Things I Learned from Living in a European City

The first city I ever lived in was Milan. Although it was a very short stint in the beautiful Italian city, it definitely opened my eyes to city life. I tried my hardest to blend in as a cosmopolitan city dweller. It wasn't always easy but it was very fulfilling. Warning: this is a wordy story-time post!

Apartment living
This was difficult to get used to. The apartment I was renting was five flights up, and the lift was really dodgy. I didn't speak a word of Italian (thats a lie, I could say Ciao) so if I got stuck I couldn't talk to the lift emergency services, but I could say hello to them. So I just walked.
The apartment itself was really lovely and each apartment in the quarter had a balcony, which is very different to flats in a similar price range in British cities.  This was perfect for sitting out in the evening with a glass of wine drinking with the French girl who couldn't speak a word of English so just spoke at me in French.

Undergrounds and language barriers
On my first day in Milan I was advised by my employer to buy a Metro pass for the underground. Tired from the 3am flight but full of anticipation I made my way to the station. My positivitity was soon crushed when I discovered that nobody spoke English. In my arrogance I had just assumed they'd know the basics. As I was speaking in my best RP accent, trying to make progress I soon realised the language barrier was made of stone.  The kind-looking station worker was just replying back to everything in Italian whilst wearing a look of confusion on her face. I was flustered, hungry and tired so just burst into tears right there in the middle of my "conversation" with the station worker. A baguette and fizzy drink calmed my frustration and it turned out that all she were telling me to do is get some photos taken in the photo booth to put on my railcard. Not only did the photo on the pass showcase my post-breakdown puffy eyes and red face, when I returned to England I left the photos in my room and mum used them for all of my ID cards. Three years later and my driving licence is an unpleasant reminder of how stressful it was to get a railcard in an Italian city. Lesson learned, learn the language before you go to the country (I know, it seems obvious now).

Language barriers aside, the railcard was less than a quarter of the price of an Oyster Card on the London Underground. To my pleasant surprise, the Metro's were relatively quiet throughout the day, really frequent and didn't have me clutching to my hand sanitiser on each journey. The Metro was the perfect way to navigate around the city. Plus, people were so talkative and I met many people who were in the same industry as me travelling on the Metro. (Yes, they spoke English! I found that many people in Milan had moved from other countries for work too.) 

Long working hours (ha) 
Siesta, say what?! I had thought this was an archaic tradition that had died out. Wandering around midday looking for some food soon proved me wrong because all restaurants shut midday. Although my work didn't involve a siesta many people's did and there wasn't enough demand around two o'clock to make it worth the restaurants and cafes to stay open. In the tourist parts of the city around the Duomo siesta's didn't exist but in the more homely areas everyone was just chilling out. Who do I call to get in contact with our government about introducing siestas into England? I could do with a midday nap in my post-uni British city life.
Taking it easy was just ingrained in the Milanese culture and I enjoyed the relaxed aura of the city. Work still got done, but people weren't stressing out and running around the city clutching their briefcases for dear life. (London, I love you but chill out a bit!)

Amazing street art 
Everywhere you turn there's a political statement but it becomes so beautiful when its in the form of street art. Gone are the days of messy graffiti littering the rough backstreets. These are the days where graffiti is realistic, relatable and colours the city.

Late opening hours 
Forget about worrying that the shops are going to shut at five - they're all open late so despite the long working hours there is plenty of time to shop after work. Finding the energy isn't difficult when everything is within your reach at any time of day.

So, thats my experience of living and working in a European city. I'd love to hear about your stories about city life, link me to your blogposts or put an anecdote in the comments below.

5 ways to improve your mental health

It feels a bit wrong to say "happy mental health day" because its not "happy" when poor mental health is endemic in today's fast paced society-especially when living in a busy city. However, I want to put a positive spin on the day, because my space on the internet isn't the place to talk about facts and figures but a place to uplift and inspire people. So, lets celebrate the possibility of having good mental health and try our best each day to be the best person we each can be. With that in mind, here are 5 ways to improve your mental health. (These are listed in no particular order).

