I walked out of my Beginner Korean exam at 15:18 feeling such a torrent of emotions, mostly elation at the idea that I would never have to take a university exam again.
I can’t say I won’t ever have any form of test for the rest of my life because we’re meant to keep learning and testing ourselves… but that aside, I am done.
AIN’T NO PARTY LIKE AN EXAMS OVER PARTY.
(okay, that’s my burst of excitement crazy moment over 😀 )
As life is never simple – and why should it be? – I got into my little car and darted down the M1, A38 and along the A50 until I reached my grandparents’ house. I am leaving my car there for the summer as I fly to Canada on my birthday to spend some time with my parents.
Calgary is also one of those places where not many people venture to so I have no excuses to not write my dissertation which is due at the beginning of September. The past few months have felt like a massive countdown clock has been ticking above me. Despite going on small adventures here and there, my mind has been churning up a storm. I really hope that tonight is a night of proper sleep where I don’t dream about everything going wrong and ending up in really bizarre situations. I also relish in the fact that I just have time for the small things. I recently read an article about making plans and how cancelling or postponing them affects our wellbeing. I seem to find that I always have unread messages. But I’m not saying that I’m popular in the slightest, but I admit that I just don’t respond to messages immediately anymore. I am replying days later and it is not something I feel good about. So now, a new leaf can be turned, one that involves my head having the free space to communicate. Hallelujah.
In a roundabout way, I am grateful to past-Georgie for making the decisions that I have and am proud that I’ve stuck it out. I make it sounds like doing a master’s degree is the worst thing on the planet… It definitely is not and I have learnt so much from it. Yet, sometimes going against the grain of your own instinct is harder than taking another suitable path which follows the unknown and is so intimidating.
Nevertheless, 66% of my course is done. YIPPEE.
Life is about living, and making mistakes and achievements along the way.
2017 has definitely been a year for change, not just for me, nor our country following this election, but for some of my friends. With your new jobs and/or new adventures, I am so happy for you. ❤
I am so lucky to have such amazing friends across the world and in the UK who have been so supportive. I listened to a whatsapp audio message on the train from a old school friend who’s also doing a master’s and I just couldn’t help grinning. Thank you to you guys, whether you ever read my blog or not, for putting up with me and being just flipping amazing. ❤
Tomorrow morning I’m running in Wollaton Park for the MS society for my grandpa who is doing so amazingly well despite the challenges he faces. I’m absolutely stunned by the generosity of both friends and family and have surpassed my target by 190% !! Thank you so so much, it definitely means I can’t sneakily back out now… I only hope it doesn’t pour with rain… Danny assures me that we receive a medal at the end but all I wish for the at the finish line is a fresh glass of prosecco.
What can I say, turning 23 is meant to be bubbly fun, right?
I recently participated in hosting my fourth murder mystery dinner party with my “not-technically-my-housemates-but-those-who-I-live-with-them-most-of-the-time-housemates” in Nottingham last Friday.
As I am no longer a “fresher” and have transitioned from the ‘club scene’ to the ‘bar scene’ to go out for a few drinks and possibly a dance, I think that us young adults are having to come up with different ways to have an event or do the same thing over and over again. I love hosting events and have a healthy repertoire of parties from my past (almost) five years at university. actually, even before that, I have managed to entertain a multitude of guests from girly sleepovers to good-sized parties. (Wow, thanks to my parents for putting up with so much chaos in my teenage years…)
Thus, when the opportunity arose to suggest another event for our Nottingham household, I suggested a murder mystery dinner party.
It was an apt suggestion as in my second and fourth year of my undergraduate degree, my housemates (at the time) and I hosted them and had a cracking time.
Why are they worth the investment?
Every game is around £10-12 depending on the number of players per game – and is easily found on amazon.co.uk. The game I played with friends in my fourth year was bought because I found it for £5 in TKMAXX once! The box includes invitations that give descriptions of all the characters involved and envelopes so you can either be “old school” and mail them to your chosen guests or just give them instead. If that’s too much effort, it’s easy just to take a picture of the descriptions and share it on WhatsApp or Facebook! 😉
There is also an audio CD and scripts for each of the characters, it is basically organised fun! 😀 Also, be ready to dress uuuuuuup! It is so brilliant.
