Archive | October 2013


INTRODUCTION – I realised how much I have changed since beginning of University and how before I used to be sports obsessed and took over my life, but now I have completely different interests such as travelling and TV shows. This is a post I wrote on Sunday 20th October reflecting on this and explaining this blog – Link 

I also like diaries as they are great to look back on in the future, also it is a good format to share my experiences with family and friends who are interested. This is, however, just as much for me to look back on in the future as it is for anyone to read. I try to put it in subsections with as many photos as I can, with links to my Photobucket for more photos from that sections. There are various different sections:

[I know this is not entirely up to date at the moment, but I will work on it]


Living in Lisbon

A Catch Up – My first 4 weeks living in Portugal [Link]



Italy (Saturday 4th to Monday 13th may 2013) – Link


England-Portugal Exchange (Friday 17th August to Friday 7th September 2012) – Link

Includes: 10 days in England visiting London, Southampton, Portsmouth, Winchester, Bedford and Cambridge. Plus 12 days in Lisbon visiting attractions and areas in and around Lisbon such as; the Cathedral, Castle, the National Pantheon, going on the tram, the National Park, Sexial, Belem, Sintra, the beach, etc.

Stockholm (Wednesday 30th May to Thursday 7th May 2012) – Link

Includes: 10 days visiting places in Stockholm and around, like the theme park, the zoo, Ikea, a ‘cruise to no where’, The Natural History Museum, etc.

TV Shows

Review link Including ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ (auditions and live shows), ‘The X Factor’ (auditions), ‘Lemonaid’, ‘Celebrity Juice’.

Other random days out:

‘Weymouth & Portland’ (a Father Daughter Day out in Dorset)’ [Saturday 26th May 2012] – The idea was to go looking for the Otters as we had yet to see then. We didn’t see them in the end, but we had a nice day in Dorset. link

A Catch Up – My first 4 weeks living in Portugal

Summary – I thought that to save a lot of the questions I get asked I would use this blog how I intended to use it. Thus, this is for family and friends to catch up with everything I have been up to since being here in the last month. As always I put in a few subheading. And let me introduce to you my summary of the last 4 weeks…

A Normal Week –

Monday to Friday I teach in the afternoon and evening. This is strange because I am used to what most people are; of getting up early in the morning, working, but having the evening to myself. However, here I have the morning I have to myself (most of which I plan). It also means that I don’t really get an evening, as I get home sometime between 10 and 11;30pm [Sorry my colon isn’t working].

Even within this I have varying days, as I teach at 2 different schools; I basically alternate between them. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I work at a school in a place called Miraflores. The school opens at 3 and I teach from 4;30 until 9. On Mondays and Wednesdays I am in a place called Portela, the school opens at 2pm and I teach from 4;10 until 9;30. While on Fridays I am in Portella again and I teach only from 4;10 to 6, so I don’t bother getting to the school until 3 or so.

During the weekends, I occasionally travel around, but I often it is in the local area and of course I have chores to do. I meet up with friends and on nice days I like to sit on the balcony in the sun.

My Normal Working Day –

I usually get up about 10am(ish), I have a big breakfast (as I don’t often eat until very late after that). I plan my lessons for the day. I usually leave my flat about 1pm for the school. I have to get either a bus for Miraflores or the metro to Portella. These are both from Marques de Pombal.

When I get to school I often do so some food shopping on the way, and often I stop at a little cafe for coffee and cake or sit in a park nearby until the school opens. I then set up for my lessons. This includes organising registers, starting whiteboards, find the worksheets, etc.

When I finish teaching I walk home and basically head to bed. As I have only been able to snack between lessons, have a big breakfast and thus a small lunch, by 10/11pm I am starving so eat a lot when I get back. Also, as I am very tired I just put a DVD on and go to bed.


