A quick life update!

Well, I am finally back and hopefully this time, for good!

It’s been a very busy month for me, with handing in my final EVER assignments, starting a new job, starting a tutoring job and completing my degree! It seems so strange to say that I have finished my degree and I am now a qualified teacher.

My literal mood the minute I finished my degree.

I also received the results for my degree, which I was absolutely dreading but it was all good news.

I am so happy to say that I achieved a 2:1 in my degree, which I am sure a lot of you already know as I have plastered that news EVERYWHERE lol.

I basically am just making this short blog post as a quick update as I have been so MIA recently. I hope that with more spare time, I will be updating my blog far more often!

Thank you for listening to my ramblings, lol. C x

Stay-cation to the North Coast

I’m finally back after an eight-week hiatus! As mentioned in my last blog post, I was completing my final year placement block, hence why I have been so MIA on the blog.

My friends think these sunglasses are ridiculous but IDC I love them

To celebrate the completion of my placement and Easter and really, just to spend time together, my friends and I took a short trip to the North Coast – and it was the best!

We stayed in an apartment rented to us by Emma’s friends (thanks Emma and her friends) and the view was honestly amazing!

I mean… I know that Portrush is at the beach, but we were really AT the beach. The apartment was really gorgeous and was big enough to fit all eight of us.

For tea on the first night, we went for 55 Degrees North where the view was again, amazing. We ordered a whole load of starters to share, and were immediately confused by the portion sizes as they were clearly meant for one person, but really delicious all the same. But the real star of the hour was the drink deals! Nicole and I went for a cocktails that only cost £4 each, while the rest of the girls went for 2 for 1 gin and tonics. Absolute bargain!

The next day, we took a spin to Portstewart, where we (obviously) had to get a Morelli’s then we burned off the ice-cream with a cute and scenic coastal path walk. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I’m really (really, really) not a big fan of walking, but honestly, it was really nice and comforting even when I had sudden realisations about my dissertation along the way.

We had Dominos’ Two for Tuesdays that night for dinner and it was the best decision ever! I really didn’t think I was going to eat even half the pizza and ending up eating the whole thing in one sitting (oops!) but it’s okay, because I ordered a Delight Vegi, which is less calories so I’m sure I’m fine.

Then after lots of pink gins, dancing and drinking games, we headed to Anchor in Portstewart to go to their “club”. Funniest night of my life. I will never complain about coming from a small town EVER again. It took us calling 5 one-man taxi companies to finally find someone to take us and when we got there, just about anyone and everyone from the North Coast was there!

Finally, on Wednesday, we had to head home and I think after Anchor, we were all about ready to go home and sleep for the remainder of April. On our way back, we stopped at the Mini Maegden food truck to have a try of one of their Bon Fire Hot Chocs and it was sooooo worth it! Hot chocolate, toasted marshmallow whip and salted caramel sauce? YES, PLEASE!

the most amazing hot choc I have ever had!

After we finished, (although, most of the marshmallow whip was on my face) we said our goodbyes and headed back to sunny, old Bangor to sleep for a couple of days.

Now, here I am 3 whole days later, still full of love for my besties and sad that our trip ended so soon.

Happy Easter lovelies!

P.S. All the photos I have used were taken by my amazing friend Georgia Parkinson and her class camera.

10 tips for a trainee teacher

Well, the time has come for my (not – so – but – also – slightly) dreaded placement block. I was having a nosy on my memory pen earlier and noticed that I had this typed up for some very strange reason, so thanks past me. I won’t lie and say that I am bursting with excitement for tomorrow or the next seven weeks but I am happy to say that I feel a lot more confident than I have in the past years.

It’s strange to think that this will be my last placement as a student teacher and in a few months time, I will offically be a qualified teacher ready to take on the world of preparing future generations. So god help anyone who has their child put in my class, just kidding lol!

So, for those of you who are about to embark on their first, second, third or maybe last teaching practice, here are some top tips. Not that I really need to tell any of you.

