Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Moving to Groningen!

Hello again!
As I mentioned in my previous post. I have recently (Two weeks ago today) moved to Groningen, a city in the Netherlands. It feels really crazy to write that.

It's definitely been an emotional rollercoaster of a fortnight, ranging from "Wow, I'm such an Adventurer" to "What the hell am I doing here! When is the next flight home?" It's not easy moving somewhere that you don't speak the language, aren't studying, and don't have a job, and I'm sure that anyone who's done the same as me can confirm that.

I've always studied very intense and time consuming subjects so I've never had 'nothing' to do. This meant that my first week here was quite lonely if I'm completely honest. I'm lucky that I haven't moved here alone, but my boyfriend is studying and spends a lot of time at uni, which I completely understand as I was in that position only a few months ago!

It can be really hard to build up the confidence to get yourself out there in a place you don't speak the language, but I decided to take the "what's the worst that could happen" outlook. If i didn't go out and meet people, they definitely wouldn't come to me! I spent a few days just getting out and exploring the city. It's a really beautiful place, with lots of things to see and do.

To get myself out there and hopefully make some new friends, I've started volunteering at a local cat cafe! I've already done one day there! It's a really cool place right in the centre of town. (it's called Kattencafe op z'n kop for those of you who want to have a look!) Everyone I worked with was really lovely and definitely helped me feel more at ease in the city. They also all spoke perfect English which was a massive bonus! I had a really great day and I got to try lots of different cakes and coffees, once my shift ended I stayed for even more coffee and got to play with the cats. One little guy named Puk really took a liking to me (and I loved him too!) He is in the picture below. I have also started Dutch lessons. I've only had one lesson so far so I'm still finding the language very confusing, but hopefully I'll start to pick it up a bit quicker now, I will be doing lessons twice a week, and I'm hoping that it'll be another place for me to make friends! Alongside this, I've been scouring the internet for non student social groups. These are all things that I believe will really build my confidence and it's all very exciting!

Everyone that I've met so far has been so lovely and very welcoming, and I'm really loving the Dutch lifestyle! I've already got a bike and named her Betty!

Let me know if any of you have ever been to Groningen! Maybe you have suggestions of places to go or things that I need to see? I'd love some recommendations!

I'll keep you all updated on my adventure!

Leah xx

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Better late than never: My Summer

Hi Guys!
I know I always say how busy I've been so I won't bore you with that intro again. Instead I thought I'd just give you a little run through of what i did this summer, along with some photos!

I guess my summer began quite early this year, with a very badly timed (by accident) four day city break to Barcelona. The reason it was so badly timed was that we didn't realise at the time of booking that my end of year fashion show would be the same week. Luckily we'd be arriving back (very late) the night before the show. Barcelona was a really beautiful city, I'd definitely recommend it. It was quite different than our usual type of city break as we had the city and the beach all in one place! I've never really been to anywhere 'Properly' hot before, so this was very exciting for me! However, I had to find out the very hard way that my legs aren't as immune from sunburn as English summers had lead me to believe. My Barcelonian sunburn has scarred me for life (mentally, thankfully not physically.) I burnt so badly that my legs swole up and I ended up looking like a tree trunk at the end of year fashion show later that week! I also had to wear leggings and long sleeves for the rest of the city break which was not too enjoyable. I guess the silver lining is that I've learnt my lesson and carry suncream everywhere with me now, infact I think it's fair to say that I'm a little bit obsessed and I inflict it on eveyone I'm with too, i've got lots of blame for people not getting sun tans because of me and my factor 50!  Here is a picture of some of the beautiful architecture on the Sagrada Familia! The attention to detail really was amazing and I'd love to go back when it's completed.

Once I arrived back from Barcelona it was straight back to business and time to start the last minute preperations for the fashion show. (models, makeup and last minute garment alterations.) It was a very emotional evening, partially because of the amount of prosecco consumed, but mostly because it was the evening that our whole degree had lead up to. It finally seemed worth all the stress of fundraising, planning and late nights we'd put into it, and it was so lovely to have lots of proud family members and friends all in one place to celebrate our hard work. It was also amazing to see all our work come to life down the catwalk. For many of us this was our first fashion show displaying our own work, which made the evening even more special. Here is one of my favourite looks being worn on the catwalk! All designed, dyed and made by me! Followed by a picture of me sat with my exhibition space!

