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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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10 December 2018

The Reality Of Travelling Solo For Women In The Wake Of Grace Millane's Murder


If you happen to have not been keeping track of the news, Grace Millane was a solo backpacker who was tragically murdered whilst in New Zealand. Grace's death is not being used by myself as a form of fear-mongering, and I want to make that abundantly clear now, and throughout this post.

But it has opened up a discussion. Because on almost every single news article I have seen across social media, there are a tidal wave of comments, almost all of which relay the same advice.

"I wish young women would stop travelling alone."

"Why haven't young girls learnt by now, they should not be travelling solo."

"Why did her family let her go? A young, attractive woman on her own, it's asking for trouble."


Grace Millane's death is horrific. There are no words to cover the senseless, cruel act of murder.

But backpacking solo did not kill Grace Millane.

As a woman, I have spent the last eleven months travelling around Australia alone, and I returned home safe and sound last week. The likelihood is, I made many of the choices Grace Millane may have made during her travels. I got drunk, I used dating apps, I walked home alone at night, I went out with friends.

The difference is simply that I didn't meet someone along the way who wanted to hurt me. And that lack of interaction is the only difference between myself and Grace Millane.

Which begs the question, why are people questioning her actions? Why are they not condemning the sick, twisted man who decided he wanted to hurt her?

Grace Millane's death shouldn't stop women from backpacking solo, because the awful, brutally honest truth, is that the case of Grace Millane happens every single day, across the world, except the victim is not a backpacker.

The truth is, as a backpacker, you are more astute. As a female backpacker, you are more aware of the risks, of who you meet, of the steps you take. You take precautions you may not think of taking back home, but because you're abroad and you're on your own, you make sure you're as safe as you possibly can be.

Why should young women be told to stop travelling, why should we give up our freedom to experience new countries, new places, new cultures? Why are men not being told to leave women alone? To stop attacking them as they walk home at night. To say goodbye and mean it, after a date.

Travelling solo is one of the most invigorating, eye-opening experiences you will have in your life, whatever your gender, and whatever the Facebook comments say, there is absolutely no reason why you should be afraid to go.

You will grow in confidence, you will meet new people, you will have stories that make you laugh so hard you can burst and moments which bring tears to your eyes, and if you are passionate about travelling, there is no reason why you should miss out on this experience.

The fear of travelling alone is legitimate, and it is not to be underestimated. There was a night recently when I walked home alone in Cairns, a large rural north Queensland town. It was 1am, there were no taxis and I had thirty minutes to walk. And with every step, I could feel my heartbeat hammering against my own chest. It would be dangerous for anyone, but my identity as a woman made it more dangerous for me.

I didn't encounter anybody on that walk home, and the whole time I was walking, I recounted every defence mechanism I'd learnt growing up, because of my vagina. Keys in fingers. Hair down. Walk fast. Cross the road away from people. Walk in lit areas.

But that fear of travelling alone, it should not stop you from actually doing it. It should never stop you from stepping foot on a plane and having the time of your life. And you should never ever feel, that because you're a woman, you don't deserve to experience travelling alone.

Of course, you need to keep your wits about you. You need to prioritise your safety and be more aware than ever of the choices you're making.

But the tragic reality is, statistically, you are more likely to be harmed by somebody you know, then somebody you don't. Which ironically would indicate that the further away from home you are, the safer you will be.

So why, as a result of this case, are we telling women to not travel solo, when it happens every day on our own shores.

Why, in the wake of Grace Millane's death are we not telling men to stop committing acts of violence against women?
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4 November 2018

The Cairns Crisis


The thing about me, is that I am probably (definitely) one of the most impulsive people you will ever meet.

For me, nothing is too much of a risk not to do. Quit your job? Fine. Live on £5 for 2 weeks? Absolutely. Planning has never been my strong point, I'll put my mind to something, and I do it. Often without much thought and always with the view "everything will work out in the end."

