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14 October 2019

A New Chapter


The first blog I ever read, was by a girl named Hannah @ Secret Life of a Poor Student.

Hannah was a law student at Essex whose blog I came across in 2012 through a Twitter retweet. She wrote about dating, studying, and that one time she ordered a small Dominos pizza after dinner, just because she couldn't be bothered to walk to the shop and get Ben and Jerry's and there was a spending limit.

I became addicted to reading her trials and tribulations, and although she closed down her blog in 2014, Hannah remains the inspiration for starting Alice's Antics.

So, in 2013, I sat down and started writing. The theme was shit and the photos were all taken on a dodgy iPhone 5, but I fell in love with it. I wrote about almost setting my apartment on fire in Italy, I cringed about the day I tripped up the stairs on a bus and the doors closed on me, I discussed learning Italian in Italy.

And in that first year of blogging, I wrote 139 blog posts - almost 3 a week.

Blog posts take time to write. They take thought, and patience, but they should also come naturally. And for some reason, I haven't been able to write naturally on here for a very long time - in fact, until my last blog post.

I think some of that comes from growing up and watching the internet expand. When I first started Alice's Antics, 'influencers' didn't exist. Whereas now, you know for a fact the internet can come back to haunt you.

On top of this, is how exposed it makes you. I withdrew a LOT from my blog in 2016, after going on two consecutive dates where both guys had found Alice's Antics and/or my Youtube channel.

My Youtube is linked to my blog is linked to my Instagram and my Instagram is linked to my dating apps. These guys weren't Sherlock Holmes, but I didn't like the advantage they had over me.

In the last few years, I feel like the internet has been an elastic band in what it deems acceptable and not acceptable. I stopped posting my relatable rambles because I felt like nobody cared, and started posting more aesthetic, photo-y blogs because, for a long time, the internet has been about the projection of you.

And now, we're in full circle, and it's mental health and body positivity and self-love. And actually, I'm not 100% sure I'm ready to talk about all of that just yet either.

Putting myself on a pedestal or what I should be writing about, has stopped me from the natural course of writing that I love.

The long-winded posts about dating and men and how I'm suddenly 24 and like - will I be single FOREVER?? Stay tuned.

I want my blogs to be about being on the move, and running away from jobs and DEBT because guess what??? My coffee shop job didn't pay for my flight to Australia in 2018, my overdraft did!

I want to discuss friends, and drifting apart, and how important it is to stay in touch with the good ones.

And most of all, I want to talk about T R A V E L. It's the biggest part of my life. Over the last 10 months, I've really, truly come to terms with the fact that I will be sacrificing the life I always thought I'd have in my twenties, for a completely different one.

I grew up thinking my twenties would be spent in London, writing for a magazine (interchangeably Elle and Glamour during my teens), with a boyfriend and the same best friends from school + a couple from university.

But the reality is, I'm trying to figure out how to save money whilst living and working on minimum wage whilst also booking flights. I've spent more time in the last 2.5 years living out of a suitcase than at home, and over the summer one of my best friends asked me if I think travel has stopped me from meeting 'the one'.

(Stay tuned for that little gem to be discussed in the very near future).

This is what I want to write about. This is what I will be writing about. And this is the new chapter of Alice's Antics.

There will be swearing and laugh-out-louds, and reality checks and I'm going to be completely honest about all of the ups and downs of my life. Because frankly, I'm only 24 and could write a book already.

Let's go.

Love, Alice x

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25 September 2019

The Reason I Was Quiet On Here *TW*


A couple of months ago, I was walking to meet a friend in the local town, when a man in a car pulled up alongside me, and started trying to talk to me.

The road was extremely desolate and surrounded by forest, but I knew it well. And as a confident, self-aware woman, I smiled politely at the man and told him no, I did not want a lift, and started concentrating on texting my friend until I heard him drive off.

A couple of cars passed by, but when I looked up from my phone, there was just me and a car pulled up a little further up the road which I hadn't noticed before.

Immediately, I wondered if it could possibly be the man who had pulled up next to me, but I didn't want to let my imagination run away with me, when I couldn't even remember what his car had looked like.

So I crossed over to the other side of the road, and as I approached, saw the man from before, staring at me from his wing-mirror.

Immediately, I turned around and started to head back towards my campsite. Feeling relieved when I hear the car pull out and away, down the road. However, the man went around the roundabout at the end of the road, and followed me, who was running, all the way into the campsite, until I passed the barriers.

I ran back to my colleagues and friends, who were pre-drinking for a night out, and who all happened to be male, and broke down in the kitchen, trying to explain what happened.

Despite being a hot mess, it was my friend's final night in France, so I agreed to go on a night out with everyone, knowing I'd be walking into the town as a group of seven.

On that night out, two friendly British guys approached me, and I introduced them to our group. It wasn't until a little later, that I realised one of the men's intentions.

