My Daily Quarantine Schedule

Being stuck at home, unable to go outside and go about your day-to-day life, might be a challenge for some people. There’s this joke floating around on the Internet, saying “Introverts, check up on your extrovert friends during this time of crisis! They don’t know what they’re doing.”

It’s high-end trash of a joke.

Not to be That Person because I did find this joke funny at first, but seeing it being bandied around on various social media platforms made me realise how patronising it is. “They don’t know what they’re doing”?? Presumptious, much. Also, let’s be honest, as a self-proclaimed introvert even I don’t know what I’m doing.

Where I live, the local government imposed a community-wide quarantine where residents are discouraged to leave their apartments but if so, they could only leave and re-enter through the front gates once a day.

Sounds drastic, right?

Perhaps. But my personal experience with self-quarantine is this:

  1. Late January, everyone in China goes on mandatory break for Spring Festival and I, in turn, sequester myself in my apartment to become a socially adverse hermit. All the restaurants close, the malls are empty, and there isn’t much to do except go to the public parks.
  2. Then I hear word that people are asked to stay at home to prevent the spread of this new coronavirus, but this doesn’t change anything for me because my plan was already to stay at home and continue being at home.
  3. Work resumes and we are asked to deliver lessons using an online video conferencing platform.

And that’s the current state of my life. The strict quarantine conditions may have lifted two weeks ago, but I am still working from home and I’m still limiting my time spent outside of my community because, frankly, there’s nothing I can do outside that I can’t just also do at home. So my day-to-day schedule remains similar to that during self-quarantine.

Wanna know how I survived with my sanity intact? Read on, my dears.

LiberaTarts: A Day in the Life, Quarantine Edition

I’m the type of person who spirals into unhealthy habits when left alone for too long, i.e. with no outside force such as school or work to control my daily schedule. I also enjoy having complete control over my free time – which is why I like solo-travel and holidays so much – but that is with the understanding that, on the other hand, I have time that isn’t so free.

When something like the physical act of going to work was taken out of the equation, you can bet that I started to revert to my teenage habits of staying up late, sleeping in, not eating regularly, and doing work at the last minute.

That sucks, right?

Transitioning from a staycation holiday mindset to work-from-home mentality was a challenge I didn’t know I had to face, and it took some serious self-reflection for me to end up where I ended up. And that, as it turns out, is someone who willingly gives themselves a daily schedule.

Morning

My alarm wakes me up at 7am. I have another one at 7:15 and at 7:25.

accurate representation of my mornings

I snooze all alarms and properly become coherent at around 7:30am, where I spend about half an hour catching up on social media: replying to messages, watching my friends’ Instagram stories, keeping up that Duolingo streak, and so on.

8am, I sit up and do some reading. Sometimes, I switch to an audiobook and make my bed, turn on the air purifier in the living room, and maybe bake some bread, too. (It’s quick and easy since I usually prep the dough the night before.)

me, every time I have a fresh loaf of bread to eat

9am, I make a cup of coffee and queue up an episode or two of my TV-show-of-the-moment as I eat breakfast and avoid emails. (No, I don’t care about *insert company here* and how they’re ensuring their customers are safe during the pandemic.)

10am, I pick away at the mandatory online training work has set up for all of its teaching staff. Mostly, I just mess around on the Internet while said TV-show-of-the-moment plays in the background; the Motivis user interface is ridiculously buggy and it irritates the life out of me.

Once a week, I schedule an online Chinese language class usually at 10am until 11:30.

12 noon, I choose from a variety of my meal prep dishes and eat lunch. Thank goodness I bit the bullet and bought a microwave before COVID-19 precautions slowed down the Chinese postal services.

Afternoon

Now, this is where it gets interesting.

My typical work hours, pre-quarantine, are 1:30pm until 9pm. So once the clock reaches 1:30, I begin to message my coworkers and coordinate lesson plans for whatever lesson is scheduled that afternoon and in the next few days.

China runs on WeChat communication, I swear

Around 2pm, online lessons start in earnest and I settle myself at my work nook, a.k.a. this little corner tatami floor space that I planned to turn into a reading and study area, but had to commandeer and change into my work zone.

