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16 January 2020

My 2020 Goals and Resolutions

PHEW, let's start off with the elephant in the room and say THANK YOU to all of the support on the last blog post. It was a difficult one to write, but I'm so glad it's out in the world and I'm so touched by the response and by how many people it's helped.

Now though, it's time to look forward.

Because it's the start of a new year and a new decade. And anyone who knows me knows I am all about the new year hype.

I don't think it should be about y'know, getting rid of your old self or anything. But I like any excuse for a list, and I like any excuse to give myself new goals. So this new year feeling happens to be a personal fave.

As I've gotten older, my resolutions/goals/whatever you like to call them, have reflected my growth. But my ability to keep them has absolutely not reflected my transition into adulthood.

So whilst my list is a lot less 'find a tall dark handsome boyfriend' and more 'learn about investments', it's important to know that I make resolutions with a pinch of salt. I think it's important to bear them in mind, especially the important ones, but if I don't have abs my May, well, I'm not going to cry myself to sleep.

So, what is on the agenda for 2020?

Visit a new continent
In 2019, I visited America and in 2018 I visited Australia. In 2020 I would love to visit Asia and/or Africa (probably less Kenyan-safari, more Morocco). Last year, I came up with this '7 by 27' dream, in which I visit all 7 continents by my 27th birthday. It's pretty ambitious, considering I'd visited... two... when I made it.

But, we're now up to three, and since Asia in en route to Oz/NZ (where I'm currently living), I don't think the dream is that impossible. After all, I'm only 24 at the moment.

Tackle my debt
Look, I left university with £50,000 in university bills. So my student overdraft wasn't really the top of my to-do list when living my best life and adventuring around Australia. But, the overdraft is mounting and I'm a) not going to hide from it - we could all do with a little less taboo about money, and b) want to do something about it.

My goal last year was to stay put in Dorset and save up to eradicate the overdraft, but since realising that life-plan compromises my happiness (and if anything made me want to get away even more), I'm going to be settling down in New Zealand pretty long-term (for me). I've spent the last 8 months living out of a suitcase between different countries, which is a hugely privileged position to be in, but I'm excited to be settling somewhere for a little while whilst I short my shit out.

Earn a TEFL
The TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) has always been on my radar, but not something I've really looked into. However, I really want to work and travel as I go, particularly in SE Asia and potentially South America, and teaching English online is how a lot of people sustain their lifestyle as digital nomads. My hope is to split my freelancing between writing and teaching, and it's always useful to learn a new skill.

Get Fitter/Stronger
As we now all know, it took me years to get to the place I am now with my body. And I wouldn't trade that for the world. However, in myself, I want to be much fitter than I currently am. I've been in mental spaces previously where I enjoy going to the gym, so getting back to that is my current goal.

I love being outdoors, I love feeling physically productive and - despite working a lot from my laptop - one of my favourite aspects of my work in France was being on my feet all day. I'm no longer in that position, so I just want to get up and get moving and, hopefully it will give me a bit of a boost on the days I need it.

Start Saving
What for? I don't know either. But I feel like at 24, I should probably stop living paycheque to paycheque the way I do. Especially if I want to continue freelancing. Some people are born into the privilege of having saving accounts set up for them by their parents and/or grandparents, but for me what I have in my bank, is what I own. Even if I start putting aside £50 a month, I just want to have something there to know that I'm doing something about my future.

Develop My Language Skills
Once upon a time, at the very very start of this Alice's Antics journey, I moved to Italy. It was extremely Eat, Pray, Love and despite not knowing a word when I first arrived, I ended up learning Italian. I used it almost every day, and when my family came out to visit me for my birthday, they were both surprised and impressed. But then I stopped and didn't use it for 6 years and now here we are, and I'm back on Duolingo reminding myself how to ask for a coffee.

I really want to work on my Italian and French. I lived in France only last year, so I do have a bit more of a grasp on the language, but both need improving. I now have a bit more time on my hands, so I'm keen to put it to good use.

Okay, so that's it. Those are my goals.

I know they might seem quite materialistic, but part of that is because I'm pretty happy with who I am at the moment. Last year I challenged myself to be more vocal about my opinions and stand up for what I believe in. And whilst you can always improve on body positivity and feminism and being an LGBT+ ally, being more vocal has become more entwined in my life, so I don't need to create 'goals' to keep me aware the way that I did once.

Does anyone else love the start of a new year? If you're the resolution-type, let me know what yours are!

 I know it gets a bit of a bad rep, but my headspace at the moment is proof that if you're realistic, it really can be a great time of year.

Just remember to be kind to yourself.

