Friday, 7 June 2013

International Gay Dating for Beginners

DISCLAIMER: If you are in any way offended by homosexuality, you should look away now, leave my blog and never ever come back you sick fuck.

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Getting past the idea that I may one day actually be able to understand the horrifyingly pedantic, precise and logical fog that is that the German language, and realising shortly thereafter that I must be feeling a bit unwell to have even had that thought, I had a sudden brainwave.
What better way to learn such a rich language than by learning it from the people I know best: Gays.

Gays are wonderful, but my god they like to talk. And not just about shoes, Kylie Minogue, or oooh-look-what-that-bitch-over-there-is-wearing, but about almost anything. They're an open vessel just waiting to be filled. (criiiiinge at even just writing that, oh my god.)
'Gay vocabulary' is littered with slang, and secret codes. From the times when being homosexual was illegal and therefore punishable, the gays have always bended language (and technology) to their favour.

What better way to pass time on a cold, rainy Sunday evening by logging into a GPS-powered smartphone application to show how many gay guys are nearby. Grindr, the infamous smartphone app is marketed as a 'way of meeting new gay, bi, and curious guys for dating and making friends' however every self-respecting gay man knows that 'being on Grindr' is a synonym for looking for casual sex. Casual sex with potentially up to 100 people in your local, immediate area. If you can get over how ridiculously scary an idea that is, then you're doing well. The next hurdle is the language. It's a minefield.

Some of these gay guys like BB, some of them want mascs not fems and definitely while using chems. Some of them are bears or bulls, otters, twinks, cubs and sometimes subs. Men are either totally manly or not whatsoever. And they're definitely all either animals, or sickly sweet American baked goods.
The guys can either host, or not. They travel, much like anyone else, but when asked 'What is your reason for your visit. Business or pleasure?' as heard at international borders, their reason would most definitely be self-gratification on an enormous scale. Pleasure doesn't even begin to cover it.
There are, of course, sexual words to overcome too: frottage, rimming, deepthroating, bukkake, circlejerk, 69, DP and BDSM for example. But I'm sure most of you angelic, sexually vanilla, normal people already know about them.

Even as a gay man myself, sometimes I find myself entirely overwhelmed by this slang. If I was to have a conversation with a gay friend back home, this labyrinth of language would probably crop up more than I can imagine right now, so I'm specifically setting out to learn the German version of it in the hope that my German will sound as natural and non-textbook as possible. The single worst thing I know about first moving to a country is that nobody actually says the stuff in the textbooks that they give you at school. That sort of conversation is a myth: 'How many brothers and sisters do you have?' Nobody asks that the first few times you meet someone haha

I may as well have not studied French for 9 years before moving there for 6 months. I learned an extreme amount in the first few weeks and that was enough to get me through day to day shit, nevermind being introduced to more and more interesting language by the people I hung around with.

So back to the topic. Being gay is a great part of my personality. The language of homosexuality is therefore something important to me, and to my friends, and to the guys that I will potentially be dating.
Maybe I'll fall in love at the same time as carrying out this experiment in international dating. I hope so. 
I'd love to have a German boyfriend again. Everyone should have an international love-object at one point in their lives, and I'm a big fan of German manliness. Someone who doesnt spend all day looking at himself, but spends all his time doing you sounds fabulous.

On that note, I'm also quite happy to admit that I've been around the block a few times. Never since WWII has someone conquered so many different people from around Europe.....and I'm only 22.

So, to sum up. I'm once again dating properly, and I will be updating this with my stories from the world of German dating gaffes and mishaps that seem to occur daily for me anyways.

 Until then, you beautiful beautiful people.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Feeling down recently.

Despite the summer finally rolling into beautiful Koblenz, I've been feeling pretty weird recently, not entirely myself and just a little bit down.
I can feel myself trying to find the perfect cliche to describe what's wrong with me recently but I refuse to comply with my brain in that respect. It's all in the mind. It's what you make of it. It's my man-period and I should put down the cake and glass of red, shut up and stop whining.

