Bari, Italy: Family Holiday As A 21 Year Old

Buongiorno!

I’ve recently come back from a 4 day trip with my mum and little sister to Bari in Southern Italy. Having had time to reflect on the experience I thought I’d share my confused insights with you – is it just me or does going on a family holiday when you’re over a certain age feel weird?!

The B&B – Corte Zeuli

Hands down the most immersive place I have ever stayed at. The 16th century rustic, dishevelled stone courtyard which leads into the apartment, houses a well from the 15th century, now a shrine to St Mary (there are a lot of shrines to her all over the old town in alcoves, windowsills). Apparently the water there was salty as it came from the sea and the poorer residents of the town would drink it, causing regular 3-monthly outbreaks of cholera in Bari. Our guest, Paola, chuckled sharing these personal history facts. She then led us up the stairs, through a spacious, tall, though slightly ominous hallway to her apartment. As any grandma’s place, it was full of random collections (local whistles, glass animal cupboard) and immediately felt very homely.

Rather than one continuous carpet, the floor was covered with a series of charming mis-matched little rugs and we headed up a separate windy staircase leading to our rooms. Paola proudly gave us a tour of  each room – and trust me a tour was needed. The ceilings, with renovated art which was originally painted by a student of Caravaggio, were metres tall and gave off a noble-Italian-family version of Downton Abbey vibe.

Every night we would fall asleep to the smell of freshly baking cakes, a promise of a good breakfast in the morning. Honestly, when a breakfast makes you look forward to getting out of bed early on holiday – you know you’ve hit the jackpot. Freshly squeezed red orange juice mixed with strawberry, fresh coffee, cakes, a variety of fresh fruit arranged ornately on each of our plates with a background of piano music composed by Paola’s friend. Needless to say I felt like Lady Mary Crawley then… If you ever visit Bari – stay with Paola!

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Your parents are back in charge and organise the daily routine

As promised – some things that made me feel weird about this holiday. All I had to do was get on a plane and follow wherever my mum led me – a now unusual sensation which made me regress back into being a teenager. Despite the fact if I had gone on this trip with my friends I’d have wanted to do the same stuff she wanted us to, suddenly because it was my mum telling me to go to a nearby seaside town – I didn’t want to anymore. WEIRD.

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They pay for everything 

From the flights and accomodation to dinners, ice creams and 50 cent postcards. I didn’t even carry my purse around. I realise my mum only knows me in a capacity of being her child so to her this seemed normal. For me, a university student who is responsible for everything to do with my own wellbeing it felt strange, even slightly guilty. But I wasn’t going to say no lol

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Il Rusticone pizza in Matera

Wine at dinner opens all sorts of cans of worms

A normal portion of wine we would receive at dinner would be a bottle for two – now that can get me comfortably tipsy and if I were back at my kitchen table at uni I would be leading a game of ‘Never have I ever’ already. Instead, I asked my mum if she’s reached menopause yet – BIG mistake.

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L’Elfo, Bari

Why do parents only take one picture when you ask them to take pics of you

Or take a 1 second video instead of a pic that can never be used again?!

I will add some of my favourite pictures from the trip – I hope they will encourage you to go, if not to Bari, then some other unexplored place! Ultimately I loved discovering new places with my family and while I did feel in limbo between being a child and my own person, I think that’s just a part of growing up in general. I would love to hear from you about your holiday experiences!

xoxo

autumnskyes

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Am I Good Enough For Cambridge Medicine?

Hello!

I hope you’re well and ready to get really personal! I want to talk to you about a situation I’m in at the moment that you have also no doubt been in. I’m watching my friend(s) get their dreams and achieve their goals while I am helpless to do anything about mine. It doesn’t help that I share a dream of studying post graduate medicine at Cambridge with quite a few people around me and while they’re hearing back right now, I still have to wait a year to apply. More specifically, today my friend got invited to an interview at Cambridge and I went from being ecstatically happy to painfully upset all within 30 seconds. What followed was a dramatic email chain with my housemate where both she and I let it all out in emotional prose. If I were a buzzfeed headline it would probably say

**COULD YOU STUDY MEDICINE AT CAMBRIDGE? GET ON THIS EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER TO FIND OUT**

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Here is how I am feeling at the moment. I’ve changed names too just for fun.

