Building Castles in the Air

I am writing this sat in my lovely house in England that overlooks fields that stretch as far as the eye can see, but I began writing this just over a week ago when I was still in the hustle and bustle of sunny Madrid. A place that over time has taught me that there are so many good and open people in this world and such beautiful places beyond the imagination. It has also taught me that life isn’t just about living to work, but working enough to live and thrive. And I have certainly learnt how to thrive!

IMG_1466

Taking my Erasmus year in Spain has undoubtedly been the best decision I have ever made. Travel has always been in my blood and I have ever wished to have the confidence to get myself out of England by myself and set my life up abroad. I choose De Montfort University largely because of DMUGlobal and the opportunities they offer around the world, including Erasmus and as soon as I stepped into their first presentation about Erasmus, I knew it was for me. The only issue was is that I wanted to go for a year and I wasn’t able to transfer my credits from the year abroad to DMU, thus I would have to do an extra year. But as I felt I had been let down a lot by my English university experience, I decided to take the leap and go for it anyway!

The next dilemma that came was choosing the place out of a huge list of universities around Europe. I was torn between Dusseldorf, Bordeaux, Oulu and Madrid, but since I always had a soft spot for Spain and desperately wanted to learn Spanish, I chose CEU San Pablo in Madrid and there my journey began.

IMG_4617 - Version 2

I visited Madrid beforehand to choose a flat to live in and visit the city and university, both which impressed me but I still didn’t have huge expectations. When I arrived it was hot. Really hot. Madrid seemed hugely intimidating and rather lonely, it was hard opening a bank, finding everything for the flat, getting the transport card, finding the uni and not being able to speak any Spanish.

IMG_4337

But just a couple of weeks in, I was falling in love with Madrid and the people there were wonderful. My time in Madrid went from strength to strength and without me even realising it for a long time, I was living my dream. I had my own little flat, a foster cat, I was learning Spanish slowly but surely, Madrid at my doorstep and at the weekends I took day-trips to neighbouring cities, or if the girls were up for it I went on bigger trips to other countries or the coast. At the start of this year, I did have a wobble after a break-up, moving flats and all my friends leaving from the first semester. But after an amazing trip to Porto with great friends and an eye-opening adventure in Morocco where I had the most amazing time ever with more wonderful company, things just carried on the uprise until the day I left.

Now, it is time to awaken from this wonderful dream and whirl of emotions, experiences and evolution that has been my life for the past 10 months. It’s time now to work hard and study hard so I can accomplish this as a real lifestyle when I finish university. I know that Madrid is a once in a lifetime experience, but this is not the end for me, it’s just the beginning of an international lifestyle.

I have never been so inspired to travel and meet more people as now, and I have no doubt that there are more adventures to come. The only thing I am questioning is not when, but where?

Although not everyone will have the same positive experience of living abroad as this, some of you may not even be interested in travelling and will find your happiness elsewhere in careers or studies or families. But I hope everyone has the chance to find their own Madrid.

IMG_5317

Learning to be alone at 20, 10 things to do

“Before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself. Before I love someone else, I’ve got to love myself” – Ed Sheeran

You may read this title and think, twenty-years-old that’s so young, there’s no need to be worried about being single at that age! And I agree completely. Or at any age in fact, we should each find a way to be content within ourselves.

I have been in back-to-back serious relationships and ‘dating’ since I was fifteen-years-old. The thing is, I never really saw myself as the kind of girl to be jumping from guy to guy, I am quietly confident and I enjoy time to myself. But I did. Yet now, I am on my own for the first time in approximately four years.

After my first break-up, I found myself searching for something to replace it straight away. I had just moved into my own place in a new city for university and I was lonely and broken-hearted, so I started dating the first cute guy who was showed me kindness. It didn’t help much, but I did it anyway.

Still, I continued searching for that something until just a few months after my last serious relationship, I jumped into another one. This time, it did make me feel better, so much so when I decided to move to Spain to study for a year, he moved with me.

