Thursday, 30 August 2012

Autumn playlist


Summer is not really my season and I can't wait to finally bring my knitwear out in full swing, to watch Downton Abbey Season 3 with my housemate drinking lots of tea, going for crisp autumn walks in the park and for the leaves to change colour. Here's some music to enjoy with the seasonal change:


Early In The Morning I’ll Come Calling  - James Vincent McMorrow
Evelyn - Gregory Alan Isakov
La Vie En Rose - Louis Armstrong
Cloud Nine - Ben Howard
California Sunrise - Dirty Gold
White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
Take Care - Beach House
Young Blood (slow version) - The Naked And Famous
Dark Blue - Jack’s Mannequin
Lies (acoustic) - Marina & The Diamonds
Norwegian Wood - The Beatles
National Anthem - Lana Del Rey
Quelqu’un M’a Dit - Carla Bruni
You Ain’t Alone - Alabama Shakes
Time Flies - Lykke Li
California Dreamin’ - The Beach Boys
Fairytale Lullaby - Bombay Bicycle Club
I Think UR A Contra - Vampire Weekend
Sweet Darlin’ - She & Him
Ne Me Quitte Pas - Nina Simone
Timshel - Mumford & Sons
Enjoy!
x
Nina

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

This time last year


August 29 2011 - the start of my ERASMUS year.

Nostalgia has hit me ever so slightly but the overriding feeling is 'damn where did all that time go?' I can't believe it's been a year since my year abroad started.  It went by so quickly but I think I'm starting to glamourise it already! It's so easy to look at all the photos I took and not remember the very average or even dull days that I had abroad.  But that's life and I'm doing the best to remember the good times I had.  Hopefully I'll get more opportunities in life to travel to new places and experience those cultures as well.

Do you guys ever get travel nostalgia?

x
Nina

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Margam Park


In a bid to a) make the most of my boyfriend's days off and b) to do things that were free, we ended up in Margam Park the other day.  Margam Park is a massive country park estate just outside Port Talbot with a manor house, a fairy tale story land, an orangery, a lake, animal trail and deer enclosure.  The estate was so big it was actually a little overwhelming.  We didn't catch the best day weather wise sadly, it would be an amazing place to come with a full picnic hamper.  But we made do with feeding the ducks and geese.  It's good to get out of Cardiff and heading to somewhere that feels very much like the countryside even though it's only half an hour from where we live.

More soon
x
Nina


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Home life


I thought I'd share some snapshots of my new little life now that I'm pretty much properly settled into it.  It really is a little life because my friend and I live a cosy cute two bed flat with an open plan living room and kitchen, in an amazing location.  It's pretty cosy and perfect for us two girls and somehow all my clothes fit into the wardrobe (granted there's not that much room for maneuver).

Decorating my room was about finding space for all my books because there is no space for a bookcase.  Luckily there's a ledge running around my whole room so I can just stack them there.  I still have a whole trunk (from my boarding school days) of books to unpack, that's what you get for studying English literature.  My make up storage is an IKEA box and washed IKEA candle jars which I recycled.  I'm desperately trying to cut down on the amount of make up products I'm using but it's not really working.

I've decorated my door with postcards that I've been sent by friends or collected from art galleries, cities and countries I've visited.  I love collecting them as souvenirs and they always bring back great memories.  I wish I could paint my room, I'd love to paint just one wall a pretty colour but I don't think that our landlord would be very impressed! So for now I'm overcompensating with fairy lights and postcards.

This weekend I've lost my boyfriend to Reading Festival (this is his 8th Reading in a row!) but once he's back I'm dragging him to IKEA for the day.  Even if I don't have much space at all for more interior decor it's still fun to go there and pretend you have all the space in the world for furniture, or that you live in the show rooms (à la 500 Days of Summer).

More soon
x
Nina


Friday, 24 August 2012

Young Blood

Shirt: Zara but borrowed from my flat mate.  Bag: TopShop

I had a job interview today, it's not for a major job - just 8 hours a week but I could really use the money.  I was pretty nervous and didn't really have a clue what to wear but in the end I don't think I looked too shabby.  I still haven't really gotten over my nail biting habit yet (I know shame on me!) and they're all different lengths at the moment so I had to give false nails a go.  I couldn't go into a job interview with my stumpy nails. Mixed thoughts on this whole false nails stuff.  The ones I'm wearing are meant to be 'extra short' but they are really getting in the way of everything.  I'll hear back today or tomorrow about whether or not I get the job.  Keeping my fingers and my toes all crossed.  I desperately want this job.

Sorry for the funny lighting in the pictures, Cardiff is feeling particularly temperamental today as is my mood so I'm curling up in bed with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider on BBC iPlayer.

Hope you all have a good start into your weekend!
More soon
x

Nina

EDIT: I didn't get the job sadly but I got really great feedback from my interview.  You win some and you loose some.



Tuesday, 21 August 2012

ERASMUS - the final conclusion


So since I've wrapped up my year abroad in May I've been back to Germany and am now settling into my new flat in Cardiff.  I'm meeting people from back home who were also in Montpellier for their French year abroad, we've talked a lot and had time to digest everything.  Getting photos together for this post was trippy because I was looking at photos from before September 2011 and I can't believe how quickly the time went in the end.  There were so many worries and my anxiety was at peak levels before I left for France.  But here I am, in August back in Cardiff a year later as if nothing ever even happened.  This post has been in the making pretty much from the first week back in Germany but after talking about it all with my mum I felt like I didn't have anything more to say and I felt that I would just end up trying to justify myself because my personal experience wasn't as glowing as the reports I had from other people.