I even started doing that whole Gillian McKeith 'you are what you eat' rubbish, you know, eating fruit in the morning to counter lethargy and sleepiness, drinking more water to flush all of these mystical and evil toxins out of my body, and even having a nice odd evening with friends where I get drunk and refill all of those toxins to safe levels once again, as a treat to myself. It's all a load of old useless buddhist bullshit if you ask me.

None of it worked. I still feel shitty.

There's a lot of things that I've had on my mind too:
  • I hate university, and can't wait to be finished with it. 
  • I have work due sometime in the next few weeks, and all I can think of is just going back home, throwing out my fucking ridiculous useless classes and not having to deal with it all until September.
  • I really don't want to go back home, but the novelty of living here in Koblenz has now worn off a bit, so i'm kinda in an international state of limbo.
  • The creeping thought that I ACTUALLY AM in an international state of limbo. I have no passport so I can't  get home so easily, and I don't technically belong to a country anymore..........scary thought!
  • I'm becoming incredibly self concious, I want to be more fit and healthy, and a little bit more muscly too.
  • And I'm making plans for an insane trip through the UK walking around 1200 miles from John O'Groats, Scotland to Land's End (which I've always wanted to do) but every day it's seeming less and less possible.
But today I'm saying a huge fuck you to lethargy. I'm not going to have the career I want in the future without a degree, regardless of how shitty, useless and mundane the classes are so I'm just going to have to grin and bear it for the next month or two (plus that extra final year back in Sunderland). I want to get ripped and tanned for the summer too, so i'm hitting the gym and eating enough for three, and finally I'm going to make more plans for the near future and further afield, visiting friends around Germany, and maybe even back to France on the way home.

Maybe those cliches were right. It really is all what you make of it.
Okay cliches, you win this time

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Frat House

While Koblenz was nothing that I expected, nor was it 100% everything that I wanted from a city (I miss the beach. sob sob sob), I really do feel at home here.

I've travelled a lot around Germany in the short 4 years that I've had an active interest in its language, culture and history. I've lived in a small town in Niedersachsen with my ex-boyfriend, visited Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, Köln, Aachen and Bremen, as well as festival and concert hopping in 2010. Now finally, for 2 months I've lived in Koblenz, one of the largest cities in Rheinland-Pfalz in the south-west of Germany.
I certainly do have adventures when I'm in Germany.

After having a tremendously difficult time finding a fucking apartment, and experiencing some awful, smelly old dumps on my way, I found myself invited to live in large room a traditional german Burschenschaft.

Burschenschaften receive a lot of bad press. As old-style student fraternities dating from the 1810's, often with traditional dress worn at events and with old-school fencing duels, it's not hard to see why. The modern view, that anything traditional, German and basing itself on ideas of collaboration and unity, only seems to stir up images of right-wing extremism and nationalistic thought. However, I've found that not to
be the case at all.

What sort of right-wing nationalist student fraternity would allow a gay, British man to live within their walls?
Not to mention a gay, British man with an often less-than-perfect command of the German language....

It's nice here. I have a lovely large room, a great big bed and there's quite an open community feel here. Everyone I've met so far has been welcoming, interested in myself and excited at the fact that I really do like living here and excited that I take an active interest in their events etc.

I must admit to feeling a little out of my depth at times, especially as I'm the house guest of people who have lived together for a few years, or even longer, and sometimes I don't entirely understand what's going on. I guess that's just a normal part of living abroad in an apartment with locals.

The frat guys who live here are really interesting characters too. I live with an entire spectrum of people, ranging from heavy-metal loving architecture students, to mousy, calm, collected ones, all the way through to the manly beer drinkers and the ones who take care of themselves and certainly look the part. I have missed living with guys. Living with girls is difficult sometimes....

If nothing else, this living situation of mine has certainly broadened my horizons and made realise just how diverse and yet spiritually-bound people really can be.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Language students, fluency and not yet being German.

Language students are an odd bunch. We learn (for the most part) a foreign language in our home country, where we are told to immerse ourselves fully into the language and our studies (heh?); we express ourselves in different ways to everone else, for example by saying some words that sound exotic in a different language or screaming 'putain' whenever something goes wrong since no-one understands it. and thinking of ourselves as groundbreaking for listening to some exotic French reggeaton from the suburbs of Marseille.