Love, Alice x

Blogger Widgets

7 January 2020

Leaving My Eating Disorder in the 2010s (TW)

When I was younger, I read a book by Jacqueline Wilson called Girls Under Pressure.

The book circled around Ellie, who was teased at school for being overweight and started to make herself sick. It narrated the hold bulimia has over people and how Ellie let it rule her life until she decided enough was enough.

However, I read this book as the teased, overweight girl in my class, and read between the lines. The book told me how everyone was complimenting Ellie for her weight loss. How all she needed to do was Google to find groups of others who would encourage her eating habits.

From my own recollection, I can't remember a time in my life where I wasn't embarrassed about how I look, and to my young self this felt like the answer.

I wasn't always overweight, but I was always bigger than the other girls in my class. I couldn’t see it at the time, but looking back I realise a lot of it was due to puberty hitting me quicker than any other girl in my class. I was 5'8 with size 7 feet by the time I was 13, and frankly, my boobs feel as if they've never stopped growing since. A U.K. size 8-10 is massive if all of your friends are in children size 13-14s.

At home, there was a focus on diet culture which I never realised or understood until I reached my twenties. But growing up in the 90s and 2000s, diet culture was everywhere, and to blame my ED just on my home life would be ridiculous. It was fuelled by my environment at school, at home, by the media. The only body positivity movement was Trinny and Suzanna telling you anyone over 12 stone shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes.

By the time I was 15, I was making myself sick around 4 times a day.

When I was 16, I confided in a friend that I thought I might have a problem. She told her friends, who told their friends, and whilst walking to class, I was accosted by a group of girls who told me I was too fat to have bulimia.

So, I made myself sick for five years.

One of the worst parts of having an ED, is that if you are plus-size or overweight to start off with, you are praised for your weight loss. And that fuels it. If a size 14 drops to a size 10, people are asking for your secret. If a size 10 drops to a size 4, people are giving them side looks, and the school counselor 'just wants to talk'.

Anyone who has an eating disorder will tell you it's easy to hide. A couple of extra toilet flushes here, bringing toothpaste to school with you there.

It peaked when I was going through exams and when I was extremely lonely or felt as if I had no purpose. When I was doing my A-Levels, I started living off shakes, deciding that not actually eating would hopefully stop me from making myself sick again. But I couldn't help it, I was consuming 800 calories a day but would throw them up. I lost 2 stone in 6 weeks, and when I started to put that back on again, I just made myself sick more.

But losing weight isn’t the only side effect of bulimia. I was asked by my dentist, in front of one of my parents, whether I’d been ill recently, because of the impact of the acid on my teeth. My hairdresser pointed out a bald spot under my hair and asked me about alopecia. I had no energy, no motivation and no drive to do anything. I completely lost my passion for life.

Eventually, the guy I was seeing and one of my best friend hosted an intervention. I had so far hidden my ED from my parents, but they told me if I didn't go and get help, they would go to my parents.

I knew I needed help, but at the time, I just didn't want it. I felt pressured into it. I enjoyed being smaller than I had been before, and I was convinced my boyfriend was only with me because I was a slimmer version of myself.

I was also terrified of being laughed out of the GP. I was convinced they'd tell me, like those girls had a couple of years before, that I was too fat to have an eating disorder.

But, I went. And in mid-2013, I was diagnosed formally with bulimia nervosa.

When I went travelling in August 2013, I lost weight simply through exercise and eating less, and thanks to having received help for my ED,  I realised bulimia wasn't the only way to lose weight. But when I returned to England in the September, I was back to using bulimia as a way to keep my weight down.

It was then that I began Alice's Antics. It was the period just before I moved to Italy, at a time when I thought everything would be better once I moved there, but it wasn't.

In Italy, I was living alone. My eating disorder peaked. I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed, I didn't want to leave my apartment for anything. I passed out on the bus and reached a point where I was just 'meh'. Everything seemed pointless.

For me, the turning point came when I went to university. I gained structure to my life, I felt like I had a purpose. I had friends who cared about me, and I didn't carry the stigma of 'being me' that I felt had followed me through school.

Tragically, yet luckily in many ways, I unintentionally became immediate friends with another girl who had an eating disorder. She was struggling even more than I was and meeting each other was a blessing in disguise because we both wanted to get over it and move on with our lives. To this day we're both still extremely close friends, and our first year of uni was a turning point for both of us in overcoming bulimia and anorexia.

Unlike in 2013, my recovery in 2015 was through my own will and determination. Sometimes, you need people in your corner, and many people with EDs start their recovery without their own consent when they become a danger to themselves. But for every single person with an ED, you will never recover until you want to.

