“What’s worth doing is worth doing for money.”- Gordon Gekko

You’ll be pleased to know, guys and girls, that I have just gotten around to setting up a fundraising page on JustGiving, which you can see at


(the title is wildly inventive, I know)

So, if you have a few spare pounds burning a hole in your debit card, feel free to donate (no pressure!)

I would truly appreciate it, and so would the good folks over at the Alzheimer’s Society


Rach x


“What’s worth doing is worth doing for money.” -Gordon Gekko

Have finally gotten around to creating a donation page, which can be found at


(the title is extremely inventive, I know!)

So, no pressure, but if you’ve got a few spare pounds burning a hole in your debit card, I would really appreciate the donations.

Cheers x



There are 365 days in a year.

The average person in the UK lives for 80 years.

For those of you who aren’t as skilled with a calculator as I am, that’s over 29,000 days that each person is gifted with. So, when you look at the big picture of life, one year, 365 days is fairly insignificant.

However, as we all know, it only takes one day to change your life.

This is the summary of the 365 days that changed my life.

So, for those of you who have been following this blog religiously, you’ll know that I’ve had a pretty busy year. In the last 12 months (give or take) I’ve been on 19 different planes. I’ve spent time in 3 different countries. I’ve met hundreds of new people. I’ve grown an extra inch (I know, I know, but I swear, I don’t sleep in a grow-bag!)

I’ve spent 2 weeks on a mission trip in South Africa. I’ve spent 4 weeks doing various missions in Northern Ireland. I’ve spent 40 days in Grenoble, France, and of course, I lived in Valencia, Spain for nine wonderful months.

It’s impossible to say what has been the highlight of this last year, there are too many spectacular moments to count. The road-trip with Adam and Patrick to the south of Spain, bonding with the team in South Africa, making new friendships and renewing old ones, working with some incredible kids in IES Federica Montseny, international rooftop barbecues, even getting free food on my Emirates flights! It has been a year of real highs, without a doubt.

Like everything, though, there have been low points.  Leaving my family was wrenching, and the homesickness was difficult to deal with at times, but thankfully the high points far outweighed the lows.

I think I have changed, although my Mum might disagree! I think that I have grown up a lot. Don’t get me wrong, inside I’m still a twelve year old, and can still be a complete child at times, but I think in the important things, I have matured. I have learnt how to be independent and that even though I’m an adult that it’s OK to miss home when you’re away. I’ve developed my Spanish to a more advanced level, which is great, although I somehow managed to return home with an English accent. I know that I’m now capable of doing anything that I set my mind to. I have more confidence in myself, not only with speaking Spanish, but my myriad of body issues no longer seem as important. (Once you’ve had some random person approach you in the street and say to your face “Madre mía, que grande!/ Oh my word, look at the size of you!” you learn to walk with your head held high!) Most importantly of all, I now know how to work a washing machine, and to the endless surprise of myself, I have managed not to turn anything pink (yet!)

I can’t really describe the sensation of being in a country by yourself, far away from your friends, family and all that you hold dear, and knowing that nobody speaks the same language as you. Some people might find that freeing, but they’re idiots. It’s absolutely bone-chillingly terrifying. Mercifully though, you acclimatize, and by the end of your time there, when you return to your home country, and your native language, it’s a really weird being surrounded by English-speaking folks again. At the least it means that when you’re gossiping about someone’s hair they can understand you, and will have no qualms in turning round and laying you out!

I’ve now got to the stage of this post where I’m wondering if it’s making any sense at all, so I’m gonna tell you a joke, to alleviate the boredom that you’re no doubt experiencing.

How many Spanish people does it take to change a light bulb?

Just Juan!

Now that’s over with, I’ll resume my long and rambling reflection!

First of all I’d like to say thank you to a few people.

