Tacos & Tequila: Week 1 In MEXICO CITY

Mexico, that country that speaks Spanish, is renowned for its tacos and tequila and apparently Trump doesn’t like people from there. That’s about the extent of my knowledge of Mexico before arriving and commencing my studies in its capital, Mexico City. So how did I end up here? Well you may recall that around this time last year, I was completing a short course in La Rochelle, France, with a company called AIM Overseas (you can read about my experiences in France here). And after having such a life changing and incredible experience in France, I looked into their programs to see how I can escape another Australian Winter.

That’s when I came across their program taught at the University of La Salle in Mexico City titled ‘Immigrants, Human Rights & Mexican Society.’ Damn what a mouthful hey! Since I’m studying International Studies with Communications & Media Studies, I’ve always been fascinated, concerned and frustrated with current social and political perspectives towards migration, especially of refugees desperately trying to reach Australia. After finding out that I could receive a second OS Help Loan, I found myself being accepted into the program and on my way to Mexico City to study something that I’m deeply passionate about.

So here’s a look into what happened in our first week in Mexico City!

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Taking in the view of a city of 22million

Arriving

Arriving in a new destination, particularly one you’ve never been to before and don’t speak the language, can be extremely daunting. Luckily, La Salle organises an airport pick up. So there was someone at the airport to greet me with a friendly ‘Hola!’ From there, I joined a crew of other students in my program and in the Public Health Program (another AIM Overseas program offered at La Salle), and we filed onto the bus to take us to our new homes. Our ‘Immigrants’ group is staying at a lovely hotel in the funky, safe and colourful neighbourhood called La Condesa. I met my roomie, Rosie from the University of Melbourne. She’s a red head too, so we came to the understanding that they matched us based on our hair colour – but we get along really well so AIM definitely did a great job.

Across our arrival weekend, I met the other students in the program from all different degrees and from universities all across Australia. This diversity, I could tell, would be extremely valuable when it comes to discussing such a complex topic of migration. And to top it off, everyone is like minded and passionate about the same thing as you, so it’s safe to say that everyone is pretty damn cool.

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The colours of La Condesa, our funky neighbourhood

Classes

On Monday morning we were escorted to the university so we could take notes on directions. Luckily La Salle is a quick 10-15minute walk away from the hotel. Monday was our Orientation day where we were given a tour of the university and neighbourhood, we discussed our schedule for the three weeks, took our photos for our student ID’s and had an awesome welcome lunch.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were quite intense days of classes. We covered everything from Contemporary Mexican Society, Mexico-US Migration Management and Human Rights and Legal Issues surrounding Migration. Tuesday and Thursday afternoon we had our crucial ‘Survival Spanish’ classes where we covered important topics like how to order a beer and make sure you don’t order the super spicy tacos! All of our classes have been taught by extremely passionate and inspiring professor’s making the long days of class very engaging, interesting and informative.

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Some of the sites and colours you can expect to find downtown

Professional Site Visits

As much as this course is academic, it is equally practical where we get to immerse ourselves in the realities for many migrants and refugees arriving to Mexico. On Friday, we visited ‘Casa de los Amigos’ and ‘Casa Tochan’, both are houses providing support and accommodation for newly arrived migrants and refugees. At Casa de los Amigos, we were given a tour of their facilities and a presentation going through some of the services they provide these people. They receive migrants and refugees mostly from Central American countries like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, however when we visited they had several refugees from Somalia and Cameroon. It just goes to show that as long as there is conflict and danger, people will go to all lengths to find somewhere safe for themselves and their families.

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Outside Casa de Los Amigos
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Kindness is a universal language
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After our presentation from Casa de los Amigos

After Casa de los Amigos, we headed to Casa Tochan, a much smaller house, yet doing some pretty incredible things and making a real difference to those looking for support, shelter, food, services and kindness. At Casa Tochan, I met three Honduran refugees, aged 17, 19 and 22. They told us their stories (with the help from a translator) and it was an incredibly powerful, emotional and confronting experience. One of the young boys entire family had been murdered in Honduras and therefore, he was escaping out of fear of being next. It was all very raw and emotional, yet the part that I’ll never forget was when another girl on the program asked how they felt with us coming to visit Casa Tochan. They responded that they were so grateful because it makes them feel like there’s people out there that actually care about them and the situation they’re in. I must admit, I spent a lot of the afternoon wiping away tears from my eyes because I was so overwhelmed with their kindness, hope and strength. The reality of looking someone directly in the eye and creating a bond that transcends language, culture or class is an experience that can never be taken away and to those young boys that I had the absolute honour of meeting, I will never forget their bravery.