It may seem odd to many people reading this as to why I would bother to write about it now. But the truth is, bulimia ruled my life for half of the 2010s. Admitting I had an eating disorder isn't embarrassing. It isn't a loss on my part, it isn't something to be ashamed of. It was my life.

I overcame my eating disorder by working from the inside out. It sounds cliche, but it's true. I don't think I would have had the courage to confront it the way I did, if there hadn't been a slow shift in the narrative of body positivity the way there has been in the last few years.

Recovering from an eating disorder isn't a matter of having your last purge and leaving it all in the past. It's a work in progress. It's being faced with uphill battles, and not turning to controlled eating as a way of dealing with it. It's feeling full, and your first thought not being 'I could just do it one more time'.

It's looking in the mirror and understanding you're not going to be perfect, but neither is anybody else. It's realising there is so much more to your life than what you weigh. It's not valuing yourself on having a boyfriend or a partner, but valuing yourself on who you are and what you stand for.

It's finding the courage to talk about it, and get help. It's realising that it is not your fault, and your life is not wasted because of it.

Growing up, when I was embarrassed to put on a swimsuit at the beach, I was always told; "There will be someone who looks worse than you, don't worry."

And that is exactly the kind of narrative I now understand I need to protect myself from. Instead of comparing yourself to others, look in the mirror and think about how great you do look. Pick out your working limbs, your hair, your smile. Pick out your strength, your love of the beach, your loyalty and your kindness.

Five years of my life were a daily battle of counting calories and throwing them up. At the start of this year, after months and months of not being able to swallow properly, I was told I had damaged my esophagus from the years I spent throwing up.

And honestly, I felt like I couldn't leave behind this huge part of my life until I shared my story. Because there are so many people out there who live with eating disorders. Some without even realising it's a problem, and many others not allowing themselves to get help.

I'm moving into the 2020s with three years of recovery behind me, and now a very healthy relationship with food. There are days where I struggle, there are times where all I want is to be the size I was at 18. One of the most ironic things is that there were times whilst I was bulimic that I was heavier than I am now, but developing my relationship with food is what made that happen. The lack of binging and relying on vomiting is what made that happen. So despite being neither the slimmest or the heaviest I’ve ever been, these last three years have been the happiest.

I understand now, there is nothing worth putting your body through that hell for. Eat better food, go to the gym, create goals for your fitness and your strength. You only have one body, telling it it isn't good enough will never get you to the physical or mental place you want to be.

So, it's a new year, a new decade and we all only have one life. If you're struggling, please take the steps necessary to overcome your ED. If you needed a sign, if you needed proof that it can happen to literally anyone, take this as it. Talk to your friends, talk to a doctor, talk to whoever you need to talk to in order to start your recovery.

Love, Alice x

Numbers you can call for ED support (also can be used if you think you know someone with an ED):

Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677
Youth Helpline: 0808 801 0711

Mind: 03000 11 12 13

NEDA: (800) 931-2237

Butterfly National Helpline: 1800 33 4673


2 January 2020

2019: The Year of Not Staying Put

2019 was a blur like no other. 

For the sake of total transparency, I feel like 12 months have passed and I have no sense of accomplishment from the last 365 days.

It's a weird feeling, because I'm not sure what I was 'meant' to achieve when I set out at midnight on Jan 1st 2019, ready to take on the new year. 

Maybe part of my problem is this need to feel fulfilled by the year, I'm not sure when that started, because surely I haven't always felt like this? I bypassed each school year in the same uninformed way, the only change being my increasing infatuation with boys and my decreasing interest in actual school work. 

Life wasn't measured by some unmentioned need to have an emotional or physical breakthrough. But here I am at 24, measuring the success of 2019 on just that.

The reality is, not every year is going to be self-defining. So the mindset of feeling deflated by a lack of 'WOW' is definitely something I want to change in 2020. Because really, I did have successes in 2019, they were just different, they presented themselves in different ways. 

AKA, I need to get a grip. 


What did happen in 2019? 

Well, I started the year in Dorset. The same place I had started every New Year since moving there in 2006. I was dressed as a fortune teller and woke up with a pounding headache and glitter in places I didn't even know it could get. 

I had one mission in 2019. I was going to stay put. I had moved home and decided all I wanted to do was get rid of my university overdraft. I was going to get a 9-5 job and basically not move until I had saved enough money to fund more travels. 

What I didn't take into account is how much I actually struggle living at home. Not the 'living at home' bit, I think that's often a necessity for people in their twenties, and there's no judgement from me there.

But after six years of living independently and being a stone's throw from the centre of London, Milan and Syndey, I found myself being extremely unmotivated and unhappy in Dorset. I'd spent years building up my portfolio and striving to work in a sector I loved, but with such little industry in the area, I was working as an administrative assistant, desperate to take any job I could if it meant a source of income. 

