The Scamp and Confidence

I took an extended break from the Scamp Chronicles.  I didn’t mean to do it, but I have 6 jobs and very little free time so instead of writing for fun, I have been hiding under the covers binge watching bad TV and freaking out about the future.

I am 30 days from turning in another draft of my thesis. At this point, I have done no work on it. I keep putting it off to do other things. People keep coming to visit. I have too many projects on my plate. I cannot sustain this lifestyle, but for now, it is what I have to do to pay the bills (seriously, can someone just hire me already?). I am relieved to finally have a submission date, even if it means that I have to work through Christmas. I am so close to finally finishing my thesis that I should be happy, and writing away, but I am tired, and when I am tired, I doubt myself.

The writing challenge for this week (although, who am I kidding, I haven’t been following that at all) is to write about my confidence in my ability in the workplace. If you asked me two weeks ago I would have said that I have no confidence in the work that I do. I recently applied for a lecturer post in the office that I have been based in during my three years at Napier. The post advertised was an entry-level position doing all the work that I am currently doing. I felt like I had a really good chance, and felt like the office would be stupid not to hire me.

They didn’t even shortlist me for an interview.

It really sucks to be told that you are not good enough for the job that you are currently doing. I have a feeling I am also going to have to give up my desk when they hire someone, which leaves me out in the cold again. It was a tough blow. A really tough blow.

Move forward a week and I have snapped out of my stupidity. I have recently started a major project at the University of Stirling. I spent last week meeting with programme leads and discussing my ideas for improving feedback at the programme level. The work is based on my thesis and based on the last three years slogging through the mess that is Napier. The five people that I met with listened, and by the end of my pitch were more than willing to work with me and help me actually put my thesis into action.

It is more than Napier was ever willing to do.

The fact the Stirling is letting me run this project and giving me carte blanche to do as I please renews my egotistical thoughts that I am good at what I do and that I have chosen the right field. I am really good at developing curriculum for teachers, and really good at teaching new teachers. One day I will actually be known for it. People will follow the Wilder Way of feedback and curriculum design. I will have a single office (with a window that opens and a comfy chair) at a reputable university and co-workers I like. I’ll have a nice steady income and be able to start paying off my student loan.

I’ll be living the dream….and then I will get a puppy….and a car.

But first, time to finish my thesis edits, book chapter, conceptual article, quick guide, project admin work, student meetings, GTA training and feedback initiative.

oh, and job applications. Lots of job applications.

Advertisements

The Scamp in Bosnia

…and now for the final post of my epic adventure. This also happens to be one of the highlights of the trip for me. The surprise favourite. A friend of mine told me that Sarajevo was perhaps the most beautiful capital city that he had ever been to, and he’s been to a lot of capital cities, so I was both curious and excited to see what surprises the city had in store for me.

Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I had no idea what to expect when I got to Sarajevo, but the beautiful fusion of East and West in the ‘plains around the palace’ offered me a regular feast for my eyes. We  got into Bosnia a bit late in the evening, so after checking into a lovely hotel, we went to perhaps one of the best houses in the city for dinner.

The Spite House has a very interesting story. According to Atlas Obscura:

An elderly Bosnian fellow named Benderija refused to agree to the destruction of his house, even after being offered more money than the property was worth. Without the land under his house, there would be no way for the city hall to be built at the desired location, right next to the River Miljacka. Lengthy negotiations ensued between the old man and the city (with even the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Finances getting involved) until finally, in 1895, he agreed to sell his property for the extravagant price of a sackful of gold ducats, but only under one condition: the authorities would have to move his Ottoman-era house, brick by brick, and rebuild it on the other side of the river.

Benderija got his way; in the popular account of the story, the old man spent every day of the move sitting in the middle of a nearby bridge, smoking cigarettes and carefully watching the workers transport each brick across the river. When the house was finally rebuilt, it was aptly named Inat Kuća, or the House of Spite. 

Today, this proud symbol of Bosnian stubbornness serves a more practical purpose: it was converted into a Bosnian restaurant in 1997.

The government got the last laugh though because while the man’s favorite spot used to face the river, it now faced a mountain.

IMG_2190

We were treated to a tour of the city by a local guide of about my age. He was full of the typical stories, and showed us the site where the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand happened. It was an odd bit of history to walk over, and the unfortunately for Sarajevo, it was not the last of the struggles that happened there.

