Monday, 29 January 2018

so I decided I was going to have a really good week...

...and here's how it went.

Sunday night, before my second week back at uni after the christmas holidays. I was feeling good, better than I'd felt in a long time. I was looking forward to lectures and meeting up with my friends and eating delicious food, and to be honest, I hadn't been feeling the best about myself nor my reality for the weeks previous. I'm not sure what it was, maybe the iron supplements I'd started taking (again) or the feeling of being back in a place of security or the new modules in college- but I felt almost back to myself again. And I decided I was going to do my utmost to make the week ahead the best week ever, because I deserved it, you know?

So what were my criteria? I decided that a good week was a mysterious balance of seeing friends, keeping up with my uni work, relaxing, eating good food and doing things I wouldn't normally do, like visiting galleries, going to the cinema, going for walks or to the gym (lol). And I would follow my instincts and do what I felt like. That was the plan.

On Monday morning I made a good start on some reading for my degree, had lunch at home and then headed in for my one and only lecture. Afterwards, I went to the gym for the first time this year, and also the first time in a long time. I've never had a gym routine, and it's definitely something I want to get into, so even though my workout was all over the place, I was glad to have gone. I rewarded myself with a protein bar. Overall, it was a good day- not the best, far from the worst. The best thing about it was the feeling of productivity.

Tuesday is always the busiest day of the week for me in terms of class. This week I had four lectures/tutorials spread between 9am and 5pm. It didn't give me a lot of time to treat myself, nor do any extra studying for my then upcoming German exam! However, I was determined that I'd do it all somehow. I had 4 hours off in total, and spent the first catching up with one of my new friends. By the time my next break came around, I decided to grab myself some lunch. Seeing as I was alone, I decided that I'd grab something to go rather than sit in a café. So I discovered Marks and Spencers' new vegan range, and got a vegan protein salad which was actually pretty tasty. I finished it off with some pineapple, which was delicious up until the last couple of bites before my tongue started stinging a little bit. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

So I calculated that if I went all the way to the Hugh Lane Gallery, I'd have between 15 and 20 minutes to look at a painting (there was one in particular I wanted to see). It sounds kind of daft to pay for public transport and do a fair bit of speed walking for fifteen minutes in a gallery, but I wanted to treat myself, and one of my favourite paintings ever is in that gallery. I visited it once last year, and wanted to make sure to see it at least once more before it moves back to the National Gallery of London. I don't know when that will be, but it was on my mind as something I'd like to do, and so, I did it.

Honestly, it was so worth it. The painting in question is Les Parapluies by Renoir, a section of which is the second photo. The painting is an impressionist one, and almost looks unfinished in parts. But the subject matter, which is umbrellas, the predominant colour, blue, and the little girl in the bottom right corner have been the object of my fascination ever since I w as a child and saw a reproduction of it in a story book. When I went to see it last year, I was a bit underwhelmed as the colours aren't as vibrant as I expected. Going back to it, however, was a different story. I really felt like I could appreciate it properly, and just wanted to look and look. I also looked at some other pieces from the collection. The first photo is of Monet's Waterloo Bridge. I really hadn't the time to stay, which was a pity, but I'll find another time to go back soon I hope!

Tuesday was a really good day. I checked off a lot of things off the list, even if there were challenging/boring classes and early starts and pineapple burns. But that's kind of what life is. I knew it would be impossible to fully control a week to be amazing, but some amazing things happened that day, and for that much, I'm happy.

Wednesday was possibly the least fun day. And by least fun I mean it wasn't very fun at all. My classes were interesting- they weren't the issue, but I had a stomach ache that bothered me all day, meaning I couldn't enjoy good food(!!) nor go to the gym as I had hoped. I knew my next couple of days would be really busy, so I wasn't sure when I'd be able to go to the gym again, but I decided to forget about it and take a quick walk for the fresh air. Then I journeyed home, ignored the studying I should have done, and watched an episode of Black Mirror instead. Oh well!

Where can I begin with Thursday? I went for lunch in Yumo with my best friend and it was amazing. I got a free ice-cream sample, she bought me a Lindor truffle. My three-in-a-row classes that I wasn't looking forward to went really well and really quickly. Funny things happened in each of them that we talked about for the rest of the day. Just before our German exam, myself and two of my new friends went and actually got ice cream. We spent the whole time laughing and having pure fun. I felt so so lucky to have made friends of those girls. My exam was difficult as I expected but in ways it wasn't as bad. I don't necessarily know how it went, but I was so relieved to get it out of the way.

