The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Friday, 31 May 2013


'There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them' - J. K. Rowling

First year at uni and a twelve-foot mountain troll have their similarities don't you think?

We did it! We made it to the end of freshers! All in one piece with most of our sanity, which is a nice bonus. I like to say 'we' rather than 'I' as I feel it is something we achieved as a collective, rather than a single handed effort. So this post is dedicated to all those lovelies who've made my life just that little bit brighter, just by being themselves.

Overall, first year has been an amazing experience for me. I've met some of the most incredible human beings to have ever walked to earth and I feel so so blessed to know we have many more years of friendship ahead of us. Little did I know when I started out on my university adventure that I'd make friends that are scattered from Mexico City to Melbourne to São Paulo to Essex.

I was talking to a friend about the pros and cons of having friends from all over the world. Luckily, I'm super good at keeping in touch with people, even if it's just little updates now and then and I don't tend to get awkward even if I leave years before seeing a person again. I cope pretty well with long distance friendships; it's not that I don't miss people, it's just I've learned to not dwell on it. I like that I can travel almost anywhere and I can always find a familiar face. I also like living for right now, enjoying the company of those around me rather than lamenting those who aren't. Plus, it makes it all the more special when you do see someone and you can really appreciate your time together.

'There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature' - Jane Austen

This year has been a strange one as far as making friends goes, with all the exchange students coming and going at Christmas my year has had a strange divide, since the two groups were really quite different. Although I wish I'd got to spend more time with both groups, I wouldn't change it for the world. Though I am looking forward to a slightly more settled year next year, with a continuity of friends and flatmates (well flatmate, it's just me and Will next year!) Doubtless I'll be taking that back after a week or so of normality and craving the antics of Moonraker once more. We've decided there's enough drama that goes on here to create our own soap opera, without even having to exaggerate much. Maybe just chuck in a murder and a wedding scandal to really finish it off. Apparently I would be played by Ellen Page because 'she has that quirky edge'. Pretty pleased with that :)

And then of course, there's the beauts from my course who are stuck with me for another three years. Soz about that chaps. I think I got insanely lucky with this lot. Our tutors have described us as the odd year out as we all get on so well, which if you don't go to uni is extremely unusual for classmates, let alone the entire year group! So yer, it seems I hit the friend jackpot this year and I couldn't be happier about it. Being President of German Soc next year is going to be a lot of fun. 

Basically, thanks for being awesome guys. Here's to many more years of friendship/putting up with me ;) Oh and Will and I put an offer in for a flat today!! Exciting stuff. Let the excitement of summer and second year commence...

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Journey Begins

This year has been both simultaneously the most exciting and challenging year of my life due to many reasons: starting uni, meeting so many incredible people, leaving old friends behind, learning about myself and becoming more independent are just a few. However January to March were without a doubt the worst three months that I have ever had to survive. I was very ill and had to miss a lot of uni because of this and because of the struggle to get better, I lost myself a little too. You may remember my post Refinding My Muchness, which I actually wrote at one of my lowest points as an attempt to keep hold of the little bits of myself I still had left. I wrote about how travel is my 'muchness' it helps me to discover and express myself. However due to illness, I haven't been able to travel since November, which for me feels like a life time! I have just under three weeks left until I am finally let loose upon the world again, but since my final exam was on Friday, I figured why wait that long to let the adventure begin?

The past couple of weeks I have been on a journey of rediscovery. My friends have mocked me a little since in the past year I've tried to 'refind' myself repeatedly, though to little avail. However this is the first time I've started to feel a real difference in myself. My happy-go-lucky outlook is creeping back in and I'm moving away from my newly developed self-consciousness, towards my old 'it's my life and I'll do what makes me happy and I don't care what you think' approach, which I have sorely missed. So to celebrate the return of the old Em with a few new updates (I couldn't not learn from the past year's experiences) I have decided to rock a new hairstyle which I have been dying to try for many years now... Dreadlocks!

Josie helping me dreadlock!

Bless this girl's patience of a saint AND her epic dreadlocking skills. Who'd have thought it?!