Maybe all of that is just me, but I have noticed that a whole hell of a lot of people seem to act the same way.
Drawing Union Flags on their pencil cases, and telling others that the Beatles are 'obviously the best band of the British scene' because John Lennon had lovely hair and that Strawberry Fields really should be Forever. Anglophilia is actually pretty huge outside of England.
We're a flag waving nation, but bugger me, in 21 years I've never seen so many Union Flags as I've seen in just under a year here on the continent.

It is in this way that I was totally blind before I came out here to France, and to Spain, and to Germany. I had no idea what was happening behind the Channel if I'm quite honest. We'd wrote presentations and god knows how many ridiculous essays about political parties and regionalism, but I feel like I've learned a lot.

It's a bit fucking cliché to say that the Erasmus programme has opened my eyes, but it really has opened my eyes to the world.

I thought my German had been 'alright' for years until I was told a few days ago by a German friend that 'one year ago I couldn't understand you, Gareth...but now, it's definitely better' and that it was 'weird for him' to hear me 'speaking German for once'.

I'm not sure whether that last quotation was accidentally mean, or that I'm now speaking proper German, but either way it's a good kick up the arse to get myself motivated and actually sit down and do some revision instead of hoping to obtain this lifelong skill through osmosis. It doesn't work like that. I tried that in Spain, to a crowd of Catalonians I met in Tarragona all saying ¿Que? and most likely not understanding any of my severly broken Spanish. I daren't even mention my Catalan, which wasn't any better.

I have a hell of lot of stories to write about rom the last two months, in which I've not been motivated to write, nor to take so many photos. probably down to the fact that I feel very much at home here in Koblenz. I've always been best on the ball when I'm inbetween feeling at home and feeling totally alienated.
Anyways, I'll be tring to make more of an effort with this blog. I have a few months left in Germany, have met some new amazing people, caught up with old amazing friends of mine by god I am making the most of it, if it kills me in the process.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Es war in Oberwinter....

Nicht davor und nicht dahinter,
Es war gleich mittendrin, als ich damals auf dich reingefallen bin.....

These corrupted lyrics form the basis of an old-Volksmusik song heard on a train (original title "Es war in Königswinter") on the way from Koblenz to Köln, sung not only by a group of drunken Germans......but by a group of drunken Germans on a stag do, who we had met randomly in the centre of Koblenz, bought us an entire night's worth of drinks and had even after all of that then invited us up to Köln on the train with a free ticket that they had already bought. We passed quite a few stations en route, and Oberwinter was one of those which sparked an enormous amount of singing and cheering from 10 drunken men on the train. It was awesome.

Me and Liam (who i'm currently staying with until I find a fucking apartment grrr) only went out for a quiet drink and a shisha in one of the bars in the Koblenz Altstadt. 12 hours later we were still drunk and wandering around Köln after one of the best nights of my entire life.

I realise that it's an enormous cliché to say that, but really....the bizarre way that the night had panned out and the warmth and friendliness of almost everyone we met that night was a credit to the German people and a great starter for the third (and not necessarily the last) part of my Erasmus-Auslandssemester's adventure of awesomeness.

And we were surprisingly dressed for the occasion, as we ended up in an exclusive bar in the Rudolfplatz area of Köln with a surprisingly tight dress code on entry. Liam had his entire outfit scoped out, but we got in nevertheless. There were cocktail dresses and suits everywhere and without wanting to draw out my already enormous posts on here, it was fab.

After all of this we then stumbled upon a squat bar (?) underneath a growshop covered in graffiti, smoked a bit, drank a few, listened to the now-stoned DJ play some light jazz-house and then we made our way back home on the Bahn.

To go into stereotypes and to make stereotypes of Germans without mentioning strict following of rules and a no-tolerance attitude from the 'establishment' would be unthinkable. And not to mention schwarzfahren translating loosely as fare-dodging, it is one of the crimes punishable by execution by the German rail network Deutsche Bahn and can cost you quite a large sump of money if you're caught without holding a valid ticket, stamped and verified twice or three times (just to make sure) by the conductors.
so drunk and with minutes to spare until the next train back to Koblenz we decided it would be fine.

