Category Archives: Tourism, Catering and Domestic Services

Hospitality Management, Management of Service Business

Slinging cocktails in London

I came to London for two reasons, I wanted to work in a cocktail bar in the city which has the best bars in the world and secondly I wanted to visit those bars and see why they are the best.

Nine to five

I started work at the end of May in Bethnal Green, area in East London. The bar is called London Cocktail Club and it has eight venues all over the city. The venue I work in is the only one above ground and it has a terrace, which means I don’t have to rot the whole summer in a cellar bar without seeing the sun. We were also the only bar without air con, which meant lot of sweating during busy days. Luckily the those times are over, because now we have a cool breeze coming from the brand new air con -machine.

LCC Bethnal Green, my workplace

This year this company was nominated in top 10 of Tales of the cocktail’s  Spirited Awards “best international high volume cocktail bar”-list.(https://talesofthecocktail.com/news/tales-cocktail-announces-top-10-nominees-2017-spirited-awards ). Which should look good on my CV.

For the customers the bar is kind kind of a party place, like the company’s motto says: “… a bartenders paradise! A bar that parties like the best of them, and mixes the worlds greatest drinks to perfection. A place where you can dance on the tables whilst singing to AC/DC, sipping on the perfect dry Martini!” And it gets crazy during the weekends, customers are literally dancing on tables and everyone is having fun, including the staff.

But as we work there, we can’t just party all the time, we also work and train ourselves to be better. Lots of prepping and cleaning to do also, I’ve had to juice lemons, limes, grapefruits, make sugar syrup, pre-batch liquors, wash glasses by hand (we don’t have a dish washer) and break down stations after closing time. So basically just normal bar work, what I’ve used to do. But I have also learned a lot new things and skills during my time here.

For example I’ve had to learn a completely new way of pouring, free pouring, which means you can’t use a jigger and you have to count the amounts in your head while you make the drinks. That took a lot of practice and I still have to practice it daily, but I’ve become quite good at it now. I also had to memorize the whole menu and specs for the cocktails, which includes about 70 different drinks. That took me couple of weeks before I passed the spec test and pour test, so I could start bartending.

We also do training with the whole company on Thursdays, the subjects vary from different spirits to opening your own bar, so they have been very interesting and educational.

Bartenders weekend

At the beginning, when I had more spare time, I spent a lot of time seeing things and going to places. Because I live kind of in the middle of the city, it’s not too far to walk anywhere, so I like to do it a lot, which is weird according to my work mates, even though the buses and tube are very easy to use as well.

I’ve visited many museums, like Tate modern and British museum, which is five minute walk away from my flat. My goal is to see everything in the British Museum before I leave, don’t know if I have time to finish that though.  Another hobby of mine has been walking around looking for street art, especially Banksy’s.

Otherwise I have been kind of a bad tourist, because I have been here for almost three months and I still haven’t gone to see the Big Ben, and it took me almost two months before I even saw Thames.

Banksy street art
Andy Warhol in Tate Modern

My touristic sight seeing has been more of  going to the bars which I’ve read a lot online and heard so much about, like Dandelyan, the top-3 bar in the world, The Gibson, bar that serves the weirdest looking cocktails what I’ve seen, and my personal favourite: Happiness Forgets, a small cellar bar with very good atmosphere and minimalistic cocktails.

Cocktails in Dandelyan
Napue cocktail in Nightjar

I’ve also spent time with my work mates, we’ve been out couple of times together, seen movies and just hanged around, we even went to a festival in Victoria Park with everyone in the company.

On the other hand, I’ve spent a lot of my spare time at home watching Netflix and doing chores like laundry and washing dishes, because nowdays I work much more than in the beginning so it’s nice to relax and do nothing during the days off.

staff night out
Mighty Hoopla -festival
I had a chance to visit Imbibe Live, a exhibition for bar professionals
Differences to Finland

I see a lot of same in the working culture over here that we have in Finland. The British people like punctuality and precision like we do in Finland.  The wages are about the same in both countries.

