Yes. I’m making a list.

This is Brocklesby, still in Beirut and trying to work out how to update you on  what has happened in my life since July 31. Gosh. I suppose I could make a list?

Yes. I’m making a list.

1: I hiked a mountain in the south of Lebanon with a few good pals and a watermelon. I would say that the watermelon was the lucky one in this scenario as we kindly carried it up the mountain on our backs (it was 11kg or thereabouts), but then I suppose it more than repaid the kindness by letting us devour it at the top and throw its skin to the goats…

2. I completed the Advanced Fusha and the Elementary ‘Urban Arabic’ (Beirut Arabic) courses at Saifi. Thanks to my teachers, but also to those bonus points I got for attendance or something.

3. I went up to Faraya to see the Perseid Meteor Shower, and lay on a freezing, dusty ski slope with smoke from the bonfire in my eyes having, contrarily, one of the best nights of my summer. I was in great company and a chance meeting there has lead to some great times spent in with a lovely group of young Lebanese folk, who put up with a lot from the rest of us (and are mostly called Jad).

4. Jessica and I did a walking tour of Beirut, lead by the Demo bartender Mustafa, who took us to some of the lesser-known parts of the centre of the city including ruins of roman baths hidden below a high-rise building. We also had our picture taken as part of a grooms wedding photo, and we were out for hours. I thoroughly recommend this as way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Take water.

5. I went to AUB (American University of Beirut) for the third time and did exactly the same thing I did twice previously: stroke cats. I would describe the place as over-run with the things, except that makes it sound as though I think that ‘too many cats’ is a problem. It really isn’t. If I had to choose somewhere right this minute to do a one year masters course I would pick AUB. I will leave off making that decision definite until after I spent a little time back in the UK with home comforts and fewer mosquitos.

6. I completed those nasty Target Language Research Projects. Big shout out to everyone who helped me with the language, hugged me as I got more and more stressed, and those that were there when I finally submitted them and spent the whole afternoon eating with me in various venues around the city. I am proud of them both though I don’t know how well they went. Time will tell.

7. I had amazing Indian food at a place I will never be able to locate again.

8. I visited the ruins of a Roman temple at Baalbek in the east with Filippo, and the sheer size of the place struck us dumb for almost the entire day. It is vast, beautiful and everyone who visits either wishes they had lived there or that they could work out how it was built. Hercules had to have had something to do with it. [Go to my Instagram for pictures of this day as I don’t have the words]. Would like to congratulate the museum of the Baalbek site for its tunnel with slidey floors which provided the perfect end to an otherwise intellectual, sensible trip.

9. I met a lot of wonderful people and then said a lot of goodbyes.

10. I went to a magical waterfall lagoon (Baakline) that almost reminded me of the mermaid place in Peter Pan, but just with hundreds of other people having lunch, which they at least had the foresight to bring with them. We on the other hand, had to order sandwiches which took an age to arrive, tasted terrible and made most of us ill. Not worth the hassle. The swim though was lovely and refreshing.

11. I was in a quiz team that lost first place by one measly point because someone in the team though Frigophobia was ‘fear of refrigerators’. (Not quite as bitter about it now because…).

12. I was also in a quiz team that won the whole damn thing a week later. Victory was sweet that night.

13. I met a puppy that changed my life forever and is so fluffy I do in fact sometimes ‘wanna die’.

14. I have now managed to avoid my creepy upstairs neighbour Charbel for almost 40 days. This involves never leaving the door open if I’m working at home, turning off all the lights as soon as I hear him lock his door and begin the descent, and often having to hide in one of the rooms as he has a habit of peering in through the window to see if there is prey inside. Creep.

15. I was reunited with a pal from the Jordan days and the previously documented Tafileh Incident in 2015.

16. I argued with a stubborn taxi driver in Arabic and I should have felt angrier but that was the proudest I have ever been.

17. I have sung Arabic karaoke in class. We don’t do anything halfway.

18. I have cycled to school when I was running late one morning. It was fantastic and I felt oddly powerful weaving in and out of cars containing angry people on their way to work who all wish they were as carefree as I was. That said the traffic is mental and cycling could end pretty badly for the lighter, less-armoured party.