His hands were all over me. Up my skirt, on my chest, around my waist. And I was on a night out with a group who were all enjoying themselves too much to realise what was happening to me.

I felt invisible, relentlessly telling this man to get off me. Eventually, he grabbed my inner thigh so hard, I knew I would wake up with bruises, and I ran off to get help from two of my friends stood outside. Still, the man followed me, and didn't leave me alone until one of them told him I was his girlfriend.

Writing all of this out, it feels obvious that these two events would trigger some sort of reaction. But it's taken me this long to figure out the root cause.

I wholeheartedly believe it was categorically, not the fault of any of the guys I was with on the night out, but being in such a vulnerable position, yet surrounded by people, made me feel as if I wasn't a human being.

Being surrounded by male friends - some of the loveliest, most kind-hearted I know - and still feeling as if I had no self-worth, highlighted the fact they didn't recognise I needed help, because they've never had to think about that for themselves, the way a girl would.

The next morning, I woke up with a bruise in the shape of four fingertips on my thigh. And seeing it every time I changed, every time I used the toilet, made me feel as if my body wasn't my own.

It didn't belong to me anymore, and I didn't want it to.

For the first time in two years, I had panic attacks before work, and despite being surrounded by a lot of great people, I just wanted to give up.

I combatted this with trying to prove myself. Trying too hard, becoming louder, being more insistent, and I would go to bed both over-analysing myself, and every single person around me, yet also, somehow, not actually giving a shit.

I felt like the person I portrayed on the outside, was the most extreme 'other' to how I felt on the inside.

And for the first time in nearly 10 years, I stopped writing.

Silence on Alice's Antics may have become a bit of a norm, what with the lack of wifi and hectic travelling about over the last couple of years.  But for the first time in nearly ten years, I stopped writing altogether.

No diary entries, no short stories, no chapters, no poems. Nothing.

Writing has always been my outlet. Someone once told me and my sister to start diaries after our mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I've never looked back. It's always been my go-to form of meditation.

But I didn't feel like I could write, because I didn't know who was writing. I didn't know how she felt, or who she was. I felt like I had no worth.

My return to Alice's Antics wasn't just a return to this blog, it was recognition of recovering from one of the darkest places I've been in a very long time.

It's my way of reminding myself of who I am, of what I've achieved and that I'm a human being, not just a vessel, not just a body, not just a piece of meat to be chased and touched and cat-called.

I really ummed and ahhed about posting this, and sharing my experience. Knowing a lot of people would read it and a lot of people wouldn't understand.

But I decided it was a necessity. For me, for all of the women reading this, and for all of the men.

I may just be coming back to myself, but one of the things I'm most sure about right now, is that I am so, SO done with being silent.

Love, Alice x


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5 September 2019

September Goal and WTF I'm Doing With 2019



I may not have to buy new stationery, and the days of leaving my school shoes by the front door are long gone, BUT I just can't shake the feeling that September is a fresh start.

Summer happens to be my favourite time of year, but even I can admit, there's something to be said for slipping on boots and jumpers and not being sweaty 24/7.

In line with this, I've discovered a 'new school year' goal which at the start of this summer, wouldn't have existed, but now is ruling my life.

This is a strange one, and I might talk about the context of it at some point, but after spending the last few years steadily building up my self-confidence to a point in which I'm truly happy with who I am, I had a stumbling block this summer.

It was a stumbling block which was much deeper than how I felt in a bikini, and instead shredded the confidence and security I had on the inside, engulfing me in a way which made my whole life, my whole existence seem pointless.

Looking back over the last two months, I hardly recognise who I was and how I've been feeling. Panic attacks and anxiety have ruled my private life, whilst to everyone else I've been louder (and probably more annoying) than ever before, an attempt to overcompensate this reduction in my sense of self.

As I mentioned,  I'll be writing about this whole experience in a later post. Not just the 'whys', but also bring to attention how, as a very self-aware person who tends to be on top of mental health discussions, I've managed to let it engulf me.

So in short, I'm extremely keen to focus on myself and re-discover the confident, happy girl (woman????) which was knocked out of me at the end of June.

But what the bloody hell is happening post-September?

Well, if you missed it, I'm currently in France, where I've been for the last 4 months. I'm coming to the very end of a summer season, which has involved a lot of croissants and Kronenbourg, and a weeks time, it will all be over.

Never one to stick around in the UK, much to the despair of my friends and family, I'm spending 10 days at home before heading to America until December.

This is a fairly recent development and I'll be basing myself with family in Charleston SC, but using the opportunity to explore other parts of the country.

After America, it's back to chasing the sun for me, as I'm off to spend Christmas and New Year in Sydney with my favourite people.

I'm fairly confident in the knowledge that SC will have much better wifi than this little campsite in France, so I'm hoping to be posting a lot more content over the next few months.