It's a trait which in many ways, has helped me get to where I am. I wanted to start a blog, so I did it. I wanted to make Youtube videos, so I created them. I wanted to come over to Australia, and I thought, why not?

But it's also a trait which has left me in a lot of, well, somewhat (very) sticky situations.

Because I wanted to leave my job in Sydney, it meant I was left with a month in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and almost no income. Because I went freelance without really researching it the way I should (and now have), it meant I was left with weeks without any money.

And it meant that in August, when I booked a flight to Cairns, I thought I would land with enough money to travel down the East Coast, and in reality, that is not currently possible.

It's due to a mixture of reasons. Two of the guys I was originally supposed to be travelling with seemed a bit odd, so myself and my new-found-friend Gina had to make a decision on whether we actually wanted to share a car with them for 6 weeks.

And then, there's the issue of a company I was writing for not paying me the money I'm owed within the invoice timeframe. Which meant when I arrived in Cairns, I had half of the money I was expecting to have by the second week, in order to travel.

So, whilst I am spending part of my time floating around the pool reading books, I'm also spending part of my time handing out CVs to every shop and every restaurant I can find.

The good news, is that I am in Australia, in one of my new favourite places, sat right on the barrier reef, and have made some incredible new friends. I'm working for accommodation so I don't pay anything to live here, and it is currently 30 degrees.

Admittedly, I do spend ALL of my time sweating.

The not-so-good news, is that I have put myself in a very stupid situation and probably (definitely) need to reevaluate my life a little bit.

This is absolutely not a woe is me story. This is just sharing the realities of my travel life at the moment. For anyone who has travelled for a prolonged period of time, I'm sure you'll know people who this has happened to, or you'll be in the situation yourself.

So whilst things aren't quite rosy, I do know exactly what my plan is, and I am also sharing a room with one person who has as little to their name as me, and another who owes her parents nearly £10,000 after borrowing the money from them.

To fill you in a little more on life in Cairns, you should all know that I am currently sporting a black eye. An added feature which is making finding a job that little bit harder.

This occurred when on a night out with a friend I'd met in my Sydney hostel - who turned up outside reception at my current hostel, without any clue I was working here.

To cut a long story short, I rolled my ankle, didn't put my arms out to protect myself, and smacked my face on the pavement.

Classic me.

Except despite brushing off the pain and pretending I was "absolutely fine" I woke up feeling pretty awful... and not because of the alcohol.

After an unexpectedly long doctors visit, I was told I had a concussion and a fractured cheekbone. So whilst my eye is black, the left side of my face is a beautiful greenish colour at the moment. Which, admittedly, saved money for halloween.

Part of the reason I haven't written about the lows of living in Australia, is that to be honest, I feel entirely selfish. It's so hard to complain about life out here, when I know I have friends working around the clock in London.

But the truth is, friends, travelling, and being away from home, is hard. It might not be hard in the way that you have a high-flying career job or a credit card bill of £25,000, but it really can be hard.

You're completely alone, with only yourself to depend on. If you get yourself in any financial difficulty, it's embarrassing to make that phone call to your parents - I actually know two people who slept in their car as they didn't want to accept any help.

Each day is different, which is so so exciting, but it's also a matter of where you'll go next. Will your shitty, $2000 car even start, and if it doesn't - then what? And it's a case of realising that no matter how close Facetiming your family makes you feel, you're actually on the other side of the world.

I absolutely love travelling. I wouldn't swap this life, no matter the highs and lows, for the world. I love meeting new people and visiting new places, but my new mantra on this blog is to not pretend it's always so easy.

For some reason, I got into my head that people only wanted to hear about the beauty of travelling. And I'm sure some do. But there's also the nitty-gritty. The cockroaches and the spiders and the uncertainty and financial issues and the boys you promise not to get attached to but then, obvs, make you cry.

I'm having a life evaluation and am coming up with the best plan for me, to make me financially stable and more capable and excited to do everything thrown at me.