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The mural painted in the common area at Casa Tochan
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Our group and awesome tour guides
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A mural on the street near Casa Touchan painted by migrants. This bird is the national bird of Honduras and it represents the freedom they’ve gained from spreading their wings.

Other Events

Friday afternoon we were treated to a salsa class, a fun way to lift spirits and get in a good work out. For anyone thinking that salsa is all about the skirts, you’re wrong. Be prepared to sweat!

This weekend was a hectic weekend of soaking up a lot of culture and history. On Saturday we headed to the famous Pyramids! Walking among thousands of years of history sure was memorable. On the way back to the city, we stopped at the Basilica de Guadalupe, the second most important Catholic religious site, the first being the Vatican.

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Rosie and I conquering the Sun Pyramid
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The Immigration group & Public Health group after galavanting all around the Pyramids.
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The 1st and 2nd Basilica de Guadalupe. Because of the ground it’s built on, the buildings are actually sinking, meaning that not many buildings are straight. But it sure adds character.

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On Sunday we were completely immersed in the hustle and bustle of Mexico City and given a tour of downtown. We visited the Cathedral, the old palace with murals by Diego Rivera (OMG fan girl!) and Templo Mayor. To add to the craziness of downtown, there was also a really popular football match on where they had big screens everywhere!

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One of my very good friends actually lives in Mexico City. His name is Victor and we met when he came to Wollongong on exchange in my first year. 3.5years later, he was showing me around his home town, complete with tacos, tequila and pulques. Being reunited with old friends is definitely one of the best things about travel and I’m so grateful that he’s been able to show me around such an incredible city.

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Victor and I

Well I honestly don’t know where times gone. 1 week down, 2 more to go. One thing I’m really realising is just how fortunate I am to be given such a unique opportunity of studying one of our century’s most complex and urgent movement of people, in a country that is so heavily involved in the process, whether it be sending, receiving or simply a transit for people, Mexico and immigration go hand in hand. In the 1 week I’ve been here, I’ve learnt more about Mexico City and Mexican Society than I have in my whole life and I’m quickly learning that there’s much more to this incredible place than tacos and tequila (yet still very important).

[You can follow my adventures on Instagram @aworldlyaddiction]

 

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: JUNE 2017

What a freakin whirlwind of a month! I started stressed out of my mind about submitting my final project for the semester at uni, and now I’m en route to Mexico City. And the craziest thing is that this time last year, June was the epic month where I jet setted across to Europe about to commence my French program in La Rochelle. I remember feeling super excited but equally nervous. And I think that’s how I’m feeling right about now, sitting in Cancun airport with an overpriced salad and burnt coffee. But before I get too ahead of myself, let’s throwback to the epic adventures had this month!

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💕 Friends

What’s a month without some epic memories with some amazing friends of mine. Everything from house parties, gigs, dinners, library study seshes, and even my friend Max visiting all the way from Montreal! I especially loved going to my friend Pete’s gig at Rad bar (plz don’t forget me when you’re famous) and going out in Sydney with my besties and family before jetting off. I’m so lucky to have such amazing friends who show me such kindness and support and I’m always grateful to have them in my life so huge shout out to y’all.

❤️Family

Mum you get a special shout out here because I’ll always be grateful that you come to the airport with me at 6am just to make sure I’m all checked in and to give me one last hug and kiss goodbye. It’s probably the sweetest thing ever and one of the many reasons I love you.

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🎆 VIVID

My favourite time of year in Sydney! Winter’s finally kicked in which means boots, coats, scarves and the need to galavant around Sydney Harbour. I actually didn’t take my camera so you’ll have to settle for this iPhone shot of the Opera House, but I had such an amazing time taking in all of the beautiful lights of this city.