Adam, Matt and Patrick (also featuring Lasse, Martin, Schmidt and Daniela)- you guys were the best flat mates that I could have hoped for. You made my time in Valencia so, so, so special, and I’ll never be able to express how glad I am that we became a little family! Barraca 8 for life guys!

Joa, Montse, Gemma, Carmen and all the other teachers at IES FM- I cannot express how happy my time in IES FM was. It is no doubt because of the way you welcomed me into the staff room, and looked after me. You were always there if I needed help, and introduced me to the Spanish way of life! Muchas gracias.

Mum & Dad- thank you for always being there. Whether it be in the picture on my bedside table or your little faces on Skype, I know that there is no way that I could have done this all without your reassurances. I love you guys.

And to everyone else, thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers over this last year. Thank you for sending me letters, care packages and drawings. Thank you for taking the time and expense to come and visit me. You’ll never know how much I appreciated hearing from you on Facebook, Skpye or any of the other many methods of communication available!

Secondly, if you’re just about to leave on your year abroad, do not worry at all. You may be worried, but the experience is so, so worth it. You’ll change in ways you didn’t think were possible, and you will grow up. You’re jumping into the deep end, but trust me, you’ll float!

The same applies to anyone else who has ever considered moving abroad! The juice is worth the squeeze!

To everyone and anyone who has ever read one of these entries, thank you. So much.

This might be my last entry for a while. I started this blog to keep you all updated on my adventures throughout the last year, and now that final year looms, I can’t imagine that I can find the time to update this. I have enjoyed the experience immensely, and writing this has been a very cathartic experience. Who knows? Maybe in the future I’ll pack my bags again and will have lots of adventures to tell you about.

Thanks again,

Rachel x

March Madness

March of 2013 may well go down in history as one of the craziest months that I have ever had.

Firstly there was the insanity that is Fallas. For those of you who don’t know, Fallas is a huge four day festival that is celebrated in the Valencia region, but the biggest festivities are in Valencia city, so yeah. It was pretty epic. Basically, Valencia is divided up into hundreds of “casals” which are neighborhood organizations whose main aim is to fundraise and plan for Fallas. Each casal represents a small area of the city, and they have to produce a “falla” each year. A falla is a huge model made of wood and papier-mâché, which often contains satirical references to modern life, and the people featured on these can be politicians, footballers, celebrities, etc. One person who featured quite abundantly this year was the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with the Spanish king, Juan Carlos I, and oddly enough, Steve Jobs.

Now the main Falla festival lasted for four days, Saturday to Tuesday, but leading up to this there are certain events that take place beforehand. The biggest of these is the mascletà, which is basically a huge fireworks/noise display. It takes place every day at 2pm in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, and the noise levels can reach about 120dB, which is the same as a jet plane taking off. It’s so loud you can feel the sound waves vibrating through you, your stomach churns, your teeth chatter and your ears pound like a bass drum on the 12th of July. It’s horrendous. I literally could feel the vibrations coming from the ground. Not the most pleasant of experiences, but one that you have to do in Valencia in March.

A lot of young girls from the city dress up in the traditional Valencian garb, which involves these huge and intricate dresses and hairstyles.

As it happens, St Patricks Day fell on the second day of Fallas, so Adam, Patrick and I took a break from the madness to head to St Patricks Bar for a day to celebrate our Irish heritage! The Guinness flowed freely, the green, white and orange facepaint was applied and we sat down for one of the most enjoyble (and international) nights I’ve ever had, with Irish Patrick, English Adam and Tim, German Thomas, and American Danielle, Alison and Morgan. So much fun!

During March I also had the privilege of having lots of visitors during March. Firstly I had the great pleasure of having Lauren Quigley and some of her friends from Paris, and it was great to see her again after so long! We went to see the mascletà and to the Oceanographic, and I had the bizarre experience of eating a horsemeat burger (one that I had intentionally ordered by the way!). Secondly, I had Sophie, an old friend from school who is on her Erasmus year in Madrid, and two of her friends come to visit, for some of Fallas. It was good to catch up with her and get to know her friends, who were both lovely. Even if one of them claimed that I liked pop music. We also had our American friend Alison and her friend Morgan to stay for a few days which was awesome, and we went for a little day trip out of Valencia to Sagunt, which has a really nice ancient Roman castle and ampitheatre.

