July Wrap-Up 2017

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It’s somehow that time of the month already and now I’ll be sharing with you all 7 novels that I got through this July! I’ve had a pretty good reading month again which I’m very happy about as I am trying to reach my Goodreads goal of 40 books before September! September because when I’m at uni, I won’t have any money to buy books and I’m not sure I’ll really have much time!

 

Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi – 5/5 stars – Goodreads Buy it here!

I started this book in June but finished it on the first day of July (so it still counts ok), and I haven’t stopped praising it since! You can read my full review here if you are interested in seeing my thoughts in a bit more depth!

The Bear and The Nightingale – Katherine Arden – 3/5 stars –Goodreads Buy it here!

I was actually given this book by my sister as she had a spare copy and I would have never picked it up myself. I have very very mixed feelings about this one, the first two thirds of the novel were a bit slow and I felt myself wanting to put it down. However I persevered and got to the end, but the last 100 pages were incredible but for the slowness of the majority of the book, I had to give it 3 stars. The main reason I picked this up rather than giving it away was that Katherine Arden is a modern languages graduate and so it made me intrigued to see how she coped with transliterating Russian words.

The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson – 5/5 stars – Goodreads Buy it here!

I started reading this novel in April but picked it up again this month and utterly devoured it. I’d explain what it’s about but I don’t think I’ll be able to do it justice. One small issue I had with this book is that I really dislike the protagonist, Vin. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the issue is but she just really irritates me and makes such foolish decisions in the novel. However, I think she is only 17 in the book and had a rough upbringing, so I can’t really blame her for anything.

Sinbad The Sailor – 2/5 stars – Goodreads

The Arabian Nights is something I have been wanting to pick up for months but 3 thick volumes seems a bit too much for me, so I chose this Penguin Little Black Classic and had stupidly high expectations. Of course, this is just very tiny extract from it but I felt it didn’t flow particularly well and didn’t make for a pleasant reading experience. I can’t say I’d really recommend this because it didn’t really give me anything.

The Greek and Roman Myths : A Guide to the Classical Stories – Philip Matyszak – 5/5 stars –    Buy it here! Goodreads 

I’ve always found mythology fascinating and I received this book for my birthday after my excessive blabbing about The Song of Achilles. This was much better than the Celtic Myths book by the same publisher (Review – Review – The Celtic Myths : A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends). This was an excellent, concise but informative book for an introduction to mythology in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely reread it in the future. Matyszak explains everything well but not in a patronising manner, it is very easy to read as a beginner to mythology.

Why the Dutch are Different : A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands – Ben Coates – 2/5 stars – Goodreads

Whilst on a search for cheap books, I found this for 99p in the Kindle store and downloaded it without much research. The usual mistake. I’m not sure what I expected but this book wasn’t it. It was essentially just the history of The Netherlands written by an Englishman who made very odd remarks about immigrants and women. I only finished this book because I’d bought it but it’s not worth a read, you could get most of the information from wikipedia.

The Sandman – E.T.A Hoffmann – 5/5 stars – Goodreads

English translation

German edition

As an ex-German student, I’ve been itching to plunge myself into German literature as I never had the chance to study any. I actually own this novel in German (but I can’t read it, natürlich), so I got myself and English edition and I adored it! I’m so annoyed at myself that I let such a a good story sit on my shelves for months without even considering getting a translation. Not going to lie, this story is rather creepy and perhaps not good for bedtime reading if you are easily scared.

The Changeling’s Journey – Christine Spoors – 5/5 stars – Goodreads Buy it here!

My review may be a little bias since MY SISTER WROTE THIS BOOK!! I still can’t believe that I can even say that. I absolutely adored this novel. I read half of it during the editing stage but for some reason never got around to finishing it. It was so lovely to read a tale inspired by Scottish folklore, written by a Scot. It’s almost impossible to find Scottish authors nowadays. I don’t want to spoil too much so if you are interested in some Scottish folklore, make sure you check the links above!

 

This was very half-hearted blog post as I just wanted to document what I’d read and some general thoughts!

