Six Things I’ve Learned Preparing For My Upcoming Trip

If you’ve been around here before, you’ll know that I’ve spent most of this year (a) going through the absolute most, and (b) saving for a trip to Portugal. If you haven’t, or didn’t know: welcome! I’ve spent most of this year saving for a trip to Portugal.

In May this year, I was watching my favourite travel vloggers and considering the novelty of travelling somewhere alone. So I used mine and every other broke traveller’s saving grace, Skyscanner, to look for a cheap flight from Johannesburg (Any) to Anywhere. I was looking for the first and cheapest thing off of the African continent, and the beautiful city of Lisbon popped up and stole my heart.  And money.

After a session or three of I-can’t-sleep-so-let-me-research-this-decision sessions, i decided to tell my sisters, brother and mom that I would be going to Portugal in November. My mom laughed, and older sister looked at me and said, “I’m coming too”. And that was that. We had six months to raise all of the money we would need, and too many problems that tried to throw us off. So. Here are some things I’ve learned:

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A VALID PASSPORT / VISA / VACCINATIONS.

This seems pretty obvious, but 2016 just so happened to be the year where both of my passports expired right before I needed to book flights. Check your passport(s). I ended up renewing both of them by myself and felt very adult-like, but I was still pressed for time for flights.

BOOK FLIGHTS EARLY!

Some tips on booking flights: most places where you buy a flight online have a booking fee, and if you’re a broke bitch like me or if you just want to save money, call into the place first – the booking fee is usually waived when you call in or go instore. Book early. That lucrative price you’re drooling over? You’re gonna keep drooling. Because it’s going up in three, two…

HOSTELS > HOTELS.

Why on earth would you stay in a hotel that you know you can’t afford if you could stay in a hostel, meet new people from all over the world who are travelling cheaply just like you, and still receive free breakfast and wifi? Y’all. Come on now. When deciding which hostel to stay in, check reviews and make sure you don’t pass over a great deal because there’s a bigger hostel overshadowing a little gem.

MONEY IS PROBLEM. KINDA.

Look, money is funny. There’s never enough of it, and just when you think you have enough, you remember that the exchange rate on Google isn’t the same rate the bank is going to give you. Walking into a forex place with a wad of cash and coming out with ten notes is a little discouraging, but you’ll survive. Have a plan. Capitalise on the free breakfast. Do your research on where to eat and how to move around cheaply. You’ll live. (I’m hoping you will. I’ll let you know if I do in about a week or so.)

LEARN A LITTLE OF THE LANGUAGE!

Even if it’s just little things like asking where the bathroom is, or how to say left and right so that you can interpret directions. Languages are amazing and impossible to avoid, so rather prepare yourself and know how to get to the airport shuttle than having a breakdown in the airport. 10/10 would recommend googling ‘(language) for tourists’.

PSYCH YOURSELF UP FOR TRAVELLING ALONE.

My sister and I are going on different dates because of exam clashes, and I’m a little scared about being alone. No, I’m not a wimp for this – I’m just scared. I’m going to travel through a country alone and make a stop in another’s airport (I see you, Angola) and it’s gonna be a little scary. But that’s okay, because I know I just have to feel the fear and to the thing anyway. I mean, I paid for it! I may as well. It may not be sunshine and rainbows from jump, so prepare yourself for the anxiety, fear, and wonder that comes with flying solo.

In three dayS, I’m going to write an exam, come home, say goodbye to my family and then hop on the train (subway? metro? gautrain.) to the airport. I’m going to leave for Portugal via Angola with nobody watching my back but myself. I’m excited beyond belief. Prepare yourself for the inevitable spam.

love and light,
shalom xo

 

ça c’etait quoi? | learning languages

I’m really quite unfortunate when it comes to numbers. High school maths was a mess of a mission, except for the very end when magic and blood made a miracle happen. I am, however, better with words & languages. So today, by request, I’m going to share any and all language learning things that I’ve got swimming around in my head (and that are on the internet).

