The importance of travelling

As the proverb says: travel is to live. Since I started travelling often I realised how true this motto is. I tend to measure my time from one trip to the other, so when my day at work is particularly hard I’m motivating myself with simply stating when I’m going to visit some great place. Right now I’m counting days until my next adventure: I’m going for a weekend to Brussels, Belgium with a couple of friends and that is exactly what makes me endure some tough moments.

The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.

So why is it that sometimes we forget travel makes us happy and instead we rot at home? Mostly it’s the amount of chores we impose on each other, deadlines, sometimes feeling overwhelmed with social issues and workload. I know that when I become corporate robot I forget about anything really and simply sink in all the chores. If you’re in the same place right now where you walk and walk but you’re always in the same spot and feel zero motivation to move and drive anywhere really, here are several reasons why you should keep going and never give up on travelling.

1. Travelling broadens horizons and makes you a better person

It sounds strong, doesn’t it? Like getting into a car and driving to a nearby city for a sightseeing tour would make you truly a better person. And yet… It’s true, or at least I believe so. Going on an excursion always broadens your horizons. Even if it’s very short, to a place you’ve already been to, it’s still going to teach you something. It’s going to build up your experience and simply make you wiser. Example? Visiting another nation and learn about their culture.

Bonus anecdote: When I moved to Portugal (for my Erasmus) I was pretty much disgusted with all the people simply snapping their fingers to call a waiter at a restaurant. I thought it’s so rude! And yet… it’s normal there, so I learned that when I’m in Warsaw, I don’t have to get all airtight and silently rant and rave on their bad manners, but rather understand they might come from a completely different place than I do.

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A photograph of Prague, Czech Republic 2018

2. You can learn another language and improve your CV (resume)

Learning languages is vital. I don’t think I can stress enough how amazing it is to be able to communicate in a foreign language wherever you go. Right now, I’m using skills I learned years ago and can (hopefully) successfully communicate with you, my dear Reader in English. Before I moved to Portugal I used to learn the language from books and some additional classes, but only when I moved my knowledge of Portuguese sky-rocketed. Knowing languages can improve your position in applying for a job or even grant you get one!

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Nazare Beach in Portugal, 2014

3. Travelling makes you stay younger

Ok, I might not have any scientifical proof that it’s true, but I do believe travel makes you more active and therefore younger. Constant planning and plotting stimulates the brain and sightseeing is a great way to reach your 10000 steps needed for a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, when you spend so much money on plane tickets and hotels you just can’t afford food anymore… Just kidding, although it might be true in some cases. For New Years Eve this year I travelled to a city of Torun in Poland. Just for one day, a very short trip. And during this day I visited so many places, I walked more than 20 km in less than 10 hours!

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Barcelona, Spain, 2014

4. You can make friends from across the globe and cement relationships you already have

Meeting people from around the world not only broadens the horizon (see point 1), but also creates connections which not only let you have so much fun, but also allow you to travel further and cheaper. I keep in touch with many of my friends from Erasmus and we’ve exchanged many trips (I travelled to their hometown, they visited mine) for a fraction of a normal price. But what’s most important? The memories, because as you know, people forget years and remember moments. All these precious moments laughing at similarities and differences between our cultures (sometimes very distant, hello, my Brazilian friends!), teaching each other various things or simply hanging around could never be the same if I only had friends from my own country.

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Porto, Portugal, 2014

5. Travel lets you experience amazing cuisines

Oh, the food… how I love it. One of the best virtues of travelling is trying out different cuisines, flavours and products. My long time dream is to visit Italy, Parma, to be exact, and try all the amazing dishes there, including pizza with potatoes and different flavours of pasta. When I visited Croatia last year I fell in love with white wine (Grasevina), sea food, eating freshly caught tuna grilled at the beach, watermelon at noon under an umbrella, and so forth. Celebration of food teaches us love of life. I also learned several tricks of Croatian and Portuguese cuisine and definitely improved my cooking skills.

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A great steak in Lisbon, Portugal

So let’s go on an adventure!

So, don’t dwell on tough times, take a look at some sites with cheap flights, bus or train tickets or even, for a free trip, pack your bag and venture to a place you’ve never visited in your city. Learn new things and don’t let work and chores overwhelm you. Travelling really is a sollution for sadness!

Do you travel often? If yes, did you learn anything interesting during your trips?

Let me know in the comments.

New years resolutions

As January approaches it is the last moment to let the old year pass and take a look forward to the new one. And what would January be without casual new years resolutions? All these goals we are never going to achieve, but we think about for at least a week until we find ourselves on a coach with a bar of chocolate and a glass of wine, even though we solemnly swore never to touch any of it again?

This year I approached my resolutions a little differently than in the past. I have established five main goals for me to achieve and then described them all down in something I’d like to call my “bullet journal” when it’s actually a notebook with words scribbled in a way imitating calligraphy. Or trying to imitate. imitating trying to imitate. It’s really bad, honestly. I hope this list is going to help you establish your new goals/resolutions and maybe this time we are able to achieve them.

  1. Explore new hobbies and develop old ones

This is by far the most important goal of mine. I really would like to pursue new interests, especially sport related; like systematically attend Zumba classes (which are awesome), or start taking longer walks after work. I have learned (with all the previous resolutions) that unless my goal is tangible, can be verified easily and assessed “binarily” (either 0 or 1), I will never achieve it. So for this point my goal is to attend Zumba class every single week of 2019.  If you aren’t into dance classes you can always pick any other one; like pilates, yoga, swimming, jogging, whatever really, that you actually like. If you don’t have a heart for it, there is no way that you will stick to your resolution.

In terms of developing old hobbies I really would like to work on my blog and Instagram account more. I have great plans for both of these platforms, so if you have any tips I’ll be happy to hear it.

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2. Do one thing at a time.

I know, I know, you are not a real woman unless you’re juggling work, home, 10 children + 5 adopted ones, neighbours’ house, volunteering work and oh, yeah, training for climbing K2. Obviously, everybody want us to think it’s better if we work harder, more efficient and faster. I thought that it’s going to make me excel at work as well, but only when I relaxed and let myself do one thing at time I’ve noticed positive results – not only in my well-being, but also in how my boss perceived me – I got a raise and a bonus, so hey me! For the upcoming year I would really like to keep going, master my self-assertion, work on the way I think and simply slow down. I really love, as mentioned here, slow living movement. Savouring each moment of our lives with amazing food, great places, trips and mind-fullness. I’m listening to a YouTube video right now while typing, so this rule obviously doesn’t apply to background music na videos.

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So what about quantifiability of this one? Simple, for the upcoming year I’m going to assess how much time I need to perform tasks and keep myself only working (by doing one thing at a time) during this period. For example, if I go to work, I’m going to work for eight hours only. If I work on my blog I’m going to spend exactly the time needed without interruptions (like checking Facebook, Instagram, etc.).