Finally, the highlight of March was without a doubt the arrival of Mum and Dad in Valencia. After almost 100 days without seeing them, it was so good to hug my Mum again, and my Dad. Mum was almost in tears when I met her at the airport, and I was close to shedding a few myself! On top of that the next day my bestest chum and partner in crime, Chloe arrived in Valencia. It was such an awesome week having them all here, and we got to do some pretty awesome stuff. Saying goodbye to them all on the same day at the same time was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do, and the next few day were ridiculously depressing. Having people leave you is so much harder than you having to leave them. 

So, as you can see, March was pretty ridiculous! So much happened, so many people came to visit, and it was undoubtedly one of the best months of my time here!

Hasta pronto!



Dia de San Valentin, and other reasons why February sucked.

Gosh? Is it really almost three months since I’ve last written? Crazy times. Since Christmas, time here has been passing by at the speed of light, and I’ve just never really taken the time to sit down and tell all you dear readers what’s been going on!

Firstly, relax, February didn’t suck. It was just… slightly uninteresting? Anyway…

Let’s start where I left off shall we? When I last posted at the end of January, I had written about how I felt like my Spanish had improved drastically, and I’m pleased to report that I can notice improvement almost everyday, even if it’s just learning one new word, I can read the newspaper more fluently, even Spanish television isn’t as daunting as it once was (although Spanish TV is complete and utter crap, let me tell you!)

Big events that happened in February include-

Big time room mate bonding with Patrick and the new guy Adam. I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to know these guys whilst here. They’ve become like my family here, and it’s been nice to have “big brothers” to look out for me the way my other “big brothers” at home do.

Making new friends- Sadly, still don’t have any Spanish friends, but I can now count several Floridians amongst my friends. These guys came over here to study for a semester, and they have really enriched my experience here. Even if I know more about their country than they do.

School dinners- I’ve had the chance to really get to know some of the other teachers in my school quite well, either through their participation in my “English for Teachers” class on Thursday mornings, or through having lunch with them. Thanks to them, I’ve been able to enjoy new cuisine, such as Hindu-Pakistani food (the highlight of which was definitely the pistachio ice cream at the end- new addiction!) or even traditional Valencian fare, such as Fideuà, (Fee-duh-wah) which is a paella-like dish which replaces rice with thin noodles. It was absolutely delicious, although peeling prawns is perhaps the most disturbing thing ever.

Champions League- As many of you will know, I am a rather huge football fan, so when I heard the news of a Champions League match being played in Valencia, obviously I had to go. The match was Valencia vs. Paris St. Germain, and without a doubt it was one of the most incredible atmospheres that I’ve ever seen at a match, although obviously, it doesn’t come close to Elland Road! Unfortunately Valencia lost, but it was an amazing match to watch, and seeing players like Ibrahimovic play was an awesome thing to witness (even if he was sent off for kicking someone)

BA All Day- In February, I was asked by the teachers of my school to prepare a presentation about the education system in the UK. Obviously, I had to start at the top, so, wearing my Banbridge Academy uniform like the proud alumni that I am, I gave those kids a presentation they will never forget! They all almost died when they saw that I had to wear a tie to school, which was quite funny, but on the all, they really enjoyed it. I think. Haha.

All in all, February was a quiet month. At least, quiet in comparison to what lay ahead.



Sorry, I’m like super busy right now.

So yeah, sorry I haven’t posted for a while, my dear readers, although saying I’m “super” busy may be reaching a bit. Frankly, it’s because nothing of any real note has happened to me in the last 4 weeks, so sadly, I’m a bit short of material to keep you all entertained!

