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Reflections on a Year Abroad: The Halfway Point

28 Jan 2015

Seeing as I'm halfway through my year abroad in France (ahhhhhhhhhhh), I thought I'd reflect back on my experience so far, the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows, the things I've learnt to embrace and the things that I will never learn to embrace about the bizarre but wonderful country. I'm probably introducing this as some kind of a midterm evaluation essay which I'd be forced to write for my University and then never hear any feedback on (not bitter, I swear!), but I figured most of my points are also applicable to life in general and not just a year abroad.

1. Fear of embarrassment doesn't have to defeat you.
You know how there are some lucky, lucky people who really don't give a damn what anyone else thinks? Who seem to have no anxieties or fears whatsoever? Well I don't think that will ever be me. However, being in a country where language mistakes are completely unavoidable is gradually making me realise that you know what, errors are okay, mistakes are okay, and the only one that really cares whether I look stupid or not is me.

2. Practice really does get results.
I am still struggling to fully immerse myself into the language and the culture here, because I know that I can completely be myself in English, but not in French. It gives me this really quiet, shy persona that I hate and the only way I can get rid of that is to force myself to practise and practise. No matter how much hard work it is, it will get results.

3. Even negative situations are an experience.
And what do we do with them? We learn.

4. Appreciate English Higher Education.
Because it sure as hell is 100 times more organised and less stressful than French higher education. 

5. Finding toilets that are quite literally holes in the ground will never be okay.
Yes, they do have holes in the ground at my uni and no, I still haven't come to terms with it nor will I ever.

6. There's too much of the world that I have never seen.
I mean I've barely been to anywhere in Europe, let alone out of Europe! But I do have time on my side...

7. Some things are worth spending a lot of money on.
Like meals out every week, and travel around France. I will never compromise when there's food involved, especially not when it's delicious French cuisine. 

8. Not everyday will be a sunny day.
As in, we all have bad days and good days. Also, I thought it was always sunny and warm in Montpellier... it's really not, but that's okay. 

9. Enjoy having this much spare time.
I think my issue with having lots of spare time is that I just don't know how to use it, so I end up wasting it away and then feeling stressed because all that spare time I thought I had suddenly disappears. To remedy this I am beginning to plan and organise myself a lot more so that I have some kind of a routine.

10. People will come and go & that's just life.
It's been weird coming back for my second semester without half the people I made friends with last term. Realistically, this is something I'm going to have to deal with in other situations in the future and it's time to learn to be content with the memories and embrace the new.

11. Don't choose to be self-pitying, choose to be happy.
Because what does self-pitying actually do? I mean, we all do it sometimes and it really can't be helped, but we also need to recognise what will instantly make us feel down and learn to deal with that or change it.

New Year's Blogging Resolutions

19 Jan 2015

I always have a list of a billion and one personal New Years Resolutions, and I barely ever achieve any of them because they're always quite general. I'm talking the standard, boring 'work harder' and 'join a gym' kind of stuff. 

This year however, I'd like to share with you some of my blogging resolutions which will be relevant to many bloggers out there. They're not about making my blog better, they're about feeling better about my blog and making the most of it myself. If you have any blogging resolutions that you'd like to share, or any tips to help me stick to these then please let me know in the comments!

1. Plan & Organise
As someone who loves planning and organising things, I do surprisingly little for my blog. I end up writing a random post in a rush and then surprise surprise, I'm not fully happy with the content. 

2. Make More of an Effort to Comment on Other Blogs
After taking a break for a few months from blogging I gradually lost most of my confidence in Imogenscribbles. I felt like I'd lose all my followers, have no regular readers anymore, and no comments. It only took one comment from one lovely person (Jes) to encourage me to give it another go and really get back into the flow of things. As a result, I've realised how much comments mean to bloggers, and I would really like to take the time to show my appreciation more on other blogs.

3. Find New Blogs
I rack up so many unread posts on bloglovin that I end up never bothering to go out and find anymore blogs to read. This means that I miss out on some wonderful blogs and I would really like to change this!

