The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Kill Your Darlings!

Last Sunday I actually managed to get out for my first bit of exploring since I arrived in the city nearly three weeks ago. As my friends and I have already done most of the usual touristy things, we wanted to do something a little more 'off the beaten track', so we decided to follow my 'Franzi Guide to Berlin' which my awesome bestie, who is originally from Berlin, made me as a leaving present from Mexico.

First stop was visiting the theatre she used to work at called Volksbühne and buying a mystery ticket to a show so I could spy on all her friends who work there. I chose a show called 'Kill Your Darlings! Streets Of Berladelphia', mainly because of the catchy title and the fact that it was only an hour and a half long. It's a pretty alternative venue, where they give out free matchboxes with slogans like 'Still Alive' and 'Fuck Off' branded across the front in shiny red typeface, and all their flyers are A5 stickers of the play titles with descriptions on the back. As a student willing to sit anywhere, my ticket cost just 6€, which I later learned was an absolute bargain.

I took myself on a solo date night to see it on Wednesday, having no idea what I was letting myself in for. In short, it was a monologue critique of life, love, capitalism, communism and the self (or at least that's what I got from it, but I could be entirely wrong), with the main actor gallavanting around in nothing more that rainbow glitter leggings, surrounded by a gymnastics troop. There's singing and audience participation and a very bizarre use of stage props, so it ticked all the boxes for me. I'm not completely fluent in German, so unfortunately I missed some of the key lines and jokes, but nonetheless I had an amazing time. Nothing like what I expected, I'll definitely be going back there soon.

After buying my ticket, we hopped back on the metro/underground/tube/whatever-it's-called-here to Eberswalder Straße in search for the promise of 'the best pizza place! supercheap and open until 4am'. Although it wasn't quite 4am, the promise of the best-super-cheap pizza was definitely appealing to four hungry students. To eat out in London on a regular basis as a student, you either need to have super rich parents or be willing to spare a kidney to the black market. Berlin, however, is no where near as pricey. An ENTIRE pizza costs just 3.90€ (2.90€ if you just got a plain margarita) and it was delicious too. Honestly, I have never in my life been so happy to buy a pizza. So if your looking for a cheap eat near Mauerpark, Ebenswalder Straße next to the Sparkasse is where it's at.

We then headed off to the famous Mauerpark, beers in hand, to check out what was left of the flee market (it was getting kind of late by this point) and enjoy the various artists who were dotted around, whilst lounging around in the rare North European sunshine. 

Open-air karaoke which basically consisted of lots of tourists embarrassing themselves in front of a large audience. Great fun to watch though.

These guys were great! Live drum set that you couldn't not dance to. Serious festival vibes.

By the time we ended up leaving the park, the air was getting nippy and the sun had began to sink behind the high-rise flats. Still stuffed from our super tasty pizzas and one too many beers, we tottered back to the metro, sleepy eyed and satisfied with the days adventures.

Aside from going to see the show on Wednesday, my week consisted of nothing more than lots of going to school and getting lost. Nothing out of the ordinary really. I'm still taking it slow at the moment, because the culture shock between here and Mexico has been a bit overwhelming. So more day exploring and a mystery concert tonight with Greg (Matthew E. White anyone?) should hopefully make for another chilled out weekend.

A building I came across that is on ALL the postcards, when I got lost looking for Volksbühne. The text reads 'Human will can move everything. This house used to be in another country'.
I love getting lost.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

White Party and THE VIDEO

Initially, my goodbye party was supposed to be on the roof of my house and we were going to keep it low-key and low-budget. Unfortunately, my pinche landlords had a different idea and in spite of the fact that we gave them three weeks notice about the party, they cancelled just five days before.

Luckily our new plan turned out to be even better. A friend of mine suggested that we rent an island in Xochimilico for the night, where we could camp and drink and make as much noise as we liked without the concern of neighbours or trashing someone's house. Image Mexican Venice in the countryside, without the glam and romance, but rather an entirely different kind of beauty.

My friend Geovanni's cousin works on the boats that take you to these islands, which are more like long floating rafts which you row with a big stick, so she took us there at not too much expense. We all dressed in white (embarrassingly inspired by the white party in Gossip Girl) and popped champagne as we went, all looking very classy and sophisticated for at least the first ten minutes. We also managed to get some really beautiful picture before everyone got too messy.

As you can see the most part consisted of alcohol, glitter fights, face paint and kinda looking like we were at a hippy wedding. But it was beautiful and fun, until later when the usual drama started but we'll just forget about that part.

And now the moment you've ALL been waiting for... my highlights video from Mexico and that trip to the States I took almost a year ago. I hope you enjoy it and if you do, let me know, so I can make more of my future trips. (I mean I'm gonna do it anyway, I just won't share them with you...)