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🇺🇸LA

Woo! Back in LA baby! Words really can’t describe how happy I was to be back in LA. Despite horrible jet lag and forgetting my PJ’s (how do I always forget my pyjamas!?), it was amazing to be back in some sunshine and back in Santa Monica. I went into full holiday mode – taking myself out to lunch, long walks on the beach, shopping at Brandy Melville (yay!) and catching up with friends, it’s easy to see how this place is loved by so many.

🇬🇹 🇧🇿 🇲🇽 Central America

Now this is where the whirlwind starts… 17 days of exploring, drinking, hiking, jumping off of waterfalls, 10 hour long travel days, going to a rave in an empty swimming pool, sailing in the Carribean sea, swimming with sharks, countless boats, eating so many tacos, getting sick, staying with a Mayan family, learning Spanish, meeting the most amazing people, swimming with turtles (I’m in love with those turtles), and getting the most sunburnt ass I’ve ever had….. doing the Mayan Sun tour with G Adventures from Guatemala, through Belize and to Mexico has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life. I felt challenged, inspired, motivated, educated and a little slimmer because of getting sick, but I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about it (except maybe the sickness part). Watch this space for more posts about the specifics of the trip!

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My amazing German roomie on the G Adventures trip! #iminlovewiththoseturtles
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Our awesome G Adventures crew in Antigua

🎥 Flicks

Moonlight. The best thing about long plane rides, is that you get to watch a fair few movies. And when I saw this on the list I couldn’t press play fast enough. After winning best picture, damn I was so intrigued. It’s an absolutely beautiful film with some honest, raw and incredible scenes that really stick.

Lion. Note to self – when watching this on the plane – prepare the tissues! Dev Patel is absolutely outstanding and this incredible true story will have you in tears and filled with love. Honestly can’t recommend enough!

What If. Daniel Radcliff is slowly stripping away his Harry Potter label and I’m loving it! This film literally had me laughing out loud, cringing and just really enjoying this cute, artistic and creative film.

🎶 Tunes

MØ – Nights With You. Ah I’ve literally had this on repeat and I’m addicted. It’s just so damn catchy and I can never get it out of my head!

Chronixx – Here Comes Trouble. This song just takes me right back to Belize…. enough said.

📷 Bloggers & Vloggers

I really haven’t been watching many vloggers lately! GASP! But the one guy that I keep going back to, and keep absolutely freakin loving… is my man, Logan Paul. So here’s a cute photo of him that I’m in love with…. ah.

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@LoganPaul

📝 Quote

Again, because this month has been so hectic and so fast paced, I haven’t exactly had a quote or motto to get me through. I was just taking it one day at a time and doing the best I could with it. When we were travelling around Central America, a lot of the time we didn’t have access to wifi, or functional wifi so I never took my phone out with me. And as ridiculous as it sounds, it was so refreshing turning off.

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So… that’s done. I can’t believe how quickly this month flew by. And I’m afraid July is going to do the exact same thing! I’m so incredibly grateful for the incredible experiences I’ve had, especially in Central America with the special memories created. This July, I’ll be spending 4 weeks in Mexico City studying Immigration, Human Rights and Mexican Society. It’s an AIM Overseas course (and if you remember correctly, I studied in La Rochelle with AIM – so you already know how amazing their programs are and you can certainly expect lots of blogs and posts from Cuidad de México!

Upcoming Travel Plans (3 NEW COUNTRIES)

You know me, a few months at home and my feet are already itching for a new adventure. But how, when, where? After returning from my epic trip to Europe and North America, I’m pretty broke and most people assume I’m going to quietly finish my degree and prepare for adult life. HELL NO! When have I ever done anything quietly, or done what is expected of me? OK, enough foreplay, let’s jump straight into the juicy details of my epic travel plans.

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Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Where: USA, Guatemala, Belize & Mexico

Flying into Los Angeles, I’ll be spending a few nights adjusting to jetlag and just embracing being back in that fabulous city again. Then I’ll be flying to Antigua (Guatemela) to start a 16 day G Adventures tour called the Mayan Sun (click here for more tour info).