3. Spend less time glued to the phone.

I conducted an experiment several weeks ago when I didn’t use my phone at all (not even calling, just put it in the drawer and forget it exists) after work. This time, I think I endured around 5 days, was eye-opening. Not only did I suddenly have time for everything, I also realised how much time I spend on the Internet. I quit using the phone, left my blog, Instagram account, Twitter (which I have yet to explore) and stopped checking out Facebook. I didn’t manage to stay away from the phone completely after those 5 days, but I think it was a good start. Now, my goal for 2019 is simply to limit my phone usage to absolute minimum – that is Instagram (which is a mean of helping my blog develop), Twitter and occasional e-mail check. No more YouTube beauty drama videos, no more weight loss successes, Little Mix Acapella nor Crazy Roommate stories for hours in my bed eating chips.

As with all the other goals, I’d like to specify this resolution to a point that’ll allow me to assess progress and verify if I really achieved what I hoped for. Therefore, phone usage of 1 hour a day is allowed. This will enable me to work on the blog and Instagram without wasting time on things I don’t really need to.

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4. Keep clutter out of the house.

I was generally inspired by a great YouTuber and blogger Miss Amy Rach, who I really love binge watching while cleaning my house. I noticed recently both my boyfriend Floret and I have been gathering things and not getting rid of any obsolete ones, so expect a lot of decluttering posts here.  I planned my decluttering process in steps, as described here:

  • step 1 – Declutter living room (get rid of boxes, old candles, useless papers, sell books),
  • step 2 – Declutter kitchen (get rid of broken things, check all the jars and labels for expiration date and/or content),
  • step 3 – Declutter bathroom (throw out all the expired products, things I don’t use anymore, product I hate),
  • step 4 – Declutter wardrobe (get rid of things which weren’t worn in ages).

I plan to spend a quarter of the year for each step, so that it doesn’t seem like a burden, but rather a goal to achieve drop weight off my shoulders.

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5. Morning and evening beauty routines

For obvious reasons. I am not getting any younger. I can see thin lines around my eyes which surely weren’t there several months ago and it haunts me how quick time flies. To stop the aging process, I have decided to incorporate morning and evening beauty routines. Before Christmas I found several great deals and bought various cosmetics, including both of the Bioderma creams below.

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The pink one is Bioderma Sensibio Eyes and the blue one is Bioderma Hydrabio Perfecteur with SPF 30 filter.

I know I’ve said here that one of my beauty essentials is All about eyes rich by Clinique, but I was already sick and tired of all these products I’ve been using for years and needed a change. They came with the cute white toiletry bag made of material imitating leather reflecting various shades (unfortunately it can’t be seen in the picture above). I think it’s super cute, I really like simple things and the fact you can’t really see Bioderma logo is an added bonus. I know it is supposed to be a blog post about new years resolutions, but I have been using both of these creams for the last couple of weeks and I can really see a difference. Both give my skin a very delicate, velvety-like feeling as well as a little bit of glow (in a good way). If you have a similar skin to mine I think both are worth trying out!

For the evening routine I have yet to find appropriate night cream, so for now I’m using the ones I have – maybe you have any suggestions for rather dry skin?

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I can’t stress it enough but goals have to be specific. It’s not enough to decide not to eat junk, because there is no tangible way to evaluate progress, and therefore it is easier to be less inclined to stick with the resolution. Even though I decided to declutter my entire house I’m not planning to do it in one single day, because the thought of me decluttering for 24 hours straight is repellant. But if I say, ok, I have these four places that I have to take care of and I have an entire year to do so, it sounds much better in my head, so it is acceptable. Same with hobbies and phone usage, you can’t simply say ok, I’m not using my phone anymore ever, because that’s unrealistic (especially if you’re a blogger like me), nor that you’re going to start diving if you can’t swim.

To conclude this rather prolonged post let me just add, that my biggest hope for the upcoming year is to keep up with blogging at least once a week. I have various ideas for blog posts (I stacked 40 drafts already) and I really take a lot of pleasure from writing, taking pictures and following all of you guys.

So let this year be amazing for all of us.

Happy new year everybody!

How to plan your holiday trip?

For a couple of days now I have been planning my holidays and while writing down the packing list I realized, that being so busy with travelling to my grandma’s house, being a perfect “housewife” and preserving pickles and zucchini I got from my aunt’s garden, I didn’t have any time to write a new blog post. Feeling a little bit guilty (as you do when you totally ignore something) I decided to finally get to work and prepare a post.

It would’ve been great if I had an idea what to write about, though. I don’t know if other bloggers feel the same way, but sometimes I can write an entire 10 page essay on the most mundane topic and other times I am just blocked, even if I had a great idea. But then, right in that moment, while writing the word “charger”, I got enlightened – I’m sure by now you now where this is going – so yes, another “how to” blog post, but hey! It’s an up to date topic for all of us happy campers!

1. Make a list of things to pack.

I know you might think everybody knows that already, but frankly speaking I met various people who don’t plan what to take for a trip at all. To be frank, I once went canoeing with some of my friends and one of them totally forgot to take a swimming suit and water shoes. I was surprised and asked how that happened, and she simply said she packed as she normally does, not for this particular trip. Since then, after a very lengthy trip to a shopping mall to purchase the swimming suit, she is that much wiser.

Make sure you prepare the list at least a week in advance. That way, for the days leading to the departure date you will have a chance to round out your list if you recall any item necessary. Also, it will allow you to purchase things you don’t have yet – in my case, I wrote sandals, hat, shorts and water shoes, since mine from last year weren’t too good and they let little stones get into the shoe and annoy the living hell out of me.

Bonus tip: make sure to pack all of the medicine you will need (especially prescription pills).

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2. Buy ticket in advance.

And I do mean all of the tickets. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts about saving money  I am not very keen on spending cash right now, as I’ve been trying to save up some. I have already booked my plan tickets and if I knew earlier when am I going to go for holidays I’d book them even several months ago. I also will now book train tickets, bus tickets and make all the other reservations which will allow me to save some and use special offers.

For these holidays I am going to stay in my boyfriend’s friend’s house and therefore I don’t have to book any accommodation, but if you don’t have that luxury I advise you to use booking.com to book in advance and use their discounts. Also, make sure you look for the best offer possible – many of the reservations can be cancelled and exchanged if you find a better last-minute offer. I’ve never done it as I feel people prepare their rooms for you and cancelling last minute is quite mean, but you can still do it and save some.

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3. Buy the currency in advance.

Generally speaking the smaller city you exchange money in – the better. Also, you can book currency in an online exchange office and make sure the difference in rate doesn’t eat a big portion of your money. What is crucial is to never exchange on an airport, near borders or in shopping malls.

This year I’m going to visit Croatia and the currency there is kuna, which is roughly 0,14 Euro. Knowing the rate I can evaluate how much money I need to exchange before leaving. I make sure to have some back-up cash just in case I exceed the limit I imposed on myself and I advise you to do the same. You can never know what happens and it’s always better to be prepared and not stress-out.

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4. Prepare for the trip itself.

