February 28, 2017

What have I learnt when I've travelled? There are so many different ways to experience travel. I've hitched to Morocco, been on exchange to Australia, volunteered in Ghana, worked in Croatia, studied in Grenada and celebrated in Germany. I've had the best of experiences but each had brought it's own important lessons.


Lesson 1: People are kind and you can survive sleeping outside a service station

It was my first year of uni and hitching to Morocco with 2 of my new friends to raise money for charity seemed like an absolutely great idea. You know what it was, you may not speak to language or have any idea what someone's saying to you, but you can raise a thumb, point at a map and apparently make it all the way from England to Morocco. People were so lovely to us from the French van driver who pressed baguettes and cheese into our hands as he dropped us off to the the impromptu Spanish tour guide who wanted to show us all his favourites spots in Tarragona. Hitching sounds like it could be terrifying but really it takes the best kind of people to pick up a few desperate strangers on the side of the road.

Also... if you have to turn down a lift with a drunk driver in favour of sleeping outside a service station with the mice it's probably still a good choice.


Lesson 2: Put yourself out there and don't drink goon out of a schooner glass.

Knowing me now you could be a little surprised that I was a super shy kid who wouldn't talk to anybody. Moving to Australia forced me to get out there and meet people. When you move to the other side of the world you really don't have much of a choice. I'm a much more confident person now, and I'm sure it would have happened anyway, but getting outside your comfort zone really speeds that process up.

Also...if you don't want to be sick into a Macdonalds bag don't drink goon out of schooner glasses.


Lesson 3: You don't have to like travelling on your own and choose you're skinny dipping locations carefully

I would genuinely put my time in Ghana down as on of the best times of my life. I went there to volunteer in a hospital and was living in a house with people doing lots of different volunteer projects. We all became super close and spent our free time travelling, drinking and partying in a very hedonistic fashion. But in my last week I knew exactly what I wanted to do, I was going to go to Mole National Park and see a wild elephant. Unfortunately noone else was able to come with me, but seeing an elephant was the dream and I was going to do it anyway. I travelled up there using the local buses over a few days seeing monkeys and waterfalls on the way but you know what? I was bored. I wasn't treading the typical backpacker path (I literally didn't see another white person for days) and although I did see elephants and it was amazing and it was a dream, it would have just been so much better if I had someone to share it with. I don't want to be that strong independent female traveller, I'll take having friends to hang out with any day. As soon as I'd seen the elephants I bought my ticket on the fancy tourist bus and hotfooted it back to Accra arriving at 3am the next day. We enjoyed the rest of the weekend on the beach at Big Millie's reggae party.

Oh and if you do decide that that beautiful ocean is calling your skinny dipping name maybe try and do it near where you're staying so you don't have to walk back soaking wet through the village in front of all the locals...


Lesson 4: It might look like the dream but it doesn't mean it is the dream and tequila is not a suitable substitute for a jaegerbomb

Don't get me wrong, I loved working in Croatia and it was absolutely a dream job. But there's a point when the millionth person is telling you that you're living the dream and your life is a holiday that you feel like you might snap. Yes I live on a boat in one of the most beautiful places in the world, I jump in the sea daily and get paid to drink all day but I've also looked after countless drunk people, sat up half the night in hospital, comforted people in distress, broke up fights and barely slept in 6 weeks despite being so ill I wake up coughing so hard I vomit. We judge people so easily seeing the best of compilations of their lives on social media, completely disregarding the hard work that's enabled people to be in those position's. It's so easy to be jealous when we don't even understand what we're jealous of. Live the life you're in, don't waste time wishing it was something else.

And if you're going to sub in a shot because you don't do jagaerbombs, don't choose tequila because you will be sick into the sea.


Lesson 5: May as well have a go and torsion is key

I had no plans to sit the entrance exam for the Grenada until Dani persuaded me to do it the night before because it would be good exam practise. I somehow managed to score in the top 20 and get a place on the trip to Grenada. Studying in Grenada was a great opportunity that I so nearly didn't even attempt to take. It reminded me how worthwhile it is to get involved even if you don't think anything will come of it.

Also if you ever try to stand on an inflatable in the sea, remember -torsion is key.


