REFLECTING ON 2017: MY TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS

Well hello there! Remember me? I did say I was going to be very bad at blogging this semester, but I’ve come out of my Masters-hibernation to write this reflection because I absolutely love reading other bloggers’ posts about their yearly highlights, and I really enjoyed writing one last year for 2016, which you can read here.

2017 has been one hell of a year, starting out living in the southern hemisphere all the way in Australia, and ending it back home in Manchester. It was hard to narrow down the list to just 10 favourite moments and I could have rambled on forever about each and every one, but somehow I managed it, so sit back and enjoy my brief highlights from 2017 before we welcome in the New Year.

Getting onto/Starting my Masters degree
Both of these go hand in hand really, as getting onto the course in the first place was such a big achievement for me. I’m one of 18 who got accepted onto it and couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to be suffering doing it with. It’s a really intense and difficult course and everyone is so supportive of each other and we’ve all become super close (I guess mutual stress and pain brings people together???). I don’t think I’ve ever said on the blog what my course actually is, just that I’m doing one and that it’s the most stressful thing I’ve ever experienced… Either way my MSc is in (take a breath) Neuroimaging for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience.

Au pairing
I wrote a post a few months ago about au pairing, and it is definitely one of my top highlights of 2017. I grew a lot as a person over those seven months, and it taught me that I can actually be a responsible adult when needed, and I’m capable of much more than I thought. Not only that, but I became so attached to Poppy and can’t imagine my Australian adventure without her.

Road trip through the outback
14 hours… 14 hours we drove from Orange to Adelaide, and was it worth it? Hell to the yeah it was worth it! I saw my first wild kangaroo, took pit stops in some proper rural towns, and got to visit my friend Toby in Mildura while he was completing his farm work. I also got photos at the NSW-Victoria, Victoria-South Australia, and South Australia-NSW borders which were such tourist moments but hey, it’s what I was there for.

Adelaide Fringe Festival
The Garden of Unearthly Delights was undoubtedly one of the most, dare I say it, instagrammable places I’ve ever been to. It was an incredible display of weird and wonderful lights and decorations, and pop-up bars and stalls had been derived from all sorts of things such as buses (yes, buses) and big-top tents.

Melbourne trip
Ah, Melbourne. Although Sydney was the place I called home, Melbourne is the city that holds my heart. Back in April I took a week-long holiday there and stayed with my Aussie friend, Issy. She took me to an AFL game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected, introduced me to a cafe dedicated entirely to bagels, and we road tripped along the Great Ocean Road. Her family were nothing but kind to me throughout my stay, and I’m so grateful for their hospitality that week. My friend Josh also took me on a tour of the city that included Hosier Lane, which was so cool, and I reunited with some friends I met in Sydney that I hadn’t seen in a while. At a time where I had been quite homesick this trip really cheered me up because, where Sydney is more like London, Melbourne is basically Manchester but with better food and better weather.

Boomtown
In August I experienced my first proper festival, and what an insane 5 days it was. Everyone I spoke to whilst there mentioned that I had picked an intense festival to start with, and, well, they weren’t wrong. Boomtown Fair is basically another city in itself, with different sectors and districts divided into Uptown and Downtown. Each year provides another chapter of its ongoing story, and there are actors all around the site playing out theatrical roles that make you feel like you’re actually living in this spectacular, made-up world. Another highlight from it was that I got to see Skindred live, who I’ve been a fan of since I was 15, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Glasgow Pride
During our annual visit to see the fam, Mum and I went to Glasgow Pride in the city centre, and it was nothing short of fabulous. Whether you were in the parade itself or just a spectator like we were, the whole day had a great atmosphere to it and I know we’ll be doing it all again next year.

Getting a job
After getting onto my MSc, my biggest worry was how I was going to fund my living expenses for the year, as my tuition fees take up my whole postgraduate loan. At the end of August though I got offered a part time job working for my University and I absolutely love it. Although working 20 hours a week alongside a full-time Masters is bloody stressful, I’ve never had a day where I’ve woken up dreading going to work, and I know that if I survive the next two semesters doing both then I’ll be a stronger person with a crackin’ CV.

Getting a car
I’m so in love with my Mini and extremely grateful for it. It’s improved my social life so much because I can just drive round to friends’ house without having to worry about walking around Fallowfield alone at night, and because I don’t drink I can drive to our local pub to hang out with my fave surf pals when they make last minute plans.