To: Cordelia

Subject: not the upbeat kind of email

Dear Cordelia,

I am writing to you regarding my conflicting emotions. Having heard that my good friend Izzie from Healthcare Assistant work has been offered an interview at Cambridge I got the thumping feeling in my thoracic cavity and the pulsing veins in my head – adrenaline had kicked in. This was partly because I was so happy for her and partly because it feels very personal. I had held Cambridge medicine dear to my heart for so long that anything related to it affects me personally. I’m so happy for Izzie. But I also feel upset by how helpless I am right now regarding my own opportunities. I want to apply and let them know about me asap but I have to wait until next year. Izzie will probably be in by then. She won’t have the stress, she will be living her dream. I almost feel like it’s unfair for me to have to go through this twice – once now, while I’m doing all the things my friends are doing but they’re applying and I’m not, and then again next year, but for real and all alone.

I know it’s a waiting game and I will be in a much better position to apply next year, but I am not a patient person, this is challenging me in more ways than one.

What if after all this I don’t get in?

I genuinely don’t know how I’d cope with that.

 

To: autumnskyes

This email subject line filled me with dread before I opened it and I truly feel your pain. I know how hard it is for you to sit on your hands and not apply now when you are raring to go. 
HOWEVER, you are done every single thing you can to ensure you have the best possible application as you can. and I completely understand your frustration and the feeling you are going through this twice. But you have double to time to glean information from the unis, what other people say, what hour friends say during interviews etc. And learn from their mistakes.
 
Do you mean get into Cambridge? Obviously that is the absolute dream but what is more important – becoming a doctor or going to Cambridge. I know you can do both but your journey may take you to another uni for postgrad medicine. 
 
All I can say is no one is more destined to be a doctor that I know than you. You have the best temperament and manner combined with an incredible mind which is prepared for all the complexities and such a can do attitude. So please don’t give up! Your time will come 
 
Sending lots of positive vibes and strength from your number one cheerleader xx 
To: Cordelia
Dear Cordelia,
 
Thank you very much for your kind words – I feel consoled and better. You’re right, the goal is certainly to do medicine, rather than a specific university. Having said that, Cambridge has been a specific dream for so long that the two are not mutually exclusive and I would genuinely feel like I was living half the dream if I was somewhere else. I know that is a dangerous mind-set which might be setting me up to fail BUT I wouldn’t have let myself believe it and work so hard for it if I didn’t believe I was good enough to study there.
 
The more time passes, the more people around me I see wanting the same things but putting in much less effort to achieve them, the more deserving I feel of my dream coming true. It’s scary! Trust me, medicine at Cambridge is such a personal and important thing for me that I wouldn’t take it lightly and assume that just because I want to go there I have a good chance.
 
I’ve never been meticulous about anything, even when I applied the first time round I didn’t visit any of the unis or research the courses properly, I just thought I knew I wanted to study medicine, doesn’t matter where and I even believed that the fact I’m not doing much research proves I want it even more, because I don’t mind where I end up as long as it’s medicine. You could say I took it for granted. While that doesn’t mean I DIDN’T want to study medicine, this time I know I want it so much more. Let’s take it back to September 2016. I admit to myself medicine is what I want. Research online is done, comparative tables on word created, dad is consulted, I begin searching for chemistry tutoring. A year later, medicine has been like a 120 credit module: whether it’s researching criteria online, emailing unis to enquire, visiting open days, applying for healthcare assisting and working during holidays or revising for the chemistry retake – it’s a constant effort for the application. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy I’m doing it, this time I don’t want to ever feel like I could have done more. But also this time I believe it’s good enough for Cambridge/Oxford. Which in turn means if I don’t get in, even my best wasn’t good enough. And that’s the scariest part and one I would not know how to deal with.
 
Sorry for the long spiel but who knows – maybe one day it’ll be published in my memoirs.
 
Lots of love.
If any of you are going through similar times where your friends are getting into universities, getting jobs, relationships, moving away – let me know, and also if you have any advice about any of this!
Just thought I would share this in case anyone is in a similar situation. 🙂 
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Lots of love,
autumnskyes
 

5 Things I Love About Working At Hollister

Hey guys, how are you doing?

This is how I greet customers at our Hollister store! Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have to say ‘Welcome to the Pier’ while standing outside the store in bikinisGOD no. As a university student I wanted a part-time job for some extra money and just generally a bit more to do. I’ve been working at Hollister for a few years now and I abosolutely love it! Let me tell you why, hopefully bust some myths and if you’re looking for a part-time job and have a Hollister near you – I encourage you to apply!

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  1. The People

I’ve worked at two Hollister stores in different cities and can definitely confirm that as anywhere, how much you enjoy your job will depend on what the people are like. I’m very lucky at my current store to have THE BEST managers, who are so much fun, literally basically the same age as me but are so good at balancing the banter with making you feel like a respected, valued employee. Hollister as a company try to encourange continuity among stores by having visiting managers and generally trying to bring the most sociable, friendly people to the company so I guarantee you will have so much fun working there!

