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In search for a new book that would open my mind and bring with it a new perspective on life, I stumbled across The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. I read the blurb and upon discovering that it was a love story, I knew that this would be one incredible romance. A romance that could spark within the worse death camp in history, would sure be interesting to read. Would they both survive? What if only one survived? I had to read it.

When I began to read this novel I had some basic understanding of what went on at Auschwitz, who the prisoners were etc. However, no documentary or history book could have prepared me for reading a true account of a prisoners experience. Automatically assuming that the tattooist of Auschwitz would be a German guard, I suddenly realised what the prisoners had to do to survive in this hell.

Documentaries about the holocaust and text books cover the facts alone. In my opinion, the victims of Auschwitz become a statistic and we never really get to slightly comprehend what it must have been like for them. Heather Morris sophisticatedly writes Lale Sokolov’s story in a way which brings light to the emotional and psychological struggle these innocent people experienced. Morris conveys the moral struggle that Lale faced having to ‘defile’ other prisoners bodies in order to stand a better chance of survival. He would tattoo hundreds (maybe even thousands) of new prisoners with their numbers, which would become their identity to the guards during their stay at Auschwitz. Being given an insight into Lale’s state of mind, it is hard to even comprehend the horrific acts against humanity which took place here.

Any true story written about the holocaust needs to be read and then read again. It is extremely important that we, as humanity, do not forget about what happened so that it will never happen again. There is one moment that stood out to me in this book, which I think I will always remember. (If you have not read this book then this is a spoiler alert). At the end of the novel, Lale and Gita’s son writes a tribute to his parents. In this, he writes about a time after his parents had just found out their business was going bankrupt. That evening, he saw his mum dancing and singing around with happiness. Surprised by this, Gary asked his mother how she could be so happy, given the circumstances. She replied that after experiencing what she did at Auschwitz, every day was a gift, the business failing didn’t require her to be unhappy.

I think this is an important life lesson to learn. When times are tough, you should remember there is always someone out there that’s had it worse. We should smile every day because every day is one to be grateful for. For this reason alone, I think The Tattooist of Auschwitz should be read by everyone.

 

After living in Manchester for the best part of three years, it now feels like home. That being said, when I first moved to Manchester from Essex, I found the city very daunting. I have lived very central to the city centre and so it feels like the city never sleeps (not that I’m saying that Manchester is in anyway on the same scale as New York City). Fortunately for me, my partner is from Manchester and so when I met him, I became more familiar with what to do in Manchester. There are so many different areas in Manchester to explore. So, I’ve compiled a guide to living in Manchester for the people who are thinking of moving to the city. This way you won’t be as clueless as me on my first day in Manchester and you’ll know what to expect.

A guide to living in Manchester

Everyone is extremely friendly

When I first moved to Manchester it was to study. From the first day at looking at universities I knew I wanted to move to the North of England. Everyone knows that northerners are really friendly and so why wouldn’t I want to move to Manchester? It was only natural really. I looked at other cities such as: Newcastle, York, Leeds but chose Manchester because of the course I wanted to study. I don’t regret choosing Manchester.

Before moving to Manchester, I never thought I was that shy, but after my first week of random strangers picking up conversations with me I decided I was. Sure, in my hometown people did talk to each other but not on the same scale as Manchester. The first time I was really surprised by a Mancunians generosity was when I was going home for the Christmas holidays. I had a suitcase taller than a child and when I arrived at the train station, the escalators weren’t running. Without a second thought, this guy carried my suitcase all the way to the platform for me, despite heading in the opposite direction.

Do not travel on football days – Especially the Derby

One thing I have learned the hard way whilst living in Manchester is to never travel across the city on football days. Just don’t do it. If you try driving, the traffic will never move and if you get the tram it’s equivalent to rush hour on the London underground. Lets not forget that the city isn’t just rammed with ordinary people. The city is rammed with football hooligans.

This also means that it isn’t always safe to travel after a match – especially after the Man United vs Man City derby. Violence breaks out everywhere. You want to stay far away from any pub – even if you’re not a football fan. There is nothing worse than an angry football fan who’s had a few pints!

A guide to living in Manchester

It is rammed with students

After my second year of university I decided to stay in Manchester for the summer and it was just a much better city to live in. I don’t have a problem with students, but when there’s over four universities in one city, it’s bound to get a little crowded! So, when the semester ends and all the students go home, the city becomes a lot more peaceful.  It also means there is less traffic down Oxford Road (where UoM and MMU are).

The Northern Quarter VS Deansgate

A guide to living in Manchester would not be complete without discussing the two main nightlife areas. Personally, I’m not big on ‘nights out’ but I do not turn my nose up to a glass of wine or two after a long day. There are two different areas of the city centre that are the main areas for a night out. They are Deansgate and The Northern Quarter. For me, they are both great areas to get merry, however, the two areas have different advantages.

