Friday, 1 August 2014

So, you're thinking of moving abroad?

In my personal opinion, moving away from home and living in a foreign country is such an eye-opening and unique experience. The saying goes that travel is the only thing you can spend money on that makes you richer. I'm tempted to contradict that statement by throwing the words scratch and card out there, but I'll just keep it at that. Anyway, I wouldn't call myself an expert in this particular field, travel, not scratch cards; however for the last few years I have lived in various places around the world so I feel like I have a little to share. 

If you've read my About page, (link) or have read a few of my blog posts, you may be familiar with the fact that I am currently living in Finland. Before that, I was living in Qatar, in the Middle East. Nothing like mixing it up a bit eh!? I'll spare you the details of how I came to be in both places as you can read that elsewhere on my blog, but I thought that I would try my best to give some advice on what to consider or look out for if you are planning on packing your bags and starting afresh in another country.

Do your research!

Ok, this sounds pretty self explanatory; although you can sometimes get swept up in the excitement of moving somewhere new, but when faced with the reality, it may not be all that great for you. If you are moving to work for a new company, then it is pretty common that they will send you information on the country in question. If not, you should ask them to give you as much info as they can. The internet is your friend if you use it wisely. It can be easy to read horror stories on certain places and be completely put off by what you see. I've had so many people question me on Qatar and some of the misconceptions about the place would be enough to put even the most seasoned traveller off! Look for balanced and genuine information about where you are hoping to move. Every country has its flaws and its good points. Try and get in touch with other expats living in the same place and ask them for any tips. You'll find that there are so many expat groups on Facebook these days just waiting to help you out.

Know what you want from the move

Are you hoping to move to further your career, meet new friends, or be closer to loved ones? It's important to identify what it is that you are hoping for out of this transition so that you don't find yourself being disappointed further down the line if things don't work out how you'd hoped they would. 

Have an emergency fund!

It doesn't need to be a whole chunk of savings, but if you have a bit of money set to one side or a bank account with an overdraft or credit card, these will be huge lifelines if you ever find yourself in a spot of financial bother. If for any reason you need to dash back home, you need the security of knowing that there's money on hand to pay for such emergencies. I've been in the situation where I've had my salary paid to me late because of an extended public holiday and having something to fall back on is really useful. You have to remember that the country you are in may have different rules than back at home and sometimes people aren't always willing to help you out. 

Health care

Depending on where you are planning to move, you will need to figure out how you are going to look after yourself in a medical sense. It's no good rocking up at your final destination and then having to drag your sorry ass back home to see the doctor. In Qatar, my medical insurance was paid for by my company so find out if you are entitled to a similar thing if you have a job lined up abroad. If you are moving within the EU and you are from another EU member state, such as the UK, then access to health care is generally a bit easier but it is vitally important that you find out what the specific rules are before you make the move. Also, it is worth noting that some countries carry an increased risk of transmittable diseases and other nasty bugs, so find out from your local doctor if you need any jabs before you leave. Don't make the mistake that I did and leave it right to the last minute as some injections take a number of weeks and multiple visits to kick in!

Embrace the local culture

I get that certain aspects of a foreign culture might not be everyone's cup of tea, but there is so much to gain from just embracing it, rather than letting it feel like a negative. Sure, dancing around a pole with a salmon on you head is a bit weird, but hey, why not? I spent part of Ramadan living in a Muslim country and I can tell you that it was a total culture shock. Drinking or eating in public during daylight hours is an arrestable offence and for a girl who likes her food, it was a toughie; but seeing restaurants come alive at night with various Iftar offerings was lovely to see. Just try and take something from the situation; however small and in the end, it all adds up to your vast wealth of life experience. 

Be safe

This is the part where I'm probably going to sound a bit naggy, but it's so important to remember that it isn't just a holiday. When you're having the time of your life partying it up in a bright, new city, you can often forget that you're a million miles from home and that you are probably in a much more vulnerable position than a local who knows the place and knows the rules. I don't want to be a spoil sport but if you wouldn't get in a stranger's car back at home, don't do it when you're anywhere else. It goes without saying but I have seen it happen so often where people have been taken advantage of because they have been singled out for being an expat. Please, please be careful! It's also a good idea to find out if your home country has an embassy in the place you are moving to, and you should register with them as soon as possible on arrival. You know, in case you do a Bridget Jones and end up in a foreign prison, trading your bra for a few essentials... Not good!

Finally, remember...

