What do you meme? (pun intended)

Hey All ! I thought I would share with you some of my favourite travel and language memes that are oh so relatable.. sometimes painfully so!  Enjoy !

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.. This is now a group conversation.

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.. a little too relatable if you ask me.

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.. If this doesn’t inspire you to travel solo I don’t know what will.

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.. I don’t have a dog but I can make this happen!

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..*clears throat* Nice bank balance reminder.

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.. Awkward.

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..*Screams internally* .. Just don’t.

 

I love a good meme and if they are travel or language related, that’s even better !

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Storytime: I said I was born in 1900.

So i’ve been studying French for many many years but it has to be said.. as someone that hates maths, I still have a unique dislike for the way numbers are formed in French. I saw the picture below and had to share it because the struggle is so real. ūüėď

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Storytime:

So I spent 9 months in Quebec and the moment arrived where I had to go to the bank. It was all going soo nicely until I got asked for my date of birth. I proceeded to say the date..then the month and I am sure everyone around me started tuning into the interaction as I started saying the year and trailed off. I got as far as 1900 (which would make me a grand total of 118 – ageing super well apparently) and then my mind went totally blank and I just could not figure out where to go from there. I literally said “1995” in English, thank God the guy understood.

I thought I would share one of those classic language learning experiences.. nothing like a sweaty bank interaction but I survived! I can confirm that I can now reel off my date of birth with complete ease (having rehearsed it to ensure that never ever happens again!).

It’s all part of the fun and games of learning a foreign language. However, life is made easier by patient and understanding people like the bank cashier.

 

Have you had any awkward language interactions? Leave me a comment if so.

 

Until next time !

3 Tips for Solo Travel

 1. Plan.. Plan.. Plan.

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– Research the area you are going to.

– Figure out a budget. Know how much money you have and write down every individual cost, from checking in a suitcase at the airport to the amount of money you are setting aside for meals.

– Research your travel options and figure out which one suits you best such as: travelling by air, by bus/coach, by train etc.

– Decide what kind of accommodation suits you best – Hotel, Hostel, Airbnb etc. AND whether you want to be in a more central area or if you intend to travel into said area.

– You can even go as far as checking out what food is in the area surrounding your accommodation. #foodislife

– Figure out what you want to do, see and visit whilst you are there.

– If you are feeling super organised you could go as far as making day plans like the one below. Yes, I put together a pdf file outlining my plans, I then saved it on my phone so that I could access it with ease. It’s handy in two senses, firstly it acts as a reminder of what you have planned so that you aren’t late and secondly, you can also send it to family members, so if you are in a different time zone for example, they have a rough idea of where you are and what you are up to.

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2. Find the balance.

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Fill your time with cool and exciting things but schedule time to rest. It is important to find the balance between seeing, doing, visiting and taking the time to chill. For example, if you go somewhere for 6 days, you may want to fill 4 or 5 of those days but on your final day you could consider having zero plans and just take it easy. It also acts as a good time to reflect on all you have done on your trip.

3. Tours.

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– Consider a tour. Tours can be really helpful if you visit somewhere that is near impossible to navigate without a vehicle and you don’t intend to drive.. let a tour company do the driving for you whilst you soak up the sights ! Also, it’s a great way to¬†meet new people who are often solo travellers.

Just Enjoy !

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Make the most of your solo trip. Yes it can be a bit daunting but there is a point where you’ll realise how capable you truly are. I would 100% recommend solo travel to everyone, even if you start with a place that isn’t all that far from home.

 

Bon Voyage ! 

How Travel Makes & Breaks You

Makes:

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– You are happier: honestly I am my happiest when I am travelling. It gets me every time and literally turns me into a child. So not only are you happy whilst travelling but you stay on this travel high for a while. I would go as far as saying that you are naturally more happy after the experience because you have learnt and gained so much and it makes you feel content with where you are in life.
– You tend to be more sociable. You know people from different parts of the globe, all of whom play a role in shaping your perspective of things. These links also come in pretty handy when visiting the places where your friends live or places that they have visited.
– You are more optimistic. “Everything will work out in the end !”.