The Northern Quarter is the more hipster area of Manchester. It is full with Jazz bars, vintage clothing shops, tattoo parlours, vegan restaurants and amazing quirky bars. Some places have cheaper drinks compared to Deansgate, however I wouldn’t say there’s a huge difference, it just depends on where in Deansgate you visit. One of my favourite places to visit in Quarter is The Frog and Bucket Comedy Club. Every Monday and Sunday (I believe) they host stand-up comedy night for up-and-coming comedians and it’s a brilliant, affordable night.

Deansgate, on the other hand, is a bit more up-market. During the day, it’s the business central hub and there will be suited people everywhere. In the evening, it comes as no surprise that there some really nice sophisticated bars. I can’t talk to much about these as unfortunately, they are a little out of my budget and so have not been. However, Deansgate also has average priced places. One of the best places to visit in Deansgate is the Peaky Blinders Bar – that is if you’re a Peaky Blinders fan, of course.

 

I could talk about the benefits to living in Manchester all day given half the chance. But, then that would turn into a novel, wouldn’t it? If you’re thinking about making the move, just do it. The worse that could happen is you want to move back to wherever you came from, which is easy enough to do. After all, you’ll only understand why Manchester is a great place to live after you’ve moved there! For more information on things to do in Manchester then check out my Valentine’s day ideas post for more inspiration!

It’s that time of year when I begin to start thinking about where I want to be this summer. After a hard year of work, there is nothing I would want more than chilling on a beach with a cocktail in hand. But, before you can be relaxing in paradise you need to consider a few things. The first thing you need to do is actually book a holiday, which sounds easy enough but when there are thousands of hotels to choose from, it can be hard to make a decision. So, I’ve decided to write a post containing all the things you need to look for in a summer holiday.

Budget

The first thing you need to consider is how far your budget will take you. There’s no point thinking of booking a holiday in Barbados for two weeks from England if the flight alone would steal half of your budget. Instead, perhaps looking at holidays within Europe would be a more realistic option. Fortunately, in this era you can get some really good deals, which is most probably why there are more people travelling the world than ever before!

You then need to consider how long your budget allows you to relax on the beach for. When you book a holiday through travel agents like Tui or Thomas Cook the standard holiday times tend to be either 7 days, 10 days or 14 days. That being said, you can go for longer so you just need to check how much money you have and how you’d like to spend it. Would you rather be abroad for longer and have to budget a bit when your on holiday or would you rather only go for 7 days but be able to splash on activities and drinks? It’s entirely up to you and what your preferences are.

What to look for in a Summer Holiday

Type of holiday

This sounds rather basic but it should be one of the first things you think about. What type of holiday do you want to go on? There are endless options here. Do you want to spend a whole week laying on a sunbed or do you want to have an action packed adventure where you are exploring every second of the day? Do you like water-sports? Are you a heavy drinker and would want to spend a week binge drinking on a strip somewhere. What about food? Do you want an all inclusive holiday or would you rather eat in a different restaurant every night?

I never stick to the same type of holiday. I’ve been on holidays where there’s been a beach full of water-sports. I’ve paraglided off a mountain in Turkey and I have also spent a week in Malia drinking way too many vodka cokes. That being said, I have never had a bad holiday and I love experiencing everything life has to offer. But, it all depends on what you want to do. Once you figure this out you can work out where exactly you want to travel to.

Location

Once you’ve figured out your budget and the type of holiday you are after, you then need to pick a location. The best way to do this is to scroll through holidays on travel agents websites. But please do not just look at a pretty picture and be sold straight away. These hotels hire professional photographers so that they look appealing. Sure the bedrooms and the pools look like a 5* hotel but where is the hotel. If you had to get a taxi everywhere when you’re there, would you want to go? Personally, I like the beach and the strip to be within walking distance so that there is always something to do during the day.

Once you find a hotel that has a great location and great facilities then find out where in the country it is. Are there really cool day trips you can go on to a different part of the island? These day trips can become the best parts of a holiday and I wouldn’t ignore researching into them. Put some money aside if you can because when you first get on your holiday you can speak to your holiday rep and they will have recommendations of things to do. These people are paid to do activities so that they can tell you all about them, use these people to your advantage!

What to look for in a Summer Holiday

Things to consider once you’ve found a hotel

  • Does the hotel have air conditioning? Believe it or not there are hotels in extremely hot countries that do not have air con. I’ve been there and it was extremely hard to get a good nights sleep in such extreme heats.
  • Is there WiFi? For obvious reasons, it is very expensive to use your phone abroad – unless you have an amazing phone contract. (In which case, how did you get it? What is your secret?)
  • Do you have to pay tourism tax? In some countries you may need to pay tourism tax for every night that you spend at the hotel. It can range in price, but is usually around 5-10 pounds a night. I’m not sure why this is a thing but it is something to look for when booking a holiday.
  • Will there be a safe in the room to keep your passports in? Whenever I travel anywhere I am always security conscious. I have an irrational fear that when I’m abroad someone is going to want to steal my passport and then I’d be stranded. Most hotel rooms will have a safe you can pay to use in your room however some may not. If you want your belongings looked away safe then this is one thing to remember.
  • Does the hotel have its own entertainment? A lot of hotels have their own entertainment at the pool and in the evening. If this is something you specifically want then make sure the hotel does this before booking.
  • How far away is it from the airport? Are transfers included? Having transfers included in your holiday is a life-saver. Otherwise you would have to worry about a taxi bill as soon as you get of the plane.
  •  