My first two dreads! Repping the Snapchat ;)

I made the decision to start them yesterday as I went on a bit of a youtube binge watching various videos about how to dreadlock and why people dreadlock their hair. I also read a lot of articles on dreadlocksite about the reasons behind dreadlocking. It seems that for most people, dreadlocks are a kind of journey, whether it be of self-discovery or spiritual or otherwise. Since I have spent most of my last year constantly worrying about what others around me think about my appearance, my mannerisms and generally just trying to act to please others and no matter how hard I tried, I was finding these habits hard to kick, I decided that I would finally do something for myself, despite the criticism I may face. Also I kind of like the idea of the journey, though I'm not exactly sure what that means just yet... I'm sure I'll find out in due course.

This video inspired me because of the look, I think her hair is just incredible. Oh and she's danish, which only adds to her awesomeness.

Also this one, for the reasons behind it.

I currently only have three as a kind of experiment, to see how they mature and to practice maintenance before I go the whole hog. After extensive research I decided to use the 'twist and rip' method, which is no where near as painful as it sounds, as it allows me to keep most of my length and since I'm a little OCD, I wasn't feeling brave enough to go au naturale. The only downside to this method is that it takes a bloody lifetime to do, around four hours to do three, though my hair is rather long and it took a little while to get the hang of. I got the overwhelming impression NOT TO USE PRODUCTS such as wax etc, apparently they're extremely unnecessary and just bad for your hair. I also bought the Lush solid shampoo bar 'Seanick' after reading multiple recommendations for it. So if you're worrying about becoming stinky, don't fear! My dreads are going to be squeaky clean :D And that's just about it... I'll keep you updated on their progress as I travel, as for me I already feel they're gonna be a significant part of the adventure.

Oh and I finally reached my 7,000th blog view today! Feels like a positive sign. Thanks so much for reading and supporting my efforts :)

Friday, 17 May 2013


Since today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and it's an issue that sits very close to my heart, I thought I'd take the opportunity to write a little about it here. I know it's not really travel related but once again, it's my blog so tough cookies.

Homophobia is something, I have to say, I've never really understood. This is probably due to being brought up in one of the most complicated patchwork families I've ever known; mum and step-dad, dad and step-dad and then my two step-sister's mum and step-mum. Although I'd like to think I would be just as 'liberal' or 'accepting' whether or not I'd lived in the 'normal' family set up, I suppose I'm extra lucky in that I've never had to learn that everyone deserves equal rights and treatment, it's a concept that's simply ingrained in my being. It's common sense, an unarguable fact that just simply is. Why is any human worth any less than another because of who they love? The ability to love is a beautiful gift whether you believe it from God or simply a product of human evolution.

I was surprised when talking to a bi-sexual friend the other day when he said that it still wasn't the norm for everyone to know at least one homosexual person. I mean, I know loads, so I suppose I just figured everyone else did too. In a way, that explains a little about why it's still an issue for so many; humans tend to fear what they don't understand. For example I stayed with a rather conservative Peruvian family on my travels, the father of which worked for the government's conservative party. In Peru homosexuality is an EXTREMELY taboo subject - or at least that's the impression that I got - especially amongst the more conservative members of the population. Despite this, the homosexual uncle was treated like any other family member. His brother's wife took care of him, made him dinner each day (since he didn't have his own wife to care for him) and although the family didn't advocate his 'condition', they didn't shun him as would be expected in that society. Just goes to show how even strong cultural attitudes can be changed when the issue is made personal, even if it is not fully understood.

'Cuando el amor no es locura, no es amor.' (When love is not madness, it is not love.) - Pedro de la Barca

But what if really there isn't anything to understand? Love is love. It's crazy and wild and inexplicable. No one can help who they love, regardless of religion, colour, language, height, weight, age, eye colour, hair colour, bone structure, favourite food, music taste, shoe size... The list goes on. And all of these things affect the way a person behaves and their image. So why exactly is gender any different? That's not even a rhetorical question, if you think you can explain it to me, go ahead. Though I refuse to believe it's 'unnatural' in any sense of the word, how can love possibly be unnatural?

