Definitely + rain and + tea – not sure about the potatoes yet

Hello! Long time no blog.

I have officially moved to Stirling, in central Scotland. I have begun a new chapter in my life and a new adventure in the UK that I wish to document online (here) and offline (in scrapbooks decorated with ‘fancy but useless stuff’ like a friend of mine likes to point out). I intend to write posts regularly, but in a shorter format (don’t want to bore you) and I have decided not to change the title of the blog, because, honestly, I think it remains pretty accurate, if not even more accurate than for my Erasmus experience in Sheffield.21641661_10208512552965065_87865554_nBefore actually moving to this beautiful, quiet and verdant city surrounded by mountains, I travelled for a week and visited Edinburgh, Glasgow and Loch Lomond. I have learnt that Scottish people are extremely friendly, talkative and helpful (not sure if they speak English though), and that there is a much larger percentage than normal of redheads around. I must say that there is something about this country that’s really inspiring, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. 21624060_10208512553885088_273055241_n21691206_10208512553045067_576385398_n21697963_10208512554165095_841256375_nI enjoyed going to Edinburgh again, even though it was only a one-day-and-a-morning visit. I managed to stop by the National Museum of Scotland, which holds the most diverse collections – from cultural and artistic to natural and scientific – in grand white galleries. I also stopped by Calton Hill, with its unreal views, and walked in the commercial Princes street. I would definitely recommend stopping by the Starbucks in this particular street for it has the loveliest windows and the most wonderful view of Edinburgh’s castle. I had almost forgotten how magical this city’s architecture and atmosphere is (how could I?).21697846_10208512554085093_1303617164_n21763972_10208512553805086_1563909832_n21767554_10208512553245072_395022692_n

It is truly… ‘A city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again’ – Alexander M. Smith

21641591_10208512553125069_1924635073_n21641671_10208512554125094_1647389621_n21691375_10208512553365075_1772448139_nGlasgow is a totally different city from the capital; it’s bigger and it has an ‘industrial’ feeling to it. Travelling can be exhausting and I think I didn’t do everything I planned to – but that’s okay, because Glasgow is just half an hour away from Stirling and I plan to go there a few times to escape the silence of Stirling. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was part of the itinerary and so was the University of Glasgow, which were very interesting and very close to each other. Kelvingrove is one of the most visited museums in the UK (excluding London) and the building itself is quite impressive (& it’s free). My favourite stop in this city was the Mitchell Library, not only because it’s, well, a library with over one million items, but also because it has the most singular rooms, which the security guard at that time was so kind to show us. From puppet rooms (kind of creepy) to huge rooms full of musty ancient books (where you wish you could study in cold, rainy days), the library revealed itself to be a pleasant and mysterious surprise.21641643_10208512552885063_1594801848_n21698093_10208512553005066_2116258553_n21698099_10208512552845062_1997212935_n21767407_10208512552245047_1730003032_nLoch Lomond is the largest lake in Great Britain and it’s right at the doorstep of Glasgow. It was my last stop before heading to Stirling. I believe it’s a good illustration of Scotland’s raw natural beauty: the immeasurable surface of water, the fresh and clean air, the lush trees and plants.

‘flowering gorse bush/ leaning over/ towards the sea/ as if its growth/ were towards completion/ of yellow in blue// as leaves have grown/ back in branches/ songs have come/ among the leaves/ a gathering/ in the young/ whitebeam’ – Thomas A. Clark

There’s many trails and cosy places to eat traditional food and drink a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate. There’s an enchanting castle and lots of people walking adorable fluffy creatures (dogs). It’s probably better to visit the lake during summertime, since it’s an outdoors’ attraction, and especially if you’re like me and need to be dressed like a warm potato every time you go out.21698237_10208512552925064_1955053033_n21698256_10208512552805061_684341775_nI got to Stirling after one week of travelling – but you’ll have to wait for my next post to know more about it.