1. Wake up happy

This is so important for me, so hopefully it will resonate with you. This morning I woke up feeling lousy after having a really vivid nightmare, as I had gone to bed with a migraine. For a moment I lay there motionless dreading the day ahead. As soon as this feeling had taken hold, I wrestled with it by thinking of things I was looking forward to and things I was thankful for. An example is just being thankful that I had time for a rare ten hour sleep, another was to be thankful that I lived so close to my work that I didn't have to wake up earlier. Get the idea? After about ten minutes of positive thoughts and looking forward to my morning cuppa, I sprung out of bed and put the kettle on.

2. Treat Yo' Self

Each day! There is nothing wrong with a treat. Maybe it is watching your favourite series when you get home from school, lectures or work. Maybe it is something as small as listening to your favourite song in the morning. Treats don't have to be unhealthy, expensive or time consuming-they are anything that elevates your mood.

3. Seek Help

Asking for help to improve your wellbeing, rather than your wellbeing spiralling downwards is not accepting defeat. It is more a case of instead of wandering around the confines of a shop, trying to find the item you want, you type in some keywords online to find it instantly. This is your journey, if you think help is needed don't let anything or anyone stop you in your tracks! At the end of the day, you're the one living your life, so make the best decisions for your own wellbeing.

4. Go For A Walk

When living in a city it can be hard to find a nice place to walk around. It can be busy and there are lots of crowds. Don't let this stop you, because walking releases endorphins which may put you at ease with the crowds which could reprogram your brain to enjoy the hustle-and-bustle. Plus, you never know what you may find on your chilled out walk. On some of my aimless wanders around the city I have found quiet parks, interesting graffiti and quaint coffee shops. There is a way of being alone but not lonely, and the way is to walk!

5. Journal Your Way To Contentment

It can feel a bit silly writing your feelings down and then reading them back like "what is going on in my brain?!" Despite this, when having an overwhelming week (even if its good-overwhelming) I find it really useful to just write down how I feel. The great thing is that in a few months time when I worked through the challenge and everything turned out fine, the journal serves as a good reminder that everything works its way out over time. Plus, its like saying to myself "when I felt like this, a few months ago, everything worked out in my favour, so don't dwell on things so much this time around". For some reason, it is calming. Plus, you don't need to do this often but only when you feel like it. I find this takes the pressure off a bit.

Lets all support each other by posting top tips for your wellbeing in the comments! 

Inexpensive ways to make your house homely

 You've finally got your new place, you've seen pictures online and everything looks very clean and simple-the perfect living space. You open the front door, and all of a sudden everything feels clinical. You're not connecting with your new house the way you want to, but you're paying too much rent to afford to comfort eat the negativity away. Sound familiar? I have been there many times. First I felt this way at uni in an empty box room, and I felt it again as a graduate renting their first "adult" flat. At first my flat felt empty and boring but after adding a few homely touches I have bonded with it. So, here are my tips on how to make your space hygge-My Danish readers will know!


Bathrooms, bedrooms and livingrooms can all benefit from jars. I recently bought what I call my "jar of hearts" from Wilko's and filled it with some sweet strawberry pot pourri. Not only does the jar feel warm and friendly but the lovely scent gives the house a favourable aroma. As it gets closer to Christmas, I am eyeing up some festively scented pot pourri. 


Its all well and good having a house that looks like an IKEA showroom, but that's not going to make for a homely living space. Use and display your souvenirs! They will bring back happy and hilarious memories from your travels which will make you feel better. I use my Mallorca mug rather than the clinical white "guest mugs" because it reminds me of lazing by the pool and stuffing my face at the all-inclusive buffet. 

Fairy lights

No matter what you say, where you put them or what they look like fairy lights make a room feel one hundred times cosier. They fill the room with a cosy low-light ambiance. I bought some delicate rose fairy lights on the cheap in Primark. Having them weaved around my bed-frame means I can watch a cheesy chick flicks in bed with warm lighting radiating from the fairy-lights and feel as cosy as I've ever been. 