19. I took a (rather complicated: taxi – bus – taxi – bus – taxi – bus – feet) trip to Mleeta to see the ‘Mleeta Tourist Landmark’. It is in fact the museum to The Resistance that Hezbollah has developed. It shows remains of their enemies’ weapons, has a wonderfully translated propaganda video and very informative exhibits. It is crawling with weapons and everything is meticulously thought-out to give it maximum symbolic effect. I can now say that I have been there, done that, but that I did not buy the t-shirt.

20. Finally, I took an extremely random, slightly necessary trip to Larnaka in Cyprus. Any European who has travelled here will know that the visa situation in Lebanon is a bit confusing. When I first arrived, it was unclear how long I would be able to stay without a) renewing my visa or b) leaving the country. At the two month mark I completed a) then I discovered upon collection of the renewed visa last Monday that 3 months was really the limit it seemed, for me, so I had to leave Lebanon on September 9. Seeing as I’m officially leaving just a few days later on September 20 this was a little frustrating. I looked up flights and briefly considered flying home early but alas I did not have the $1700 or so required. Instead, Cyprus seemed like the obvious choice: a fifty minute flight to a country I’d never been to, with a beach and some historical things to see. So I went, rolling out of my final exam into a taxi bound for the airport.

I spent the weekend walking on the seafront, paddling, swimming in the early morning, eating frozen yoghurt and great food like Kleftiko, meeting lots of people (perks of travelling alone), some of whom I hope I see again, and others, like the Lebanese woman who started crying at breakfast after telling me she watched a film in which a man killed a goat, that I hope I don’t.

Now I’m back in Lebanon. As we flew into Beirut I felt an immense feeling of ‘thank goodness I’m back’. I am so happy today I can’t stop grinning. I think Lebanon may have got its hooks into me. Sorry friends and family.

Now I have 7 days left to enjoy the place until my flight early next Tuesday morning and no classes to give me any type of schedule. There are a few things I really want to see: the Sursock Museum, the film festival this week and Tripoli, but also some things I want to save for another trip (fingers crossed that’s a possibility). We’ll see. I think it is important I keep busy this week or I will start practice-packing and being desperate for home. Dangerous.

Until next time remember what I was taught last week by my wonderful teacher Manal: after لم we put a fatHa on the vowel, because it is an open sound and the future is an open place where anything could happen.

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Baakline. Jad looking hungry and confused.

 

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Baalbek.
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Faraya. A very dusty Merel, Nada, Jessica, Kate and Katie (from left to right).

 

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Mleeta.
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Hasbaya: Intrepid explorers check their GPS to find out where we are.
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Larnaka, Cyprus. Views from Larnaka Castle.

 

 

 

That’s all, folks.

Do you remember what it felt like to ride a bike for the very first time? You were very unstable, wobbling all over the place, and you’d definitely have simply tipped sideways if someone hadn’t been holding on to the back of the saddle to keep you upright. And the whole thing felt pretty scary, and difficult, and you weren’t 100% convinced that you’d be able to do it. But somewhere within you, you found the determination to push down on that pedal, and suddenly you were flying. And still, you thought, you weren’t really doing it yourself, someone was holding on and keeping you safe – except that they weren’t. They’d let go without telling you, they’d given you one final push and released. And maybe the realisation that you were on your own was enough of a shock to cause you to fall, maybe not. But the next time you tried, you knew you could do it. It was still a little scary, but you’d done it once, you could do it again. Stopping is an entirely different matter, but why would you want to stop when you’re that free?

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this – that’s how my Year Abroad has been. I was beyond terrified in the beginning, so far from my comfort zone that I’d have needed a map to get back to it. But as with most things in life, it got easier fairly quickly, in large part because I had people around me to help me – whether they were people I already knew from home, like having Kate in Jordan or Kat here in Morocco, or completely new people like the teaching staff in France. At no point in this Year Abroad can I say that I have felt truly alone, like if I fell there’d be no one there to catch me.

At times, I have thought that this was a kind of shame, or a problem. That this fact of always having someone around to hold me up when I slipped was a reflection of my inability to be independent. But I’m growing to realise that occasionally leaning on someone else is not dependency, and sometimes they’ll need to lean on you too, and that’s not dependency either. That’s friendship. And I don’t know about you lot, but I don’t think I would handle being totally alone very well. In fact, I know I wouldn’t. I know very few people who cope well with only their own company.

