How to plan a perfect road trip? My top 5 tips

Happy Friday, people!

Can you believe that it is the 2nd of September. How sad is that? I mean it’s sad because summer is over… and Autumn is pretty depressing in the UK. But at least I can be happy  due to a fact that today is Friday which means I don’t need to go to work and I can, finally,   ‘invest my time’ and write a quick blog post.

So, the aim of today’s post is to share with you, guys, my top 5 tips on how to plan a perfect road trip. If you have read my previous post about my road trip to Spain, then you know that I was planning to share a few tips with you, so, without further explanation, let’s begin!

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1. Do your RESEARCH

When planning a road trip, it is crucial to research as much as possible prior setting off. Why? Because you don’t want to be surprised or unaware of certain things, right? I strongly suggest doing research before a road trip mainly because driving rules (if you’re crossing a border of course) may vary, so nobody really wants to pay a fine just because you were unaware of something? For example, while planning our trip to Spain through France, we did our ‘homework’ and found out that in France you must have an alcohol tester (breathalyser)  at all times in your car. A small thing, right, but can cost you a fine if you are stopped by the police. So, Ignorantia juris non excusat or simply ignorance does not exempt you from responsibility!

2. Do your PLANNING and TRACKING

If your road trip involves doing thousands of kilometres, a dozen of hotels and various countries, do your planning! Maybe it is even worth making a small spreadsheet so you have everything at hand? I found that having a spreadsheet does help a lot. It can be really simple, you can even do it on paper, does not matter as long as you have everything on one sheet of paper.

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A snippet of my spreadsheet

3. Prepare and check your car

A road trip would not be possible without a car meaning that you car has to be in a perfect condition! About a week before you set off, get your car checked by a mechanic who will ensure that car’s fluid levels, tyres, brakes and other important parts are in a good condition. Once you got your car checked from a mechanical side, you also need to have it cleaned inside. Remove receipts, fast food wraps, take-away coffee cups – literally everything from your car before going on a road trip. Travelling long distances in a messy car isn’t nice at all and especially if you need to find something important in a pile of rubbish… So, make sure that your car is thoroughly cleaned!

4. Divide tasks and responsibilities

When going on a long road trip, it is more likely that you will be travelling with someone else – your partner, your friend/friends, family, etc… No matter how good you think you’re at everything – planning, driving, navigating, taking pictures, etc., it is important that you all agree who is responsible for what. For example, when my boyfriend and I were on our road trip in France and Spain, I was responsible for having cash at hand and paying for tolls as well as for setting our GPS while my boyfriend was responsible for planning our ‘rest and eat breaks’ while driving and monitoring our car’s fuel consumption making sure that we stop in villages where we can top up our tank with cheaper petrol. Dividing responsibilities is a key as it prevents from overburdening one person with tasks and responsibilities.

5. Pack the right stuff

A light car means that you will save on petrol, therefore, make sure that you pack only the stuff you need! Of course, take into consideration the length of your trip, the weather conditions and other important factors but don’t put too much into your car’s boot. Think about things that can be shared between you and your travel companions. Why would you need 5 bottles of sun cream if you all can share one? If you travel with a bunch of girlfriends why you all pack a hairdryer if you can take only one and share it? Think smart when packing stuff!

So these are my 5 tips that you should take into consideration when planning your road trip! Road trips are lots of fun but sometimes small things can make your experience unpleasant.

Do you have any tips that you would like to share? Please leave them in the comments’ section below!

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Perfectionism and its negative side

Hello, wonderful people!

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Today I decided to share some thoughts on perfectionism… I know I know, you’re probably thinking why I am doing a whole post on perfectionism. But, believe me, there is a lot to be said about it, so let’s start from the beginning.

Usually perfectionism is defined as the relentless striving for extremely high standards that are personally demanding. Perfectionism is often mistaken for ‘being perfect’ or ‘doing something perfectly’. Many people assume that it must be a good thing but… But is this always a case?

The answer is NO, it’s not!

We would normally assume that it is generally a good idea to set high standards and have goals. But when these goals are unrealistic and unachievable, the person, who suffers from obsessive perfectionism, can start feeling bad about himself/herself. Does that sound familiar to you? If it doesn’t to you, it does to me.

I perceive myself as perfectionist, however, sometimes the one who is too unrealistic about my goals and expectations. I like to do things well. I get pleasure out of achieving what others can’t do. It makes me feel special. I like to go to bed leaving no tasks undone. I like being efficient. I like being organised. I like being prepared for every event and so on… The list goes on…

However, the relentless striving for self-imposed personally demanding standards became something what eventually caused anxiety and insecurity. Failing to reach high unrealistic standards made me feel bad about myself. I couldn’t stand the fact that I got a low mark in assignment that I brushed to perfection. I felt vulnerable, and slipping up occasionally – which everyone does – was not acceptable for me.