But I will keep writing.

I will fill you in on what has happened and what's to come and make sure I don't just hide behind smiling Instagram posts.

Thanks for following, as always.

Love, Alice x
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7 October 2018

Life Update: What the bloody hell is going on?



It's been a hot minute.

I feel like the only consistency in my blog at the moment, is how inconsistent it is.

And how often I promise that will change... and, well, then it doesn't.

I'm sad to say Alice's Antics has taken a bit of a back seat over the last few months. I've been writing for money, which means writing for leisure has become a bit of a thing of the past. I imagine this is how it feels to be an English Literature student who loves reading but only has time to ready set books.

Anyway, here I am. And I am ready to update you all on my life thus far.

It's been a WHIRLWIND, I can tell you that for free.

Grab a cuppa (or grab wine,  nobody is here to judge you), and settle in for this update on Alice's Antics.

So, at the end of August, as has been mentioned. I left my consistent writing job, and plunged into the world of freelancing.

I'll be honest, freelancing has, thus far, not been the light and carefree career path I thought it would.

Instead, it's writing around the clock. It's making ends meet and chasing up invoices and realising you have 25 days until your next payment schedule and $6 in the bank. And then finding work to make up for this.

It's spending money in coffee shops for the free wifi but spending more than you're making in the time you're there - admittedly, usually my fault for not being able to control the caffeine fiend within.

I'm actually going to write a whole blog post about this, because I have learnt a LOT over the last month - almost as much as the whole time I've spent in Australia -

Then, just over two weeks ago, my parents came out to visit me - and obviously, make the most of a reason to come to Australia because why would you not?

Over the last couple of weeks, we (somehow) spent around 13 hours in the car driving from Melbourne to Sydney, we caught up with family friends from 15 years ago, we've seen little penguins stumble over rocks at sunset to reach their burrows, we've watched a whale leap out of the Pacific ocean, and we've seen koalas and kangaroos chilling in their natural habitat.

I mean, we also had to run away from the grottiest Air Bnb in the world after turning up in Melbourne and finding filthy everything, rotting windows and mould growing up the shower curtain.

But it was a small price to pay for two of my favourite weeks in Australia.

That all came to an end yesterday morning, when my parents did the big drive back up to Sydney, and I caught a flight out to Cairns in Queensland.

And here, the new adventure awaits.

Over the next couple of months, I'll be driving with two guys and another girl, down the East Coast of Australia, back towards Melbourne.

Trust me when I say, there is literally no plan. We have a 4x4, I met these people on Facebook, and I will be camping for the first time in my whole life.

Currently, I am staying in the world's most gap-yarh hostel just outside of the centre of Cairns - but it comes complete with the ability to work in the sun whilst writing, and it's currently 28 degrees, so I'm absolutely not complaining.

The last few months of my life have been an utter whirlwind. I have changed my mind about my life so much, it was only on Friday that I officially knew I would be flying to Cairns (thanks to some invoices being paid).

In a lot of ways, I'm starting to miss the stability of "real life", of having a support system around you and knowing you have family and friends minutes away.

Again, there will be a whole blog post on this, but the last couple of months have also made me realise how much everyone else is on their own path and doing their own thing on their own clock and how actually, that is completely fine.

Whilst in England, almost all of my friends have moved out of home and are in London 9-5s, out here, the majority of the people I know live at home.

It's been a breath of fresh air realising there are people my age travelling the world, but also people my age buying shares in businesses.

Neither is wrong or right. We're in our twenties, now is the time to invest, now is the time to travel, now is the time to have $6 in the bank (cough cough), because we are able to bounce back.

It's refreshing, and it's taken me nearly 10 months of being away from home to realise that it's completely okay for me to be away from home.

I have blog posts planned about homesickness, about the lessons I've learnt freelancing so far and about my experiences of dating in Sydney (I don't tend to divulge my love life, but I'm seriously considering writing a book after these experiences).

Thank you for bearing with me and thank you for reading.