Truthfully, I think these tips are mostly for me and I won’t lie, having read them for the first time in a while, it was strangely calming. I might actually put a reminder in my phone to read these once a week. So without further ado,

Dear future Chloe,

  • Take an extra 10 minutes before you go to bed to do a verbal checklist of what you need for the next day – this could save you a lot of panic and a cold-sweat moment as you’re lying in bed worrying about whether you are prepared or not for your next day with the little darlings.
  • Choose your placement outfit for the next day, the night before – again another time saving moment in the long run. Nothing is worse than running about your house at 10 to eight screaming to your mum about where the newly ironed placement clothes are. Have this screaming match the night before, instead!
  • Make your own resources – it is very handy to just make a quick trip to TPT or Twinkl but making your own resources can be better in the long run as you have a sense of accomplishment and you have it up your sleeve for later years!
  • Don’t panic about tutor visits – yes, of course they are scary, believe me, I know. But, there is no point in getting worked up about it – if you are nervous, this will translate to the children! Be confident, you know the kids!
  • Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself – following from tutor visits, if your tutor says something that you don’t agree with or aren’t sure about, SAY! You are an adult and there has been times where I wish I have said something but been too afraid because I am the student.
  • Get involved in school life – try to involve yourself as much as you can, take opportunities, make links. This is an opportunity for you to create a (good!) name for yourself, so take it.
  • Pack a nice lunch the night before – nothing is better than making it to lunch time on a placement day knowing that you have a cracker lunch up your sleeve! For easiness, I tend to bring Heinze spaghetti or soup but nothing is better knowing I have Granny’s homemade soup or some leftover chilli con carne from the night before.
  • Stay on top of your workload – I won’t beat around the bush, placement is a busy time in the university year so make it easy on yourself by staying on top of your lesson plans, schemes of work, daily evaluations and round ups for the week. It will be much better doing this than rushing all of it in preparation for a visit from your tutor!!
  • Stay on top of your marking – another perk of the job. Not unlike staying on top of the university workload, you must stay on top of your marking as well, even if it means being almost last to leave. Nothing beats the pleasure of knowing that you won’t have much to do towards the end of your block.
  • Show your thanks to the school – this one is probably the most important. Show your thanks to the teachers, classroom assistants and the Principal. It might be overwhelming knowing that someone is watching you teach but they are there to help and offer some great advice if you let them.
I don’t have a picture looking teacher-y but here’s me in my slippers with a big glass of pink gin!

An Afternoon in the Grand Central Hotel

On Monday past, I spent the afternoon at the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast for afternoon tea, and is there a better way to spend a Monday? Let’s be real. There isn’t.

In the Grand Central, there are two places to have afternoon tea. In the Observatory, which boasts gorgeous views of all of Belfast. But that is definitely subjective to how beautiful you think Belfast is! This afternoon tea costs £40 per person. Or you can enjoy your tea in the Seahorse Lounge (which is slightly cheaper at £30 a head).

We had our afternoon tea in the Observatory for my Auntie’s 40th birthday celebration (if I don’t get a slap for dropping her age, I’ll be shocked). It was so lovely! And it should be, really, for 40 quid.

We first were asked which teas or coffees we would like to try. We were told that this was unlimited so we could be quite adventurous and try different types of tea if we would like. I, of course, had to give all the different tea leaves a great big sniff, then ultimately chose the Hastings Signature Loose Leaf Blend. Because I’m as bland as a rich tea biscuit.

Then we got our food.

We started with an amuse bouche (which didn’t really amuse my bouche, but I’m just not a big cheese fan) and some big glasses of Prosecco (of course!). The amuse bouche consisted of goat’s cheese and balsamic vinegar caviar, all presented lovely inside a pink ice-cream cone. It was really quite lovely to look at but the flavour just about turned me inside out.

The Amuse Bouche

Next came the savouries. We had a selection of 4 finger sandwiches; Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese with Pickled Cucumber on Guinness Bread; Tomato & Goat’s Cheese on Black Olive Bread; Free Range Egg Mayonnaise & Cress on White Bread; and Roast Irish Chicken, Lemon & Thyme Mayonnaise with Baby Gem on Granary Bread. Not too shabby for a selection of sandwiches!

The sandwich selection

But finally, the star of the hour was presented. The tiered platter of delicious treats just asking to be torn into! We were given; Plain and Fruit Scones; Warm Ginger Cakes; Éclairs with Chocolate & Praline; Elderflower and Rhubarb Panna Cottas; Lemon Meringue Tarts; Macaroons; and Blackberry and Star Anise Friands. It was truly quite the selection and so much more than what we could fit into our bellies by this point. And we took a good crack at it.