Positivity is hard to come-by at seven o'clock in the morning as I'm stumbling around trying to get ready for work, so forcing positive reminders on myself sets me up for a good day. This positive bathroom glass from Primark is a good reminder to smile because when you smile it tricks your brain into feeling happier (weirdly, it works. Seriously try it). Whether in the form of a picture on the wall, or a placemat on the dinner table, affirmations are a good reminder to love the space you've earned.

Comfy Throws 

Whether over the sofa, at the end of the bed or on a bean-bag, throws add pattern and personality to any room. I love the animal print throw in my living room. When it gets chilly and I'm watching TV its handy to wrap up in the throw with a hot chocolate in one hand and my phone in the other taking a photo for Instagram- at least I'm honest!

Novel Items 

No, it is not essential to life to buy fresh tissues in a cute box or a mirror that you can write messages on but having novel items make you fall in love with your home. If its the kind of thing you would love to find in a boutique hotel room, its the kind of thing you need in your home. You deserve to make your home feel special. For me, all it takes is a cute tissue box like this one from Wilko's. It's also the light from a candle in a cute holder that I just liked the look of, so I bought it. Sometimes you can't vocalise why you want something, but the feeling it will bring to your home is enough to make the purchase. That doesn't mean you have to buy extravagant items (my tissue box was only 70p) but you do need to find your small luxury. 

Me Time: The Manchester Spa Launch Party

Each city has an iconic building that makes city life seem a little more glamorous than traffic jams and queues. In Manchester, this takes the form of a skyscraper called Beetham Tower. Within this tower of dreams an even more dreamy place has appeared as if from nowhere: The Manchester Spa. I was lucky enough to attend the launch party for this wonderful spa, and it did not disappoint. If you're looking for something new to do in the city, even if you're not in Manchester I have found spa's to be a great way to relax for some me-time.

The Manchester Spa launch was held in a bar within Beetham Tower called Cloud 23. I had been to this luxurious bar a year ago and its lure is that the place has huge windows showing beautiful views of the city, as it is located on the 23rd floor. The city lights provided the perfect setting for the launch party.

After a bit of refreshing bubbly and gawking at the city view, we were acoustically serenaded by Will Rush, former X Factor Contestent. Everyone was in such high spirits, but with complementary bubbly and top quality entertainment who wouldn't be?! Whilst I didn't get the chance to sample any of The Potion Shop organic products, enough people were so excited about them that it made me want to visit the spa to see what all the fuss was about. The launch coincided with starting my new job, so a relaxing spa day will definitely be on the cards at some point. Also, I am trying to make the move to a completely organic skincare regime so visiting the spa would ensure I stick to this!

Talking with people in connection with the spa gave me the impression that its set to be a welcoming and relaxing place in the community. It was refreshing that The Manchester Spa encouraged us to share business cards to keep in touch with them which is lovely- not enough businesses are willing to openly collaborate with others. 

The live entertainment and party atmosphere created a really positive impression. The next stop is to pay a visit to The Manchester Spa and sample some treatments as I'm sure they will be super-rejuvenating. I wonder if they will also have these cupcakes at the spa, as I'm getting delicious-cupcake-withdrawal symptoms. 

How To Wake Up Looking Fresh

I'm currently residing in the countryside reflecting on my city lifestyle. I often rush around absorbing as much city life as possible, get home later than my skin would forgive me for and pass out from exhaustion. Whilst I love the exhilaration of trying out loads of new places in the city, a look in the mirror provides a daily reality-check that my impatience is catching up on me. In the countryside life is slower and my skin is improving with each morning I spend here. Is it the fresh countryside air? Probably not! I've put it down to the fact I have more time to look after my skin before I go to bed, because nothing much happens after 10pm on a weekday in the wilderness.
With more time for my skincare routine I thought it would be perfect to share my tips on how to look fresh on waking up. I will take these tips with me when I go back to the city.