Let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that job, and frankly, if I was in a different place in my life the flexibility of the role and being employed by the local council would have been a Godsend. 

But I basically spent the first four months of the year running away to London. I loved spending time with my family, but with my only chance to get away being the weekends, I saw them less and less.

So when I was offered my old job in France, I jumped at it. The role was an assistant manager on a campsite, earning the same amount of money as the admin position, but I was on my feet all day, I was living in France, the sun was shining and I was in my element. 

I had friends around me, I no longer felt lonely, and despite some serious lows, I realised I was an idiot for thinking I needed to stay in one place to feel fulfilled.

Since moving to Italy aged 18, I've constantly been told how brave I am for taking leaps and moving abroad, or how lucky I am. And whilst there is an element of privilege, the reality is I use any money I make to buy flights, I spend my life paycheque to paycheque, I don't have a drivers license because I'd rather put the £1000 it costs towards traveling, and the warm feeling most people get from stability and routine, does nothing for me. 

I finished my 5 months in France, and spent a week at home before heading to America for nearly 3 months. I lived with family I'd only met 3 times before, and I spent my days freelancing, blogging, writing and exploring my new temporary home. 

When I left France, I felt out-of-body with who I was and what I was doing. The confidence I'd spent so long working on, years to achieve, was gone in a matter of weeks. 

Going to America, meeting new people and basically gaining a second family, grounded who I was once more. It was an invaluable part of this year, for the cultural experience but also because I landed in England surer than ever of who I was. 

Which happens to be this absolute nutter who books one-way-flights with £100 to her name.

I spent 10 days in England between France and America, and 10 days in England between America and Australia, and I can honestly say those 20 days were absolute highlights of the year.

I spent quality time with my family, my dog and my friends. I finally saw Les Mis in the West End and I watched a friend I'd grown up with star in Mama Mia in the West End too. I was reunited over Christmas dinner with the people I graduated with, and I brunched with my other favourite university people. 

It's always bitter-sweet coming home, because you're reminded of how lucky you are. I have a roof over my head, incredibly supportive parents and friends and leaving my cat and dog behind is, frankly, heartbreaking. 

But the new adventure was upon me, and in the middle of December, I flew 30 hours to Sydney.

This didn't actually start out the way I'd pictured, as I had the same groundbreaking idea many of us in our twenties have before catching a flight. 

"Let's go out".

Honestly? The three worst words to say before a 30-hour flight. It resulted in me losing my phone, my bank card and my voice. Worth it? Absolutely not. But you live and you learn, and I somehow landed in Sydney in one piece.

Just in time to celebrate Christmas on the beach with my best friend, meet up with my old work colleagues, and spend New Year under Sydney's Harbour Bridge, seeing in the new decade singing Auld Lang Syne at the top of my lungs, swigging vodka coke and kissing any man or woman who wished me a Happy New Year.

My one mission of 2019 was to stay put, and I ended up doing the opposite. Instead of staying in one place, I've spent my year across four countries. I've been one of the lowest I've ever been, but I'm currently one of the happiest. 

As a side note (and prewarning) I LOVE the start of the new year, so this likely won't be the last post on the topic.

Thank you to everyone who graced my 2019. It was a wild ride, but I'm a stronger person because of it and, most likely, because of you.

Love, Alice x

(Photo collage of 2019 below)


24 November 2019

The Groundbreaking Value of Female Friendships

NB: Despite the title saying 'female' this blog post is for anyone who identifies as a woman. It is written to be inclusive of any minority and it is for all of us. Thank you for your strength and unity.

The other night, I said potentially the most meaningful words I've ever said to anyone - honestly, like a film - to my best friend. We were talking about our upcoming Christmas together and I just suddenly felt overwhelmed by how lucky I was to have her in my life.

I spent a lot of time as a teenager, trying to find my Ace Gang. (Applause and wine to all of you who will understand this reference).

I morphed myself to fit into different groups, I social climbed, equating popularity to friendships, and so when I was stood up by a group of 'girlfriends' on prom night, I decided I was done.

I'd grown up being consciously aware and constantly reminded of the 'bromance'. The bro-code, bros before hoes, whatever you want to call it male to male friendship was romanticised.

Meanwhile, female friendships were painted to be bitchy and territorial. And partially due to my own experience, I grew up thinking fights, sly comments and arguing over guys were part and parcel of being friends with women.

But in reality, female friendships are a world away from what they've been painted to be for generations.

The 'friendships' I had forged with the group of girls in my early teens were awful because I had very little in common with them. They weren't my people and I wasn't one of theirs, so the Ace Gang I longed for were never going to accept me because frankly, I was a fake.