The biggest differences what I see is the customer service, because it is more personal in here, it is the most important thing what you have to do, little bit of small talk, making guests feel comfortable etc. Here it’s been taken to an another level compared to Finland. And that is one of the thing what I came here to learn. Partly customer service is on that level here is probably because of the general culture, like the small talk, and partly because some of the restaurants and bars have a service charge added to the bill, which goes directly to the staff, and if you don’t serve guests well, they don’t want to pay it. But still there is the certain something that makes you feel comfortable when you walk in to a venue with good service.

Here the alcohol industry is very close to you when you work here, there’s lot of different events, competitions, exhibitions and lot of leg work by brand ambassadors coming to showcase their products to you. And that brings you closer to professionals and industry leaders, and gives you more possibilities to advance in your career.

Stoli Elit martini competition

But all in all bar industry is pretty much the same everywhere and there is similar working cultures around the world and at the same time two bars on the same street might have totally different ways of working and doing things compared to each other.

 

 

Szia from Budapest!

“My house in Budapest
My, my hidden treasure chest..” 

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If not earlier, at the latest George Ezra made you know this beautiful city by his great song. (Which doesn’t tell about Budapest at all, though.)

I had visited Budapest two times before my exchange so the city itself was familiar to me. From the very first trip to Budapest I fell in love with the city. How those majestic and glorious buildings meet the rugged and ruined houses and how Danube divides the city into two totally different parts. New bars and street-food restaurants are opening every week so you always have new cool places to visit. Eating and drinking out is really cheap comparing to Finland, too. It’s not difficult to fall in love with Budapest.

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I finished my studies in Budapest Business School in May. We had lectures in two different buildings, both located just few hundred meters from the famous Parliament building. I took courses that are very different to which are offered by TAMK. I studied intercultural communication and business communication, environmental management, cultural tourism, Hungarian language, Hungarian history & culture and Hungarian gastronomy.

I really enjoyed Hungarian language course. I have always been interested about languages and such an unique language like Hungarian was really fascinating to me. Finnish and Hungarian are both Finno-Ugric languages and you can find many similarities between them. Learning Hungarian was probably much more easier to Finnish-speakers than, for example, English- or German-speaking students.  I learned words and phrases that are useful in every-day life and also numbers and some vocabulary.

Comparing to studying in TAMK, teaching was much more theoretical. It sometimes felt similar to studying in high school; less interaction between teacher and students, lots of powerpoints and notes to write down and only 1,5 hour classes. As I am more practical person I usually prefer more interactive learning methods but I didn’t find it hard to manage the courses. In BBS you had more optional courses to choose and that way also more freedom to make your schedule personalized.

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During my stay in Budapest I have traveled a lot. City’s location in the middle of Europe has enabled me to travel budget-friendly to many countries. I visited Vienna and Bratislava during my winter holiday. In April I traveled to Prague to visit my friends and in May I had great trip by train to Belgrad, Serbia. In the beginning of June I returned from 10-days road trip which led me to Slovenia, northern Italy and to Austria.  I also visited my friend’s hometown Nyíregyháza in Hungary,  which was charming little city close to Ukrainian border. I think I have been such a privileged to experience all this during my exchange semester.

My favorite hobbies abroad, eating and drinking, were easy to put into practice here in Budapest. Although prices have risen in Hungary food is still very affordable in restaurants. I have eaten such a delicious food and have drank great Hungarian wines and beers with my Erasmus friends. Traditional Hungarian cuisine is very heavy and based on meat. Gulyás is one of the most famous dishes in Hungary. It is known as goulash in many other central-European countries. Here in Hungary it is more like soup when, for example, in Czech it is traditionally a meat stew. Lángos is “Hungarian pizza” and very famous among the tourists. It is round-shaped deep-fried pastry that is usually topped with tejföl (like sour-cream) and grated cheese. Not the healthiest choice but soooo yummy!

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I’ve also visited famous baths that are very popular here in Hungary. There are numerous natural warm spring waters under the city and several baths (fürdő in Hungarian) have been here in Budapest for centuries. Many locals believe that these thermal waters really keeps you healthy. Who knows, but I will definitely recommend to give a try!

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Five months in Hungary have been absolutely great! Weather has been lovely since April and life really laid-back after exam period. I could easily stay one more semester here but it also feels good to go back to Finland. I miss Finnish nature and quietness but life in lively metropolis has been pleasant too. After five months I feel that I have a second home here in Hungary and it will be great to return here one day.