See you soon,

Madi

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Travelling solo: mini book tour of London

I’ve been to the busy capital of England a few times – it’s probably the city I have visited the most in my 21 years of existence. I have visited it with my parents, with my cousins and with my friends; this time I went on my own. The prospect of travelling alone was quite daunting (I must admit), but also very thrilling, especially because it meant not having to coordinate with others’ demands or constraints and it translated into a great freedom of doing and seeing exactly what I wanted to do and see precisely when and how I desired. I made all the plans and I made all the decisions – I really don’t think anyone I know would gladly accompany me in doing a ‘book tour’ of London, exploring huge mainstream bookshops and charming independent ones. So I took this excellent opportunity and that’s exactly what I did.

I’m a bibliophile, a bookworm, a bibliomaniac, a bookaholic. You get the idea. I love books. Books are great for various reasons. They are boredom busters, they enhance memory and sharpen brain function, they reduce stress levels, etc. And this is not something simply speculative or unfounded, it’s actually supported by scientific research. Books have been a great company for me since I was a child. They have taught me new dazzling and enigmatic words, they have made me think in a more creative manner, they have broaden my horizons, they have introduced me to new geographies and provocative characters. Most importantly, books provided me with an escape from reality and transported me into different universes. Reading has never been an obligation for me; no one ever told me to read or made me pick up a book, it simply happened, in a sort of magical way I like to think. I recall perfectly the year I really started devouring books and amassing them. Besides all of this (the benefits of the whole reading experience), I find books the most beautiful objects.  The bewitching stories and inexplicable secrets they hold. The touch of the paper. The divine smell of the thin pages. The drawing of the words and sentences and paragraphs. The way they decorate empty shelves and bring any room to life. What’s not to like about books?

‘Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.’ – Anna Quindlen in How Reading Changed my Life

The History of books is an acient one, dating back thousands of years, beginning with clay and wax tablets, papyrus, and parchment. Books were present before printing was invented with documents being written and copied mostly for religious purposes. Publishing, on the other hand, has only been around for about five hundred years, born out of Gutenberg’s revolution alongside the use of oil-based inks and printing press techniques. Language used in such works gradually became vernacular and, consequently, accessible. Publishing is ‘the mechanical and digital reproduction and distribution of identical copies of written or illustrated work’ (Smith, K.; 2012; p. 19); it is, undoubtedly, a true art of democratisation and an outstanding instrument of information and knowledge diffusion, and an agent of cultural, political and social metamorphosis. This incredible activity contributed to (and made possible) progressive movements and inventions in the most diverse fields after the 15th century. Really, what’s not to like about books?

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I managed to visit four book stores in two days, two in the first day and two in the second. I know it may not seem like a lot, but I spent a substantial amount of time in each one, studying every bookshelf and scanning as many book covers and synopses as possible. Plus, I also visited other attractions and places such as Covent Garden and the London Bridge area by the river. I do feel I have to continue my book journey the next time I visit London, because I did not have the opportunity to explore everything I wanted to. I still have to visit Daunt Books and the Notting Hill Bookshop, and second-hand bookshops to discover works that have already had a journey or adventure, passing from one individual to another, accumulating more and more stories and one-of-a-kind tales.

The bookshops I visited were selected in a more or less random way. I did some googling as I always do (plenty of useful recommendations can be found online) and I stayed in a quite short-distance radius around my hotel. The weather was quite wintery (comparing it to my sunny Portugal, of course), but good for long walks. I made the promise to myself that I would only buy one book per store– I actually broke this rule, but I really had a compelling reason and strong arguments to support my decision as you can probably imagine.

