Is ‘The Girl Who Travels’ the new Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

I’ve seen circulating on the internet that there are quite a few articles about “Date the girl who travels”, or “Don’t date the girl who travels” – ironically promoting the same idea: a girl who travels is the girl of your dreams, but she will only be in your dreams if you can’t keep up with her crazy adventures and free spirit.

A girl of your dreams who has crazy adventures and a free spirit? Where have I seen that before?

The vast majority of indie rom-coms.

Don’t get me wrong, I love indie rom-coms. When the characters feel real. If you don’t know what a manic pixie dream girl is, it’s this:

Film critic Nathan Rabin, who coined the term after observing Kirsten Dunst’s character in Elizabethtown (2005), describes the MPDG as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” MPDGs are said to help their men without pursuing their own happiness, and such characters never grow up; thus, their men never grow up.

Ta, Wikipedia.

Other examples include Sam from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, and Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim vs the World. One example I say challenges the notion is Summer from 500 Days of Summer. To me the film is about a guy who idealises a girl and decides she’s the one for him, but can’t accept she doesn’t feel the same way. We don’t get her perspective because the film has to focus on him, to make a point.

There are plenty of people criticising the term. A girl who is beautiful, quirky, has unusual hobbies, and always seems to have a thing for shy, quiet, “sensitive” guys who usually are ignored by other beautiful girls. Guys, stop fantasising and go out and meet a real girl. And she won’t be existing for you, she exists for herself (and because her parents did it).

But it seems there is a MPDG who has escaped our screens and ventured into the real world – almost. The Girl Who Travels. Now, an article which makes good use of the term is this one. It doesn’t put the idea of these girls into a box, instead it celebrates their independence and that they aren’t there to impress a guy: “She’d rather catch a flight than chase a man who doesn’t value her.”

But there are other articles which try to suggest that a girl who travels is the best thing that can happen to a guy. Even though being with them is difficult. You have to be a guy who travels, but you have to do it to keep up with her. Because she will make your life worth living.

Why can’t we have articles celebrating independence of every gender.

Also, what makes The Girl Who Travels different from any other girl who likes to travel? They just maybe do it after saving up in their 9-5 job, and take holiday leave. Or they choose a nice hotel instead of a cheap and dodgy hostel. Sure, there are some girls out there who can travel nearly all year, and take jobs which allow this flexibility. But they are far and few.

Travelling is one of the best things a person can do. And you do it for yourself, and yourself alone. You do it to become more confident, wiser, to experience once in a lifetime opportunities, to understand the world outside of your own perspective, to stand on your own two feet. And the problem with creating ‘The Girl Who Travels’, is that it takes these qualities that travellers discover for themselves, and turns them into something for girls to impress guys.

Yes, if you travel you have experiences and qualities that will attract romantic partners, and flaunt them because they make you, you. But don’t project yourself as an ideal. Because real freedom is found in caring less about what other people think. Since my teens I have listened to music different from my friends, worn clothes that no one else does, had my own hobbies and interests. Why? Because I like these things, not because I’m trying to be a certain type of person. And when I travel it’s because I want to explore, and share moments with people I care about. My stories will be for my future children, if I have them. Not to impress some guy in a bar.

So, be a girl who travels. Be a guy who travels. Be someone who travels. Because it’s one of the best things you can do with your life, but do it on your own terms.

Advertisements

Tips on Saving Money

I like to think I’m pretty good at saving. During my undergrad I was putting money aside to travel to Brazil a few times, and I was still saving a decent amount annually. This has really helped for this year, now I’m only studying and not working, and living off family help rather than a student loan. (Touch wood) but I have avoided entering my overdraft 100%, so to me an overdraft is not a safety net to use freely, but one as a last resort.

Currently I am cutting back so I can comfortably afford a trip to Portugal in April, and a music festival in July (Y Not in Derbyshire!). Here are ways I am managing my limited funds so I can afford to fun things that will leave me with great memories.

Budget Spreadsheet

Using Excel to plan a monthly budget, figuring out each thing will cost (food, rent, entertainment etc) and sticking to it (!!) is a life saver when needing to know how much I can save a month.