Read Reviews

This is probably the most important thing you should do when you’re looking for your summer holiday, or booking up anything in general. Reading reviews is probably the most accurate information you will get about the hotel. After all – these people have been to the place themselves. They will be more accurate then anything the hotel wrote themselves. 

That being said, most people will only write a review when there is something bad to say. I’ve learnt this by working at places like a zoo. You’d find that upset customers are few and far between but then there would be so many bad reviews online and hardly any good ones. Not many people take the time to write nice things, which is a shame. However, the reviews could be accurate. That is a risk you would have to take for yourself.

 

Anyway, I have come to the end of my advice for looking for a summer holiday. Have I left anything out? Comment below any advice you would give when booking up for holiday through a travel agents.

Valentines Day brings romance and joy to people all over the world. For some reason, there is a whole day out of the year dedicated to couples which part of me thinks it’s cute. However, the more rational side of me believes that Valentines day is a big marketing strategy for restaurants and bars to get more money out of people (but that’s a post for another day). That being said, I can speak from experience that when it comes to this time of year, my mind begins to become blank of Valentine date ideas. This will be my second Valentines day with my partner and as we live in central Manchester, there are endless things to do. Sometimes it’s when there are too many options that my mind begins to not function. Do you live in the Manchester area and are lost for ideas of how to spend Valentines day? No worries, dating in Manchester does not need to be difficult – as there are so many things to do. I have compiled a few Valentine Date Ideas in Manchester, U.K.

An Activity of Sorts

If you and your partner consider yourself to be adventurous and love fun activities then there is plenty of things to do on Valentines day in Manchester. Fortunate enough to have the whole day to celebrate Valentines day? The perfect start to the day would be to get stuck in with something fun.

Go Karting

With two perfect locations in Manchester, Go Karting is really accessible to get to. There is a track in both Trafford Park and in Deansgate. Just recently, me and my partner visited the Team Sport Go Karting in Trafford and we had the most amazing time!

Valentines Day in Manchester

If you’re a student and you’re looking for Valentines Day Date Ideas on a budget then look no further. You can Go Kart from just £15 and if you’re not a student, then don’t worry as they also have other offers available.

When you arrive you are given a suit to wear over your clothes and you will have to purchase either a 50p disposable balaclava (to wear under your helmet) or a £3.50 cotton balaclava. Once changed and your bags are packed away in lockers you wait to be called into the briefing room. This is where you will watch a fifteen minute safety video which tells you what all the flags mean. For example, if there is a yellow flag, you need to slow down to a walking pace.

Valentines Date Ideas in Manchester

The whole aim of Go Karting is to try and get the fastest lap time and so if you and your partner are the competitive type, then Go Karting would be the perfect place to spend Valentines Day in Manchester.

Roxy Ball Room

Roxy Ball Room in Deansgate, Manchester will always have a special place in my heart. This was where me and my partner went on one of our first dates and so I just think it’s perfect for Valentines Day.

Inside this bar you can play ping pong and/or pool and I just think it’s the perfect place to go on a date to get to know someone. The music isn’t too loud and if you wanted an activity that wasn’t too expensive then this would be perfect!

Valentines Day Manchester

Inflatanation

Dating in Manchester does not have to be boring when Manchester is home to one of the biggest indoor bouncy castles in the country. That’s right I did say bouncy castle! Call me a big kid but there’s nothing more fun then jousting someone on top of a giant inflatable pillar.

In terms of whether or not this place is suitable for a Valentine’s day date then it will all depend on what you do next. If you plan on heading for a nice meal (that requires you to dress up) afterwards then I wouldn’t recommend going to this place first. You only get an hour on the inflatable park but I promise you after half an hour running around and rock climbing, you will be red in the face and sweating. Take plenty of water!

Places to Drink in Manchester

Peaky Blinders Bar

If you’re a Peaky Blinder’s fan then Manchester is the place to be on Valentine’s day! It has a bar themed around the whole t.v. show. I mean, how cool is that! Although I have never watched Peaky Blinders, I have however visited the bar out of curiosity.

My initial impressions was that it wasn’t that different to an ordinary bar. Yes, it’s beautiful outside and it does have themed drinks and characters from the show plastered on the walls, but a bar is a bar. My impression of the place changed when about fifteen lads came in dressed in waistcoats and tweed caps. This made the place feel really authentic.

So, if you are a Peaky Blinders fan then I would definitely recommend visiting. Having watched the show, you may be able to see more from the experience.