Lessons start to finish around 4 to 5pm, and so I do one of these three things:

  1. take an energising nap because communicating with fidgety children using Zoom is highly frustrating
  2. continue watching my TV show and run on the treadmill a while because, to quote Caroline Bingley, “It’s refreshing, is it not after sitting so long in one attitude?”
  3. chat with my friends in the UK who are beginning to start their day in earnest – time zones can both be a blessing and a curse!

Evening

6pm, I again choose from my meal prep dishes and eat dinner. I continue to watch my TV-show-of-the-moment, but on special days (Wednesdays and Sundays, typically), I Skype with my friends or my family.

7pm, I return to work and resume online teaching. Once, during a particularly free evening, I tried to continue with online training but that went nowhere and I gave up pretty quickly.

Contact hours end at 9pm and usually I keep WeChat open to answer any questions my colleagues might have for me, but more often than not I go back to my TV-show-of-the-moment and play that in the background while my friends and I exchange memes. (There’s nothing more affectionate, I think, than a mutual meme-exchange.)

9pm onwards, I go to Discord or Skype to see who’s online and I end up talking until late evening with whoever wants to talk.

The National Theatre, providing entertainment and culture for the self-isolated

11pm, I get ready for bed and read until my eyelids get super heavy. Sleep happens at some point after 1am because I’m a night-owl like that. And then my daily schedule re-starts.


Over to you: What do you think of my self-imposed daily schedule? My friends, on occasion, have called my tendency to over-plan as ‘neurotic’, but I like to think of it as being prepared. Please share how quarantine and self-isolation have changed your day-to-day life… or not! I’d like to hear about it, regardless.

Be a part of my International Blogger Friends Directory and let’s collaborate! The world is your oyster.

Introducing the International Blogger Friends Directory

I’m essentially a newbie to this whole WordPress blogging rigmarole, and I figured this would be a good way to branch out of my little corner of the Internet. Like a foal toddling on its legs and learning how to walk, I stumbled upon Gurezu‘s International Blogger Friends Directory and thought… why the hell not!

The International Blogger Friends Directory works like this: you aim to have (at least) one blogger friend from each country around the world, and the purpose is to do blog collaborations and even postcard exchanges if possible.

It’s a mighty challenge in and of itself, to be sure, given how there’s over a hundred countries in the world at least – I’m not doing a Google search to check! Also, as I’m blogging from China, my understanding of its postal system is theoretical at best… the likelihood of me wandering into a post office with my limited Chinese (你好 and 谢谢, if anyone is wondering), is on the low side of probability.

Nevertheless, I would love to curate an International Blogger Friends Directory and so… here I am! I invite you, my dear readers, to join me in this incredible quest.

LiberaTarts: International Blogger Friends Directory (IBFD)

I’ll add more rows as people decide to join, otherwise here is my directory so far:

#CountryFriend’s NameBlog LinkSocial Media
1PhilippinesMary GracegurezuIG: @gurezu
2PhilippinesPrecious JasminjasminpreciousIG: @preciousxxwalker
3Cayman IslandsChoianywherewithchoi?
(this is a work in progress!)

Here are some ideas to help demonstrate what the IBFD entails:

  • follow each other’s blogs
  • follow each other’s social media
  • blog collaborations
    • book / tv show / movie reviews → recommend something to me and I’ll recommend something back, and we’ll both type up a review post about That Thing
    • be a guest blogger for any chosen topic → guest blogging is a fun way to advertise your blog on a different platform, and it also sounds fun!
  • be penpals
    • send each other postcards or letters, depending on what you’re comfortable with

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, leave a comment below! Let’s have some fun~

Roaring 20s: Things To Do When You’re A Twentysomething

I understand that we’re in the middle of February, but… HAPPY 2020, my dear readers! It’s not only a new year but a new decade, too. Definitely worth a little party popper if you’re lucky enough to have some to hand.

Living in China, I am fortunate enough to celebrate the new year twice: once on the 1st of January, and a second time during the Chinese Spring Festival twenty-five days later on the 25th of January. The party atmosphere has long-since died down, however, not because I’m perpetually late in documenting it but because of the novel coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan province.

I wouldn’t want to spend too much time on that, though, so let’s move on!

