Journal #13, The magic of the Ginger Bread

The sound of family that haven’t seen each other for too long fills the living room. Bright smiles, Christmas socks and the smell of gingerbread cookies in the oven. Gingerbread dough is snuck into mischievous mouths, tongues stuck out at whoever dares point it out – quick fingers coated in flour and butter, sticky but sweet tasting, just how these December days are supposed to be. It’s the annual family gingerbread day, where we bake enough cookies to carry us through the winter; when the house smells like cinnamon and cloves and ginger and dark, shining syrup; when the stereo churns out Christmas song after Christmas song, every single one linked to a memory, a party, an evening or just a moment.

Worries about presents and that last exam are gone as the third musician of the night sings songs about chestnuts and fires and Jack Frost nipping at noses.
These Christmas traditions are things we all share. The Christmas Crazy that sets in every December 1st and makes young and old suddenly crave satsumas and mulled wine and all the other things you never even think about during the other eleven months of the year. The Christmas Crazy that sometimes leaves you running about endless shopping centres, but just as often reminds you to sit quietly by the window to listen to the whispers of snow gently falling.

Eleven people are gathered around the table, cups of coffee and tea are lining the window sills. The table isn’t for coffee cups, the table is for working. There shouldn’t be enough room for everyone to roll out their dough, to stamp out gingerbread angels and stars, but there always is. Around this table, there is room to grow, there is space for everyone. An evening like this one gathers us all, and around this table there is room for quirks, for habits and traditions, for the weird and for the wonderful, for emotions, for the happy.
We sing along, we dot our noses with flour. We taste the cookie dough and revel in the smell wafting from the oven. Everyone’s hard at work, and like every year, Christmas comes running when we invite it in.


Like every year, the magic of the Ginger Bread ensures that the Christmas fairytale stops by our house too. Like every year, the Christmas Crazy ensures that Christmas hangs up its coat and takes off its shoes, and makes itself proper at home.

-Andrea

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#iweigh a love of tea and a BA I’m proud of

Sometimes it’s so easy to get stuck in this cycle of not feeling good enough in your own body, especially when you’re constantly bombarded with images of what you’re supposed to look like and how you’re supposed to act.

Daily, multimillion dollar industries play at our insecurities, making us spend more money on their products by showing how happy glossy hair and smooth skin will make us. For many, the number on the scale feels like a punch in the stomach when standing alone in the bathroom, wet hair up in a tattered towel, in nothing but underwear, looking for affirmation in dead numbers. But it’s enough now.

#Iweigh is an initiative on Instagram, and the internet in general. It was started by British actor Jameela Jamil and has been embraced by women all over the world! The goal of the movement is for women to feel empowered by and measure themselves in their accomplishments and what they appreciate and are proud of.

A hashtag isn’t going to fix everything. A hashtag won’t immediately change the fact that 7 out of 10 girls feel like they don’t measure up, but if this movement teaches us anything, it is that we are so much more than our appearance and the number on that bathroom scale. We are worth the world just by existing, and we are worth every single proud moment we have ever achieved. We are worth the big crescendo in our favourite piece of music, coffee dates with our friends and good night messages from our loved ones. We are worth the compliments we give to others and the praise we hesitantly receive.

There were a couple of things I couldn’t fit in the picture, and so I’m adding them here:

#iweigh
-An affinity for experimenting with laundry detergent and washing up liquid
-The way I deal with emergencies
-My library job and everything I’ve learned through it
-All of my earlier jobs, volunteering opportunities and work experiences
-Three years abroad
-That I try to make the days good for the people around me
-That I can make you a really good cup of tea

And so much more!

I chose to use this picture even though I always feel a bit awkward posting selfies. However, this one was taken on my first day back at my new uni after taking a week off to attend the graduation ceremony at my old uni, I was drinking my favourite tea (Dorset Tea’s Strawberry and Cream), jamming out to the Hamilton soundtrack in my head, and the leaves were turning yellow all around me. It was a wonderful moment, one of those where you’re 100% convinced that everything will work out in the end. It’s an image it feels right to use in this situation.

I hope you measure your worth in all the things that make you you, today x

Until next time,
-Andrea

“I’ve got time”

Prompt: “Shy people tend to interact better with animals than people”

The letters got stuck in her mouth,
why would any word need that many syllables.
The stutter prevented fey world and magic from filling
her little room,
and book after book was thrown against the wall,
cracks in the paint after all the lifetimes
caught in her throat.
He came in quietly
and softly put his head in her lap.
Small cries stilled as the heavy dog brought her back to reality,
he looked at her with big eyes.
She could see the world she couldn’t read aloud in there.
“Read to me,” his eyes said,
“I’ve got time.”

A bit delayed day 4 of OctPoWriMo, and the prompt was about strange animals and pets. I’ve never had any pets myself but have fallen in love with all of my friends’ dogs and cats, even though it’s rarely mutual. It’s interesting to read up on dogs as support animals, though, and especially how they can help children in learning situations, for example children struggling with reading out loud.

Hope you have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

Journal #10

Written 14th of August 2018.