The heavenly tiered platter of deliciousness!

After the treats and tea were finished, I decided I just HAD to try a cocktail. I went with the Botanical Gardens. All the cocktails in the Grand Central are named after prominent Belfast landmarks, such as, City Hall, Harland’s Wolff and The Albert. The cocktail was just what the doctor ordered, but the £17 price tag definitely wasn’t!

The £17 cocktail that must contain some sort of gold?

All in all, it was a super day! The afternoon tea, albeit pretty pricy, was definitely an enjoyable experience and I’m glad I’ve tried it.

Happy (belated) Galentine’s Day!

There is only one holiday that fills me with dread year upon year. Valentine’s Day. It’s nothing but a stupid hallmark holiday created to make dinner reservations three times harder to get and all the chocolate is sold out in Tesco’s. But of course, I’m only saying that because I don’t have a special someone in my life to spend it with. Otherwise, you can bet I would be first in line trying to get a tacky card and some cologne.

This year, however, my friends and I decided to make the best out of a (not-really-that-bad) situation and celebrate Galentine’s Day! Following in the footsteps of the most glorious female warrior Leslie Knope, we spent the evening rejoicing in the day that celebrates ‘ovaries over brovaries’.

When first deciding how we would celebrate Galentines, only one thought really popped up in any of our minds. Food. So of course, naturally, we let the idea of food run away from us and we thought of all the delicious combinations we could muster. Chinese. Indian. Mexican. You name it, we suggested it.

We finally decided on Mexican food and went with a potluck-style meal. Because, you know, it’s healthier.

Kathryn made some delicious chicken fajitas, I brought some of my home-made chilli con carne and Emma brought some delicious guacamole and some chickpeas (to suit her plant-eating needs). Aimee brought the goods with some chocolate filled churros, but by the time we actually got to eating the churros, it was definitely a ‘eyes bigger than our bellies’ kind of situation. But you know we still gave it a good go. And Nicole provided some sweet sweet Coca Cola and Pepsi Max (just to appease both sides of the Coke/Pepsi feud).

By the time we had finished eating, I can honestly say, I was well on my way into a food coma.

We finished off the evening by gossiping, talking nonsense and watching the first instalment of Murder Mountain, (which I have to say, not a lot of murder). We celebrated the day in the best way we know how, eating and talking until the cows come home.

By the end of the night I had: a full belly, a warmed heart and lots of love for my best friends.

Wearing red for Galentine’s day – I do go mad for a theme

Happy Galentine’s/Valentine’s Day everyone!

What I have learned about myself over the course of my degree

Following along from my up-beat post about Disney, I figured I would take a minute to write about how I feel I have changed over the past four years. I’ll be honest, I’m a bit mortified about this post but go easy on me.

When I first entered Stranmillis, I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 18-year-old, ready to teach the future generation of tomorrow. Now, here I am, writing this post as a tired and fed-up 22-year-old. And I’m not saying that I’m tired and fed-up of teaching, I’m not. I just feel that I need to try and do other things before I get a ‘real’ job.

Four years ago, when deciding what university to choose, I was adamant that I wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t possibly leave my mum and while I’m not a home-bird, I just felt like a fish out of water when I visited universities across the pond. But now, four years later, I’m currently mapping out where I’m going to go next. After living in Orlando in the States and Poznań in Poland, I’ve found that I am capable of living away from home and that I’m much more independent than I thought I was. I also recently had the opportunity to observe and teach in a British school in Dubai which was the most surreal experience.

I know that writing this, it sounds as though my primary teaching degree could be the biggest waste of my time. But I know it isn’t or at least I think it won’t be. I have learned a lot over the course of my degree and it’s presented me with tons of opportunities. I’m a lot more confident as a person and my personal skills have developed ten-fold. And I never would have caught my bug for travelling if I hadn’t gone to Stranmillis. I also know that maybe some-day I will come back and try to get a primary teaching job, maybe after what seems to be a quarter-life crisis.