I don’t want to get into specifics, nevertheless I think it’s worth noting that I am smack-dab in the middle of my twenties. And to play into that whole ‘searching for a purpose’ stereotype, I am – quite frankly, searching for a purpose. Aside from maintaining my general wellbeing, going to work, and socialising (online, mostly) with my friends and family, I don’t really have any plans in life.

What to do? What to do?

LiberaTarts Reads a LifeHack: Things to Do in Your Twenties

Like with most things, I turned to Google for help and searched “things to do when you’re in your mid-twenties”. It’s a clunky search term, but Google does what Google does best and it spat out several interesting pages. Leaving behind the generic advice to avoid drama and invest into a 401K (whatever that is, I’m not American), I found this lovely list on LifeHack that I must, must, must dip into.

25 Things You Must Do In Your Twenties

  1. Do something scary.
  2. Learn to cook.
  3. Travel alone.
  4. Ride a plane.
  5. Party all night.
  6. Take a risk.
  7. Enlighten yourself.
  8. Play a sport.
  9. Change the script.
  10. Reunite with an old friend.
  11. Drop the “I’m busy” farce.
  12. Pay off your debt.
  13. Get to know your family.
  14. Re-read the classics.
  15. Go overseas.
  16. Volunteer for a cause.
  17. Cut the clutter.
  18. Fall in love.
  19. Write a letter.
  20. See your favorite band live.
  21. Sleep under the stars.
  22. Perform for a crowd.
  23. Take a road trip with your best friend or partner.
  24. Start a garden.
  25. Find your passion.

(Source: Daniel Wallen)

Okay, number twenty-five is very wishy-washy and already I am scoffing at the idea. But I will stick to this list (at least for the next few months, haha!) and let’s see how I get on. Given the tone of the list, I can tell it comes from a very traditional American experience – assuming you can drive or know someone who can do so for a road trip, or not having had the chance to leave the country you where you were born, etc. As the daughter of an OFW, I literally moved continents at the young age of six and have not stopped since.

Also, some of these things on the list are not very SMART worthy. What is SMART, you may ask? It’s an acronym to help answer competency-based questions during interviews: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based. It’s also an acronym that I use to create lessons plans – yay for ESL teaching! Anyway, goals listed above like “learn to cook” and “cut the clutter” are all quite vague, but I suppose figuring out how to be specific would be part of the process.

OF COURSE I’m in no way obligated to complete this list. I do have some autonomy, after all, despite needing lists and other forms of productivity tools to somehow move my life along. Come join my quest into checking off this entire list… or not. Up to you!

Beginner’s (Cheeky) Guide to Nando’s Dining

Have you ever gotten a “cheeky Nando’s”? Would it come as a surprise if I say that I get said “cheeky Nando’s” at least once a month – twice, even, during the summer when I had free time to spare.

Cheeky Nando’s is a meme-tastic phrase that gained popularity in late 2014, describing a visit to a Portuguese peri-peri style chicken place called Nando’s that you shouldn’t really have but somehow you’ve managed to convince yourself “why the hell not, YOLO!”

treat yo self GIF from parks and recreation
my daily mantra

I find myself dining at a local Nando’s recently when I had a startling realization. My brother and I were sitting at our table, having ordered our food with ease and were at the point waiting for our food to be served, when a family of three was seated beside us. The server gave them their menus and they spent at least fifteen minutes poring over the options before the conversation started in earnest between them.

Now, I can’t say I have an ear for foreign languages – I barely have an ear for the English language, given the amount of variation in accents found in the UK alone – but I recognize the off French word or two. And so like Sherlock Holmes, I deduced that the family were tourists and therefore would not have been overly familiar with how Nando’s worked. Yes, it is a sit-down type of restaurant where you can enjoy a hearty meal with friends and family… however, it was run like a fast food chain, albeit a fast food chain with relatively healthy standards.

Confused? Let me explain.

How To Order Food in Nando’s in Five Easy Steps

Step One

Enter through the door and wait to be seated. There is usually a seated waiting area by the front doors – if it’s not manned by the restaurant’s front of house staff, wait patiently and someone will come over.

Step Two

Once seated, the server will tell you your table number as they hand over the menus. Then, you are free to peruse to your heart’s content, since Nando’s has plenty of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options to choose from.

NANDO’S NEWBIES, BEWARE OF THIS STEP.

