My former flatmate said that her professor told her: a person knows they’ve made it as a blogger if the reader can feel like they’re just having a conversation with the writer. They can hear your voice and can feel your enthusiasm. Can you hear my voice in your ear? Sorry if it’s annoying… Well then, you might as well make a cup of tea cause we have lots to catch up on! Of course, this will be the type of conversation that consists of me just talking about myself the entire time. You can write back with your stories though; I’m sure I’d enjoy it! Another holiday has went by way too quickly (and this one was 18 days long!). Since I last wrote, I’ve been pretty busy with teaching, planning, and marking. I agreed to stay another half-term to help out the school, meaning instead of being finished at the school right now (like I could have been), I still have another 5 and a half weeks to go. I’ve definitely struggled with teaching my year 12’s, as a lot of the information that I’ve been teaching, I a) didn’t learn it until third-year university and therefore, don’t know it very well, or b) have never learnt it before (so I’m reading about it before the lesson, trying to understand it as best as I can, and then teaching it). Not only that, but I’ve talked to a few of my med-school friends, and THEY even said that they haven’t learnt the information that I’m teaching until this past year. Needless to say, I really haven’t enjoyed teaching my year 12’s, since I’m not as confident about the subject as I should be, and I spend so much of my extra time trying to learn about the topics. More on that later… (a lot more).
During the past two months, I’ve been trying to enjoy my remaining time in London as best as I can. Ron came to visit again from China, so we met up for dinner. I also had my most embarrassing moment (or at least one of the top three most embarrassing moments of my life). As I mentioned in my previous blog post, when I went to Copenhagen, I met a Canadian guy who lives in London so I was like, “Cool, a new Canadian friend!” So he wrote me when I got back from Copenhagen and was like, “Can I interest you in going to dinner?” Based on his text, I was kind of thinking, “Ah crap, this is not going to be a friend thing.” But I was keen on making a new friend, so I agreed to dinner. I met him at a bar and he asked if I wanted a drink so I said yes, but he had his card out and I was thinking, “No, I’m not giving the wrong impression,” so I made sure I paid for my own drink. Afterwards, we went to this Sri Lankan place for dinner and it was really good! He paid and I said, “No! let’s do half and half,” but he said I could get the drinks after so I agreed. We went to have drinks afterwards and he asked if I liked stand-up comedy, and I replied that I’ve never been. So he looked up a show and there was one only 15 minutes away that started in a half hour. We walked over and literally got the last two tickets. Anyway, the comedian decided to make fun of US. He asked, “Oh, is this a couple?” and I was like, “No.” He asked, “Is it a date?” and it was just an awkward silence. So he continued, “Is it a FIRST date?! Have you kissed yet?” “No.” “Well, how about they have their first kiss RIGHT HERE in front of everyone?” And the whole audience starts cheering and yelling, “Kiss kiss kiss” and I was just shaking my head. I’ve never been more embarrassed in my entire life – my cheeks were RED HOT. And for everyone wondering, no, we did not kiss. The following weekend, I went to a travel show with Kim. The travel show had a whole bunch of travel agencies who were trying to sell trips for discounted prices. I found out that one of the companies that I had been looking at would be at the show, and I ended up buying a 33-day trip to Africa, which will start in July! The next week, my dad’s friend Dave came to visit again, and my mom’s friend Karen also came to visit again, so I got to catch up with both of them. Kim and I also went to another musical, Kinky Boots, which was AMAZING! I definitely recommend it to everyone who has a chance to see it. At the end of March, my mom arrived! She came on a Wednesday evening and then I gave her two days to get over her jet lag while I worked. On Friday, I finished at noon
and then I started my holidays! My mom and I spent that afternoon at Camden Market, checking out all of the stalls and then we walked down the canal to Paddington station (which must have taken at least an hour to an hour and a half). The next day, we spent a couple of hours at the Natural History Museum, went to Buckingham Palace, and then had tea (with many tasty treats!). On Sunday, it was a gorgeous day so we did a cruise along the Thames, spent some time in Greenwich (and stood on the Prime Meridian), and explored more of the City of London. On Monday, we had our flight to Slovenia! That morning, I had a quick doctor’s appointment to FINALLY pick up my orthotics (which I’ve been waiting for since November – it’s a long story, and not necessary to write on here). After my appointment, I went back home so we could get all of our stuff together and start our journey to the airport.