Being fashionable is hard, but being fancy on a 6 hours flight is close to impossible. The rule to always dress the part in any situation is valid here as well. In case of flying for holidays, you definitely should wear comfortable, easy to remove shoes (at security check and aboard), have some sweater to put on (it can get a little chilly), and wear jeans which are not too tight (which will not cramp you).

If you’re going by car, pack water, snacks and make sure your luggage fits in the trunk. There is nothing worse than travelling like a crazy gipsy family on crack.

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5. Buy travel guides.

As I mentioned here having a travel guide is vital to sightseeing the site to the full extent. Make sure you buy guides that are worth the price – read opinions first and purchase the one with the highest note. Also, make sure to buy guides detailing the specific site you’re visiting – for example: not Portugal, but rather Lisbon or Algarve.

I am a very detailed traveller – I like to know all the pieces of information about things I’m going to see. For example, if you’re looking at a very old, beautiful church in Budapest only if you’re going to read a part of its history and get to know its name you’re gonna know and remember what it is, otherwise it will be just another church.

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6. Look for things to sightsee beforehand

Making a plan (not very detailed) of what you’re going to do during your holidays is vital. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, for me it is crucial to incorporate all types of leisure activities in your trip, so that you don’t end up simply laying flat on the beach baking your butt. It is vital to remember to plan some sport, some relax and some entertainment time in equal parts. That way you will not get tired of any of them and will be well-rested when you come back.

Right now I am browsing through various blogs to find things to do/see in the part of Croatia I’m travelling to. So if you, by any change, know beautiful places to see in Croatia near a city of Zadar, please let me know in the comments.

7. Return a day earlier

Even God rested for one day – at least that’s what the Bible says. Holidays and all the travelling can be tiresome, so make sure to return a day before and have an additional day for simply relaxing at home and sorting all the things out before returning to work.

 

And how about you? Do you have any tips for planning holidays?

Dorota

5 ways to follow a Slow Living Movement

Slow movement has been around for over a decade and ever since 2015 I’ve been trying to join in. Fascinated with discovering new ways in which I can simply relax and decrease the tempo of my life I have searched for many clues and tips on how to implement several aspects of Slow Life into my own existence.

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Starting from an explanation as to why I think it’s something worth looking up, let me quickly mention that in 2015 I moved to Olsztyn (a beautiful city in a Warmian district of Poland) where I worked on a construction site. I didn’t know anyone in that particular city, nor at the company I worked for, and having no WI-FI connection I drifted towards spending my entire time with work colleagues in the office. I can’t express how much I regret it, especially since I know now how it turned out at the end, but what I learned is that living with such a great rate can be detrimental to your physical and emotional health. At some point I was so tired of constantly working (also partying) and being surrounded by people and chores that I got a terrible case of irritated stomach which led me to eat only boiled vegetables for a week. I was exhausted and lost and the thing that helped me the most were long walks along lakes and through forests.

In that same period I received a book about eliminating all chemical components from food and living a more healthy lifestyle. I didn’t implement many of the tips into my own life, but it was a factor that influenced my interest in Slow Movement in general. The author of the book was very much in love with the concept and she advised all the readers to tag along. I looked up all the information I needed and learned about FOMO (Fear of missing out) and other concepts related to how fast the world revolves around us and how much information we are flooded with each day.

For a time I have stopped trying to implement Slow Life and I focused on my career, education and other aspects, which at that time seemed more important. Then, when I least expected it, I reached a rather dark period of my life. I remember it was December 22nd of last year and it was already 5 PM. I was at work, last day before Christmas holidays, and the remaining task of the day was to simply get some papers signed, but that particular day it honestly seemed like the entire world is against me. I finished so late I didn’t have enough strength to go to my mom and help her with all the “cooking”.

When I got home I was so frustrated I decided to never let myself work longer than I absolutely must, try harder than anyone else and do things that are not within my scope of responsibility. During that moment I learned instantly how to say no to my coworkers and how to stay focused on what I am paid for and not constantly performing tasks for other people. It doesn’t mean that I don’t help anyone, of course, it means that I spend my work hours doing the actual work I am paid to do. I got back after the holidays and started leaving work at 3 or 4 PM. My friends looked at me with disapproval at first, but with time they gladly joined. Also, ironically, I got praised way more often by my supervisors – I was well-rested, driven and motivated to perform MY TASKS the best I could. That’s when I truly believed the concept of living slowly is beneficial to all.

Now when you already went through all this rather long preface let me get to the point.

During my introspective work I established 5 main points on how to join the Slow Life Movement.

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One of my favourite ways to relax. Playing a boardgame with Floret outside in the warm, summer weather.

5 ways to follow a Slow Living Movement

1. Respect your time.

I really can’t stress that too strongly. If you are not paid for working overtime… don’t. If you feel uncomfortable with someone and often feel left out by your friends – just don’t spend time with these people. If you constantly feel stressed  at work you should think of changing it or adjusting your attitude (about it later on in point 5).

Like I said above, I had a great problem with establishing boundaries in my life in terms of work. I thought that the more I tried the better people will perceive me and treat me like a better employee. I was wrong. I busted my ass off and after that unforgetful December afternoon I’d been working 50% of what I usually did and I am praised even more often. I am well rested, have more energy and motivation to finish tasks I am assigned to do – not some additional chores I impose on myself because I feel like they are required of me.

Sometimes when I read all those “tips and hints” written by corporate rats on how to be a perfect employee and I see words like driven, ambitious, confident, going extra mile, I feel like smashing my laptop on the floor (and it’s the laptop from my work, so that would cost me). Like seriously, you either do your job or not, if you go an extra mile for anything that is not for yourself you’re going to lose. People will see how much you’re trying and will use you for it. I know it sounds bitter, but it is true. Going an extra mile to improve YOURSELF – that is something that will make you stand out.

Let me give you an example (and prove I’m not just a corporation hater). I’ve been working in a designing office (for electrical installation, nothing concerning fashion – I know, a pity) and I used to stay many hours overtime to help my friend with his tasks. I wasn’t paid to do it, but I felt really sorry for him for being so overloaded with tasks. Up until I heard that he was lying around doing nothing while I have essentially done all his work. Well… at least he was honest that I was doing it well. I went an extra mile, but not for improving myself, but rather because I felt like I needed to be helpful.

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I spent a couple of minutes simply sitting here hugging with Floret. Solina lake is beautiful at this time of year. When the weather gets better we hope to rent a boat and check various islands on the lake.

2. Find time to relax.

It doesn’t have to necessarily be an entire week of frying your butt on a beach in Ibiza. You can start by simply spending a little bit of time just looking at nature, people passing you by or putting a face mask on. Whatever relaxes you (in my case playing PlayStation games with my boyfriend or reading a book) – either taking a walk, taking pictures of flowers or planting new monstera. Whatever works for you will be great. Try to implement at least 15 minutes of relax each day and increase this time every week by another 5 minutes until you reach at least and hour. (Side note: if your method requires electronics try to incorporate also something related with going out, at least a couple of times during the week). You will see how much your perception of things around you will change.