It worked. 3.50€ each later and a whole load of pretending to be drunk, stupid English tourists without any money, ID or other means of getting home to Koblenz, we were back where it all started.......

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Train Hotel

At the risk of missing out on a potentially bizarre epic travelling adventure, I booked myself onto a 12hr overnight train from Barcelona to Paris.

Now I'd heard that overnight trains can be a bit hit-as-miss: you share a 4-bed cabin with total snoring strangers, the train speeds along at max speeds of like 300km/h giving you a bit of a bumpy ride and an unsettled sleep, the only escape from this close-encounters of a foreign and slightly awkward kind is the bar, where, you may have to remortgage your home before ordering anything or at least just sit, take photos and talk with random Americans like I did and get drunk with them and not think about the bill so much haha.

Actually it was almost like that, although i've never had as much fun on a train at night time. It was so communal, so social....almost like a hostel on wheels.

I was sharing with 3 other guys, 2 French, 1 of which was ghetto, parisian and just oozing cool, the other slightly quieter and slightly more timid; the other an older guy from Austria who wanted to spend more time in the bar than me.
Just by walking up and down the narrow corridors of the train I met a group of 40+ American high-schoolers on tour, who loud and interesting, but still unfortunately as stereotypically obnoxious as portrayed everywhere else. They were though, bless them.
Also met one girl who I'd already met in Salou at the Cos Blanco confetti party through a friend of mine. We saw each other at the bar, had a few drinks together and sat talking how small the world is, and how aawesome the experience was, what we were up to and where we were going.

As I wrote all this I was hurtling out of a grey, dull, unpretty Paris at 8am or so after making my connection with about 5 minutes to spare after having to throw my 5 rucksacks around the Paris Metro a bit first.

I then got into Köln Hbf and made my connection there to Koblenz, knocking over my suitcase on poor unsuspecting guys who walked past. Oops.

Living in Koblenz is an exciting prospect and from what I've seen of the place so far, it's lovely, but i'm terrified to install myself in for some reason. I need somewhere to live duuuuuuuude. Also the forecast for Tarragona is about 25 degrees Celsius, where I already caught the sun, whereas here in Koblenz the forecast is about 5 degrees C, where i'm more likely to catch a cold. Nooooooooo........

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Crisis of Confidence

I'm a secret worrier.

Everything that can go wrong will go wrong and it will go wrong in true Sod's Law style: when I least expect it and least need it.

Or maybe nothing will go wrong, which will make me think SOMETHING HAS TO FUCK UP SOON, or it's too good to be true, or there's something I'm not doing and I'm just being too god damn relaxed about everything as usual. Maybe I should just continue being relaxed about everything. Nothing will go wrong, I'm being soft.

This, this annoying constant battle goes on in my head whenever I've got some grand impending plans, and it's a thought that is certainly cropping up recently.

Faced with multitudes of people asking me, quite normally, what my plans are and how I'm gonna get there and telling me how it's gonna be an amazing experience, I am struck with this dull aching reminder that, as of yet, I have hardly anything sorted. Nada.

Probability of everything going tits up: close to 1.

I'm talking about my fast-approaching move to Germany. As of when this blog was posted, it is only 72 hours until the big day when I take my 14hr overnight train hotel to Paris, then onwards to Koblenz.

When i'm there I need to find an apartment. But how much can I afford right now? I have to put a deposit down and undoubtedly the first month's rent and I'm unsurprisingly skint.
I want to move in with locals but I don't want to be the English outsider and I'm scared that I'm not going to be able to communicate as well as I will be expected to because my German is piss poor at times.
I also want to find a job to subsidise my travelling, but not something which will restrict my travelling to one day per fortnight.
Finally, I'm worried about having to take extra credits at the uni because I fell short of a few in Aix, and then I'm thinking about how difficult uni will be, and whether I'll even make my original set of credits nevermind my extra classes.