We arrived in Ljubljana (pronounced Loo-blee-on-ah), Slovenia at about 8pm Monday night and since public transportation was already closed by then, we had to take a private shuttle to our Airbnb. The Airbnb was a nice
and cozy studio apartment, about a 20 minute walk from the Old Town of Ljubljana. We decided to get Chinese food from the nearest restaurant (and the only one that was open at 9:30pm), and call it a night. The next morning, we woke up and went on a free walking tour. Ljubljana is such a charming capital city! It’s not too busy, and the people are extremely friendly. After our walking tour, we went for lunch at a restaurant called Druga Violina. Not only do they have delicious food and amazing prices, but they also hire many people with special needs – awesome to see! On Wednesday, we went to a sausage place for lunch called Klobasarna, which also had really good prices and really great food! We spent our afternoon walking around, taking pictures, eating ice cream, and checking out the markets. Later that day, we also walked to a neighbourhood called Metelkova, which is set up in an abandoned army base and is a self-proclaimed city. It holds many events in illegally occupied buildings, and reminded me a lot of Christiana in Copenhagen, with its bright colours and houses.
On Thursday morning, we caught a bus to a Unesco heritage site – Skocjan Caves. The first tour was about 1.5 to 2 hours long, and it was absolutely amazing! We got to see the
formation of stalactites and stalagmites, which take about 100 to 150 years per 1 cm of growth. It’s crazy to see how big the stalactites are, and realize how long they’ve been around! The craziest part about the entire tour was when we were in the deepest part of the cave and the tour guide turned out all of the lights and lit one match, so we could see what it would be like as an explorer. I don’t think I’d be walking around caves with just a match! Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the caves, but we were able to take pictures at the very end of the tour – towards the exit of the caves. It was such a cool thing to see! After our tour, we had to wait for about an hour and half until our bus came. We waited at a pub beside the bus stop and our Airbnb host met us there to give us the key to our next destination in Piran (pronounced Peer-an). Piran is one of Slovenia’s only coastal towns, so we were able to be close to the Adriatic Sea while watching the sunset. We only stayed one night, but we took advantage of the seafood there! We walked into a random restaurant (Restaurant Pavel) and the waiter completely took over. He told us to close our menus and he would take care of the rest. When he brought out bibs with bowties, we weren’t sure what we’d be in for. However, he brought out a HUGE plate of assorted seafood – shrimp, mussels, scallops, razor clams, and more, all covered in a tomato-wine sauce. Absolutely delicious! The next morning, we were planning to do a bit more exploring of Piran but because it still wasn’t tourist season, not much was open. It was cold and windy, so we decided to move on to our next destination – Bled. In order to get there, we had to catch a bus back to Ljubljana and then take a train to Lesce, where we had a private room in a hostel. The hostel (1A Adventure Hostel) was in an old monastery and it had a city clock next to it (RIGHT outside our window), which rang every 15
|Our fish feast|
minutes from 7am to 10pm. Meaning we got pretty accustomed to hearing bells ringing when we were there (although I didn’t enjoy the ones first thing in the morning).
On Saturday morning, we took the hostel shuttle to Lake Bled, which is a cute little lake with a little island. It was a gorgeous day and we walked around the lake, which took about 2-3 hours, and then we stopped at the grocery store and had a picnic on the side. On Sunday, we took a bus to Lake Bohinj (pronounced Boh-heen), which is a less touristy and more natural-looking lake. We also decided to walk around THAT lake, which was 12km! Needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we finished. On the walk, I happened to hear some rustling in the leaves beside me so I looked down, and there was a snake backing up right in front of my foot. As I screamed and leapt over it, he backed up completely, and
slithered away. Not impressed! An hour or two later, we saw a couple who was quietly recording something in front of us. I snuck up and noticed it was another snake, exactly like the one we had just seen. I got a picture that time and after, my mom did some research at the hostel. We found out that it was a poisonous snake – a common viper! When we told the hostel worker, he didn’t believe us. He said it was still too cold for the big snakes to come out, and it was likely only a little, non-venomous snake. However when we showed him the picture, he confirmed that we were right and said that if I had gotten bit, I would have died within ten minutes. Well that was reassuring, considering we were three hours away from any main roads! Anyway, snake aside, the hike was really gorgeous and enjoyable! On Monday, we took the shuttle back to Lake Bled but this time, we decided to do the one-hour walk to Vintgar Gorge, even though it was mostly closed (and was reopening April 15th – missing it by a week!). The walk was almost completely uphill on a road with no shelter from the sun, so
we got warm really fast. Once we got to the Gorge, we were able to sneak through the “Closed” barricades and walk for about 200 metres, until a steel door prevented us from going any further. We then walked back to Lake Bled, took advantage of the sunshine, and relaxed beside the lake (where I got extremely burnt and now have a bad tanline because of the neckline on the shirt that I was wearing).