So the final verdict on ERASMUS:

Well worth the 9 months but the effects of it really boil down to what you make out of it and a lot of hype.  

All the returning fourth year students last year swore up and down that it was the best year of their life.  For some people this may be the case.  For me it's not.  A lot of people who go to my university had never been abroad on their own, a few of them travel to university from home every day and so going abroad on their own was a lot more of a bid deal than it was for me.  I think I'm the wrong person to judge the effectiveness of a year abroad on.  My entire life I've lived abroad and dealt with being in a foreign country.  Even the UK was a foreign country to me when I came over here at 14.  I've been flying alone since the age of 14 and boarding school made me pretty independent.  So being on my own wasn't necessarily a huge challenge for me.  I didn't feel like France was my home, it all felt very temporary.  That's not to diminish the value of a year abroad for others.  For so many of my friends it was a fantastic opportunity, they're completely different people now and have come out of their ERASMUS year for the better.  The main appeal of the ERASMUS year for so many people was to travel and live in a new country and let their hair down.  All I really wanted to do was stay in the UK which has become the place I consider home.

The opportunities to travel in France and Europe was good and I feel like I did the best on my limited budget.  When you set out on your ERASMUS year you go in thinking you'll do loads of traveling and site seeing but what doesn't really register is how expensive it all is.  At least in France.  Also I was so let down by the university, I don't think people in the UK realise how good the education system is here (higher tuition fees aside for the moment), and take it for granted.  I just missed the UK and my friends so much.  Reading over my blog it will obviously look like I had an amazing time and saw so many amazing things, but obviously what I didn't blog about were about the days where I was cripplingly homesick or the days where I just stayed in my room all day watching television because I just didn't want to see anyone.  The ERASMUS year really does have very high highs, and very low lows.  

I will say this: I enjoyed my time in France.  I enjoy France.  It's not a country I could permanently live in but I love the French attitude to life: the good food and culture, the beautiful towns and the great weather.  I will be back obviously.  It was just so hard for me to leave the UK that I was constantly pining for it and my year abroad really was more of a holiday for me.  My parents have told me that in their eyes it was basically my gap year that I never took after school.

I do think for a language degree a year abroad is essential and maybe I went about it the wrong way.  I went to a town where there were too many ERASMUS students and it was easiest to just speak English.  If I'd gone to a town in the North then maybe it would have been different, and maybe I would have spoken even more French if I'd done a British Council assistantship.  But there were pros and cons for each of those options and in the end it is what it is.  I don't want it to come across as if I didn't enjoy my year abroad, I did but it just didn't really turn out how I wanted it.  But I'm glad I went and I'm thankful for all the people I have met and the places I have seen. 

For now I'm just glad to be back in my real home: the UK.  If there's one thing that I've learnt on ERASMUS it's that.

Monday, 20 August 2012

I Love You, Ono

Shorts: Pull & Bear.  Shirt: H&M.  Bag: Urban Outfitters (old).  Cardigan: French flea market.

Trying to get the perfect outfit together for the standard British summer day out is harder than I thought.  The usual day starts off with rain, then a strong burst of bright sunlight and then back to more rain.  It's all about the layers and a good pair of tights.  I wore this when my boyfriend and I went for a day out in Margam Park by Port Talbot.  I'm struggling to dress nicely in this awkward time of the year.  It's not really cold enough to bring my knitwear out my wardrobe but then it's not warm enough to brave going bare legged.  British summers drive me crazy.

As of tomorrow I shall hopefully finally have internet in my flat after over a month of waiting.  I'm keeping my expectations with British Telecom very low but I'm hoping that my next post will be written from my own room rather than my boyfriend's lounge.

More soon
x
Nina


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Cultural Saturday

 La Parisienne by Renoir
 Catherine of Aragon 
 Van Gogh

Saturdays in Cardiff can be hectic at best but recently there's been a massive influx in hen and stag parties that flood in to Cardiff for the weekend (probably because of the insane amount of summer weddings).  The 'hens' (a bachelorette party for my Americans) are running around with pink feather boas and plastic inflatable penises (I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried).  The rowdy 'stags' (the bachelor party) can usually be found in packs outside Wetherspoons in morph suits.  I don't mind the odd stag and hen groups but when you see about 10 groups of each with their flashing pink head gear and 'creative' fancy dress I just can't hack it. So I decided to escape to the one place where I knew I wouldn't come across them: Cardiff Museum.

For those who have avidly watched the BBC version of Sherlock, you might recognise the museum.  They filmed some scenes there for the second episode of season 1 (The Blind Banker).  Museums in Wales are all free entry so it's great to while a day away there.  They have a really great collection of art: Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, Roudin and Cézanne amongst others.  My all time favorite painting is La Pariesienne by Renoir, it's great to be able to go in for free and see such an amazing piece of art!  My housemate and I used to go a lot in second year but since my year abroad they have a brand new Contemporary Art gallery which I really love even though modern art can be pretty inaccessible for me personally.  I felt like a bit of a loser going to an art museum by myself but it's good to take some time out and do something cultural.

I have a job interview on Friday so please keep your fingers crossed for me, I really need some luck!

More soon
x
Nina



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