Cloud 23

If you only had one day to spend in Manchester, then I would completely recommend visiting Cloud 23 for a cocktail. With a stunning view over the whole of Manchester, It is a perfect place to sit with your loved one for Valentines day. Or, if you’re looking for date ideas in Manchester in general then I would still recommend this.

Cloud 23 - Valentines Day Date

If you fancy climbing 23 floors for the view, make sure you dress up smart as there is a dress code. Also, remember that because this is a unique bar to drink in in Manchester, the drinks come with a heavy price tag. I think I paid around £12 for a cocktail that fit inside a champagne glass. Oh well, seeing sunset over the city makes it all worth it.

Revolucion De Cuba

With regular entertainment and 2 for 1 cocktails, Revolution De Cuba is one of my favourite bars in Manchester. Having only drank in here, I can only tell you how amazing the cocktails are. However, I have heard from many people that there is a brilliant Vegan menu. So, if you eat a plant based diet I would recommend this restaurant/bar for Valentine’s Day.

Revs De Cuba, Manchester - Date Night in Manchester

Places to Eat in Manchester

Chain Restaurants

Just like in every city, there will be plenty of chain restaurants to choose from and most of these will tend to be fair in price. These will include, but are not limited to: Bella Italia, Ask Italian, Bem Brazil, Nando’s, Chiquitos and many many more. Excluding Bem Brazil these meals tend to not be that expensive, especially if you have a discount code that you found online. However, if you are planning to use a discount code then make sure to check the terms and conditions of the voucher. Many promotions will not be valid on Valentine’s Day.

Gusto

My favourite Italian restaurant in Manchester has to be Gusto. It feels more classy than say Ask Italia and I wouldn’t say it is much more expensive. If you sign up to be a member of their dining club then you can often get up to 50% off your meal on certain days. Again check the terms and conditions as any promotions aren’t likely to be valid on Valentine’s Day.

Gusto Manchester - Valentines Day Date

Surrounded by fairy lights and candles, Gusto is one of the most romantic restaurant to dine at on Valentine’s Day.

Valentines Day 2019 in Manchester

Are you fully prepared for Valentine’s Day?

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading plenty of date ideas in the Manchester area. I hope you all have an amazing Valentine’s Day. However, before you go, there is something you should know. This post was a collaboration with 13 other amazing bloggers who have been preparing advice for Valentine’s day. I strongly recommend that follow their blogs so that you can read more valentine’s day advice over the next fortnight. Below is the schedule of posts for the next two weeks, with links to the blogs so you know where to find them!


Day 2 – Deanna is writing about, Valentine’s Day Makeup & Outfit inspiration
Day 3 – Lavrax is writing about, Edible and personalised gift ideas/valentines day baking
Day 4 – Megan is writing about, Valentine’s Day Ideas for Singles
Day 5 – Macey  is writing about, The Origin story of Valentine’s Day
Day 6 – Rach is writing about, Valentine’s Day ideas for the family
Day 7 – Molly has some Valentines cupcake recipes to share with you
Day 8 – Shealea is writing about, Sapphic romances that’ll make your heart soft on Valentine’s Day
Day 9 – Kerry is recommending some Valentines gifts for travellers
Day 10 – Vicky is writing all about Mindful Date Ideas
Day 11 – Divine is writing all about, The Perks of Dating a Mood Reader
Day 12 – Soph is giving advice on, Valentines Day gifts on a budget / for students
Day 13 – Koral is writing all about, Valentines Day and Mental Health
Day 14 – Lastly, Taiwo is writing a piece on, How to enjoy Valentine’s Day alone

After a short but scenic tour of Northern Ireland this past weekend, I thought I would write a review of one of the many things I got up to. Before heading to the airport on our last day in Northern Ireland, we decided to pass through Belfast to visit the Titanic Museum which tells you everything you need to know about the building of the ship and -of course – the sinking of the ship. Visiting the Titanic Museum in Belfast was incredibly interesting and the attraction even includes the opportunity to go aboard the SS. Nomadic – the last surviving White Star Line ship which was a sister ship to Titanic. For me, I have been a huge fan of the movie Titanic for as long as I can remember and I even did a school project on the tragedy at school. So, visiting the titanic museum in Belfast was well suited for me.

Lifeboat on board the Titanic
Replica of a Lifeboat on board the Titanic
Lower Class rooms aboard the Titanic

 

Cost and travel

Comparing the price to visit the Titanic museum against other museums I have visited, I would say the admission price was average or slightly above average. I purchased a student ticket for £15 however for an adult ticket the price goes up to £18.50. I would not say the ticket was overpriced however, for the price I would have liked the audio guide to have been included – rather than paying an extra £3. I didn’t opt for the audio guide however I wish I had. Having someone speak to you I find is a lot more entertaining that just walking around reading signs with lots of information on them.