I feel as if I've been holding back from what I want to be writing about, but I've discovered now more than ever is the time to make your voice heard.

Thank you for bearing with me over this summer break!

Love, Alice x

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21 June 2019

Nobody Warned Me About 23


For some reason, turning 23 felt like a milestone way beyond that of 21.

I really felt like I was in my twenties. Or as I grew up hearing it be referred to, my prime.

This was the age I longed to be when I was an awkward 15-year-old.

To me, I just knew being in your twenties would be nothing but brunch-ing, a fashionable career (almost always pictured to be magazine journalism) and a loving 6ft2 boyfriend who is a doctor/lawyer/teacher [enter preferred profession here].

Yes, I watched a lot of romcoms.

But, in some ways, it really is what I imagined.

I spend FAR too much money on brunching, and I’ve even dated the 6ft-something professionals who are now nothing but a nickname in my phone notes.

However, what I wasn’t prepared for a year ago, was for 23 to be the age people start asking, “why?”.

Instead of supporting you, encouraging you to go off and travel and see and do things to expand your horizons, you’re forced into a box of questions on repeat.

 “But what about when you come home?” 
 "But how will that look on your CV?” 
 “But why not just take long holidays to see the world!” 

It feels as if the excuse of ‘it’s fine, you’re young', floated away at midnight on my 23rd birthday, and instead, the weight of expectation walked through the door.

I can’t blame anyone, friends or family, for asking these questions, because they’re genuinely concerned.

They’re questions which have been built in a world where we were brought up to believe the our twenties was our prime - but only if you fit the ‘great job, city life, lots of cocktail parties, sexy-tall-boyfriend’ box.

What wasn’t posed to us, was the reality that came alongside those brunches and dates and high-flying jobs.

Fighting tooth and nail for low-pay positions, sitting for hours on the underground with no air-con, choosing between the quality of an apartment, the cost of rent, and the length of your commute.

And, well, I’m here to say it’s basically a huge overestimation of real life.

Which is why I decided two weeks ago, when I turned 24, that I would be spending this year living the life I want to be living, rather than the one I think I should be living.

(According to romcoms/relatives/you name it).

I recently went for a 24th birthday dinner with some old school friends, and was sat at one end of a table with two mums, two home-owners, and another friend who drank copious amounts of wine with me.

We’re all the same age, we’re all from the same place, but our goals, our lives, they’re no longer the same. Our primes will be completely different.

We’ll peak at different ages and thank goodness for that, because wouldn’t life be so boring if we were all trundling along at the same pace?

Just a couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post on why I was staying put for a year in England.

I was doing what I thought I had to do to be successful.

I wanted to be living my ‘best’ life as it had always been posed to me. I was offered well-paid jobs, I traveled up to London every weekend. I went on ridiculous dates and brunched practically every Sunday.

I was on the brink of settling down and yet every week, every month, I looked forward and thought “Okay, this is the month I’ll feel fulfilled, this is the month I’ll stop wanting to get away.

And that feeling never came, because it was a feeling I saw in others and thought I’d find in myself.

But those people aren’t me.

So, where am I writing this blog post from?

The west coast of France.

To be frank about it, I just realised that my best life is whatever I decide I want it to be.

Success isn’t measured by the job you have or how much your life compares to a Ryan Gosling film. It's defined by how happy you are.

And if you’re not currently peak happiness, what are you doing in that moment to achieve said happiness.

Need to move back home for a bit to save up or get stable? That isn’t failure.

Not working in a 9-5 office job? Absolutely not failure.

Realised you want to quit the career you thought you really wanted? You’re not failing.

Thought you wanted to travel but decided two weeks in it wasn't for you? Still. Not. Failure.

Maybe your twenties will be your prime, or maybe it won't be. But don’t waste time trying fit the ‘best life’ other people built for you.

My friend messaged me when I landed and said, “I’m genuinely happy you’ve done this. It’s where you are best.”

And he was right, it’s just taken me a long old time to realise that.

Love, Alice x
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2 May 2019

The Ruling Against Caster Semenya Would Never Apply to Men


I never had any desire to become a sports champion when I was growing up. But what if, when I was 10 years old, I decided it was my dream to become a triathlete.

I wouldn’t know, aged ten, what my body would eventually amount to. 

Now 5 foot 8, but all torso and boobs which attempt to knock me out running down the stairs – let alone jumping hurdles – I’d be at a distinct disadvantage to the women who have longer legs than me, who do not have weapons of mass destruction constricted across their chest night and day. 

My only option would be to work harder, train harder and try to compete at the level of those who are more anatomically suited to the sport, and envy the female who – through no choice of her own – has legs to the sky.

What if, instead of a triathlete, I decided I wanted to become a basketball player? 

This time, being fairly tall for a girl would come at an advantage. Through training and talent, I might reach a regional then national team.