‘She is (…) conscious of the role a bookshop can play in the life of an individual. When someone goes into a bookshop, they are staring at a series of gateways into other worlds – each book can pull them into a different universe. Open one and they are spirited to South America; open another and they enter the world of Astrophysics.’ – Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate in The Book of English Magic

The first bookshop I visited was the London Review Bookshop, which opened in 2003 near The British Museum, home to more than 20 000 books. Even though it’s rather small, there’s a coffee and cake shop inside as well.  This shop’s ‘aim has always been to represent on [its] shelves the distinctive ethos of the Review – intelligent without being pompous; engaged without being partisan’. I have to say that of all the stores I have visited, this was my least favourite. This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t recommend it for it is great and accessible, and presents a wide and intelligent selection of books (and it’s a bookshop – I’d be incredibly surprised if I didn’t like it) it’s just that I found the other ones better. There was a handful of customers inside browsing and it was extremely silent when I walked in (kind of an uncomfortable silence to be honest). The people working there were polite, but not as friendly and enthusiastic as, for instance, in Waterstone’s, where they often make very interesting suggestions and spend some time knowing whether your experience was enjoyable or not. This might actually not be a downside for some people, but I do like to get some sort of personalisation and warmth. The bookshelves were very tall and stately, and I particularly enjoyed looking at the more historical sections. I ended up buying Amazons by John Man, which discusses the origins and stories of the famous horse-riding, sexually liberated ancient female warriors, object of a profusion of works of art and literature and influence for popular culture. There is actually quite more to the Amazons than pure myth according to archaeologists. I was very curious and couldn’t resist purchasing this book after having watched Wonder Woman, the recent blockbuster superheroine movie by Marvel featuring the beautiful Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot.

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Foyles was the second book-paradise I went to, and the biggest one, located in central London, in Charing Cross Road.  White and clean and with a modern layout/architecture, it covers four floors (eight levels), and I lost a couple of hours there, particularly in the Fantasy and Classics’ zones. I’m a fan of extremely imaginative works, which can typically be found in the first section, and an admirer of those stunning Penguin hardcovers that can be found in the latter. I also spent some time in the Portuguese section for I was curious to see what kind of books they had for selling (mostly bestsellers, including José Saramago). It reminded me of the Waterstones in Piccadilly, Europe’s wonderful largest bookshop (a must visit). I bought The Witchwood Crown by New York Times bestselling author Tad Williams, former singer, radio host and shoe-seller – basically the heaviest book I could find (721 pages, hardcover, very small typeface), perfectly fitting for my tiny cabine-sized suitcase.

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Persephone Books, situated in Bloomsbury, was my next stop. What a lovely, welcoming and unique place. I definitely want to visit it again if I get a chance. The shop resurrects neglected fiction and non-fiction literary works, most of them written by women in the interwar period of the twentieth century. In Greek mitology, Persophone refers to the queen of the underworld, vegetation goddess associated with Spring and fertility, daughter of Zeus and harvest goddess, Demeter. The bookshop founder’s (Nicola Beauman in 1998) intention by naming the store after this mythological figure was to symbolise female creativity and new beginnings. How interesting is this?

Besides all the books’ content being so singular, the covers are also quite uncommon. They are basically all grey. Really. There’s no photographs on the covers, no big fancy titles, no bold colours, no intricate designs. The inside of the books, however, has beautiful (mostly) flowery patterns (there are matching bookmarks). I found this oddly fascinating. Apparently, not only the shop’s workers love grey and its simplicity, but they also envision a scenario in which a women gets home tired from work and picks up a book, not caring about the way it looks on the outside, but about the entertaining stories it holds, which will certainly be enriching and enjoyable.

The interior of the store was like one of my pink-princess-fairytale dreams, charmingly well-decorated, overflowing with the most delicious details and tiny ornaments. Female-empowering paintings and posters. Bowls of colourful fruits. Fancy and sweet card boxes. Book descriptions in delicate labels. Take a look:

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It was in this well of temptation where I broke my 1 book per bookshop rule and bought two novels: Mariana by Monica Dickens (had to buy it because it’s my sister’s name) and The Closed Door and Other Stories by Dorothy Whipple. I’m looking forward to reading them curled up in my bed with a nice cup of apple and cinnamon tea.