[The pretty little park next to my school in Portela]


[The same park, the route I take to get to the school]


[The park by the school in Miraflores which I often sit in when I get there too early]

School –

The schools are different to the schools I am used to. First of all they are tiny. There basically are 3 to 4 classrooms, which have a big table with 12 chairs around and a whiteboard (with TV above) that is all. There is a small staff room and a reception desk and that is all.

mapa de mora e escolas

[The red shows where the schools are (the blue is where I live)]


[The school in Portela is believe it or not on the 5th floor of that tower block, to the very left] 

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[My school in Miraflores]

2013-10-24 15.06.43

[Sorting my registers and worksheets before my lessons in Miraflores]


There are 9 English teachers at the school… well actually 8. 1 decided that teaching wasn’t for him and dropped out within 2 weeks. Although there are this number of teachers I only actually see 2 out of 8 of them each week. I see Kerion and Pete in Portela Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. At Miraflores I should see Andy, but as he has left I see Nick the director who is now covering his lessons. This is because only 2 to 4 teachers are at each school each day.


[Me and fellow teacher Kara on the No 28 tram a few days after arriving in the country] 

Classes & Students

My classes are all very small compared to what I am used to. I have class sizes from 2 to 12, the ages are varying from 10 years old up to adult. In fact my oldest adult is 76 years old (as she likes to keep reminding me). At first it was strange teaching classes of only 2 students but now it is nice and you really get to know your students. My largest class is my FCE-A class which is not my favourite. The students themselves are OK but their work is so boring and confusing.


[After teaching this lesson a million times, I was very impressed by my board work lol]


The weather here is just starting to change. We had rain all last week, and in the last 2 weeks the temperature has dropped from 25-32 degrees to 17-25 degrees. However even when it rains it is quite refreshing because the temperature is higher than it is in the UK.

The idea of ‘cold’ is very different to our idea of ‘cold’. My students find it very strange when I wear a dress or skirt when it is 20-25 degrees, as to them that is cold! I also found that it a very British thing to talk about the weather. I find myself always using the weather as my example for any grammar. In fact there even mentioned it and now I am making a conscious effort to use anything but the weather!


[The weather forecast on my phone a few weeks ago]


[A view across the city with the normal weather for here]


[The view from my balcony one day]


I still love my flat. I live off Avenida de Libertade, and which is close to an area called Anjos.  When I was looking I narrowed it down to 2. In the end I chose this one which is the more expensive one. I have a nice big double bedroom. There is a nice big living/dining room and kitchen. As well as being joined at the main corridor, the kitchen and living room are joined by a balcony. It is quite a big balcony, which looks over part of the city near Avenida de Libertade.

I live with a Portuguese guy called Luis and an Italian girl called Ilaria. He works in Production at most of the festivals in the city and she is a student studying here until the end of January.  They are both very nice and the flat has a nice atmosphere to it. All my bills are included in my rent, which I am glad of. Also, there is a dishwasher and tumble dryer which have both proved to be very useful.


[The view from my balcony. Where the traffic lights are is where Avenida de Libertade is] 


[The steps by my flat – explaining why Lisbon is known as the city of 7 hills]


My main friends here are within the teachers. Often when we meet up they bring flat mates and other friends which is nice too. I have become good friends with a fellow teacher, Lauren. She doesn’t work at the same school, in fact we met through the teacher who left. They did their CELTA together and we realised how much we had in common and often meet up. We are incredibly similar and when we go out somewhere we have the same taste which makes it easy.


[Me and Lauren in the Pastelaria next door to my flat] 

Travelling Around

Despite being here for a month I haven’t travelled too far afield. However, at the same time, I have been seeing a lot within the city and near me. These places are more a) the local’s places and b) the backstreets. I have been shopping a few times at Colombo (a massive shopping centre in Lisbon) and went to Oriente a few weeks back with my friend Sandra.


[Walking up Avenida de Libertade. I walk I often do and love doing]


[In the shopping centre, Colombo]


[Praca do Rossio at night]


[Walking back from Bairro Alto at night]


[Praca do Comercio]


I would say my Portuguese is very slowly improving. I have been meaning to get Portuguese lessons but have put it off until now and I am finding it fairly difficult as many are evening classes which is when I am teaching. Although, I am understanding more and finding it easier to get around than before. It did help that the school provided 5 Portuguese lessons during our induction week, which have come in use.