 I walk onto the court during my first match, and there, opposite me, is a female who is six foot three. Clearly, she has a distinct advantage in a sport which is played largely above head level.

Now tell me what the difference is between these two examples, and that of Caster Semenya, who was recently told she’d have to take medication to reduce her levels of testosterone, in order to compete in a sport that she had worked for years and years to be the best at. 

When Caster Semenya decided to become an athlete, she was pre-pubescent, she didn’t know the biological advantage she would have on the other women, she didn’t work any less hard. Semenya could have been a teacher, or a police officer, or a doctor. But instead, she trained and pushed herself and her body, to become an athlete. 

Her testosterone levels are a natural biological advantage, the same as height, the same as long legs, which she had no control over and no knowledge of, when she began to compete.

Usain Bolt’s 195cm (6ft 5) structure is the envy of all runners not blessed by height. Michael Phelps, at 6ft 4, has a 6ft 7 wingspan. Their physical benefits are as clear, and as natural, as the testosterone benefits held by Caster Semenya. 

And yet, it is Semenya who the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) has decided to control. You can’t control height, or wingspan, or leg length. But you can control testosterone, so according to the CAS, we should be controlling it.

But only in women, of course.

This ruling only applies to female athletes. Men with an anomalously high level of testosterone have not been told to humiliatingly reduce the natural status of their body. 

Men, do not have to take performance-altering drugs to ‘level out the playing field’. 

It is only women who are being targeted, controlled, and altered to fit within this box, in the same harrowing, familiar way they have always had to give up the autonomy of their own bodies to others.

If you type in Caster Semenya to Google, you are met by searches such as ‘Caster Semenya intersex’ and ‘Caster Semenya transgender’. 

Caster Semenya is a female by sex and gender, simply born with higher testosterone levels.

The CAS’s justification, is that discrimination against some women is ‘necessary’ to protect other women. 

Not-so-surprisingly, the women it protects is white, cis, female athletes. Black, trans and intersex women are once again targets of regulations which white, cis, female athletes are immune to.

The ruling against Caster Semenya is a ruling against minorities. 

It is a ruling which justifies removing a woman’s agency due to not fitting industry standards. 

It is a ruling against natural advantages which are celebrated in men. 

And it is once again evidence, that women around the world are viewed as controllable pawns in sport, and in life.  
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26 March 2019

Why I'm Facing My Fear and Staying Put


When I started middle school, I decided I wanted to learn an instrument. 

A real instrument. 

I was nine, and playing Amazing Grace on the recorder just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore.

Which is how I found myself, just a couple of months later, sweating as I heaved my school bag, PE Kit, a cello and a trombone into my classroom every Wednesday morning.

I played both instruments for a total of two years, then decided I wanted to move onto bigger and better things. 

I play piano by ear, so when my family relocated to Dorset, I asked my parents if I could, instead, have piano lessons. We bought a piano. 

Then, I asked if I could get saxophone lessons. I was bought a saxophone. Piano, admittedly, I still play. Saxophone lasted approximately 18 months – if that.

The phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, doesn’t come close to my constant, incessant searching for the next best thing I could prove myself at.

Despite newspaper headlines, it isn’t a trait that was developed due to my status as a millennial, it’s always for me, been about proving myself to my peers. Making a name for myself around school as the one who plays music, the one who sings, the one who plays the piano.

For the most part, it’s harmless. It took me to Italy, as I wanted to prove I could get away from my small Dorset town. 

It led me to Royal Holloway, after applying to ten universities for two different courses. At university, I threw myself into every aspect of uni life. 

Throughout my time there, I was Director of Marketing for a society, Head of Marketing for the radio station, co-hosted a radio show, played for the football team, played for the social netball league, worked two jobs… and studied for my degree.

Then, I got a London PR job. But instead, that need to prove myself, took me to Australia. Not because I didn’t want to go to Australia, I really, did. But instead of waiting to be prepared, I loved knowing people around me admired my choice to leave my 9-5 and buy a one-way ticket.  

And throughout my adult life, the biggest way for me to prove myself, has always been to leave my small, Dorset town, which is why I’ve always done everything in my power to ensure that didn’t happen.

So imagine my surprise when my fully formed, adult brain, decided I was going to stay at home for a year, and save money.

After 23 years of looking for the next best thing, I’m currently coming to terms with being content in what I have, what I’m doing, where I am.

After so long of trying to get out, I’ve decided to use this year to better myself. 

To go to the gym, to have a stable job, to see the friends I have and the friends I love. 

I’ve taken on a 9-5 so I can save money on top of my freelance writing. I have a real, hardback diary instead of an iCalendar. 

I have spreadsheets on my incomings and outgoings, I’ve pulled out of my job offer for a summer in France.