With only two days left of my Year Abroad (which is terrifying, how on Earth have I reached the end of this?!), I’ve been looking back across the past fourteen months and I’m wondering something – how is it that in the space of six weeks, you can form friendships that are stronger than some of those that you’ve had for six years? Thinking about what I’ll miss most has brought these conclusions: I will miss the freedom, I will miss the thrill of speaking a foreign language, I will miss the daily culture shocks, I will miss the French cheese, I will miss the comfy chair in the corner of my bedroom, and I will miss the people. So, so, so much.

I honestly never thought I’d make as many close friends as I have. When you’re on such a limited time frame as eight weeks, real, meaningful relationships seem impossible. Despite this, I appear to have managed to make some. So much so that I can hear my bank account pre-emptively screaming at all of the travelling I now simply must do to visit all of these wonderful people. I said over a year ago, back in the early days of Jordan, that the travelling bug had finally bitten me, and these people are fuel to the fire. Because why ever wouldn’t I go to Italy, to Belgium, to India, to America, to Germany, to EVERYWHERE, when there are people there who share my interests and my humour and my wanderlust.

That’s not to say I don’t have some wonderful friends in England, because I absolutely do, and they’re a big part of the reason that I’m raring to get home. But this Year Abroad wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting without the people I met and the things that said people forced my introverted being to do. So I would just like to say thank you to all of those people, to Mack, Daniel, Grace, Andreas and Adam, to Rania, Mohammad and Abdulrahman, to Julia, Isabel, Martina, Camila and Judit, to Manjari, Stephanie, Peggy, Greg, Claudine and Brigitte, to Mika, Alex, Roberta, Elena, Laura, Francesca, Mila, Camilla, Pete and David. To Ben and Andrew. To Zac, and to Flo. To my beloved Kat and Kate. Every single one of you has taught me something about myself, and I miss and love you all.

Having said that, it feels like time to go. I miss home. I miss my home friends, I miss my books, I miss any clothes that aren’t the twelve things I have out here. I miss my stuffed Hippogriff and my coffee machine and Greek yoghurt (yes, I am a massive snob, soz) and rain, oh man I miss the rain. I miss the South Downs and the utter lack of reliability of public transport and I miss Tankerton beach and the smell of my grandparents’ house. Get me on that plane, please. Take me back to sarcasm and Sainsburys.

I’ve said on a few occasions that I don’t like people who say that the Year Abroad was the greatest year of their lives because of the pressure it puts on people to do new and exciting things every day of theirs. Nevertheless, I had an amazing year, with some brutally low points and some hold-your-breath, remember-this-forever highs. I can’t quite believe it’s over, but I have so much to look forward to that it softens the blow somewhat. Jordan, France, Morocco, you were surprising and wild and wonderful.

To anyone considering a Year Abroad, or a gap year, or travel of any kind – if you’re unsure, please do it. Fling yourself headfirst into the unknown and see what kind of person you are at the end of it, and I promise you, you won’t regret it.

 

The Akchour (Mis)Adventure

A word to the wise – wait, no, scratch that. A word to the not-as-woefully-stupid-as-me: Don’t go hiking without taking any food with you. Particularly do not do this if you’re in Morocco, in the middle of the summer, at the hottest point of the day. Also, try not to go if you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, and seriously think about whether it is a good idea to join a group of experienced and enthusiastic hikers when you yourself have been known to have meltdowns halfway up Yorkshire mountains.

So, we went hiking yesterday. Kat’s friends from home are visiting, so the three of them, Pete, and I all set off yesterday morning to Akchour, an area about an hour and a half from here which is known for its waterfalls. Some other students went a couple of weeks ago and recommended it, so I decided the hike couldn’t be too horrendous and cheerily agreed to go. Mistake.

In my (very minor, pretty insignificant) defence, the trail that almost killed me wasn’t even the correct trail for the waterfalls. We went the wrong way, and we just kept going upwards. I don’t know what exactly my issue is with upwards – while I’m certainly not going to be winning any medals, I don’t consider myself horrifically unfit, but for whatever reason I cannot do uphill. I loathe it, it tires me out alarmingly quickly and I’m generally slower than most other people. Everyone else had to wait for me, and despite their reassurances that they didn’t mind, I still feel a little bad for spoiling their hiking day.