Hopefully I will look on this big grey cloud of a blog post in a few weeks time with good feelings with the oh so awesome 'you silly scared child' hindsight, but right now I'll be honest: i'm quite nervous and it's getting me down.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Where I've Been

Apparently I have been to 5% of the world, and I specifically want to visit another 9%.
I really want to visit America and Québec!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Bon dia, em dic Gareth i parlo català

Monstrously late into my time here before schlepping off to Germany for the beginning of my second Erasmus semester, I have decided to really ramp up my knowledge of Catalan (the co-official language of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community, as well as the sole official language in Andorra), despite my lack of Spanish fluency.

With around 11 million native speakers in 2009, I recently found out that i'd been completely underestimating it as a language, in favour of Spanish, down to my complete ignorance of its far reaching historical footprints throughout a lot of Southern Europe. It is an interesting and potentially easier language for me to learn than Spanish, too, since it has semantic roots from France and the Pyrenees area in Europe, as well as Latin. Quite a lot of the vocabulary is similar to what I already know, from French, just with that beautiful Iberian twist that is such a bouncy, passionate and lovely addition to seemingly everything on this peninsula and further afield.

So, after hearing countless amounts of people saying 'Molt bè' and 'Adéu' in the streets, I'm giving it a good go.

I've started with the basics, of course. I can now ask someone how they are, where they live and tell them my name, albeit with a Geordie accent lurking deep throughout, but I'm proud of my achievements already. Hopefully I can keep it up and practise a bit while I'm out of the area!

So, wish me luck!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

I'm a legal alien.

While I haven't been very active on my blog in recent times and haven't been doing a great deal of things apart from relaxing, enjoying my time away from university and not getting up until 3pm to then just go walk on the beach or watch Jersey Shore on MTV, I am still having a hell of a lot of fun in Tarragona.

The question of 'What are you even doing here' has cropped up quite a lot since I moved to Tarragona with my friends Carey and Lauren. Everyone from current Erasmus students, to corner shop owners and random hot men on Grindr asking me 'WHY ARE YOU HERE'.


It's as if Spain isn't a holiday destination or somewhere amazing to relax and lay low for a few months before moving onto a new university, new country and a new lifestyle. Or as if they don't get enough tourists here as it is. What is with that question? Maybe they don't even look at their amazing beaches and seemingly constant good weather in summertime.

By now, if you don't read this blog, or you're just catching up, or you're one of the awesome people i've met in TGN and not had it properly explained to you: I'm on a 2 month break (SPRING BREAK YEAH) in between the two semesters at foreign universities i'm studying at this year, down to some interesting academic year dates in Germany from April - August. This means I get 2 and a bit months of free time to do the hell I want with; some students at my university went back home to go to the grind and save and save and save and be miserable in cloudy, rainy England, but I am here in Spain living with my two friends, in a place and a country that I adore so far.

But on that note I've been here since the end of January and i've just booked trains to move to Germany for semester 2 of my Erasmus year abroad, and yet I am still confronted with that question.....and still considered a tourist. Even if I try and order something in a shop, or a café in my ridiculous broken and fragmented Spanish, I am instantly replied to in English, or French. Maybe I sound a leetle beet like zees now or maybe the Catalonian influx of tourism from France is infinitely greater than the UK. Who knows, but I've got my money on the latter to be honest.

Anyways, i've got my tickets to Germany booked up for the end of the month: i'm taking an overnight train-hotel from Barcelona to Paris, and then onto Köln in the morning where I just have to take a regional train to get to Koblenz all for around 150€, money i've saved up since January.

I honestly will miss this place, Barcelona has such a liberal feel for a city, mirrored by its friendliness and openness to new, bizarre things. People here seem to have a lot of piercings, tattoos and interesting haircuts, all signs of a place that feels new and fresh. I like that about Spain. People are much friendlier than UK or France, less stylish than both, but at least they're not as arsehole-y as the French about it.

We spent a day up in Barcelona with friend who were visiting from Aix, riding bikes into student riots, into hailstorms and then owering into cosy, warm Irish pubs all the while being freezing cold and wet but absolutely loving the place. Not the first time I've been to Barcelona, but one of the best just because I saw pretty much everything in the space of a few hours -on street level- for once. Also on the way home our train broke down which caused a few tears from the girls, but after looking at the mad situation we'd just been through was cause for a bit of a laugh actually. I loved it, definitely one to tell the grandkids.