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     2. The Customers

One of the reasons I love this job is because I really like the feeling of being able to help people. The best feeling is when someone comes in wanting something new but not quite knowing what and I am able to get a sense of what they’re looking for and what they would like AND THEN THEY LOVE IT AND GET IT AND THEY LEAVE SO HAPPY AND IT MAKES ME SO EXCITED!!!

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If you’ve ever been in one of our stores you will know that the customer service is a bit full on, American style. While some people would rather be left to their own devices, our way of interacting means that those who wouldn’t usually ask for help or just don’t know what to ask, get to have a proper full shopping experience where there is always someone there to help in any way, even if it is just saying hello, smiling and making them feel welcome!

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PSA: it has been brighter and quieter for YEARS now, the joke is old, we hear it at least 10 times a day, please… no more

    3. The Hours

0 hour contract is the one, you can set your availability when you are free and if you need to be away for a while, let’s say going home for summer and away from uni, that is cool beans.

   4. The Clothes

The most exciting thing is coming in for a shift and seeing all the new stuff, knowing that you have about 5 hours to be silently shopping for later... I have a weakness for anything with koalas, which lucky for me, most of the Gilly Hicks stuff is…

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  5. Learning How To Resist Impulse Shopping

When you’ve worked in a clothes store long enough, you will know that the safest way to shop for yourself is give a few shifts before you buy the thing you think you want – see how you feel about it after folding it for the hundredth time, seeing it a bit dishevelled in a pile somewhere, it really takes the marketing magic out of retail and makes sure you settle for the things you now know you will like and wear.

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All in all, I absolutely love my job there, I love how it is an environment where full on interaction with strangers is encouraged – I learn so much about people each shift and it’s lovely seeing them pleasently surprised to be paid so much attention to. 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer anything, even if you’re just a bit curious!

Thanks guys, have a lovely day!

(another classic work phrase for me)

autumnskyes

My Inner Child: 21st Birthday Haul

Hello! I am so glad you’re here – it’s been an intense couple of weeks of being back at university (though I am working full time on an epidemiology placement this year) and I’ve been waiting and waiting to be triggered to write a blog post. I turned 21 on the 5th October and one thing we all have in common as bloggers is being a bit nosey about things/hauls/presents. I was very lucky to be remembered by so many friends and so I thought I’d share a few of my favourite presents with you! Warning: I love the Moomins.

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These are the first few bits:

  1. Morphe 35W eyeshadow palette – a present from my housemates. I don’t know much about make up at all, only that I like warm pinky/peachey tones and have loved this palette so far! I wore plum for my birthday party with a dusting of the light blue and it looked very spacey (fitting for a star sign party). I also put gold glitter on top (courtesy of Tanya Burr’s Advent Calendar 2016).
  2. A llama Urban Outfitters daily journal – love it love it love it love it! It doesn’t have set dates so if you miss out a few days of writing in the planner you don’t waste any pages!
  3. A Whittards Alice in Wonderland cup and saucer – I had pointed it out enough times to my boyfriend in the window display of Whittards on our way to Macdonalds’ enough times… I love it!
  4. A little notebook with my initials in the corner – look at that colour!!!
  5. The amazing backdrop is a Moomins tea towel! I said straight away I wasn’t going to use it in the kitchen as I love it too much and now it’s found its use!

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This is my current bed situation. These sheets were a gift from my boyfriend (they’re from John Lewis) and I love them so much – the wild flowers are so pretty and so me (and the sheets are super soft too). I got the cushion for myself from Tiger – LOOK AT THE TASSELS!

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So this makes me look like a toddler but here are my buddies! There is an interesting fact about them so bare with:

  • Peliukas (left) was a gift from my dad on the day of my birth so he is also 21!!!
  • Kevin (koala, middle) was a gift from my boyfriend on my 19th birthday so he turned 2!
  • The Moomin was a gift from my housemates this year so he is our baby!

It seems that if I get a soft toy, it will ONLY be on a birthday. 😀

This is the cup in more detail – I love its shape and how light it is, I also have a newfound love for saucers – what a convenient way to hold a cup! It says ‘DRINK ME’ on the bottom… need I say more…

Finally, the peak of my birthday was our house party, which was star sign themed! We covered the house in glow in the dark stars, fairylights and covered ourselves in glitter. It was an incredible night and so many of my favourite people coming together for it was the best present I could have wished for! Here’s me breaking my anonymous blog rules and showing you a glimpse of my outfit:

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Let me know what you want to read next: tips for a successful house party? Glitter looks? More Moomins?