Best wishes for August x

Review : Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

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I felt compelled to write this very short review, despite very rarely doing them. This book is too incredible to simply give a 5 star rating and leave it at that. **I’ve included purchase links at the end of this post in various languages, just in case you are not 100% confident reading in English.

Here is the summary from Goodreads :

“Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.”

This book was, to put it simply, glorious. I have read very few novels which could even be compared in beauty to this one. The writing was just exceptional, and I hope that Yaa Gyasi writes many more novels in the future as I will be purchasing every single one of them, regardless of topic.

General Thoughts

One thing which particularly stood out to me in this novel, and something many people have issues with, is that each chapter follows a different member of the family tree. I personally loved this as it allowed Gyasi to slip through generations with ease, with some members making an appearance in other chapters. Also, it was good for the characters who I didn’t particularly like as I knew I wouldn’t have to read about them for too long. She carefully crafted each individual storyline so beautifully that she could have easily written a full length novel about every single character and there would be no overlapping with story ideas. Props to Gyasi for being able to do that! However many people do have an issue with this as it is unfortunate to have to say goodbye to characters that you love and are interested in after only one chapter. But I feel like the book had to be written this way for it to work.

As someone who is incredibly uncultured, I feel this was such an important book for me to read. Basically, since I’m white and have never left Europe, I barely know anything about the Translatlantic slave trade or it’s lasting impact on the Americas. So reading this gave me a very informative insight into how slavery has impacted society and the African people. Although much more further reading is required, and I shall get around to it soon. It would be wrong to describe this book than anything other than heartbreaking, but some characters did have a satisfying ending, in my opinion.

Long story short, this is an incredibly important novel and I am so glad that Gyasi decided to share it with the world. This book will no doubt become a classic and most definitely will be read for generations to come.

English Edition

French Edition

German Edition

Spanish Edition

Catalan Edition

Italian Edition

Icelandic Edition (Kindle)

Polish Edition

 

Hope you’re all well x

Why I Decided to Change University

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Hello! Today I decided to dedicate an entire post to why I chose to leave my course and reapply to another university. I talk about uni pretty frequently on all my social medias because I suppose it was/is/going to be such a huge part of my life and it’s worth discussing! I hope this could possibly help anyone stuck in the same situation as I was in.

Be aware, this post is huge. I just wanted to get absolutely everything out of my system so please, go get yourself a hot beverage and some snacks because you may be here a while!

What I studied and where

When I was 16, I decided to apply to university to study French and German simply because I desperately wanted to escape school. My ultimate dream was to be a microbiologist but I had awful chemistry and maths teachers in my 4th year of school and my mental health was terrible, so I failed both and that dream died v early.  School wasn’t a happy time for me and I honestly don’t regret leaving one bit. I studied SO hard, sometimes for almost 10 hours a day because I knew if I failed my exams then I’d be trapped there. So, I achieved AAAAB (English, French, Spanish, Human Biology and Geography) and managed to flee, starting a course in French and German at the University of Glasgow!

So I started my 5 year degree just after I turned 17 and it was…interesting. I do prefer university over school, you have so much more freedom and my classes were fairly good. One small problem, I don’t like German. I chose it simply because everyone said it was useful to know, rather than I actually enjoyed it. This caused me absolute grief and I struggled so much in my classes and became so anxious that I stopped attending at all. I wanted to perhaps attend therapy at the university to try and cope with my anxiety but the waiting lists were full so that was that. As a third subject I studied Russian, which I actually achieved my highest marks in, but dropped it after one semester in order to fully focus on German (and my Russian tutor was literally terrifying).

After first year I decided that it would be best to drop German and perhaps restart my degree. I wanted to do first year again and take Italian but since I had already passed my first year of French, this was not possible. I was given the option to take beginners Italian with second year French and decide at the end of the year if I wanted to resit second year and study Italian to a higher level (it’s v confusing). In order to do this, I also had to either study theology or comparative literature as you need to take 3 subjects, 2 subjects being of second year level. Despite passing my theology course, I hated it so I picked comparative literature.

