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:
I understandthat 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
Do something scary.
Learn to cook.
Ride a plane.
Party all night.
Take a risk.
Play a sport.
Change the script.
Reunite with an old friend.
Drop the “I’m busy” farce.
Pay off your debt.
Get to know your family.
Re-read the classics.
Volunteer for a cause.
Cut the clutter.
Fall in love.
Write a letter.
See your favorite band live.
Sleep under the stars.
Perform for a crowd.
Take a road trip with your best friend or partner.
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!
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!”
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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!
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:
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.)
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.
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?
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.
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 Hammyltonafter the titular character.
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.
The fourth Friday of August signalled the end of my internship at a not-so-local agency, which pretty much means 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 of ever learned how to drive – but that’s a whole can of worms altogether. I relied 100% on public transportation (thank you, 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…
Why did I choose to do an internship?
How did I get the internship?
What were my days like?
First up – I chose to do an internship for the same reasons most undergraduates (or fresh out of the classroom 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.
my poison of choice: hazelnut soy latte
redeeming a free drink: matcha frappuccino with whipped cream
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. Imaging 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.
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 passed it on as a generational thing: “you’re such a millennial” was a phrase bandied about 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: inemuriis 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 for me. 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!
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.
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.
(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.)
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! 🙂