Buy only clothes you REALLY want/need

This has been easier since living in Spain because when I buy clothes I have to be aware I have to pack them in a single suitcase to take back to the U.K, but even before I would resist buying on impulse, instead leaving it for a week or so and if I still wanted the item I’d buy it.

Learn to say no

It can be too tempting to say yes to every invite – even when you know you can’t afford it. People will understand if you don’t have the funds, and before committing yourself be honest that you need to work out your budget to see if you can afford it. If you say no to little things or things you’re not too enthusiastic about, that way you can afford the more fun things.

Cheap food

UK supermarkets are great for offering “basics”, which are cheaper versions of your everyday purchases, and are really no different from more expensive brands. It might even help to limit meat/fish purchasing when cooking at home – it’s cheaper and healthier. Learn to make delicious foods from scratch, rather than ready made meals. And cook in bulk to either freeze meals or enjoy throughout the week.

Enjoy time at home with friends

Instead of eating out, all share the ingredients cost to cook at home. Usually this is well received as who doesn’t like to save money whilst socialising. And friends won’t judge you for turning up in comfy clothes and zero make up.

Weirdest Food I’ve Tried

Chicken Hearts

A delicacy in Brazil, and popular at their barbecue restaurants. I won’t say I particularly enjoyed it – the texture wasn’t to my liking, but the smokey flavor it was given was pretty good.

Snail

Only a recent try, something I’ve avoided until a friend was eating them and offered them I was surprised by how delicious I found it – I dare say it was nicer than mussels, which I was expecting it to be similar to.

Absinthe Chocolate

Someone was sharing them on a college trip to Prague I made. Not my favourite addition to chocolate, after all it was absinthe, but fun to taste. However I think if I was liquor in my chocolate I’ll stick to the classics…

Homemade Chilli Vodka

My parents were having a party, and someone bought a bottle of the stuff from a pub they worked in. Urgh. I only had a sip (I was young and being watched by my parents…), but it burnt like nothing I have had before. The spiciest thing ever.

Croquet Madame

Not a weird food, after all it is cheese on toast, but when I visited Paris with a friend we chose this and Croquet Monsieur because it was cheap and sounded French. The fact that the Croquet Madame gets its name for the egg on top still makes me laugh to this day.

Women’s March, Barcelona

Cities across the world hosted these marches today to show solidarity with Washington’s own march, now that Trump is president.

Barcelona had a great atmosphere, despite the drizzle.

Although some people may think it pointless to protest when Trump is legitimate, but to me and others democracy is not about voting once every few years and putting up with the outcome – it’s about constantly having a voice.

Trump is president, but that does not mean the world has to quietly accept his racism, his sexism, his homophobia and his climate change denial – just a few of his worrying faults.

We need to show that we will not accept the hatred he and others encourage. We choose love.

dsc_0154dsc_0155dsc_0156dsc_0160dsc_0164dsc_0168dsc_0171dsc_0177dsc_0178dsc_0179dsc_0183dsc_0190dsc_0192dsc_0193

A Personal 2016 in Review

DSC_0423

Let’s not talk about 2016 in the general sense. I think most agree that 2016 was a disaster of a year in terms of politics and celebrity deaths (and lets not forget the horrors of Syria and refugees that are not close to being resolved).

I’m going to talk about my own 2016. Specifically the big events that defined my year,and what I’m grateful for happening.

Starting at IBEI

As it wasn’t for definite for me and my silly health until a couple of weeks before I flew out to Barcelona, being able to go and not have to do a pointless gap year meant everything to me – and I am so grateful to my doctors and family for being understanding, and for my immune system for now behaving. It’s been so interesting starting the course, Barcelona is an amazing city, and I’m having (too much?) fun.

Getting Diagnosed

Not great being diagnosed with lupus, but as it had taken a year and a half of near constant pain, fatigue, increasing breathing difficulties and slowly but surely feeling worse and worse – all this immediately improved after diagnosis and the right medication. I could finally understand why I felt like constant crap, and could explain to others that there was definitely something wrong with me and it wasn’t because of a lack of eating properly. The only way was up after this.

Friends

The ones I made have been amazing support systems, and I am so grateful to have them in my life. I hope they remain permanent friends, and there will be many more occasions of laughter, travel, and wine. The ones I’ve had it’s been great to reconnect and remember old times, and make new memories with.