Murder Mystery Take Four:
This time the chosen game titled ‘The Brie, the Bullet and the Black Cat’ required ten players. We already had a party of seven so reached out to friends to come along and time travel into the year of 1942 to crack a murder case. Normally, there is a round of the game for each course of a three-course dinner which I find offers a nice switch between being characters 1942 and ourselves in reality. As we only bought ingredients for food two hours before start time, we kept the extravagance to a minimum and had a main course and pudding course instead. Although there were crisps and dips to start us off! It was all vair yum. 😀
Everyone did a fantastic job trying to speak in different accents: Connor was German, Bety was Russian, Amy was French, Nichola was a husky French woman [wins best accent award], Danny was American, I was Danish, and the others slotted in somewhere in-between these diverse nationalities! There was much wine was drunk and food was eaten, and soon enough (three hours later), we voted on which of us were the murderers and the result was revealed! (Although I cannot remember from this part of the evening onwards until I was told about it the next morning… the Danes and their drinking, eh?!) 😉
Apart from the first murder mystery party I hosted with my family back when I was about fifteen or sixteen, here are photos of the three since, have been memorable events that have made my university life all the better! ❤
Excuse the last photo… I don’t remember taking it and usually, my polaroid skills do not result in pitch black photos! [cred to Karmen for the monochrome polaroids]
I hope everyone has a go at doing this, it’s worth the while!
I hope you all had a cracking evening, whether it was lying on the sofa, out partying, cooking up a storm or even working (as some of my dear friends did, you are amazing, girls!). This year one of the big newspapers issued an article that said that around 70% of the UK population were staying in for New Years this year. While many of my friends were staying at home… I wasn’t going to be one of them. 🙂
But… I had no plan whatsoever. Danny and I just said to each other that we’ll celebrate in Nottingham. Okay, I should rephrase so I report accurate information: I decided we were celebrating at the house in Nottingham. It was looking like it was going to be a little house gathering with a couple of friends, when I happened to come across an advert on instagram (of all places) of “New Year’s at Revolución de Cuba”. Excited by the idea, I immediately sent a screenshot of the advert to Danny and we gave them a call! It was £25 for the evening per person. The wristband included three free cocktails or double shot drinks, cloakroom usage, food that was served and a chance to dance into the New Year. I was sold.
On Saturday 31st December, Danny and I headed out to town for lunch, then to meet Danny’s friend Chris at the station, then to wander around until Hannah arrived at 16:30. I was on a hunt for something fun to wear for the night out and managed to find a sparkly top on sale in River Island. We bought ingredients to make fajitas and inflated helium balloons saying happy new year on them! The house in Notts is very well decorated and maintained this year. 😄
Once home, we sat down on the sofas to relax for a bit. We waited for Karmen to return from work, her friend Vivien and another friend of ours, Max, to show up for food. They arrived and we sat down to our stomachs’ delight to eat the feast we had made. With a bottle of prosecco open, the atmosphere was nothing but festive.
Without really looking at the clock the girls decided to head up stairs to get ready for the night ahead. What we didn’t know are two things: It was 20:30 and it would take us an hour to get ready. We didn’t even have to shower, just apply some makeup, brush our hair and put shoes on!
Yes, we fell into the trap the typical “girls take forever” argument and we were gutted. The photo opportunities in front of our decorations were snapped away from us as we were meant to be getting the 21:50 tram to the centre of town. We managed to desperately take three polaroids but no electronic pictures until we reached the restaurant/bar/ party venue.
Both floors were open, playing different music (mostly pop), and there was a group of drummers at the beginning which were really good!!
10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…
confetti canons fired, everyone yelling, hugging, dancing, it was a brilliant 00:00 for January 1st 2017.
The rest of the night was a mix of tequila shots, deep conversations, and my favourite moment of the new year so far: finding a £1 coin down the side of one of the sofas. I am notorious for finding one pennies on the ground when I am out and about, and firmly believe in the saying:
So if I’ve found a £1… how much luck have I just cashed in!?
Who knows. Nonetheless, I hope this year brings you all the best health, happiness and luck towards doing what you love, being happy and just having a cracking year.
A lazy morning was happily welcomed on the Sunday 11th December. Lisa hadn’t tried baked beans before so we excitedly made an English Breakfast.Well, sort of. We didn’t have any tomato or mushrooms or has browns or sausages…. oops.