As per, I love you ALL.

Love, Alice x
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16 September 2018

Happy 5th Birthday, Alice's Antics


In 2013, my eighteen-year-old-self sat, heart pounding, laptop open, about to click the "create a blog" button on Blogger, the Google-hosted blog website.

It was the year Instagram really took off internationally, it was the September before Zoella reached her first million subscribers, and it was the beginning of the "influencer" age.

Before 2013, the only people really making money from their social media presence were the Kardashians... and Viners.

I first started Alice's Antics because I'd been obsessively reading the blog of another girl, Hannah, who was writing about the highs and lows of life as a Law student in Essex.

Hannah's blog - which is heartbreakingly now shut down - made me laugh out loud as she recounted awkward sex stories and a time when she ordered two Ben and Jerrys' because she found out Dominos had a minimum spend for delivery and she didn't want to walk anywhere to buy it.

My kinda gal.

My first blog post still exists,  and although it is awkward and bumble-y, it remains true to the heart of Alice's Antics and what I always wanted this place to be, a kind of best friend for people who read it.

An insight into my life which, on occasion, translates to life lessons and laugh-out-louds for my readers.

It's something I've continued (I hope) throughout the whole blogging process and have big plans to continue to do for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, the first year of Alice's Antics was a bit of a whirlwind.

I was emailed by Niomi Smart as she was in the founding stages of her own blog, and I was featured on Louise Pentland's (aka Sprinkle of Glitter) list of blogs to read in 2014.

I enjoyed a flurry of new followers, some PR attention and the realisation that people actually enjoyed this space, it wasn't just me, writing for nobody.

It became my pride and joy, and was a literal fuck you to all of the people who had made fun of me creating a blog in its early stages.

And, well, that's transcended across the last five years. Alice's Antics has taught me more about myself and what I love, than anything else.

It's been with me through my gap year, spent gallivanting around Italy. It's seen me through three years of university, I wrote a blog post on losing my dog, I opened up about the grief of losing someone when you're living abroad, and I felt sick when I wrote about quitting my London PR job to move abroad.

I've had my nineteenth, twentieth, twenty-first, twenty-second and twenty-third birthdays whilst writing Alice's Antics.

And you can bet there's a blog post for most of those too.

All in all, it has been the best decision of my life. If it weren't for Alice's Antics, I wouldn't be where I am now. I wouldn't be able to do what I now do and I wouldn't have realised just how much I love writing.

There have been three hundred and twenty five posts over the last five years.

There are 5,032 followers of this little internet space.

In its short life, it has been visited 923,991 times by people across the world.

And the five countries the majority of this audience comes from are the UK, USA, Russia, Australia and Germany.

When I first started Alice's Antics, it had two followers for three months. I never stopped writing it, because I was never writing for the audience. But reading those statistics blows my mind.

There were times this year when I almost clicked delete on Alice's Antics. I was stuck in a rut and was so unhappy that I didn't know how to write anymore. Despite the beautiful Instagrams, I was desperately unhappy and wanted to rid myself of anything and everything that made me "me".

Thankfully, that never happened. And I couldn't be more grateful to the people who helped me through that than I already am.

Five years later, and you've all witnessed the highs and lows of my life. I am so proud to own Alice's Antics and I am so excited to see where the next five years takes me.

So, thank you to those of you who didn't believe in me and didn't believe in this blog - writing this post is all the sweeter knowing you didn't think I would be here.

But most importantly thank YOU.

Without your comments, your views and your presence across my social media, who knows if I would have stuck this out for so long?

I am forever grateful to the people who spend their time scrolling through each post, so to "celebrate" I would LOVE to do a little something for you.

I'm currently living in Sydney and would love to send a postcard to a few of my readers.

Please don't leave any personal details in the comments - email me at alicesantics@outlook.com and I will endeavour to write to you.

A million thank yous. Below are five of my personal pictures to summarise the last five years.