4.  Stop Being Afraid
I still don't tweet about my blog on my personal Twitter, or Facebook or Instagram. I'm not ready to do that yet, and I also feel like most of my friends wouldn't be interested, so I don't want to spam them with links anyway. Having said this, it really is time to stop being worried about what someone who knows me in real life might think of my blog. At the end of the day, if they choose to find it (very easy to do with Google these days) then they can either read it and enjoy, or just leave the site. I fully accept that a lifestyle blog wouldn't interest a lot of people, but I think most of the people I know are respectful enough of different interests that they wouldn't judge anyway.

5. Stop Comparing Yourself
This is applicable to my life in general, but especially to blogging. I know you shouldn't care about followers but let's be honest, we all do. If I lose a follower I don't like 'okay fair enough, maybe I just don't interest them anymore', I just immediately assume that my writing has gone downhill, my pictures are awful, no one likes what I write, my posts are boring, blah blah blah. Talk about assuming the worst! The thing is, I am so, so happy with the readers I have at the moment, and all your comments really brighten my day and that is what I am learning to go on. This year I am going to stop thinking about what I can do to make my blog more popular, and simply go by what I myself want to do.

6. Stop Criticising My Own Blog
And if I really have to tear it to pieces then at least think of ways to change what I don't like, and actually follow through. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to criticism, because I am never completely content with my work and I always manage to pick out everything and anything that may or may not be 'perfect'.

My Year Abroad Bucket List

14 Jan 2015

It's nearly time to fly back to France for the second part of my year abroad there, and I think it's high time I made myself a bucket list. 2016 will be my final year at University, and then I'll most likely be going straight into full time work, so I'm probably never going to have as much spare time as I have this year ever again. Because of this, I really want to make the most of the year and complete everything on the list below!

1. Attempt to make Macarons
2. Go to Barcelona
3. Go to Lyon
4. Lie on the beach in the Sunset
5. Visit Sete
6. Go to Disneyland Paris
7. Kayak/Canoe along a beautiful river
8. Hike up Pic St Loup
9. Go to an English/French exchange evening 
10. Visit Carcassonne
11. Go to a French Cinema
12. Watch a French Play
13. Make a Scrapbook
14. Do a high ropes course in France
15. Round off my year abroad inter railing around Europe
16. Go shopping in Paris
17. Try some snails!
18. Go on a wine-tasting tour
19. Read a French novel

Has anyone else made a list like this before? What's on yours?

December '14 on Instagram

12 Jan 2015

1. Saffy, my adorable little Cocker Spaniel with the Christmas bone that my mum made for her. She actually didn't just pick it up and try to bury it for once, so we're taking that as a sign she likes it!

2. A wonderful Christmas Day with mum and my sister, Tash. Lots of food was eaten, mulled wine consumed, gifts opened and Christmas TV watched. We had the usual debate with my Dad and brother about whether or not two whole hours of Downton Abbey was appropriate or not. The girls won in the end of course!

3. Woodland walks which make me appreciate living in the countryside a lot. I'd like to live in cities in general during my early twenties but it's lovely coming back to fields and woods sometimes.

4. Christmas at Kew which featured many cute light shows projected onto the various buildings of Kew, and plenty of decorated trees and plants. If you like fairy lights then I'd recommend you pay it a visit next year!

5 & 6. Beautiful London which I don't think I'll ever get bored of visiting. 

7. Baking Macarons for the first time and they went surprisingly well!

8. Having my haircut for the first time in 6 months. Does anyone else have really naturally dry ends, meaning when you go to the hairdressers you always have to have a trillion inches cut off? I'd love to say that this photo pictures my hair in its natural state but that would be a big fat lie. 

9. A really cool arty bus in London. This is one of the many things I love about the city, you're always finding random artistic things like this in the middle of the street. We spent a lovely day having tapas in Meson don Felipe, followed by a wonder round The National Portrait Gallery. Did I mention how much I love London?!

I hope you all had lovely Christmasses, I'm dedicating this next week to catching up on blogposts and planning some of my own before I get on my flight back to France! 
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