The next part of my summer was my first ever all inclusive summer holiday! At the beginning of June we went to Side in Turkey. We managed to get a really good deal online, due to the schools having not broken up for summer yet. The hotel was really lovely, and absolutely huge! I've never been in such a big hotel! It had a huge pool, a water park and it's own beach! It was a nice change from our usual city breaks being able to chill out and relax by the pool every day. We went on some great excursions too. On one day we visited a Turkish spa, which I would definitely reccomend you all to try if you go to Turkey. It's not your usual spa day but it was really interesting and ejoyable once you get used to all the foamy bubbles they cover you in! We also went on a boat trip which was a great experience once I had dosed up on motion sickness tablets. I've never been able to jump off a boat into the sea, come to think of it, this was my first ever relaxing boat trip, having only ever been fishing or on ferries before then. Our time in Turkey flew by as holidays tend to do, but I absolutely loved it and will definitely go back. Here I am at one of the many all you can eat meals that we enjoyed at the hotel, unfortunately looking rather freaked out by the half eaten fish staring at me from my boyfriends plate. (I'm not a big fan of fish) but I promise I looked much happier at all the other millions of meals we had! (I made my kimono myself too!)

After all of this excitement it was time to get back to real life, and start gradually moving out of my student house in Portsmouth. I found this really sad, and I still (almost five months on) don't feel ready to say goodbye to student life, but still, it was time to go back to London for a few months, to start work again and start saving for the next adventure. I always enjoy going back to work in the summer as we are all like one big family, and they are always so interested and supportive of what I've been up to. Here are two pictures, one of my uni house front door, which must be the shabbiest door in Portsmouth, and a picture of me in my glamourous uniform which I rocked for most of the summer.

On the 13th of July I graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a 2:1 in Fashion and Textile Design! It was a really exciting (but busy) day and it meant so much to have all my loved ones in one place especially to celebrate my acheivements. I'm still really proud of myself as doing a degree was definitely not a walk in the park! Doing such a subjective course caused me so much worry waiting for my overall grade as you can never really guage how well you've done in each unit, but of course now it al seems worth it. The photo below shows me on a giant deckchair at the celebrations in the park after the ceremony. It was a lot of fun to see all my friends dressed up like Harry Potter for the day.

Finally, and a very good finale to my summer, was a family trip to Orlando! It really is such an amazing place with so much to do and I don't believe anyone is too old to go there! I loved being in Disneyworld as it really did feel magical, but I am a massive child at heart, The firework display and the night time parade there were the best I've ever seen! We also visited Universal studios (as well as lots of other amazing places.) I can not put into words how much you guys must visit there if you're in Orlando! The Harry Potter rides alone make the trip worth it! Everything was done so cleverly and the 3D effects make the magic seem almost real! Universal has two parks, and I loved that one of the main ways to travel between the two was on the Hogwarts Express, which takes you between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Anyone who follows my Instagram will have already seen my complete spamming of photos, but here are some of my favourites.

I couldn't possibly go into detail about everything we did in Orlando, because the whole two weeks wer completely jam packed, but please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments or if you've been then please let me know what your favourite thing in Orlando is. As we were leaving, all the preperations for halloween were beginning and I would love to have stayed longer to see it all come to life!

So I guess that bring me to the end of my summer and onto a brand new adventure. I have just moved to the Netherlands! I am very much still settling in and finding my feet, but I am living in a beautiful city called Groningen. I will be writing another blog very shortly (possibly even by the end of the day) to tell you guys all about what I think of the city so far and how I've been helping myself to settle in!

Thank you to those of you who have stuck it out and read all the way through! I hope you all had really cool summers too! (It seems so strange to be writing that as i'm currently pretty cold)

I promise to blog again soon!
Leah xx