Right now I’m on holidays in Bieszczady Mountains again – I wrote about my first trip here in the post. This time I make it a point to enjoy the climate and nature in a greater extent. I took photographs of various flowers (as you probably noticed on Instagram and in this post) and both Floret and I want to explore new routes in the mountains.

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3. Try out slow-food.

In this world ruled by globalization access to food in developed countries is extremely easy. I can get food in 5 minutes, either by going out and getting it from shops/restaurants and my mom’s house or by ordering anything I like with UBEReats or any other application. This ease is quite frankly exhausting at some point. Not only do I have weight problems, I also more and more often get a case of troubled stomach from highly processed food.

The word “Slow” in slow living is an acronym which according to the most reliable source of information (sense the sarcasm here) Wikipedia stands for: sustainable, local, organic and whole – as in not processed. The same source also stands that the movement was set-up by an Italian man Carlo Petrini who protested vigorously against opening McDonald’s restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome. Although I love to devour a Big Mac sometimes, I have to agree with Mr. Carlo. Such places, in this case the most famous square in Italy, should be filled with Italian spots, not something you can eat on a gas station everywhere in Europe.

If you want to join in the movement and eat in a Slow Living style I advise you cook everything yourself. Not only will it do wonders to your figure, it will most probably save you a lot of money. When I cook I tend to choose simpler dishes with less ingredients. I look up recipes on various sites (My favourite blog is the one named Kwestia Smaku, but unfortunately the author only publishes in Polish) and simply follow. I have learned many recipes I’ve never done before, which are not only quite uncomplicated (like spaghetti alio olio, penne arrabiata, chicken in carrot sauce, and so forth) but also delicious. Trying out slow cooking also made me eat a lot less meat – a tip to become a vegetarian soon.

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I know icecream is not really a superfood, but these crafter icecream of the orange cheesecake taste were just too delicious not to mention.

4. Know your value and keep your stand.

I can’t stress this point too strongly really. I have so many girlfriends who just don’t believe in themselves one bit. Because of self-doubt they are constantly insecure and full of unexplainable fears that cause them to get wild sometimes. Seriously, if I got a penny each time I had to convince my friends not to immediately dump their boyfriends or call their “sworn enemies” and call them out I would be a very rich woman. A very rich woman.

I sometimes have moments of self-doubt myself. Even today, in the morning I felt so unattractive, fat and… I don’t know, simply miserable, that the entire day seemed like a nightmare. Fortunately, I have Floret who reminds me sometimes, that there is so much to look for each day.

What I learned in life is that you are unique. There is absolutely no other person just like you and you should always be proud of who you are and strive to be better each day.

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5. Don’t ever let anyone bring you down. Keep your attitude positive.

You don’t have to (and most probably never will) be friends with everyone. There are always going to be people who despise you even if you’re another Virgin Mary. That’s just how life works and the faster you realize that the happier you will get.

If anyone around you keeps trying to bring you down… well, let’s just say the point I made above about getting rid of these people from your life is valid. What I am going to say now might seem harsh, but the above applies even to family members for me. If someone, whoever it is, brings you down – they don’t deserve to stay in your life.

About the second sentence of the title of this chapter: I think staying positive is a key to success in life. Even after the worst day sun comes up again. Always strive to see the bright side in things and never give up.

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And what are your thoughts on slow life? Have you ever tried the trend? Let me know in the comments.

Dorota

5 great ways to spend quality at home

I once read that home is the base where everything begins. It’s a place of relaxation and utter peace where we are able to simply unwind and rest after an entire week of work. I love staying at home, became a little bit of a couch potato recently –  totally not ashamed – and must have my own, personal time. Binge-watching Netflix shows, browsing through the Internet, watching YouTube videos of my favourite Creators and simply clearing my mind. This is all fine, I mean who of you doesn’t do it, right? At some point though, there comes a realization, that spending time watching YouTube might not be the best quality-wise time spent.

Realizing an issue exists is a first step to improve. At least that’s what my parents thought me when I was younger, so I analyzed and came to the conclusion there are numerous ways in which I can spend better-quality time at home.

1. Enjoy your time with board games

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I love playing board games. I bought and was gifted various of games including Catan, Scotland Yard, Monopoly (of course), Colt Express, The Witcher, Board the Train, Dixit and many others. Both Floret and I have been collecting games ever since we found an old version of the Scotland Yard in his parents’ house and we decided to play together. This is one of my favourite things to do during Friday evening when we don’t go out. It’s great; there’s rivalry, fun, all sorts of emotions and satisfaction.

Playing requires focus, it helps creating bonds within the family. Ever since I was young my parents used to play cards or European version of Monopoly called Eurobusiness with us. I loved it! I remember how happy I was when I got it for Christmas one year. The entire family played and it was great, I still recall those moments and even now, at the age of 27 I enjoy all sorts of board games. If you’ve never played I advise you to try out with something less complicated – like Monopoly. You won’t believe how entertaining that is.

2. Check out latest computer games

Ok, I’m not saying slay The Witcher III or God of War, by no means, but adventure games such as Uncharted 4 are great for all sorts of players! I love playing computer games – I was raised very closely with my older brother and we used to play together. If you’ve never played PlayStation4 games… What I can say is: that’s not what you think. Many people perceive gaming as a total and utter waste of time, but in reality it does improve your cognitive functions, it does make you notice details in the background faster and it definitely teaches you languages: look at me, never ever have I attended additional English classes and here I am, convincing you to check PS4 games out.

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Let’s take first example I mentioned above: Uncharted 4. This beautiful game created by Naughty Dog is a perfect example of how graphics improved within the last 5 years. This is a story of Nate Drake, a treasure hunter who helps his brother pay off his debt to a dangerous Gang Leader – by finding a pirate treasure. I can’t even describe how entertaining that games is – not only is it beautiful, it’s also humoristic, fun, packed with action and great plot twists. I enjoyed it so much I actually played it 4 times already, and each time I am home alone and cooking I simply turn on YouTube on my TV and watch Pewdiepie playing the game. Even now, when I’m writing this, my boyfriend Floret is just right next to me on the couch playing God of War

The titles I would recommend are: Uncharted series, The Last of Us (although way more aggressive), Until Dawn, Horizon, Dragon Age and of course, the king of all the games: The Witcher 3.

3. Read a book

If you believe that the art of reading in the computer age waned, particularly among children, is a sure sign that you are a Muggle.

These wise words were printed on my Polish copy of Harry Potter books when I first got them in 2001. I love reading – I always enjoyed spending a quiet evening with a book. I don’t even remember the time I didn’t know how to read – it’s simply like books were always with me. With age I shifted a little bit towards Crime genre, but I love Fantasy still. I don’t read much of Classical literature though – when I was in high school I made it a point to read a book from every single one of Nobel Prize Winners in Literature (which I did) but I can’t seem to remember half of the books I’ve read.