In terms of travelling to the Titanic museum in Belfast, I simply got in an Uber from Belfast Lanyon Place train station. This was a lot cheaper than I had thought however Belfast is a city which you can easily walk around and have a little mooch. However, this wasn’t an option for me as I was on a time constraint. I was not sure how long walking round the Titanic Museum would take so I didn’t want to risk it. As a quick and selective reader, it took me around two hours to explore both the Titanic Museum and SS Nomadic.

The History of Titanic

If you love history then you will love the Titanic Museum in Belfast, it’s as simple as that. No detail is left out including but not limited to: the engineering logistics of the ship; the industrial city of Belfast and why the ship was made in this city; the working conditions for the men; and of course, the sinking of the ship. It also has a section on the myths surrounding Titanic and whether the movies were accurate in their depictions -which I found rather entertaining. Did you know that although Jack Dawson was a figment of James Cameron’s imagination, there was actually a passenger aboard the titanic named J. Dawson who unfortunately did not survive.

Although I love history I was expecting the Titanic Museum to revolve more around the sinking of the ship and not the industrial revolution. The museum could have had less information about this stuff and more interactive sections. It has a small ride and an interactive cinema exploring the wreckage on Titanic, however I could imagine children would easily get bored here.

SS Nomadic

SS Nomadic – the last White Star Line

Overall, I found climbing on board the SS Nomadic to be slightly underwhelming. If you weren’t interested in the Titanic Museum but would love to step aboard the ship then I would not recommend paying almost £20 for it. You could just get a nice photo in front of it and see it from the outside. When you step aboard the ship, it is empty and you can not go downstairs to where the men would shovel coal into furnaces. Perhaps this is due to health and safety but there is nothing interactive on the ship. Also, the information you are given by the tour guide on the ship is limited. He/she essentially tells you that the different patterned floor is allocated to different classes and that it was used during ww1.

Where Titanic was built
The huge space where Titanic was built.

Overall thoughts

If you are visiting Belfast then the Titanic Museum is something you should go check out if you are even slightly curious about the history behind the ship. It is an integral part of the history of Belfast. However in terms of how entertaining the Titanic Museum is compared to other Museums I’ve visited, I wouldn’t rank it. Perhaps this is because I didn’t pay extra for the audio tour? If I was a child I would quickly be bored and so there could be a lot more interactive activities about boats and ships in general to occupy children.

If you would like to read more travel related reviews from me, be sure to subscribe to my blog for updates on my new content. There will be more content about my tour of Northern Ireland very soon!

 

It’s the time of year when many university students start to panic over what they are going to do when they graduate. Some people have known what they’ve wanted to do since before they even applied to university and if this is you then great. If this isn’t you and you are feeling very lost then do not worry. You are not alone. I will hopefully be graduating in the summer and although I’m no careers counsellor, I already know what I want to do when I graduate. So, I thought I’d pose three questions to get you started in thinking about what to do after university.

Did you enjoy university?

The first question you need to ask yourself is did you enjoy university? If you did, then this could potentially open up the opportunities of diving into post-graduate study. Was there one module that you felt so passionate about that you’d love to learn more? Then maybe you should study a masters degree devoted to it? However, enjoying university does not mean you are obliged to carry on with academic study. Perhaps you enjoyed the organisational side of a degree – in that case you could look for a career which requires these skills. Maybe you took an interest and participated in a society that could propel you into a career? A good example of this is a media or creative writing additional activity. Participating in these clubs will provide you with the skills needed for a career in them, and if you enjoyed it then maybe its a good enough reason to go for it.

If you did not enjoy university then it goes without saying that you definitely should not continue academia into post-graduate study. There is absolutely no point in spending your valuable time doing something that you do not enjoy. Life is too short, move on and if you do not know how to move on then literally get a job anywhere. That’s a good place to start. You never know you’ll enjoy something till you’ve tried it.

Are you a money oriented person?

The second question you should ask yourself is, are you a money oriented person? Sure everyone loves having money, but there are specific people out there that get addicted to earning money and get a buzz off earning more and more. If this is you then you should do whatever earns you the most money. If you want a steady job then apply to the jobs with the highest pay and greatest career progression. However, despite doctors and humanitarians doing more moral jobs, it tends to be business people and those who work in finance that earn the most. Perhaps you can use that as your starting point for job searching?

If you are not a money oriented person then maybe you want to help people? Working for a charity is always a good place to start your job hunt. Not only will you be earning money to pay the bills but your job will also be making a difference to peoples lives. Obviously careers such as being a doctor or a nurse are very rewarding however studying these areas at university probably means you know what you want to do after university. Therefore, why are you reading this post?

Are you travel oriented?