On Tuesday, we had to take a train back to Ljubljana in order to go to our next destination on the east side of Slovenia – Maribor. The train and bus rides in Slovenia are so amazing because the landscapes are beautiful! Slovenia is such a clean country and it has a little bit of everything, even though it’s such a small country. I shouldn’t be saying this (cause it’s nice not having lots of tourism), but Slovenia should be near the top of everyone’s travel list when and if they come to Europe. It’s definitely worth it! We only stayed in Maribor for one night, but it was another small city so we saw what we needed to in a day. Maribor was much more European than the rest of the cities we went to in Slovenia – it had more of a city-like feel. The private room that we stayed in was absolutely gorgeous! It was nicer than most hotels! On Wednesday, we left Slovenia and made our way to
Croatia. We had to take three trains in order to get to Zagreb, where we stayed for one night. One of the trains had Harry Potter-like carriages and then when they stopped at the border, we had to get our passports checked by the Slovenian police (and get an exit stamp), and then by the Croatian police (and get an entrance stamp). Once we arrived in Zagreb, we explored the Old Town as fast as we could during daylight hours, and then went back to the hostel early because we were planning for an early morning. Unfortunately for us, the walls were SO thin – we could hear every person who entered the hostel and walked down the hallway, and we could also hear the couple across the hallway, who seemed to be having a bit TOO much fun multiple times that night. Needless to say, I did not get a good sleep that night, even with earplugs. We found out that it was supposed to rain the day that we were planning to spend in Plitvice Lakes National Park, so we decided that instead of spending the following day
exploring more of Zagreb, we should just go straight to Plitvice and take advantage of the sun that day. However, neither of us set an alarm, and long story short, we ended up missing the early bus. We took the next bus out, but because it arrived in Plitvice in the afternoon, it wouldn’t be worth paying for a day pass in the Park. Instead, we just went straight to the hostel and decided to do a hike that the hostel suggested. This was a 2.5 hour hike and ended up being straight up a mountain – not zig-zagging its way up, but literally straight uphill. After about an hour and a half, my mom’s knee was bothering her (as it had been our entire trip), so she decided to sit and wait while I continued. I walk for about 20 more minutes, thinking I had gotten to the top, only to see that the path wanted me to go straight downhill, only to go back uphill even higher. At that point, I decided to give up so I headed back down towards my mom. When we got to the hostel, one of the people staying there informed me that I was about 3 minutes away from the end of the hike. Well, I guess I know for next time! We went for dinner, and did some grocery shopping so we’d be prepared for Plitvice the next day. The shuttle took us to the park at 8 the next morning and was due to pick us up at 4pm that afternoon. We understood and were prepared that at about 11am, we should be hit with thunderstorms and possible flooding. However, that never ended up coming! Once again, we had completely sunny weather! Plitvice was just as gorgeous as I remembered it being in 2012, and this time I did a different hiking trail so I got to see the lakes from a different view. There are 16 lakes total, and they’re all piled on top of each other, so we started by going to the upper lakes, and then we made our way down to the lower lakes, seeing tons of waterfalls as we went along. It was such a good way to spend the day! I had booked bus tickets to our last stop (Zadar) for 6pm that evening so
we had just enough time to go back to the hostel, get our stuff, and go to the bus stop. We waited, and waited, and waited some more and finally, the bus came about a half hour late, only to inform us that there wasn’t any room left. We HAD to get on that bus, since we already paid for an Airbnb in Zadar, and our flights went back to London the next day but they kept refusing until we volunteered to stand. Luckily, they let my mom sit on the extra seat in front, but I ended up standing for two of the 2.5-hour bus ride with the other girl who came with us from our hostel. Only AFTER walking around for six to seven hours, so no big deal… We got into Zadar at about 8:30 that night, went for a three-course dinner (mussels for an appetiser, fish for a main, and ice cream for dessert), and then sat by the infamous Sea Organ for awhile before going back to get a well-deserved sleep. Zadar still remains one of my favourite cities! It has a charm just like Ljubljana. One day, I’ll have to compile a list of all of my “good vibe” cities – maybe when all of my summer travelling is over. Anyway, on Saturday we spent the day exploring Zadar (not in the dark), had a great lunch, and went back to the Sea Organ. While we were sitting there, a sailboat came right up to where we were sitting and they asked if we wanted a free ride. I guess we were in the right place at the right time! They happened to be promoting a summer festival so they were giving as many free sailboat rides as they could. It was pretty cool to watch the guy move back and forth around the boat, pulling different ropes and putting up different sails. We had dinner and then caught the bus to the airport at 8pm. Our flight didn’t leave until 10:50 and we arrived in London at about midnight. The passport control line was so long! It was quite stressful as well, cause I had booked a bus for us to get back to London for 1:10am. Luckily, we ended up catching the bus with ten minutes to spare! We got back into London at 2:30am, then had to take the tube back to my station, which took until about 3:15am, and then we had to do the 25-minute walk back to my house, getting us home at about 3:45am. My mom got to do one of my typical Saturday nights! :p We probably got to
bed at about 4:30 that morning so it was a very lazy day on Easter Sunday!