Also, finally while I haven't uploaded many photos to this blog to document my travels recently, I do have a lot of interesting ones to share, if not just for myself in the future to look back on. Here's a few interesting ones from Barcelona / Tarragona.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Mi casa es tu casa

Living in a house rather than in student halls is nicer in so many way; yes, it was a great experience to finally do it after years of either living with family, with friends in student hovels or even just popping over to the boyfriend's and leaving 5 weeks later, but I ended up really really not liking the awkward feel of halls.

I'm sitting in my spanish 'casa' in Tarragona, on a cold, winty night in front of the TV and our bookcase that we filled with random books in 3 different languages and I just thought to myself how nice it is not having to share a shower with 40 other smelly French students on your floor, or having to disinfect the kitchen before even using it, just in case, or something else like that.
Not that it's any different to halls back home, even. I just I thought it would be a bit nicer since it's not home!

Oh well, weltschmerz.

Since I'm on the accommodation topic, I'm starting to look up apartments in Germany after having a right fucking carry on with their notorious bureaucracy already.

Koblenz uni wanted 638€ (deposit + first month's rent) by the end of this month otherwise my reserved room in halls would be given away. It's a shame as well because it was a 20m2-ish self-contained apartment in the halls building with my own kitchen and own bathroom, so there would have been none of that 'leisure centre shower room'-feel that I got from Cuques in Aix.

But payment two month's in advance is asking a hell of a lot, especially when I've had to stump up money for the rent and deposit here in Spain and live off my Erasmus grant until middle of April. cry cry cry.

The question is: do I find a flatshare with potential random nutcases, or do I hack it in a studio apartment on my own?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

One month later

So its been a month since my last blog post due to a lack of internets over here in my Spanish casa and a whole hell of a lot of stuff has been happening, I moved to Spain, found an apartment with my friends from university and i'm slowly settling into the manic Spanish lifestyle which only stops for 2 hours per day for siesta time.

Tarragona is beautiful and beachy and full of Roman architecture and remains while remaining very modern in parts nonetheless. I really missed being by the coast in Aix and now this is my lovely lovely interim before heading off further more inland to Koblenz in Germany.

Obviously one month of happenings is quite a lot to read about, and quite a lot of effort to type out but i'd like to sum it up just for the sake of documenting my year abroad, if nothing else:

Leaving Aix-en-Provence was hard; moving away from my comfort zone once again and leaving behind all of my newly made friends from around the world was the worst. All I wanted to do was to curl up in someone's 9m2 room in Cuques, watch bad films and maybe go on an expedition to Avignon or something. but in some ways i'm lucky in the fact that I know I have made some amazing friends who I will see very shortly back home, or maybe on a little weekend jaunt to Ireland for a nice cheeky pint down the local!

The journey was interesting. We stopped over in Montpellier on the way to Tarragona, had the most French meal in the most kitschy French restaurant i've ever seen and slept our backpains away in a comfy hotel room after somehow travelling with around three times our weight in luggage.
Unfortunately the French were on strike once again and our train was cancelled and converted into a coach, significantly less awesome, but still it got us from A-B. The girls had a horrendous time, but I was just excited about moving to somewhere bright and fresh.

Me and some friends visited Jerez de la Frontera/Cádiz/Sevilla for a weekend before I'd evven found an apartment with the girls. We saw dancing horse shows and went on tours of brandy cellars in Jerez, milled around local architecture and city sights in Cádiz and I went on a night out with some random Americans I'd stumbled upon. I lost my passport though, and had a bit of a hungover nightmare at a police station and trying to trace my steps, since I had a flight the next day to catch from Sevilla.
I ended up staying in Sevilla for a night in a hostel, skipping my flight and accidentally taking a business class train back to Barcelona for a cheaper price than the rest of the train, which was lovely. Couldn't have had a more bizarre end to the trip to be honest.