IMG_2194

It was interesting to see the influences of the West on side of the city, and the East on the other. There are markets that look much like I imagine the markets of Istanbul to look, and they sell Turkish coffee, Turkish delights (which are not a delight), and beautiful weavings, jewelery and tourist fluff. There are traditional bars and fancy brand name shops there as well.

We were able to take a trip outside the city to see the Sarajevo War Tunnel. Before this trip, I was pretty ignorant to the history of Bosnia, but I was aware of the war that plagued them in the early 90s. I remember seeing news reports of fighting, and hearing that bad things were happening, but I was little and did not really understand what it meant, or who was actually in the wrong. The Tunnel of Hope is just one of the examples of resistance.

According to Wikipedia (I know, I hate that site too, but it is the best place for quick summaries to help paint a clear picture to a complicated story):

The Sarajevo Tunnel (BosnianCroatian and Serbian: Sarajevski tunel / Сарајевски тунел), also known as Tunel spasa (Тунел спаса, English: Tunnel of rescue) and Tunnel of Hope, was an underground tunnel constructed between March and June 1993 during the Siege of Sarajevo in the midst of the Bosnian War. It was built by the Bosnian Army in order to link the city of Sarajevo, which was entirely cut off by Serbian forces, with Bosnian-held territory on the other side of the Sarajevo Airport, an area controlled by the United Nations. The tunnel linked the Sarajevo neighbourhoods of Dobrinja and Butmir, allowing food, war supplies, and humanitarian aid to come into the city, and allowing people to get out. The tunnel became a major way of bypassing the international arms embargo and providing the city defenders with weaponry. 

We got to go through a small part of the tunnel, and the house that hides it (and well, a lot of buildings in the city) or still covered in bullet holes.

In fact, bullet holes, and bullet shell are quite the popular tourist attraction. Many of the trinkets that tourists can buy are made with spent casings. I found this to be really dark, and somewhat distasteful, but plenty of people seem to think it is a good idea. We had some time to wander after the tour, and while I would have liked to hike to the old bobsled track, I instead went in search of Jewish people. I dragged the Golden Girls to an old temple and got to see the Jewish people of the city lived, and how many of them were protected by the Muslims in WWII. It was rare on this trip to be able to see this little bit of culture, but I am glad that the girls indulged me and let me have a wander in the sacred space.

The Golden Girls and I completed our day climbing the fortress and looking out over the city. We were hot and sweaty, but it the views were lovely.

One of the hidden gems of the city was the bar that is  decorated like a granny’s house. It is called Zlanta Ribica. I’d go back there are put on a funny hat and some big sunglasses and drink cocktails until the day is done.

18815089_744765653555_1495348541956342014_o

We left Bosnia to head to Mostrar, one of the most important cities in Herzegovina. I do not remember most of what we were told about the city, but the famous old bridge. It was built in the 16th century and is said to be one of the best examples of Islamic architecture. It has become famous with the tourists because the men of Mostrar jump off the 25 meter bridge to transition to manhood. It looks crazy, and scary, and one of our very own did it while we were there. It has been completed almost 500 times, and I get to say that I know someone who has done it and survived.

IMG_20170603_015254_312

The end of the guided tour took us back to Split, and I spent the last day of holiday laying on the beach and wishing that I had 17 more days of warm weather. This trip was truly one of the most fun adventures that I have ever had, and although I did complain about some of the people, it would not have been the same  without the people I was with. I have a sincere hope that I will get to meet some of these people again, whether in my home or in theres.

 

The Scamp in Albania

Those are words I honestly thought I would never say, write, or be able to explain to people. I always thought of Albania has the setting for crazy horror movies, or a place that was so buried under a communist wall that people couldn’t get in, or out.  If Anthony Bourdain was to visit, he’d call it a snapshot of a time people would like to forget, and add that the leftover communist charm in a part of the world that is just waiting to be discovered.

We spent two days in Albania. The first night was in the capital city of Tirana. According to Lonely Planet:

Lively, colourful Tirana is the beating heart of Albania, where this tiny nation’s hopes and dreams coalesce into a vibrant whirl of traffic, brash consumerism and unfettered fun. Having undergone a transformation of extraordinary proportions since awaking from its communist slumber in the early 1990s, Tirana’s centre is now unrecognisable, with buildings painted in primary colours, and public squares and pedestrianised streets that are a pleasure to wander.

I wish I could say that I had the same warm and fuzzy feeling for Tirana. The first thing I noticed was the traffic. People have only been driving since about 1990 or so, and let me tell you, it shows. There is no semblance of order, people do what they want, and the streets are clearly made for carriages, not cars.