– You gain more confidence, as throughout your travels, you are bound to find yourself having to solve something. With that, you become more confident in your abilities.

Breaks:

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– Confidence can turn into cockiness: there is a true balance to find and even the most humble people can find themselves getting a little too carried away after their time abroad. A simple way to avoid this is by simply reminding yourself, everyone has different experiences.. different stories, we all go down different paths so stay humble & be nice !
– Reverse cultural shock : When you return home you can end up viewing your homeland in a different light. I felt like I was trying to find my feet when I came back to London after spending 9 months in Canada.. it was so bizarre to be home but feel almost like an outsider.
– The travel bug takes over. This requires no explanation.. let’s just say my new hobby is looking up flights.
– Reminiscing becomes depressing.
– Money Money Money Money: it can literally sometimes break your account. So once you finish travelling, building up that travel fund starts.. all over again !
Until next time !

New Years Resolu- PLANS.

Firstly.. Happy New Year to you all ! (.. I know it’s verging on the end of month). I hope you are doing well and I wish you the best in 2019 !

Here are some things I would like to do in 2019.. if I don’t complete these things, then that is not an issue. There is really no need to put excess pressure on yourself.. if it doesn’t happen this year, maybe next year.

Find an excuse to travel travel-1523169

I miss travelling, I don’t mind if I go somewhere nearby, such as Scotland or Ireland. I don’t need to go far in order to be content but I just need an excuse to travel and explore somewhere new!

 Learn a new skill
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I feel like it’s time to learn a new skill, I have been looking into book binding as I am obsessed with stationery so I figure I will start there and see where it takes me.¬†

Make progress

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I have a real issue with “standing still”. I like to almost always be in the process of doing something that I believe will in someway shape or inform my future. Time is of the essence.. and I don’t want to waste it.

Read more
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I have soo many books that I haven’t “got round to” reading yet and if I could read at least 5 books that would be great. Now I know that doesn’t sound like a lot but last year I read a grand total of 2! *clears throat*. It’s weird because I do enjoy reading and I used to read way more than I do now, but I find it difficult to read at home and much prefer reading whilst commuting.

 

Let’s see how ticking these off goes !

Until next time !

 

My Travel Destination Wishlist

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From my adventures in Chicago.

A few months ago a friend asked me the following,¬†‚ÄúName 3 places that you want to travel to‚ÄĚ.

My automatic response was: “Oh.. can I choose 30?”.

I ended up saying..

Barbados, Japan & Switzerland.

My thought process was literally: somewhere sunny, somewhere with unique stationery and somewhere with beautiful architecture.

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From my trip this summer to Banff.

Here is my actual Travel Wishlist (In no particular order):

  • Switzerland.
  • Scotland ‚Äď specifically: Edinburgh and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
  • Japan.
  • The States ‚Äď specifically: Alaska, Philadelphia and New Orleans.
  • China.
  • Barbados.
  • France ‚Äď specifically: Bordeaux.

Having said that.. I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to visit most countries in this world. Any excuse to travel !

 

Until next time !

3 Benefits Of Solo Travel

1. Plans.

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Something you will notice immediately is the fact that you have the freedom to do what you want, when you want. You don’t have to factor in another person’s interests so you can literally move at your own pace. At points this may mean that you spend more time in bed relaxing because .. there are no rules to solo travel !

2. Conversations.

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Solo travel can equal some valuable conversations AND some useful recommendations.

Now this is something I noticed whilst I was in Chicago in March. I’m not sure if this was solely because I was travelling solo or if my accent also played a role in causing intrigue but whilst I was there, I got involved in a couple of workshops. During these workshops I found that people really wanted to find out my thoughts on Chicago, why I was visiting Chicago (in the winter haha) and so on. Days later I went to the theatre alone and found myself having a full blown conversation about travel and¬†work¬†with the lady next to me.

The point I am trying to make is that I am almost certain that these conversations would not have happened if I had travelled with a friend and to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have found myself at multiple workshops.