Sunday, 19 April 2015

First Weeks in Berlin

I have now been in Berlin for just over two weeks for my second study abroad placement. I'm still homeless and living between a friend's couch and a hostel, still can't for the life of me remember how to speak German and am lamenting the fact that as I am no longer able to drink alcohol, I can't taste the beauty that is German beer. Aside from the slight downsides and the fact that an old lady confronted me in the street the other day calling me 'common' because I'm English, I have been able to have at least a little bit of fun, plus I suppose alcohol-free beer isn't allllllll that bad.

On my first night in the city my lovely friend Imogen came to meet me for a pizza and a beer in Friedrichsschain. It was an absolute lifesaver because after a 12 hour flight followed by a quick 24 hour pit stop in London, which was crazy-busy full of catching up with and seeing friends, I was pretty exhausted and disorientated. Not to mention the jet lag which hit me harder than it ever has done before! Even without alcohol, my first German beer was glorious and after almost a year of sleeping on a mattress on the floor, my comfy hostel bed was pretty darn luxurious. I'm staying in a hostel called Plus Hostel Berlin, which I would highly recommend - it's cheap, well located AND it even has a pool!

As I have been to Berlin before (see posts Berlin Meat Sweats and East Side Gallery), I've already done a lot of the main tourist sights. However, when I came last year I fell down some stairs in a club and messed up my ankle (I can thank my old friend Paul for that one), so couldn't walk very far on the last day and missed a couple of key things.

EMILY AND GREG WERE REUNITED (he's doing his study abroad here!) at Checkpoint Charlie, which I'm sorry to say was kind of cool but a little underwhelming... I have, however, heard good things about the museum which I am yet to venture into, so I'll update on that when I finally get around to it.

I finally saw some real life Trabis which were THE car of East Germany before the reunification (I say THE car but in fact it was THE only car you could have... communism and all that) Anyway, I think they're cute but we couldn't go into the museum because Greg is a boring sod and wanted a beer, plus I'm super poor right now, so I probably couldn't have afforded it anyways. Also, I should probably note that they weren't this colour in the DDR...

We also made it to Potsdamer Platz, which is famous for some reason that I can't remember because I am an awful German student, so I have been super kind and linked Wikipedia for you, in case you are interested. The area isn't particularly special; lots of tall office buildings makes it feel a bit like the City of London but I took a photo nonetheless because it makes a good touristy Instagram shot.

I was also lucky enough to receive a visit from my mum and step-dad on my first weekend here (which is another reason why I haven't starved yet. Did I mention how poor I am?) Neither of them have ever visited the city, so we tried to fit in as much sight seeing as we could into two days, wandering from Alexanderplatz, past Humboldt, down Unter den Linden to the Brandenburger Tor, then to the Jewish Memorial and the Reichstag. We also managed to fit in another visit round to Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz, so most of the big sights in one day IS possible, it's just a fair bit of walking.

The Jewish Memorial

One of many beer stops a long the way!

Some Berlin graffiti which I love and is everywhere. Expect more pictures like this in future posts.

On the last night they took me out for a traditional German meal of dumplings and sauerkraut and goulash (I know goulash is Hungarian but it was in a traditional German restaurant so it's nearly legit)

Unfortunately because of my pobreza and the fact that I'm not very well at the moment, I haven't been able to go out at all yet. Mostly I've just been going to University, which so far I have thoroughly enjoyed, and have been meeting up with old King's friends. Seeing my pals has probably been the highlight of the move so far; the stories of the past year's adventures in various parts of the world and the old 'in' jokes have made me feel a lot more at ease in a strange and new place.

So here's to another week of 'can you repeat that please?' and insults from random strangers on my lack of class. I move back to the hostel tomorrow for eleven days, before a weekend at home for my beautiful sister Siobhan's hen do (SO EXCITED!!), and fingers crossed I will return to my own place.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Josephine 'Panda' Youd


I cannot believe how young you are and how old I am. Honestly, the novelty of now being legally old enough to drink in the States has loooooong for me and here you are living it large, reminding me of how I'll always be just that little bit closer to zimmer frames and false teeth.

The unstoppable threesome in Budapest. How are we so fit?

Um yer. This happened.

You are indisputably one of the ordinary incredibles in my life. My second mother, dietitian, wannabe lesbian lover, future bridesmaid and fellow travel addict, we've been through more together in our first three years of higher education than any ill-equipped pair of teenagers should go through, yet come out the other side stronger than ever. We've got long distance friendship down. tackled crazy ex-flatmates like pros and survived more than our fair share of ridiculous dramas, which we should definitely write down and sell as a script to Channel 4. Through everything you've been there, my pillar of stability and sanity (well... my kind of sanity), always coaxing me out of my dark holes with  chocolate cheese cake and at times yanking me back to reality with a kind but stern word. You've supported me through various ridiculous hairstyles and questionable outfit choices (even trying some out yourself) as well as the tough stuff, and I know that this isn't a friendship that can be easily broken.