[Part of the message at the metro about the strike, and although in Portuguese I understood it]


Although it took a long process and a lot of queuing I now have a travel card. This means I get all trams, trains, metros and buses within Lisbon L0 & L1 for free. Transport in the city is much like London is great and so reliable… apart from the occasional metro strikes which we have had in the last few weeks.


[Waiting for the bus at the bus stop at Marques de Pombal on a rather wet day]


This city is so cheap to what I am used to. I set a budget of €60 as that means after travel, rent, etc I still have plenty of money left over from the month. So far, even though I go out to cafes several times a week, eat out occasionally at weekends, go out with the teachers on Saturday nights and do lots of food shopping I never hit that budget. Things here are a lot cheaper to the UK! For example, in the cafes (away from the touristy areas) you can easily get a coffee and massive cafe for less than €1.20 (approx £1). Similarly bars even in the touristy area drinks never cost more than €3 each, in fact most are more like €2 each.


[My coffee and traditional Pastela Nata which I got in a cafe near my school for €1.20; i.e. less than £1. This was the smallest cake you could get too. The next time I went we bought massive pastries for the same price]

This entry was posted on October 26, 2013. 2 Comments

The Story behind ‘The New Me’ – 23 ways I have changed in the last 2 years, 3 months

This post (and accompanying video) may seem strange, but it is something I have been thinking about for a while now since I arrived here in Portugal. In the last few weeks, every time I go to work, or just do something mundane like shopping I realise where I am, and can’t believe it.

Anyway this made me think about the me from only 3 years ago: I was starting my 3rd year of Uni. I had everything planned and I knew what I wanted to do. I was going to graduate, I would be a PE teacher (which is what I had always wanted to do) and that was it. However, now, even the thought of doing that and doing the same thing day in and out, just bores me thinking about it!

At that point I had only just joined Twitter and had no idea how it would change my life. It sounds sad, but it in many ways it has changed everything. In July 2011 I dropped QTS and partly this was down to Twitter. I don’t wish to bore anyone with explaining the very long story related to this, but it was a difficult decision and I remembered Michelle (my ‘Link Tutor’ at Uni) saying that may seem like the worse decision you have ever made now but trust me in a years time you will look back and say it was the best decision you have ever made in your life… and you know what in July 2012 I re-read that email and she was completely right!

In the 2 years and 3 months after that point up to now everything changed, and for the best. I had a few months off Uni to think about what I wanted to now as I had no back up plan I always knew what I had wanted to do. I met a few people from Twitter for the first time, something which would continue throughout the rest of the time. I did a weekend TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate decided this was my vocation. When back at Uni, I didn’t want to be there at all! I used TV show audiences (for ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, ‘Celebrity juice’, etc) as a perfect escape, as well as the whole celebrity and trivial world on Twitter. When I graduated I started working for Bell, I travelled, did my CELTA (the qualification needed to teach English) met more amazing people both at work and from Twitter, before returning to Bell for 9 more months and then moved to Portugal!

Anyway… this therefore this also explains the point of this blog. As I changed completely at Uni; I really am ‘a new Carly’ since leaving Uni. I know most people change during their time at Uni, but I would say I have done so more than most. I always say that before Uni it was like I was living in a little bubble of sport, and then Twitter (plus everything from dropping QTS) popped that bubble and I realised there was a world outside and I wouldn’t change anything! The last 2 years and 3 months have been the best ever.

From this I decided to compile a list of 23 ways that I have changed compared to the beginning of Uni due to dropping QTS and Twitter. And also why I am so grateful for everything which has happened:

1 – I love travelling, my poor passport is completely over used. In the last 2 years 3 months I have been abroad 7 times: France, Greece, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, Holland and Portugal again (this time to live there for 9 months). Oh… and don’t understand people who say things like “I don’t think I will leave the hotel”! :0

2013-08-19 19.40.43

2 – I wouldn’t be living in Portugal now, if it wasn’t for dropping QTS and changing everything. Instead I would be a PE teacher in the UK, doing the same thing day in, day out! Boring!
2012-09-07 07.19.04

3 – As I would probably be a PE teacher, I wouldn’t have taught English, therefore wouldn’t have worked for Bell International and met all the great students and staff (…oh and Group Leaders; don’t worry Fernanda I didn’t forget you).
staff couch week 3 close up

4 – I would have never have visited Paris if it wasn’t for Twitter. Lorrie and I went there as I used the money that I won from a bet that Paula would be on The X Factor USA.