3. Confidence.

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There is something about being alone and not having anyone else to lean/rely on that really pushes someone out of their comfort zone BUT in doing so, you realise it’s not so difficult after all. My grandma always says “You can’t get lost if you can read” and I would like to add the following to that, “If you are not sure, just ask”. This can be applied to soo many areas of life. Fear is not tangible, we create it and by pushing ourselves and taking the leap to get out of our comfort zones from time to time, the cycle of fear can be broken¬†AND¬†it is an amazing confidence booster.

 

Until next time !

That time in Banff

Hey All ! Hope you are doing well !

So last month I spent 4 nights in Banff, Alberta. Here are the highlights of my trip !

Day 1 РLake Tour 

I started my day with a trip to the supermarket. Having arrived at gone midnight I didn’t get to appreciate how scenic Banff was until the next morning and I was not disappointed:

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I mean it goes without saying, this is not a shabby view from outside a supermarket!

Lake Louise & Moraine Lake –

Later that day, I went on a Lake tour (with Discover Banff Tours). I was genuinely soo excited to go on this tour as I had been wanting to visit Lake Louise since before I even left London back in August. Before arriving at Lake Louise, we stopped off at Castle Mountain:

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Also, here’s a taste of how scenic the drive up to Lake Louise was:

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Then we arrived at the beauty that is Lake Louise ..

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I’ll give you a moment to just add Banff to your list of places to visit.. go ahead..

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Such a beautiful lake and I absolutely love the contrast of colours in the pictures.

After spending some time at Lake Louise, it was time to head to Moraine Lake.

Out of the two lakes, this one for definite stood out to me, there were also significantly less tourists at this lake as I happened to visit on the day that the road to the lake was officially opened for the summer.

Here is what the lake looks like from ground level..

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.. I know, you are thinking “How was she more impressed by this than Lake Louise?”. I didn’t understand what the fuss was about either, I was then advised to hike the Rockpile trail to get a better view of the lake. It took about 20-25 minutes but it didn’t feel that long because the views act as the perfect distraction. It’s also not very steep so you don’t end up sounding as though you are about to pass out when you get to the top.

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Here is what the lake looks like from the top of the Rockpile Trail:

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I think my automatic reaction was “Wow”, I genuinely felt like I was looking at a completely different lake.

There is something about being able to visit and see the sights in a place that you have only seen online. Throughout this trip there were soo many moments where I struggled to genuinely take in how beautiful Banff truly is.

Day 2 – Columbia Icefield

On my 2nd day in Banff, I started my day at 6am as I had an all day tour planned that started at 8:30am.

We made several stops on the way to the ice field (which is in Jasper National Park) to appreciate the lakes,mountains and rivers.

Mount Chepren + Waterfowl Lake:

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North Saskatchewan River:

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Oh and after 9 months in Canada, I finally saw a bear ! A black bear!

20180523_18451220180523_18461120180523_184441 Fast Forward to the Columbia Icefield, the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains.

This is the ice field from a distance:

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And here you can see the road that led up to the ice field which seems to disappear, that would be because there is a part of the road that is at an 18 degree angle.

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Then it was time to head off in the Ice Explorer, which is an all-terrain .. enormous vehicle.

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During the journey onto the ice field, the driver kindly told us to make sure we don’t go near the areas that are marked with red flags as those are the areas that you are most likely to fall in.. he also nicely added that if you were to fall in that you would most likely die by the time you made it to the bottom and that it would be near impossible to retrieve you in time. So now.. as you can imagine, I walked around the entire ice field like a baby that was learning to walk for the first time.

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Interesting fact for you: This vehicle has 6 wheels and each wheel costs $5,000 CAD/roughly £2,850

After this, I went on the Glacier Skywalk which is¬†a glass-floor observation platform overlooking a 280m drop. Not for the faint-hearted but if you aren’t afraid of heights you would love this !

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Then it was time to head back to the central part of Banff but we made a couple of stops along the way.

Bridal Falls:

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Bow River:

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And.. That’s all folks !

I hope you have enjoyed this post about my time in Banff. I had a great time and I would definitely say it’s worth visiting.

Go go .. Chicago Pt 2

Time for more Chicago greatness !