Travelling around Spain

I knew so little of Spain before I moved to Burgos, but I took advantage of my free time and decent income to really experience all the different kinds of places Spain has to offer. There is so much more to see, and revisit, but this year was a great year for falling in love with the country.

Seeing Family

When you’re a teenager or still angsty adult you may not appreciate your family and what they do for you much, so one of the best things about growing up is realising your family (for most people) are the best people around (despite their flaws), and that when you’re not home all the time you want to seize as much time with them and cherish the time whilst you still can.

Seeing Maisie

Maisie is my older dog, a gentle natured 14 year old mongrel. She nearly had to be put down just before Christmas, but pulled through and has been her usual cheerful self over the holidays. We’ve had her since she was 8 months old so I was heartbroken to think she might pass away (even though she is old), so I was grateful to be able to see her at least one more time, maybe she’ll live a while longer yet.

 

And here’s hoping 2017 in general will be an improvement – but what will I be looking forward to?

Graduating

And properly stepping out into the big wide world and finding a career – help! Although that is a scary thought, and I love being a student again, earning my degree in a subject I was very new to will be an achievement to show off about.

Travel?

Health issues meant I had to forget my travel plans to new countries for last summer, plans I was super excited about. So maybe now my health is as good as I can hope for I can remake at least some of those plans, and get feeding my travel bug again! (Hopefully I won’t be too poor…)

Non Moon Face

I need to get over the steroid induced poofy face of mine, but I can’t deny it has knocked my confidence A LOT, (yah I’m vain), so I cannot wait until I can recognise my old, true, face in photos an the mirror again.

 

Feliz Año Nuevo!!

Little Things I Miss About Britain…

I love living in Spain, I love the culture, the lifestyle, and that I feel like it’s made me a warmer person (ish…)

But I also am very stereotypically British, and no matter how amazing our adopted country is, there are always some little things that can make you homesick…

I wrote a similar post about a year ago, funny to see what has changed (and what hasn’t)

The smell of the rain

A bit random, I don’t even like the rain that much, but when it’s over and the smell is left lingering on flowers and leaves, to me it gives such a great smell of Britain and it’s oddly comforting. When it’s been raining in Spain it always makes me feel a little nostalgic (for my home country that I visit plenty), but the smell is never as prominent than when in Britain.

Kettles

WHY ARE KETTLES NOT A WORLDWIDE THING?! WHY DO PEOPLE MICROWAVE – I REPEAT, MICROWAVE – THEIR WATER TO MAKE A BREW?! I know Brits in general, and me in particular, have an obsession with all things tea related, but it really is a convenient kitchen appliance. I hate having to boil water on the hob and often spill down myself whenever I want a cuppa.

Great Queuing

Again, Brits are obsessed with this but we know how to form an orderly queue, and it’s great. In Spain I have to accept people cutting in front of me, or no queue at all just chaos, or sometimes people are in a queue at a cafe, only they’re not really they’re just standing there. Weird. And maybe it frustrates me a little too much (but then again I suffer from bad pedestrian rage)

Ability to Order Tea in Cafes

Tea again, because why be unique when you can be a stereotype. But it’s near impossible to order a simple cup of English Breakfast. I have to ask for “te negro con leche al lado” – black tea with milk on the side. Because if you ask for it with milk only, you can end up with the milk poured already into the cup, or the tea bag infused into the milk. Whyyyy. So now I drink a lot more coffee…

Short Days

As a student most of my days aren’t long, but some days I don’t finish classes until 8pm (and this might change to 9pm next semester!) Which seems crazy coming from the U.K. but is the normal working hours in Spain. I swear they all run on zero energy…and coffee. It’s not much fun walking home late in the dark, even though it is safe, and although it means my days are productive it leaves me too tired to cook anything fancy for dinner, and all I want is Netflix.

Other than this, (and my family, friends, and dogs back home), I adore Spain, Barcelona, and the lifestyle I’ve become accustomed to!