I’ve booked weekend trips to look forward to, and then, I’ll come home, where I’m living with my parents. (Even though I’m turning 24 this year and 15-year-old me thought I’d be engaged by now).

For the first time in my whole life, I’m using the resources I have at hand to become more stable, instead of running away and leaving a hot mess in my wake.

Ironically, the stability this next year holds is far more terrifying to me, than booking a one-way ticket to a foreign country.

Love, Alice x
x
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2 February 2019

Everything You Should Know About Au Pairing


In October 2017,  I ended a Facetime video call with a woman on the other side of the world, who I'd never met, promising to book a flight out to help look after her three-year-old son.

It sounds insane, and yet every year thousands of girls (and boys), use au pairing as a way of having a home and a job in another country. Deemed a 'cultural exchange', it is literally there to open the door for young people looking to live in another country, but not just spend their time around other expats and backpackers.

I've au paired twice since I turned 18, and my younger sister has also au paired. My first-time au pairing - in Italy - could not have been more different to last year's experience in Australia, not least because I was four years older.

Au pairing is an incredible opportunity if you like children and are happy to commit, but, it's admittedly not for everyone. So I thought I would create a list of what I've learnt from my au pairing experiences, and what I wish I'd known before landing both times.

Think long and hard about what kind of family you're looking for
How many children do you feel comfortable looking after? Do you have any beliefs/values you want to have in common? Do you want to live-in or live-out?

When I was in Italy, I worked for a mum and dad, with their 8-year-old son. There was also a cook and housekeeper in their apartment, so most of the time we had company.

Whilst I was in Australia, I worked for a donor mum and her 3-year-old son. A complete contrary to my last experience.

If I'm honest, I was initially a little unsure of working for a single parent, simply because I thought there was a chance the living arrangement would be too intense. I was also aware that if there were any issues, it could be extremely hard.

Which is why the best thing to do to find your own answer to these questions is to make sure you do your research and speak with any families you may want to work for over facetime/skype/video, to get a feel for if you think you'd be a good fit.

In my case, the experience of living with a single parent ended up being amazing, and if anything I was much closer to her because of our living arrangements than the couple I worked for in Italy.

One of my other pieces of advice would be generally, to live-in. I lived-out previously, and whilst it was great to have my own space, it really built a wall in my relationship with the family, because I felt like 'the help'. I grew extremely close to both the children I looked after, and that wasn't impacted by my living arrangement at all. But if you're looking to feel like a part of the family, living out makes that more difficult.

Au pairing can be lonely
If there was one thing I wish I'd known before applying for au pairing roles in Italy, it would be how important it is to au pair in a city where you'll find other au pairs.

The truth is, au pairing can be extremely lonely. You're in a foreign country, you don't have friends and without a classroom or an office, you're suddenly left with the question - how do I meet people?

In Italy, I basically had one best friend. I met her through a friend of the old au pair, and I was extremely lucky to have her, but after four months she was gone. I did make a few more friends, but many worked 9-5 jobs, whereas I was off during school hours. I wish I'd had the foresight to look for a highly populated city, where there were more au pairs and consequently, more friends.

Despite taking this into account in round two - hence moving to Sydney and not the Aussie bush - I still found it incredibly hard to make friends. Anyone who knows me will know I'm outgoing and friendly, but other than the girl who later became my best friend (and who I met on the first day by chance) it was initially hard to meet people. So, I posted in a "Sydney Au Pairs" Facebook group to ask if anyone wanted to grab a coffee - and that turned into a BBQ of 30 girls on the beach. All au pairs, all struggling to meet people.

The point is, you need to be prepared to put yourself out there. I am still BEST friends with my rocks from both Italy and Australia, but one friend isn't always enough. Think about joining local classes or getting a part-time job, both will help you meet people in no time at all!

You should feel at home, but remember it isn't YOUR home
This is such a tricky one, because it's so so important to feel at ease and comfortable and happy wherever you're living. But at the end of the day, it's also pretty important to remember this isn't your home.

I've heard a few horror stories from all sides, but without beating around the bush, the main thing I would say is that it is not okay to bring back guys/girls on a night out. 

This might sound obvious to most people - but the truth is it happens. I've heard from both my previous host families that if their au pairs end up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, then it's nice to meet them, but I'd still say tread with caution. The chances are, the person you've met isn't going to be another au pair, put simply, there's always a better place to do it.

Have a thick skin
Kids are kids. They can be so cute you want to cry, and they can be children who seemed to have woken up with the devil inside them. Don't take anything personally or to heart. It once took me an hour to walk 10 minutes up the road with a three-year-old, but then that three-year-old also told me I was his family. An eight-year-old ransacked his bedroom after I told him to get off his iPad, but then wouldn't let me go a month later, when he started sobbing as I left for a weekend-break in Milan.

It's swings and roundabouts, and the good days more than makeup for the bad days. If you're expecting everything to be smooth sailing, you shouldn't be around children ever, ever again.