But then night fell. I was supposed to spend some time with my mum in the evening, but when I met her she told me that my grandmother was in hospital. I cursed myself for deciding to have the best week ever- some higher power was surely laughing in my face. We went to visit her and it broke my heart to see her so unwell. We got takeaway chips and a veggie burger on the way home and I drank two glasses of white wine with it.

Thursday was an amazing day in that I spent time with so many of the people that I love and care for, and I had a lot of fun with friends and ate a lot of delicious food. It was also a bad day because it ended with a really massive challenge for me, one outside of my control.

To have a really good week is to enjoy yourself despite any difficulties you might face along the way. I couldn't enjoy the nighttime because it was tough. But I won't let the unknown worry and sadness take away from the gratitude I felt.

Friday was a bit of a chill day for me as a result. I had plans half made to meet up with a friend but decided to postpone them so I could take care of my self a bit. I only had one class, and it wasn't until the late afternoon. So I went for my first run of the year to clear my head, and it went really well honestly. I felt more fit than I realised and enjoyed being out in the fresh air. I also treated myself to an episode of Black Mirror (USS Callister for those of you interested) and grabbed a really nice lemonade and sandwich for late lunch. Class was unfortunately tedious as we were going through the test and none of us really wanted to know about it.

On Saturday I made the spontaneous plan to meet up with my best friend and get crêpes. This was a big deal in that a. I don't do spontaneous and b. I'm a massive introvert and I wasn't even sure I wanted to see anyone that day. I'm so glad I decided to be spontaneous though, because we ended up having a nice time together, and it was definitely much more exciting than anything I would have otherwise done. I don't like to admit it, but it's true that I rarely look forward to plans because  the thought socialising when I'm tired or not in the best mood ever makes me even more tired. However, I usually end up having a lot of fun when I meet up with my friends because I love love love people and hearing what they have to say. I'm a walking contradiction. I know.

Sunday was a pretty chill day. It's the day that I usually do homework and reading for the week ahead, and so that's what I did for a couple of hours in the morning. Before that, I slept in until 10:45 and made banana nice-cream for breakfast. Which I balanced with a doughnut. Oops. I didn't get dressed until the late afternoon, but then went out to the shops and made a really nice dinner of falafel wraps. A good day by any measure, as it felt good to get stuff done as well as to take things at a slow sunday pace.

In conclusion, did I have a really good week like I intended? I'm not sure. I think the extra effort I put in to do productive things as well as fun things made it a much more interesting week than it might otherwise have been. Visiting the gallery, spending way too much on food (I'm so sorry wallet, so so sorry), seeing some of my friends- all of that made for a week of variety and fun. I confirmed that things happen that are out of my control. I learned that sometimes there really isn't anything you can do to make yourself okay with that. Some things simply suck, and having a positive attitude about them hardly makes a difference. However other tiny mishaps or inconveniences truly are made into a bigger or smaller deal by how you act.

Will I try to have a really good week again? Sure I will. I should probably try to have a great week every week and not let my life feel like it's falling into monotony. One should be kind to oneself always, and we should never forget that.

So tell me, how did your week go? I hope you enjoyed reading about mine!

Love, Anna x

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Heidelberg, Germany

I'd like to preface this post by saying that I feel like an absolute hypocrite. I know I said I don't travel as much as it may seem, and usually it's true! Last year I only left the country once. However this year, 2018, it's likely that I'll be doing a good bit more travel. And none of it will be very costly. The flights I got to Germany were inexpensive, as was the bus trip from Stuttgart to Heidelberg. Can I also just add that the food and general prices of things were so much more reasonable (is that fair to say?) in Germany. When I came home, I was kind of shocked at how expensive it is to buy lunch here (I daresay it's standard to pay ten quid) when I was getting delicious freshly made rolls in Heidelberg for an average of three euros. Anyway, I digress. I'm very excited to travel more this year, and am glad that I already have a trip to share with you!

After getting over the flu, and then hurriedly writing essays for college that I needed desperately to get in before I went away, I boarded my first flight of 2018. As may be obvious to you from the title of this blog, I adore German and Germany. The last time I was there, I was 16 years old and my German wasn't as polished, and my accent was quite frankly terrible. That experience taught me so much about the language and the culture, and introduced me to foods, brands and shops that you can only get in Germany. Being back, 19-going-on-20, felt so wonderful. If I haven't already said so, I'm studying German in university as part of my degree, and it's possible that I'll spend some portion of my time in a German university. Heidelberg is on the cards, so I really wanted to see it, and I was far from disappointed.