From Cancun, I’ll be flying to Mexico City where I’ll spend 3 weeks, before returning to LA and then back to Sydney for the start of Spring semester (and my last semester at university).

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What: G Adventures Tour & AIM Overseas Short Course

Mayan Sun: 16 days exploring the best of Central America! And it looks pretty freakin epic. Through Guatemala, Belize and ending up in Playa del Carmen in Mexico, it’s definitely going to be 2 and a half hectic, crazy and amazing weeks of adventure. Between Mayan ruins, pyramids, islands, rainforests, beaches and jungles…. I’m not sure if anything can really prepare me for this adventure. The map of the itinerary is below.

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Mayan Sun (Northbound)

AIM Overseas: If you’ve been following my journey for a while now, you would have known that last year I did an AIM Overseas short course in La Rochelle, France (if you missed it, you can catch up here). I’m back and doing another one. I’ll be studying Immigration, Human Rights & Mexican Society for 3 weeks in Mexico City. Over th course of 3 weeks, we’ll be exploring and learning about the history of migration patters and relations between USA and Mexico, different push and pull factors and looking at who are migrants (women, children, illegal immigrants, workers, care takers etc). I know this experience will be hugely confrontation, but I believe what I will learn and gain from this experience will shape and influence my career objectives and motivate me even more to change the world. Program info is here if you want to find out more.

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Mexico City. 

How: Government Funding and Graduation

I know that I’m super lucky to live and study in Australia, a country that supports my tertiary education and experience. I will receive an OS-Help Loan (a loan of $6500) that goes onto my HECS, along with the rest of my education fees and I only start paying off my student debt once I start earning over $50000 a year (freakin amazing system and I’m so grateful). This loan is designed to assist students with the costs of studying overseas (flights, program fees etc). If it wasn’t for this loan, I would not be able to afford to participate.

The degree I’m studying is International Studies/Communications, and as part of my degree, the university encourages us to travel and study abroad. Therefore, I’m able to receive credit towards my degree to help me graduate (pretty cool hey?!).

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Tikal, Guatemala

Over to you

So now I’ve told you my plans, now I need your advice, input and expertise. Have you been to any of these places? Do you have any tips, advice, words of wisdom? Any must see places? Must eat, drink, buy? Please let me know because I’d love to hear from you!

Well – there you go, my epic travel plans for July. I know it’s going to come around in the blink of an eye so watch this space!

Peace!

 

 

 

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: DECEMBER 2016

I’m not sure whether it was the fact that I didn’t want 2016 to be over yet, or the fact that I’ve barely touched my laptop in the past few weeks, as to why this post is late. Nonetheless, December was a pretty crazy month. With exams and finals, my family coming to visit, having to say goodbye to some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met and travelling around America, I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath. Oh, and Christmas was in there too. I’m so blessed to have had some of the best experiences in my life in the month of December, so let’s get into serious reflection mode.

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TRAVEL

Lucky me got to do a lot of travel this month! I started the month in New York where I was reunited with my family after 6 months without seeing them. New York was unlike anything else. You can check out my YouTube video here. It was so great seeing my family again, especially to be able to experience a new city like New York with them. A highlight was definitely the day that we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, plus when Elly and I rode our bikes through Central Park.

And the end of the month was spent in San Francisco, California with my sister. After -20degrees, snow, blizzards and freezing my ass off in Montreal, we were pretty stoked with 12-15 degrees and sunshine! San Francisco is also where we celebrated New Years Eve and despite my sister’s complaint (I had the smart idea of watching the fireworks from the hill near our hostel, however our view of the fireworks were completely blocked by a huge tree), I had a truly lovely New Years Eve. You can check out my San Francisco video here.

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Oh New York

CHRISTMAS

Christmas is always a special day, and what made it even more special and memorable this year was the fact that I got to spend it with my friends and family in Montreal. My two girls, Chloe and Chantelle, came from America to stay with me for a week over Christmas. On Christmas Day, I had a huge party at my house, inviting all of the stray exchange students I knew who would otherwise be spending it with a case of beer and Netflix (OK, that would’ve been me if I didn’t have a party). But OMG I had SO MUCH FUN. We made so much food, there was way too much alcohol and I got to spend Christmas with people I utterly love.

