Wednesday, 2 April 2014

April Showers

Image here

Springtime has well and truly arrived in Seville.  And in true British style, it has poured with rain solidly for several days now...wait, isn't this sunny, sunny Spain?  What's going on?

But with it, April brings the beautiful realisation that I only have two months left.  Yes, two months.  And if you take off my ten day Easter holiday back in Norwich beginning next Thursday, the time is disappearing rapidly.

I always feel horrendously guilty saying this, but I really can't wait to go home.  I feel like I have been given this amazing opportunity to live abroad (again), and though I do appreciate that, this year has been such a hard, long slog, that now just wish it was over.

Don't get me wrong, Seville is a wonderful place, and if you haven't been, I highly recommend that you visit.  The weather (on the most part) is great, the architecture stunning, and the culture and atmosphere is just incredible.  Living here is not a struggle for me: it is a perfect city in so many respects, but sometimes you just forget to appreciate the little things when living somewhere.  I am trying: cycling through the centre in the sunshine, sunglasses on, the scent of azahar (orange blossom) lingering in the air - it really is a wonderful moment, and I love every second.  But with weather like this (aka gross and cold and rainy) just isn't condusive to do anything apart from staying in with hot chocolate.

Referring to a recent post about lonelieness, my situation doesn't really feel like it's improving.  Last week, I had Josh staying with me, and I just felt so relaxed and comfortable - it was perfect.  But now he's gone, it's hit me harder than it ever has before.  Yes, when he has left before, I'd missed him, but nothing like this.  This feels so deep and so miserable that I want to cry and throw up at the same time.  And before you begin feeling too sorry for me, just remember that I am going home next Thursday!  Pull yourself together Hannah!

Just saying it makes me sound - and feel - really pathetic, but I really do feel homesick at the moment.  When I see friends out here, my going home regularly this semester makes me feel like in someway I'm not doing this year properly (I had this exact conversation with a friend yesterday, who felt just the same that I did), but no one ever said that it was a year completely cold turkey away from home.  So what if I'm more of a home bunny than I thought?  I've spent the last year living with my favourite person in the world, and to have all that take away really sucks, and is unbelievably hard.

All this being said, I made a big decision this weekend.  Initially, I had decided to stay until the end of the school's term - the end of June, in order to nicely round off their year and so that my brothers could visit at the beginning of July.  But now, I honestly don't think I can stay that long and have a shred of sanity left.  I am only obliged to stay until the end of the university term out here, which is the end of May, which would mean that in theory, I could be writing a blog post from the comfort of my own flat this time in exactly two months.  Extraordinary.  But that is what I'm going to do: go home at the end of May.

At the end of the day, my own health - both physical and mental - have to come first in this, and if going home earlier than anticipated is going to help this, then who can argue?  Is it really bad that all I want right now is Josh and Game of Thrones and snuggles?

Not in the slightest.  My life, my choices.

xx

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Favourite Products Of 2014...So Far...

I actually began writing this as a January favourites, but life got in the way and meant that blogging took a back seat for a while.  But finally here we go!

L-R Clockwise: Vichy Purete Thermale, Yes To Repairing Night Cream, Soap and Glory Breakfast Scrub, Dior Pure Poison, Tangle Teezer in Pink, Maybelline Colour Show in Power Red, Benefit They're Real! mascara.
Vichy Purete Thermale Exfoliating Cream

 Back in January, my skin was looking dry, sad and majorly lacklustre, and I decided I needed to up my facial care game.  My friend recommended going to the pharmacy to ask about exfoliators (as Seville has nowhere like Boots that sells everything), and I was recommended this Vichy cream.  It's not as grainy as I usually go for, but after massaging the cream into my only slightly damp skin, I was amazed how soft and clean my skin felt.  Definitely one to try out if your skin is looking a bit greying after too many springtime ciders!

£11 from Boots
Yes To Repairing Night Cream

Staying on the 'sad face' train, I found this brilliant night moisturiser in Sephora in the sale, and I have used it religiously ever since.  It makes my skin look bright and dewy by morning, and glides on like a dream.  I loved it so much that I have used the whole thing up: shopping trip needed!  Unfortunately I can't seem to find it in any UK stores, and judging by thw website, it looks like this particular one may have been discontinued (waaaaah!), but if you're heading to a Sephora any time soon, it's really worth checking out the brand.
 
$20 from Amazon
Soap and Glory Breakfast Scrub

I am not the only person to love this product: it is a huge favourite in the blogger world, and you can totally see why.  With extracts of brown sugar, shea butter and oats, and the most divine maple syrup scent, using this is such a treat!  It does a brilliant job at getting rid of any dead skin - though is quite rough so take care if you have sensitive skin - but the smell is the single best thing about this product.  It smells like fresh pancakes smothered in syrup and is just aaaaaah amazing.  It's also currently in the Boots 3-for-2 so go give it a go!