The hotel we stayed at had photos on the wall of people they claimed are of Albanian descent, and let me tell you, all of the options were highly unlikely (I’m not sure that I believe that the Belushi brothers are Albanian, but I could be wrong). For a hotel in country that is not really known as a tourist destination, it was clean and comfy. A few of us girls went to exchange money, and the first thing that I noticed was that every man in three mile radius came out and felt free to leer at us.

and by us, I mean me. Tattoos are not a big thing on women, and neither is wearing a tank top or a skirt that shows some calves. It was creepy. I felt like I was on display. Men made no secret of starring, even getting up and moving closer to us, and women often did a double take. It was not a good day to be a tattooed California girl.

IMG_1835IMG_1839IMG_1854  We saw the world’s ugliest building, some signs of Communism, and the Mosque of Ethem Bey that first opened in 1823. The cheeky little dog in the photo took a shine to our group and did most of the walking tour with us (something that would become a regular thing as we did more and more walking tours). I really wanted that dog. I named him Zog after a king of Albania. This dog hated men. It is why I needed him.

After the walking tour the guide took a few of us to Dajti Ekspres. Located just outside the city, the Austrian built cable car goes to the top of Dajti Mountain on the longest cableway in the Balkans. I rode a public bus to get there….well, more like tried not to have a panic attack inside a sardine can on wheels. There were probably 60 people crammed into the bus. At one point a little old woman held on to my arm because there was nowhere else for her to hold. It was hot, it smelled funky fresh, and I was pushed up against strangers….it was not a good time. The cable car was great fun though.

IMG_1861IMG_1863IMG_1867

We then went on the most sketchy cab ride of our lives (don’t worry mom, I’m clearly okay) and Kels and I got to have dinner with the coolest couple of the tour group. She was basically me in Australian form and he loved Sushi Go, a game I just so happened to bring on the trip with me. Tirana did have a really great bar that looked like a backyard though, and they made a killer mojito.

The second stop on our Albanian adventure was the town of Gjirokastra. According to Lonely Planet:

Defined by its castle, roads paved with chunky limestone and shale, imposing slate-roofed houses and views out to the Drina Valley, Gjirokastra is a magical hillside town described beautifully by Albania‘s most famous author, Ismail Kadare (b 1936), in Chronicle in Stone. There has been a settlement here for 2500 years, though these days it’s the 600 ‘monumental’ Ottoman-era houses in town that attract visitors. The town is also synonymous for Albanians with former dictator Enver Hoxha, who was born here and ensured the town was relatively well preserved under his rule; though he is not memorialised in any way here today.

This was more of what I had in mind when I was thinking of Albania. There was an old world charm to it, and it seemed more friendly and welcoming then the capital. We ate Byrek, which is a tasty pita dish with cheese, veggies and meat, and enjoyed some really tasty Fanta that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

IMG_1878IMG_1891IMG_1895IMG_1898

People still stared at me here, but it was less creepy. Of all the places that we visited on this trip, this was the one place that I felt unsafe. I made sure I didn’t go anywhere alone, and for the most part tried to keep a low profile and nothing bad happened to me, but it is not really a place I am eager to return to.

In a strange way, I really like that about Albania. This country pushed me way out of my comfort zone, and allowed me to experience things I’ve never really had to face before. I’m lucky that I came out of it unscathed, and it definitely gave me a better appreciation for how lucky I am in Scotland. I’m also glad that I got to see Albania before it becomes westernized and just another tourist destination.

The Scamp in Croatia

The start of my Ultimate Balkan adventure was in the beautiful city of Split Croatia. Officially known as the Republic of Croatia, it is home to 4.28 million people, over 1,000 islands and a rich history of war and conflict. I would not be able to do the country justice if I tried to give a condensed version, but for those interested, I encourage you to do your research. On 25 June 1991 Croatia declared independence, which came wholly into effect on 8 October of the same year. The Croatian War of Independence was fought successfully during the four years following the declaration.

Image result for croatia map

It was a little known tourist destination until the rise of Game of Thrones, with enthusiasts flocking to Dubrovnik. It has a mostly Mediterranean climate and is the perfect place for a relaxing holiday.  When the heterolifemate and I landed in Split, we knew that the only thing we really wanted to do was lay on a beach and gear up for our trip. It is on the Eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea and part of the Dalmatian Coast. We stayed at the Croparadise Hostel, and I cannot say enough good things about this place. It is good value for the money, close to the touristy areas, and the people who work there are really friendly and helpful.