Respect your host family
I feel like this should go without saying, but I've heard a lot of stories about au pairs which say otherwise. Yes, it is extremely nervewracking venturing out of your comfort zone into somebody else's life, but you do also need to think about how the family you're au pairing for feel. If their rule is to be home before midnight on a work-night, then get home before midnight. If they tell you to get a treat for their child after school, don't go on a shopping spree. These people are on your team, they want to have the best experience possible with their au pair, just as you do.

Just as there are horror host family stories, there are also horror au pair stories, don't be that person. When it goes well, you'll become a part of the family, and there is no better feeling than belonging, especially when you're a thousand miles from home.

Make the most of it
Because the idea of a host family is to feel as though you're at a home away from home, it's easy to get complacent. But the reality is, this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. So make the most of every second! Meet locals, go on tours, visit the rest of the country in which you're visiting, learn the language, make plans every weekend so you don't feel as if you're wasting time. Whether it's going to the beach in January, when everyone back home is suffering from the cold, or going on a weekend adventure somewhere new. The most important thing, is to have the time of your life.

Hopefully, this will help anyone considering au pairing, and gives you some food for thought. As an experience, I couldn't recommend it enough.

For anyone wondering, the website I used to find both host families, and the one I recommend, is Au Pair World. This blog post isn't sponsored at all, but they're the best site I found as a free site for au pairs, and they don't spam you with emails unless it's messages/replies from families, which is a deal breaker for me.

Love, Alice x

P.S. Whilst you're here, the 2019 Blogosphere Awards are around the corner, so if you want to nominate Alice's Antics or a particular blog post for an award, I would love you forever... and you can do so here.









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31 December 2018

2018: The Year Of Winging It

Welcome to your yearly roundup of my life.

If you happen to have missed any of the others, you can find them at the bottom of this page, but for now, let's crack on with 2019.

As anyone who is familiar with this little internet space will know, it's worth grabbing a cuppa for the annual roundup. Maybe even make up a sandwich of all your favourite leftovers. Either way, settle down, and enjoy.

I started 2018 surrounded by my friends in our local pub. It was completely and utterly not how I planned to welcome in the new year. I had planned a cheese and champagne evening at my house with a friend, but the plan fell through. So instead, I decked myself out in last-minute fancy dress, text the most fabulous drinking pals I have, and headed into a new year full of booze and 80s music.

And to be honest, this sudden, last minute change of plan ended up setting a precedent for my behaviour throughout the rest of the year.

I truly thought I had winged my way through university, until 2018 happened.

2018 wasn't just a year of going out spontaneously (although naturally, that happened too), this was a year in which my whole life took a u-turn several times.

A couple of weeks into January, after the most incredible leaving party, surrounded with most of my favourite people in the world, I landed in Sydney.
On that first day in Sydney, I met a life-changer. And, to be quite honest, I looked at the girl who would soon become my best friend and thought "Wow. She is not my type of person."

Fast forward approximately two weeks, and we're buying matching Havaianas and spending every spare minute together.

So clearly, I knew nothing.

It's important for me to mention Gemma, because from the moment we met, we became each other's support systems. We were both from the UK, both au pairs, both living in Sydney and both unbelievably talented at karaoke when drunk.

Honestly.

For the best part of eight months, we held each other up when things got tough. Gemma listened to me change my mind about what I was doing in life approximately 1300 times, and I convinced her it was time to give up au pairing and find a job which felt more stable. We controlled each other from making awful male life choices, yet supported each other in spending $600 on a rugby player auction for charity. Whilst I was quitting my job Sydney 9-5 to freelance and travel, Gemma was being offered a 9-5 and moving into her first flat. We balanced each other out, and in many ways, 2018 should really just be called the year of Gemma. However, I absolutely refuse to give her that kind of satisfaction.
During this time of au pairing, I found another life-long friend, who became more like family, in my host mum and the little boy I looked after. Bev and Nate became a second family, and I am under absolutely no illusion that this doesn't always happen - having au paired in Italy four years ago.

Fortunately, I found a host family who both supported me throughout my time in Australia and inspired me daily.

After a month in Sydney, I secured a part-time job as an editorial assistant for two Australian digital publications. It's safe to say, I loved this job. I loved the people, I loved the work, and to be honest, I'm unlikely to work in a place I love so much ever again.

By the June, I was working there full-time and had moved into my own flat in the centre of Sydney with three other girls and two dogs.

Over the next three months, I lived every typical graduate's dream. I was walking to work through (in my opinion) the best city in the world. My job was fulfilling, I was creating content for two publications I was passionate about, I interviewed Pale Waves and my boss introduced me to The Wombats. We would have Friday lunches which didn't finish until 4pm and we almost always won Trivia at the local pub. I made friends for life in that top floor office in Surry Hills.