My last stop? Waterstone’s, obviously. One cannot go to the UK and not go to Waterstone’s. This time, however, I did not go to the one I always go to; I wanted to go to a different store. I went to the one in Grover Street, near Russel Square. It’s not as grand as the one in Piccadilly, but it’s still exceptional. Waterstone’s is truly a bookstore giant, but I think it manages well to balance ‘commercialness’ with a tailored ‘good feeling’ atmosphere. I bought The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2016 and a new voice in the American literature. It’s the book I am currently reading, but I haven’t really formed an opinion about it yet.

There is no doubt that bookshops in England are better than the ones in Portugal in many ways (unfortunately), from organisation to marketing, from personalisation to creativity. Even book design is better there. Whilst the UK is and predictably will remain in the top 25 in the Global Ranking of Publishing Markets (Clark, G.; Phillips, A., 2014), Portugal’s revenues from books have been plummeting in the past few years, and there are no signs of future improvement (Statista, 2008-2020). There are lagging literacy rates and poor economic conditions (Anderson, P., 2016). It’s actually rare to find someone my age that enjoys reading as much as I do or has as much interest in books, and that makes me feel disappointed. I truly hope that, in the future, more people will find the hidden pleasure of such magical objects like I did.

Bibliography

Books

Giles Clark and Angus Phillips, Inside Book Publishing, 5th Edition, Routledge, 2014

Kelvin Smith, The Publishing Business From p-books to e-books, AVA Publishing SA, 2012

Websites

Statista, 2014, link: https://www.statista.com/forecasts/395368/portugal-book-publishing-revenue-forecast-nace-j5811

Peter Anderson, Portugal’s Book Market: A Few Words With Patricia Seibel, Publishing Perspectives, 2016, link: https://publishingperspectives.com/2016/03/portugal-book-market-interview-patricia-seibel/

http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/

http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/mariana.html

http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/the-closed-door-and-other-stories.html

http://www.foyles.co.uk/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Witchwood-Crown-Last-King-Osten/dp/0756410606

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Amazons-John-Man/0593077598

http://www.londonreviewbookshop.co.uk/

 

 

Dubai, ‘the greatest, the tallest, the largest’

 

  • Aircraft type: B777-300
  • Outside temperature: – 47°c
  • Altitute: 33 997 ft
  • Speed: 562 mph
  • Distance to destination: 2155 mi
  • Time to destination: 4h29

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I tried to watch a movie (and the Emirates’ Ice inflight entertainment collection has plenty), but I could not concentrate. I tried to read, but the words just turned into a big black blur. I tried to walk around and stretch my legs, but I felt too self-conscious as if all the passengers were staring, watching every move I made. This happens whenever I’m flying – I’m not scared or anything; I simply become restless and cannot focus on certain activities for too long.

… So I decided to listen to music and write a blog post since I finally have something to write about (and I have time to do it – 4h and 29 minutes to be precise) … I don’t have much space though and I am not sitting in a very comfortable position: every time I fly, the first and only person to recline their sit is the person sitting in front of me (I mentally curse this person throughout the whole flight, again and again).

I’m flying back home. I went to Dubai to visit my sister, which has been living in this city of sun and sand and gold for more than four years – probably not coincidentally I have visited her there four times. I have already done all the basic/essential touristic things one must do when in Dubai such as going to the Burj Khalifa’s observation deck (the tallest building in the world – 829.8 meters), going on a desert safari (great adventure), going to Dubai Mall (equivalent to about 20 ‘Colombos’ I would say; prepare yourself to take at least 20 minutes to find a store), visiting the Burj Al-Arab (the tallest hotel in the world – surprise surprise), exploring the lovely and flowery Miracle Garden, etc.

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On this trip, I repeated some of the plans I had already done in the past and added a few new ones. As it is not my intention to bore you with a long detailed list, I’ve highlighted what I have enjoyed the most/found more interesting.