Katarzyna Bonda reading book literature crime

There are though, pieces that you remember for your entire life. I loved reading Camilla Lackberg and of course the queen of crime literature Agatha Christie. I wanted to go now into which books I enjoyed but I can’t spend an entire year writing one post. I bought the book in the picture above today during grocery shopping and I’ve been craving to read ever since (meaning since yesterday) when I read the first part (I bought it and read it yesterday, that’s how hardcore of a crime reader I am).

I don’t think I have to advertise reading – it’s a common knowledge how great it is for broadening perspective and mastering imagination. Whenever I read, I truly feel like I am in a completely different world – Floret will confirm, even if he talks to me the sound just doesn’t get to my brain.

4. Plan your next holiday trip

I am soon planning to go for a short holiday in the mountains. I am a little bit overworked recently and decided to head for a camping trip at Solina Lake in Bieszczady Mountains – yeah, yeah, I know I’ve been there and shared pictures here, but the place is so stunning I had to see it again. For this trip, there is no planning required, but as I mentioned in my recent post about planning an EUROTRIP I was invited to spend some quality time in Croatia.

how to plan holiday trip to croatia

As I’ve mentioned during the coverage of my Eurotrip experience, I’ve already been there once two years ago, so there was no need for me to purchase another guide. I am currently looking through maps, checking events and flights, prices for renting a car, distance from Dubrovnik to Montenegro and best beaches on the way. Finding things in advance might really improve the holidays experience and let us see things otherwise we wouldn’t even know of.

5. Sort through pictures!

I got you, didn’t I? Do you also have a pile of printed out pictures you should sort out but you never do because Netflix is so damn tempting? Is the pile stashed in a box from IKEA somewhere in your room and you pretend like it doesn’t exist because you feel guilty you were supposed to do something about it ages ago and you never did? Do you pray to God to become Bruce Almighty so you can use your stretching time capabilities to sort your pictures? Yeah, me too.

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I went for my Eurotrip 2 years ago and I still haven’t inserted my pictures in an album… – I am a terrible person, I know. I think sorting these out would bring a sense of piece of mind to me, so I might as well take care of it right about now. Keep fingers crossed!

And what do you do to spend a quality time at home?

Dorota

EUROTRIP – how to plan your trip in 5 easy steps.

As I wrote here my boyfriend Floret and I went for EUROTRIP two years ago and we LOVED IT. This was by far the best trip in my entire life, and even though I have two more eurotrips planned, I can’t imagine any of them top this experience. If you want to know details about my trip you have to check my previous post linked above, but the excerpt is that we travelled by car from Poland to Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. I wrote that we have two more Eurotrips left planned, well actually to be planned, that is: Scandinavia (Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden) and “wild, wild west” (Italy, France, Portugal and Spain).

Because this year we were offered to visit our friend’s house in southern Croatia to see Dubrovnik as well as Montenegro (hence not spend a single dime on accommodation), we decided to go there instead and postpone our Eurotrips for next year. That left me with quite significant time to plan our trip ahead and not end up being “spontaneous” (here the synonym of unprepared). I mention the impulsiveness of our first Eurotrip because it got us in trouble several times – hence I decided to plan everything in a little bit more detail. During my planning procedure I realised I have some experience which might be useful to all of you, sweet people, who might want to plan their own trips! Hence, I decided to share my 5 great tips for planning the Eurotrip!

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Amazing Plitvice lake we’ve seen during our first Eurotrip experience in Croatia.

1. Start by preparing overall plan

We decided to go for the Scandinavian trip first – let the working title for this expedition be; Vikingtrip. We started with the overall plan in our heads after a little bit of brainstorming – I wanted to see Copenhagen and the Oresund bridge to Sweden, Floret wanted to see Bergen and the fjords. Taking a quick look at the map we realised that our trip should look something like that:

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Our trip consists of: Warsaw, Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Malmo, Gothenburg, Oslo, Bergen, Oslo again, Karlstad, Stockhold and Gdańk.

The trip “ends” in Stockholm only because we decided to take a ferry to a beautiful Polish city of Gdańsk through the Baltic Sea. Now when our outline is ready we can see how long will it take to drive our little camper. We know from experience (we are together for almost 3 years and drove hundreds of kilometers) that it is optimal to drive around 500 km every 2-3 days. That way we won’t be too exhausted from driving, we will have time to see places we visit in detail and we will be able to relax.

Bearing that in mind we can move further and plan stops in between cities, which are too far away. That way I put a stop between Oslo and Stockholm in Karlstad – a city we were not really interested in, but decided it’s optimal to take a break in. I evaluate that the time needed to see all these places is around 3-4 weeks. Now when our trip is planned we can get into much more detail and check-out interesting activities and things to see.

2. Allow flexibility – don’t book all the hotels

Obviously in case of the Vikingtrip we are going to go in a camper, so arranging accommodation is going to be limited to us simply finding a campsite to stop. If you don’t have such an opportunity, I advise you not to book hotels for each night. What I realised during my first Eurotrip is that we liked some places way more than others. At some point on Krk island in Croatia we got a little bored of tanning on the beach and decided to drive to Slovenia earlier – which turned out to be a great decision – Slovenia is definitely my favourite destination out of all the trip.

Allow yourself a little bit of carpe diem moment. Be spontaneous and don’t worry – it’s not like finding a hotel is very difficult – you wouldn’t believe how many people book rooms and never show up!

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Floret on his way to see a mountain shelter in Slovenia.

3. Plan activities, relax and sightseeing in equal intervals

I used the word “interval” and got reminded of all the terrible moments I had in my High Level Math class in high school – I nearly got a panic attack, I swear. I am a firm believer in balance in the universe. I think that equilibrium between sightseeing, relax and activities should be achieved at all times, so that we don’t go crazy during a trip that is longer than a weekend.

At the end of my first Eurotrip we went to Vienna, Austria and were sightseeing the city and all the museum until I just gave up and had to simply… have fun! Floret saved me by taking me to Vienna Prater (an amusement park), where after trying one ride, tired I fell asleep on the grass in the park nearby. I realised then, that a great trip is packed with everything, not just sightseeing!

Usually Floret is the one who organizes sport during out trips; he took us for biking and kayaking in Slovenia, all the water parks on our way, as well as rafting. I am usually responsible for finding great places to see and visit; like museums, interesting places, reading the guide and analyzing where to go. I am also responsible for food and restaurants, while Floret looks for beaches and relaxation. I think we are quite compatible!

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Me kayaking on a lake Bled in Slovenia.

4. Always get a detailed guidebook

I know people who don’t believe in guidebooks and hate reading them. They prefer to simply go and see whatever they want. I am not one of them, and let me, sweet readers, explain why. When on my last Eurotrip I bought or borrowed guidebooks for all the cities and for most of them I read all the information. I simply stopped at a church, for example, and read all the trivia to Floret. At the end of the trip in Vienna I was a little lazy and didn’t bother to read at all, and… can’t remember half of what I’ve seen. I browsed through pictures to choose some for this page and it turned out I don’t even remember seeing these places. At all. I’ve never had amnesia before, so I think I’m right believing that it’s all because of not reading the guide – after all, I remember all the other ones!