I. LOVE. YOU. ALL.

Love, Alice x

P.S. I feel like, after five years, I need to write a special thanks to 5 specific people who have championed me since they knew about Alice's Antics.

So thank you Alexandria, for being both my rock and biggest fan in Italy. Thank you Kitty, for being a queen, a friend and always supporting my writing. Thank you Jamie, for reading so much more than just my blog posts, and being brutally honest when I have terrible ideas. Thank you Alvaro, for sharing and loving so many posts the second they are posted. And thank you Gemma, you're the only reason Alice's Antics wasn't deleted this year.







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11 September 2018

I Quit My Job Again - A HUGE Life Update



I'm writing this at 12:30pm on a Tuesday.

It is a workday,  the sun is shining and I'm sat outside my new favourite coffee shop in Sydney (Kawa on Crown Street, if you're local) armed with an almond milk flat white.

To be honest, I still feel like I should be at work-work. Sat at a desk in the 9-5 writing job I had, writing for two of Australia's biggest lifestyle publications.

Except, well, I left my job 10 days ago.

The decision to leave my job was based on a magnitude of things, but at its core, it came down to a feeling of unfulfillment which I felt I didn't need to settle for.

I had moved to Sydney from London because I wanted to explore and break away from the work-hard-play-hard culture that is a 9 - 5. But in reality, I had spent a couple of months as an au pair and then had landed myself yet another office job.

Almost as soon as I'd moved into my new apartment, and signed the dotted line to become full-time, I knew I was making a mistake.

I'd moved to Australia to experience Australia, but I'd spent all of that time in one city. I'd had mild freak-outs about that throughout the first few months here, but ultimately I put it down to PMS and just me, being, y'know, dramatic AF.

But after just three months, I knew I had to do what was right for me. I'd made incredible friends in Sydney, who I will be friends with for the rest of my life, but they couldn't keep me here.

So, at the start of August, I handed in my notice for August 31st.

My plan was to go full-time into being a freelance writer on the road. I know I don't own enough to pay rent and bills with writing, so I decided to "work for accommodation", to alleviate the worry of not having a roof over my head. And soon enough, I found a hostel in Sydney who wanted a writer to help them with their website copy in exchange for free accommodation.

And then, in the middle of August, I was approached by a PR company who I'd been recommended to.

So my first week of freelance writing was actually spent being flown around New Zealand on my first assignment. It was long days and the project was a big one, but this morning I sent it off.

So now, I'm in Sydney for 2 weeks (until my parents come out and I see them for the first time in almost 10 months), then I'll be travelling down to Melbourne for a week before catching a flight up to Cairns at the start of October!

From Cairns, my plan is to just take my time travelling down the East Coast. Do things hard to do, get to places hard to get to. But for the most part, just live out what I'd always planned to do when moving out here.

My visa runs out at the start of January, and to be honest, I have no idea where I'll end up going next. Maybe it will be New Zealand, maybe it will be Asia or Indonesia.

2019 is going to be a mystery to me.

What I can say about this experience, is that it's taught me that I am good enough.

For the last month, I've had severe imposter syndrome. I've been second-guessing every single decision I've made, questioning if I'm progressing into a life I don't deserve, or can't achieve.

The night before New Zealand, I called up my friend Tobias in a panic, anxiety in full-go-to mode, saying I didn't think I deserved to go, that I didn't think I could handle it, that I wasn't good enough to pull it off.

At the end of the trip, the co-founder of the company I was representing offered me a job, if I wanted it. (In another life, I would've jumped, but I couldn't be pulled back to the 9-5 again).

The lesson here though is that sometimes you just have to be a bit brave. Sometimes you need to take the risk and see how it pans out. It isn't always going to pay off, but if it doesn't, then it too, shall pass.

There are so many reasons I've felt like a failure in the last two months, and half of that is why I haven't written. Because I haven't felt worthy to write when I've been filled to the brim with self-doubt.

