Wednesday, 26 August 2015

5 apps for productivity

Hannah Lane
It's that time of year again. Summer is almost over (waaah!) and we're all preparing to go back to school/university/work. And as per, everyone is planning on being just that bit more organised this year. It always starts off well, right? And then you slip back into old habits. Well, I've found some apps that will help you with improving your productivity, and making the most of your time! 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Year Abroad - 4 days in

Year Abroad blog
Guten Tag!

So here's a little update on my first few days in Deutschland and some pictures of my new city and flat!

Okay so I've majorly lucked out on my flat, it is seriously nice. I feel so lucky! When I arrived it was spotlessly clean, I had washed bed sheets, and everything I could ever need in the kitchen. There are postcards up everywhere including in my room which gives it a homely feel - anyone who knows me will know I don't like having bare walls! It's also really colourful (green walls in the kitchen with purple curtains and some pink thrown in!) which is cheery and cute. I also have a really nice, blogger-esque desk - can't beat a spacious, white desk with a big window above. Here's some pictures so you can have a look:

Year Abroad blog
Year Abroad blog

I've also had some time to explore the city, and I really like it! It's not the biggest city, but as someone who's used to towns or rolling countryside, I'm sort of pleased about that. It also means everything is in walking distance. I've managed to scout out the H&Ms (yes there's more than one) and Zara - the important things. I had to buy some socks from H&M as I managed to only pack 2 pairs even though I could have sworn I emptied my sock drawer into my suitcase. I also bought a cute scarf - it was only €3, forgive me! 

Year Abroad blog

I've also discovered that Aldi is amazingly cheap. Like €0,29 for a bag of pasta cheap. Crazy. So I have H&M, a damn good currywurst place, Aldi, and döner kebabs all basically on my doorstop. I think I'll be okay here in Mannheim! 

Oh and also, how stunning is my university? It's the top right picture on the collage above, and it was actually once a palace. Yep. I can't wait to start! 

On a final note, I've found that Germans are really friendly. Yesterday I had a random guy come up to me to ask about my green hair (it's actually blue I swear). We talked for 5 minutes about my hair, which was slightly strange. Apparently his friend thought it was 'ugly' so he thought he'd come and ask if it was an accident or green blue on purpose. I then went and browsed hair dye in DM to find that's also super cheap, so every cloud. But if anyone has any tips on getting blue/green hair dye out, hit me up, as it admittedly isn't fading that nicely. 

So my first few days have been rather successful, if a bit quiet. My friends from uni are arriving later in the week though and I have some planned meetups with Germans so I should have a few more anecdotes soon! 

Bis dann!

Hannah Lane

Saturday, 15 August 2015

So I'm living in Germany now...

That happened.

Yesterday, I got up hideously early to catch a one-way flight to Deutschland. And here I am, a day later, sitting in my new flat, about to fill you all in. 

Year abroad blog

As you may or may not know, I study a joint honours degree - German and Business. As I'm now in my third year (how did that happen! feels like only yesterday I was waiting for UCAS Track to update...), I am on my YEAR ABROAD. Now I've known ever since I decided I wanted to study German (circa 3 years ago) that this day was coming, but it still doesn't feel real. It didn't feel real packing, it didn't feel real at the airport, it didn't feel real moving into my flat. It feels like, yeah i'm staying in Germany, but I'm going home in 2 weeks-a month right? Nope. 

ANYWAY. In the run up to leaving, I loved reading other people's year abroad blogs and posts, so I'm hoping you guys might enjoy these too as well as me being able to keep a record on the year, and I'll try make them at least a little bit useful too. 

So. Thursday morning consisted of much packing. I took 1 checked suitcase in the hold as well as a small suitcase as hand luggage and my gorgeous Kate Spade bag as my second hand luggage bag (perks of BA). I also left a suitcase of things at home that I will either get sent out or my mum will bring if/when she come visits, but by not taking it with me, it allows my family to add any stuff I've forgotten or realise I need before sending it. 

After a celebratory brunch with my family, as my brother got into Loughborough uni, I headed down to Surrey to Tom's house. He conveniently lives 10 mins from Heathrow airport which meant a slightly less early start for our 7:10 flight the next day. Friday morning. After many goodbyes and hugs and the odd tear, we headed for security (which was a nightmare) and then the departure lounge. I'd just like to add here, that doing this with a friend/boyfriend = so much easier. I am so grateful that Tom is doing a year abroad as well and is living in Frankfurt which isn't too far. So grateful. 

When we landed in Frankfurt, our first challenge was to find Tom's flat. Which meant getting a bus, a train, and a taxi. We were so relieved when we found it, and it was just like expected. 