One of my favourite places was the Jesuit church you see above. Wherever I go, I visit the church regardless of denomination, just to see the architecture and enjoy the environment. I went in twice, once with a group and then again on a quiet morning by myself. When I went the second time, there were only one or two others there and the organist was filling the church with really powerful music. As I lit a candle, I felt really terribly fortunate to be there. The church itself is modern and unfinished, but it really appealed to me.

I expected Heidelberg to be an incredibly quaint place- some small pastel-coloured city, but it was in fact far larger than I expected. While you can easily walk through the whole town in half an hour, it has tendrils which extend beyond it with much more to explore and different vibes. Seeing as I was only there for a few days, I didn't get to see everything in as much detail as I'd have liked to, but I think that's a good sign in a place.

How cute is this giant lego figure of Martin Luther? This church was a lot darker, but still cool to see. And to see all the Christmas trees still up was endearing. The stained-glass windows were modern and offset the other classical elements of the building.

So apparently I took way too many pictures of the river. I'm sorry. I should know better, but I can never help myself when I see luscious bodies of water. It's the River Neckar, and it's lovely. I love it when water is integral to a place (that feels like a weird sentence). There's just something so refreshing about the water. You could just stand and look at it for ages. Not to mention all the beautiful and unique houses that lined the river.

In typical Anna fashion, I was not able to condense all I want to say into one post. So I'll conclude my dreamy Heidelberg thoughts in a couple of weeks' time when I show you the Philosophenweg and the castle.

Have you ever been to Heidelberg? If not, would you like to go?

Anna x

Sunday, 21 January 2018

where you've left me

you made me forget me
and i loved you for that.
usually, i wonder and then worry
how i sound
what they make of me
if they like me
how i can do better,
how i can be friendlier,
nicer, prettier, finer.
but it stopped with you.
it was rare and beautiful,
and you didn't see it.

now i'm back home again.
i'm back to broken routines
that i make new every day,
i'm back to wondering what they think-
i know i should stop-
and you're not here
and i'm okay with that
i don't mind that you're gone,
but i suppose i don't know what comes next
and i feel silly for even saying it
but that's how things are
and i'm okay with that too
so thank you for then,
i'll go and find now.

Monday, 8 January 2018

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Steffi doesn't talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can't hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn't a lightning strike, it's the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life - she's been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He's deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she's assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn't matter that Steffi doesn't talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she's falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

I heard about 'A Quiet Kind of Thunder' from fellow blogger Emma, who wrote about it in her Favourite Books of 2017 so Far. I've been living under a rock these past few months, so I didn't hear about this book when it was published back in January. As soon as I read Emma's brief description of the novel, I knew I had to go out and buy it, and so I did.

Here's the thing; I didn't buy it for the love story, or the cute boy, or the fact that it's YA. I bought it because the main character, Steffi, has Selective Mutism. I've never heard of it discussed in a novel, with very little representation in general mainstream media. Youtuber Jessie Paege occasionally mentions her history of Selective Mutism, which I appreciate, but really, it's rare to hear about it anywhere. The reason this matters so much to me is because I had it when I was a child, and still deal with different types of anxiety, connected to my past.

When  I was little, I didn't know that anybody else had the same problem I did. Everybody I met could talk, and spoke easily and happily. I just couldn't, and when I began to be able to more, the most common question I got, even at age six and seven, was "why didn't/don't you talk?". Even now that that's well behind me, people who've known me that long, or who I tell, always ask the same question, and honestly, it's really difficult to explain.

Mental health, and anxiety are really very intricate. They cannot easily be explained. The symptoms/side effects are different in everyone. Some people feel some parts more intensely than others with the same diagnosis, and others might not even display some aspects of their anxiety at all. However, Barnard manages to convey Steffi's struggle with Selective Mutism in a way that I can relate to, even if I don't act that way myself.

The novel is half anxiety based, half love based.

The anxiety in not romanticised, not overdone, not underdone. In my mind, Barnard expresses it perfectly, beautifully. She makes it seem okay. It's obvious that Steffi is struggling with it, battling with the thought- do I want to 'get over it'? It's obvious that the ability to speak is important, without making Steffi look like some sad loser who can't manage. Throughout the novel, I felt that Barnard had complete respect for her characters, and for me, that was deeply reassuring.

The other main character, Rhys, is deaf, and I'm sure that for anyone else who is also hard of hearing, reading this novel would give them the same sense of warmth that reading about Steffi gave me. He is portrayed as a handsome, desirable, sweet teenager, with an amazing capacity for love.