My favourite attraction was the Garden Glow; simply put, it is a garden with beautiful light structures (such as rainbow and heart arches and ball lanterns) designed by artists from all around the world.  It is the largest one in the world as is everything in this city – the greatest, the tallest, the best, the largest. Other ‘night’ activitites in Dubai included a visit to one of the city’s most vibrant bars against a fantastic backdrop of the marina, the Barasti Beach Bar, and a Russell Howard show (he’s one of my favourite comedians – I usually watch his Good News´ episodes while eating breakfast).

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I also visited IMG Worlds of Adventure and guess what – it’s the largest indoor theme park in the world. Indoor is a key word here – you could not go to an outdoor theme park in Dubai and not melt (at least I couldn’t). I enjoyed the iconic roller coasters and the 3D animations, and the Haunted Hotel experience (a really sweet Chinese woman asked to hold our hands whilst we walked through the scary maze corridors and met frightening characters, but I don’t think we were of great help since my sister and I are big screamers and extremely jumpy).

I could not go to Dubai and not go to my favourite store in the whole wide world – Kinokuniya – a huge bookstore run by a Japanese company in Dubai Mall. I have never seen so many books in just one place. And stationery. Paradise. I bought two books by the same author, Xiaolu Guo, a British-Chinese author that explores issues such as identity and alienation, particularly focusing on Chinese culture and inspired by autobiographical experiences. I read her novel ‘Once upon a time in the East: a story of growing up’ a while back and I loved it, and I really wanted to get more of her books. Her work is very interesting and intimate, and it has made me very curious about China. [I wish I would stop reading books in English because I honestly worry that I’ll forget how to read and write in Portuguese]

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On my last day, we went to Dubai’s City Walk and I was a bit disappointed – I was expecting plenty of artistic pieces and murals, but I only found this one appealing:

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Food was a big contributor to my happiness throughout the whole trip (food = happy me; very simple equation). Besides the delicious avocado and honey milkshakes my sister prepared for me on a daily basis, we went to terrific restaurants.

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Dubai is a very exotic destination, very different from what I am used to, from its culture to its weather to its people. All in all, it was a lovely trip.  I got to see my sister and catch up with her (thanks for everything :), and I managed to get a break from my uni life.  I don’t think I’ve had a more stressful semester than this one. Maybe it’s because it’s the last one. And then puff. Or maybe it’s because all courses decided that numerous huge group projects are the way to go. I really don’t know. Holidays were very much needed.

Bye,

Madi

A Little Goodbye

I have been avoiding writing this post for reasons I am not quite able to articulate. I believe it’s because it somehow makes me acknowledge the fact that my Erasmus experience is over. It’s been more than a month since I left the UK. Writing down these words is not the same as saying them out loud; it feels way more definite and palpable this way.

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My cousin warned me about the so called post-Erasmus depression. She told me over and over again that I would not be able to escape from it. I can understand why this may happen to some people, although the only symptoms I have at the moment are:

A light nostalgia – very obvious in “Oh, do you remember when we walked to the SU? And when we partied more than three times in just one week? And when (…)?” facetime conversations with my international friends;

And an increased desire for eating chocolate (not Cadbury though! Milka > Cadbury).

Feeling a bit lost and empty has also happened a couple of times, but I don’t feel sad at all. I actually feel quite happy and grateful. I had a great semester and I will always smile when thinking of it. Of course I cannot relive it. Of course I cannot go back. But that just makes it even more special.

You know when someone knocks on your door and simultaneously opens it? That just happened. I think this is something parents usually do (which is the case), evidently defeating the whole purpose of knocking. Now back to the topic.

I’m unsure whether I should keep blogging or not. On one hand, I have always thought I would end this blog after my Erasmus, because the whole point of it was to write about my experience. On the other hand, I took pleasure in having this online thingy and I have grown attached to it.

I took the IELTS exam a few days ago as I am currently in the process of applying for a University in Scotland, my favourite destination in the UK so far. If I do manage to get accepted (fingers crossed! don’t want to jinx it), I’ll definitely blog about it.