Which brings me to my other top tip – if you do decide, against all better judgement, to undertake such a foolish thing, take an Officer Cadet with you. Pete’s tough-love approach to effectively bullying me up and down the trail was probably the only thing that stopped me from throwing a tantrum. When you feel like there is no strength left in your legs, you need someone behind you to yell at you (and give you their food).

Tragically, I was so focused on just getting off the damn mountain (without falling off it) that I have hardly any pictures. When I was in Montenegro I said that I’d never found a view that wasn’t worth the climb, and while I still believe that, Akchour only just counts because I didn’t really get to appreciate the view. I was appreciating my water. Still, it was a stunning view, so at least I didn’t drag my sorry self up there for nothing.

I also have no photos at all of the waterfall that we did eventually find, having retraced all the way back to the beginning and restarted down a different route. My lack of photos here I attribute to the fact that I prioritised swimming. I went from the worst I’ve ever felt to the best when I got in that freezing cold pool. It almost, almost made up for the hike. Almost.

Okay, enough with my self-pitying tales of mountainside woes. It was fine, I did it, it’s over. In other news, I got a new teacher today and I don’t know why. I simply walked in this morning to be informed by my previous teacher that she wouldn’t be teaching me anymore. My new teacher seems lovely, but with only two weeks left here I can’t help wishing things hadn’t been shaken up. It must be because there’s been a new influx of students at the start of the month.

Also, can we just take a second – how it is already August? How do I only have two weeks left of my Year Abroad? WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?

Until next time, remember that for verbs ending in ي, the indefinite اسم فاعل will take tanwiin kesra.

Stellar blog content.

Brocklesby here wondering how to stop procrastinating her research projects.

(I really considered leaving the post there to be honest. As a simple ode to procrastination).

I’ve been busy enjoying Lebanon and have not been applying myself to the (ridiculously time consuming) task at hand. Does anyone know how long it takes to type 2000 words in Arabic? I do not because I am only on 837 so I may have to get back to you all on the answer in a few years time. I have all the ideas, the research about the Jordanian water shortage, and the references, so it literally is just a case of typing everything up and overcoming the problems I often encounter with formatting the pages in Arabic, as things tend to get confused and jump around.

I have all afternoon for this piece of work today. I also had all morning for this piece of work. Instead of working, I opened the necessary tabs, allowed myself to think of that as some kind of relevant achievement, left the house to buy mango juice, drank it, got briefly sucked into the Youtube black hole, resurfaced long enough to try and sew part of a dress back together, relapsed into LuzuVlogs videos and then cleaned my sunglasses…

4pm the same day: I just woke up from an unplanned two-hour nap feeling disoriented and hungry. However, here is the exciting part: I managed to write 400 words of my project prior to this blip in consciousness, fueled only by terrible muesli and Ásgeir. So really this post is null and void because though my methods may be unorthodox, my Procrastination isn’t as terminal as we all thought.

Until next time, when hopefully I will have put together something less mind-splurgy, remember that sometimes the 4th wazn has a different masDar form and this can indeed, thankfully, be memorized.

More Caffeine Required

I need to get more sleep. Twice now I’ve been heavy-eyed and unable to concentrate in class because I’ve had insufficient sleep. Beyond just that, it makes me moody, wreaks havoc with my both my insecurities and my skin – to the point that a salesman in Tangier tried to get me into his shop by offering acne cream, which, rude – and prevents me from functioning well for the rest of the day. All of the signs scream that I should sleep more. There is not a single positive factor for sleeping less. And yet, I suspect the trend will continue. Late nights are a common occurrence for us lot out here.

Saturday morning, we got up at 5am and got taxis to the beach to watch the sunrise. It was amazing, and I’m so, so glad I did it, but I definitely could have done with some more sleep! The thing is, had I known that this was the plan sufficiently in advance, I’d have gone to bed early on Friday night (early night on a Friday, I’m a wild one, me). But, as is so often the case with all of us, we were out late having dinner and didn’t decide to this until last-minute, so I was running on three hours’ sleep for all of Saturday. I couldn’t take a nap. Naps and I are not friends. No matter how grumpy I am when I’m sleep-deprived, I am infinitely worse if I’ve just woken up from a nap. Stay away from post-nap me, I might well kill you.