TIP. We both found our accommodation through WG-Gesucht, which is what most people use. The majority of adverts suggest you should visit in person so you can meet them and see the flat, however that  obviously wasn't very feasible. So if, when looking, you see something suitable, it's worth suggesting a Skype interview - we found most are OK with doing this. Also send out lots of emails as many don't even reply D: 

We had a walk around his area and grabbed some lunch, before heading back to his to pick up my luggage and to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof. Then the train to Mannheim. My flatmate picked us up from Mannheim station and we got the tram to my flat. She also recommended a place for the best Dönerkebab in Mannheim which conveniently happens to be opposite of the entrance to my flat - so you can guess what my first dinner consisted of.  

Note. When I say flatmate, she technically isn't. My actual flatmate is on holiday in America, and so the girl who picked us up is actually the one who's room I'm moving into. Hence, I am all by myself in my flat until my flatmate returns, but Tom's staying with me for the first couple of nights to help me settle in :) (note: still sooo grateful)

So that's kinda the start to my year abroad. Today (Saturday) consisted of unpacking, food shopping, and exploring. My first impressions of Mannheim are positive, it seems a lively city with everything you could need in walking distance and the university looks incredible!

As much as I'm still nervous and missing England a tiny bit, I can't wait to see what this year has to offer!

Hannah Lane

P.S I will post a flat tour in the next couple of days, for those who might be interested, and maybe a post on what I packed/tips. :)

P.P.S If anyone is about to start their year abroad, or previously did one in Germany, get in touch! :D

Thursday, 6 August 2015

How to go to a festival for free (and have an amazing time!)

Last year I wrote a post of 20 things I want to do before 20. One of those things was go to a festival, however being a student and therefore poor, it wasn't looking very likely. So I looked at other ways of going, which is how I found out about Hotbox Events. With a £230 returnable deposit, a free ticket and other perks, and something to go on your CV, I was all for it. I even persuaded Tom to join me. So a couple of weeks ago with the car loaded up, we set off for Southwold.
Volunteering with Hotbox Latitude
It was such a good few days! We had such a good time, got to enjoy the majority of the festival, see all the acts we wanted and met some cool people. We were really lucky with the weather too, in fact we actually needed some rain as it got so dry and dusty!

Our first shift was a Thursday late (17:00-01:00). We were on a gate managing the queues and ensuring everyone got through swiftly. As it was the gate where coaches came, there was either nobody in sight or loads of people all at once, so if it was quiet we helped struggling campers carry their stuff in. The shift went quite slowly but there isn't much going on the Thursday night so it's not like we were missing anything!
Volunteering with Hotbox at Latitude
The second shift was a Saturday night, which is 01:00 -09:00, and we were working in yellow campsite (the infamous party-all-night camp) so we saw a couple of interesting things. Our main roles were to help (intoxicated/lost/stoned/upset) festival goers, watch for fires and thieves and report anything that needed reporting. It was a long night, but again we didn't miss any acts as the Friday headliner (Alt-J!) finished at 11pm.

We slept until about 3pm Saturday and still felt tired after being up ALL night but there were acts we I wanted to see :P. Catfish and the Bottlemen were sensational. We also saw Laura Marling, the Vaccines, José Gonzalez and a few others!

The third and final shift was Sunday early (09:00-17:00) working in the Performers Campsite. Unfortunately, I didn't see anyone famous haha, but it was the best shift as we worked with some great people and it didn't go too slowly, as we were trying to star-spot all day!

On the Sunday evening we got to see Years & Years who were incredible! A really good set and Olly had so much energy. La Roux was OK, SBTRKT were good live, and Noel Gallagher was cool  - though I find it really hard to like him as a person and he spent most of the time insulting the audience!
Ed Sheeran secret guest Latitude 2015 Volunteering at Latitude with Hotbox
A highlight of the weekend was seeing Ed Sheeran - he was a secret guest Friday night and my sister spotted his tweet and let us know where and when he was going to play. We were so lucky to see him as it was a small stage and most people got turned away by security. Unfortunately we had to leave a little early to get to our shift on time, but it made Tom's weekend to see him!
Volunteering with Hotbox at Latitude
Overall I would highly recommend volunteering at a festival, it's a good experience and you get more out a festival than if you were just attending normally. You also get to camp in the staff area which means nicer toilets, showers, plugs to charge your phone, tea/coffee making facilities and cheaper food. With the deposit, Hotbox also allows you to work Reading/Leeds as well, and if we weren't going to be in Germany then, I think we would be going to Reading too!

If you are considering doing this, I would recommend applying as soon as you can (it opens around Feb usually) as you get priority on your shift preferences the earlier you apply so you're more likely to get the shifts you want (and you don't miss your fav band).

We had a really good weekend and I'm so glad we did it! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments or drop me an email.

P.S, if you're still wanting to go to a festival this year, Hotbox have applications open still for Leeds festival, so get in quick!
Volunteering with Hotbox at Latitude
Hannah Lane