Lesson 6: Travel will break you and it will create you

We finished our 2nd year exams and 3 days later found ourselves discovering the wonders of slap cup on a campsite in Germany for Oktoberfest. The rest of the week it rained and rained, our tents flooded and we were constantly either drunk or hungover, but it was probably the very best week of my life. We went as 4 buddies but came back as the best friends a girl could ask for. I have never ever laughed so much as that trip. Despite the shit conditions, there's nothing like climbing on a table, stein in hand, singing to Abba to make memories.

This post is part of GoEuro's #travellessons competition to win a trip to Europe.

August 07, 2015

There's a feeling you get when you go to a new  country and you just seem to fit . It's nothing you  can put your finger on,  you just know that this is a place you're supposed to be. I felt that way in Ghana, I felt that way in Croatia, I even felt it on a weekend away to Amsterdam. But Grenada, you just haven't done it for me. Your beaches are  perfect and your waterfalls are beautiful - I just don't think I'll be back.

 This time it's the people who've made the trip for me. I knew most of you to begin with, some were even good friends but I've come out  of this with people I can't imagine not knowing.

Cookie breaks with body buddies, an endless game of bullshit, deep and meaningfuls on the beach, toothpaste thieves, kfc lunch dates, always open doors, thriller dancing,  hash running, pineapple saving, girly nights out, turtle watching, cocktail drinking,  copious eating, boat driving, door to door, Lucy dancing, inflatable fun, all  of the sunsets, sea beers, road beers, volcano beers...

I'd like to think that Grenada played a part in this, and it did provide a nice backdrop, but I think these great times would have happened wherever we were. That feeling you get isn't just  for countries. Bring on the fondue parties.

And remember...

"Torsion  is key"


"It's only fun if you might die."


July 03, 2015

It seems about time that I revived this long lost blog. I seem to have missed out the Croatia chapter of my life here (many shenanigans were had) buuuut... let's skip to the good bit. I'm currently 3 days in to a 70 day Carribean adventure!

I'm currently on the island of Grenada here to study at St George's University for 4 weeks doing anatomy dissection. How I ended up with a place on this trip is completely baffling when I started with absolutely no intention of going but Danni walked into my kitchen 2 days before claiming it would be good revision practise to sit the exam. A random tick of the box saying I did indeed want to go on the trip (just to see if I could) and hear I am a few months later, 1st year medical school exams passed and about to embark on a sunny, sandy...body filled adventure.

My first impressions of this place were a cleaner, more developed version of Ghana, where houses were complete and thankfully toilet facilities seem to exist for everybody. No awful beach encounters so far!

A jet lagged 6am walk on the beach on our first day involved a medley of new friends to be made. The beach was full of joggers and people taking an early morning swim -even what seemed to look like a business meeting was occurring in the water.

One of the best encounters so far was with 'Rasta Frank' who politely enquired to Danni and I "What is your fitness regime?", hilarity ensued as exercise is so rare in our lives that I'm not quite sure what that word means anymore. " It must be in the genes" exclaimed Rasta Frank before enquiring on whether we liked to read the bible.

We spent the first real night at a Full moon beach party (with a brief detour to hang out with some new friends in a beauty salon while the rest of the group is driving around trying to find us -whoops, sorry guys :s). A live band, a sea view and some rather strong drinks added up to a great time dancing. Minor incident with a cactus in the bushes not withstanding.

Plan for today looks like a trip to the local fish market. I'm slightly confused about why this comes so highly recommended but time will tell, and I guess fish is delicious :).


P.s. I'm having some issues uploading pictures from my phone. I'll try to add these in at some point. For piccies check @itsclairek on Instagram :)


Selfie stick :)

May 07, 2014

Today was my last day at home for a while. Tomorrow I’m heading to London and on Friday I start training to become a Tour Guide with Busabout. It’s actually a dream job - I’m going to be sailing around the Adriatic Sea with their Croatia Sailing product.



Bluebell woods

Bluebell Woods on my last day at home.


I’m a little bit terrified but so excited to be spending my summer in the sun. In my training trip alone I’m going to be going to 4 countries I’ve never, ever been to before –Austria, Germany, Italy and Bosnia & Herzegovina. I think it might be a little bit amazing :D.