Sounds counterintuitive, right? My skin is so naturally oily, but using Rosehip oil in the evening means that in the night my skin doesn't produce too much natural oil that causes spots.  Rosehip oil is a good oil for skin, and this reduces blemishes. The Rosehip oil I use is 100% Organic by Boots Botanics, but there are many out there for all price-ranges.


I have a bad habit of drinking tea before bed. It it caffeinated and dehydrates the body which means that the skin will also be dehydrated by the morning. I have kicked the habit and begun drinking water before bed.


Exfoliation is a buzzword in the skincare world. Whilst it is good there is a reason most scrubs say only use twice a week, it damages your skin if done too often. But do exfoliate once or twice each week because since exfoliating has reduced my dry skin. Do it in the evening because apparently skin regenerates in the night. Exfoliating your skin gives the natural cell regeneration process a head-start.


When I've been stressed during the day my skin doesn't take long to react. For every night I go to bed stressed, I wake up with stressed skin. It may be psychological but I really do believe my skin looks better in the morning when I am not stressing out about things that probably won't even matter in a month.


Okay, so mainstream Micellar waters have had a bad rap in the media because of a certain ingredient. Luckily, I found the Boots Botanics 3-in-1 micellar water which doesn't contain the carcinogenic ingredient. Micellar's clean dirt off your face and tone so you can go to bed with really clear skin.

These are my top tips to look fresh in the morning. Let me know if you have any pearls of wisdom that I've not considered. 

Free Apps To Get A Good Sleep In The City

The vibrant city doesn't sleep, and neither do you (most days). Not tonight. You have something important to do the next day and you need to wake up early. But the city is wide awake and you're suffering some serious FOMO staring at the ceiling.
I've been there. 
It is the bittersweet nature of city life. 
When sleep eludes me, I turn to my phone and aimlessly scroll through Instagram. After an hour I admit to myself that Instagram is not going to help me sleep. This is when I turn to the apps which will help me sleep. Here are the great FREE apps that have saved me from many a boring night of counting sheep and overthinking.

Sleep Time 
Big buildings that block out the sun may make your room darker and feel like you're getting more sleep, but why do you still wake up feeling groggy?! Apparently it is because our bodies respond to light, not alarms. Naturally, at sunrise our bodies would wake us up in a light stage of sleep, so we would wake up feeling revitalised. In a city where the buildings block out the sunrise our bodies are blocked from performing this function. This is where Sleep Time comes in. This app imitates the natural waking-up process by counting your sleep cycles and waking you up when you're in the lightest stage of sleep. When I first heard about this app I was thinking, "what if it tries waking me up at 4am, when I am not ready to wake up?" Cleverly, the app has factored this in and will wake you up within a 30 minute window. At first I thought the idea was great but wasn't convinced that it would work. From the first time I used it, I didn't want to throw my phone across the room and snooze for an hour. After a week of using it my body regulated itself and waking up became so simple, as it should be.

Rain Rain
You've set your alarm. You've scrolled past the same Tweet three times, so you finally accept its time to attempt sleep. The sound of sirens, car engines and drunk club-goers aren't relaxing and your mind is still racing. Before you just accept you're going to be exhausted tomorrow, download Rain Rain. Before you pass it off as super-lame, hear me out. I find it impossible to fall asleep to music, songs get stuck in my head and then I cant stop humming them. Then, I want to learn to play them on guitar. Its just impossible to fall asleep. Rain sounds are naturally relaxing for me, after growing up in the cold countryside I happily fell asleep to a thunderstorm many times. This app is the next best thing! With over ten different rain sounds such as "Thunder Cracks" and "Rain on a Window" this app offers the cosy stormy experience I find so relaxing. I've been using this app since the first year of uni, since then the developers have added other sounds such as "Crickets" and "Desert Wind". Soundscapes may seem a bit lame at first but in desperate times they are a great discovery. I challenge you to give them a go! Let me know your opinions of Rain Rain in the comments. You can set a timer for how long the soundscapes play for too, so they won't play through the night and wake you up.