A week into my second year I already decided that I absolutely hated comparative literature. But there was nothing I could really do because theology would have been much harder to do so I was stuck. It also didn’t help that my comparative literature lectures were in a really far away uni building at 4-5pm, meaning I got home at around 7pm (I live 2 hours away and it was v sad). However my tutorial group was so lovely and my tutor was so kind to me and noticed my anxiety, so she’d always be especially nice and supportive to me if I ever gave an answer or even just managed to do the required reading! This made my time a lot more enjoyable but I still decided to leave.

***One thing worth pointing out!

In some countries, you can switch universities and “transfer credits” and go straight into the year you left at another institution. This doesn’t exist in Scotland, you can only change university if you need to move closer to home/somewhere else due extreme circumstances such as a family situation, illness etc etc. So starting a new degree was my only option.

What I applied for

So, I decided that the University of Glasgow was of no use for modern languages so I applied elsewhere. I applied to St Andrews, Newcastle, Southampton and Edinburgh, applying for a mixture of French/Italian, French/Portuguese, and Translating and Interpreting.  Since I left school a year early, I was at a slight disadvantage as I did not have any Advanced Highers (I was going to take French, Spanish and Biology) and that would have really helped my application. Another thing, as I mentioned earlier, I failed maths when I was 15 and the other university in Glasgow that does languages requires maths so I couldn’t apply! THANKFULLY, some other universities also accept an A/B in a science instead, otherwise I wouldn’t be at uni at all!

The only university I wanted to go to was Edinburgh, the other 3 were “just in case” they rejected me and St Andrews was the only other Scottish uni that I could apply to (I knew they’d say no but I had no others to put down). So, in short:

University of St Andrews : French/Italian (with year abroad) – Rejected

Newcastle University : Translating and Interpreting – Accepted – Unconditional Offer

University of Southampton : French/Portuguese – I cancelled my application bc they took 400 years

University of Edinburgh : French/Italian – Rejected

University of Edinburgh : French/Portuguese – ACCEPTED – UNCONDITIONAL OFFER (SCREAMING)

I found out that Edinburgh had accepted me when I was living in Italy and I literally cried on the floor in my bedroom because I was so so so grateful. I still can’t quite believe it, I’m moving to my favourite city! I actually was accepted by Edinburgh in the past to study French/German, but I rejected it in order to save money and I regretted it so so much. I want to explain why I (personally) believe they rejected me for Italian because it seems a bit weird. Basically, I couldn’t decide which other foreign language to study so in my application I focused on how much I love French and my desire to learn another romance language (without specifying one). Whereas when I applied for French/German, my application had equal weight of both languages. The strange thing is though, French is fairly difficult to get into because they get so many applications yet they accepted me but Italian didn’t? I’ll just presume it was my rubbish personal statement but hey, at least the Portuguese department are nice!

The Future

So I am officially moving to Edinburgh on the 9th of September to start a 4 year degree in French & Portuguese! I am really excited but also terrified about being on my own and I’m worried that I’ll be very isolated again. But I’m going to try my best to go to as many uni events/socials etc as possible! And even if I am lonely, my family is just a couple of trains away and I’ll harass them with phone calls.

Since my plan was to study Italian, I was planning to try and change my degree within the first week or two of my course but now I’ve decided to just embrace it. They didn’t want me, but the Portuguese department did so I’m just going to go for it! And besides, there are barely any Scots who speak Portuguese as a second/third language, so who knows what kind of opportunities this will bring?! Yes, I do know modern language degrees are quite useless but there is literally no other degree I can do with my qualifications (apart from English lit but I hate that)!

My mental health has dramatically improved since I left my other course. I felt utterly trapped and now I feel so hopeful for the future and I am looking forward to learning two beautiful languages. I imagine I’ll have some difficulties when I first move out but I’m hoping that I’ll come to terms with everything very quickly.

I’ll be living in university accommodation which is good and bad because I’m worried that my flatmates won’t like me and I’ll be lonely (even though I’ve never had a bad experience with anyone at uni so pls stop brain) and also my accommodation is one of the furthest away ones which is such a real shame but I’m also trying to look at it positively in the respect that I’m not trapped at the uni 24/7! I’m just hoping this doesn’t make meeting people even harder, but I guess I have the entirety of my building is in the same position so perhaps it’ll make us all chat more! Honestly, I have no idea and there is  no point in me worrying about it right now because I don’t know what will happen. I can only try!