However, let me persevere with the mundane! In the 25 days since I’ve last written to you all, I have hit the sales (a few times) gone to a nightclub or two (Two. I’ve been to two.) I have sort of started getting the routine back into my life, which was severely lacking for a while there. I have read 7 books and learned 5 new songs on the guitar. Told you I was bored.

So yes, the first few weeks of my re-entry into Spanish life have been…disorganized. The first week I was back, two of the teachers had the week off because they were planning a Comenius Project (Sort of like Erasmus, but in high school… I think) So that left only one teacher who needed me for one hour the first week I was back. The next week, wasn’t much better, but thankfully, this week has been slightly more action-packed, so I’ve slightly more to report!

I still haven’t found any great love for the idea of being a teacher (frankly, the idea of 2 month holidays is currently the biggest draw) but I’m having fun working with all the age groups, and I feel more comfortable with them all now, as I feel as if I know them better. Actually, recognise them is probably a better word… I could maybe name about 10 students. (Sort of how I feel when I have to deal with my Mum’s extended family. I can name about 10 of them).

I’ve also slowed down the way I speak, because let’s face it, if we’ve ever had a conversation, I’m fairly fast at talking. I’m no Lauren Moore, but we can’t all be that lucky! With some of the classes we’ve started a bit of literature (Matilda, A Christmas Carol and The Picture of Dorian Gray.) and that makes it slightly easier for me to figure out what to do in lessons, and as we all know, I’m a great advocate of reading.

A strange change has happened within me since Christmas though. When I went to buy my bus ticket to Valencia in Barcelona on my way back, I discovered that I had forgotten every single bit of Spanish that I’ve ever been taught. I ballsed up even the most basic of sentences. When asking for my ticket, which is something I learned at 13 or 14, instead of using the proper word “billete” I came out with the mangled Spanglish offering of “tickete” whilst the server looked at me as if I’d just sprouted a trunk and told her I was Queen of the Elephant People. Needless to say, after that painful experience I was quite reticent to try Spanish again, and it took me a few days to even say “Gracias” to the wee man in the Chino Shop (That’s a Chinese Convenience Shop, not somewhere where my brother and his friends get their trousers)

However, somewhere in the last few weeks I have suddenly become much more confident with my Spanish. I’m making less mistakes and not having to ask as often about vocabulary, which is nice. It may not be noticeable to my teacher friends here, but I feel as if my language has suddenly been shifted into a higher gear.

Today, for example, I summoned up the courage to ask for something to eat in the school café. This can be difficult, because there are no signs saying what stuff is, and being the fussy eater that I can be at times, I figured it was safer just to buy a bottle of water and starve until I came home after work. Well, no more! Today, I successfully asked for “tostadas con aceite y sal” (Toasted baguette with salt and olive oil) which may not seem like much, but to me, if was like pushing past the wall that I hear marathon runners hit. (Even if the extent of my marathon-ing knowledge is from Run, Fat Boy, Run)

It felt like I had overcome something. It felt good.

Then, emboldened by my success with the Oily Toast, I decided to take the plunge and ask the server if she could explain to me what was in things, and gave her the pitiful excuse that I’m not Spanish, and don’t understand what a Bocadillo Simpatico was.

Her response “Oh, no eres de España?/ Oh, you’re not from Spain?”

Ok, I may be getting ahead of myself in thinking that after four months, I am now fully Spanish, since, it is almost impossible to mess up the phrase “una botella de agua, por favor” (which had been the extent of our interactions up until today) but I’m looking on the bright side. I am now fully Spanish.

If you need me, I’ll be sitting at an outdoor café with a tortilla española because I’m on strike.

Hasta pronto.



#13 29/1

#13 29/1

29/1- Hereby rescind any comments regarding how the people of Spain are lazy, slow and generally useless, because my Kindle arrived in LESS THAN 24 HOURS.