I honestly never thought that perfectionism can be a problem… A problem that brings enormous costs such as social isolation, frustration, worry, depression, eating disorders, relationship difficulties, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, repeated checking of work or just simply a persistent sense of failure.

Perfectionism became an issue when I started my studies. My studies involved a lot of group work, and I found myself struggling to trust others as I thought they are unable to do a particular task as good as I do. I couldn’t stand when other people didn’t do things my way. Apart from that, I realised that I don’t have ‘a healthy approach to work’ anymore. In other words, I was blaming myself if things weren’t done just right. Some days I was so afraid of failing that I never got started. However, when I did well in certain assignments or exams, I rarely gave myself a credit because I thought that there was always something more I could do.

These kind of feelings guided my behaviour. I became obsessive in checking my work. For instance, I got into habit??? of checking for errors in assignments that were already submitted. I also became irritable and I could easily lose balance. If I was arguing with someone, I was arguing a point over and over, long after others have lost interests… I also became too self-critical, and I started blaming others for not understanding me.

Eventually, I felt it’s just not right. Being too much obsessed with meeting unrealistic standards became a burden on my daily life. In every step of my life I was thinking how to reach those unrealistic goals. I felt bad if I was doing something unrelated to my goals. I couldn’t relax and I was constantly under pressure, pressure coming from my own thinking and perception of the world.

After seeking for advise how to deal with ‘bad perfectionism’, I started ‘working with myself and my perception’.

First of all, I’ve learnt to identify the reasons that drive my perfectionism, and that if I change my perception, I will be able to reduce negative consequences of perfectionism.

Following that, I started practising relaxation exercises in order to reduce anxiety and stress.

I also started accepting the fact that we all make mistakes and it’s fine to make them. I loosened up my standards which in turn reduced my perfectionism behaviour.

Today I feel more like a ‘healthy perfectionist’. I don’t know whether it is the result of learning to see things realistically or because I’m done with my studies, however, I do know that it is extremely important to have goals in your life but at the same time you have to accept the fact that sometimes things don’t go well.

We’re all different. Some people can easily deal with failures, some struggle. However, I firmly believe you can learn everything. It’s just a matter of time.

Being a perfectionist is not a bad thing but it can become… Sometimes we find ourselves trying to meet the society’s expectations of getting good grades at school, getting into university, achieving distinction, getting a well-paid job, etc. However, we should do things that make us happy and psychologically balanced rather than doing things that make happy our parents. I mean it’s wonderful to make your parents happy and proud but at the same time it’s worth being self-concious about yourself and your personal expectations because society’s expectations can lead you to unhealthy thinking and behaviour.

So, this is it for today. Please comment down below if you found something familiar in this post (:

See you all very soon!

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It’s official! My university experience

IMG_0074Hello, wonderful people!

I cannot even tell how excited and happy I am. I’m literally on cloud nine! It’s official! I’m done with my three years of Bachelors degree. The day when I got my diploma marked both the end of my studies and the beginning of a new stage of my life. It’s exciting yet a bit worrying since I don’t really know what I am going to do next. But it’s time to turn over a new leaf, right? However, before I do so, I’d like to recall my three years in university and share my experience with you.

My decision to study abroad has born in my head when I was 15 or 16 y/o. At that point of time I had absolutely zero knowledge of how to apply, where, how much does it cost, etc… I didn’t even have a clear vision what I’d like to study. But I found http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk forum where students from the UK were sharing their experience of studying in the UK’s universities. I was so hooked that I read >100 pages overnight. Was it spontaneous or not but I decided that I want to study in the UK.

And then domino effect. I started gathering information about various universities and their degrees, contacting students, universities as well as going to various career fairs. My interest was growing so quickly, and I was so passionate and determined that even my mom became hooked on the idea of studies in the UK. However, the most difficult thing was the question “How on earth should I know what I want to study?”

It took some time to figure out what I want to do. But I am an ad victim… Economics and International Relations sounded cool for me. I was reading a lot of course overviews and thinking Economics and IR degree is just simply what I need. So, I defined my sphere of interests (as the USSR defined years ago…) and started looking for universities to match my interests. I came across a couple of universities and after comparisons and long considerations, I took Lancaster university as my firm choice and Aberdeen university as an insurance choice.

The application process itself was a bit confusing not only because it was in English but also because it required to do a lot of things that were not usual in Lithuanian education system. These things included motivation letter, recommendation letter, grade 11 marks, English proficiency test, bla bla bla. But my motivation was so high that I didn’t really care how much I had to do. I actually even enjoyed writing my motivation letter since I love writing in general.

Once I sent out my application, I couldn’t sit still. It took some time until I started receiving my first offers. To my surprise, I got offers from all universities I applied for. One university accepted me unconditionally which was a big surprise for me knowing that at that point of time I was just at the beginning of my grade 12. However, that uni was not the one I wanted to go to.

I was particularly happy for getting offer from Lancaster university since it was one of the best universities in the UK, and, of course, it was my firm choice.