The characters are not what you would expect of typical teenagers- but this is no object in the beauty of the love story. In fact, I think it makes it better.

I loved this book. I wish it had been out when I was a little bit younger, so I could know for sure, sooner, that I was not ever alone. I'm so glad I read it now too, I still feel like I've gained a lot from it, and kind of want all of my friends and family to read it now.

Barnard's writing style is nice. It's not overly poetic, or richly descriptive, like the novels I tend to like best. It's sophisticated in itself. It doesn't feel like it's dumbed down for the purpose of being YA. I feel that Barnard trusts her audience enough to say exactly what she wants, in a style that is accessible but not boring.

Overall, I have to rate this novel five stars. I have to. I have never before in my life felt as strongly as this, that the author understood me. That she wrote it for me, and for people like me. The dedication, "for the quiet ones", was enough to delight me from the start. It's good in a way books have never been for me before. I'm not in love because of the description or the easily grab-able quotations, but because of how it made me feel. I laughed out loud at various moments too, which is rare for me in literature.

Thank you, Sara Barnard, for writing this book. I will be thinking about it for a long time to come.

endnote: I've had this post written for months, but I felt very unsure about posting it, because it is kind of revealing. Last night I heard about another child with the same issue that I had, and I knew that like Barnard, I had to spread the word to make things easier for other children. Awareness sometimes is the best way to aid people in solving these kinds of issues.

Anna x

Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 Recap and 2018 Goals

I kind of can't believe I'm writing this post. I am in disbelief that 2017 is over, although it already feels so distant. I'm also not usually one to write a trendy blog post, but I've enjoyed reading posts by other bloggers, so I thought I'd compose my own too.

2017 was one of the weirdest years I've had in a long time. The first half was rather unpleasant as I had scary life-defining state exams in June, with things like practicals and orals scattered from February to May as well. In Ireland, there isn't any continuous assessment, so your exam performance is literally your whole final grade that determines whether you get into the college course you want. Thinking back on it, it was really tough, and sucked the enjoyment out of a lot of simple things. I couldn't even go shopping without feeling guilty about missing time studying. So glad that's all over.

In May I graduated from secondary school, which was quite surreal. I'd been in that same school for six years, and had experienced so many wonderful things over the course of that time. However, graduating felt totally right, because it hadn't all been good, and I felt ready to move on. In July, I turned 19. I've already written about my thoughts on the matter here, but now almost 6 months later, I can tell you that being 19 is definitely way more fun than being 18.

In August I got my exam results and my university offer- I got into my first choice! I was relieved, really. The fact that I had to wake up at like 5:50am to check if I'd gotten my place at 6 meant that I was way too tired to be excited. But it was exciting, and I began to really try to imagine what it would be like to go to university, and how my life would change.

In September, I went to Milan with my parents, and we had a really lovely time. I felt like my photography and editing skills really improved with that trip, and seeing Da Vinci's Last Supper was amazing. Totally amazing. That same month, I started university. It was intimidating, and I immediately felt like a small fish in a huge pond, but really interesting.

I've since made a few new friends and have settled into my course somewhat. I feel like I've a long way to go in terms of getting to know people in each of my classes and feeling comfortable on the whole, but I made a decent start, and I did well in the couple of assignments I had, so I hope to try harder next year. I struggle so much with self acceptance, I always hold myself back, so that has been something that has really gotten on my nerves about me this past semester.

One thing that I'm happy about, a process that has begun over the past year, is that I've started to get into fashion and develop a style that I really like and that others seem to like too. For some reason it was something I could never get right as a younger teenager.

2018 already looks like it could be a very exciting year. There are a lot of things that are going to change for me, some that I can't really reveal at this point because they involve other people, but I'm sure that I will let you know when the time comes.

It will be my first full year as a college student, which is in itself a crazy thought! I also have a few trips lined up, which I am so unbelievably grateful for, as I did not expect to be able to travel so much. Oh, and I'm turning 20.

I like to write a set of resolutions for myself every year, but this year I've decided to make some of  them more goal-oriented, because if they are tangible, I'm more likely to do them.

1. Start learning how to drive
2. Publish a blog post every week (I might be crazy to tell you this)
3. Eat better
4. Exercise twice a week
5. Work on self-confidence
6. Use up an entire body lotion (I know it's strange but if I don't make it into a goal I'll never do it)
7. Save money 

Wish me luck!

What are your goals? Happy New Year!!

Anna x

Latest Instagrams

© Zu Hause. Design by FCD.