You’re not a Jane Austen character, you can be happy single

I like to think that I’m not overly cynical about relationships, they’re worth it when they’re good. It warms my heart seeing my friends in love and happy. But when some people like to hop from one to another, to me that seems to take away the meaningfulness of each relationship. Those people seem to be scared of being alone, and have a need to define themselves in a relationship. Personally, I think when you’re single you should take full advantage of it and use the time to explore yourself and better yourself, so that your value is determined by yourself and not by others. Which in the age of social media when we can’t escape from people we barely know glamourising their lives, this is important.

Which is why I love this article, it says everything perfectly. The fact that people my age are settled/about to settle terrifies me. Not because I’m wondering if I should be in that position, but because I’m scared for them. Have they really explored life? How do they know this is what they want, or are they just desperately trying to establish a home life before they’ve barely moved out of the family home because adulthood is scary? Yet I also know this is SO patronising of me – some people find their life partner young, and kudos to them for making it work. They’re happy, and happiness is more important than whether you’re settled or single. But I know that I personally don’t want to settle before I’m 30. I want to spend this time living without roots, in random cities, not having a 5 year plan unless it’s to further my own career.

What I’m scared of is not being alone, but looking back with regrets. For not taking chances, or opportunities because there was someone who meant something at the time who I wanted to shape my life around, when I should only be shaping my life around me. Because if that person were to disappear from my life, too much of my life would disappear. I hate the idea of having the identity of being someone’s girlfriend, and not for being me. I’ve always prided myself on being independent, because that is what makes you strong. Able to take on anything by yourself, and achieve anything by yourself.

If I wasn’t single now, I probably wouldn’t be studying for my masters degree in Barcelona. And I am so bloody happy that I am (obviously) – even though this year and the past year and probably next year I’m not living somewhere permanent which makes a relationship even more off putting. That can sound lonely, but when I’m meeting people and making friends from all over the world, with all sorts of background stories, life never gets lonely or boring.

Life is about making mistakes – and yes, people and relationships are included in that. We cannot grow as people without learning from past mistakes, or stupid decisions, or things just not being right for us. I know what I want and don’t want from guys, and I will only learn more of this as I go through life and have a few bumps in the road.

I hate Sex and the City, but one quote: “Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.” has a good point. Whenever I’ve gone through difficult times, it’s friends who have been there for me. Take the whole bloody lupus situation: friends supported me when I was suffering and undiagnosed, and they were there for me when I was diagnosed with cards and presents and shoulders to cry on. And guys? I’ve had guys either get annoyed with me when I was crying and unable to move for the pain, or just kinda disappear when I was ill, only to pop up later when they thought I was healthy again. And when you have something like lupus, you can’t be wasting time on a guy who’s going to disappear when your health takes a turn for the worse. You need to know the guy will be there during a flare up. And that is why independence is even more important to me than ever. If I can’t rely on having a significant other to take care of me when I’m having a flare up, I need to know I can take care of myself. When your body is your own worst enemy, you have to be your own best friend. I love reading and hearing about other lupies who have a significant other to take care of them, take this story from Despite Lupus for example. To me it’s beautiful and a definite #relationshipgoals example. Maybe one day I’ll meet a guy who’ll be my best friend first and my (sexy) nurse second, but until then it’s just me, myself and I. And luckily I know how to take care of myself. Except when spiders are involved, but that’s a whole other problem.

I’m not trying to undermine relationships, or say everyone is better off single. Definitely not. But I see too many moans and complaints about being single, especially around Christmas time (please, it means less presents to buy!) Singlehood can be the time a person really makes the best version of themselves – all these rom-coms where the guy or girl is made a better person for meeting their other half: no thank you. Learn to do that by yourself, so when you do meet someone they will be unable to resist your fascinating self. And if they turn out to be a tool, well, you know you’re too awesome to let that hurt you too much.

Chick Flicks Worth Watching

I saw the new Ghostbusters film the other day. It’s attracted a fair bit of attention, not just because it’s a beloved franchise reboot, but also because (omigod) the main cast are all women. Which has led to some people saying it ruins the beloved franchise.

Yeah yeah, women playing traditionally male roles should never happen. Sure. Because being a ghostbuster requires male genitalia. It’s included in the job restriction, in case you didn’t know.They have to shoot the lazer stuff at the ghosts out of their junk.