However, once I faced the reality that life isn't like chick flicks, I instead put more time and effort into the individual girls who had continuously, effortlessly enriched my life without me even realising it. I was finally realising that friendships didn't need to be competitive or bitchy. That when you find your people or person, you want to encourage and help each other, not drag them down.

And maybe it was pure luck, or maybe it was due to this new understanding, but either way, in pretty much my first week of university, I found my Ace Gang. A group of girls who came together with no obligations, no hierarchy to climb and nobody to impress. Life with them was a blur of wine, cheese and waiting up for dates to end. And I once again had an epiphany of how fucking brilliant female friendships can - and should - be.

This enrichment is one of the most important lessons I've learnt. Being around strong women makes you a strong woman. They have taught me so much, and I've become incredibly dependent on the girls I call my closest friends.

Th gender-bias of society which has ironically shone a spotlight for years on 'bromances', actually means women can connect emotionally to each other on a much larger, much deeper scale. From sexual harassment to office-based sexism, all of us have a story and all of us can relate. It creates a unity like no other, and one which I am both deeply saddened by in its necessity, but equally feel strengthened by the 'sisterhood'.

It may seem warped to call female friendships a 'trend', but there's definitely been a push of support for one another, carried largely by body positivity and the #metoo movement. Dolly Alderton's 'Everything I Know About Love' cited the truest love of all, friendship, in a way which seems to have encapsulated the spotlight on our support system.

On the surface, female friendship is laughter, joy and uniting in period pain and aunts who ask you when you're having children. At its core, it is a navigation through the uncertainty and dangers of being a woman.

It was Queen Carrie Bradshaw, who said: "Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with."

Frankly, I've been aware since I met her that my soulmate is the 5'6 blonde I was introduced to on my first day in Australia, and I could not be more delighted with the result.

And so I wish you all far more than tall, dark strangers, I wish you more than whirlwind, write-home romances, and I even wish you more than incredible sex lives.

I wish you the unfaltering, everlasting love found in the rawest female friendships. Because they are the ones who will stay with you for the rest of your life.


16 November 2019

Does Travel Stop You Finding 'The One'?

The title of this blog post was actually a question posed to me by one of my best friends.

She had just booked a one-way flight to Australia, and asked me, who was working and living in France at the time, 'do you think you're single because you move around so much?'.

We're both very similar. In our early(ish) twenties. Never had a long-term 'adult' relationship. Both fucking terrified of that very fact.

The threat of losing a relationship due to travel is something I learnt very early on and something I always have to keep in mind.

My relationship with the first (and only, lol) guy I've brought home to my parents, broke off because I chose to go to Italy.

At the start of this year, I decided to talk myself out of pursuing the person I liked, because of my plans to go to France and New Zealand.

And then, lo and behold, miss I-won't-date-an-American, ended up, shock, dating an American. We also had to face reality, in fear of getting too attached for our own good, with a deadline of me boarding a plane in 3 weeks.

The good news is, I learnt that not all American boys will stand you up in bars.

The bad news is, I still have to leave both sorts behind.

What I've come to realise, is that whilst I'm living this lifestyle, it's my reality.

Yet, despite all of these instances, when my friend asked me whether travel stops you finding 'the one' three months ago, I answered no.

And if you ask me again,  I'll still say no.

Because here's what I've decided/learnt/heard Emma Watson say on an Ellen segment and held dear to my heart for the last 3 years.

If you're doing what you want to do, the person who is right for you will fall into that path.

Which makes complete and utter sense.

1) I know plenty of single women and men out there who work in big cities and have 'normal' lives. Stability doesn't equate to finding someone. They don't go hand in hand.

2) What would be the point in putting my own life on hold in the hopes you find someone, only to find somebody that lives a different way to you?

3) You're going to be attracted to the same qualities that you value in yourself. A lawyer who's brought a house and has a dog? He's not going to be for me. The Australian who's working in a coffee shop in Europe and lives with housemates to save money for travel? Absolutely.

It might not be who I pictured ending up with at 15, but isn't that the case for most people?

I may feel like I've missed out on opportunities to pursue things with certain people, but if I'm completely honest, the fact that neither of us have pursued it, signifies to me that they aren't 'the one' right now.

From wandering the canals in Milan, to climbing cliffs over Bondi beach, to driving along to Stevie Wonder on a highway in Georgia, I've had some pretty write-home experiences.

But more importantly, I've learnt so much about myself through who I've dated, and I've met some great people (and, tbh, assholes). But you take the bad with the good, and I have no regrets with my decisions to date whilst travelling because really, you never know who you might meet.