As of right now, I can confidently say I’m fully bilingual. I can speak English and Afrikaans fluently, and that’s mostly because I speak English at home and spoke Afrikaans at school for ten years. I’m intermediate in French, and a basic beginner in Spanish and a very basic beginner in Italian. BUT! I am learning all three of these languages with the end goal of being an eventual polyglot. Here’s the how to from someone who needs a how-to.

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There are SO MANY language learning apps out there. I’ve tried many of them, and the trick to knowing whether it’ll help is this: if it promises a short cut, it won’t. Un/fortunately, language learning is a long and specific process, so those “SPEAK FRENCH IN FIVE DAYS!!1!!1” apps really won’t help. Here are two that will:

  • Duolingo

Duolingo is amazing. It’s a super user-friendly app that will guide you through your language learning process. It costs ZERO MONEY (relevant to the July series I’m working on) and is really effective.

How it works is that there are bite-sized lessons that you can do on your phone, laptop, iPad, Apple Watch, or any device, and you slowly but surely increase your fluency percentage. Duolingo works. They have research on it. My advice: use a pen and paper along with this. It’s easy to learn phrases like “elles sont riche et calme” and “nosotros bebemos el agua”  but the grammar lessons (which can be found with a simple click to the comment sections) really help to understand why certain verbs are the way they are, why you can’t add that -le to the end of that word, and how to pronounce some words like a local.

  • Memrise

Memrise is another really good app for language learning, with a big focus on getting you to store the words and rules you’ll learn in your long term memory. The idea is that your mind is a garden of knowledge, and you really, really need to water the seeds so that you can harvest that gorgeous five-language-fluency. There are also different ways of learning which keeps the process fun & interesting.

people and blogs

Again, bless the internet. There are some amazing sites & people who’ve proven to be incredibly helpful. Let’s start off with ever favourites, Damon and Jo:

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DAMON AND JO MAKE ME WANT TO SHUT UP AND GO. THEY BLOW MY MIND. The creators of shutupandgo.travel, Damon Dominique and Joanna Franco are pretty much GOALS. First off, they’re huge inspirations of mine with French, Spanish, Portugese, English, and Italian (I think?) under their belts. IMAGINE. What a dream. They’re travel vlogger-bloggers who decided to #shutupandgo: stop complaining about wanting to travel, making moves, and travelling anyway. They’re also so YOUNG (Damon & Jo are 24 and 23 respectively) and make videos about their travels, but ALSO (!!!) about how to learn a language, and help you sound more local when speaking a language. For example:

Another blog I love is brainscape.com which has tonnes and tonnes of links to resources you can use for almost ANY language (10/10 would recommend). FluentU is another well of knowledge if you look for the right things, even if you don’t want to pay for a subscription (because I sure as hell do not, cannot, and did not). Preppy Burro (previously ‘Always Spanish’) is a fantastic spanish learning adventure, and Talk in French helps you to do just that.

other tips

  • change the language on your phone! you know your phone. learn what ‘lock screen’ is in italian.
  • have an other-language day (this is how i learned to speak afrikaans). for a couple of hours on a chosen day of the week, translate every sentence you say into the language you’re trying to learn.
  • watch youtubers in that language! hello! it always slaps me in the face but like !!!!! there are other-than-english youtubers!‽
  • keep a journal and make sure to write in your new language at least twice a week. check for grammar errors!
  • get a book. for real. grammar is important. it’s a spend that i hated making (don’t worry, the books aren’t that expensive, i’m just that broke) but do not regret.
  • learn about the culture. it’s nice to do.

The internet is amazing. There’s so much STUFF. Go learn a language. Pet a dog and tell it that it is beautiful in Italian. Sing happy birthday to your mom in German. Learn. 

Love and light,
shalom xo


note: none of these apps / people / blogs are here as a paid for endorsement – i love learning & they can really help. // photos are edited by me originally from death to stock, or are assumed to be in the public domain.