Image result for croparadise hostel

*photo courtesy of Hostelworld.com

There was a really great rooftop patio that Kelsey and sat on and talked to some super naive 19 year old boys from Buffalo. I had had just enough beer to want to educate these young men in the ways of the world. I ended up helping one write an application essay so he could transfer universities.

We spent the first day wandering the open air fruit market for fresh fruit, tasty bread, meats and cheeses and then went on a hike up the Marjan Forest Park and then wandered to the beach for some much needed sunshine.

20170518_11050520170518_133339IMG_1707IMG_1720 - Copy

As you can see, I really needed the sunshine. We ate a lot of ice cream, listened to a lot of tourists and wandered around Dicoletian’s Palace. The palace is more like a fortress, and this was the least researched trip I have ever gone on, so I feel like I missed out on a lot of the history of the place (Thank God for Wikipedia).

Diocletian’s Palace (Croatian: Dioklecijanova palača, pronounced [diɔklɛt͡sijǎːnɔʋa pǎlat͡ʃa]) is an ancient palace built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century AD, that today forms about half the old town of Split, Croatia. While it is referred to as a “palace” because of its intended use as the retirement residence of Diocletian, the term can be misleading as the structure is massive and more resembles a large fortress: about half of it was for Diocletian’s personal use, and the rest housed the military garrison.

20170518_15384420170518_181545 - Copy20170519_203656

*photo courtesy of http://www.romeacrosseurope.com/?p=6807#sthash.ST9ju68a.dpbs

I loved Split. The people were friendly and the city was very easy to get around. We were able to wind through the palace and sample good food and a lot of good ice cream. I would have happily spent a week there just sitting at the beach everyday and taking trips to the islands. I wish that I would have gone to see the synagogue, but hey, that gives me a reason to go back again!

We met the tour group in Split and it also served as the final destination. The first meeting with out Busabout group was not a good one for me in terms of my judgey ways. I’m really glad Kelsey was there because there were a couple of girls that said some really ignorant shit and really got me in the killing mood.

On the upside, I did get to cross two things off my list. Split offered me the chance for a long hike, and when I get to the Greek part of the adventure I will cross learning to dance off the list (there is a video, but I’m trying to decide if I want that out in the world still).

  • Learn how to drive in the UK.
  • Present at an academic conference
  • Start a new tradition
  • Go back to therapy
  • Visit three new countries (Paris, Malta, Hungary)
  • Ride in a hot air balloon
  • Quit the tutoring centre
  • Volunteer for a literacy programme
  • Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  • Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  • Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  • Master scorpion pose
  • Attend the symphony
  • Learn a rap song from start to finish
  • Host a dinner party
  • Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  • Create something original
  • Create a solid workout regime
  •  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  • Learn to dance
  • Eat an exotic meal
  • Learn to cook a fancy meal
  • Yell at a football match
  • Go horseback riding
  • Master British spelling and punctuation
  • Create a good sleep schedule
  • See my favorite group in concert
  • Fall in love
  • Stop holding grudges
  • Let go of my expectations

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 14

….or, the Scamp is a lazy writer.

The weather in Scotland has been very very very nice lately, and that really makes it hard for me to do anything than take my book to the park and lay in the sunshine. I now understand my cat as he moves through the house following the sun. I’m crossing my fingers that this is not the only bit of good weather we have until next year, but in the meantime, it is not really making me want to sit down and get my work done.

I’m still suffering from a little lack of motivation. I need someone to kick me in the butt and glue my fingers to my keyboard and my back to my chair.

The challenge for this week is to think about why I have a blog. There are two answers to this. The first answer is that I started this when I first got accepted into the University of Edinburgh. I wanted some way to document my time living in Scotland where all of my friends and family could find it and keep up with my adventures. When I moved here 5 years ago, everyday was an adventure, every day a new experience. I had a lot to share, and was able to do a lot of new things. It was the first time I lived in another country, the first time I did substantial traveling alone, and the first time I could not just run home if something went wrong. I shared a lot of my life with the world, including being cheated on, and the very painful break-up that followed.

The second answer to why I have a blog is that this is a space for me to sort out all of the crazy things that run through my mind. I kept it going when I moved back to California for a little while, and used it as an outlet while I tried to deal with my reverse culture shock, while I tried to navigate a race war and very strict political game in higher education, and my eventual breakdown and slide into deep deep depression. This is a place where I am way too honest about how I’m feeling, what I am doing, and what I would rather be doing. While I am back in Scotland, and back to my wandering ways, life now is a lot more routine, a lot more settled then it was when I was only here for a year. I don’t always have a lot of new experiences to share, so now the writing challenges help me get my brain flowing and help me get some words on the page. I enjoy the challenges, and enjoy sitting down to work with them each week, even if I sometimes fall behind (I’m a week late with this one, and last week I did three weeks at once). When I started the Scamp Abroad 5 years ago, I never thought I would still be working on it, much less that some many people would be reading it. I’m routinely humbled when people talk about it, or mention that they’ve read it, or tell me how much they like it.