On Monday, we had another lazy morning and then took the bus to Richmond, where we had hot chocolate and cocktails! After that, we headed back home so that my mom could pack for Edinburgh! This morning, we got up nice and early and took the train so my mom could catch the bus to the airport. Unfortunately for her, the plane ended up being delayed over four and a half hours! She’s now safely in Edinburgh, and I’ll be (unfortunately) going back to work tomorrow. I’m now really regretting that I decided to stay. On the last day of term, the head of biology came to talk to me. He seemed very awkward and kept repeating that it was a bad time to have this conversation. Basically, one of my year 12 parents called and said that her daughter was complaining that when they ask me questions, I…(he paused). I finished for him: “Don’t seem to know what I’m talking about?” “Yeah, basically.” “Well, I feel like that too.” I explained how I read the textbooks and try to learn everything before lessons, but I’m still not as confident as I should be on the topics. Again, I’m teaching my students stuff that my friends haven’t learned until med school. The head of biology said that since there wasn’t any point in switching teachers because there was only five weeks left, I should spend my time really getting to know the information during the holidays. I felt horrible. Part of me felt guilty, part of me felt angry. It wasn’t like I was keeping it a secret… I was clear from the beginning that the information was new to me and I’d need the support. I spent the entire weekend worrying about it and then I decided that I had to explain
that I wouldn’t be able to put in the time that they expected of me. I sent the Head of Biology an email explaining that my mom was in town for the next month and after that, I’d be travelling for the next two weekends, and then I’d be moving out during the last weekend. I also said that I’ve put in a lot of extra time on my evenings, weekends and holidays to prepare for that class and obviously it’s not enough. Not only that, but I’m not even paid to do work during that time. I wouldn’t be able to commit to doing as much work as I have been doing and I definitely wouldn’t be able to commit to doing even more work than I’ve been doing. The school also wanted me to write end-of-year reports for my year 7-10 students since the new teacher wouldn’t know the students well enough to write reports – meaning I’d have to write over 150 reports in five weeks (each about 4-5 sentences long, which also usually take at least 10-15 minutes each). I explained that it wasn’t fair for me to have to do those reports, unless they were during my spare periods when I wasn’t planning and/or marking. I told him that if the school wanted to find someone who would be more dedicated, I wouldn’t be offended since I couldn’t give the time and effort that they expect of me. The next day, he wrote back and said he hoped I was enjoying my time with my mom and that he didn’t want me to spend my holidays stressing about the year 12’s. Great! However, then he went on to say that he had a talk with the Deputy Head (the guy who interviewed me before and made me feel like garbage) and said that while they were aware I wouldn’t have the extra time because my mom was visiting, the school was keen for me to use that time to benefit the girls, and they’d be willing to pay me for my holidays if I did the extra work. From that email, I no longer felt guilty but I just felt angry since the paid holidays were what they tried to bribe me with to stay until the end of the year (and it didn’t work that time either). I then emailed back, said I was in Slovenia and I’d be travelling for the next two weeks, that I didn’t have my laptop or any school supplies, and once again threw it back on them that if they require someone who can put in the extra dedication, then I’m not the person for them. Anyway, tomorrow is just a staff day so I’m kind of nervous to see how things pan out, and how awkward it’ll be. So that’s strike one: what happened in my life of work.