I guess what this diary-esque post is trying to say is: don’t limit yourself with your choices. There are lots of opportunities that will open and close throughout your life. I think when leaving school, kids are expected to know exactly what you want and are going to do for the rest of your life. But that’s not true. The saying: one door closes as another opens is so painfully accurate and if you don’t open yourself to other possibilities, you’ll never learn things about yourself that you never knew.

Maybe I never will leave Bangor, maybe I will. Who knows? But that’s okay.

Here’s a photo of me in Poznań lol

10 must-dos when you go to Walt Disney World

While it may be a little over a month into 2019 and I am knee-deep into my dissertation and preparing for my final-year teaching placement, I can’t seem to stop thinking about Disney!

It has become something of a running joke in my friend group that I worked for Disney as it is still something that REGULARLY comes up in conversation. And it’s not that I mean to brag, but it’s something that I’m still incredibly proud of, even a year and a half later.

Graduating from Disney University!

So with that in mind, I figured I would write about 10 must-do things when in Walt Disney World.

1. Get a picture in front of Cinderella’s castle

This is often considered a necessity when getting the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World. Did you even go to Disney if you didn’t get a snap of yourself looking class in front of the castle? Push yourself to the front and wedge yourself between the hundreds of others trying to get the perfect picture and get that sweet, sweet insta!

2. Meet your favourite characters

Going to Disney means only one thing! Getting the chance to meet your favourite characters from all of your favourite Disney movies without going to one of those weird shopping centre events with the meth-head Mickeys. Over the course of my Summer working there, I made it my mission to try and meet as many characters as I could as it’s something I knew that I probably wouldn’t do with my brother and parents in tow when returning. I was most excited getting to meet lovely Flynn at the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast in Trattoria al Forno, as I am a VERY big Flynn Rider fan. I also got a great photo opportunity with Stitch on the 4th of July in Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom.

Make sure you check the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date times for character meet and greets to bag yourself a spot in the large queues.

3. Watch a night-time spectacular

Fireworks from Happily Ever After

Across the four parks, there are lots to do at any time of the day but I would fully recommend taking a moment to catch one of the night-time spectaculars. I would particularly suggest Happily Ever After which is the night-time fireworks show in Magic Kingdom. It truly brings a tear to my eye every single time I watch it and never fails to give me goosebumps as the castle changes colours and shows some of my favourite scenes and characters. It’s quite hard to find the perfect spot but most would suggest plonking yourself as close to the partner’s statue (the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey) as you can! Make sure to get there early too, to avoid disappointment of obstructed views.

If you don’t get a chance to see Happily Ever After, there is also Fantasmic or Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Hollywood Studios, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at EPCOT and Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom. Truthfully, I would recommend seeing any and all of the shows but if I were to choose to just one, it would be Happily Ever After.

Show times of the shows are subject to change depending on the parks opening hours and if there are any events being held, such as, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, so make sure to check the MDE app for up-to-date information or ask a Cast Member.

4. Try a dining experience

There are lots of different dining experiences to visit over your time at Walt Disney World from delicious hot dogs at Casey’s Corner to dining with the Beast himself at Be Our Guest. While there are so many great restaurants to try, my top three boil down to: Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch at the Polynesian, lunch or dinner at the Garden Grill in EPCOT or dinner at Be Our Guest. All three of these options require a dining reservation via phone call or the MDE app but are totally worth it!

However, if quick-serve is more your forte, there’s plenty of options to choose from too. When it comes to something quick, my go-to are always nachos from Pecos Bill in MK or La Cantina de San Angel in the Mexican pavilion in EPCOT, a hot-dog from the wonderful Casey’s Corner in MK or chicken fried rice from the Yak & Yeti in Animal Kingdom.

Meal in the Garden Grill

But of course, whatever your preference, there is most definitely an option for you.

5. Celebrate with a celebration button

One of my favourite things about Disney is the opportunity to celebrate even the smallest of occasions. With the celebration buttons available to be picked up at any Merchandise location or at the City Hall, guests have the chance to celebrate anything! Over the course of my Summer, I celebrated: becoming a Cast Member, earning my ears, like 5 different birthdays (none of which were mine), the 4th of July and so, so much more.

By wearing celebration buttons, you’re bringing Cast Members attention to your celebrations too and you can bet that at least one Cast Member will wish you well on whatever it is your celebrating and sometimes they will do what they can to make it that little bit more special!