I also want to point out that Glasgow uni is not a bad place. I simply just didn’t enjoy it, my sister did her degree there and had a good experience! So don’t be put off if you have applied there!

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If you made it to the end of this post, thank you so much! I really hope this has maybe helped someone in a similar situation to have the courage to take matters into their own hands.

 

I wish you all the best in the future x

 

 

 

 

June Wrap-Up 2017

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It’s somehow that time of the month already! Finally, I’ve had another good reading month so I have lots of novels and thoughts to share with you all. I read a grand total of 9 books this month! I’ll include the Goodreads links to them all below and a purchase link to Book Depository! Enjoy!

 

Stalker – Lars Kepler -5/5 stars Goodreads

If you follow me on Instagram you will already know that I absolutely loved this book. A crime/thriller novel set in Stockholm which follows the police department attempting to catch a stalker/serial killer. This was just incredible. I don’t read crime that often, but this definitely made me want to read a lot more. I was absolutely hooked! I don’t want to say too much about the plot because going in knowing nothing is the perfect way to do it. Anyway, READ THIS BOOK. I would definitely recommend reading something like this if you are in a reading slump, it is so fast paced that you won’t be able to put it down!

Buy it here!

Scottish Witches – Lily Seafield – 4/5 stars Goodreads

A very simple introduction to witchcraft and the witch hunts in Scotland. I picked this up for only £2.99, so I didn’t really have high hopes. It was an exceptionally interesting book however it lacked any sort of real depth and cohesiveness. To me, it read just like a bunch of research (which had been simplified) thrown together but not in a good way. But it did make for an interesting read and was a nice little introduction to witchcraft. Although I wouldn’t recommend it if you are looking for something more intellectual.

Buy it here!

 

The Celtic Myths : A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends – Miranda Aldhouse-Green – 3/5 stars Goodreads

I received this book for my birthday and I was exceptionally excited to dive into it but then I read the blurb. Unfortunately, this Celtic book only focuses on Irish and Welsh mythology and culture. Which is fine! But I feel it should be properly specified in the title. There are countless books about Irish mythology, I don’t think there needed another! That being said, I found it fascinating and I learnt a lot in such a short book (around 200 pages). One thing which was unfortunate was the book seemed very rushed. Information was not properly explained and it jumped between Ireland and Wales without much warning. However I would still recommend this to anyone hoping to make a dent in the Celtic mythology area! I have a slightly more in depth review here .

Buy it here!

 

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami – 4/5 stars Goodreads

I started this book in September 2016, I believe. I remember taking it around university but then stopped halfway through because I was on a 100 page long chapter! I finally picked it back up this month and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Again, I found this book a bit difficult at times because I deeply despised many of the characters. I have very mixed feelings about the protagonist and a rather strong dislike towards Midori, I’m honestly not sure if these feelings were intentional by Murakami but honestly, who knows with Murakami. I’ve only read 2 of his books but there is something just so special and dreamy about his writing. Natsume Sōseki’s writing reminds me of Murakami, so I’m hoping this is simply an element of Japanese literature and I am very eager to read more.

Buy it here!

 

Cooking For Picasso –  Camille Aubray – 2/5 stars Goodreads

I really wanted to love this book. The first few chapters were lovely and I posted on Instagram gushing about how much I already loved it and how it seemed like a lovely read. Hmm. The plot was interesting, I can’t deny that. But my main issue was that I absolutely detested every single character. They were all very shallow, selfish, and expected everyone to drop everything to do something for them. This in itself made it quite difficult to read. I only finished it because it was all I had to read during a long train journey. I really enjoyed reading something set in France and the inclusion of numerous French words but it didn’t save the book for me. The plot was incredibly cliché and I pretty much knew what was going to happen from the start. However I’m not saying this is a bad book, simply just wasn’t for me. So don’t cross it off your TBR just yet!

Buy it here!