Moreover, when you already have a guide you can prepare a more detailed plan of what to see in each place – you simply pick most interesting things and arrange to visit.

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Menu in one of Viennese restaurants – on the table an amazing guide I was too lazy to read.

5. Plan your finances and book hotels in advance

Since I ran out of points to close up in 5, I had to join two very important points. I know you might think I’m contradicting myself, above I wrote: “don’t book hotels for each night” and in here I tell you to book hotels. What I mean, is that I believe we have to arrange accommodation for most of the nights way in advance to get better deals. 

In terms of money… Money is such a sensitive topic nowadays. I know Instagram makes us believe all the people in the world are loaded and we are the only ones who don’t have golden Lamborghini, but the reality is I know very few people who can wipe with cash. When going for such a long, quite expensive trip, you have to assess how much cash you need and be prepared to use your credit card. We spent around 3500 Euro on our trip and it was a lot of money – we didn’t limit ourselves with anything really, which we should have, and we tried everything, so be prepared for that kind of money. We had to use our credit cards several times and weren’t really expecting it!

Right now, in case of Vikingtrip I know it will cost way more than what we spent before – Scandinavian countries are extremely expensive – hence the camper idea to not pay for hotels. You now know why I constantly preach about things being expensive and saving money, I just need it to travel.

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A dark sky above Krk, Croatia.

I hope with this post I was able to help you. If you have any questions please hit that contact button and let’s share! Follow me on Instagram and get fresh pictures from my adventures!

Dorota

 

5 great tips to start regular jogging – beginners edition – start today with me!

As I mentioned in my post about my long weekend trip I encountered astonishingly interesting book concerning jogging. It’s written by Sara Kirkham and entitled “Get into running”. Since my trip I spent several hours reading the book and decided to create a compendium of knowledge about how to start the entire process.

The book is great, If you have an apportunity you should definitely get it. Mine was discounted and I got it for literally less than 2$. Definitely a great investment. The author starts with all the information concerning benefits of jogging, which I’m not going to decribe in a great detail, since these are pretty obvious – you loose weight, you get healthier, sport is good. Obviously. Second chapter is a detailed description of all the fancy equipment joggers need for running – foot pads, meters, special clothes and all the other items, which I believe are not relevant for beginners. For me there is no point in investing all this money into something you might not stick to.

How to start?

Real content starts in chapter three, around page 43. The author needed this many pages just to tell us we should wear good shoes for running – sorry for the sarcasm in this post, but somehow I always get so annoyed when I read books with tips and the interesting part is literally 2 pages out of 300.

The concept is that you have to be frank with yourself and truthfully assess what level you are on. Have you jogged before and want to go back to it? You hate physical activity? or maybe you lack motivation to keep jogging? When you are the first type – you’re a quieter, if you’re the second type – you’re a newbie and if you are in the first group – you are an aspiring full-time jogger – in a nutshell a pro. In this post, mostly because I want to start jogging myself and I’ve never really done much sport in my life, I’m going to focus on the tips for beginners.

1. Plan ahead

Planning is great for everything really. When I was in IB my Business and Management teacher always said: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail“. Wise words that can be utilised for virtually every purpose. Since we start from the beginning it would be wise not to set the bar too high, you know what I mean? I am definitely not going to run 5k tonight, since I haven’t jogged since high-school. We have to be realistic, otherwise we might quit faster than anticipated. We have to start with… walking. Yeah, I know – sounds riveting. When we will be comfortable with walking chosen distance (I advise starting with chosen time period, rather than kilometers) we should implement very slow jogging in appropriate intervals. How often? According to “Get into running” we should jog every second day and every second Sunday. Below you can check my proposition of an initiatory plan (appreciate the Excel table):

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Because I might have a little extra kilograms from God-knows-what *excessive candy eating, fast-food, alcohol and tons of potato chips*, I decided to go easy on myself with this and hence my plan might be too basic for you. If so, you can simply start with any week you like and go up. You probably can see a pattern here – each week you have to decrease time of marching and substitute it with jogging – simple. With time going out for a walk is going to become a habit.

2. Prepare for doubts

What is obvious for me (from all these times I tried exercising anything and I always quit – hence the extra few kilograms, is that at the beginning it’s going to be hard. We just have to deal with it, my fancy reader, and move on from that. What I advise and am planning to do myself is to:

  • set jogging goals,
  • measure my achievements,
  • exercise for a jogging event.

My jogging goal (which covers also bullet point number 3) is that I would like to take part in a jogging event. I am a realist and I know I’m not going to run a marathon any time soon, but 5 km jogging event in Warsaw on 11th of November 2018 is within my reach. This is going to be a celebration of 100 years of independence in Poland and I wanted to join in, since each year all those brave people run just in front of my windows. Set your measuring goal (a one that you think objectively can be achieved) and let’s get to work.

Measuring achievements will definitely help you motivate to get off the couch and move further. I believe that each time I got better in something I was more prone to do it again. It’s the same with dieting – you see result, you will probably skip McDonald’s next time.

Remember to keep yourself focused on the goal and never let your sight off of it.

3. Find someone to join you

Jogging with someone else might not only improve your technique (apparently we should jog at a rate that allows normal conversation) but also make you more consistent with your schedule – there’s nothing better than someone waiting for you to make you go out. Running is healthy and the more people join in, the better it will be for all of us. Think about someone who might join you – your sister, boyfriend, friend and invite them in.

If it comes to me I think right now I am going to start alone – taking walks and jogging will not only be my activity, but also a way of quieting down and focusing on my thoughts. Ever since I was born I didn’t have much time alone (I have four siblings, I lived in boarding houses, never had my own room and now when I am an adult I live with my boyfriend. I work in an office full of people on a very busy construction site and I constantly have to talk to someone) and I think such activity might help me get my alone, relaxing time. What I planned is to find someone just like… well, YOU. Someone on the other side of the screen who is going to join me on this adventure and hopefully we might be able to help each other keep up with jogging.

4. Listen to music

I know it might be dangerous at times – don’t get ran over please! – but listening to music and focusing on music instead of how sweaty you are is something I believe is essential. Focusing on something else improved my swimming – I can now swim up to 32 length of the 25 m pool, and the only reason I am able to do that is by not thinking about what I’m currently doing. For obvious reasons I can’t listen to music while swimming, but for jogging it’s perfect. Get your phone or an mp3 player (ok, iPod can do as well) and let’s go out! If you have any nice songs that keep you pumped and energized, please let me know! I am currently looking for my jogging playlist to prepare for my start on Monday.

If you’re using a phone you can track how far you ran with Endomondo or any other tracking application. Do you know any I might find useful?

5. Let’s not forget about food!

Starving yourself is a terrible idea no matter what you’re doing – dieting or jogging. For running though (and burning all those calories) you need to eat properly – carbohydrates should consist of 60% of your diet, protein 15% and fat 25%. While we increase intensity of jogging your body will know what it needs and you might get some weird cravings. What I am planning to do is start my day with eggs or oatmeal, eat lunch prepared at home and light dinner. I will update you guys on my newly established eating habits on Instagram, so don’t forget to follow me there!