But we were close enough! We even added a bit of salad to feel healthy. (One can dream.)
With the clock showing almost 1pm, Lisa and I got into my car and headed out on an adventure. Our first stop was the University of Nottingham Campus to show her how Ningbo looks as it does. We were layered up in warm clothes and walked around the lake and up the the iconic Trent building where we attempted to take an identical photo to one we took in Ningbo!
Ningbo… and the UK! Feat. the UoN clock tower
Ningbo… and the UK! Feat. the UoN clock tower
Only one more campus to go… See you in Malaysia Lisa?
The second stop was Wollaton Hall, also known as Batman’s House in the Dark Knight Series. We walked up to the impressive building and around the gardens, stopping to take pictures of squirrels (for Lisa) and the Hall itself (for both of us). It was a short but sweet visit! From there we headed into Nottingham City Centre to see the Castle. Unfortunately it was a rather overcast day so the view from the Castle Rock wasn’t the prettiest. Nevertheless, we took the cheesy photo in front of the Robin Hood statue, headed to Ye Olde Jerusalem Inn that sits within the caves under the Castle.
To save ourselves from the cold we headed to the board game café called Ludorati. We ended up staying there for four hours playing games, including Machi Koro and Forbidden Desert (which is a co-operative game). If you haven’t been to a café like this, I recommend it! The amount of games on offer is awesome and the atmosphere is so lovely. Just after 7pm we headed to Revolución de Cuba for 2-for-1 cocktails and tapas! And we definitely had a feast!
Two hours and a few brilliant and deep conversations later… it was bedtime.
Wait, no. We loved the Forbidden Desert game so much that Danny bought it and we played another round once we got home. And we won this time! What a way to end a brilliant weekend. I love having the opportunity and the honour to show wonderful friends this country and the places I love. I am just too lucky 😀
[ … ]
On Tuesday 13th December, Lisa and I headed to Sheffield for another short adventure. Sadly the rain decided to pour… however the city did have a couple of Christmas stalls and lovely lights so we did have a nice wander around.
And once the day was done, we relaxed at my house in Sheffield, watched some netflix and before long, our alarm was already buzzing for us to head to Sheffield train station… Her next stop was Edinburgh!
In only four short days Lisa had appeared and vanished off into a train heading northwards. Is it weird to say that I missed her Australian twang? (i.e. accent)
She’s reminded me of the adventures we had, the happiness we experienced and the people that surrounded us. Although you never expect someone to have such a profound affect on you… (even though I am one of her insta no. 1 fans, haha)
I’ve loved having her here and being reunited in person rather than through a screen. I’ve noticed how I’ve changed over the past year and however many days. It’s made me reflect rather a lot since (even though it’s only been a week since I saw her! & I’m seeing her again in four days…).
Thank you for inspiring me to be happy. To laugh, to smile, not just on the surface but deep down. Your bright and amazing spirit has reminded me of the quote: “don’t take life too seriously, otherwise you’ll never get out of it alive“.
I hope all of you out there see some inspiration in the quote too. It’s meant to make you scoff a little, smile to yourself, and remember that happy is the best thing to be.
On January 21st 2015, I woke up in a new bed in unfamiliar surroundings of the University of Nottingham’s Ningbo campus in China. Having travelled across the international date line from Calgary, the fifteen hour time difference was definitely playing with my mind. Cold and hungry, I headed out to walk around the campus and search for food. As it was 6am, I had to wait a little while before the canteens came to life.
Once I had managed to orient and feed myself… I headed back to my accommodation building to find an Australian girl trying to connect to the wifi in the lobby. (We didn’t have wifi in our rooms… bit of a typical first world problem these days!)
Little did I know that our small talk and introductions would turn into a friendship and to having an awesome travel buddy. Lisa and I parted ways in the ShiJiaZhuang (石家庄) Train Station after travelling and literally living out of each others pockets for three weeks.
Now, 1 year, 5 months, and 24 days later… on December 10th 2016 at a train station on the other side of the world in Nottingham… Lisa is on her way.