It’s good to be back!

autumnskyes xoxo

 

Living Without Electricity Or Wifi: 6 Lessons I Learned

You know when you’re thinking of what to write your next post about, and although you’d never have thought about it before, some things are just screaming to be written about? Well, let me tell you a story about how I rediscovered my love of candlelight, went to the library for the second time in my university career and grew two cold sores (from having too much fun sitting next to an opened window during a storm in a coffee shop).

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This year I’m on a placement at a Medical Genetics Statistics lab – long story short, I was the first housemate to be back this year, about two weeks ahead of everyone else. After a long drive across the UK, accidentally driving into Wales (not AT ALL where I am at uni) and having to pay the bridge toll just to turn around, my dad and I arrived at my uni house close to midnight.

Despite the stale smell and the sticky-kitchen-surfaces-courtesy-of-builders, I was excited to be back. We brought in my bags, claimed some left-behind ciders and thought, here we are – the hardest part is over.

Spoiler alert: IT WAS NOT.

My suspicions rose as the previously fully functioning bathroom light would not switch on. Neither did the corridor light. Nor the showers on the second floor. Hmm. I can sense a storm a’brewing.

I mean, if you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t be too surprised. OF COURSE some major electrical fault would happen when you’re the first and only housemate back, just before the weekend, when there’s no hope of getting anyone capable of fixing it. Classic me.

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It was a long and tedious road of uncomfortable phone calls, firm texts to the property manager and wishing I hadn’t used up all my phone data already. Long story short, I lived alone in a 7-bedroom student house (that’s 7 rooms which could be haunted), for 6 days without wifi, or electricity anywhere other than the kitchen (they spoil me). If you’d told me that before I came down here I probably wouldn’t have come, but now it’s over I can tell you, it wasn’t THAT bad. Here’s why:

  1. Coffee shops are your friends (NOT for downloads though)

I’d find myself a bit lost when it got to the afternoon when I’d usually watch a vlog or something. I think that’s the aspect of having wifi I missed most because vlogs make me feel like I have company, they are a form of social interaction, even if it’s one-sided. And I needed it!!!

Coffee shops also have comfy chairs, the staff will treat you like one of their own if you’re nice to them and you also get to people-watch – honestly a good place to come if you’re feeling lonely.

Don’t try to download any films on their wifi though – mine was estimated to take 2 days.

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2. Films are underrated

The way I’d deal with still having things to watch was to download films at the library. I usually choose to watch series or vlogs, which are much shorter to cater for the short attention span of our generation. I always wish I watched more films, especially the good ones, and here’s a few I can recommend:

  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Made of Honour (romcom which doesn’t get enough credit!)
  • Gifted
  • Megan Leavey (all about a dog in the army!!! Although I don’t think it did enough justice to the real story it’s based on)

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3. Days started to have structure

I had to go somewhere in the mornings because there was just nothing else to do. It was actually wonderful!

When I was at the library, I did work. When I got home, it was food and film time. Very distinct environments.

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4. A natural sleep pattern

As I had no lights to stay up with, I was forced to be in bed by 10pm and ready to sleep. This also meant I woke up earlier and is one habit I wish I could keep.

5. The benefit of phone calls

I still had to speak with my friends!!! Two solid phone calls a day would fit in just as much communication as texting the whole day. And it’s so much more personal! When you see they’re calling, you know they’ve been thinking of you and you’re already excited for the banter that’s about to occur… mmm…bliss!

Also when you’re texting someone rather than messaging, so much more thought goes into the content, choice of emojis and actually having a good conversation.

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6. Having time for the there-and-then moments

As I had no distractions, I had the luxury of doing one thing at a time. If I was getting ready in the morning, I would take time choosing an outfit, doing make up, and there were no notification sounds to interrupt me before I was done and ready to move onto the next task.

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I could go on! Overall I feel like this experience reminded me what it feels to be completely present in the moment, totally in charge of your day. I had to come up with fun ideas to fill the time, which were just for me and I feel like we all should take the time to do that. While I don’t wish power-cuts on anyone, it is amazing to learn what we do and don’t really need. The things I missed most were all the ways I am used to connecting with people over the internet, rather than the internet itself. I found other ways to do that, like calling them purposefully, or taking a picture worthy enough to send when I’m on wifi again.

When the wifi man finally installed the broadband I was suddenly very overwhelmed – what do I do first??? Check if Caroline Calloway has any more gems on her InstaStory? Vlogs? Twitter? I was relieved I had it all back, but also quite nostalgic of all that time I had just to myself.

I still burn my candles in the evening rather than have lights on. 🙂

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I would love to hear your thoughts, especially if you’ve had similar experiences!

Thanks for reading xoxo

autumnskyes