Food is important, but what is even more crucial and you already read it everywhere fifty times? WATER! Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate. I am currently drinking my favourite water which takes part in an interesting promotion since the company just turned 50 years old. Floret and I are trying to win a car, a bike or some other cool prizes, so keep your fingers crossed!

Summary

If you would like to join me on an adventure to start jogging write an e-mail or state in the comments. Jogging is going to improve our lives and no matter where you’re from we can all do it and help each other in the process!

Dorota

Stopping food waste and saving money – meal planning.

In my previous post titled “How to stop being broke” I have slightly brushed through the topic of money-saving by changing your diet and establishing a plan for shopping. I am myself not a very frugal person – I try, but I was never really thought how to save money, since I never had any – so I have some financial issues that need solving quite fast. Even though I may not be a saving expert, I consider myself a rather practical lad, hence I decided to start my saving adventure right about now. At 7 AM, in the morning, the day before the last exam in my entire life.

What I’ve found on YouTube and several other platforms are various posts considering shopping planning, meal optimization and other, that focused mainly on throwing out less leftovers. So not only am I gonna save money, but I’m also going to be more eco-friendly – great, let’s do it.

I started with giving myself a reason for why I should plan:

  1. The better you plan, the less you buy. Simple as that. If you think you’re not overspending on food look at what you bought recently and check how much of it you threw out. I had to get rid of many things this week – I bought too much and later, with all the events I attended, I didn’t have time to eat all of the food and had to throw it out (very bad Dorota, I know, I’m trying to be better).
  2. You improve your diet. If you plan a shopping list, drive to the shop, spend hours picking up all that you need, drive home, unpack everything, there is a very small chance you will go to McDonald’s later. That’s just it, the more effort we put into something, the more difficult it is for us to waste it.
  3. Reduce waste. I once heard a very interesting interview with a freegan living in Poland, who said that he doesn’t spend nor earn any money. He lives off food found in the trash or taken from supermarkets when it hits expiry date. Very noble indeed, and even though I did not agree with most of what he was saying (he lived in his friends apartment, for example, which means someone had to pay for it), I think the idea behind what he was doing was great. I’ve actually looked through the page of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and found some really bothering information. Did you know that food currently wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people? 200 million people is just like more than half the population of the United States. If we reduce what we waste, by reducing what we buy, the market will adjust itself and produce less. The environment is going to thank us all for that. Let’s look up some UN statistics over here:

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Source: SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction by the UN.

I’m European and I feel ashamed we don’t respect what we have and waste such amounts. I think that’s enough of reasons to support, that meal planning is worth trying.

How I started?

With a rather basic concept in my head – what I can actually cook, what do my boyfriend Floret and I like to eat, is there something seasonal now that I can use which is cheaper than imported goods? I listed all my thoughts onto a piece of paper and moved from there.

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I prepared my plan – on an A4 sheet of technical paper I drew a table. I could buy one but I wanted to hand-craft something myself to try out some of my non-existent calligraphy skills which I gained by doing absolutely nothing ever with calligraphy, but I did get some special pens for a birthday gift (last October) and I think it’s time to try them out – even to write in my regular handwriting.

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As you can see I’m not an artist – duh! – but I tried to make it easy to understand and very clear. Almost all the dishes I chose for lunch and dinner are my home’s classics that we enjoy and are quite easy to prepare. I started out like that just because I’m not very used to planning everything in such detail (and none of my diets ever lasted longer than “until Tuesday”). I thought I will give it a slow start, just to make sure I don’t resign after couple of days. My main concern is that I work full-time from 7 am until usually 5 pm, so I have to eat lunch at work – hence it has to be prepared in a way that allows microwaving and also doesn’t make food taste like paper afterwards. I don’t necessarily eat breakfast at home either, actually I don’t remember the last time I did, so I might have to change that and start waking up a little bit earlier (I already suffer when I think of it, I will have to wake up earlier than 6 am!).

What I hope will keep me motivated is:

Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.

I have to visit UN’s site more often.

I made my plan include a shopping list – since the designed place I would hang it on was the Fridge (notice the “F”. Not a fridge, the Fridge) it made perfect sense to me. I tried to use blue colour mostly, because the only elements in my house that are not white or wooden are blue – so I made a food table to fit my couch – so tricky. Unfortunately the Fridge itself is for some reason black (and it also makes a noise that annoys everyone that stays over for a night on my couch), and I don’t own fancy magnets, so I had to improvise and give you a little preview of what my other posts might be about.

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Here it is, ready-to-go plan for meals. I hope I can handle doing everything as perfectly as I wrote there. I think what might be the most difficult part is lack of chocolate, or generally sweets, but I have to start getting my bikini body (haven’t worn a bikini since 2012, but ok) and finally get back to my weight from before I quit smoking.

I hope you will get inspired with all the meal planning and hop aboard my train to reduce waste. I made my first step towards being more conscious last night. I attended one of my friend’s bachelorette party and at the end the waiter asked if we want to take the remaining food (which was a lot) out. Naturally I said “yeah” and that’s how some of my friends have great Balkan food to eat for the rest of the weekend. Small step, but what matters is that it’s a step ahead.

I hope to let you know in a week how it went.

Let me know what you think about food wastage and meal planning. Do you plan yourself?

Dorota

 

My Erasmus experience – a year long trip!

Hello World,

a couple of years ago when I was still a student I was offered to go for an Erasmus Programme (a European Union Students Exchange Programme). Since it was not very popular at my Faculty, I could choose every single country and city I could think of. My University works with best Schools in Europe, and I was very close to picking Delft in the Netherlands, but because I am undoubtedly stupid I decided to pick a little town in the middle of nowhere in Portugal.

I can imagine your thoughts now: she went to beautiful Portugal to lay on the beach all day long and eat all this amazing food. Well yes. If only the city I lived in had any comfortable connection with any respectable beach and if only the Erasmus Committee did bother to read my application data.

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Wonderful beach in Nazare where I spent most of my weekends.

If you don’t have any experience with Erasmus I can tell you that before you are qualified to go you have to fill in numerous questionnaires and mark boxes for truly everything. Do you want to study in English? Yes √ Do you want to get your student’s buddy? Yes √ Do you need help in arranging accommodation? Yes √ Want to guess? Exactly – they didn’t help me in any of these.

Even though my school usually started at 7 pm and finished at 11:30 pm – yes, I wrote it correctly, PM! – even though I had to study Electrical Engineering in Portuguese, which I didn’t know at that time, even if there were no radiators in my apartment and I was freezing to death in winter, it was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

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Drying fish on a beach in Nazare. 

