The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Yes, it finally happened. A couple of days ago my friend nominated me for the Ice Bucket Challenge on Facebook, and me much obliging to do anything for a good cause decided to hop right to it (I'm aware you're supposed to do it within 24 hours but time difference, living in a block of flats and not having a computer made it a bit difficult!)

I did the challenge at an English dinner party that a couple of my travel friends and I were hosting, and originally I was going to try and combine the whole thing into a vlog of some sort. However, I ended up having an conversation during the night that made me decide to write a little bit about the challenge itself, rather than focusing on the evening.

First off, I freely admit that I didn't actually know what charity the challenge was for at first. I'd seen it explained on some YouTube Channel a few weeks before but I couldn't really remember properly because I thought it was just some celebrity thing rather than something for us common folk to participate in too, plus if you know me by now, you'll know just how awful my memory is. So when somebody asked me the other night what I was doing it for, I stuttered at a guess of a Leukaemia charity, because I mean there's an 'L' in the title and that's often a well supported charity and after the whole Breast Cancer 'No Make-Up Selfie' it kind of made sense. Obviously this went on to cause a variety of different reaction from the people who heard; laughter, 'oh Emily' accompanied by a head shake and abuse about first world privilege... As you can imagine, that last one didn't go down so well.

*I'd just like to point out here that ALS is actually the American term for Motor Neutron Disease (MND), as we call it in the UK, so I wasn't just being stupid, we just have a different name for it*

Now I'm aware that doing something for a charity when you have no idea what you're supporting might sound like the stupidest thing ever. And on a personal level, I agree. I always want to know who or what I'm supporting, where my money is going and how it's going to work. After years and years of volunteering in the charity sector and spending my entire life fundraising for a various array of different causes, I'm not one to lightly send my money off without knowing where it's going. Of course I know I should have researched what the meaning behind the challenge was all about before agreeing to have ice water dumped on my head, but if I'm honest, I trusted that some of my closest friends had taken part in the challenge as well as some huge celebrities, and that they weren't stupid enough to donate some evil no-good cause.

I suppose it's easy for me to say now that I was always going to look it up, I would never have uploaded it if I didn't agree with the cause etc etc. and if you don't want to believe me that's fine. What I really want to say about all this is that regardless of whether I was blindly following trend or doing my bit because the cause is something that is really close to my heart, the important focus here is that this disease and this charity has received recognition from this silly challenge above and beyond anything anyone could have anticipated. Speaking on behalf of those who are particularly passionate about doing whatever they can for those in need, we need those people who just want to join in for a bit of a laugh, make a one off donation or simply want to make a fool of their friends to make things like this spread like wildfire.You know, the kind of people that give money to the homeless on the street just because they feel particularly generous that day, the ones who put their change in the charity box on the shop counter regardless of the cause and got stuck into ice bucket challenge without really knowing what it's all about. Those people are so so important, because whilst it's impossible to know about and understand every good cause that is out there, it isn't impossible to take five minutes out of your day to support them every once in a while.

So be as cynical as you like and frown upon all the people who are doing a good thing for a good cause whilst having fun at the same time, but at the end of the day an incredibly positive thing sweeping the Internet in this day and age amongst the wars, injustice and corruption of the world is hardly something to be ashamed of being a part of. A single person can only do so much alone, but when everybody joins together, that's when the real change starts to happen, and I for one want to do whatever I can, stupid freezing ice water challenge and all.

Monday, 11 August 2014



Once again I've managed to leave a significant amount of time between blog posts whilst ONE MILLION AND ONE things have been happening, so now I have insane amounts to write about and literally no idea where to start. Well actually that's a lie, because I've decided to start with the present day and eventually work my way backwards through all the exciting things that have been happening to me during my accidental month hiatus, which include but are not limited to:

Living in the COOLEST hostel in San Cris.

Hitchhiking to Agua Azul and Palenque.

Crawling through caves.

Climbing waterfalls.

A two day house party.

And meeting some of the most awesome people who have ever existed (this applies to all of the above!!)

But for now, I'm going to have a therapeutic rant about the fact that I am starting university in TWO DAYS. Actually on Wednesday, meaning that that it is less that two official days. And it is safe to say that I am absolutely bloody terrified and utterly unprepared. And no, I am not writing that in order to gain sympathy and 'I bet you'll be fine' pats on the back, I really am so unprepared and not ready, that I actually keep having to laugh to myself about it so I don't start to cry.

For those of you who don't know, when you study languages in the UK the third year of your studies is spent abroad in a country (or countries) where the language(s) you study is/are the native language. For me, as I study German and Spanish, I chose Germany and Mexico, with my first term being spent studying at UNAM in Mexico City and my second term at Humboldt in Berlin. Which all sounds rather wonderful, until you consider that ALL of the classes are taught in the native language. All of them. Every single one.

"Well duh Emily, what did you expect? You are studying a language degree after all!", I hear you cry.

Well.... yes. I know. 

And knowing this information, any sensible person would have been trying to vigorously prepare themselves for months on end, with lots of grammar revision and intense speaking practise, where as I decided to travel around Mexico, attempting get over my social anxiety of speaking foreign languages to foreign people. Which I can proudly say, I finally did *hooray!*. However, although now I'm not so scared about actually talking to people, I have very minimal understanding of academic Spanish at all, plus the idea of having to speak in front of a group of people in a classroom literally frightens me to death. PLUS if I'm being totally honest, the amount of time I've spent intensely speaking solely Spanish and not Spanglish is pretty minimal. So as you can imagine, the idea of spending entire days of my life in a classroom, where next to no one speaks a word of English and participation is considered a key part of my overall grade is pretty darn scary.

The annoying part of this whole thing is that I am super keen to learn and improve and attempt to become a proper Mexican, but depending on my level anxiety on any given day my ability to actually show this interest could range from anywhere between 'I'M ON TOP OF THE WORLD COME AT ME MEXICO' to 'please, literally, no one talk to me, or I might spontaneously combust'. Luckily, I very rarely hit the extremes, but you get the idea.

The positive side of all this, however, is that after travelling for just over two and a half months, the concept of a routine and actually having a base camp has become quite appealing to me. It's been nice to finally settle down in my own place (which just happens to be a penthouse flat overlooking a park... having a friend who's sisters live in DF has proved insanely beneficial), and finally unpack my backpack so I actually have a feeling of permanence about my stay now. Though at first it was a tad strange sleeping in a room by myself after so long in dorm rooms and after unpacking I discovered I'd hardly brought anything with me. Oops. Anyway it's so awesome that I'm getting to live abroad for the first time, because it's kind of like constantly travelling, but you have your own house so you don't have to carry all your shit with you wherever you go.

I'm not really sure where I was going with this post, but I felt it really was about time I wrote something. I promise next time I'll write about something more interesting, like how I eventually sorted my status as an accident illegal immigrant or how the first time I ever went hitchhiking happened to be on one of the most dangerous and difficult roads to hitchhike on in Mexico (y).