ‘festival bucket list’. Here are 10 of the Festivals I definitely want to experience in my lifetime!

 

  1. Holi Festival in India/Nepal

Holi is a spring festival, also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia.”

http://s1.dmcdn.net/BRwTo/1280x720-5IP.jpg - Festivals Around the World

2. Chinese New Year in China

“Chinese New Year is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. It is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Celebrations traditionally run from the eve to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month, making it one of the longest celebrated festivals. The first day of the New Year falls on some day between 21 January and 20 February.”

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/2414662/images/o-CHINESE-NEW-YEAR-LANTERNS-facebook.jpg - Festivals Around the World

3. Up Helly Aa Fire Festival in Scotland

“Up Helly Aa refers to any of a variety of fire festivals held in Shetland, in Scotland, annually in the middle of winter to mark the end of the yule season. The festival involves a procession of up to a thousand guizers in Lerwick and considerably lower numbers in the more rural festivals, formed into squads who march through the town or village in a variety of themed costumes.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02466/viking-boat-1_2466272k.jpg - Festivals Around the World

4. The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

“The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02841/rio-carnival--danc_2841261k.jpg - Festivals Around the World

5. Mardi Gras, New Orleans in USA

Mardi Gras is an annual Carnival celebration in the Southeast United States in New Orleans, LA.

The Carnival season, a variation of the traditional manner of preparing for the start of the Christian liturgical season of Lent, starts after Twelfth Night, on Epiphany (January 6). It is a season of parades, balls (some of them masquerade balls), and king cake parties. It has traditionally been part of the winter social season; which at one time was when parties for Southern Society women, débutante balls, were arranged.”

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Components/Slideshows/_production/ss-130212-mardi-gras/ss-130213-mardi-gras-01.jpg - Festivals Around the World

6. Pingxi Lantern Festival in Taiwan

“The Taiwan Lantern Festival is an annual event hosted by the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taiwan to celebrate the Lantern Festival.”

http://www.emlii.com/images/article/2014/02/52f056650e542.jpeg - Festivals Around the World

7. Songkran Water Festival in Thailand

“The Songkran festival meaning transformation or change. It coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart, the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia. The festive occasion is in keeping with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01871/Ayutthaya-elephant_1871481i.jpg - Festivals Around the World

8. Festival of the Sun in Peru

“The Inti Raymi (“Festival of the Sun”) is a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti, one of the most venerated deities in Inca religion. It was the celebration of the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year in terms of the time between sunrise and sunset and the Inca New Year. In territories south of the equator the gregorian months of June and July are winter months.”

http://www.machupicchutravel.com/images/masts/inca-festival_masthead.jpg - Festivals Around the World

9. Diwali Festival of Lights in Nepal

“‘Deepavali (or Diwali, the “festival of lights”) is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn (northern hemisphere) or spring (southern hemisphere) every year. Diwali is one of the largest and brightest festivals in India. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.”

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02397/girl-light_2397286k.jpg - Festivals Around the World

10. Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico

Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.”

http://i4.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article6734220.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/Estrella-Stephanie-Sigman-and-Bond-Daniel-Craig-in-the-crowds-of-El-Dia-de-los-Muertos-procession.jpg - Festivals Around the World

Looking at all those festivals around the world just makes me want to book tickets now and go experience those places!

 

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