When travelling is not enough

The gap year: the ultimate self-exploration exercise and example to society of one’s independence.

If we miss our chance before or after university, chances are we will catch up with everyone else and take a sabbatical year off work later in life. Travelling is sold to us as a means of discovery and a rite of passage. We are bombarded with inspirational travel quotations, telling us to “just go” and that “travel is the only thing that makes you richer.”

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How to be a digital nomad in Ubud, Bali

Ubud in Bali offers an overwhelming variety of places to do yoga and eat delicious, healthy vegetarian or vegan food while using the high speed wifi, alongside some amazingly cheap local eateries; these could both be deciding factors for me when choosing a place to live as a vegetarian nomad.  You’re also close to some amazing beaches and diving spots, great when you need a break from the computer/lens/notebook.  Continue reading

Alternative Europe: 5 Reason to Visit Lisbon, Portugal

When people plan a Euro trip, there are some regular and expected names of cities, sights and monuments that keep cropping up: Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Munich, Rome, Venice, London, Prague. There is a formulaic itinerary in just about every new place; you visit the cathedral, historic centre, perhaps a museum or two and check some sights off the Bucket list. Eiffel tower check, Louvre check, eating a croissant in a cute cafe in Montmartre check that one too: “I’ve done Paris”. There are a few destinations which get less tourism than they deserve, but have something different to offer. Lisbon is definitely among the most underrated cities in Europe. As someone who has visited Rio, it was strangely familiar to step foot in the capital of the country that made Brazil the country it is today.  Continue reading

Weekend in Happy Land

No, I didn’t just spend my weekend in a field in Somerset passed out after having consumed too much green stuff…  In recent years I have many read newspaper articles which try, as humanity always does, to categorise things. One that caught my eye was 10 of the world’s Happiest cities, which to my own surprise suggested that Copenhagen was the happiest place on earth. My immediate thought was why?! Copenhagen is in the cold north, enjoys mild summers but dark and miserable winters which bear much resemblance to those found in Scotland. Just as I felt the impulse to go seek out the so-called happiest place on earth in Japan (an island infested with friendly bunny did sound promising), I thought I would check this place out. Continue reading

An Accidental History Lesson for Black History Month: From the House of Slaves in Senegal to Black liberation in the US

In recognition of the length of this story, if you don’t feel like reading everything and just want some destination/travel specific information, please use this index to reach the relevant chapter. 

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SOMETIMES coincidences are so frequent and blatantly directional that they stop seeming like coincidences and instead install in me the idea that the universe is trying to tell me something. In 2014, through my travels, reading and cinema experiences, I accidentally encountered traces of a story quite pertinent to Black History Month, a story I feel compelled to recount, a set of events which further motivated me to write about social issues. Continue reading

The Cult of Kawaii: Cuteness in Japan

Japan’s ‘Kawaii’ culture, i.e. the cult of ‘cuteness’ is often celebrated on the internet: Cute cats, wide-eyed loveable animated characters and insanely cute designs are only the start of it. Hello Kitty is popular across the globe, as are the beautiful animations from Studio Ghibli, such as My Neighbour Totoro and countless other anime and manga series from different studios. It’s hardly surprising that it was a Japanese study which found that looking at cute animal pictures can make you more productive. While most of the aforementioned cute icons are only really seen on paper or on screens, upon entering Japan, fiction becomes reality. Continue reading

An Ultimate Erasmus Student’s Guide to Grenoble

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The harbour in Marseille

Strangely, I did not expect to enjoy my time living in Grenoble. I didn’t expect the South of France, which I had already visited countless times with family, to defy expectations. Living in Grenoble enabled me to hike and climb in the mountains, paraglide through valleys, go on a road trip to Aix-en-Provence, Avignon and Marseille, and meet people who I would stay in contact with years after leaving the country. It also equipped me with enough French to go into my final year of University.

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Un Sogno da vivere: Is Italy the perfect country?

As you may have gathered from my previous posts, I study Italian and French at University. I lived in Italy for some time, visit regularly, I founded an Italian society at my University last year, and I often attend Italian cultural events at the Italian Institute in Edinburgh. I love Italy for its outstanding beauty, both natural and man-made. Rome is one of the most vibrant Ancient cities in the world, where one really gets a sense of continuity whilst navigating the many districts; you are able to see icons of the Roman, Medieval, Religious and Modern world in a very short space of time. The Alps are majestic, the snow capped Monte Bianco/Mont Blanc crowning the country which is so famously shaped like a high-heeled boot. The lakes showcase some of nature’s most beautiful colours, rich azure and India green, dotted with the cupressus trees and red roofed villages which make them quintessentially Italian. This land also offers secret coves, clear blue seas and exclusive islands. I love the pride in culture, from the magnificent uffizi in Florence to the Duomo in Milan, which inspired Alan Lee’s dreamy interpretation of Tolkien’s Minas Tirath. It’s difficult not to feel welcome amongst Italian people, who want you to sample the best of their delicious cuisine. Above all, I love knowing the language. Knowing this language makes visiting Italy or meeting Italian people all the more enjoyable. I would definitely say that Italy is one of my favourite countries. Continue reading