καλημέρα, from Cyprus!

I spent my spring in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, studying Hospitality Management. I stayed at the halls of residence there on the spot, upstairs of the school. For me that worked perfectly, since I am not a morning person I could just wake up and be in class in one minute. I shared a room with one girl and I was lucky enough to have someone so great as a roommate. Others shared their rooms with two or three people, ours wasn’t that crowded. I enjoyed the dorm-life very much.

Studying in HHIC was sort of different from studying in TAMK. I had seven “subjects” in total, two lessons a week each and a final exam on each as well. So at the end it was quite hectic to try and memorize all that information from four months time. If I were more clever, I would’ve studied during the period, not only the last two weeks!

Nicosia in itself is quite boring. Luckily, Cyprus is a small island so I could easily travel around by cheap buses and it would take only max two hours to get to places. I visited Limassol many times with my roommate, it was nice of her to take me with her on weekends. Otherwise I would’ve had to stay in Nicosia all by myself since everyone left home for weekends and I was the only exchange student there. I also traveled to Larnaca and Paphos as my family, my boyfriend and my friends came to visit me. Those were the times when I got to see the proper Cyprus outside Nicosia.

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Paphos

 

Food was amazing, weather excellent, studies quite easy and doable, people were nice although they tended to speak only Greek if I didn’t remind them to use English. I would say 3,5/5.

 

Efharisto!

-Laura

Boa tarde from the sunny Lisbon!

I’m studying in Universidade Europeia, one of the few private universities in Lisbon. Studying here is a bit different from what I’m used to in TAMK. Here I have school a few hours every day with different subjects and professors, whereas in TAMK we have one or two subjects per period. I have classes in Marketing, Tourism and Hospitality.

In TAMK we also do more practical work, when the lessons here feel like the lessons I had in the high school, with teacher doing most of the speaking and trying to explain things. All my courses are in English and most people here speak English very well.

img_2749Portuguese people are really friendly and laidback, but also a bit impatient. You can see that every day if you’re walking in a city, when people cross the street whenever they can or when the drivers use the car horns much more than is needed.

The Erasmus activity in Lisbon is really good. There are at least three Erasmus organizations who all arrange parties, BBQ’s and trips to all over Portugal, and to Spain and Morocco too! I have been on these trips to Sintra, Braga, Guimarães, Gerês, Nazaré, Berlengas, Obidós and Torres Vedras (Carnival!).I wish we had so many trips for the Erasmus students in Tampere too.

By myself, I visited the Azores, which belong to Portugal. I still haven’t gone to Madeira, although my Madeiran roommates tell me it’s heaven on earth.

My most favourite thing here is to drink coffee or wine in a miradouro, a viewpoint where you have really nice views over the red roofs. There are many in Lisbon. The city really has a rough style of beauty, with lots of graffitis, street art, old houses and narrow tiled streets.img_2412 img_0922 img_2443

As the summer is here, the temperature can rise up and over +30C, which is insane to a white Finnish person like me. Luckily there are beaches, terraces and all kind of activity you can do outside. Also, many flowers and trees are blooming! Even the night is warm to me.img_2814 img_2781 img_2762

One memorable thing for me will be a volunteer trip my school arranged to Setúbal, which is south from Lisbon. We were in a beach, collecting the plastic waste from the beaches. I really love the ocean and the plastic pollution has always stressed me out, so it was nice to help, even a bit. Afterwards we could enjoy the beaches.img_2639 img_2656 img_2675

Lisbon and Portugal will surely have a place in my heart. As my friend said, Lisbon is a state of mind.

Com amor,

Noora

Where the craic is mighty!

Ireland, the land where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible!

They say that times fly when you’re having fun – Which is very true in my case. I was almost five months in Ireland having the most wonderful time in my life and can’t believe it’s over now!

Athlone and river Shannon
Athlone and river Shannon

I lived in a little town Athlone, in the midlands. School where I studied is Athlone Institute of Technology and I liked it very much. Lecturers were very friendly and there was a lot of exchange students from different countries. The courses I chose were about tourism and hotels, also including revenue management and professional/enterprise development and I liked those courses a lot. There was four other erasmus students in my class so it was nice to study also with Irish students.  I took a English for studying skills- course to support my studies and I think those classes were my favourite. The English lecturers were so friendly, always so positive and welcoming and it was nice to learn with so many different nationalities and have interesting conversations during the classes.

