Starting a new adventure in Suzhou, China

In September 2014 I moved to Jiangmen in the Guangdong province of China. I came here to study chinese and I got a job along the way teaching english at a school.

The chinese learning was going well in Wuyi University in Jiangmen, but life in this city was pretty boring and monotonous. For this and a few other reasons, we decided to move (I say we because my younger brother is on this adventure with me).

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Travel tips: Get a ride with BlaBla car

A great way to save some money while travelling in Europe is using the website “BlaBla car” which helps connect drivers with empty seats on their cars, with people looking for rides.

The company was founded in France and is now present in 12 countries in Europe including Spain, France, Germany and the UK.

The way it works is very simple. In order to offer a ride or take one, you must create a profile on the website. On your profile you can indicate wether you smoke, travel with animals and most importantly how chit chatty you are willing to get during the trip, hence the name BlaBla car.

If you are offering a ride, details of what type of car you own and the price for each seat must be provided . The purpose of BlaBla car drivers is not making money , but splitting the cost of a journey amongst the passengers, therefore the price per seat for a specific journey does not vary much from driver to driver.

When searching for a ride, enter your departure and arrival towns as well as the dates and browse through the list of drivers that will be displayed. Contact the one that meets your requirements and set up a meeting time and place to be picked up  in the departure town. Payment is usually done via credit card through the website, but sometimes you are given the option to pay directly to the driver. Before making any bookings , make sure to read the drivers profile, comments and ratings.

To ensure safety, you must provide a telephone number that will be verified via text message as well as an email. Neither of these will be displayed on your public profile.

I have used the website several times, going between towns in France , and from France to Spain and I can definitely  say it’s a smart way to travel. For example from Monpellier ,France , to Barcelona, Spain, you can either take the bus or train which is more expensive and takes longer than getting a ride with BlaBlaCar for 15 to 20 euros!

 

 

Why you should choose Montpellier for your study abroad experience.

I have just returned to Chile , after almost a year in Montpellier, France , I’ve graduated university and I’m ready to face new challenges.

The past year was , as corny as it may sound, the best year of my life. And I’m going to tell you why to choose southern France, specifically Montpellier for your study abroad experience.

(You can check out my first post about Montpellier here: “La vie à Montpellier” )

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1. Great Location and weather:  Montpellier is located in Southern France on the Mediterranean sea, this offers great weather on the summer and a mild winter.

Location wise it’s perfect for travelling around Europe. Barcelona, Marseille and the beautiful Côte d’Azur is just a short car ride away. And direct flights from nearby towns will take you to Morocco, Belgium, England, Holland, Greece, Turkey and more!

2. Entertainment and events all year round:  During the year I enjoyed different events and festivals such as “Les estivales de Montpellier”, the Open Sud Tennis Tournament, the FISE (International Festival of Extreme Sports) and even a concert by my favourite rapper Drake :)! Bottom line is , you will always find something going on in the city that will be of your interest.

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3.Diversity:  Something that I always enjoy when I travel is diversity. In Montpellier you canDSC_0704 find people from all over the place like Morocco, Algeria, Spain, Latin America and other places. The perks of this is that you get to experience other cultures on daily basis by eating their food, or celebrating festivities from different countries.

4. It’s a city that caters to students:With many universities and grand écoles,the majority of the population in Montpellier are students. Which leads to the next point….

5. Parties, bars and clubbing:  Nightlife in Montpellier is fun and crazy. You have endless options when it comes to bars, on Monday’s the place to be for exchange students is the “Australian” bar where you can get a pint of beer for 2.50 euros. As for big clubs, these are located a bit further away but easily accessible by tram or the “amigo bus” , a free bus that will that will take you to some clubs and back to the city centre.

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6. Government  funding: This applies all over France for students even if you are not French. You can apply to get government funding for your rent through “CAF” , depending on how many people you share an apartment with and how much you pay monthly, you can get CAF to pay for up to half of your rent!

7.It’s beautiful: I will never forget the first time I saw “Place de la Comedie”, it was so beautiful I just couldn’t believe that was going to be my home for a year. Even on my last night in Montpellier as I walked around town I was amazed.