It doesn't matter where you go in the world, or how much you love the place you decided to make the big move to, you're always going to have a few crappy moments where you want to stuff your wash-bag, lipstick and a clean pair of pants in your bag and make a beeline for the nearest exit. We've all been there. There isn't a single expat that I have met that hasn't had days where they want to give it all up and walk away. The key is to focus on the reasons why you moved in the first place. Are you genuinely unhappy or are you just having an off day? Take time to take a step back, speak to friends and family and maybe eat a bit of cake because cake makes everything better, right? Feeling homesick from time to time is completely natural and I've taught myself to ride the waves when they come. It isn't always easy starting a life somewhere new, but it can be an incredibly rewarding and life-changing experience.

 photo signature1_zps046b133c.jpg

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Is it just me?

People are pretty weird. Nobody in particular, just everyone. We've all got these strange little quirks and habits which make up the very fabric of our individuality... I fall into the category of, 'people' therefore I completely accept that I'm as strange as everybody else; although I'm pretty comfortable with this.

I'm not even sure what got me thinking about this today. I wish I could say something meaningful and insightful but I can't, so I'm sorry for that. I guess maybe it started by looking at my decorative, purple candles on my window... You know the kind - Bought ages ago, never lit. It's kinda strange that I bought a product designed to be lit and give light and yet they've sat on my bedroom window sill for six months gathering dust. Now I know for a fact I'm not the only one that does this. Bazillions of people all around the world have candles dotted around their homes, never to be lit and never to be used. Why do we do this? Why not just paint some plastic cylinders and stick those on your fireplace? 

I decided to compose a little list of some of my other strange habits, along with the question of, 'Is it just me?' That way I can figure out if I'm a, 'normal' level of weird or just weird weird. Here goes:

- I can't wash dishes. At all. The thought of putting my hands into dirty dish water makes me physically recoil in disgust. Yes, what about rubber gloves? I can't do that either. Have you ever smelt your hands after washing up in rubber gloves? *Shudder* Just no. 

- If a cupboard door is slightly ajar, I need to close it. Who knows what's hiding in there. Which leads me on to...

- I make up completely irrational and unrealistic scenarios in my head, and then scare myself with them. Like the time I convinced myself there was a small, grudge-esque child living in my basement. (See here

- I buy things based purely on the fact that they're pretty, regardless if I want/need/will ever use it. 

- I go batshit crazy if someone dares to flick water in my face. I'm the girl that swims with my neck outstretched so as not to get a splash and I've pretty much mastered the art of showering without so much as a drip touching my face. 

- I don't like food on my plate to touch. My veg shouldn't touch my meat and anything slightly runny should just be in a little corner by itself. (The obvious exception to the rule being gravy) I'm slightly better at tolerating this now, especially eating out at restaurants; however, when I was a child, I was a nightmare for not eating any of my food that had bumped into each other on my plate. 

- I love my pets more than most people. Just saying. 

- I get completely obsessed with songs and then play them on repeat until I no longer enjoy listening to them.

- I get emotionally attached to clothes. It doesn't matter that you're ten years old and I've only worn you once... I can't part with you! You never know, it may come back in fashion!

- I have dreams about my boyfriend being horrible to me and then I wake up mad and grumpy with him. 

- If I ever get a spot, I know I shouldn't pick it. I tell myself I mustn't pick it. Then I pick it. Arghh!

- I can't set my alarm to go off at any time that is not to the nearest five minutes. 6:45 - Yes, 6:46 - No! If I happen to press snooze and end up on a random time, I will wait until the nearest five minutes to get up. 

If you can relate to any of the above or have any strange habits of your own, feel free to pop them in a comment below and let's all embrace the weirdness. 
 photo signature1_zps046b133c.jpg

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

My £9 Dior Addict Lipstick in Spring Ball!

If you're a regular visitor on this little space of the interweb, then you'll no doubt be aware of the fact that I live in Finland. Not just anywhere in Finland, but a small city, which would definitely be a town back home in the UK. Being a small town means that the prominence of makeup stockists are much lower than I am entirely happy about; HOWEVER, there is one little gem of a place that I visit quite regularly and on one of these occasions I stumbled upon this gorgeous Dior Addict lipstick at the wonderfully reduced price of 9 whole, Great British Pounds! *Squeal*

If you follow me on Twitter, (shameless link here) then you may have seen my excitable post about said discovery, a week or so ago. I will show you the swatch now as I know you must be dying to see this gorgeous colour in all its glory!

This was only one or two swipes and as you can see, it's such a soft, shimmery barely-there peachy/pink. It's a far cry from the usual lipsticks that I pick up but when it's reduced, I was in no mood to be saying no! 

I bought one of the Dior Addict Fluid Sticks a while back, (you can read the review here) and I loved it; however I am absolutely blown away by the lipstick. It's super glossy and has a lovely creamy texture which leaves your lips feeling hydrated - big selling points for a non-matte lover like me. The colour is so flattering and would probably look great with most skin tones.