Department of Hospitality Tourism and Leisure studies
Department of Hospitality Tourism and Leisure studies
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

One thing I found challenging there. In Finland we do most of the assigments in teams, but here almost everything was individual. First it was hard, but by time it became easier and I found the best ways to study. We had to do different  reports, project, wordbook, essays and at least five different presentations and after submitting the last one, I felt so proud and relieved. Also the final examination weeks were hard trying to read as much as could and exam situations were different compared to Finland.

During the semester, I got so many new friends and spend amazing time with them. Many times when we had free time,  we spend time in a pub next to our apartment playing pool and enjoying Guinness or going to parties organized by International society or other erasmus students.  I think that always people who you meet wherever you go, makes your time there. That semester wouldn’t been the same without all those lovely people.

Cliffs of moher
Cliffs of moher

During that time, I saw a lot of beautiful Ireland. And I  really mean beautiful. Green scenery everywhere, numerous mountains and cliffs, fields with sheeps and the coastal roads with ocean views. Seriously breathtaking country which I fell in love. Definitely going back maybe after few years to experience the whole Wild Atlantic way and other cities I didn’t see.

Wicklow National
Wicklow National
Pub in Dublin
Pub in Dublin
Game of Thrones- tour in Belfast and role playing
Game of Thrones- tour in Belfast and role playing

I made trips when having free time. International society organized few trips to erasmus students to Cliffs of Moher and Wicklow national park. Also in St. Patrick’s day, there was three buses full of exchange students going to Dublin to celebrate. With friends I made trips to Dublin, Galway and to Belfast and all those cities were so nice. Including to our courses, we made fieldtrips to Dublin, Westport and Clonmacnoise visiting different attractions and learning about tourism.  Everywhere was a lot of activities and attractions for tourists and sometimes it was difficult to choose what to do and see.

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day
Ballintoy Harbour
Ballintoy Harbour

To people who are thinking about going to Ireland, I can only suggest that lovely country! Not only because the scenery, but also because the Irish people, culture and way of living!

City with soul

Hello and greetings from Seoul, South Korea!

For now I’ve been studying in Kyung Hee University for one month. My school is ranked as 15th best university, from 191 universities in South Korea. My major is hospitality management, and courses I study are “principle of cooking”, “basics of Korean language”, “cultural tourism” and “theory of marketing”. I’m pretty happy with courses I finally got, because they are all really different with different teachers, so I don’t get bored during school days.

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Kyung Hee University campus

One huge different to studying in Finland is that every class takes only one hour and 15 minutes! Also it’s a lot of lectures, and not much interaction between students. I think it’s nice for a change, but I couldn’t study like that all the time for 3,5 years.

Studying in here is also pretty competitive, from getting courses to your final grade. I was lucky to get in almost all the courses I originally wanted to take,  but there were lots of troubles on the way. There’s not that many seats to all of the courses, so you really need to be ready when course registration opens. Also, on some courses, professor can give only certain amount of A:s for students, and that might effect on students behavior during course, for example not to help each others that easily etc..

On first week, one professor told us “exchange student compete against other exchange students, and Korean students compete against other Korean students”. I was really shocked about his comment, because that’s something you would never hear teacher to say in Finland! For us it’s always just about competing against your self and giving your best.

On first week it was very common for professors to say “this course is really difficult, so I recommend you to consider if you really want to take this course”. That felt pretty ridiculous for me, because I’ve got used to teachers say for us that “yes, this might be a difficult subject, but we will learn it together”.

My Korean language studies are proceeding well, I have already learn Korean letters. Next step is to learn basic phrases to help my daily life here. It’s surprising that they don’t speak English lot in here.

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After all cultural differences, I’m enjoying school a lot! Usually, I don’t get homework from classes and my schooldays are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, so I have a lot of free time here! I’ve made friends with girls from my dormitory, who I like to explore Seoul and experience all interesting and new things with.