Of course, it never quite plays out like a movie scene does. Danny and I arrived in plenty of time to see her off the train… to manage to miss her and spend the next seven minutes ploughing up and down the station to find her. Only having a selfie sent in those few minutes as evidence that Lisa had arrived in the right place. Eventually, finally looking like a movie scene, we ran to each other.
(I’m such a romantic I know.)
We headed into town to show Lisa the centre of Nottingham. We were also on a quest to find cool Christmas jumpers as neither Lisa or I had ever owned one. Alas, three hours and three slightly exhausted people later, we still hadn’t been successful. Primark was sold out except for “you can jingle my bells” jumpers and it was surprising how so few shops were selling them! We didn’t want the pretty Christmas jumpers, we wanted the bold ones that look outrageouslybut perfectly festive.
So, it was time for tea.
And we did exactly that!
We went for afternoon tea at a place called The Larder in Hockley. The tea selection was a little odd but exotic. I chose a chamomile as they had no green tea, Danny went for Earl Grey and Lisa had Indian Spiced Chai. Although the service was a little slow, the tower of food arrived soon enough. We had four sandwiches each, a selection of cakes and some scones. Half way through tier two of the three towering before us… we felt stuffed! It was a good place with a “fancy” vibe and we had done something British, yay!
During our lunch, Danny’s housemate Bety had managed to successfully find the type of Christmas jumpers we were looking for in about ten minutes. They were in some of the cheaper clothes shops in Broadmarsh and had huge wonderful reindeers on them! We bought one each and decided to head back to the house for a few hours before a Revived Gospel Concert that evening which two housemates, Nichola and Connor, were participating in.
It was a University of Nottingham Gospel Choir that performed and was held at Lenton Methodist Church. My first impression was… it was a warm building! YAY. After a childhood of freezing village churches, I was happy to not be shivering in the second row.
Nichola performed a really great solo at the beginning and Connor was part of the band on bass the entire evening. I’m so glad we went because I miss those choir days and it was such a wonderful atmosphere.
With that, we headed home, and soon enough happily got into bed. Time for a lie in methinks.
I can definitely say that life is never boring. This Saturday, the 8th October, Lucy arrived at around 14:10 at Sheffield station with seven months worth of belongings encased in two suitcases (one was humongous, one was small) accompanied by a handbag and laptop bag! The image reminded me of the many adventures lugging all sorts and types of luggage across the world. Magically, this large load fit into the Seat Mii’s little boot and off we went to show Lucy the sights of Sheffield.
Danny and I had googled the ‘top ten things to do in Sheffield’ on TripAdvisor. If I’m honest… there ain’t much? We settled on the Botanical Gardens towards the west of the city and managed to find a little car parking space (for free) just outside the south entrance. As we pulled our jackets tighter to our chests as we stepped out into the cold breeze, we headed up into the garden grounds expecting to see plants, plants and more plants. It was smaller than we expected but has many winding paths and secluded grassy areas where people were sitting and chatting, playing frisbee, gathering together for meetings, etc. We popped into the cafe to get some water and ended up sitting down for a cuppa in the bright greenhouse. Once watered and energised, we walked around the gardens and saw a record number of squirrels prancing around burying and finding chestnut and other nuts for winter. Autumn is my favourite season (and another reason why I love my Chinese name 静秋 (which means quiet autumn)).
At the Sheffield Botanical Gardens
At the Sheffield Botanical Gardens
At the Sheffield Botanical Gardens
The colours of the leaves on the trees, the bright blue skies and plummeting temperatures that make a good countryside walk be extra rewarding. The hot drinks that feel like they warm our souls as we walk from lectures to home or see a friend. My new craze and obsession are mochas. I never thought I’d be one to drink coffee as I don’t even like tea… but I’ve crossed the line. Although I can’t handle strong mochas, I have converted. (my insta definitely backs this up as most of the recent photos feature some cup of coffee from somewhere!)
Once we had been on our autumnal stroll we returned to the car and headed into the centre of town to show Lucy the centre of the city: the Peace Gardens, the Town and City Halls, the Peace Gardens, the Winter Gardens and… a recently renovated McDonald’s.
Good tour? I’m glad you agree.