The film is good, and the cast were better. The strongest parts of the film were the interaction and charisma between the leading actors, the ghost busting was fun action but not the highlight. What was great was seeing four very different women each completely own their lines and screen time. And sure, maybe casting Chris Hemsworth as the helpless, hapless eye candy usually reserved for females isn’t the most progressive of ideas, but it certainly makes a hell of a good point. If people have a problem with perfectly good male actors only offered eye candy roles, they should have a problem when it happens to female actors. Which is all the time.

So if you want a laugh, and to be entertained, it’s a good film to see. And I doubt the young generation have any problems with their ghostbusters having boobs.

So perhaps action films are finally heading in the right direction. But what about chick flicks? These films are eaten up by half of the worlds population, but most of them have such a sad, basic story line. That usually ends in all the problems going away when the girl gets the guy. Often by changing herself, or perhaps succeeding in changing him for the better. So what are the chick flicks that are actually, possibly also feminist?

Bridesmaids

Let’s start with the one that stars the ghostbusting Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy also. Whilst the film is focused on an upcoming wedding, it ain’t about the bride and grooms relationship, but instead about the friendships between the bridal party. I’m pretty sure the groom only has one line: “I do”. This is a top choice to watch with friends when you want to howl with laughter. This isn’t women being funny in a cute way, this is women being funny full stop. With alcohol, puke, poo, fights and passive aggression. Hello to being a woman.

Legally Blonde

I never thought this film would be my cup of tea, but then I actually watched it. It’s definitely a film for when you don’t want to think, but what’s great about it is that it takes the stereotypical blonde barbie type, and makes her smart. Harvard Law School smart. A girl can like being girly, but she can also be top of her class. And what better lesson to teach young girls that when a guy is an arse to them: get upset, but also work hard and own life.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

With this film we have a relatable woman. Not someone who magically has an amazing career/life, but one who works, smokes, drinks, sometimes has food in the house, has an overbearing mother, inadvisable crushes, and discuses everything with her friends and everyone has advice but no one really knows what they’re on about. And occasionally does stupid things and embarrasses herself. We’re all human, and Bridget Jones is wonderfully human.

Mean Girls

Typical teen, high school movie involving queen bee and nice girl fighting over popularity/a guy. But it’s actually a good film, where both learn their lesson and realise there are more important things than having everyone kiss your arse but bitch behind your back. Teenage girls should always watch this film to realise there are better things to do than be mean to each other.

So those are my top picks for a chilled night in! Of course there are plenty of other films with ace female characters to gorge on, but these are typically chick flick, but with a healthy twist of common sense.

You’ve Just Graduated – Now What?

About a year ago I donned the graduation gown and cap, and did what every graduate fears: walking across the stage to graduate without falling over in front of your friends, family and professors. Then to step out into the wide, wide world and take on adult, working life. It was terrifying, mainly because I didn’t have a fully formed plan that ensured a secure future and would make my parents worry less about me.

It is an expectation that many graduates force too harshly on themselves – to finish your years at university with a full time job waiting for you. Preferably a graduate job with an envious starting salary, promises of promotion and an exciting career to jump straight into. Those who achieve this are incredibly lucky and well deserving – people work hard to secure these opportunities that in today’s incredibly competitive job market it can feel like nothing short of a miracle. But what if you don’t have this waiting for you? What if, like me, you hoped university would inspire you to discover your dream career, only to realise at the end that you have only a vague idea what your dream career is?

If this is you and you’re about to graduate, then the wide, wide world might be feeling far too overwhelming and you wish you could continue hiding in libraries and procrastinating with Netflix forever. That’s the dream surely. Maybe you’re considering postgraduate studies, but it’s an expensive investment for the half-hearted. Maybe you just want a simple job to pay the bills for a while, because your brain is still feeling melted from years of essays, exams, and deadlines. Or maybe you just want to pack a bag and go anywhere your passport will take you.