Until then, you’ll just have to wait and see if I have decided to tell you about the books I am reading or discuss the stress of studying at Nova or my travels to Dubai to visit my sister or puppies. Perhaps I’ll surprise you.

Bye,

Madi

About Magical Edinburgh

“If you listen, you can hear it.

The city, it sings.

If you stand quietly, at the foot of a garden, in the middle of a street, on a roof of a house.

It’s clearest at night, when the sound cuts more sharply across the surface of things, when the song reaches out to a place inside you.

It’s a wordless song, for the most, but it’s a song all the same, and nobody hearing it could doubt what it sings.

And the song sings the loudest when you pick out each note.”

In If nobody speaks of remarkable things by Jon Mcgregor

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I thought this passage would be the perfect introduction for a post concerning my trip to Edinburgh. It’s from an interesting book I bought here in Sheffield in a second hand shop for just 1.50£; how could I resist? Writing this was a truly challenging memory exercise, since I was there several weeks ago and I really wanted to paint all the important details accurately.

First of all, I have to confess I can never write the name of the city properly. I keep putting an “m” where the “n” should be (as in Edimburgh instead of Edinburgh) and my friends like to tease me about it. There’s a perfectly good explanation for why this happens – in Portuguese, it’s EdiMburgo. I doubled-checked the post to make sure I don’t make this mistake (again).

I went on an organised weekend trip (“Weekend Trip to Edinburgh – International Student Festival” by VIVA), something I have never done before and that probably won’t do again since I enjoy having freedom when deciding where to stay and what to visit (having someone telling me what to do really bothers me).

6h on a bus from Sheffield to Edinburgh – I would normally complain a lot about this, but I actually (kind of) enjoyed it. I talked to my friends and paid attention to the UK’s picture-perfect green views through the icy windows. We got to the Scottish capital in the late afternoon.

The streets immediately took my breath away – there’s a certain fairytalish air to them. I guess the fact that Christmas was getting closer contributed to create that atmosphere. Great-Highland-bagpipes playing served as background music.

Just look at this:

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Buildings. People. Lights.

The Hostel was great (much better than the one in Dublin) and crowded. I shared a room with 11 girls, all of them quite friendly, but some of them loud (as in singing-in-Spanish-at-4am loud).

I enjoyed visiting iconic places such as the Edinburgh Castle (only from the outside because the entry ticket was expensive) and Calton Hill with its historic monuments. We actually found a Portuguese brass cannon there, which had travelled all over the world and was cast in the early 15th century.

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We stopped by the Elephant House, the coffee shop where J. K. Rowling wrote some of her early novels, and by the National Portrait Gallery.

The Christmas Fair/Market was also part of our itinerary – and I could not say no to a ride on this:

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About 60 meters high. I was the only one who was 100% relaxed – I love roller coasters and all those adrenaline feelings. Whilst I raised both hands to wave to those who were not brave enough to join, my friends raised their little fingers.

I went partying two nights, but I was a bit disappointed – I thought it was supposed to be a super big international festival… and it was actually just clubbing. Oh well, I had fun anyway!

Edinburgh was definitely my favourite destination in the UK so far. I am thinking of applying to a Master’s program in a city that’s one hour away from it so I hope to explore it more in the near future.

See you,

Madi

Blogging again: a few kg fatter and a few shades whiter

Why I haven’t blogged lately:

Ok, so my computer is a demon. Well, not my computer, but the virus it got a couple of weeks ago is. How the virus guessed that I had a 2500 words report to write at that time, I have no idea. But I am pretty sure it knew about my report. It must have.

Having my laptop infected made me spend days and days at the library (and it made me very annoyed). And what’s more surprising is that I have an expensive antivirus. I can’t even write more about this, because it makes me upset. I am the type of person that tries to fix everything (in a really stubborn never-giving-up kind of way) and I like to pretend I am an expert; this time I couldn’t do anything and I felt powerless; and so I am using my mom’s laptop to write this post and update my blog.