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My little Christmas family

SAYING A BIENTOT

Urgh, the absolute worst thing about travelling and meeting such incredible people is the moment you have to freaking say goodbye. Honestly, it’s the worst feeling, experience, emotion, everything in the world. There were many tears shed, hugs and embracing lasting minutes, parties, drunken hoorahs and truly painful FaceTimes and waving at airports (Eva, Rosa and Marc, I blame you guys for that). As cliché as it sounds, going through such a heart breaking goodbye really makes me realise just how special, genuine and loving these relationships I’ve created are. So as I’ve said a billion times before, it’s not goodbye, it’s see ya later. In the meantime, enjoy a Pabst at Reggies for me.

TUNES

Well the other day I (finally) voted for my top 10 songs for Triple J’s Hottest 100. It was a very stressful time in my life and I’d like to thank each of you being there to support me through these difficult and strenuous times. But I made my decision and you can check it out below. By the way, my number 1 song was Viceroy- Violent Soho.

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FLICKS

 

The Grinch

December and Christmas mean one thing and one thing only… The Grinch. I legitimately watched it three times this month and my god is it quoteable af. I try to channel his sassiness and attitude regularly in my life and damn it feels good.

Barry

I really liked this film. It was sweet and simple, with some very important messages. Without going into the heavy politics of the US President elect Donald Trump, I think it actually made this film better. It’s the knowledge that Obama is leaving the White House and very rosily looking back at his early years as a college student, where it all started.

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YOUTUBERS

Dansvibes makes another appearance, because his Vlogmas was honestly, INCREDIBLE. I watched his vlogs everyday and his presence on camera is so natural, real and personal, how could I not watch?! We met up for an epic coffee crawl in the Plateau (you can watch the video here) and we talked all about YouTube, filmmaking, vlogs and life. Dan – you’re an absolute inspiration and I admire your dedication, enthusiasm and just loveability.

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TUNES

Sleep On The Floor: The Lumineers

This month I found myself watching this video clip over and over and over again. Not only is their entire album truly on point but ahhhh I just love the stories their video clips tell.

September: Earth, Wind & Fire

This song makes me instantly happy! I. Just. Can’t. STOP.

Fumes: EDEN

In all honestly, EDEN’s entire EP is incredible. But this song just hits me right in the feels.

QUOTE

Mmmm… what’s a quote, a sentence, a few words that sums up this month? The quote below really helped me get through the rough times of saying goodbye to Montreal and all the incredible people there. That adventure has come to an end, but it had to to make way for a new one. And I’m freakin excited to see where this adventure takes me.

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So to all of you out there… happy new year and I hope that 2017 takes you on a truly epic adventure.

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: OCTOBER 16

This has got to have been one of the craziest months I’ve had! Literally every weekend I’ve travelled somewhere or had a major event on. The reality of living in Montreal has finally sunken in, I actually have to study (I did NOT sign up for this) and boy it’s getting cold outside! I’m so grateful for all of the incredible experiences I’ve had this month and intend to ride this wave of inspiration and happiness through til the end of the year. Donc, (probably one of my favourite French words around), here are my favourite things from October!

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The beautiful Washington D.C

U.S of A

So I started October in the land of the free (or until Donald Trump came along), in Washington D.C. It was my first time in the states! And man could you smell the patriotism. I stayed with my amazing friends that I met in La Rochelle! It was so wonderful to see them again! I miss them all already and can’t wait to see where our paths cross again. Oh and yea, I guess I saw some cool things too – you can check it out below.

Quebec City

My friend Emma and I did a day trip to Quebec City and Montmorency Falls. Unfortunately it poured rain THE ENTIRE DAY! But the falls were truly incredible. It looks like I’ll have to come back for Quebec City another day!