The French family from above made the mistake of waiting for the server to come back and take their order. The server does not come back to the table to take your order. I repeat, the server does not come back to take your order. What you need to do is detailed in Step Three.

Step Three

Armed with your order, a volunteer from your group – the designated mom friend, or in the case of the French family, the Actual Mom™ – should go to the area of the restaurant where all the tills are located. They typically are situated behind a bar and laid out in a neat row, like this:

step three: pay at the till

Now, during the ordering process, you have to state your table number before you list off your food choices. Do not forget your table number because if you do, you’ll have to do that walk of shame back to your table to check.

Also, choose a level of spiciness if you’re ordering the per-peri chicken. You’re always asked what level of spiciness is preferred by the chicken-devourer.

If you’re ordering a drink as well, don’t be disappointed if you’re given a glass instead of the actual drink – they’re meant to be filled by the customer over at the refill station. (It’s very American, I know.)

Step Three is when you pay for what you’ve ordered.

Step Four

This is the fun part.

DO NOT GO BACK TO YOUR TABLE.

Cast your eyes around the restaurant until you find the little island containing all the sauces. This is also the drink refill station. Grab as many varieties of sauces and dips as you can carry. At this stage in the process, you are more than welcome to signal your group – either through facial gestures or hand signals, maybe even semaphore – and ask what their preferences are or for help if you wish it.

grab one of each, who cares!

Don’t forget to grab enough cutlery for the table. Or just grab a set for yourself if you’re feeling petty, and let the rest of your group grab their own, You’ve already gotten the sauces from the island, let the others earn the right to have a cheeky Nando’s.

Step Five

Is everyone settled back at the table?

Cutlery retrieved? Sauces lined up in the centre like precious treasure?

Now is time for you to begin an earnest conversation with your friends / family / date / what have you. There isn’t much of a wait for food in Nando’s unless it’s the lunch rush. When you get into a groove and somehow manage to arrive at an uncomfortable topic of conversation that really shouldn’t be happening in public, another server will come by carrying your delicious peri-peri chicken.

Bonus Step

The bonus and cheeky final step is this: pick up your knife and fork and eat your chicken (or your chosen vegetarian substitute). And with that, what else is there to say aside from “Bom apetite!”

I don’t actually watch The Simpsons.

Over to you guys: What’s the equivalent of Nando’s in your country? In the Philippines, I would say it’s this barbecue restaurant chain called ‘Mang Inasal’. Let me know in the comments below!

New Year, Not-So-New… Anything

I’m not saying I forgot about this blog as it’s been a constant niggle at the back of my mind whenever anything remotely interesting happened in my life. It’s just that I’m a perennial procrastinator and this could hardly be news to anyone at this point.

The last six months have been a rollercoaster ride, from family madness to random job interviews and my own personal issues manifesting somehow only during the wintertime, but let’s not think about that right now! Let’s talk about fun, enjoyable things. Like food, and travel, and useless but cool-looking gadgets.

So without further ado, let’s get started on my first blog post this year… also known as:

LiberaTarts Gets Her Groove Back

December was a fun month, full of family-fun and Christmas cheer. It was a vast improvement to 2017’s Christmas, which I admittedly spent alone because my university term dates – when coupled with the extortionate flight prices in December – decided to fight with my bank account balance.

Christmas 2018 was spent with my immediate family, and honestly? I can’t remember the last time it was just the three of us, so the few weeks leading up to the 25th were one of the nicest weeks I’ve ever experienced. The gifts I got my mother and my brother were both thoughtful and practical, and I had a blast preparing for noche buena – the food planning, grocery shopping, the works!

The most iconic highlight of the month, however (aside from the Christmas spirit, family, yadda yadda yadda), was watching this Academy Award winning movie:

gif of Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse spotify video
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

The movie’s hilarious Christmas playlist were in all the background noche buena pictures; it was the not-so-silent fourth member of our little family, and it brings me joy just thinking about the memories.

January brought misery during the first half, when my mother admitted to feeling homesick and – since she had the time, means, and opportunity to do so – I encouraged her to go home to the Philippines and visit the good ol’ grandparents. Who are her parents, but there are only so many parental figures I can introduce in this narrative without confusing myself.

Not all hope was lost, though! After months of whiling away my time, taking a break from ‘Adulting’, I managed to land a Skype interview with a company that didn’t make my soul shrivel up and die at the prospect of working for them.