Let me start from the beginning. I went to Leiria in September 2014. I didn’t know absolutely anyone else on Erasmus there, I didn’t know the city and couldn’t speak Portuguese. At first I felt depressed really. The weather was amazing but I didn’t have any friends to have fun with, the University did not give me my student’s buddy so I had no one to talk to really, up until… I decided to put myself there and literally searched for other people, both online and in real life. Whenever I heard English I was immediately joining conversations – of strangers, yes – and socializing with them. Suddenly I met so many people I had friends everywhere – some of these friendships survived until now, some didn’t – and I was living the life I always wanted – sightseeing, studying and partying.

Since all students on Erasmus get paid scholarships I was thrilled to try the Portuguese cuisine. I met many Portuguese people who told me very interesting stories and facts about their country. I tried their beer, their seafood, I attended concerts, even football games. What surprised me? How open people are. How easy it is to communicate even if you don’t know a single word of their language and they don’t speak English. How common it is to drink and drive there (terrifying really!) and how you can a perfectly cooled beer even in the smallest village.

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Amazing berbigao in Nazare. Best. Food. Ever.

I also learned a lot, not only about Engineering and Portuguese language, but also about myself and how I perceived the world.

I met people from literally every country in the European Union, we mixed our cultures frequently. Many times I organized dinners for over 30 people! I learned the importance of eating with your family, – Portuguese people always eat in such big groups! I was surprised at first how easy it was for them to invite me to dinner. Like I was a member of their family really and my strict, northern upbringing was truly shocked. – of rest during long work days – only place in the entire world where restaurants are closed from 12:00 till 3:00 pm so that the stuff can rest – and how to live peacefully and in acceptance of people, that are simply different from me.

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The beautiful Porto.

I also helped many of my friends and family visit Portugal as well. My mom, my siblings and best friend all visited me and we had a blast.

What is my advice? I think the most important thing, if you consider going for an Erasmus Programme, is that you should never close yourself for new friendships just because you go with someone you already know. I witnessed many people staying in these rather closed groups of friends and never really experiencing their adventure fully. I met people who have never even tried amazing Portuguese dishes because they were constantly claiming food is expensive. I met people who claimed that going out is for stupid people. If you want to go for an Erasmus don’t be any of these people. Stay open and curious.

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Stunning monastery in Batalha.

In order to prepare better for such experience I think it’s most suitable to plan ahead. Erasmus Community organizes many trips and activities which might be great to attend, but sometimes you just need a schedule to not miss out on anything. Of course if you would like to go to Portugal I can gladly help you with that – maybe in a little hectic way, but hey! No judging! – So e-mail me if you want some info.

What’s the most important thing to remember? I think: improvise and be spontaneous. I was very reserved at first and then, after couple of months I was greeting strangers with a kiss on the cheek, I was hitchhiking frequently including driving in a truck transporting onion, and did many more crazy things!

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I spent an entire year in Portugal, visiting many cities like Porto, Lisbon, Guimaraes, Obidos, Peniche and many others. I loved it so much, that even this year I am planning to go back with my boyfriend Floret, to check out the southern part of the country – Algarve. I didn’t have a chance to visit when I lived there, but right now it’s the spot I am hoping to see this August.

And did you go for an exchange programme? Let me know in the comments!

Dorota

How to stop being broke?

If you’re suffering from lack of money and are wondering why is it that some people always seem to have cash and you’re constantly broke, I think I might have a hint for you – you’re shopping inefficiently!

Please don’t tell me now other people have cash because they earn more. That is a misconception that grew into stereotype, when in reality the difference is: they’re frugal and you’re not. First example: me. I earn quite a lot of money for my age, but at the end of the month I struggle to be able to afford basic domestics. On the other hand, one of my best friends is an aspiring artist who seems to always have cash even though she earns a third of what I do. Since I noticed this phenomenon I became more aware of what I buy and how I manage my money. I hope this post is going to give you some ideas that might help you take care of your budget.

Disclaimer:

i suck at saving money

I really do suck at saving, I don’t think I ever had real savings my entire life. The following tips come from my personal experience, but I have yet to establish how to use them in a long run. Any tips?

  1. Buy only what you really need.

This goes for food, clothes, appliances, electronics and home decor – although if you really want to save money you don’t need anything else than food. Each time you think you need to buy something, immediately drink a glass of water, sit down and simply don’t do it. If you lived for a year without a dishwasher, and you struggle with cash, probably you don’t need the dishwasher that much. If your closet is full of clothes don’t buy another white t-shirt or jeans, rather keep your money for a time, when you’d be needing something important.

In case of food, I heard from various sources how you need a list of groceries to be sure you only buy necessities. That is true, I don’t usually go to the supermarket without a list either, but what you need to keep in mind is that even though you have one, you might still buy a lot of unnecessary items. Example: today I made a list of things I should buy for another three days. I folded it and put it in my purse, but just before I left I went to grab some water from the fridge and realised I listed a lot of things I already had! Hence, whenever you decide to go shopping look through your cupboards, fridge and refrigerator to learn what you really have there and maybe during that routine you might invent dishes that don’t need additional shopping – my favourite: spaghetti alio olio.

Another frugal thing I learned recently is to eat less meat. Meat is expensive – it deteriorates fast and you need to spend a lot of time to prepare it, plus you might feel bloated and tired from excess in your diet – shop smarter and more consciously.

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2. Find additional sources of income.

The best tip to not be broke is to earn more and from various sources. I work full-time for a company in Warsaw, but I also cooperate with other companies just to have additional source of income. If you can’t get another job, think about contacting your supervisor about a raise, or some additional benefits. Another way to do it is to get rid of the things you don’t need anymore, but other people may perceive useful – sell those off e-bay and save the money for later.

3. Look for small saving opportunities.

Don’t spend money on useless crap is more approriate for a title here, but it corresponds too much with point number one, so let me stay with the “look for small saving opportunities”. Generally, don’t spend money on… plastic bags – take some from home, gym membership cards if you’re too lazy to ever practice, paid applications on your iPad or phone – cause you don’t need any of it, even if you think you do, magazines and newspapers – use the Internet instead. Don’t buy bottled water if you have the same one or better in your tap, don’t buy fancy notebooks, pens etc. if you have a lot of them lying around your house. Don’t buy flowers, eat at restaurants, drink at pubs… generally live like a freaking monk for a while, but trust me, you will be rewarded. And, oh boy, it will be worth it!

4. Because the whole reason for saving up is to be able to spend it later on something totally worth it!

Keep your goal in mind and work towards it! If it’s a trip, renting a dream car (looking at you Floret), expensive camera or even paying up your debts. Work hard for it and you’ll finally achieve all your goals! Living life frugaly has to have a purpose, and collecting money is a crappy one, trust me. Money does not bring happiness, unless it’s a mean to achieve what you want. So buckle up on your adventure to whatever it is you need to save money for.

Btw. If anyone of you will tell me you don’t need to save money because you don’t have any debts, but in the same time you have mortgage on your house, credit or your balance on the credit card is not 0, than you are an idiot and you should save money cause you’re drowning in debt! If you are not in debt, you don’t owe money to ANYONE! Simple as that.

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Dorota