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I like Seoul because there’s so many neighborhoods and they all have their own character, if it’s a good area for shopping, eating or clubbing for example. Weather is also getting nicer all the time, I cant wait for summer in here! One thing I’m really looking forward to is having picnic at Han-river and spending all day outside. Now we are all a bit sick, because we spend long times outside but especially when sun sets weather gets quite cold.

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My Korean friend Jisoo has shown me lots of cool places in Seoul, I got to know her from “Each One Teach One” course last year in Tampere!

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Hiking at Bukhansan National park

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Me & my friends at local spa, Jimjilbang

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Night view of Seoul from Namsan park

Greetings from Madrid

A week ago I came back to Finland from my amazing trip to Madrid. The past few months have been great. I have met lots of fun and interesting people and I really enjoyed Madrid and its beautiful neighborhoods.  Most of the time in Madrid I hung out with my roo20161007_181947m mates because I was very lucky to have a really fun group of people living in my flat. We explored Madrid together and went hiking and did kinds of stuff.15250920_10154894549096661_6036998902250316147_o

One of the best travels was our road trip in December with three of my friends. We rented a car from Madrid and drove to Granada-Malaga-Gibraltar-Seville and back to Madrid.

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A day trip to Cercedillas was a fun trip with my two dutch an one American friend. We hiked for 6 hours.

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Studying in Madrid at Rey Juan Carlos University was more work than I expected. We did lots of group works and presentations and sometimes it felt that they took too much time. On the other hand I worked in groups with local people from Madrid and other Erasmus students so It was also fun to experience working in such international groups. All my classes were taught in English and I was pleasantly surprised how good English the teachers spoke. The university was 30 minutes metro ride away outside of the center of Madrid in a neighborhood called Vicálvaro. The campus was nice and small had two restaurants where we usually worked after the classes.

I think the main difference in studying there was the courses. At Madrid the courses were more practical and more focused in one subject like marketing or microeconomics. In TAMK our courses feel more like there are lots of subjects in one course and its harder to keep track what the studies are actually about. So I kind of preferred the way in Madrid because it felt that I learned a lot more.

Greetings from Sunny Cyprus!

My exchange is coming on the end but it has been full of experiences. Cyprus is a sunny island where people love food and resting. I came in the beginning of October and during the whole month the temperature was still almost 30 degrees and I loved it! After October it has been getting lower but still in January during the daytime it can be very warm when the Sun is shining.

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I have been studying Hospitality Tourism Management in a school named Higher Hotel Institute Cyprus which is located in the capital of Cyprus: Nicosia. The school is a very small, only 270 students and I have been living in a residence of the school.

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In the beginning of my exchange the school and studying was difficult for me because of the language. My English wasn’t so good but it has definitely got better and that’s one thing i’m very happy for. I have lessons from Monday to Friday, some days only two hours and some days five hours. The lessons are in normal class rooms with chairs and tables (not in auditoriums like we mostly have in TAMK).

I have nine courses and specially the ones about traveling and tourism had been very interesting because we don’t have that kind of lessons in TAMK. During the autumn we had tests, projects and mid-term exams. Now in January we are doing our final examinations. So right now i’m studying and reading a lot…

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The studies are different here than in Finland because the number of people in one class is smaller and the teaching is more like ”old-style”. But mostly I have liked it and I have learnt many new things.

When thinking about the size of the school, there are advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are for example that the teachers know all the students and the relationships between them are close and friendly. The disadvantages are related mostly to being as an exchange student here. Here is only one another exchange student with me and the school doesn’t offer any activities for us and they didn’t tell anything about the events that Erasmus is organizing here.

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In the beginning of my exchange I used lot of my free time to go to the beaches and traveling around. I visited all the ”main cities” and went also to the mountains. I also used my time (and money) to get familiar with the local foods and drinks. People here really love to eat and I can say the same of myself. I had tried all the traditional dishes and of course beers, wines, spirits…

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Cyprus is a dry but beautiful island in the middle of Mediterranean Sea and people are open-minded and helpful. The culture is totally different than in Finland which has been hard for me sometimes but it had also taught me a lot. I have learnt new things of myself and met so many new people.

So, I already wrote three final exams and six are still coming… Hope I will pass all the courses!

Hallo und Grüß Gott aus Deutschland!

It has been lovely spring in this year while I have lived in here German. Spring and summer came quick and I have enjoyed it very much! Life here has been treating me well.