But I was feeling suffocated.



There was talk of sponsoring me to live in Australia, there were discussions about how to extend my contract. I'd left my London 9-5 to travel and see a new country, and instead, I'd landed myself in the same living situation, just 10,000 miles away.

I became unhappy, and I wanted to move on before I began to resent the company who had made me feel so welcome in Australia.

So, with the connections I'd made through my Sydney job, I was able to turn my job into a freelancing one, and during my first freelance gig, I was flown to New Zealand.

It's safe to say I peaked fairly early in my career.

I spent the best part of a week winging every second of this time. I had the worst imposter syndrome ever, and honestly felt like I didn't deserve to be writing the story of this incredible company. But I did. I wrote it, I handed it in, and I was commissioned more work for them, as they were delighted with what I'd given.

By this time, my plan to travel around for the next few years was starting to unravel. The consequence of living in one of the world's most expensive cities had taken its toll, I'd saved almost nothing and when my parents flew out to see me and travel to Melbourne, I was waiting for that months income to come in from freelancing, which was $1000 less than what I was used to.

After cancelling my plans to head to Thailand, where a voluntary position was being held for me at an Elephant Sanctuary, I decided, fairly last minute, to fly to Cairns in north Queensland, and road trip down the east coast

Except, well, that didn't quite work out either. The 2 of the 3 people I was going to road trip down with were a bit (very) creepy, and I wasn't paid on time by one of the companies I'd been freelancing for.

In short, my life changed again.

I ended up staying in Cairns for the next 2 months. Visiting the rainforests, going snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, jumping into waterfalls and, once again, meeting even more amazing people. I also improved my German tenfold, because almost every single new friend happened to be German.

I started working for accommodation at the hostel, running the trivia night and secured two other jobs for a different company in Cairns.

Those two months, despite not going as planned, were two of my favourite months in Australia. I was surrounded by like-minded people and every time someone I knew and loved left, a new person would arrive.

Eventually, I was left with the realisation that my trip home for Christmas, which was always planned to be only 3 weeks, would have to be more permanent.

With a university overdraft hanging over my head, I decided that instead of staying in Australia and going to New Zealand to save up and pay it off - something which could still have been an option - I wanted to come home and get rid of the overdraft, before coming back out with a lot more than the £180 I had landed in Sydney with last January.

For me, although the year never went to plan, I don't regret any of the decisions I made.

If I hadn't gone out to Sydney when I did, I never would have met Gemma. If I hadn't stayed in Sydney, I wouldn't have met Audrey, my best friend from work. If I hadn't stayed in Cairns, I never would have met what came to be my "Tropic Days Family".

I don't feel like I've changed in the way some people "find themselves" (featuring lots of harem pants and drugged tigers in Thailand), but I do feel more sure of myself.

The people I met and the friends I made during my time in Australia had no expectation. They didn't have to become my friends, they didn't have to like me, it was all through choice.

I also realised more about my career and what I want to do. It confirmed for me how much I love writing and how happy I am in a job where writing is at the centre of what I do.

I discovered my writing ability isn't just useful for blogs. I can write for companies, I can write for publications, and, a hobby I had always considered just that - a hobby - is actually a talent, which maybe one day I can turn into my career.
One of the main lessons I've learnt from Australia is that things don't have to happen tomorrow. I'd always thrown myself into decisions extremely last minute. If I made a decision to do something, it had to happen tomorrow.

I met people of all ages in my travels, and for the most part, being 23 was on the lower end of the spectrum. There is time. I met 18-year-olds on their gap years, and I met a 68-year-old who was staying at my hostel and travelling via Greyhound bus for a month around the country.

There is no age limit to travelling, and it's much more important to be safe (and semi-prepared, let's face it), than make it all happen tomorrow and end up regretting that decision.

So for now, I'm back in England. Due to my parents home being extremely far from any industry and the salaries being much lower than average here, I'm looking at all options of where to live.

I have no time frame in mind, the most important thing to me, is that I'm happy.

So yes, for 2018, it was the year of winging it. But it was also the year of lessons, and the year of friends and the year of adventure.

Thank you all for following Alice's Antics, and after a recent blog post went viral, welcome to all of the new readers.

I hope your new year is as full to the brim with love as I currently am full to the brim with mince pies.

As always, photos below are a collage of my 2018.

Love, Alice x


READ MY OTHER YEARLY SUMMARIES
2013: The Year of Photos
2014: The Year of Becoming
2015: The Year of Being Content
2016: The Year of Friendship
2017: The Year of Change












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14 December 2018

The Brexit Experience, From Somebody Who Voted Remain



2018 seems to be a year many people are hoping to forget - politically. But the real year we should be leaving behind and never speaking about ever again, is 2016, the catalyst of the following years. The year of the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump and the deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Prince.