Christmas 2012, I can't even remember why you did this.


I want to thank you for so many things. For always sticking by me, but not being afraid to tell me when I'm wrong. For being a relentless force of positivity, not only in my life but in the lives of all those who come across you. For your gorgeous smile and victory dances and no-filter silliness that we all love. For teaching me to be more confident about myself and my body. For your unpredictability and hilarious fan-girling that continuously reminds me about the importance about having passion for life. For holding my hand through the difficult times. For never giving up on me, even when I had given up on myself. And for everything that is to come, the good times and the bad, the adventures, the smiles, the tears and the inevitable 8am morning-breath-scented cuddles and bitching sessions about life.

That time in Bratislava that you burned yourself SO BADLY that you looked like a cross between a Teletubby and Cheryl Cole (and I'm referring to her ass tattoo)

Christmas 2013.

Our adventures are some I will never forget. Krakow, Auschwitz, Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Mostar, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, PRESTON and obviously London *queue Beyoncé - Schoolin' Life*. From eating bull's testicles to receiving life advice from my intoxicated bride-to-be-sister, we've experienced some pretty awesome things together in just a few years of friendship. It's funny, because whilst these three years have flown by, it also feels like I've known you my whole life. I think really do think our friendship is a beautiful thing, not only because it's so unbreakable and real, but also because we are two people who are so undeniably different in so many ways, yet we love each other completely and unconditionally. It's cheesy but true to say you make my life so much brighter and I couldn't be more grateful that your Dad spoke to me that first day in Moonraker and thoroughly embarrassed you trying to set us up as friends. Thanks for that one, Stephen.

That time we went to Mostar.

Sometimes we look alright too.

It's fair to say it's been an incredibly eventful three years and I wouldn't change it for the world, because everything we've been through has made us who we are today. I love you to the moon and back you beautiful human and I'm so excited for everything that's to come and the fact that we get to LIVE TOGETHER AGAIN next year and annoy the shit out of whoever ends up with the pleasure of our company. Here's to another three HUNDRED years of being inseparable (no matter how much ocean is between us), hangovers, heart-to-hearts and screaming Tay-Tay at the top of our lungs. Ich hab dich SO VIEL lieb.

My favourite pic of us.

Oh and just a little extra, to give people who haven't met you yet a little more of an idea of what they're in for. Heh heh heh.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Goodbye for now, Mexico

“I like messy people; people who don’t fit in a box or stay between the lines, but who’s integrity is greater than any rule book and who’s loyalty is stronger than blood.” Jim Wern In April 2014, I made a last minute and rather impulsive decision to give my study abroad year a go. I'd just taken my self off medication (not sensible kids, always speak to your doctor first!) and I was feeling great, so I thought 'fuck it, why not?'. 

I thought I knew exactly what to expect. In first year I lived with loads of exchange students, and I'd witnessed lots of partying, travelling and general debauchery. All the cliché language barriers and culture jokes came up on a regular basis, there was a lot of gossip, tears, laughter and the like. Basically, I'd been given the impression of the typical L'auberge Espagnole year abroad and that all seemed rather appealing to me; a well-earned break from the ongoing stress of the last few years of my life.

I didn't know how wrong I could be. Instead I ended up taking part in a failed uprising, being shot at by police, hitch-hiking through the jungle, living without water, crawling through caves, hiding an illegal immigrant, crying my way through the Guatemalan border control, dropping out of uni due to students being shot on campus, rekindling old friendships and making new ones, meeting a best friend who I love unconditionally (even if she does like to turn people into soap) and falling in love with a bunch of salvajes whilst hiding from my accidental drug-dealer boyfriend in Chiapas, who ended up becoming an unshakeable part of my life in DF (the salvajes, not the accidental boyfriend). And all this on top of the usual language struggles, homesickness and other difficulties that come with being the foreign kid in a new country and kind of sucking at the language.
Ignoring the slight blip at Christmas where I was forced to go home, my stay in Mexico totalled just over 10 months. It'd be a lie to say I loved every minute of it because sometimes it was downright painful (running for our lives, the love triangles, bailing people out of jail...), but I can't say I regret a single second. Not surprisingly, I've learned heaps about myself, not to mention an entirely new culture and way of life. Oh, and I kind of speak Spanish now too, which I suppose was the idea of this all along.
I don't know how to thank everyone I met enough for the incredible time I've had. I know the bonds we've made are so much stronger that the distance between us (ew did I really just write that? Too many Mexican feelings) and I know we've got many more exciting times ahead. I'll miss la pobreza, chilaquiles and living my life vicariously through Blair Waldorf more than you can imagine. Ahora son todos un parte de mi corazón y sería imposible olvidar como cambió mi vida con ustedes. Los quiero CHINGOS y los veo para mitzear pronto (Franzi y Anthony sólo dos meses!!) I really have found a new home.

**Video coming soon!**