Aaaand this leads very nicely to the lovely month of February, where I ended up pretty much hauling my life to a different country to teach English for a bunch of high school kids. I’ve never really given it much thought when people say the situation snowballed, but my goodness that’s what happened to me: I did the Skype interview, got told I was pretty much a shoo-in as long as I ace the (very easy, super simple) grammar exam, and then two weeks later I was packing my bags and buying a very expensive plane ticket to Spain!

(Note to everybody: buying plane tickets two weeks before you fly? DO NOT DO UNLESS THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE. This will bankrupt not just your wallet, but also your soul.)

bullet journal travel entry
bullet journal entry: travelling to Spain

On the plus side, I managed to create something cheerful for my bullet journal. One of these days, I will create a post about bullet journaling for the non-artistic person and it will be full of hints and tips on how to cheat that bujo inspo hashtag.


Over to you guys: I know it’s March already but how did you spend your winter holidays? Tell me in the comments below! And if you’re a Spiderverse fan, by any chance, please say hi and I would love to hear your thoughts about the soundtrack.

See you next time!

Get to Know Me: Part 3 of 5

It’s been a while, but here is part 3 of the ‘Get to Know Me’ series. I’ve hit an all too serious existential crisis so I haven’t had much time to churn out as many travel-related posts as I wanted, so here’s a quick read to tide the blog over.

If you’re a new reader and wishes to catch-up on this series, just jump on the About Me tag to get started.

Now, onto the juicy bits!

High School Non-Musical, aka LiberaTarts Can’t Sing

Funniest moment throughout school?

fiction book called Holly the Christmas Fairy

The fact that no moment stands out as particularly funny pretty much indicates how much fun I had during my years in mandatory education. There was that one time I dressed up as a Christmas Fairy during a World Book Day event – “dress up as your favourite book character, it’d be fun!” they said. Whilst I looked amazing in a puffed up Santa-inspired dress and a random set of fairy wings, the other kids in my class were flabbergasted that I dared to dress Christmas-y during early spring.

Anyway, the following year I made the executive decision to dress up as Velma from Scooby Doo. That was a fun year, considering.

How many countries have you visited?

Last I checked? 20 countries as of this November. Check out my world travel map – the highlighted areas are the countries I’ve spent at least 48 hours in.

Places I really very much want to revisit are Spain, Japan, and the USA. I’m a traveller at heart, and it’s my greatest wish to see Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the Great Wall of China in… well, China.

What was your favourite/worst subject in High School?

FAVOURITE SUBJECT: Mathematics

WORST SUBJECT: Music

It was a mix of social anxiety and the fear of speaking in public that clued me to the fact that I cannot – and will ever not – perform well in Music class. I also can’t sing my way out of a paper bag, despite my entire Filipino family enjoying a good karaoke singalong every time there’s an excuse to throw a party.

What is your favourite drink? Animal? Perfume?

DRINK: People close to me (but not close enough to know my true niche interests) have learned to get me Starbucks gift cards as gifts. I like a good triple-shot hazelnut soy latte to get my day started, and a really indulgent matcha soy latte with whipped cream for those days I need a little pick-me-up.

ANIMAL: My favourite animals are snakes, hedgehogs, and turtles, but there’s nothing like a little kitten climbing onto your lap and napping it’s cute head off for a solid hour or so. The closest I have ever gotten to that happening was when I met a street cat in Budapest that one time.

the cuddliest street cat ever?!

PERFUME: I don’t like scents that are too strong, so I rarely use perfume outside of fancy events like an extra-social party or my own graduation (to name the most recent times). I barely even tolerate scented deodorant.

What would you (or have you) name your children?

Children? What children?

It was a running joke during college that I will name any daughter of mine Sherlock, just to mess with people. I am so glad I grew out of that – and by that, I mean the BBC show and not my penchant for naming things/people/anything strangely.

Case in point: I promised a friend just today that if I ever get a pet, I’m naming them Theodosia after the Hamilton song. I am also to name any hamsters I theoretically get Alexhamster Hammylton after the titular character.

#waitforit

What sports do you play?

I used to enjoy table tennis back when P.E. lessons were mandatory. I completely sucked at volleyball, and actual human-sized tennis was fun back when I was a child and my family were crazy enough to go to public tennis courts and play a set or two against other Filipino expats. 