Sometimes people ask me how much longer I will keep the Scamp going. The simple answer to that is: until it stops being fun.

The Scamp’s Last Day of Her 20s

Tomorrow I will enter the next decade of my life. I’m currently horribly ill complete with fever, cough, sore throat and snot.

But I’m happy. While I was unable to cross all 30 things off the list, I did manage to do 21 of the 30 adventures, and I am just going to keep going until I can cross them all off (I really want to make a good budget so I can pay off my student loans). Today, on the eve of my 30th, I am able to cross two more off the list.

The first one that is coming off the list is number 29: Stop holding grudges. This one was a really difficult one because I love holding grudges. For the last few years I have been holding some serious grudges. I decided to let them go. I was able to mend some friendships, and I was able to walk away from one and I no longer miss the friendship or hate her for being so selfish and stupid. Letting go of those grudges has allowed me to make room for some new and amazing friendships (I’m looking at you Flamingos) and allowed me to really focus on the friendships and the people around me that keep me out of the dark and twisty. I also feel a lot better about the way I handle most situations because I am not as angry as usual and not as consumed with my grudges and perceived personal slights.

The second thing I get to cross off the list is number 28: Fall in Love. Now, before you get too excited, no, I did not fall in love with a boy. When I added this to the list a year ago, I was hoping that I would fall in love with the boy and move into a different phase of my disastrous relationships. But alas, that was a dud. The person that I fell in love with is way more important though. I fell in love with me. I’ve spent the last year working hard in therapy to sort through all the weird things that go on in my head. I’m learning how to take care of myself, how to find the balance between work and fun, and how to manage my expectations (That is number 30 on the list, but I am nowhere near ready to cross that one off the list, so it is staying unchecked for the moment). There was a moment earlier in the week that I was a little sad about not completing the list before my birthday, but then I realized everything that I was able to do, and how far I came in the last year. Really starting to love myself is a big thing though, and I think it is one of the things that is going to help make my 30s be just as great as I have been picturing them in my mind. Because, as RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?”

Can I get an amen?

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries (Paris, Malta, Hungary)
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp and a New Writing Challenge: Week 1

I survived 2016!! I am no closer to world domination, but I am in one piece after stumbling home at 5 am on the first….all that proved is that I am old. I slept for three days after.

I’m hopeless.

It was a top night though filled with rum, amazing girls, and a handsome bearded man who did not try and get in my pants, but did appreciate my sarcasm. I may not have really kissed anyone at the New Year, but I actually made some new friends, I didn’t do anything to embarrass myself in public, and I did not think about deadbeat boy at all.

Although he is sneaking in here and there and it makes me a little sad.

So, new year, new writing challenge. I’m having a hard time finding one that I like, but I think I am going to pick through a few and answer prompts that catch my fancy. I’m also going to start the year by saying I will complete each weekly challenge on time, but we all know that that is going to be real touch and go. The first prompt of the new year is: What are you most excited about in 2017?

I started with an easy one. I think I am looking forward to everything about 2017. I have some good trips planned, I now have a good social circle to do fun things with, and by the end of this year I will have some good solid draft chapters of my thesis written. I really see this year being all about getting healthy and becoming a better person.

I will also turn 30. Finally. I know that for the last couple of years I said that by the time I turn 30 I will have all my shit together and be an adult, but now I just think that when I turn 30 I will be starting a really great phase of my life….possibly the best years? I’m just really excited about my 30s. I will complete my studies, hopefully get my career in full swing, and get a dog (I’m putting that on the list. I want a dog more than most girls my age want a child). I’ll get to be an aunt again.

I’m hoping that 2017 is the year I finally really get a handle on my depression as well. The last few weeks have not been bad, but that was traveling, having a good night out and hiding from reality. I eventually have to go back to the office, I have to finish editing this damn paper, and keep my motivation up for this round of data collection and report writing. I see a lot of cups of tea in my future and a lot of written kitten to get me through that.

In the meantime, I think I am going to enjoy the way 2017 started and hope that it keeps on just like this.