Luckily, I'm on the other side of that, and along with reassurance from my nearest and dearest, the only person who really got me here, is me.

So yes, I will be returning this evening to my 4-bed mixed hostel room, which I'm currently sharing with two French boys and one German.

But I am in that hostel room out of choice, because I chose to pursue what I wanted to do to be happy, rather than to be content.

There will be a whole blog post on this to come, but what I've learnt the most recently, is to act on behalf of yourself, not other people. It's your decisions, and the ramifications will come back to you.

So, I've jumped into the deep end of writing full time. It's terrifying and I don't know when my next paycheck will come in and to be honest, I still don't know if I'm good enough to compete.

But instead of letting that hold me back, I'm using it to prove to myself why I am good enough.

It's been a hot minute, but I'll be back later this week with a new blog post.

Thank you for hanging around, you're the best.

Love, Alice x


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31 July 2018

The book you need to read in your 20s (and no, I didn’t write it)


In a sudden twist, this is the first time I have ever written a solitary blog post dedicated to one book.

As a girl (a woman?) who has kept a book in her bag since buying her first handbag, the lack of book reviews is not because I have nothing to write about. In fact, I’ve read some incredible books over the last twenty-three years, which deserve endless attention.

But no book has quite caught me the way Dolly Alderton’s “Everything I Know About Love did.

I didn’t accidentally pick up the book one day, I didn’t stumble across it in a bookshop, in fact I happen to have been an avid reader of Dolly since finding her The Sunday Times Style column.

The Sunday Times happens to be a luxury you cannot afford in your university years, which may be why, during the years I was away studying, my mum took it upon herself to remove each and every Style magazine from their weekly edition of The Sunday Times.

I would come home after weeks away at university to find up to 12 magazines spread in a pile on my bed, ready for me to devour over the upcoming holiday.

Yet despite this, I didn’t manage pick up Dolly Alderton’s book, until my friend recommended it to me.

Currently being in Australia, I woke up to a message at 4am from my ex-housemate, yet forever-friend Charlotte, who had written:

“Have you read Dolly Alderton's book? 1. You would love it. 2. I can imagine you writing a similar book one day. Lots of love to you as always.” 

And, well, after that message I couldn’t possibly neglect reading it any longer.

Despite its name, Everything I Need to Know About Love happens to be about so much more than love, although obviously, it’s a recurring theme.

It’s about friendship and loss and mental health, it’s about drugs and drink and partying a bit too hard, it’s a homage to growing up and finding yourself and being so lost you think that may never happen.

Written entirely in first person, the book is a memoir of Alderton herself, commencing with laugh-out-loud relatability when she recounts "Everything I knew about love, as a teenager".

"It's important to have a LOT of sex, with a LOT of people... but probably no more than 10."

The book continues in vague, sort-of-chronological order. Detailing the lessons learnt and the ups and downs of life as Alderton navigates her late teens and early twenties.

Maybe it was the chapter on losing a friend to cancer, maybe it was the chapter about her best friend falling in love and feeling left behind or maybe it was the recurrence of bad dates and the recipe for an easy-yet-sophisticated salmon dish I’ve now bookmarked.

Whatever it was, this book absolutely sung to me.

It's eye-opening and relatable and makes you realise that however isolated you may think your feelings are, the chances are everyone else is feeling the same way.

Whether you grew up on the beach in Cornwall, or in inner London, there is something so quintessentially British about the way Alderton talks about her teenage years and her obsession with MSN and dial-up connection in a way which only this generation - our generation - will ever be able to fully understand.

With Instagram feeds full of #bodyinspo and #mindfulness, Everything I Know About Love is an unapologetic, raw tribute to being a woman.

If you're looking for tips to land the perfect man, this isn't the book for you. But if you're looking for a laugh-out-loud,  intimate book with relatability and life lessons on each page, you may find it can change your life.

We could all learn something from Dolly Alderton, but ironically, you will probably find you'll learn more about yourself, than love.
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