Who are some of your favourite YouTubers?

I don’t have any? Sorry to disappoint!

How many relationships have you had?

If you don’t have a decent relationship with your family and all the friends you’ve met (and have chosen to keep – some just didn’t make the cut!), then you’re failing at life, my friend.

Favourite memory from childhood?

The one time my entire family and I went on vacation to Palawan in the Philippines. We were island hopping for the day and it was right after lunch, which we spent under a nipa hut on the white sandy beach, and I was taking a fortifying walk where the water kissed the land. Someone had taken a picture of me, digging my bare foot into the sand, my mother’s large beach hat covering my face.

It wasn’t a great shot of me by any means, but what that random stranger managed to capture in the background was one of the most accurate depiction of my family dynamics. Very quintessential. (Spoiler alert: we’re all complete dorks.)

Basically, my younger brother and my mother were walking down the beach as well – we all ate a lot of food, okay! – and for some reason, my brother had grabbed and ran away with the wrap/pashmina/sarong my mother was using to protect herself from the sun. My mother gave chase. Just imaging a chubby little kid who was a head shorter than my below-average height of a mother, zig-zagging across this pristine, white sandy beach in the Philippines, while I calmly took in the views of the ocean before me. That’s one of my fondest memories.

How would you describe your fashion sense?

I would describe my fashion sense like a child with a credit card who was let loose in a mall. I like overtly feminine clothes, but also masculine silhouettes (though I don’t have many pictures of that); I like tight a-line skirts and midi dresses and oversized jumpers and whatever I can find at the men’s section in any given charity shop. Depends on the day, really. 


Over to you guys: Comment below if you’re a cat person! I’m a very recent fan myself, so I try to make up the years I’ve spent disliking them by being so happy whenever I encounter one. Also, where in the world would you like to (re)visit? I’m curious to find out!

Part 4 of 5 will happen once I get a handle on my existential crisis.

That Summer Intern Life

The fourth Friday of August signalled the end of my internship at a not-so-local agency, which pretty much meant that just as the temperature is beginning to cool down, my summer plans are about to heat up.

Now, I only say ‘not-so-local’ because this agency I worked for was only a few towns away, specifically a 30-minute drive if I own a car if ever learned how to drive – but that’s a whole can of worms altogether. I relied 100% on public transportation (thanks to the UK for having a comprehensive public transportation system that extends beyond the capital city!), made my own packed lunches, and got the chance to dress like the Sixth Former I could have been if only I had the budget, confidence, and wherewithal to pull off business casual outfits.

I completely regret not documenting my #OOTD these past three months.

What’s it like to be an intern?

Let’s start with the basics…

  1. Why did I choose to do an internship?
  2. How did I get the internship?
  3. What were my days like?

First up – I chose to do an internship for the same reasons most undergraduates (or fresh out of the lecture hall graduate, like myself) choose to do an internship. I wanted to gain experience outside of teaching or community outreach, which I somehow managed to accumulate billions of experience in already. In another life, perhaps I could have been a teacher. But guys, just watch me try to fight that destiny in this particular lifetime: I scored myself an internship in an agency, got myself two pairs of cute brogues to mark the occasion, and drank my Starbucks to-go every morning like a modern-day working woman.

Question number two my university has this scheme that promotes extra-curricular activities to its current students, where they assign points to each type of activity. Attending a careers fair, for example, would be worth 5 points. Part-time work held for longer than 3 months would be 30 points, and completing a course outside of your core curriculum would be worth 60 points. As these points add up, you can exchange them for work experience and internship interviews, and I was fortunate enough to jump through all the hoops and come out with a summer internship.

Most undergraduate students, I’m assuming, would choose to do a summer internship between their first and last year of study. NOT ME, THOUGH. I chose to cash in my points at the end of my final year, which put a little bit of a downer on my fresh-out-of-uni celebrations because I felt like I jumped from my graduation ceremony straight into the world of full-time employment with no summer break in between. I felt robbed, and also very stupidly spoiled because who has problems like these?

Thirdly – my days started off early. Wake up at 5:45 and out of the house by 6:55, dressed and belly happy from a freshly made breakfast. Towards the later weeks, however, I know I slept in a bit more and grabbed a breakfast at Starbucks rather than making one at home, which angered my wallet by a lot. Still, what’s done is done.