I remember going to the interview and thinking ‘I’m going to have to be annoyingly outgoing today’, that’s going to be my whole summer (although hopefully not too annoying)! It’s so strange to think that I went from being a super shy child to someone who’s about to start leading groups of 30 around cities sightseeing and partying…well, as long as I pass training trip…


So, I’ll see you in a while –once I’m done being the person you’re jealous of on instagram  ;) .



April 29, 2014

Windsor has to be one of my favourite places in the UK, I’m always trying to find a reason to go there. So for my birthday weekend my bestie Mel and I went for afternoon tea at the Crooked House. It was very cute inside, we went up a tiny, tiny staircase to what I’m sure must be the best seat in the house, looking out at all the tourists taking photos of us. We had a traditional cream tea with such delicious scones, warm out the oven.


Windsor Castle

Bestie looking like a film star


And then we did what I thought could never be done. We walked the long walk. And guys it’s really, really, really long. You just can’t tell because it’s so straight. We had a couple of hours and thought of course it’s be fine only to end up running back to the car before our parking ran out. Totally worth it though, we just really didn’t want to fail.


A really long walk windsor

So, So far


Horse statue Windsor Long Walk

Made it!


Windsor Long Walk

View from the top –there’s a castle down there somewhere…


Made it Windsor Long Walk

Let me take a selfie.


Windsor just gets better every time, even if you do have to go for an unexpected jog,



April 26, 2014

I’ve been living at home for the last 9 months, working a lot and generally not getting up to much. But I haven’t been wasting my time, there was a reason I moved home, a reason I quit my job and volunteered in a hospital in Ghana. I’ve been applying to study graduate medicine. It’s been a horrible, stressful experience filled with personal statements and interviews….and rejection after rejection. Until, on my birthday when we were heading for a day at Noah’s Ark Farm Zoo, we ended up lost sat in a pub car park. I looked up from the book I was reading (Allegiant –it’s great) to see an email on my phone with ‘offer’ in the title. I couldn’t quite believe it when I read I had an offer to study medicine from the University of Warwick. I had to get my mum to read it to check it was true. Thankfully it was, my parents looked like they were about to cry and I thought I might genuinely faint if I stood it up.


It’s finally settled in now, I’m going to be a student again, and after that I’m going to do the job I was meant for. Hopefully I’ll even one day be able to work for Medecins Sans Frontieres (my life goal). It’s funny to think that I know where I’m going to be here for the next 4 years –I’d been making back up plans to travel the world!


Last weekend we went to visit the uni and Leamington Spa where a lot of medical students live. I’m hoping to get into campus accommodation for the first year –it all looked pretty nice, big brick houses in a little student village. The medical school is a 15 minute walk away but it’s the most beautiful walk through a campus I’ve ever seen (at least in the UK, UQ in Australia was pretty nice). Warwick has it’s own nature reserve with ponds and woods to walk through to get to the medical school. There’s a cycle path too, a little uphill but at least at the end of the day I could just roll all the way home.


Warwick University Nature Park

Nature Reserve


Warwick University Lake

This is where I’ll walk


Warwick University Woods

Lexie liked it too :)


It was the Easter holidays so the uni was pretty quiet and a lot of places were shut. There’s a lot of places to go at the student union though and an arts centre which looked pretty fun. We stopped for lunch at a pub on campus then headed on to Leamington Spa. It was a really beautiful town, with a lovely, lovely park I could see myself revising in.



Leamington Spa Town Hall

Leamington Spa Town Hall


Leamington Spa Park

The park in Leamington Spa

Leamington Spa Flowers

Pretty flowers


It was way nicer than I’d ever expected. Can’t wait to get started :).



April 01, 2014

The little things are what come to mind when I think about Ghana. The walk down the hill to catch the tro-tro, stopping at Baba’s on the way for some juice or water. Buying fan ice from the little carts that people pushed around. Taking a break from the hospital to hunt for Bofrot (doughnuts) and everyone knowing me there as their local obruni.