So that was Saturday morning, and then I was awake for about 20 hours straight, save half an hour where I unwillingly succumbed to a nap, because it was our beloved Italian girls’ last night in Morocco, so we went out for drinks. And then on Sunday, rather than sleeping until the middle of the afternoon as I wanted to do, we headed into Tangier and spent the day at Hercules’ cave and wandering through the old city. Followed by a movie night on Sunday night, throughout which only David and I managed to stay awake – on my part, mostly out of sheer stubbornness. And because we were watching Mulan, and I really, really love Mulan.

As I write this at 5pm, I’ve got my coffee beside me and Kat’s taking a nap, which I’m slightly jealous of. If only naps didn’t make me murderous.

Oh dear, this is turning into a post that’s all about my lack of sleep, isn’t it? Oops.

Beyond the aforementioned events of the weekend, not a lot has happened. The rhythm of the week is mostly set by now – class from 9-12, stay in school to use their wifi for an hour or so, pop home for lunch and then either stay home working/ watching tv, or go to the beach. It’s a fairly relaxed life, quite an easy one. It feels like a nice conclusion to the Year Abroad, although I think the calm is luring me into a false sense of security with regards to all of the work I still need to get done. Who needs to write a project when there’s freshly squeezed orange juice and logic games with friends on offer?

Tetouan life feels very detached from home life. Getting updates on the lives of my friends and family in England makes it all seem so much further away than it is, like I’m on a different planet almost. People are starting jobs, or going off on epic one-last-ride style holidays before also starting jobs, or masters programmes, or some other scary adulting thing, and I’m just drinking coffee and conjugating endless hollow verbs. I don’t know, it just feels strange to be told about everything that’s going on three days after it happens, rather than being involved in it all. Everyone’s lives are moving while mine stays stuck. My own mother’s wedding is being planned without my input.

I always knew this would happen. I knew when I applied to study languages that I’d drop out of things for a year. I knew I’d be away, knew I wouldn’t be able to participate in things, that I’d be watching my friends’ lives through a computer screen. It’s not new information, so why is it hitting me so hard right now, so close to the end? I think it’s because I’m in a rhythm. I have nothing to worry about Morocco-wise, so my brain is looking for something else to panic about, and it’s chosen my FOMO (fear of missing out, if you’re not down with the kids). I love Tetouan, and the people I’ve met – and we all remember how unlikely I thought this would be at the beginning of this placement! But I’m glad I only have three weeks left, glad I’m going back to a life I’m familiar with. Just for a little while. Give me three weeks at home, I’ll probably be begging to get on a plane to somewhere new.

Until next time, remember that ما has a ridiculous number of different meanings.

I am a slacker.

Brocklesby again. (Which makes it sound like I post more than once every two months. Everyone needs dreams). This post is inspired by a new friend who encouraged me to write something about Lebanon. Considering I have now been here for a month and a bit, this is very long overdue.

In my last blog post, very minimal exploration had happened, and I was feeling a little overwhelmed by everything. Lebanon has very quickly become a temporary home. I say ‘temporary’ because I can’t imagine myself ever settling somewhere quite so hot, but it is indeed a good place to live. [Before continuing, in my usual jovial tone peppered with sarcasm, I will just say that I know that my experience here as a foreign student, studying just a few hours a day on my summer holidays, and sharing an apartment with other Europeans is only a surface experience, and by no means am I professing that everyone in Lebanon is ‘living the dream’.]

I’ve moved out of the hostel now, in fact that happened over three weeks ago. Now I live in a nice apartment just off one of the main bar streets. We have many pet cockroaches, which we clearly take care of extremely well, as they are always bringing their friends and children over to visit. On top of that there are the tortoises in the garden, who never look particularly comfortable with their lot, but who we try to be nice to even when they are in anti-sociable moods facing the wall. I feel like that too sometimes.

I have travelled a little within Lebanon, to a place called Tannourine, in the North eastern mountains (once for waterfall exploration, the second time for a mad dash up the side of a mountain with some young members of the Beirut police force). Beach trips have included a trip to a city called Jbail just north of Beirut, which has a beautiful souk and a fairly nice beach. Sour (or Tyre) is also a good place to go to the beach, and also to eat seafood. Travelling within the country is remarkably easy, with cheap buses primed to take you to the majority of places and a bus station right next to the school where I’m studying.

Lessons themselves are mostly good. Progress with the local dialect is speedy and enjoyable and I’m now able to go and point at things in the greengrocers whilst saying their Lebanese name so how can things really get better from here?? There’s been a brief teacher-related blip in our FusHa learning but after making a formal complaint, things are improving and we’re getting a lot more for our money.