I'm not saying the deaths of these three extraordinarily talented men caused the world to turn on its axis, but, let's face it, stranger things have happened.

On June 23rd, the Brexit referendum was held. I was in France, working for a holiday company, but as a politics undergraduate, I was determined to have my say and voted by proxy. As a millennial working in Europe, obviously, I voted to remain.

The votes came in, and it was announced Britain would be leaving the EU. I won't lie, I did shed a tear. It was a 52% majority and 73% of under 25s had voted to remain.

But, I thought, maybe we'd all be proved wrong. Maybe, this is what's best for the country. Perhaps we'll look back in a couple of years time and realise the over 50s were right.

Later that day, I found out the owner of the British holiday company I was working for - a family company whose whole business was based in France - had voted to leave the EU.

And that, really, set the tone for the following two years.

There is nothing I wish I could write more, than that my mind has been changed, that the Conservatives and Theresa May have convinced the nation we are doing the right thing. Whilst I was appalled at the outcome, I wasn't somebody who dwelled on it, I wanted to be proven wrong.

Since Britain voted to leave the EU, here's what has happened:

  • There have been three elections. One when David Cameron stepped down, one general election on June 8th and one following a vote of no-confidence, two days ago.

  • Following the release of the Chequers Brexit plan, 8 cabinet ministers resigned from their positions.




  • The nation has lost the will to live.

Okay, so the bottom one might not be statistically true, but I'm willing to place my bets that if we could all never hear the word Brexit again, happiness in the country would grow by approximately 99%.

The most infuriating fact of all of this, is that a number of individuals who voted to the leave the EU have since decided they've changed their mind, after realising they'd been fed a lot of bullshit (something the remaining side are not guilt-free of either). 

Things have become so strife, in fact, that people from all sides of the argument are now just wanting to get out so we don't have to hear about it on the news. A dangerous, ridiculous argument, bearing in mind that us just "getting out" with no deal will forfeit our transition period between EU to non-EU members, our existing trade deal with the EU will cease immediately and we'll immediately be subjected to the EU's external trade tariffs. So prices will rise astronomically. Oh, and planes would be grounded because each airline would need to seek explicit permission from each EU country to enter its borders.

So, you know, despite the talk, we don't actually want to "just get on with it and leave". 

In any case, a deal has been presented. Okay, a deal which actually made several of Theresa May's cabinet ministers quit... but a deal none the less.

The deal, in my opinion, is not awful. The worst part is the lack of free travel between UK and EU citizens, but to be honest Theresa May as a leader is the best of a bad lot, and I think we can all agree Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg would probably create more of a shambles. 

So why are all of these people quitting the cabinet? It's because, what they really want, is all the perks of the EU... without actually being in the EU. And that, friends, is not how it works.

You don't get to be part of an internal free trade and free travel exchange group... if you aren't in that group. That is not how it works. If you wanted all of those benefits, do you know what we should have done? Stayed in the EU. 

The truth is, two years ago, I was willing to accept Brexit and hope for the best. 

But now, having watched the last two years unfold in nothing but a shambles, my will for a change of Government, a change of leader, and a change in Brexit, has never been stronger.

The point of this blog post is not to shove my opinion on Brexit itself down your throat. You do you.

The point of this blog post is an explanation, it's explicitly telling you why people are angry, why people are fed up, and why so many young people feel like they should be moving abroad and never coming back.

Because we've been let down.

All of us. Not just the "remainers". Every single one of us has been let down. We were let down by a leader who held the Brexit referendum and then quit. We were let down by a party who are so all-consumed with their own politics that they've forgotten they are literally there to represent the public. We were let down by two referendum sides who lead propaganda and fear-mongering and #fakenews to sway the public.

In the last two years, nothing has happened to sway my opinion of the Brexit situation. I'm waiting for the day I wake up and think "thank GOD we left the EU". But the truth is, all I'm seeing is a country where 52% voted for a past which doesn't exist anymore. A past where Europe was still reeling from the two world wars, and Britain was a super-power state. 

Britain entered the EU almost 50 years ago. In 50 years, the world has changed. Test-tube babies have been invented, the internet has been invented, yesterday Richard Branson literally sent a rocket-aeroplane to space

Europe is currently at the centre of unprecedented home-grown terrorism, no matter how many people refer to the IRA, the growth in technology partnered with segregation and political ideologies has seen an unprecedented rise in extremist behaviour.

And whose laws control the security of the UK, who has prevented even more terrorist-related activity within individual countries due to data-flow and security laws which the UK itself doesn't have in place? The EU. 

The likelihood is, we'll be leaving the EU. And I want it over just as much as the next person. But I actively encourage whoever is reading this, whatever way you vote, wherever your party allegiance lies, don't forget what has happened over the last two years. Don't forget the lies fed and the murder which occurred during the referendum. And don't forget those people, however they present themselves, will soon be 100% in control of your country. 
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