Whatever plans or fantasies you have swimming about in your head, I just want to assure you that no matter what: it’s all okay. This is regardless of whether you’re about to leap into a career, take up a job, or spend the summer/year figuring out what your next steps are. It’s important to remember that life is just a series of steps and adventures. You don’t need a five year plan, and you don’t need your entire future decided when you’re barely into your twenties. You may even be surprised that most people are feeling just as overwhelmed as you are. Sure, it’ll be great to be on the career ladder so early in life – but if committing to a career isn’t what you want right now, or if it’s a career you’re not sure you’re passionate about, would it be worth it? It may be more fulfilling for you to try out a few things before you commit, or to just spend some time having fun or taking it easy. You’ve just graduated, you’re young, and instead of being scared if you don’t know what you want to do: be excited that it means you can do pretty much anything, and can take you anywhere.

The Real World: Not for Uni Students Apparently

Since the Brexit referendum there have been many debates and topics fueling fall outs in British households and across social media. It’s gotten touchy and sensitive, and people have been judged harshly on whether they’re ‘remain’ or ‘leave’.

One of the topics I have noticed popping up more frequently since this Brexit debacle is the attitude shown towards British university students, and their political opinions. I can’t speak on behalf of all British university students, but from talking to my friends and seeing the posts on Facebook and Twitter, the majority of those I know seem to have supported remain. So unsurprisingly, a lot of us have found ourselves debating with leave voters. Sometimes healthy debates, with people sharing their well researched knowledge and keeping things civilised. Other times the debates have been…not so civilised. Insults, condescension, a heavy use of caps lock. But a prominent attitude I found myself and others facing was that university students (or those just graduated) who voted remain were silly and naive and know nothing about the real world.

Once when in a debate with someone I know very well he used the line on me “When you’ve lived in the real world – you’ll see!”.

I’ve never realised that I have been living in Narnia all my life.

I had to drop that debate before things turned nasty. Also because I was so insulted I was speechless. I do find it utterly insane that people don’t see going to university as living in “the real world”. In Britain, the majority of university students move out of their parents’ houses whilst studying – they live with friends and organise paying rent and utility bills, plus all the fun responsibilities of dealing with landlords and shitty accommodation. Many juggle a part time job and even do volunteer work along with the heavy demand of studies. We often take the opportunity to travel and see the world, rather than just a two week stay in a resort. Our studies make us more analytical, logical, and free thinking. I have seen university mature many of my friends and myself. And what’s more – university students are often the most politically engaged. It’s kind of a cliche of students always being on marches, handing out leaflets and stuff (I won’t deny I did all that!), but being politically engaged is hardly a bad thing when something as important as the EU referendum was all over the news.

And me personally? I studied politics before university, and since then I have always kept involved with politics both actively and simply by paying attention to the news. I’m about to start a masters degree in International Relations (which is a fancy way of saying politics), and I have lived independently both in London (no easy feat), and abroad in Europe. I’m involved with NGOs and I’m one of those people constantly writing to my MP and others about issues. I have travelled across Europe and the Americas, and in my spare time I read and write, and I study Spanish, photography and human rights for fun. Yet I still haven’t lived in the real world.

Yet we are all still seen as naive and not in the real world. Made to feel our opinions don’t count because we are still too young, so what do we know. Despite the fact that it is our generation’s future that has received the biggest blow from this referendum, and it is us who will feel the impact the most and for the longest. The university educated tend to have a more international outlook of the world, so of course we are concerned about the EU referendum and what the result will mean.

It’s frustrating having to put up with way too much condensation and patronising remarks, and I won’t lie they often came from people who are self contradictory and maybe not always the most knowledgeable in debates. The irony hurts.

I’ll always encourage those around me to keep politically engaged, even if you’re made to feel like your opinion is worthless by those who disagree with you. Never be afraid to ask others for their opinions or knowledge – I’m often asked by others about things but I never shy away from quizzing my friends who know more than I do. A lack of knowledge about a topic is no reason to be embarrassed – it’s an excuse to learn. Ignorance is one of the worst enemies – it’s what fuels hate crimes across the world and makes people so angry, insulting and even threatening on social media.

We are all living in the same goddamn world, and it’s as real and as scary and as unpredictable as anything. And the beauty of being able to live in a country that protects freedom of speech means that everyone is entitled to their opinion – whether they’re a working class, middle aged person, a silver spoon in mouth politician, or a young student who maybe a little too into Marxism.