The last question I think you should ask yourself is are you travel oriented? I ask you this because travel and tourism is all I want to do after I graduate and it’s not particularly money oriented or an ethical career path. Unless of course you volunteer abroad doing conservation work or rebuilding homes for people, for example. If you’re like me and the idea of settling into the same career for the next twenty years terrifies you, then maybe you should pack a bag and get on a plane. Of course, it takes steps before you can go backpacking, money for example and those steps are what will determine what you do after university. Do you need to move back with your parents and get a job with lots of hours for you to be able to afford to travel? Would you rather get a job on a cruise ship or become a member of cabin crew? If you ask yourself these questions now, then you will have plenty of time to plan your next steps before you graduate.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and I hope it has brought you some what closer to figuring out what you want to do after university. If you would like to read more of mine be sure to subscribe to my blog and don’t forget to follow me on social media for updates on new content!

I came to the realisation not long ago that the travel content on my blog was rather limited and there is a reason for this. I have not travelled anywhere in far too long. University commitments and lack of funds just keep getting in the way. None the less, I thought I’d create some travel advice content whilst I wait for that day when someone will just pay me to travel the world and not look back. Any takers? I’m PR friendly… I promise! Anyway I thought I’d start the advice with 10 things you should never do when staying in a hostel. I haven’t seen all of these happen but you’ll soon gather why I don’t see them to be hostel appropriate!

Number 1 – Do NOT leave the lights on

Do not be that annoying somebody who is the last one in at night and then forgets to turn the lights off before getting into bed. No one wants to have to get up and turn it off, especially when you’re half asleep and laying on the top bunk! This also goes for turning the lights on in the middle of the night. FUN FACT: in most dorm rooms you will have a personal light that is more than enough for when you decide to stay up all night reading a book. This also goes for turning the lights on at an appropriate time. If you have to be up at 5 am to catch a flight, how about having your stuff ready the night before so you can go change in the bathroom, gather your stuff and leave? That’s a smart idea you heard first from EarthtoConnie. Believe me, this is revolutionary to some!

Number 2 – Pack your bags the night before

Following on from my last point, if you know you have to be up at a ridiculous time in the morning to leave the hostel -please, please, please pack the night before. Being woken up with the rustling of bags in the morning is not fun for anyone. I will curse under my breathe if you do this to me. You are allowed a reasonable amount of rustling in the morning however if I roll over and spot you with your whole case unzipped and you’re reorganising the contents, then you may also get some eye rolls too!  You probably are thinking I must be a nightmare to share a dorm room with, but I promise I’m not. I’m only passive aggressive, you’ll barely know I’m there.

Number 3 – Keep the music to a minimal

Travelling and staying in hostels are so much fun. You will meet so many people and to some extent it’s perfectly acceptable to play music in a hostel. The social area is perfect for this and perhaps during the day in your dorm room too. But… you do need to be considerate of other people when you decide to play music. Are they sleeping? Reading a book and minding their own business? Remember they may be staying in a hostel and visiting the city for different reasons to you. They’ve probably paid the same amount of money as you and so just be respectful.

Number 4 – Do not demand anything

This is a bit of a weird one, but I’ll explain. I’ve stayed in a hostel and was sleeping on a bottom bunk (because who really enjoys sleeping top bunk?) It was possibly my third night in the hostel and so I was settled and had a place for all my stuff. We had a new roomy that day and within five minutes of entering the room and introducing herself she essentially demanded that she have my bed and I take the top. I felt so uncomfortable and avoiding confrontation I just agreed to it. I know every culture can be different but with no please and thank yous, this is particularly rude and inconsiderate. We didn’t speak since this incident and what annoyed me the most was that she was only there for one night only. Could she not have roughed it on top bunk for one night?

Number 5 – Find an appropriate place to leave your stuff

There is an unwritten rule as to where you leave your stuff when you’re staying in a hostel. For the most part, it is common sense. Top bunkers have the priority of the space underneath their ladder, there is a reason for this. If they’re going to accidentally jump down then at least it’s only their stuff there that might get damaged. Also, it makes sense for the bottom bunkers to have their stuff laid next to them on the floor. When you sleep it will be right next to them, I dunno about you but I wouldn’t want to be climbing over someone else’s stuff to get out of the bed in the morning. I hope this makes sense, I’m far too lazy to draw a diagram of what I mean for you.

Number 6 – Do not leave your laundry in the washing machine

If you are travelling for extensive periods of time, you will have to do laundry. Most hostels have laundry facilities however chances are they will only have one or two machines. Therefore, when you do your laundry you need to know when it’s ending so you can get it out of the machine asap. There’s nothing worse than an overly polite person avoiding doing their laundry because there’s some wet clothes left in there. No one wants to leave the clean clothes to smell damp on top of the washer, but no one wants to be waiting for your return. If you’re travelling the last thing you want to do is wait by a washing machine all day.

Number 7 – Have some personal boundaries!

This shouldn’t need to be a thing that is written in this post but unfortunately it needs saying. This hasn’t happened to me but it’s happened to people I know. It’s been the middle of the night and they’ve been woken up by two people having sex in the same room. I mean, why would anyone do this is beyond me. So yeah, I think there’s nothing more to be said on this…

Number 8 – Do wear clothes… Please?