I take the 7:04 bus from where I live to where I work; for the first four weeks, this bus route doubled as the morning school run. It was as hellish as it sounds. Imagine children from three different grammar schools (plus myself!) all piled up like sardines inside a double-decker bus… you could imagine the conversations I overheard. I just want to quote Abba and say, thank you for the music, otherwise, I wouldn’t know how I would have survived.

a .gif of Spongenbob wearing headphones and snapping his fingers
Spongebob is listening to Abba, I swear

I arrive at the town where I work at exactly 8:10 if there weren’t any delays. I then grab my morning Starbucks, scan my gold member app, and then proceed to walk to the office at around 8:35. My normal walking speed gets me to the office front door about 8:55, but if I am in a rush or angry-therefore-I-power-walked, I would arrive five or ten minutes earlier.

This might all sound neurotic to most people, but keeping to a schedule pretty much saved my soul this summer. What I realised about myself, during this entire internship experience, is that I really value having complete control of my time. As an intern, you don’t really have control over what you do between clocking in at work and clocking out – at least not at the agency I worked for.

I had to spend the majority of my days – my weeks, even – with total strangers who very clearly did not share the same life experiences as myself, and therefore did not have the same values. They tagged it as a generational thing: “you’re such a millennial” was a phrase bandied about lightheartedly in the office. But it was so much more than the years between me and my colleagues…

  • I value smart work over hard work
  • Naps are not just for young children: inemuri is a lifestyle I live by
  • NOT ALL ASIAN CULTURES ARE THE SAME
  • Being gay is not a punchline to some joke and it should never be used as one

So these past three months have been a hardship, to say the least. I came into the internship hoping to gain work experience applicable to most graduate jobs I plan to apply for, and I came out battered and worn with a significant amount of money spent on food deliveries to the office… oops!

I still gained valuable work experience and a lot more doors are open to me now compared to if I never took that internship offer; nevertheless, I know that I have become less idealistic for my work-future, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some might say I needed this crash course in real life.

Adulting™ is hard, y’all.


Over to you guys: Do you have any internship adventures to lament over? Are you currently a student planning to take one? Am I being too whiny over the whole ‘millennial’ label that people my age can’t seem to shake?

I am going to Belfast next week to celebrate completing my summer internship, so keep an eye out for my first travel journal blog post!

Get to Know Me: Part 2 of 5

Are you ready for round two?

To all my new readers, I am doing a five-part ‘Get to Know Me’ series as way to get this whole blogging thing started. Starting something from the ground up is always very awkward, especially if you have no clue if the things you create – such as this blog – even get some kind of an audience. Am I just screaming into the void that is the Internet? I’ll find out soon enough.

the author standing in a meadow in Japan
The Author, November 2016

More About the LiberaTarts Author

Do you have any special talents?

There is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about me, talent-wise. I can’t sing, dance, or act. I can’t draw, fix a car, or solve a Rubik’s cube. There was that one time, however, that a high school friend messaged me in a panic about her laptop – something about it displaying sideways rather than the normal, landscape way. While I didn’t have the knowledge of how to fix my friend’s laptop right there and then, I did do some quick Googling and managed to talk her through the solution.

So my secret talent? I’m an expert at Google and the way it works.

Where were you born?

In a hospital, like most people. There was a doctor, some nurses… my mom was there. I showed up near the end though, and stole all the limelight.

Geographically speaking, I was born in a town located on one of the 7,000 odd islands of this archipelago country called the Philippines. There was definitely a doctor in attendance, some nurses I’m assuming were there since I wasn’t exactly present the entire time, and there’s a high chance that my mother was there too. She’s a champion – kudos to her for going through childbirth!

What’s your zodiac sign? Do you believe in it?

I am a Sagittarius, though if I was born a day or two later, then I would have been a Capricorn. I don’t believe in astrology as much as I enjoy dabbling in it every now and again; it’s a fun thing to do and share with my friends.

What are your hobbies?

Bold of you to assume that I am a well-rounded human being with hobbies.

old guy shrugging meme

(I like watching movies and reading books and trash talking television shows. Does travelling to escape the humdrum of everyday life count as a hobby? I take pictures and can shop until I drop.)