£8 from Boots
Dior Pure Poison

Quick sidenote: I have the best boyfriend ever.  Whenever I'd go into House of Fraser to get my eyebrows done/lust over gorgeous homeware, I'd always drag Josh over to the Dior counter, and douse myself in this beautiful fragrance.  It's so deep and seductive, and made me feel so special and mysterious.  My mum also used to wear the Hypnotic Poison by Dior, so there are hints of her in it, and basically I loved it.  But it is so so expensive, and I simply couldn't justify spending so much on myself in one go.  But come Christmas morning, Josh presents me with a bottle of it.  Best.  Boyfriend. EVER.  Definitely go and give it a whiff next time you're passing a perfume place, it really is a stunningly unique fragrance. 

£48.50 for 30ml in Boots
Tangle Teezer

Where have you been all my life Tangle Teezer?!  Honestly, this brush has changed my life (and the happiness of my hair).  I'm trying to grow out my short hair currently, and having dyed my hair so many times, it's in a pretty damaged state (though it really is improving with time and love).  In my Christmas wish list, I asked for this brush, and my lovely little brother bought it for me, and it really is brilliant.  I can use it on wet hair, fresh out of the shower, and it just detangles like nobody's business.  Because it's so gentle and detangling, I've also noticed that my hair is breaking less, and is actually growing faster since using it.  If you don't have one of these, it really is worth it, trust me.

£10.99 in Boots
Maybelline Colour Show in Power Red

I haven't actually worn this shade in several weeks, and honestly, I'm not sure why.  it is the perfect pillarbox statement red, with a slight hint of coral, and lasts beautifully.  I am a huge fan of the Maybelline Colour Show range - possibly because they always seem to be on offer out here - but this one is definitely one of my favourites, along with Peach Pie, and at less that £3, it is worth trying out.

£2.99 from Boots
Benefit They're Real! Mascara

After trying a sample of this before Christmas, I ended up buying the full sized tube.  And I absolutely love it.  For a non-waterproof mascara (that I usually swear by), it lasts such a long time without flaking off, and really makes my lashes look fuller and longer without clumping.  The only issue is the price - almost £20 is a lot for a student like me to spend on a mascara, but because it is so good, it's kinda worth it.  They also do smaller travel tubes that are less that £10, that you may be able to find somewhere if you're not sure about whether it's worth it or not, but honestly, this is the best mascara I have ever tried, so give it a go.

£19.50 from Boots
Are there any products that you'd recommend for me to try?  What are you loving at the moment?

xx

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Loneliness

Image here

 Life living away from everything you know and love can be hard, but the hardest thing is often loneliness.  But it's more complicated than that.  You can be surrounded by friends, and have a full social calendar, but still you feel alone.  As ironic as it may be, you're not alone in this.

I am an introvert: always have been, always will be.  As a child, I was always described as 'shy' or 'quiet', and I was happier in a corner reading than out and about with other children.  Fast forward twenty years, and I am pretty much the same.  I love going for walks by myself, going to sit and read in a park, or simply snuggling up and watching endless Doctor Who.  For the most part, this doesn't bother me.

But being in a situation that requires me to be more 'extroverted' and make an effort to go to seek company is not really one I'm used to.  Before you all run and hide at my weirdness, let me explain.

I love nights out: honestly, I do.  However, my ideal night would be sitting in a pub with a few friends having a drink, or getting dressed up and going for a cocktail with a close friend.  Just because I leave after that, before everyone scurries off to a club doesn't mean I'm antisocial or having a bad time: it simply means that I am feeling tired and drained and genuinely just don't want to go from a nice, sociable evening to shouting at a hundred people in a packed and noisy room.

I often find being in social situations draining.  Honestly, I do love being around people (heck, if I didn't, I doubt I would be writing this post!), but as an introvert, i do find the whole experience physically and mentally exhausting.  That's why on Thursday night after a full day of talking to children, all I want to do is sit quietly and not really do a huge amount.  Consider it like my batteries need recharging, otherwise all I'll be is totally boring and sleepy - which is not so fun.  However, after I have had the time I need to recharge, I can take on anything - most of the time.

Sometimes, if I get invited to do something, I agree to it, thinking it's a great idea at the time.  Then my brain kicks in and decides to make me anxious to the point where I either cancel or man up and deal with it.  I'm trying to encourage the latter in myself, but trust me, it's hard.  Even if it's something as simple as meeting a friend that I haven't seen in a few weeks for a drink - nothing big or special - I can still get myself massively worked up about it, to the point where I feel like I can't deal with the situation.

However, this is where the problem arises.  I know that I am not the only person that this happens to, so if you're reading this and feel like this applies to you, take solace in the fact that you are not alone.  After having left nights early to get the last metro home, or simply being a bit too quiet on a night out, I feel like the invitations have stopped.  What's worse is that if I decide to take a step out of my comfort zone, and try to arrange something, it seems to get ignored.  And then I begin to feel lonely.