Have Sweet Dreams! 
These are two really useful and easy-to-use apps that I've discovered whilst living in the city. I hope they help you sleep as much as they have improved the quality of my sleep. Now, when I do need a full nights sleep, I sleep well.  Do you have any app recommendations for me? Leave them in the comments below.
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10 Tips To Survive Freshers Week

1. GET A SMOOTHIE BLENDER- Freshers Week is fast paced and healthy eating will be the last thing on your mind. Relying on pizza deals and fast-food will mean that by midweek you'll be face-planted on the sofa whilst clutching your stomach. Thats no fun, trust me I did that. Although I made it to five out of the seven nights out, I could've made the full seven with a better diet. You can get a great blender for just £10 and it takes a few minutes to just blend together a mix of fresh and frozen fruit each day. When you're feeling worse for wear in the morning, a fruit smoothie will restore essential nutrients and give you the energy to do freshers week right.

2. TAKE A PACK OF CARDS- The best Freshers Week games to play with your flatmates require a pack of cards, but nobody ever thinks to bring one?! Even if everyone has a pack of cards, cards get lost and you'll end up playing Ring of Fire without the final king (which is a pretty big deal in the game). The more, the better.

3. BE THE PERSON WHO TAKES THE PHOTOS- It's probably not best to take a fancy DSLR camera because it will probably get misplaced. But someone will be taking photos and if its not you, there could be many unfavourable photos of you plastered over social media. If you take the photos, you can choose the photos that end up on social media. I learned this the hard way.

4. GIVE YOURSELF A MOMENT- Freshers Week will be busy but you will have very brief moments (probably during the day) where you'll have nothing to do. Use these moments to adjust to your new life. Do something relaxing, put on some music and meditate. Join a gym and use their jacuzzi. Just relax and let it all sink in. The benefits this will have on your wellbeing for the rest of Freshers Week will be profound. You'll enjoy everything so much more with a clear mind.

5. KNOW THE CITY- You may be new to the city, and if you are it is important to know where you're living and spending your time during Freshers Week. It may be more unsafe than the sleepy countryside village you grew up in, so keep your belongings safe and be aware of who is around you. But most of all, don't let the prospect of crime in the city spoil your fun. You just need to be aware of your surroundings and get to know your new home.

6. TAKE FOLD-UP SHOES- These are a lifesaver when you've been dancing all night and feel like all your toes are broken because you wore the beautifully painful pointy shoes. Even if you wore comfy shoes, a new friend may literally be wearing killer heels. Lending a hand in these trying times will go down very well. You may even make a new friend.

7. ONLY DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO- Respect everyone's decisions. If they don't respect yours, stick to your guns. Only do what you want to do, and don't let anyone change your mind. Your gut feeling is always right, so trust it. You'll have a better time when you respect your own limits and you'll be safe in the knowledge that you've risen above the peer pressure.

8. JOIN THE SOCIETY- Even before going to university I knew I wanted to be a radio presenter on the university's radio station. During Freshers Week, I immediately signed up to their radio station without giving it a second thought. I had so much fun each week presenting a show with friends, and it really improved my confidence. Radio may not be your thing but if you find a society you like the look of join it! Even if you have no experience of the activity. Don't think twice. University is about learning and there will be many students from all years joining societies in Freshers Week. It really is the perfect time to discover a new hobby.

9. ATTEND DAY EVENTS- The marketing teams in clubs do really well to promote their Freshers Week club nights, and these can turn your attention away from all the day events at the university. During Freshers Week my course held a pub quiz and little did I know, I was on a quiz team with my future best friend. As for the people I met during club nights, well, I can't remember who they are.

10. PREDICT THAT YOU MAY MAKE MISTAKES- There was a guy in the laundry room who had liquid laundry tablets that you just throw in with the washing. But he was trying to open it up with his mouth. Safe to say, he succeeded but quickly realised he was not supposed to open the tablet. Avoid ending up with a mouth full of soap by anticipating that you may make mistakes. Pay extra attention, read instructions thoroughly and take your time.

If you have any questions about my experience of Freshers Week then leave them in the comments!