5 – My geography and world history has definitely improved thanks to people at Bell and on Twitter. I now know about countries which I never knew even existed before. I also know traditions and cultures that most people are unaware of.
2012-08-30 10.24.53
[A history and geography lesson from Laura]

6 – My knowledge of London wouldn’t be too good, as I wouldn’t have met Val who has to keep helping me and wouldn’t have showed other people and Bell students around.

7 – I am now fluent in American. I call it that as really does seem an entirely different language to me! I have found over 550 difference between British and American English. Most I don’t think many people are aware of.
Me and the England Flag
[Sorry proud to speak British English]

8 – I feel like I have a massive world family. Not just the people I meet from Twitter, but whenever I visit people I feel like I get adopted into the family while I am there.

[Bernou and her sister Fardau, who I spent a lot of time with while in Holland in August]

9 – I wouldn’t have met as many celebrities as I have now; including Simon (twice), Louis Walsh, Alaxandra Burke, Fearne Cotton, Dermot O’Leary (twice), Amanda Holden, Ant & Dec (3 times), Alesha Dixon (5 times), David Walliams (4 times), etc. [There are a lot more, but I could be here all day!]
Will never forget!

10 – I wouldn’t know how Talent Shows worked. And probably would have been at some point, been near the back, stood in a queue for 3 hours, didn’t meet any celebs and wouldn’t see myself on TV.

11 – Also I wouldn’t have been at any of the live shows of The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, thus I wouldn’t know how great the shows are live in the front row! lol
Best seats ever!

12 – If I wasn’t on Twitter I wouldn’t get all those sweet tweets and DMs from Paula :D 

13 – Also I wouldn’t have quite as many private jokes that I share with other people on Twitter, who are fans of the same things as me.
Great impression blueberries

14 – I only knew who Julia (i.e. Simon’s make up artist) was through people on Twitter, and how I got ‘The Book’ signed (which was later vandalised by Louis Walsh who drew devil horns on Simon’s head!)
Simon signed my book IMG_0560
[Yes, he got the name wrong, apparently Julia’s not the best at lip reading, lol]

15 – I most likely wouldn’t have had Twitter, let alone all the followers I have and wouldn’t also have over 1000 friends on Facebook, oh and my most watched video has almost 14,000 views on YouTube.
[Made by Jaime on Twitter]

16 – My friends wouldn’t think I am as crazy as they do now… I am not I promise!

17 – Now I feel no matter where in the world I go I always have a friend somewhere near. It really is a worldwide family.
[Where the people are from who have visited my other blog which is for people on Twitter]

18 – I think I should start a stamp collection. I get so much great post (‘mail’ in American English) all the time, with the most sweet letters, cards and gifts!
#Pamily Postcard
[A postcard which Nona sent me last year lol]

19 – I probably would have more money as I spend so much on postage and flights, lol.
[The majority of the Christmas Cards I sent to people from Twitter last Christmas]

20 – No matter what happens, I gain so much support from everyone. It wasn’t for Val I think that I would have never got through…well a lot of things.

21 – I now realise how much fiction is in the media. In fact I presented a whole presentation for University about this, and got a B+, lol
[Actually from the presentation, and yes I really did highlight it all in colour coded colours]

22 – There are so many skills I seemed to have gained, from video editing and excel documents to steering motor boats and finding my way around London, lol.

[Sorry another private joke]

23 – Most importantly if it wasn’t for Twitter and Bell, I would have never had the opportunity to speak to so many amazing people from all around the world who I now regard as good friends!
me, kate & jane

This is a video I made to share some of my favourite memories from throughout this period of time. I chose 2 songs which I think summed everything so well. And thank you everybody in it for some such amazing memories. I love you all!

[To my knowledge there is only one important person who I missed out. I am sure they can see why!]

This entry was posted on October 20, 2013. 1 Comment