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I will never forget the year and amazing friends I had in Montpellier. I recommend a study abroad experience to everyone, get out of your comfort zone and go explore the world 🙂

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Travelling with family

Ever since I was a baby, I have travelled with my family. At first it was just me and my older brother, my mom would travel all the way from Chile to India , holding my brother with one hand and carrying me with the other. We’ve been on relaxing trips to the Caribbean and Italy, to adventurous ones in China and Malasya. It has always been fun but chaotic at the same time, we are no strangers to missing flights, losing bagagge and even getting deported from India.

For my March break this year my family including my grandma and uncle, came to visit me. My older brother was the only one missing though but we were still a big group of 7. Let’s just say travelling with 6 other people ranging from ages 10 to  70 was a bit of a challenge.

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2013 wrap up

10, 9 , 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 ,2 ,1 HAPPY NEW YEAR!! 

Fireworks at the beach back home.

Fireworks at the beach back home.

Before I welcome 2014 into my life, I want to first say goodbye to what has been an amazing year. 2013 has been a year of challenges, from January when I was doing my professional internship in Chile, to getting everything ready to start my exchange in France, to actually arriving in Montpellier. It has been an amazing experience, and I’m so greatful to have met such lovely friends, travelled and discovered new places. But also, I have to thank all my friends and family who support me from other places, they might not be here with me but they are always in my thoughts and heart.

I also started this blog, and I want to thank everyone who has ever read any of my posts, or maybe skipped the written parts and just looked at the pictures, which is cool too 🙂

But enough of the cheesy stuff, here’s to a great 2014, to fulfilling dreams, being adventurous, travelling, laughing, loving and trying to accomplish our new year resolutions 🙂

Montpellier

Montpellier

Travelling with friends

                     10 days travelling with 3 girl friends to 2 different countries.
That was what my vacation in November consisted of, and to add to that I also live with these girls, crazy right? That’s just how our trip worked out to be, crazy but also tiring, fun, stressful, exciting, intense and just overall amazing.

Here’s a recap in pictures of what we did during those great 10 days back in November.

Took low cost flights, packing for one of those is quite a challenge.

Most uncomfortable flight ever

Tooks as many silly pictures as we could.

Riding a bull in Marseille

Cliché pictures in London

Getting proposed at Westminster abbey

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Stealing cabs, pink of course because we are girls :p

Boys flirting with us, not the other way around of course… :p

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Photobombing

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Pretending to be football players at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Meeting Tin Tin in Brussels

Meeting Tin Tin in Brussels

Eating and drinking, all day, everyday.

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Partying with zombies and robots

Thanks to my girls for a wonderful trip!

Partying it up in Gent

One of my stops in Belgium was in Gent, a place that I think I wouldn’t have visited if it wasn’t for a good Belgian friend who used to study there and wanted us to check out the party scene in town.
We had heard that it was crazy fun, bars and clubs were all close to each other, beer was cheap, and after a good night of dancing you would end the night by having Belgian fries! Sounded awesome, and it was exactly how it went down during our stay in Gent.

We got there at night by car from Antwerp, so the first order of business was meeting up with friends to pre drink.

As Gent is a student city, sororities and fraternities organize parties that go down at DSC_1054“Overpoortstraat” , a street packed with no less than 40 pubs side by side, which you can go in and out of during a night of partying. We had a great night, went to about 4 different pubs and just danced the night away, met people on the streets and had a blast thanks to our lovely Belgian friends who took us around, and opened the doors to their homes for us to stay 🙂

For obvious reasons, I don’t have pictures by night. But the next day after munching on the best pizza ever we went for a walk around town. Even though it was a rainy day (not unusual for Belgium)  I found it very charming, with good restaurants, shops and entertainment, just what a student needs :). (On the right, a picture of Overpoorstraat by day.)

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Above, a picture of the traditional sweet in Gent made of raspberry syrup, sugar and gum. It’s liquid on the inside and very (and I mean very) sweet.
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Overall, I definitely recommend a stay in Gent for a day or two, if you want to party ,Wednesdays and Thursdays are said to be the best nights at Overpoortstraat.