Again, another odd one but there are people out there who aren’t ashamed to sleep naked. I’ve not experienced sharing a room with someone like this, but yet again I’ve heard these people are out there. I’m all for embracing the human body, but there are just some things you do not want to see first thing in the morning – or ever at all!

Number 9 – Sleep on the floor and then scare someone

Okay, this one is from a personal experience and I cannot explain just how odd waking up to this experience was. I have actually written a separate blog post all about this bizarre experience which you can read here. It is the second episode in my travel seriesThis one time…‘ and I can honestly say it was one of the most bizarre things to have happened to me… This is probably not a common occurrence (I hope anyway) but I thought I would include it just in case you feel the urge to do this.

Number 10 – Be the know it all

We’ve all met that person in a hostel who proceeds to tell you how they left there home town decades ago to find themselves and has no intention on returning anytime soon. They know everything about everything, and even though you didn’t ask them too they decide to give you a complete history lesson of the city you’re currently staying in. Did you just find all that on Wikipedia? Honestly, everyone is just going about their travels and no one needs their trip judged to be a holiday and not ‘real’ travelling. These people are the worst. Do not be these people!

Apologies that this post has become rather long – I didn’t know just how passionate about this topic. Perhaps I have a lot of built up aggression to all these annoying people I’ve experienced in hostels. I promise you I will write something more positive about hostels soon, I didn’t realise how pessimistic I was being. Staying in hostels are fun above everything else and I hope this hasn’t discouraged you from budget travel. Comment below if you have had any horrible hostel experiences that are actually quite comical! 

Want to write a travel story for my blog, contact me and I’ll be in touch with more details! 

 

 

 

Nan and her maid

Welcome back to my new series, “This one time…” If you are new to the series then you can read the first episode here, which is all about the most embarrassing moment of my life that took place at Yosemite National Park, California. Or you could read all about my trip to San Fransisco here which featured one of the most bizarre moments of my life. In this series, I hope to write as many comical and/or inspirational travel stories as I can. If you are interested in me writing up one of your stories then please, be sure to contact me and I can give you further details on the plans I have for this series.

Today’s story is inspired by my amazing and inspirational nan who – when she was just nineteen – travelled all the way from rainy England to the other side of the world with her husband. She stayed for two years because her husband was in the army and in that time it sounds like she was living the dream. Swimming in the morning and the beach in the afternoon – what more could you ask for?

Back in the day, it was custom that once you had found your man and got married than a baby would usually follow. Pamela was 19 years old living in Paradise, what a better time to ask for a baby? Living in army quarters she had an amazing housewife who took care of everything. The heat was unbearable for an English girl living in George Town and so Pam spent the majority of her time swimming and taking trips to the beach.

The other side of the world from her family, she soon began to become friendly with the maid, whom everyone called Nora although Pam suspect that was an English name they assigned her. Unfortunately, this friendship was challenging due to the fact that Nora’s English was limited and English was the only language that Pam spoke. Pam tried to show her gratitude by attempting to help her with the housework but she was pulled away all too often.

One of the unique quirky behaviours that the maid adopted was that every day she would always hand Pam a banana to eat throughout the day. When this first happened she was amazed at just how tiny the fruit was, they didn’t get them like that back in England. She thought nothing of it, perhaps it was what was grown out here.

In 1966 England won the football World Cup for the first time. It was a joyous occasion and all the Brits living out in Malaysia were over the moon. Everyone had a spring in their step. Not long after this triumph Pam happened to grab her neighbour who spoke both languages to ask her maid why the bananas were so small. It turns out it is an old wives tale for the locals that eating a tiny banana a day will help a woman fall pregnant.

Pam laughed at this and found it the sweetest of gestures. Of course, she was in no rush to have a baby but she was happy regardless. From then on, every time the maid would hand Pam a banana she would express that it was for the baby, usually by rubbing her tummy and articulating ‘baby’.

With no success, Pam left the Borneo jungle with only her husband. She came back to living a life full of housework and little money. Being back in England wasn’t quite the two year holiday like it was in Penang. It was just then, when she was drowning underneath a pile of laundry, that she discovered she was expecting.

“I guess the banana’s worked after all”, she smiled.

My beautiful Nan

 

 

To any of you who have worked in retail before, you will probably have a good indication as to the purpose of this post. Why? Because we have all been there. Listening to the manager explain to the customer what you said five minutes previously. Reorganising a shelf after already tidying it twelve hundred times that day. Last but not least, having to hide the frustration and resentment you have towards a difficult customer with a smile. It can be hell on earth but here I am explaining why everyone should work in retail at least once in their life…

It gives you thick skin…

I got my first retail job when I was 16 years old. I work at Colchester Zoo, to anyone who has heard of it. And no, I didn’t do anything interested like feeding the Meerkats, I merely worked in a gift shop. It was slightly different to the average retail job, meaning that you would often get to wander round the zoo with a giant handful of balloons or dress up like Jigsaw at halloween. I enjoyed the unique aspect to this job. However what I didn’t enjoy was something which all retail employees get to experience – being yelled at!