Now, for the sad news! Grab your tissues girls because this limited edition lovely is now discontinued. After searching high and low to find a reputable stockist online, I starting to get the sneaking suspicion that Dior were no longer producing this little lovely; and after emailing their customer services, my suspicions were confirmed. I guess that's why a perfectly good lipstick was in the reduced section... Damn you!

So, my current action plan is to nip back to the shop and see if there are any more of these beauts left to be snapped up and I'm going to challenge some of you seasoned beauty whizzes to find me a similar shade that can be my fall-back when this runs out. So please, if you know of a dupe for this lippie, pop it in a comment below. As for the Dior lipstick itself; I'm already eyeing up other shades I can grab to try out. (Hello Collection and Baby Rose) 

Have you tried any of the Dior Addict lipsticks? If so, what are your thoughts?
 photo signature1_zps046b133c.jpg

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

L’ORÉAL Nude Magique BB Cream

This is probably going to be quite a difficult review to write because; although I scored a fairly decent grade in English, I think there are only so many ways of saying something is perfect... seriously!

Recently, I've been on the lookout for great foundation alternatives, especially with Summer being in full swing. I have generally stuck to tinted moisturisers in the past, but it would seem that BB creams are having their heyday at the moment. So naturally, I wanted a piece of the pie! 

If you're unfamiliar with BB creams, they're blemish balms or beauty balms, depending on where you live. It's basically just a jazzed up tinted moisturiser, usually with a few more bells and whistles. 

The L’ORÉAL Nude Magique is an absolute gem of a BB cream. It does exactly what it says on the tin - It gives you a great, even complexion without too much heavy coverage, it gives you a beautiful dewy glow as well as hydrating your skin and giving you a little added SPF. 

The cream squeezes an off white colour, straight from the tube. The product is described as having, 'Smart Pigment Capsules' which I can only assume means the teeny tiny, little gritty bits in it that you can see if you squint and stare far too intensely at your computer screen. As soon as you start to blend the cream, the formula changes to the colour that you would typically expect. I attempted to swatch this; however it's almost impossible to see in a photograph.

I opted for the light skin tone shade as the medium does come out quite dark. The light is perfect for me as it gives me just a good hint of colour, without stepping into the borderline orange territory. Used with my usual primer, I find that the Nude Magique Cream gives me a fabulously flawless finish that seems to last through the day, even when you're sitting in the blazing sun sipping sparkling wine.. *cough* 

Since I bought this product, it has seriously not left my face! My MAC foundation is sitting patiently in my makeup bag, waiting for the colder weather to return; although I think I will definitely continue using this all year round as an everyday base. 

Have you tried the L’ORÉAL Nude Magique BB Cream? What are your thoughts?
 photo signature1_zps046b133c.jpg

Monday, 28 July 2014

Meripäivät - Kotka Maritime Festival

If you're wondering why I've been a little quieter than usual on the blog this weekend, it's all down to what's been happening in the small city in which I live; Kotka - Finland. Every year at the end of July, the town gets a makeover and over 200,000 people flock to the streets to participate in the maritime festivities. Which largely translates to soaking up the lively atmosphere and enjoying a beverage or six at one of the many outdoor bars and beer tents. As you can imagine, it didn't take much to convince me to participate!

The fun took place over a number of days, with so much to see and do. The festival drew it's inspiration from the Baltic Sea and on Thursday; the city saw a parade run through one of its main streets. The sun was out in full force and it was strange to see so many people lining the roads in such a usually, quiet place. 

The parade wasn't as focused on the, 'Baltic Sea' theme as I would have expected; however it was still interesting to see some of the clubs and local businesses taking part.

Scott and I skipped the festival on Friday as we had a pair of sore heads from the night before and decided to attend a BBQ at a friend's house instead. On Saturday we were up bright and early... Okay, maybe not so early, but we headed down to the harbour to check out the variety of stalls and food vendors. We took full advantage of the beer tents, which were a welcome pit stop in the scorching heat! Sunday consisted of pretty much the same, minus the alcohol. (Sore heads... again!) Nothing changes, right?

As well as the delicious food stalls and pop-up shops; there was a variety of live music on offer to suit everyone's tastes. There was a good mix of Finnish and English music being played, which really added to the party atmosphere. The day concerts are completely free, which is an added bonus and many of the beer tents/areas around town had smaller bands playing throughout the night. So wherever you ended up, there was always something going on to keep the crowds happy. 

Finally, I will leave you with some lovely pictures of Kotka so that you can see a little more of what the town has to offer. If you ever find yourself in Finland during the festival period, you should absolutely pop by and join in the fun!

For more information on the Kotka Maritime Festival, click here

 photo signature1_zps046b133c.jpg

Friday, 25 July 2014

You probably don't need to read this...

I wasn't intending on blogging today as I'm hot and hungover; not an ideal combination. I'm aware that this is blogging, 'technically speaking' however, it's not one of those, 'proper' posts. I'm probably not going to include a picture either. Man, am I treating you guys today! 