There’s not much else to say really: I’m happy, healthy (so far, touch wood that’ll remain the case) and now have a lovely group of housemates and friends with whom to play Twister, order food in hungover hysteria, explore and have deep conversations. I love it.

Until next time, over-use al-maf3ool al-muTlaq as much as you can because it is extreeeemely useful. I’m sorry this has been such a list-blog. It was necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

The Happy Place

Everybody brace yourselves, because I’m going to hit you with another Lang-gets-emotional post. I hope you’re all prepared. It’s positive, I promise.

Are people ever so ridiculously nice to you that you wonder what exactly you did to deserve it? Even though you feel like you’re being an absolute nuisance, they go out of their way to try to make your life better, even just in a small way? And you’re not really sure if you’ll ever be able to express quite how grateful you are that they’re a part of your life? I got that this week.

Wednesday was a horrendous day. Dissertation allocations came out, and all I will say is that I was not pleased with the results. I’m in the middle of trying to change it, so for now it’s just a waiting game that I’m trying not to think about, but Wednesday was bad. I think in my mind I’d just never expected to not get the diss I wanted, so when my second-choice option came through I was so shocked that I freaked out. And I mean heavily freaked out, panic-attack-at-school, uncontrollable-crying, making-a-spectacle-of-myself madness. I honestly couldn’t help it. And this is where my ridiculously nice person thing comes from.

Kat was wonderful. Hugged me, comforted me, explained why I was crying to other people when I couldn’t speak enough to do so, and then later found me various different options and research pages for a new proposal, talked it all through with me to make sure I could sort it all, etc. And then the next day, after briefly mentioning it to Ben at school, he too sent me a link to a Wikipedia page (I know, I know, not reliable, but my point stands) about an element of this potential diss. He didn’t have to. Kat didn’t have to spend her afternoon making sure I was okay. It doesn’t affect their lives in any way if I get to do my preferred diss or not, but somehow they care anyway. In the grand scheme of things, a couple of Wikipedia pages and a hug isn’t an earth-shattering thing, but there’s something so amazing about knowing that someone, in some small way, wants to help.

This got me thinking about things (shocker, I know), particularly after yesterday’s trip to Chefchaouen. I adored Chaouen, for several reasons, few of which I can explain. I’m a terrible writer, really, someone should take this blog away from me. There’s just something about the place that makes you feel good when you’re there. Put it this way – everything that there is to see in Chefchaouen can be seen within a day, a weekend at most, but David has been back there eight times. It’s calming, and not just because it’s blue.DSCN2998

As will surprise no one who knows me, I was indeed a big fan of the blue-ness of Chefchaouen. I jokingly called it my happy place, and this is what sent me on my path of internal musings. Because I don’t have a physical happy place, there’s no mountainside or lake or city or house that I can go to, physically or mentally, to make myself feel better. But I do have memories, and those are my happy places, the memories of the way I felt at a specific time in my life. Hiring pedaloes at the beach and racing each other around, jumping on and off them, going wild. Collapsing into myself with laughter that only gets harder when I see that other people are laughing just as hard. Getting slightly crushed against a window ledge as everyone piles in for a group hug. Belting out the lyrics to childhood pop songs and probably irritating the upstairs neighbours. Seeing an old friend after months apart and knowing that we can pick up right where we left off. Memories from this month, this year, and immeasurable memories from long before that. I could go on and on and on, but I’m trying to keep this blog post shorter than my TLRP. Were magic real, and I had to cast a Patronus, I’d be set. My only problem would be choosing which happy memory to use.

I don’t think about this often enough. I’m prone to sinking into a mindset of gloom and negativity, and I should stop. Sometimes, when everything is awful and it feels like things will never get better, and you feel like your lungs are being crushed under the weight of pain-pain-pain-pain-pain, it’s really hard to remember all the times that you were so happy you though you might burst. And life gives you so many of those moments, and you must, must grab onto them and store them away in your memory for the bad days.

My bedroom wall in Durham last year was covered in a combination of photos of all my favourite people and places and moments, and quotes that I’ve accumulated and written down to remind myself that life never stays bad. So instead of an Arabic grammar point, I will leave you with my favourite of these quotes, from Vivian Greene – ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.’

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Photo credit to Pete, via Kat’s camera