My bofrot lady

Pool bar, so much time spent here that Nana or Betsy would automatically bring me a club when I arrived. So many Clubs were drunk (huge bottle of Ghanaian lager). Buying kebabs when dinner had been gross. Trying to take over DJ responsibilities so we could dance to Chop my money and Azonto. I miss Ghanaian music so much! One time we even found the actual pool table that we named the bar after, up some stairs with no rails so you could drop off either side, making me feel like I was in Temple Run. My 2 pet kittens that lived at the bar and I would occasionally be able to catch, until they disappeared suspiciously. Even the walk to pool bar, over walls and through gardens saying hello to everyone because they all seemed to know who we were. So many good nights there. And that time Tom and I decided to darty (daytime party) there, only to get home around 7 and realise that we were supposed to be having dinner with everyone (including the director and staff) for Yikes birthday. I was terribly drunk! That was an odd meal cheese with salt and pepper to start, plain pasta with boiled chicken and a cheesy triangle to finish.


Drinking from water sachets- so convenient and cheap, I wish we had them here. I especially miss people selling stuff through the windows of the tro-tro. From relatively normal things like snacks and drinks to coat hangers, flannels, posters and once I even saw a coffee table. I miss the tro-tros the most convenient public transport as there was always one going past so you never had to wait to long. It was my favourite when you got on 1 with a tv screen and watched the crazy African programmes with the most ridiculous premises. The best ones involved magic as the special effects were excellent.


Visiting Matilda the seamstress to get some clothes or souvenirs made. She made me the most beautiful patchwork blanket. Then there was that time when I tagged along with the microfinance volunteers who wanted to sell her things on ebay and made me model them.


Going to the mall because we couldn’t cope with Ghanaian food any longer and needed to buy pizza or chips. The food was not particularly good. We were provided with dinner every night at the house and it was either edible but plain (fried rice and pasta), absolutely horrendous (fish paste) or swimming in oil (red-red –which I actually found pretty delicious, it’s made of spicy beans and served with plantain).


Going to the hotel across the road for a breakfast of omelette, bread and milo or chicken and chips for lunch. Finding that another volunteer was already there and having great chats. I miss the other volunteers the most. I miss being surrounded by friends, always having someone to talk to and never being alone. When you live together so closely you can’t help but make great friends and I really believe I will know some of these people forever. The people I met there are some of the best people I’ve ever met. When you go somewhere like that to volunteer, you’ve got to be a certain kind of person who loves adventure but wants to make a difference in peoples lives. And it turns out that is my favourite sort of person.


Street library! I occasionally tagged along to street library and it was the most intense but fun and rewarding experience. We would go out in the van with the music blaring over the tannoy and the kids would start to run after us. When we arrived at the location for the day we’d get all the books out and read with the kids. The ages ranged from tiny tots who didn’t know any English to teenagers who needed to be told to get harder books because they were reading so well already. We stayed for a few hours but by the end noone could concentrate anymore and we ended up playing games. The girls taught me their hand clapping games and I attempted to teach them ‘A sailor went to sea’.



Street Library –I let them do my hair…


I miss the friendliness of Ghana, everyone was always happy to speak with you and if you had a problem would do anything to try and help. I don’t miss being an Obruni though. Being white gave you something of a celebrity status, kids would wave and shout Obruni at you and be so excited to see you all the time and I’d often feel like I was getting special treatment just because I was white. I know we kind of stand out there but it did seem something of an extreme reaction. So many men would tell me they loved me and want to marry me, purely because I was white, they would have literally just seen me and started talking to me and decide this. I spoke to Richard who worked at the house about it and he told me that in Ghana if you like a woman you have to tell her you love her straight away to show that you are serious. This is so at odds with my views as I just think how could you possibly love someone you don’t even know. I guess I just don’t believe in love at first sight.


My time in Ghana was genuinely the best time of my life. When I was there I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. The people I met were amazing, the country is beautiful and I feel like the Western world could learn a lot from the culture and attitudes of the people there. I wish at home people were as friendly and peaceful as they were in Ghana. It really made me feel like we should be more grateful for what we have and stop focusing on the next thing we want to buy or wasting our time not appreciating the people in our lives. Ghana, you’ve been great.