How am I using my mom’s laptop?

I am “home home”. (home = Sheffield and “home home” = Portugal)

I am spending the Christmas holidays in Lisbon – about 10 days. It feels weird being away from Sheffield and the whole Erasmus life. And it feels weird that the weather is sunny and that I can cook properly and that I have a big bed and that the heater is always working. And it feels weird to speak Portuguese all the time and that I don’t have my flatmates knocking on my door to watch Home Alone or eat chocolate or just chill. And it feels weird. And weird again. It’s like I am living two separate lives. Two great lives, I must add. I wish I did not have to give up on one of them in February.

About Christmas in Erasmus:

I have been experiencing a different and more intense Christmas.

I bought a gingerbread man sweater and wore it before December. I bought Christmas tree earrings that light up when you click them. I baked so many cookies. I cut snowflakes and glued them on my door. I drank warm and delicious mulled wine. I hung a sock on my door and exchanged Secret Santa gifts (more than once). I went to three Christmas markets in three different cities.

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I did so many Chistmasy things that I am not used to. I think it wasn’t just because I was in the UK, but because 1. I have a lot of German friends (and I think Christmas is a big deal for them) and 2. We were all away from “home home” and these things brought us closer and represented another excuse for hanging out and having fun together. I thought I was a Christmas-lover because I listen to a lot of Nat King Cole and Michael Buble songs… This year…It’s just a whole other level!

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I have noticed some curious differences in what concerns Christmas traditions when comparing Portugal and the UK. British people wear bright funny Christmas clothes and accessories (like reindeer antlers) in a casual way – I think at “home home” everyone would laugh about that and probably take photos. This doesn’t just apply for this specific festive season – even for partying and going out they like to dress up.

Also, a lot of restaurants have signs saying “make reservations for Christmas evening” – I don’t know any Portuguese people that don’t stay home on the 24th. We usually cook codfish and turkey and have thousands of delicious sweets (my favourite one is called “dreams”).

About New Year’s Eve:

I am very happy that I am spending New Year’s Eve in London, watching the fireworks near the London Eye with my Erasmus friends. I normally spend the evening at home eating cheetos and playing board games, so I am looking forward to this new experience. Fireworks usually make me cry and I am 100% certain this will be the case this time. 2016 has been the best year ever for so many reasons. I will definitely write about it when 2017 comes.

(Tired now.)

Bye,

Madi

13 random facts about my (your) erasmus life

An unlucky number of things written in a very informal way – perhaps some of you will find these strangely familiar. Maybe I will come up with a few more at the end of the semester, which, by the way, is getting scarily closer and closer. I am not really sure how to feel about that and I prefer not to think about it.

I

– Ironing your clothes? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

II

– Washing your clothes? You sometimes find time for that.

III

– Planning to eat healthy… that will turn out to be way harder than you think. Basically, you will end up eating sandwiches (with your genius card points).

IV

– Planning to exercise… that won’t happen very often – because walking (especially in Sheffield) and dancing are already a pretty good workout + it is very cold outside + other great excuses.

V

– You will probably create accounts on social media platforms you have never used before(because everyone has whatsapp and if you don’t have it you’re just not cool and you are definitely not going to updated on all plans that your friends make),

VI

– “Partying is (definitely) not optional”.

VII

– Sleeping is just overrated.

VIII

– There will be plenty of opportunities to acquire excellent time-management skills – learning how to combine travelling plans/social life/studies/other things you never expected to do.

IX

– …and plenty of opportunities to acquire excellent money-saving skills – because you need money to do everything mentioned above.

X

– You will certainly abandon your comfort zone in every possible way.

XI

– You will learn new languages (at least some basic words = how to say “hi” or “my name is” and – the classic – cursing).

XII

– You will take so so so many photos that your phone’s memory will die (more than once).

XIII

– You will have the time of your life.

 

See you soon,

Madi