It’s close to ten on a Tuesday morning and this week has already lasted a lifetime. Not a bad kind of lifetime, yesterday was just a day full of information, impulses and experiences, of new beginnings and new people. I moved into the new flat on Sunday, and then uni started yesterday. Lots of awkwardly shaking hands before we got a bit more comfortable with our course mates, and what started off as a guided tour around campus where only the guide did the talking, soon became us chattering excitedly over a couple of beers later last night. We sought refuge in a tent, huddled in jumpers, while Cezinando played on the stage a hundred meters away and the sun was setting behind us. 

I’ve gotten the buses down in this new place now. I know that wherever I am in this city, the M2 is always 20 minutes away, taking me either to uni or back home. I’ve figured out where the food shops are around the area I live in, and I’ve gotten lost on some new street corners. Only for a couple of minutes, of course, I did quickly find my way back, but you know, it wouldn’t be “Andrea Moves Into A New City” without getting a bit lost on the way to the shops once or twice. 

The flat is wonderful. A fully furnished, proper retro piece straight out of the 70s. I’m renting it from some lovely people who only live here a couple of months every year, and it has a vibe of instant cosiness the minute you step in the door. I really lucked out on this one, I’m aware, but after living in rather noisy uni halls for three years, having a kitchen all to myself and knowing that the only noise I’ll hear is my own, is such a blessing. It’s also nice to be able to move from room to room; to eat at a kitchen table, relax in a living room, do work at a desk, and sleep in my bedroom, not having to cram everything into my tiny bed like I had to do in halls. I know living small in tiny shared spaces is the student experience, and I am glad I got to experience that for three years, but having this space and the feeling of solitude it brings with it, is absolutely wonderful. Also, not going to lie, I’m a little bit done with sharing a kitchen with nine other freshers. 

It’s almost ten on a Tuesday morning, and here I am. Still chilling under the duvet, in a room brightly lit by a nice window that I can keep open at night because of how quiet this neighbourhood is. Harvey is here too. He’s been wonderful to have around, what with the wedding and the moving and now getting started at a new uni. A constant, something safe.
I don’t have lectures today, so instead, I’m ticking things off my newly started checklist, and I’ve made a cup of tea. In a minute I’ll get up, shower, have some breakfast and totter around a flat that I’m not sharing with nine first-year students. Then I’ll get on a bus I’ve gotten familiar with and drive a really pretty route to the uni. I’ll meet nice people, figure out some more practics of this academic year, and later tonight, head to another party to keep getting to know people.

Life’s pretty good today and I have a feeling it’ll stay that way for a while.

-Andrea

Journal #9

I’ve always been a big fan of planning. I get my bus tickets in advance and show up at the airport three hours early. Making sure you’ve planned your journey well ensures that you won’t get stuck on any small, nameless bus stations, and it helps you be prepared for whatever you’ll encounter on the way. Plans also provide you with a great opportunity and a reason to be excited! Looking forward to something is half the fun of it, and intricate planning means you can prolong the joy for however long it takes you to plan.

Before I started uni in Winchester I wanted to be at the metaphorical airport which was my higher education, early. I started planning my degree abroad two years prior to my first year, and spent all of August 2013 to September 2015 looking up Winchester online and in travel books. I read about the uni and the course and my future lecturers, and I got books I knew people had used on the course in earlier years. I also got in contact with a couple of current students at the uni, who were oh so kind and guided me through my chaotic worries and confused thoughts. They answered all my questions, anything from ATMs to walking distance-grocery stores. All information I could gather was neatly penned into a small blue notebook with pink sprayed edges; my “Winchester Departure Bible”.

Come September 2015, I was prepared for departure. I had written packing lists for months, I knew exactly what flat I was moving into and who were moving in with me, I had prepaid tickets for multiple events all throughout freshers week. The airport found me early, a little scared, a little stressed, but mostly so excited and very well-prepared. At least, as prepared as you can be to move to a different country.

Fast forward to 26th of July 2018. I survived the Winchester adventure, and now I’ve got a Creative Writing BA(Hons) in my pocket. Winchester was scary, challenging, wonderful and confusing, and an experience I’ll take with me forever. In 17 days, however, I’ll be in a new city, in a temporary flat, nervous and jittery for my first day of a new BA. A new three years of studies, new people, a new uni. And I’m so excited. I applied for this BA in February, but after a lot of thinking, decided to not go for it if I got accepted. Instead I made plans for temporary solutions, job applications, volunteer work, making money, saving money. However, when the results came through I couldn’t get the feeling of needing to at least give it a try out of my head.

This might be my opportunity to rid myself of this extreme planner inside of me; maybe this is the time I learn that every change that happens in my life can’t be planned three years in advance, that I can show up at the airport with only two hours to spare. And if I can’t get rid of the planner, maybe I can make her take a little break for time to time. I’m starting a BA called Translation and Intercultural Comunications and a lot of the modules are subjects I’ve never tried my hands on before; I’m going in more or less blind. I feel unprepared, but so ready. I’ll get lost on the first day, I might get the wrong books or hold the map the wrong way around. But there’s nothing I can do that can’t be fixed, I’ve just got to jump in the deep end and see what happens this time. I’m nervous, but it’s a good nervous that’ll lead to loads of change, growth and personal development. Hopefully.

17 days until there’s new ground under my feet.

Bring on three new years. Bring on not being as prepared as I’m used to. Bring on a new adventure. I think I might be ready.

-Andrea