Now for Strike Two: what happened in my flat. As I mentioned before, my mom and I got back from Croatia at about 3:45am on Saturday night. When we arrived, my light wouldn’t turn on, as the lightbulb must have burnt out. I turned on my extremely dim lamp, and noticed that my mail was on my night table (nothing new, since my flatmate always seems to find it necessary to put my mail straight into my room when I’m not home, instead of on the kitchen table, or anywhere else that’s not my personal space). My mom started making comments about how her pajamas had been moved from under her pillow, how her underwear was missing, how one of my shelves had been knocked over, and how she couldn’t find her extra blanket. She also noticed that her iPad was missing, and then found it in my laptop case. I kind of just brushed those aside, since it was late at night and I was too tired to deal with anything. However, when I went into bed, I noticed that my duvet was sideways. Someone had definitely been in my room for longer than just placing my mail on my night table. We went to bed, since there was nothing much that we could do. The next day, later in the morning, I opened my closet to get dressed and I noticed that everything had been moved around – my mom’s underwear, blanket, and t-shirt were put into my closet, my school backpack (which was on the floor) was also put on top of my clothes in my closet, and then my bag of hangers were also moved. By that point, I was literally shaking. I had to keep taking deep breaths and try to keep myself calm, so I could go approach my flatmate. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate confrontation and I would have rather just ignored it, but since this wasn’t the first incident of my flatmate being disrespectful, I knew I had to say something or it would continue. I went and knocked on her door, and asked her what had been going on in my room while I was gone. “Oh I slept in it.” “You slept in it… why?” “Cause I really just needed to sleep in my own bed.” “But you can’t just do that…” “I’m sorry, it was just one of those weeks and I really just needed to sleep in my own bed.” “Why didn’t you text and ask beforehand?” “I tried but…” “But no, if I’m paying for rent, I should be able to leave and know that my room won’t be entered. That’s not right.” “I know, there’s no excuse and I’m sorry.” “And why was everything moved around if you were only sleeping in it? Like my mom’s iPad was moved…” “Well I didn’t want to knock anything over. I tried to put everything back in its place, I even took pictures.” “Still, I’m paying rent. That’s my room.” “Well you can take one week of rent off, and I’m really sorry.” I can GUARANTEE that it wasn’t her sleeping in my room cause there’d be no reason to move all of my other stuff around. I was livid. Still am! It got even worse the next day when my mom and I decided to go to Richmond. I decided to wear my new insoles/orthotics that I had gotten right before we left on our trip, but I couldn’t find them. I had left them on the floor and they were nowhere to be seen. I texted my flatmate to ask where she put them, and then my mom and I searched the room, and eventually found them halfway down my laundry basket, in my dirty laundry! I didn’t bother texting my flatmate to tell her that I found them, but she eventually replied saying that she put everything that was by my night table on top of my bookshelf (when in reality, all that was on top of my bookshelf were my mom’s socks…). Now, I’m wondering if I should not only deduct the one week of rent for next month, but also deduct my deposit. I have a feeling I won’t get it back otherwise, cause I’ve definitely lost all of my trust in my flatmate. Anyway, my flatmate went to stay with her boyfriend and I haven’t seen her since the incident. Strike two.
And last, strike three: what happened with my money. Yesterday, I decided to be productive and start making all of my purchases that needed to be made for the upcoming month. Most importantly, I needed to book my buses to the airport for my upcoming trips, and I needed to order new contacts and new face wash, as well as register for travel insurance. I got as far as booking the buses and then when I went to order my face wash, my card was declined. I tried two more times and then immediately got a call from an unrecognizable number. It was someone claiming to be part of the HSBC Fraud Department, and he needed my birthday and my full address. I for sure thought it was a scam so I typed in the number online while talking to him, and saw that it was a legitimate number. He said that my card was on a list of details that had been stolen and my card was compromised and would have to be cancelled. He went through all of my recent transactions, which I confirmed were all done by me. He repeatedly asked, “You were in Croatia last week?” “Yes, I notified the bank about it..” When he went through all of the charges and I said that they were all my transactions, I was hoping he’d change his mind, but he said that my card still had to be cancelled. “But it’s the only card I have. I need to get groceries, I use it for transportation, you can’t just cancel it!” ”Okay, well I’ll cancel online transactions and you can do your grocery shopping and then you’ll have to call us so that we can cancel it and send you a new one.” Great. So now I have no card once again, and I’m patiently waiting for my new one to arrive. And that’s strike three!
I’m just trying to remain positive and get through work and my flat for the next five weeks. Then I can put everything behind me and just enjoy my travels! However, I AM open to any advice on how I should handle the whole flatmate situation. I hope everyone’s been doing well! Love always
Family – Catey Shaw