It seems pretty much everywhere has been hot these last few days. Like, seriously, melt-your-face-off warm. After consulting my room thermometer, (Yes, I own such a thing) I can positively announce that my apartment is hell in brick form. Or 30 degrees Celsius; whichever way you want to look at it. I'm sitting in my pants being blasted by my industrial strength, metal fan to no avail. I have spent almost the entire day in a state of undress and that isn't a particularly nice visual for anyone, so I do apologise. 

As for the hangover, it was purely accidental. You see, there's this big festival thing going on at the moment in the town in which I currently live; but there will be more of that to follow in a later post. It's over the whole weekend and is basically just an excuse for everyone to get really, really drunk. Not angry drunk, but dancing on a rock with your bum hanging out kind of drunk. I didn't witness this, but I thought it was worthy of a mention. I got caught up in the festival fever and now here we are. So, from my half-assed explanation, you can see that this stupid hangover isn't entirely my fault. 

If the heat and the hangover aren't already enough to start me shedding tears of self-pity, I'm also having a genuine food crisis. Loosely translated as - I can't remember the last time I went food shopping and there's nothing in the cupboards. Which, on a hangover day, is the worst possible scenario anyone could ever be faced with. I've ventured into the kitchen several times just to browse the kitchenware, and opened the fridge door a few times for the cold blast alone. I managed to throw together a tuna sandwich for, 'breakfast' although, considering I ate it nearer to lunch, I feel cheeky even calling it that. I've toyed with the idea of eating a handful of dry Coco Pops, but then I remembered that I'm not an eight year old child, and, well... it's not exactly gourmet dining is it? I live about ten steps from a shop where I could actually source proper food, but that requires far more effort than I can currently muster. (If you saw the state of my face right now, you would understand) Also, I've got an Amy Winehouse style beehive going on at the moment and that's just better being kept out of sight.


In slightly more promising news, one of Scott's work colleagues is having a BBQ tonight!! How bloody exciting. I'm wondering if it would be socially acceptable to rock up in my pants and have someone just feed me burgers. Thoughts? 

With that beautiful image still lingering in your mind, I am going to leave you with this puzzling thought of the day - Is an orange called an orange because it is orange, or is the colour orange, called orange because of oranges? 
 photo signature1_zps046b133c.jpg

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Throw back Thursday!

If you're accustomed to the ol' Facerbook, then you'll no doubt have heard of this little thing called Timehop. If you're not familiar with Facebook, then you're probably not going to care much for this post, and also, how did this happen? Anyhoo, if you've not seen Timehop pop up on your newsfeed yet, then quite frankly, you're lucky! It's basically an app that tells you what you were doing on a specific day, one, two or however many years ago you choose. So, on a daily basis now, I am reminded what my old school friends had for dinner four years ago, and that two years ago, someone's child had chicken pox. 

Okay, I know I sound like a total killjoy, but I just don't get all these hyped up apps on Facebook. What actually is Farmville? And don't even get me started on Bitstrips. It's just annoying. I don't want to see a cartoon version of your pet Labradoodle. What happened to the good, old-fashioned posts about how great your life is and/or how many days are left of your holiday countdown? (Yes, I'm definitely guilty of that last one!)

The annoying thing is though, seeing all these Timehop statuses littering my feed, got me curious as to what I was up to all those many moons ago; but rather than cave to the app world, I decided to do the next best thing, and stalk myself on Facebook. What I found was quite unnerving. Mostly because I came to realise that I haven't changed at all. Not one, tiny, little bit. 

Some examples, if you will...

Yep, this one definitely still sounds like me!

and again...

I actually sickens me to think how much time I have wasted being hungover. I guess when you're at uni, it's the done thing; but I always assumed I would grow out of it when I left. Hmmm! Next we have...

No explanation needed!

For shits and giggles...

*Insert thumbs up emoji here*

In all seriousness, the train situation was actually horrendous! It was the last train of the day to/from Glasgow, I had no cash on me, other than to pay my train fare and I had work the following morning. In the end, I had to speak to the train manager and have him make a special stop for me in Carlisle, where I had to wait ages for a train back to where I needed to be. Not to mention, all the strange looks and tutting I received from everyone on the Glasgow bound train. KILL. ME. NOW.

The only explanation that I have for either of those, is that some form of alcohol must have been involved. See earlier point regarding my excessive drinking. 

Finally, one person that will always be the same...

Yes, really!

I must point out that she does in fact do a lot of work with the local police, and not that she was being cuffed and dragged into a cell... Could you imagine!?

So there we go! Who needs Timehop, eh? I seriously urge you to have a peek back through your Facebook history and see what hidden gems you'll find lurking there. Happy Thursday everyone!

 photo signature1_zps046b133c.jpg