I met one of my favourite people in the world in a hostel in Cairns. A 6ft-something, 25-year-old Lothario, whose good looks and charisma had turned the heads of a lot of my friends.

Having some highly-sought-after best guy friends at home, I stayed strong to this. Instead, I became one of his best friends, and thought someone had stolen his phone when, on his first week in Bali, he messaged me saying he'd met a girl and had never felt anything so strongly before.

After 8 days travelling together, they booked flights to meet up again, and she flew back home to Europe.

That was in May, they're still together.

When you're travelling (speaking for myself) you wear the same clothes countless times, you don't really wear makeup, you LIVE in shorts and flipflops/trainers, and you are the most exposed version of yourself.

And maybe it's because of this raw, bare-all you, that there are countless couples I've met who hooked up in a hostel one night and have now been together for months, even years.

So yes, it is something that I think about when meeting someone new. But I will never change my lifestyle just to meet 'the one', because the chances are, my 'one' is also far away from his home country, living out of a backpack too.

And if he's not, then we'll just have to make that work.

Love, Alice x

10 November 2019

American Life: Drive-thru ATMs, Amtrak and American Boys

It’s been 7 weeks since I landed in Charleston, and let’s face it, I haven’t really written all that much about it.

The truth is, I want to write wild stories about my time in America. The ups the downs, the oh-my-GODs. But in reality, life here is simply, good.

After a summer spent either drunk or hungover, my body needed and deserved a well-earned break. I mean, I’m not saying I turn down a Wednesday wine, but that Wednesday wine doesn’t result in a 4am bedtime currently.

I live about 25 minutes outside of downtown Charleston, in the most beautiful house with a jetty overlooking water. Our nearest neighbours are a solid 5-minute walk down the road, and you can see the milky way at night, because there’s such little light pollution where we are. 

Frankly, it’s idyllic.

With the exception of my cousin’s wife and a very close friend who I met in Italy, I had never really ‘got on’ with American humour, or Americans in general. The few who I had met, seemed rude and abrupt. I know, I know, it’s awful to tarnish everyone with the same brush. But it was just my initial perception of Americans.

The good news is, I’ve now done a complete reversal, and have no doubt I’ll be forgetting that in England, people aren’t always so cheery, the supermarket assistant doesn’t actually want to help you, and coffee refills are absolutely not free.

I have realised that a lot of cliches about life in America are true. Portions are huge, and you do need a car to get basically anywhere, because frankly, nobody deserves to get the Amtrak, which is the train they use to cross states.

I found myself half crying, half laughing, when I went to catch the train back to Charleston from Savannah, and was told I couldn’t go onto the platform. The train would pull up, the passengers would only then be allowed onto the platform, at which point the guard would get off the train, and call out your name. Passengers are then directed to their coach, where another guard ticks off your name and tells you your seat. Seriously.

It’s easier to get to Paris on the Eurostar from London, than go from Georgia to South Carolina.

Other highlights of America include Chipotle, peanut butter M&Ms, and drive-thru ATMs, which continue to baffle me every single time the family/friend driving pulls up to one.

I mean, I understand it. It actually makes sense, you're much safer retrieving your cash from a car than you are on the street.

But it's just so foreign to me.

Being in America for Halloween was another experience, with enormous bags of chocolate costing $15-20, and houses being dressed up better than the owners themselves. I’m fairly convinced it’s only a matter of time before spooky season becomes a public holiday in the US.


The most exciting aspect for me, coming to America, was to fulfill my childhood dream of living an all-American life, complete with an all-American boy.

I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage years dreaming of going to an American high school and dating an American footballer because, duh, they always get the girl in the films.

So, naturally, it was only a matter of time before I downloaded a dating app to try and find a man who had a dashing smile and an accent like Travis, from Hannah Montana. My ultimate Disney crush growing up.

My first impression of dating in America, came around when a guy I’d been talking to for a week asked if I wanted to go for drinks.

It was a Sunday afternoon, the prime time on anybody’s dating schedule, let’s be honest. And, with nothing else to do, I gladly accepted the offer.

We arranged a time, but held off on a place, because there was a football match on. So, I went into downtown a couple of hours earlier, so I could explore myself, and waited for him to let me know when he had arrived.

And I waited.

And waited.

 And… waited.

Half an hour after we were supposed to be meeting, I receive a text saying “I’m so sorry, I got really drunk last night.”

And so naturally, I bought myself a big ice cream (because everything here is big), and deleted his number.

Not quite the movie scene I pictured of dating an American man, and the first time I’ve ever been stood up.

It turns out, despite the accents, life isn't actually a film 24/7 in America - who'd have thought? My American dream came crashing straight back down, as with many things in my life.