As it was a Saturday night, it was not a time to go to bed early. Instead, we ate dinner at home then crossed the road from my house to go to the Blake Hotel for a drink and to play board games. Due to popular demand of the five of us, my housemates Kate and Corentin joined us, the game ‘Cards of Humanity’ was chosen (against my will) as the first game. It is not a game for the faint-hearted and Kate won 😀 The next game was Taboo which Kate also won. 11:30pm rolled around and we called it a night. Although Kate and Corentin stayed up to watch Zoolander… the rest of us only lasted half the film before retiring to bed.
On Sunday we headed down to Nottingham as I wanted to show Lucy where I’ve spent the past four years of my life and coincidentally it was the last day of the Goose Fair. We parked at Danny’s and Lucy and I headed into the city to have lunch at a fantastic burger place called Annie’s Burger Shack.
Nottingham Goose Fair
Nottingham – all the british things!!
Annie’s Burger Shack
Nottingham Goose Fair
Once stufffffed with curly fries and delicious burgers we wandered around the centre and managed to snap a picture of two very British things = a red post box and red telephone box. As Lucy is technically British as she was born here before she moved to the land of Australia at the little age of eight, it was absolutely necessary that she have a photo taken!
From there we headed up to the Fair to the north of the city centre at a massive football pitch/park/grassland called Forest Fields. The place was buzzing. The sounds of rides, the workers on the stalls shouting out prizes and other fun things to do, the lights and pounding pop music from the bumper cars and fast paced small roller coasters. Lucy and I braved the massive swing that goes at least fifty foot into the air (eeeekkk!) and then wandered the fair for the next hour.
We joined the Nottingham University’s Contemporary China Society (of which Danny is the President) and went back into the centre of town to 200 degrees for a coffee and a chat. By six o’clock we were talked out and ready to head home. Lucy and I drove back up to Sheffield and watched Edward Scissorhands before heading to sleep.
It’s amazing how short weekends are these days…
Ps. if you’re curious, google a ‘drop bear’ = it’s a bit for five-minute entertainment!
Michael’s second day in Nottingham started off with bright sunshine and a walk around the University of Nottingham campus. It was great to show him what the Ningbo campus in China had in comparison with the original and rather large British one. We took a photo by the statue of the Chinese lion because it had Ningbo written on it, and coincidentally, the year that we were both in Ningbo together.
Once we had shown Michael the necessary sights of the University campus, we headed back to Danny’s house to then catch a bus into town to visit a board game cafe called Ludorati. Also, this isn’t necessarily a cultural or historic feature of Nottingham’s city centre, it had a great atmosphere and we ended up being there for five hours until our stomachs rumbled with hunger.
This led us to a restaurant and bar called ‘Revolución de Cuba’ which is one on of my favourite places for many reasons:
it is cuba which is a spanish speaking country and i studied both in my undergraduate final year and feel a connection.
it serves tapas which is one of my favourite cuisines… the chorizo and gambas pil pil guys…!
the cocktails are creative and delicious
the cocktails are on a 2-for-1
on weekdays there is usually a live band playing
the 2-for-1 offer can be for any two cocktails and it is not limited to having to have the same one.
it’s just fabulous.
As it was a Sunday night there was also a 2-for-1 offer on tapas… so we spoilt ourselves without having to splash the $$ which ended our second day showing Michael around perfectly.
The following morning wasn’t so rosy. The day drifted by and by the evening we were in my car heading up the M1 to Sheffield. This put us in the right place to catch a cheaper train up to York the next day. The three of us, Danny, Michael and I, headed off to the station on the tram on Monday morning to arrive at a slightly wet looking York. Nevertheless, we wandered around the Museum Gardens, saw the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey and walked a long section of the walk to get a good view of the York Minster (which is huge).
At St Mary’s Abbey
York is a lovely little place to get lost in and wander through the narrow and cobbled streets. We also walked along the river and around to Clifford’s Tower which is next to the York Castle Museum. Amongst these particular sights there is the centre of York itself that has a mix of wide modern streets lined with corporate stores and little old and narrow streets full of smaller boutiques and (loads of) antique jewellery shops. Despite the rain we had enjoyed strolling around, stopping for lunch at a place called Ate O’Clock and window shopping in the older parts of the city centre.
Fun fact: York has a street that is known for having the longest name but is the shortest street. It is called Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate.
I’d love to high five the person who came up with that name.