But things went pear-shaped, and rather then staying away from dating like I probably should have, I started seeing my best friend in Spain who had helped me through the tough last weeks and the break-down of my relationship.

Inevitably, that also ended, so now I am making a promise myself that I will give me a chance now. Not that my relationships were bad or toxic, they weren’t at all, but now I can focus solely on myself rather than another. The following is advice I shall adhere to and I hope you too can find some solace in this strange new world of singledom.

 

Make more effort with friends

I have always highly valued my time with my friends, but I realise now that I have been on my own a little while that I’ve been missing out on so much. When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to turn down invites for a TV night with your partner, but now I have all the time in the world for my friends and I’m the one throwing out invites and building deeper friendships than I ever have before. Get out there and show your friends how much you appreciate them!

15146769_1559458124069647_1596819219_o

Get out and meet new people

I love my friends, but it’s also nice to get out to see fresh faces and hear new stories. Just the other day, I met some wonderful people from Portugal, Ireland, Germany, Morocco, Austria and Azerbaijan (a little country near Turkey) simply by sparking up conversation in the girl’s bathroom and having the courage to go up to strangers. You can do this by seeing what events are going on in your city, such as dancing, rowing, clubbing, cooking – anything really! Check Facebook events, meet-up, or simply Google something you enjoy and you will find an event for sure.

 16344437_10208705190129969_1070827770_n

Become more active

Now that I have more time, I’m back at the gym and going to dance classes. Rather than wanting to have a lazy lie in with the other half, now you have more reason to get up, out and about doing things! Go for a walk around the park, or enjoy a swim at your local pool, it will no doubt make you feel better.

 

Watch shows you enjoy

On the other hand, we all need lazy days. Now there’s no need to compromise on the shows you want to watch because of your partner. Time to get your Netflix on and binge on your favourite shows without the guilt of what your other half thinks.

 

Take time to develop your creativity

Since I have been alone, my imagination is once again in full swing! I’m back to writing poetry, keeping up to date with my journal, sketching, dancing and deepening my creativity each day. Plus, I’m also feeling more inspired to keep regularly updating my blog. You will feel more focused on your own.

 dav

Give back to others

It will make you realise that really, life is great and what is happening is just a passing storm in your life. People are suffering much worse adversities than a broken heart, not that it makes your pain any less, but working with these people or animals is likely to put your own hardships into perspective.

 

Spend more time with family

Sometimes being in a relationship can take your focus off those who mean the most – your family! Even though I am many miles away studying abroad, I now have more time alone to be able to video chat with my mum and keep up with my family. These are the people that will always have your back no matter what, so don’t leave them out.

IMG-20161229-WA0000 

Don’t be afraid of doing things alone

Being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely. I know I always used to fear doing things by myself, but now I quite happily go to coffee shops, parks and even restaurants by myself! The trick is to take a good book, sit back and watch the world go by. I actually prefer doing stuff by myself now rather than with bad company.

 

bty
Bella Vista beach

Travel more

Maybe this one is focused more on the wanderlusts out there, but I know for sure each time I feel the roar of the plane’s engine and see a whole new place in front of my eyes, my heart heals a little more each time.

 p1000244

Don’t look back, this loneliness won’t last forever

Stop moping about the past, I know I’m terrible for going back over my relationships, pining over the good memories and scrutinizing everything to understand what went wrong. But frankly, people grow apart and you have to move on. Eventually, the emptiness will fill itself, not by dating other people, but by learning to get on with yourself and enjoying your own company. It will get better.

7D2L7848 - Version 2

It’s okay to be single, it doesn’t have to be the whole Bridget Jone’s scenario (though it’s cool if that’s your thing), it can be uplifting and fulfilling. It’s okay if it hurts too, I know I certainly don’t always get on with myself and now that I’m forced to, it’s not going to be easy… But before I let myself invest all my time into someone else, I’m going to work on myself first and be the kind of person I would want to be with. Finally, I’m ready for some me time!