But after avoiding Trump supporters, anyone who owns a gun and Taco Bell at all costs, I'm feeling very much at home here.

Although, I will never understand the whole 'biscuits and gravy' thing.

Love, Alice x

7 November 2019

I Went to Universal Orlando Alone, and the World Didn't Implode

There's a huge stigma in Western society with doing things by yourself.

From going to the cinema - arguably, the least social activity you could possibly do - to eating out alone, there always seems to be at least one couple side-eyeing you.

Unsurprisingly, given that I moved to Italy alone when I was 18, I have absolutely never agreed with this ridiculous taboo.

Whilst having another person to share it with maybe more enjoyable, you absolutely don't need a companion to do what you want to do.

Which is the mindset I took when my family told me they were going to Legoland in Florida, and I realised Legoland was less than an hour from Universal Orlando.

Aka, Harry Potter World.

Aka, my absolute nerdy dream.

I won't pretend I wasn't nervous. I absolutely did feel like the odd one out when telling ride operators that it was just me.

But, the benefit of the single ride lines completely outweighed any embarrassment I possessed.

To start with, the day I was scheduled to go to Universal, was over one 24 hour window.

And so naturally, I woke up that morning to a tropical storm coming in from the Gulf, featuring torrential rain and palm trees doubled over.

But with one opportunity, a small hurricane was absolutely not going to dampen my spirits.

Obviously, I wondered what the hell I was thinking, as we made our way through wind and rain to drop me off.

But, like a Disney miracle, within 5 minutes of us driving under the Universal sign, the rain cleared, and the sun made its first, unscheduled appearance.

My first stop was obviously the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which absolutely blew my mind. Thanks to the rain, not many people had braved the weather and I walked straight onto my first two rides.

I wondered through the streets of Hogsmede, stopping in Ollivander's to watch a little boy in a full cloak have his wand chosen.

I went into Honeydukes, where the smell of sweets and chocolate hits you as soon as the door opens. From chocolate frogs to peppermint toads, there was something to tickle everyone's fancy.

Next, was The Three Broomsticks, where I stopped to grab a butterbeer, before heading out into the street to get on the Hogwarts Express, which takes you from Islands of Adventure (Hogsmede) to Universal Studios (Diagon Alley).

And oh boy, was Diagon Alley a TREAT.

I could've spent all day just wondering around the street, every detail was so accurate, it was incredible.

But alas, there were rides to be ridden.

The one thing I would say about Universal Studios, is that most of the rides are 3D/4D effects. So you'll be on a kind-of-rollercoaster, wearing glasses and watching whatever is in front of you.

Personally, I found they weren't for me, I love the thrill of a rollercoaster, but there's only one thrilling outdoor rollercoaster in each park of IOA and Universal. After five or six consecutive 4D experiences, I had to take a break because I was starting to feel motion sick.

So, I took a break to walk back to Islands of Adventure and finish my day there.

All in all, I'd say it is daunting going to a theme park by yourself - especially one which is generally meant to be visited with friends and/or family.

But nobody will give you a strange look, nobody, frankly, cares at all about what you're doing because they're all having such good times themselves.

I got a couple of surprised 'Oh, one?!'s when I told ride operators that it was just me riding, but soon enough you honestly stop caring yourself.

I am so glad I decided to take the opportunity. Normalising being by yourself is something everyone needs to be working towards. We're our own best friend, our own enemies, we're all we have when it all comes down to it.

So go and see that film, take that flight, visit the park, and don't worry about being the only person. The chances are, you'll find you'll like your own company just fine.

Love, Alice x


25 October 2019

Living in 5 Countries in 5 Years

If you don't follow me on Instagram, you may have no idea that I am currently living and working in the good ol' U S of A!

It's actually my first time here, which I feel gets some pretty surprised responses. I know a lot of friends have grown up going on holiday to Florida, or taken weekend trips to New York - given that the big apple is only a 6-hour flight from London.

Despite my delayed visit to the US, it's not through a lack of trying. A couple of years ago, I had a place at George Washington University in DC, but broke my foot just after confirming my place, and couldn't work to save up the money needed for my time out here.

You might've seen my post about it. At the time I was absolutely distraught. Studying in America had been a dream since I was around 10, before I realised how hard and expensive it was, so having to pull the plug due to breaking my foot (en route to a date, did I mention?!!) was a bloody tough choice.

HOWEVER, it all worked out. I instead landed a summer job in France, which followed me for 3 more summers, and I lived and graduated with some of my favourite people in the world.

On top of that, I landed in America on September 26th, ready to pursue a new kind of American adventure. One without studying, and where instead of the bustle of DC, I'm actually living in the most beautiful house just outside of Charleston, two doors up to where they filmed The Notebook.