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And here it is, October 2012. I’m sitting in my new room here, in Lancaster. I made it. I’m in the place where I wanted to get into so badly.

Once my studies began, I was overly excited about everything. University, facilities, lectures, lecturers, tutorials, people, town – I loved everything.

First year in uni was pretty much easy. I mean when I can compare it to final year… 😀 One academic year in uni consists of 3 terms known as Michaelmas term, Lent term and Summer term. Usually in Michaelmas and Lent terms we have lectures, tutorials, and midterm exams/test whereas in Summer term we have our exam session. Well, it was in my case. One term equals 10 weeks, so the time really flies.

So, as I said, the very first year in uni is easy in terms of the course itself, however, it was a bit difficult at least at the beginning due to language barrier. It took some time to get used to thinking in English rather than thinking in Lithuanian, translating in your head and then telling something to someone.

I was surprised how relatively free you are. I mean I had approx. 12 hours/week of classes. One lecture or tutorial takes only 50 minutes, so I was a bit “Really? How am I going to learn anything?” The whole system is based on your own effort meaning that the more you study independently the better your results are. Obviously, there were some people who thought that going to lectures and/or tutorials is enough, but oh well, we all know how they ended up 😀

After successfully completing my first year, I stepped into my second year of studies where, oh boy, the most joyful things started. Hope you can feel irony here. The first year in uni doesn’t count towards your final qualification but the second and the third do. And yeah, the second year was hard. Economics was hard. Maths was a complex matter. I started questioning myself “Will I survive?” 😀 However, I did. I just had to focus a little bit more.

After spending summer in Liverpool I came back to Lancaster for my last months in uni. I was excited because I knew that in approx. 10 months time I will be done with my Bachelors degree.

I’m not gonna lie, the final months in uni were tough mentally and physically. Apart from a bunch of International Relations and Economics modules I had to do my dissertation. Since I already knew the topic I am going to write about, I had to start working on it. At first I found the whole researching quite interesting since my topic was related to Russia-EU relations and crisis in Ukraine which I followed on media. However, the deeper I went the more challenging it became. But I managed to finish my dissertation on time, and I was given A for it 😀

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I’d made a couple of really good friends who were extremely supportive throughout the most challenging months in my life. However, exams are exams :D. When you have them, I think,  nobody and nothing can really help you. My exam session was MAD. I had 6 exams in 10 days. At some point I thought I’m not gonna make it. But…

On 17th of July I came back to Lancaster hopefully for the last time in my life. The graduation ceremony started 11 am but before that I had to collect my diploma and put on my grown. Although at first I wasn’t in a graduation mood but once I put on my grown I thought “That’s it. I am really done with university!”

I’d like to thank everyone who was a part of this whole experience. Love my family and friends ❤

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What does it mean to be vegetarian/pescetarian?

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Hello, lovely people!

Today I decided to do a post about my experience of being vegetarian/pescetarian for more than 10 months. Honestly, I never thought that I would have to make a decision to become vegetarian. The reason for this was the fact that I was a complete meat-lover. Everyday since my childhood I really enjoyed eating meat, and I couldn’t imagine myself replacing meat with something else. However, one day I had to make a decision…

When I came back to Lancaster for my final years in university, I got a terrible reaction to meat. At first I couldn’t realise what exactly happened to me and what caused a horrible allergy. My legs and tummy were covered with big red marks/spots which were itchy and looked awful… Obviously, I couldn’t realise what caused this reaction, therefore I decided to experiment with myself by excluding certain products/foods and observing how my body reacts to it. To my surprise, it was chicken that I was consuming without any reactions everyday. That was a bit shocking… However, I decided to omit chicken from my diet for a couple of weeks and see how it goes. In three days time my allergy was completely gone, and I thought “Great, I just ate ‘bad chicken’ and that’s why my body reacted like that”. But it was not true… I really became allergic to meat, and my GP confirmed that. In his words “You might be born with allergy but it can develop too!”

Great news, right? A meat-lover is not allowed to eat meat anymore. I could, of course, continue eating meat, however, I had to face horrible allergy which affects my skin. So, I stopped. I stopped eating meat. It was a difficult decision but I was too afraid to face that allergic reaction again.

My vegetarian journey was not easy. At first I felt that I lack something in my diet, however, vegetarianism opened up my eyes and unleashed my creativity. I found a lot of amazing recipes as well as vegetarian meat replacements such as quorn meat, tofu, etc. I still do eat eggs and fish every now and then, however, these products are only guests in my diet.

You probably ask how I feel about making these big changes? Honestly, I feel great. I have more energy, my stomach feels better and I don’t have those marks on my body anymore. Although I believe that I still need to explore vegetarian lifestyle more, I mean, research some information and include more varied products, I am quite happy that I made this decision.

A month or so ago I had my blood checked and results were even better than before. This, again, confirms that vegetarian lifestyle hadn’t have negative consequences on me. Obviously, every year I will be going to hospital and having my blood checked, however, for now I am more than happy being vegetarian/pescetarian.

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