6. Drink or dine around the World

As mentioned above, there are various opportunities to dine across Walt Disney World and one of these is the infamous dining or drinking ‘around the World’. This is not something that is organised by Disney themselves but where guests take it upon themselves or should I say, challenge themselves to dine or drink (given that they are above 21 years of age) around each of the 11 countries represented in the World Showcase in EPCOT.

Depending on what side you begin with, the countries are as follows: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada. Or in-reverse if you start at the Canada side.

This activity can become very expensive depending on the drinks or food purchased so one recommendation would be to share your drinks or snacks with a friend or a few so that you still get the experience but you have more chance of staying upright and your pocket isn’t as light.

7. 4 parks, 1 day challenge

Another challenge organised by guests is the 4 parks, 1 day challenge where guests need to attend all four parks within a given day. It should be stated that in order to complete this challenge, it is essential that you have a park-hopper pass as you must be able to hop from park-to-park within the same day.

As this, again, hasn’t be officially organised by Disney themselves, rules differ from group to group depending on what guests want from their challenge.

When my friend, Luke and I completed the challenge, we decided that our rule would be we would ride 1 ride in each park, and if we had time we would do another activity such as, another ride, a parade or a character meet and greet. I think the order we chose worked best, but again, this is entirely up to the guests and what they want out of their day. We chose: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT then Magic Kingdom.

I would always suggest trying the 4 parks, 1 day challenge to anyone who was going to WDW, as it’s a great way to see all of the parks but I would say that if you only have a short amount of time at the parks, it’s maybe not the best idea as you don’t get to truly experience the atmosphere or the magic of each of the parks due to time constraints. 

8. Pin trade

Pin trading is a massive hobby had by many WDW guests who want to find and trade for unique and special souvenirs of their trips. As a previous Cast Member, I loved pin trading as it was an easy way to speak with and get to know guests. However, as a guest, pin trading was never something I could get into myself. I love the official Disney pins and some of the pins that come in to Cast Members are spectacular, but I just preferred to purchase specific pins that represented important things to me.

This photo was literally on the wall in my work location

That being said, I have a lot of friends who loved pin trading and obsessed over what pins they were going to bring with them to the parks that day in order to trade with them.

If I was to give any advice about pin trading, it would be to approach any and all Cast Members about their pins and any potential pin boards they might have in their Merchandise location. Another piece of advice would be, avoid buying bulk packages of Disney pins from EBay as these are mostly fake pins and die-hard pin traders can get very upset when they spend tons of their money on official pins and they trade for fake, cheap pins.

9. Flight of Passage!

Across the four parks, there are TONS of rides to go on, aimed at children, adults and families alike. Whether you like fast rollercoasters, like Rock ‘n’ Roller starring Aerosmith or iconic slow-moving rides, such as, It’s a Small World, there is something for everyone!

A personal favourite of mine is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios which is a drop ride inside a cart shaped like an elevator that takes the theme of stepping into the 5th Dimension of the Twilight Zone. I was even fortunate enough where I got to visit the ride on a backstage tour as part of a perk of being a Cast Member. Easily hitting one of the best moments of my life.

But this point isn’t about the TOT, it’s about flight of passage! Easily the most immersive and mesmerising ride I have EVER been on. I would wait in any length of queue to get on it, because it just is that good! The sights, the smells, the feelings. Everything about this ride is out-of-this-World INSANE.

In fact, the whole of the Pandora area of Animal Kingdom is perfect! It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the movies, not seen the movies or Avatar is your favourite movie of all time, upon entering Pandora, everyone will feel like they are suddenly in Pandora! It’s amazing.

A Na’vi in the Flight of Passage ride

10. Take your time and enjoy the magic

Finally, this one goes without saying really, take your time and enjoy yourself.

When visiting WDW, there are always people fanny-ing around, desperate to see and do everything. And I get it. People spend a lot of money to be there, and want to make the most of it. But when they spend their whole time rushing around to each FastPass+ and Advanced Dining Reservation, they never take a moment to stop, look around and take in the magic that is Walt Disney World.

So stop, take a moment, take a few photos, sit on a bench, watch a parade and ENJOY THE MAGIC.