As I said, loneliness is sadly a common problem.  Despite being more connected than ever, and having more and more 'friends' online, it's becoming harder to forge real and meaningful connections with people.  Plans are easily made, and equally easily changed.  If you aren't super organised, you can end up relying on last-minute plans, and most of the time, end up being disappointed.  And so you end up alone.

But even if you are a social butterfly, and have plans each and every evening, you can still find yourself feeling alone.  Why?  Perhaps you're missing the quality attachments that we as humans need.  It's easy to forget that even though you have a hundred people that you can call 'friends', what you need most of all is the close friendship of one or two people.

Being away from Josh and my best friend makes it hard.  Okay, we still talk all the time (thank you facetime), but it's not the same.  When I'm feeling low, and all that I really need is a film and cava night with Anna, or a snuggle with Josh, a simple facetime won't do it (nor will that bag of mini eggs that I've just polished off).  Physical human contact is a necessity for us, and a lack of it can be seriously damaging to our health, and can lead to further issues such as depression.  Thank goodness for my job in a school where I get hugs daily off the kids that I teach or I think I may have gone mad!  These past three months have been harder for me than the first three: maybe it's because this is a longer stint, perhaps I have more to think about this time round with final year looming, my erasmus project to write and a future to consider, but it is certainly proving more challenging than last semester.  At the moment, as hard as I am trying to stay positive, and am giving myself little challenges and rewards to help me along my way, the loneliness that I am experiencing is really starting to get to me.  Fortunately, come Monday, Josh will be out here, then ten days after he leaves, I'll be heading back to the UK for my Easter holiday.

Being introverted and fairly quiet doesn't mean that I want to be by myself.  Sometimes sitting in a meadow surrounded by birds and flowers alone is just what I need, but if someone you know seems to be withdrawing or turning down invitations, please make sure to not cut them out of your social life entirely.  Sometime all they need is someone to say, 'fancy a drink?' and then they'll be back on their feet again.  Loneliness can change viciously into the dark spiral of social anxiety and depression if left unattended.

So if you're reading this and know of someone who this sounds like - or if that person is you - pick up the phone and call a friend.  Drag them out for a hot chocolate and a chat.

You may just make someone's day.

xx

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Catch-Up

Yeaah, so my last post was in January.  Oops.  Life has been pretty up-and-down for the last few weeks, and blogging just didn't cross my mind!

Last semester, I kinda got the hang of living abroad, away from my boyfriend and family, but after going home for Christmas, things felt like they changed.  Each day feels like a challenge, and I'm counting down until I can leave.  Obviously not ideal, but unfortunately what is happening.

As I said in my last year abroad focused post, I had my reasons for not wanting to come abroad in the first place, and after a pretty rubbish January (cold+rain+no internet at home+missing home), I had been thinking about the reasons why in great depth, and I really began to struggle.  If I'm honest, I sunk into mild depression, and decided to contact my home university who have been giving me support and email counselling from England.  This is really helping, having someone I can talk to that can give me professional advice, with no vested interests (as such).  Fortunately, my internet is back up and running now, so I can freely talk to Josh, my parents, my friends and watch back to back Doctor Who on Netflix.  Feel free to judge me.

But what have I been up to since I last posted?

Because I was having such a rough time, my mum was amazing and bought me flights back for the weekend before Valentines - and when I say the weekend, I mean landing just before midnight on Friday and leaving on Sunday afternoon.  But it was just what I needed.  I also took my year one/two class mascot - a parrot puppet called Norton -  home with me and took loads of pictures around Norwich with him.



Just under ten days later, Josh flew out to Seville to see me, closely followed by my brother and my parents.  We spent the week sightseeing, going for cocktails, and generally having a lovely time!  Over the weekend, my parents hired a car, and the five of us drove to the nearby Cordoba, which is the most beautiful, perfectly Andalusian city, and I fell in love.  For the first time since being away, I felt like I was on holiday: in a strange place, with my family and Josh, exploring something new together.  It was such a wonderful day, only to be topped off by frozen yoghurt from Smooy (seriously, I found one in Seville - totally going there today.)





After my family and my darling Josh left, I had twelve hours to sleep and recoup before my friend Shauna came to visit.  Cue another week of sightseeing, cocktails and wonderful dinners with brilliant friends.  If you're in Seville, you have to eat in Las Coloniales - possibly the best food I had eaten since I have been out here.  I have been dreaming about it since I went...sad, I know.

 And now we're here, back to reality.  Though with the quickly improving weather (between 27-30 degrees in the sun yesterday!), and another weekend at home next week to look forward to, things are set to improve.  After next weekend, it's only a week before Josh comes out again, then after he leaves, another ten days before I head back to England for easter.  Where is the time going?!


xx