Tuesday 6th March –

Earring Workshop

Anyone that knows me, even slightly.. will have probably noticed that I pretty much always have jewellery on. It’s like clothing at this point. I woke up on Tuesday with no plan for the day and really I don’t know how I ended up back on the library website but somehow I did and I found out they had an Earring workshop in the Makers Lab. I just couldn’t say no !

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The aim was to create earrings that were animal related and.. given there are only two animals that I genuinely get over excited about: Dogs (in particular Pugs) and Giraffes, I figured my earrings had to be related to one of the two. I already have pug earrings and so making a giraffe pair was the logical option. So the first thing I had to do was find an outline of a giraffe on Google. This was then put onto this software called Inkscape that allowed me to copy and paste the giraffe outline, adjust the size of the giraffes and add small circles where the jump ring and fish hook would be inserted. Once that was done, I saved my giraffe outlines onto a USB which was then put into a laptop that was linked to the laser cutter. Less than 5 minutes later, I had these..

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The next step was to use two sets of pliers to attach the ring and hook.

Here is the finish product:

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I think they are adorable and I have already got some wear out of them.

Wednesday 7th March –¬†

Museum + Cultural Center Take #3 + Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

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Firstly I headed to the Museum of Contemporary Photography, I have to be honest.. I didn’t enjoy it very much. It is super small and I like to be forced to think when I go to the museum and the current exhibitions just didn’t do anything for me.

Despite a disappointing museum visit, a friend came to visit that same afternoon and of course.. anyone that dared to come within a 2 mile radius of me and label themselves as a friend of mine had to endure a Cultural Center visit haha.

After that we headed to dinner and I got to try a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. I can only say that it in some senses resembles a pie more than a pizza and it wasn’t greasy at all like a “regular” pizza which was great. I greatly appreciated the fact that it had like a pie-like crust as opposed to a soft soggy.. piece of disappointment:

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After dinner, I spent the evening relaxing and chit chatting !

Thursday 8th March –

Sears Tower + Lincoln Park Zoo + Lincoln Park Conservatory + Jazz Club.

A full day of pure greatness.

We started the day with a trip to Sears Tower, I have to be honest this wasn’t originally on my list of places to visit whilst in Chicago but i’m glad I ended up going. The weather was perfect which meant that I could take in all the beauty that is Chicago, Illinois..and the other 3 states that are apparently visible from this tower but let’s be honest.. I had no idea what was where or what was what. A few arrows or notices on windows wouldn’t have gone a miss ! #justsaying

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We also checked out the observation deck which is pretty much a section that extends out one side of the building and you can see the city below you (not one for the faint hearted), it was pretty cool indeed.

Here we go for those classic instagram shots (this was not my idea..no really, it wasn’t):

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When your friend gets carried away with their new found photographer role and you just lose it:

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Once I had finished with my modelling debut, it was time to head to the zoo !

This was probably one of my most amusing zoo trips ever, some animals seemed like they just wanted to be left alone to eat and some looked as though they were deeply contemplating their own existence. A unique experience to say the least haha.

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I went to the zoo to see one animal in particular and after searching for said animal for what seemed like a lifetime. I was a good few moments away from just assuming that they weren’t out due to the weather and then..

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A Giraffe ! Some people go to Chicago to see the sights.. others go to see a Giraffe. Keep your judgement to yourself, thanks.

Here is me channeling my inner giraffe ..

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.. pretty convincing eh?

What you can’t tell from that picture is that I actually had my giraffe earrings in also. Once again, Keep your judgement to yourself.

After, we headed to the conservatory which is attached to the zoo:

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Very pretty and relaxed.

Fast forward to later that evening…

‘The Chicago R&B Kings’

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(picture courtesy of google images..as I failed).

We went to a Jazz/Blues club called Buddy Guy’s Legends¬†and I kid you not, it was absolutely amazing. When we first got there, we had dinner whilst the band set up:

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And then it started and I failed to take a picture because my eyes were quite literally glued to the stage until it ended.

It was soo good, I pretty much sat there smiling the entire time. Kinda like this..