TORONTO with CISA

This was a pretty hectic weekend! CISA is the Concordia International Student Association and a whole bus load of us went to Toronto for the weekend to set ourselves loose on the city. We were off to a rocky start because to get there, we caught an overnight bus. I may or may not have been (nope, definitely was) drunk. Whilst I got a good sleep, we arrived at 6:30am and couldn’t check in to the hotel until 4pm. Let’s just say the struggle was real. Our little squad consisted of Emma, Tim (Aussies as well) and Elena (this gorgeous girl from California). We explored Toronto together and made it up the CN Tower, and visited the St Lawrence Food Market. The next day we also went to Niagara Falls and tasted ice wine. On the way back to Montreal we stopped in Kingston (which I later learnt was the first capital of Canada) where we had THE BEST RAMEN EVER! It was a crazy weekend but I met some truly amazing people.

BUFFER FESTIVAL

One of the best weekends I’ve had. Ever. Period! Not only did I get to meet some of my idols like Louis Cole, Ben Brown, Nicole Eddy, Tim Kellner, Raya Was Here, Steve Booker… but I was inspired beyond belief. I saw incredible performers and creators who live their lives so beautifully. They make the most of every day and try to capture the beauty of this world through a camera lens. Words really do fail me here so check out my video below.

HALLOWEEN

OK so to some of you, it may be a surprise that Australia, doesn’t really celebrate Halloween… *gasp* I know right? But, it made me even more excited to be in Montreal for Halloween! It was – again – crazy fun. My friends and I went hard. We went out Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, which meant we needed 3 different costumes. And for those of you who know me – I LOVE dressing up! It was a pretty cool experience to go to house parties, clubs and bars, walking the streets with fake blood spilling out of my mouth and just having a great time with my friends!

[By the way if you couldn’t tell, I was Wednesday from the Addams family and a dead Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn]

Tunes

Kings of Leon cover Robyn’s Dancing on My Own

I’ve had this song ON REPEAT! I love K.O.L and this song just fits them sooooo perfectly!

EDEN

I’m basically just loving everything from these guys. I love listening to them when I’m writing and have a cup of tea in hand. I don’t know, I guess perfection does exist!

Vloggers & Bloggers

Well after BufferFest I went on a YouTube BINGE and found some pretty awesome creators!

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Damn guys get onto this! I was lucky enough to meet Dan at Buffer Fest and he’s a creator from Montreal. I love his style and his personality is so genuine! He’s definitely inspired me to be more comfortable and ‘myself’ in front of the camera! You can subscribe to his channel here!

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Logal Paul

OK so you know me, I’m always a little late to the party, but now that I’m here… OMG! This guy is the epitome of entertainment. He’s probably definitely slightly very crazy. But he’s 21 years old and is carving his way in the extremely competitive world of Hollywood and damn he works hard for it. This past weekend I’ve binge watched about 15 of his videos so if you’re in need of a laugh – be sure to check this guy out.

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Reads

So this month I was on a bit of a streak with books (I’ve been actively trying to read more because damn isn’t that feeling of accomplishment amazing when you finish a book?!).

‘Modern Romance’ by Aziz Ansari.

OMG this book is way too real for anyone who has tried Tinder, waited a significant amount of time to text someone back or just caught in the delusional world of modern dating. What I love about this book is that it’s not just someone’s opinion – whilst he is absolutely hilarious! But he conducted a significant amount of research with sociologist, Eric Klinenberg. I flicked through this book in just three days and I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

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‘You Can’t Touch My Hair’ by Phoebe Robinson

This is a great page turner. It’s light hearted yet addresses very serious issues of race. As someone who has benefitted immensely from white privilege, reading this book is extremely eye opening to the every day, casual racist behaviours inflicted on people of colour. At some points I wish that she had dug deeper and really hit the nail on the head, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be one of those books. This is her experience and thoughts on black culture and it was incredibly enlightening.

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Quote

This one has really been resonating with me lately. I’m at this weird stage where I’ll be packing up and leaving this newly created life before I know it. But I feel like I haven’t exactly left my mark here yet. The friendships I’ve been lucky enough to create have meant so much to me and I’m incredibly grateful. And I guess I’ve been reflecting on past experiences (when I lived in London). Over time you forget the little details but you know how much people mean to you because that’s something truly unforgettable.

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Well…. October. DAMN! November, you better be AMAZING because you’ve got a lot to live up to!

xxx A