So York was ticked off our checklist of Michael’s tour of parts of the UK. With Nottingham and York down, it was Sheffield and the Peak District to go…
Michael stayed in Sheffield from Wednesday to Saturday. It was more relaxed than our first four days as I had to go to a couple of introductory modules and course meetings for my masters to start on Monday 26th September. Wednesday had a slow start.
In the early afternoon, we headed to the University campus as I had one meeting and I wanted to show Michael the Student’s Union to show the differences between universities here including the contrast between a grassy Nottingham campus and a more city based Sheffield one. Once my meeting was over Michael joined me and we both attended my departments welcome drinks (ha-dee-hah free wine)…
Kidding! We only had a glass of orange juice as we had to head back into town to meet Kathy for dinner as we had decided to join her and some of her friends to watch a play called ‘Relatively Speaking’ at the Lyceum Theatre in the evening. It was a simple but effective and entertaining play about miscommunication. Here is a little link to share the plot with you: http://www.englishtheatre.de/archives/article/relatively-speaking-by-alan-ayckbourn/
On Thursday we were in town, enjoying the sunshine and both exploring what Sheffield city centre has to offer. I met Michael at the Winter Gardens – basically a big greenhouse – which has the Millenium Gallery attached to it. This gallery has a variety of small exhibitions to show the history of Sheffield such as the steel industry that was huge during the Second World War.
One of the rooms was filled with an exhibition funded by the University of Sheffield called ‘Future of the Mind’. This was mostly made up of high-tech and fancy gadgets that are used for virtual reality. Michael and I wore a pair of goggles and earphones to experience a 2-minute video and simulation of being inside a bacterium cell. The fun part was we were able to shoot the bacteria with antibiotics at the end.
After that, we walked to the rustic yet majestic looking Town Hall and sat in the Peace Gardens with a Traditional Pasty. We were lucky that the sun was shining and we were able just to pass the day for a bit. We also passed by Sheffield Cathedral which is a lot prettier on the inside than we expected.
And the favourite part for Michael… was the afternoon tea. He said that Kathy had recommended a place called Etén Café so I gave them a call and sorted a table.
My lord. It was huge. There was an equivalent of four sandwiches on the bottom plate, at least five desserts each on the middle plate and a mountainous scene on top. I’m accustomed to seeing afternoon teas being quite minimalist occasions but ooooh no. We were going to have a feast this time! I guess it’s funny and nice to hear when your Canadian friend earnestly says to his friends and family back home: “We were wrong about the UK, they actually do have some British dishes, their own dishes.”
I think I deserve a medal.
I’ve tried my best to feed him dishes that are considered British… He’s had…
Bangers & Mash (York)
Chicken & Chorizo Pie (in Broadfield, Sheffield… known for some of the best pies in the areas)
Baked Beans on Toast (made by yours truly)
English Breakfast (made by Karmen)
Afternoon Tea (Sheffield)
He tried Henderson’s Relish (Sheffield)
Bakewell Tart (in Manchester without me but it still counts!)
So…. he’s done pretty well. (Fish and Chips was ticked off last time he came to England with his school)
The last significant adventure we went on was to the Peak District. We took George and Lindsey with us and drove out to Derwent on the A57 to Glossop for a walk. This walk, although very picturesque, somehow turned into a 6 mile hike including a lot of uphill… Derwent is known for its reservoir that is held by a huge dam.
We survived the walk, ate a big meal at the Ladybower Inn as a reward, and walked the tame road route back to the car (which still took an hour to give you an idea of how far we had walked.) I do recommend visiting! The fresh air, hearty food and rolling hills and views are worth it.
Aaaaaaand that is the end of Michael’s grand UK tour for now. We ended it with a good coffee (/mocha because I’m not hardcore enough yet to have straight coffee) and cake at the Steamyard in Sheffield’s city centre.
I’ve absolutely loved showing Michael around the places that I call home. It still surprises me to think that the connections and friendships I made whilst away are still a part of my life and these international friends are just amazing. Distance really can mean nothing when you have friends who you can just pick up the phone to or skype whenever you both have a moment and chat about life. I’m going to miss him once he returns to Montreal… but I guess it’s just another reason to visit more of Eastern Canada in the future… (besides the fact that my parents are there.. they are in the west though!)
All my love to international friends, I hope you are all well and loving life.