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Being at that Jazz Club made my heart soo happy. It was just incredible. Such talented singers/musicians. Really amusing MC and just in general a very chilled and easy going vibe. Perfect evening. Loved it!

Fast forward to¬†Sunday 11th March –¬†

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Location: Auditorium Theatre

Shortly before heading to Chicago I was at work..working like a good employee *clears throat* and then I realised that there was an Alvin Ailey show taking place during the time that I was going to be in town and I got soo excited, I cannot even explain to you. It was as if someone had told me that they had a pug to give me (please note that was not the case and I am open to pug offers).

This show was amazing ! I was sold from the minute I saw the performance space ..

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..then the show started and within the first 5 mins, the goosebumps started. Such talented dancers and storytellers. It was lovely to finally witness the work of a group that I had heard about countless times throughout my time in high school/sixth form. A touching performance that also acted as a reminder that I miss the stage.

Just in case you want to know more about it, you can read the breakdown of what I saw here (Program A).

It was great to end my time in Chicago on an absolute high!

Monday 12th March –

Back to Matane¬†–

My time in Chicago had officially come to an end. It was time to return to the snow that is Canada and the silent town that is Matane.

Here’s what a human that has an emotional attachment to their hotel room looks like…

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To close .. one thing that repeatedly happened throughout this trip was me finding myself having conversations with random people, from taxi drivers, shop keepers, other people at the workshops and even the lady next to me at the theatre. These conversations collectively act as one of the main highlights of the trip. True meaningful conversations about life, goals, travel and so on. Everyone has a story and that is something that intrigues me more and more as time goes on.

An amazing trip. I laughed a lot, ate lots of chocolate, ate some good food in general, listened to some good music, got my theatre fix, created and enjoyed some city time ! Chicago, thank you and .. i’ll see you again some day.

Until next time !

 

“Life to me is a journey – you never know what may be your next destination” – David Russell.

 

 

Go go .. Chicago Pt 1

Hello One & All, it has been over two months but I am back !

Spring break decided to make a wonderful appearance which meant that I hopped on the plane to spend some time in Chicago. Why Chicago I hear you ask.. my response: Why not !

I had an absolutely incredible time and before I get carried away with outlining what I did whilst I was there, I just want to say: please add it to your list of places to visit. Thanks.

Right..

Saturday 3rd March –

Woman Activist Tees Workshop + First ever Burrito

I started the day off with a grilled chicken burrito from a place called Spanglish (a place I ended up going to like.. 2 more times during my time in Chicago – creature of habit to say the least). After consuming half of the burrito I had to admit defeat and ask for the rest to take out. I left wondering if my stomach would ever be ready to meet American portion sizes during the trip (the answer was no..):

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After breakfast I headed to the local library for a workshop. An artist based in Chicago (Elaine Luther)  decided to do a workshop to teach people the principles of t-shirt design through hands on practice. We started the workshop with Elaine showing us some pictures of t-shirts other people had made in other sessions, such as this one:

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Then it was our turn to start brainstorming and sketching ideas for our shirts. The idea was that we made a shirt based on something that we felt passionate about. The ideas I noted down were: Speech, Power, Silence and Gender. This led to the thought that in society, certain voices are heard and some aren’t and often gender plays a huge role in that. Then it came to the question of “When will men and women be equal?”. Those that know me are aware that I am no artist so the key was to get my idea across in the simplest way possible (both simple to draw and simple to read/understand). This was the sketching process:

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So I had decided on the recognised symbol of a male and female on either side of an equals sign with a question mark below it. The paper I sketched on was called contact paper, it was sticky on one side like the sticky back plastic used to cover school books. Once I finished sketching, I outlined it with a sharpie then used a craft knife to cut out the shapes.

After that, it was time to put the contact paper onto the shirt.. and then of course, I chose this moment to change my mind on my design. I kept asking the others if the question mark worked and from the feedback I decided it was a stronger statement without the question mark (so I just covered over the question mark with more contact paper so it wouldn’t be included in the inking process).

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Next¬†I had to choose the ink, I chose black to keep it simple but as I write this.. it has dawned on me that someone could read into it and think “it’s not a black and white issue”.. (I didn’t think of that at the time but let’s imagine my subconscious did).