Furthermore, having a problem with another persons bedroom antics is just ridiculous. If you don't agree with someone else's sexual preferences or think it's disgusting, don't make it your business by talking about it. If it's a religious belief, I understand that gets a little more difficult. Biblical interpretation is tricky and causes all sorts of problems. However I am unsure how 'Love your neighbour as yourself' can be interpreted in any way other than to love everyone. Oh and if you're struggling on the definition of love, check out Corinthians 13:4-7:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Sums it up pretty well don't you think?

Growing up I attended Catholic schools and although I'd identify as agnostic now, this upbringing taught me a lot about loving others so I get that some people believe homosexuality, or that act of it, is a sin. Maybe I just missed this lesson but where in the Bible does it then state that this gives people the right to wear 'God Hates Fags' t-shirts and claim they know that homosexuality condemns a person to hell? At what stage in life is any mortal granted the right to judge a person as if they were God? Quite simply, there isn't one. Unfortunately the negative stigma has been attached to Christianity through the actions of some of its more extreme factions and it is easy to forget that there are some incredible churches and Christians out there doing amazing work in the name of promoting equality and attempting to restore the name of Christianity to the religion of love and peace. Christianity should be about compassion and caring for those who are downtrodden or oppressed, as Jesus did, rather than causing the mistreatment. I think it's an outrage that people are having to become ashamed of their own religion because some of its members cannot see the injustice they are causing. Blind and unfounded hatred not only hurts the victims of prejudice but also those whose religion is associated with such atrocities.

What I'm trying to say is that above all else, should come love. I would hope that no matter what your beliefs or sexual orientation, that should not be forgotten. Homophobia and transphobia do not advocate any positive qualities for society. With so many other issues across the globe at the moment, there are more important things to concentrate ones time on other than fighting against another persons gender preferences which, I'm sorry, you're just never going to change. People are starving, sick and lonely, who cares if two men/women aren't going to procreate? The purpose of relationship isn't procreation but companionship. The two become a unit, a 'team' to fight through life together. Because who doesn't need a little support every now and then?

Unfortunately I've experienced first hand the negative influence a church can have on an individual struggling with the acceptance of their own sexuality. It's not pleasant, but four years on bisexual Em is exactly the same as closeted Em and not one person that matters has even given it a second thought. I'm glad that as a society we are slowly, but surely, moving towards the acceptance of the equality that everyone deserves, so that eventually even being a gay Christian might not be a completely bizarre concept.

Love is love is love. End of.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Summer Plans - FINALLY

This is it, my final plan for the summer. I've settled on travelling again, since my 21st Birthday is coming the parentals have been kind enough to pitch in a little and I'm starving for the next month or so to save every last penny I have. But it's all going to be worth it because I'm hoping to set out on another three month trip around Central and Eastern Europe, including Hideout festival along the way. Which means I've successfully combined two of original travel plans!! WHOOP WHOOP. The downside? I'll be completely skint when I get back. But I'll cross that bridge when I get to it ;)

Here's the map of where I intend to go...

You get the basic idea, though Google got a bit upset and wouldn't let me add anymore places so I couldn't add in Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina.

Quick summary by country (cities tbc):

Germany, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus (BIG MAYBE, the visa application form is a nightmare), Lithuania and Denmark.

From the 14th June - 14th July I will be travelling with four of my flatmates from Germany to Croatia, with Hideout festival with the Preston crew in the middle! Then I'm a lone ranger for the rest of the time (unless I meet some lovelies to travel with like in South America) and am working on an extremely flexible plan. I'm hoping to get through the whole trip however Mother dearest has offered to fly me home from wherever the money runs out; she knows me far too well ;) However I'm hoping Couchsurfing and the generally cheap cost of living in Eastern Europe will help.

If all goes to plan I'll land in Copenhagen a few days before my 21st Birthday and I intend to fly home either the day before or the day after, depending on homesickness levels. Though right now I'm finding it difficult to contain my excitement/concentrate on important things like revision.

Thanks to everyone who offered my advice on my final decision - I realise I'm being a little contradictory as I said that moving to Berlin and looking for a job was too scary in case I didn't find one and now I'm travelling alone through countries where I know nothing of the language or culture... but Carpe Diem, YOLO and all that. I'm also open to anyone joining me for part/all of my adventure. As always, the more the merrier :)