 

The Odyssey – Homer – 5/5 stars Goodreads

I was inspired to pick up this book after reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller! If you’re wondering why I didn’t pick up The Iliad first, this book was simply cheaper on Amazon (priorities). It took me quite a while to get into this novel, but after about 100 pages I absolutely fell in love with it. I don’t really have too much to say about this apart from that I loved it and will definitely be getting The Iliad at some point. One thing worth mentioning is that E.V. Rieu’s translation flowed absolutely beautifully and I will be buying his translation of The Iliad. Since I’m such a Madeline Miller fangirl, it’s worth mentioning one of the characters in this, Circe, is the name of her next novel and I am so excited I could scream (Circe is a very sassy character, I am so ready for this next book!).

Buy The Odyssey here!

 

The Book of Tea – Kakuzō Okakura – 3/5 stars Goodreads

I really don’t have much to say about this other than I found it quite boring and it took me numerous attempts to finish it despite being 100 pages (or so) long. I’d only recommend buying it if you read the Goodreads description and are really really interested in it, if not, I’d give it a miss.

Buy it here! (Different edition)

 

Le Livre du Hygge – Meik Wiking – 4/5 stars French Goodreads English Goodreads

This was a reread of the book “The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well”, but I chose to reread it in French, just because! I really do love this book but I gave it 4 stars because I feel it’s a bit repetitive at times and could be a little bit shorter and more concise because of this. However it is a lovely read and makes me feel nice and cosy every time I read it (and makes me want to buy lots of candles and move to Denmark ASAP). I’d really recommend this book if you’re looking for a quick read that is very calming!

French Edition

English Edition

 

Well that was a super long post. I just really wanted to add a little commentary after each book as it helps me remember my thoughts on each one when I’ll look back at this post in the future! I hope you managed to get to the end, thank you if you did!

 

I hope you all had a wonderful June and I wish you all the best for July x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review – The Celtic Myths : A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends

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I received these beautiful mythology books for my birthday this month and I cannot stop sharing photos of them! If you are interested, here are the purchase links.

The Celtic Myths

The Egyptian Myths

The Norse Myths

The Greek and Roman Myths

I personally find mythology absolutely fascinating and I am so grateful that we still have access to these texts and have managed to translate them into modern languages. Yet, as most mythology was never written down so we have lost far too much.

Here is a section of the summary of this book from Goodreads

“From gods, heroes, and monsters to Druids, sorcerers, and talking animals, The Celtic Myths explores every aspect of Irish and Welsh myths in this appealing and authoritative guide. Besides vividly retelling the tales, Miranda Aldhouse-Green brings her expertise in the archaeology of the Iron Age and particularly shamanism to bear on the mythical world she describes, with evidence as diverse as the Gundestrup Cauldron and the famous bog bodies.”

General Thoughts

I did enjoy this book, I really did. But I felt it just lacked in something which I can’t quite put my finger on it. However my absolute favourite thing about this book (apart from the utterly flawless cover) was the inclusion of numerous illustrations/photographs throughout it. I think this really gave the book a special something and kept me intrigued. Reading about statues, cauldrons etc is one thing, but getting to actually see them is really interesting!

However I feel this book wasn’t very cohesive (like my blog but I’m not an author so it’s ok). Information was just thrown in from all corners at random and it made it very difficult to read. I think the book could have been a bit more organised and not just crammed with information with limited explanations.

It’s a great shame that this only included Irish and Welsh mythology with Irish being the main focus. Inclusion of all 6 Celtic nations would have been absolutely incredible, but I do understand that there is often lack of information for the others. I would have loved to see Breton, Scottish, Manx and Cornish included somewhere. There are endless books about Irish mythology so it really is just unfortunate that this book was so heavily focused on it. But I do find it equally as interesting!

I would absolutely recommend this book to others but would just encourage everyone to be aware that it’s only 2 countries. But if that’s what you want, GET IT!

 


 

Not a particularly extensive review as I don’t have that much to say but I felt compelled to write it as so many people have messaged me about these books since I first posted about them! I’ll definitely be doing a full review of the entire collection once I have read them all.

Hope you’re all having a glorious weekend x

A Babble about Foreign Languages – Anglophones

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We are awful at languages, it’s a fact. It’s not even that we aren’t able to learn them, many of us simply choose not to. Foreign languages are not deemed to be an essential subject in schools in anglophone countries (although I can only speak for Scotland) and it’s upsetting. We leave high school being barely able to mutter “je m’appelle…uh.”.