Tenerife and falling in love with surfing again
Although I vowed that I would never spend another Christmas in the sun, this year I spent it in Tenerife with my Mum. I’m so glad I went, not only because it was a nice break from the freezing cold English weather, but also because as part of my Christmas my Mum paid for me to do a surf school while we were there. I started surfing two years now but since the UMSC 2016 trip to Fuerteventura I’ve only been doing it every so often. Even in Australia I only surfed a couple of times, so I’ve not really improved much since I started. I also get quite anxious before getting in the water because my upper-body strength is basically non-existent and I always fall behind the group when trying to paddle out. Cue Tenerife and Kontraola Surf School! I spent the majority of my holiday in the water with the most amazing and supportive instructors who will always hold a special place in my heart. Surprisingly I was fine with paddling out back and over those two weeks I improved so much, with Miguel and Victoria teaching me how to turn properly and almost cutback (read: try to cutback but wipe out on rocks). I injured myself a lot over the week but hey, no pain no gain, right? I feel like I really needed that trip to make me fall in love with surfing again and get my confidence back up in the water, and now I’m sure as hell ready for Portugal in April with UMSC.

 

So there you have it, my top 10 highlights of 2017! I understand it’s quite a lengthy list, especially the last highlight, but amongst all the negative things that might have happened throughout the year it’s important to focus more attention on the good, and to continue doing so in 2018.

 

Until next year!

Liv

xo

9 THINGS I LEARNED BEING AN AU PAIR

Before I flew out to Oz I had done a lot of research (read: created multiple Pinterest boards) on traveling Australia alone and working whilst doing so. Au pairing was mentioned in multiple articles when talking about ways to experience the country more like a local than a backpacker, so it had already been on my mind as a potential job before arriving.

When I first moved to Orange I had no idea what to expect. I was putting all my trust into a family I had never met before and they were putting their trust in a backpacker they didn’t know to look after their most precious thing in the world; their one-year-old daughter. Yeah, Australians are weird…

So anyway, fast forward 7 months and I was heading back to England and making the most heartbreaking goodbye to Poppy; my little partner in crime, my number one gal, my BFF. I had the most amazing time looking after her and watching her grow and develop was truly wonderful, so I wanted to share with you guys a round-up of the main things I learned from being her au pair and add a few of my many favourite photos of my time with her too.

Kids are a hella lot smarter than you think.
They know that phones are meant to be put up to your ears, they know when you’re trying to hide something from them (read: biscuits), and I don’t know about any other child, but Poppy sure as hell knew when a camera was out and made sure she was looking her best.

Parents work bloody hard at what they do…
…and we need to give them more credit for it. Especially when their kid is throwing a tantrum in the middle of a store and they’re trying their best to calm the situation.

Peppa Pig is a bad influence.
She’s a brat. End of discussion.


I’m more responsible than I thought.
I no longer joke about how I’m not cut out for adult life because let’s face it, when you’re thrown into the deep end your instincts kick in and you realise “actually yeah, I’m pretty damn good at this whole adulting thing”.

I’m broodier than I thought.
This one makes me laugh because although I don’t want a child of my own for at least another 6/7 years, I just wanted to take Poppy back to England with me because I got so attached to her. I am excited about having my own kid, don’t get me wrong, but I think for now I’ll just stick to dogs.


Kids bring you so much joy.
My Mum always said this to me (because I’m the light of her life of course) and every time I would respond saying I very much doubt it. But through au pairing I’ve realised they will bring you all the happiness in the world when, for example, they say novel words or choose to bring a book over and cuddle with you rather than playing with toys.

Patience.
I’ve always been a relatively patient person, but that was truly tested over these seven months. I will never again take for granted how little time it takes for me to leave the house or how I can just run into a store to do a quick food shop, because a toddler who’s adamant on carrying the basket and making a run for it down the frozen isle when all you need is a carton of milk will get tiring very quickly.


Kids are not adults and we shouldn’t expect them to behave or understand like them either.
Before I became an au pair I would talk to young kids (by young I mean 1-3) using full sentences and expecting them to understand, but now I realise that using few-word sentences with only keywords such as “more or finished?” makes it easier to understand and respond. I would also expect them to behave as if they knew the consequences of their actions, but kids don’t, and that’s all a part of their innocence and they’ll learn as they go on.

Being an au pair is hard work…
…but it’s the best job I’ve ever had and I would fly back out to Oz to look after Poppy again in a heartbeat.

If you’ve been considering au pairing during your travels let me know in the comments below, especially if you have any questions you want to ask before applying! I seriously can’t recommend it enough.

 

Until next time,

Liv

xo