I had my fair share of nightmare customers come my way. One in fact decided to call me a bitch in front of his children because the monkey enclosure was closed for refurbishment. I mean, did I – at 16 years old – look like I had any authority in the overall running of the zoo? No, I did not. Did I have any control over the fact that this man stupidly didn’t check the website for updates on the runnings of the zoo. Absolutely not. Did I deserve to be scream at like a naughty child, NOOOO!

Working in retail you learn to develop a thick skin. You can’t let customers get to you even if you have been working ten hour shifts and really don’t care to actually ‘check the back’ when they ask. I mean, we’ve all walked to the cupboard stood for a few minutes only to regain some strength and then returned to the customer apologising for the lack of stock. Anyway, the point being is you learn to handle rude people and not let it get to you. This is one of the reasons why I truly believe everyone should work in retail at least once in their life. You’ll soon realise that you no longer get treated as an individual and adapt.

Your levels of patience will be tested!

When you work in the same shop for however many shifts, your patience will get tested. It will be the same routine and you will be repeating yourself to every customer that walks into the shop. You begin to get a routine in your head of what you said to each customer. For me I used to get so tired by the end of the shift I would end up not making sense and getting my words muddled. For example, instead of saying ‘hi, can I help?’ to a new customer I mixed it up with ‘enjoy the rest of your day’. They were beyond confused.

Ultimately, working in retail can result in you becoming more patient. There will be customers that will need something explained to them a million times and you just have to bear with them. Especially when they’re not rude, you’ll be eternally grateful and happy to spend a little extra time helping them out. You will also find customers that are beyond lovely and will ask about your day, rather than just complaining about the price of something. These people honestly lift your day up and get you ready for the next demon customer you have to face.

You meet the best of people

When you work in retail, especially in a big store, you get to meet a wide range of people. Some of who you’ll remain close to for long after you leave. You bond over the simplest things. One Boxing Day I worked and we had the privilege to sit down all day counting stock rather than having to deal with people – we literally just locked ourselves in a cupboard all day and opened up a puzzle we sold. It’s the little things that make you happy.

You also gossip about all the eventful things that happen at work. One summer Ed Sheeran paid a visit to the zoo with his family and it was so exciting. When he came into store, we all laughed at our managers who were bothering him more than the customers.

You grow a new respect for employees wherever you are…

To sum up, why everyone should work in retail at least once in their life is so that they grow a new respect for employees wherever they shop/eat at. Since I started working in retail I will never put something back in the wrong place, because I know how frustrating it can be to the employer. I have also grown to always be polite to the employee and never treat them as if they are not an individual. Sometimes big companies don’t pass down information to the lower-level employers so it is just unreasonable to be rude or belittling because they do not know something.

What I hate most in the world is watching a customer be incredibly rude to an employee and the staff member not knowing what to do. As much as we would like to put you in your place, we are always told to polite to customers I just wished it worked the same way!

 

Anyway, there are my reasons as to why everyone should work in retail at least once in their life. I would love to think that this post has inspired you to apply for a new job, but lets face it, it probably hasn’t. Working in retail sucks but at least I have done it and can take lessons learned onto my next occupations.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Comment below your worst experiences working in retail or the worse things you have seen whilst shopping!

 

When I first heard that PsychoTraveller, my favourite YouTuber, was releasing her own book I knew that I was to read it straight away. I have followed Aly’s adventures for years and she even inspired me to create my own travel blog. 15 year old me would catch up on her videos after school and would always watch on with excitement for my own travels I knew I’d embark on. Where is she?: Travel to Trauma: One Woman’s Journey To Completely Losing Herself left me speechless with both sadness and frustration. However, because of the incredible woman Alyshia Ford is, the book takes you on a journey of incredible strength and courage.

In the initial few chapters of this book I found myself reading with excitement. She was headed off to embark on her one year working holiday visa in Australia. Living the dream, she soon began to experience the typical life of a backpacker. Meeting new friends, budgeting and exploring this amazing country. I read in envy at her experiences; from raising a baby lamb, to meeting real aboriginal people. On top of this, her writing style is very comical at parts – she described brilliants moments such as when a tour guide told her he ‘didn’t think’ there’d be crocodiles in a lake she was advised to wash in.

The title of Psychotraveller’s book reads, ‘One Woman’s Journey To completely Losing Herself’.  Initially I had assumed that by ‘losing herself’ she meant she was physically losing herself in the big world wide. I found I was wrong and by ‘losing herself’ she meant how she had to find who she was again after she experienced a horrific event. This book takes you on her road to recovery. I thought I knew her just from watching her on YouTube, and this book has taught me that you can never truly know someone in front of the camera. Aly is incredibly brave for sharing her story and I honestly believe this book is a service to society and can help so many people.