Personally, I believe one of the main problems is that the world tells us not to. What I mean by this is that as English seems to have become the lingua franca of the world, it’s essential to know. Therefore, it can be difficult to find the motivation to learn any other language when most of the world wants to practice English with us. However, I do understand there are other lingua francas (does that even make sense?) in other areas of the world, this is simply a generalisation. One thing I find particularly fascinating about English speakers is that we are always incredibly overenthusiastic about how many languages we speak if we know any. I’ve seen people say they speak French and Spanish, but aren’t actually fluent which can make things a bit difficult. Click here if you are interested in learning about the European Language Framework Scale!

Learning a language is incredible. Even if you never achieve fluency, it gives you so many benefits. Having to learn the grammar and vocabulary of another allows you to fully understand your own language and the beauty of it. I don’t think ugly languages exist, sure some people think that some sound awful (Dutch is a fine example), but all languages are fascinating regarding their vocabulary, origins and structure. Choosing to learn multiple languages from a specific language family can be fairly useful since they are similar in structure (sometimes) and particularly regarding vocabulary. But this can make things a bit confusing. It’s unfortunate that although English is classified as Germanic, it doesn’t really directly link or give us any help with learning other Germanic languages.

In my case, I only speak English fluently but I am hoping that shall change. I’ve had the opportunity to study many languages: French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese and Italian. And (if you didn’t know) I’ll be heading back to university in September to do a degree in French and Portuguese.  Previously I studied French and German at the University of Glasgow but I hated the course and I was awful at German. And that’s fine! Different language families just don’t work for some people. Not being able to learn a specific language doesn’t mean that you can’t learn a language, it simply means that you find that specific one difficult. Don’t lose hope!

As I mentioned, German gave me absolute grief. However, I achieved my highest grades at university in Russian, a grammatically difficult language. Not being able to pick up German quickly doesn’t equal being bad at languages, it just didn’t work for me. This is such an important mindset to adopt as it is the reason many of us give up.

Why I Study Foreign Languages

I thought I’d include a little bit about why I specifically chose to study languages at university. Long story short, I failed in becoming a scientist (I’m not joking), but I love languages too so it’s okay. Basically, I’ve always been utterly fascinated by language and how we all use different vocabulary to express the same thing. I got to study a tiny tiny tiny bit of French when I was in primary school and loved it, so that only fueled my “obsession”! In addition to that, I really hope to be able to teach foreign languages in my country, especially Portuguese. I had 3 incredible French/Spanish teachers when I was in high school and they helped me fall in love with language and so, I hope to do the same one day for someone else.

I’m not 100% sure why I decided to babble so much and post it on my blog. However I hope it inspires you to at least perhaps try learning even a little bit of a foreign language! I chose not to include much advice about learning languages as I’ll get around to doing this once I’m actually C2 level in one or more languages (apart from English, of course).

 

I hope you enjoyed x

 

PS. Here are some of the textbooks/grammar I have personally used and absolutely loved! But please check the levels of these books before you buy them! (A1 = beginner).

Willkommen! German Beginner’s Course

L’Italiano all’università

Português XXI

Ruslan 1

Penguin Russian Course

Version Originale

Collins Advanced French Grammar

Collins Easy Learning French Grammar

Basic Portuguese – Practice Makes Perfect

My Experience as an Au Pair

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I’ve been home for 3 months now after a one month stay in Italy, and I think I’ve had more than enough time to reflect on it. After quitting my course at university in November, I decided to become an au pair for a short while, just to try something new. I was planning to stay for 2/3 months, however the only suitable family that I found only wanted an au pair for one month (and this was after 3 months of searching!).

I think it’s important to be very fussy when choosing a host family. I would never recommend going to the first family who contact you. You need to make sure that you will be compatible, and if that’s the first family then that’s amazing! But more often than not, it won’t be. I used a site called Au Pair World and I found it very simple to use! It’s a legit website, however be aware that not all families on the site will be as honest. So I didn’t go through an agency as I didn’t even know they existed!