Studying in University is different compared to my studies in Finland. I would say in generally learning here is more based on academic facts. We have many lectures and studying is independent. Getting good marks needs many hours of learning. Professors says that they will teach us only basics but we have to be able to think independent way and form our own opinion. They want us to consider and make up our own conclusion.  I believe that thinking outside of the box and is true learning. I have mainly taken courses from business field in university.

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Our international student organization at school has arranged many trips for us. I have took a part many those occasions and the most memorable was Frühlingsfest, which has been hold on Stuttgart annually in spring time. I have also travelled in French and Switzerland and of course here in German. I have met many people from different backgrounds and cultures and it has been unforgettable. I have made German and international friends and I’m sure we will keep in touch also in the future. This time here has been ones in a lifetime experience without no doubt. I am happy and proud of myself that I had courage to do this and it turn out better than I have ever would imagine. So go to unknown, be brave and live your life full!

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G’Day from Down Under!

Heey it’s Laura from Australia!

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I did my practical training in Darwin Australia in an event managing and organizing company called Agentur. I thought I’d share my experience with you since it was quite awesome.

I had never even heard of a place called Darwin before I finally got an internship there. Since it’s so close to the equator there’s only two seasons: dry and wet. I was lucky enough to be there during the dry season when it’s “not so hot and humid”. Coming from Finland it was still pretty hot for me. Temperatures varied between 30°C and 35°C during the day and at night it was between 23°C and 27°C. It took a while to get used to such warm weather but I wasn’t complaining, sun shined everyday! Well the first day I arrived there the wet season had just ended and it was pouring, I got soaked and hoped that that wasn’t the way it was going to be. And luckily it wasn’t, sun shined every day!

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On my way to work!

As I said I was working in a company called Agentur. They organize and put together events, galas, awards and conferences. My job was to answer the phone at our office, help out at the events, put together PowerPoint presentations for the events and make drafts of quest lists and run sheets, taking notes and running errands. I also participated in some of the meetings and took part in checking out the sites for the events. We had a little office puppy, little Yorkshire terrier Ares, the God of War, who I took for walks around the beautiful Cullen Bay area.

I  took part in planning four different events: the CEO Sleepout, Territory Day, Northern Territory Literary Awards and the National Indigenous Music Awards. It was great to get to go backstage and behind the scenes of these events and I really enjoyed all of them. Some of them were smaller and some bigger. It was funny to notice that even if the event was quite small it took plenty of effort to put together. There’s so much you need to take in consideration when planning an event! It really got me by surprise and there were things I would’ve never thought.

20160701_185913Territory Day sunset at Mindil Beach

I was staying with a host in her 2 bedroom apartment. She was traveling for six weeks so for that time I had the whole place for my self. The apartment was quite close to the city center and being so, very close to the nightlife! Since I didn’t have a car (even if I did, I don’t think I would’ve been driving that much.. These crazy Aussies are driving on the wrong side of the road!) I didn’t get around as much as I would’ve liked. The 3 months stuck in the city with pretty much nothing else than bars around got a little boring for me. Have to admit though, got my fair share of partying on Mitchell Street.. Luckily I made friends who took me to amazing places. We did a day trip to the Litchfield National Park to see the waterfalls, rock holes, termite mounds and other amazing views. That was definitely one of the highlights of my stay.

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Waterfalls & a huge termite mound

20160802_170552at the Litchfield National Park

I also loved the Mindil Markets just down the hill from my place. I really fell in love with the Darwin sunsets and at Mindil they were absolutely amazing. The markets also had food stands from all over the world. It was my Sunday tradition to go to the beach, watch the sunset and get myself some delicious food.

Darwin is located right at the top end of Australia in the Northern Territory. It is called the crocodile state of Australia so you would see all these signs warning about crocodiles where ever there’s water. It wasn’t recommended to swim in the ocean because of the salt water crocodiles. So I didn’t go for a swim. It was a shame because the ocean and the beaches looked so inviting!

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I did some traveling down the East Coast (Cairns, Airlie, Whitsundays, Sydney) after my training period and I totally fell in love with Australia. Hopefully I get to come back here one day for a proper backpacking experience!

IMG_20160701_215913No worries mate, cheers!

Laura