As you will see in the following picture, there is another shirt that I tried to make using the cut outs from the first shirt.. but the equals sign got ruined in the inking process:

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The next half an hour.. to hour was spent using a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.. I think I was getting more hot and flustered than the shirts to be honest !

Anywhoo.. here is what it looked like at the end:

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Not bad for a first attempt !

Sunday 4th March –¬†

Chicago Greeter + Chicago-style hot dog

Before arriving in Chicago, I found out that they had a service called “Chicago Greeter” which is provided by the Chicago Office of Tourism. In short, it allows residents of Chicago to volunteer as “Greeters” and offer tours to those visiting the city. It allows visitors to get a taste of Chicago through the greeters eyes, you do also have the option of specifying your interests to give the greeter an idea of what you may enjoy seeing/doing.

My greeter was called Mary and the first thing we did was head to the Chicago Cultural Center which became my absolute favourite place throughout the trip.. I proceeded to visit the Preston Bradley Hall (upstairs in the cultural center) two more times, the Tiffany dome and the hall itself were just soo beautiful :

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(I genuinely only managed to take pictures of the dome during the first visit because I was too busy repeating “Wow, I have no words”).

Around the bottom section of the dome, there is the following quote: ” Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind which are delivered down from generation to generation as presents to the posterity of those who are yet born.” -Joseph Addison.

Then we went to Millennium park..

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..The classic Cloud Gate tourist shot.

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There are two of these 50-foot glass towers that project images of a broad social spectrum of Chicagoans. In summer, water spouts from an outlet in the fountains that gives the impression that water is spouting from their mouths (a play on the traditional use of gargoyles).

We also went to the top of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel which offered a great view of the park, the lake and the museums in the distance:

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We then wandered around for a bit and then headed to get a Chicago-style hot dog .. with everything on it. It’s safe to say I have never in my life seen a hot dog with soo many elements to it and my taste buds were also quite confused. Having said that, it was pretty good:

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Monday 5th March –¬†

Cultural Center take #2 + Chocolate

I decided that I needed to go back to the Cultural Center, I was not over the Tiffany dome yet. Before heading to see the dome again, I thought it best to check out the exhibitions that were on in the center because I knew that once I headed upstairs to the hall, that would be it.

#theselfproject by Cleveland Dean

Due to the proliferation of the selfie culture, Dean pondered a few questions:

How has this changed us as a society?

Are we portraying our true self or is this just a public facade?

What are we exhibiting and what are we hiding?

He was also interested in the role of Narcissism vs Sharing.

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This interactive installation was inspired by the selfie culture and the song “You can’t hide from yourself” by Teddy Pendergrass. The viewer is supposed to take a picture in the one that resonantes with them the most at that given moment then upload it to Instagram as a means of creating a new piece of artwork that also brings together a community of people from different backgrounds that have found themselves identifying with the same ideal in their own way.

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Nina Chanel Abney

Just outside the exhbition space, there was a recording of an interview featuring the artist talking about how her work has changed over time and how she has found new ways of illustrating things such as people. For example, through using shapes, Abney found that she could communicate the idea of a human being without having to draw the entire body. Abney’s pieces varied in subject matter, some touching on the relationship between black people and the authority in America whilst others challenged the idea of gender and relationships:

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On the way to the Preston Bradley Hall, I stumbled upon the Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda and Hall which to my surprise also had a dome !!

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I just can’t get over how much character every corner of the building has.

Then I was off to see the Tiffany dome.. again ! Whilst all the other tourists were doing.. tourist things, I sat in this hall for a good while relaxing, reflecting and just taking in the beauty:

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So.. you may be able to tell that I liked the hall? like.. just a tad.

B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.

.. Okay you get the point.

Once I dragged myself away from the building, I headed to Godiva Chocolatier and bought some chocolate because.. Chocolate is life.

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I proceeded to open these like 2 days later and yes I failed to take a picture to show you. I don’t know how many people think of taking pictures when they are tucking into truffles but I am not one of those people. Just know they were good (as if chocolate is ever bad).

 

To be continued …

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