Overall Thoughts

I mean, I am very glad that I decided to au pair and got the chance to live in the gorgeous city of Rome for an entire month. I stayed in the EUR area, so EUR Magliana metro station holds a very dear place in my heart! However I don’t think this is something I’ll be rushing to do again soon.

If you followed me on twitter during my stay, you’ll know that the family and I did not get on that well. There were no fights or anything, but they were very distant from me and I felt rather isolated. I was clearly not as good as their previous au pair and it made me a little awkward. The children, Chiara and Martina, were absolutely lovely! The youngest was a bit… energetic and broke my bed and some of my pens but I guess that was part of the experience! The family never wanted to do things together so I had to just explore on my own which was a shame.

My main complaint was they ate really small portions of food (*cries*) and they only had snacks for the children so I was so so hungry the whole time. Of course an 18 year old needs more than an 8 year old, y’know. So I spent most of my pocket money on food that I could snack on, which was a shame because it would have been nice to buy other things! But hey, survival is key! 

One other thing that I didn’t enjoy was just the idea that you cannot escape your workplace. Of course living and working in the same apartment is a bit frustrating because it’s not like you leave work and it just ends, you’re just stuck there. Also it means you have to be ready to babysit, teach or take one of the kids to something at anytime which made me a bit anxious. I think this is something you should keep in mind if you want to become an au pair.

 

Living in Rome

I thought it would be worth including a section about living in Rome since people are usually more interested in that part! As I said, I lived in the EUR area but I had to get another train to get to the metro station so it was a little inconvenient. But there were 4 trains an hour (my town in Scotland has 2), so I was pretty content! However I chose not to take Italian courses as they were expensive and I had little money (60 euros a week, but as I said, I spent it mostly on food!), but I do regret it a bit now. Whenever I was at the train station or back in EUR, people would chat to me or ask for directions and I’d just freeze and forget how to speak. One time, a woman was complaining to me about a train station name (very exciting), and I knew EXACTLY what she had said but couldn’t respond in my broken Italian, ugh.

It was absolutely incredible to be able to just stroll past the Colosseum, Roman Forum, hop on a train to Ostia Antica, frolic around Circo Massimo (I spent so much time here) etc etc! I never thought I’d get to see those things, never mind live so close to them! Although I didn’t do many tourist things as they took a lot of time with queues etc and I had limited free time. But that means I have an excuse to return in the future! By far my favourite place in Italy is Ostia Antica. I went for a visit there near the end of my stay because I refused to leave without visiting it and it was everything I had ever dreamed of. Once you escaped the business of the main path, you could explore by yourself without seeing many people. I can’t quite put into words how utterly beautiful it was, being able to climb through ruins and walk down old Roman streets. It is by far the most incredible place I have ever visited and if I’m ever back in Rome, I’ll be going back for sure.

One thing that I think is worth adding is that it was around 17/18 degrees the entire time I was there which is summer temperatures for my poor Scottish body. Foolishly I had only packed jumpers, a thick coat etc because my host parents assured me that it was very cold in Rome. Nope nope nope. I was melting the entire time and everyone else was wearing woollen scarves and hats, it was really uhm… interesting. 

One last thing about Italy, I miss Pan di Stelle biscuits with every inch of my soul. 

 

Advice for Future Au Pairs

  1. SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF THE COUNTRY THAT YOU ARE GOING TO. I cannot stress this enough. Moving to a country where you cannot communicate with anyone is incredibly scary and lonely. One of the children I took care of spoke no English, the mother spoke no English, the eldest child spoke some but barely understood me and only the dad spoke it fluently but he was never home. So make sure it’s a country where you speak a little of the language! I can understand lots of written Italian due to knowledge of French and Spanish but it was still very tough on my anxiety.

2. . Choose a family carefully. Skype with them a couple of times before making a decision and make sure you understand the living arrangements and what exactly they expect you to do. You don’t want to turn up and get some unexpected surprises!

3. Have enough money and arrangements to come home immediately if need be. Although being an au pair is generally very safe, you are still living in a stranger’s house. Make sure you have a feasible plan to “escape” if they turn out to not be as nice as you thought they were, or if they ask you to leave due to an argument etc.

 

If you’re going to be an au pair soon, I wish you all the luck in the world and be safe x