Do you have any pets?

I sure hope not! Please refer to my previous ‘Get To Know Me’ post as an explanation, specifically question number 3.

Do you have any siblings?

I have one and he is younger than me. Being an older sister is fun, up until you end up being in charge of a younger sibling and become a pseudo-parent to a teenager because that’s just what older siblings do.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I wanted to be the next J.K. Rowling. I remember having all these aspirations, back when I was in high school, about becoming a published author at 16 and just basically creating what I love: books and stories and happy endings.

Fast forward to 2018 and I’m already in my twenties. Still no book or story to speak of, but I know more about myself and I am aware that I will be a crappy author. I have no self-control and I procrastinate like a student who has a 3000 word essay due in three months’ time!

Who was your first best friend?

That would be my childhood best friend. We met in middle school and pretty much stuck together, fighting the battles that other preteens did and trying not to be trampled as we navigated our school halls – we were tiny kids and were yet to have a growth spurt. In all honesty? I’m still waiting for my growth spurt even now.

How tall are you?

Funny you should ask. I like to say I’m five-foot-something but this is a total lie because I measured my height once and it was woefully inadequate. I am somewhere in the higher end of the four-foot-something spectrum. I wouldn’t know the exact measurement because I hate to know these things.

What is the least favourite thing about yourself?

The fact that I have no clear goal of what I want to do in life. I moved to the UK to pursue my studies, which I did and this summer I graduated from university with a degree that I can be proud of. As for my next steps beyond that? I have no clue and I hate it.


Over to you guys: Did the second part of the ‘Get to Know Me’ series measure up to your expectations? What surprised you and what didn’t? Tell me in the comments below because I am a very nosy individual and I would like to hear your thoughts.

Look out for Part 3 in this quest to get to know me! 🙂

Get to Know Me: Part 1 of 5

Anyone else feel like they’re shouting into a vast empty arena, where the one friend you’ve managed to coerce is sitting in a corner somewhere with flags sincerely cheering you on?

Yeah, me neither.

Reflection image of a closed barbershop in rural Japan
The Author, January 2017

Get to Know the LiberaTarts Author

I’m going to do the real narcissistic thing and assume people want to know things about me, so what better way to kick things off than have a quick quality questionnaire about… anything and everything, really.

I just Googled something along the lines of ‘get to know me challenge’ and clicked on the first thing that caught my eye. Not the first link on the page (thank you very much!) but it was right near the top so it’s not that much of a difference.

Are you guys ready? Here goes!
Are you named after anyone?

Funny story. I was not named anyone specifically, nor was I named after any real people my family knew in person. However, I was named after this really, really obscure video game character and I guess it has taken twenty-odd years for me to come to any sort of peace with that information.
When was the last time you cried?

I was watching a video clip of a Korean television show called Return of Superman on social media. The little toddlers were being cute and adorable and they were crying because that’s what young children do when something inconveniences them slightly. It was cuteness overload.
Do you have kids? If no, how many do you want?

No kids, no pets, no plants that can die on me.

no children traffic sign mock-up

Bold of you to assume I want children in the first place.
If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?

I don’t know. Maybe? I sure do complain a lot.
Do you use sarcasm a lot?

Sarcasm? What’s that…?
What’s the first thing you notice about people?

Their clothes and how they carry themselves. I put a lot of thought into the way I look and the way I express myself depending on the situation, and it helps alleviate some of that anxiety of ‘am I fitting in?’ ‘do I look okay?’ into people-watching and taking in what they look like and how they behave as a means of calming myself down.
What is your eye colour?

Dark brown, like a fudge cake with layers upon layers of cake and icing.
Scary movie or happy endings?

Happy endings. All the way. Life is horrible enough already without me having to seek them out in movies.
Favourite smells?

Freshly mown grass. A forest after a long hike. My grandmother’s cooking.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?

I think a better question to ask would be: where is home and how do I find it? That is essentially the very premise of this blog. I hope I find home along the way, but most of all I want to have a lot of fun finding it!


Over to you guys: Take some time and ask yourselves, when was the last time you cried? What is your favourite smell? Did I enjoy this post enough to subscribe to LiberaTarts?

Look out for Part 2 of 5, coming to a blog near you.