Sadly, Ryan Gosling has not been spotted rowing dreamily along the water our house is on. If he was, you can bet I would've thrown myself in and half-died trying to make it across to him.

But in-between my Ryan Gosling fantasies, I realised the other day, that America is now the fifth country I've lived in since 2014.

Including the UK.

In the last year alone, I've lived in 4 different countries. Having been in Australia this time last year, then back to the UK, then out to France to work, and now being here.

And in 2014, a time when, frankly, this blog was in its prime, being dedicated to stories of hunting down boyfriends and eating my weight in gelato, I was living in Italy.

It's pretty rare for me to pat myself on the back and commend myself for doing life. Because, yknow, it's just bumbling along the same way others do in a 9-5. But I'm actually pretty impressed with myself.

Every time I've jumped on a plane to move to a new country, whether with a backpack or a suitcase, I've been alone, most of the time without having any friends at my destination.

I always brush off the sentiment of being brave, I don't actually think it is brave. I just think, if you want something that badly, you'll find a way to do it. I've landed in countries with £160 to my name. I've lived off pasta and rice for a month to avoid going home.

You make things work, you shuffle things around, and to be honest, you make a couple of decisions you'll probably regret.

But I'd never regret anything as much as not actually taking the risk in the first place.

So. A quick recap of my international antics is definitely in order! Please prepare yourself for some questionable photos.

Let's smash out the UK first. The UK is home. It's where I'm a registered citizen, it's my passport, and thanks to its fortunate position as a state, it is also the reason I can live and work in so many countries.

You'll hear me moan about being at home. But truthfully, I love parts of the UK. I love London, I love the countryside, and I bloody love Yorkshire puddings. It's just not where I see myself in my twenties.

When I was 18, I had my eyes on Italy, and where better to move, than the home of parma ham and parmesan cheese... Parma! I was an au pair, and lived in my own apartment in the centre of the city, something which, in hindsight, I was not at all prepared for.

When you go to university at 18, you're surrounded by your peers and you're all figuring it out as you go along. When I went to Italy, I was completely alone in a country where I had no support system initially and had no one to help me figure things out with.

Luckily, it wasn't all doom and gloom. I ended up with a solid group of friends, and learnt a LOT in that time. I also spent most weekends in nearby Milan, Verona and Bologna and went down to Tuscany, which to this day is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.

My first trip abroad, was to France, when I was 8 years old. We drove to Portsmouth and spent the night in a hotel, before waking up in the early early morning to catch the ferry across the channel. France holds some of my favourite childhood memories, and to this day is my favourite country. So it was no surprise when at 20, I applied for a job there.

I spent two university summer holidays, and one subsequent, working in the Vendée region of France - in total I've spent 10 months there. Summers spent biking around campsites, eating a LOT of cheese and croissants, and getting in at 4am on the regular.

Despite the fact I have this desire to travel, I'd never actually left Europe until I was 22. So I did that by going as far away as physically possible. I spent 24 hours across two flights to Sydney, Australia.

My year in Australia was undoubtedly, the best year of my life. I met my soul mate - who happens to be in blonde, female, 5'6, Harry Potter-loving, best-friend-form rather than the 6ft dark handsome stranger I thought it would be -, I worked in the best job I will probably ever have, and I also became incredibly secure in myself.

Australia was the place I realised I could be liked for who I am, with no obligations from others. Friendships were raw and honest and nobody 'has' to be your friend when you live in hostels. It was also the place I spent the most time in and out of doctor surgeries, thanks to two bouts of tonsillitis, one fractured cheekbone and a broken ankle. But my GOD, was it worth it.

And now I'm here. I've been here for one month, and I'm here until December. I still haven't fully made up my mind on America yet.

There's a lot I'm getting used to, and even more that I'm confused about, (grits... really???????), but I DO love how much they throw themselves into spooky season. And that Pumpkin Spice is literally everywhere.

I'm living in Charleston, South Carolina, which happens to be one of the most beautiful cities in the country - both from what I've heard, and seen.

I'm going to do a proper American-life-update soon, if you can try and hold on for that. Currently, the only photo to reflect my time here happens to be the recent weekend I spent in Orlando.

So. Five countries in five years. It hasn't all been glamorous, and I've definitely spent more time feeling homesick than people probably assume.

I think it's so easy to see people who travel and believe that they never crave home, but it's just simply not true. I've cried down the phone to my mum in every one of these countries about something or other, always at that time wishing she wasn't a flight away.

However, every one of these experiences have been absolutely priceless. I had absolutely no idea my life would take this turn, but I am SO glad it has.

Love, Alice x


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