We found an apartment in the Old Town of Tarragona, right next to the Cathedral, a Paul bakery and a shop called Ale-Hop ('allez-hop'). It is more French than France itself, and it even has lovely views from my balcony which has been decked out with some gay flowers and some CD's to keep the pigeons away.

We went to Carnival in Salou, and a festival called Cós Blanco, a giant parade through Salou with 25,000 kg of confetti being thrown around by children and drunks alike. It was awesome.

....and in Tarragona too, lots of people dressed up (including me as Princess G, Carey as a hippy and Lauren with a big red wig and some sexy silky red gloves), dancing and singing in the streets. Looking over onto the parade from Doddy's balcony was really fun, as was getting drunk without realising it, going to an Erasmus house party after, the shot bar Chupitos and losing everyone on the way home and waking up with a new bit of furniture to add to my room.

I'm having a load of fun in Tarragona at the minute, and as short as this trip(?) will be for me in comparison to those staying for tyhe entire duration of semester 2, at the end of March I will definitely be able to take a lot away from it, if nothing a slightly better level of Spanish and hopefully Català too!

Friday, 11 January 2013


I guess I have to apologize a bit to everyone who reads this and knows me in real life, I've been one big stress recently and it's snowballed from nothing into literally everything winding me up:

As well as upping and moving on from a new life that I created here in Aix-en-Provence, with great friends that I'll hopefully keep for years afterwards and great memories above all else, I've got to start to think about what I'm going to be doing with my time in Spain, while trying not to blow all of my money on having too much of a good time.

I have around 3 months to kill essentially, and I want to find a job and get fit at the gym most of all, but I want to learn Spanish too while I'm there.

Not only all of that but little things here have been annoying me, like neighbours being arseholes, not leaving my room for a few days and the university here being ridiculously underorganised as ever, ending in me missing two of my exams, as well as worrying me to death over whether I might have to pay back my Erasmus grant for this semester, since it now seems on paper that I've done absolutely fuck all.

But I'm back on track and feeling good after spending time with some good friends of mine getting fucking drunk and being idiots and catching up. It's very nice to have everyone back in Aix, and it's gonna be so so very hard to leave.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Journey to Catalunya

After finally getting my student loan and having all my mates return to Aix after the Christmas holidays,   we finally got together and booked our trains to Tarragona in Catalunya (Spain).

I'm really excited about getting to Spain and being faced with something different: finding a new life, apartment and potential job in Spain, with the language barrier and the fact that, at the moment, I speak no Spanish at all. It'll be one mad adventure though!

We're travelling there by train, via Montpellier, and staying the night because of a lack of a connecting train. Good excuse to have a look around Montpellier, which is fashioned as a very friendly, good-looking and very gay-friendly Mediterranean city in France. I originally wanted to go to Montpellier for my year abroad, but our university didn't have any specific Erasmus relations with their universities.

So there you go, one week and a bit left until I move to Spain!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

It's 2013.

So I have actually set this blog to post at exactly the time that the clock on the computer changes from 2012 to 2013, because I have no idea yet what I'll be doing. 
I'll most likely be drunk somewhere not knowing what time it is, and missing the countdown like every year.....(it's getting to be a bit of a running joke with my friends after I went to outside a club for a cigarette in 2010 and came back in 2011, totally missing all the countdown and hugging stuff that happens around that time of year).
And now i'm in France.

The coming of the new year, at this moment, signifies two big things to me: I have just under a month left here; and time is going way too quickly on my year abroad. The first semester felt like just a few weeks and not actually 5 months!

With regards to resolution-making, I've got a list of quite realistic goals that i'm likely to do, rather than things like 'i'm going to be a more motivated person' since at the time and place, no-one thinks "oh I must wake up early tomorrow and every day after because it's 2013 and I said I would". No.

I'm going to start going back to the gym in Spain, start learning Spanish properly and try as hard as possible to stick to a monthly budget I've set myself. I'm also going to try and look for a job in the area (although that may be easier said than done given i'm only there for 3 months-ish) and put money away into my savings account by direct debit every month.

None of this, gym every day, be a better person rubbish or that old 'eat less, smoke less' never lasts. I enjoy my vices too much.