Thursday, 29 January 2015

My Trip to Madrid

On Saturday 10th January, myself and two other girls from my school year, Sarah and Deirbhile, travelled to Madrid in order to carry out a week of work experience. We were spending the week in a primary school, observing the teacher, helping the children with their English and getting involved in the general classroom activities. I had been in Madrid once before during an exchange programme in June 2013 and I was so excited to return!
2013 Exchange
When we landed we were bombarded with hugs and kisses on both cheeks, which immediately made us feel so welcome. My partner this time was called Bea. I had known her before because she had taken part in the same exchange programme as the partner of one of my close friends. (For anyone wondering, I didn't stay with the same partner as before because she moved to Tenerife last November and I wasn't allowed to carry out my work experience there). It was so good to be reunited! Bea introduced me to her parents and younger brother. I have to admit I had been feeling pretty nervous but Bea and her family made me feel right at ease.

After arriving at Bea's house and getting unpacked and settled in, we went out for dinner. We went with Sarah and her partner, María (whom I also knew from the exchange), and their two families to a really nice restaurant. The chips were absolutely amazing! It was a really good night but the only thing was that Sarah and I were so tired from travelling. Sarah even fell asleep at the table for a few minutes!

Fortunately we got a lie-in on Sunday morning! In the afternoon, María had homework to do so Bea and her family took both Sarah and I on a mini tour of Madrid. We saw the Palacio Real, Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor before going into a few shops.
Palacio Real
Building housing the offices of the Community of Madrid in la Puerta del Sol
Sarah, me and Bea in la Puerta del Sol
At about 3pm, we went home and had a lovely lunch of a sort of tomato sauce with tuna and rice, whilst watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (in English with Spanish subtitles). After that, we met up with Sarah and María to do some serious shopping in the amazing Gran Vía Avenue. The sales were on and there were so many great bargains. I wish I hadn't had a weight allowance for my suitcase because I would have bought so much! (Maybe it's a good thing I had a weight allowance because I wouldn't have been able to control myself...)

On Monday, we started our work experience in the school and it was great! I was really nervous at the beginning but all of the pupils and teachers were so welcoming! When classes finished at 5pm, Bea brought Sarah and I back to her house for 'la merienda,' which is an afternoon snack. An hour or two later, María came round to Bea's house and the four of us went for a walk alongside the Madrid River. It was so still and peaceful.

Both Bea and María had a language exam on Thursday so on Tuesday after school, María's mum collected Sarah and I and took us to the beautiful Campo del Moro. It is situated in front of the Palacio Real and the views of the palace are absolutely breath-taking!
On our way to a shopping centre, we saw one of the many monuments ('puertas') of Madrid. This one was la Puerta de San Vicente, a great monument in the middle of a roundabout opposite el Príncipe Pío, which is both a shopping centre and a metro station. It contains well-known stores like Zara, H&M, Stradivarius and Mango and also smaller boutiques. A turquoise notebook caught my eye in a shop called Natura because it said 'Hoy va a ser tu día' (meaning 'today is going to be your day'). I'm a total sucker for cute quotes and sayings so I decided to buy it.
After school on Wednesday, Bea brought Sarah and I back to her house for la merienda. At about 6pm, María's mum arrived and both her and Bea's mum took Sarah and I to el Museo Nacional del Prado, which was amazing. It's a huge state of the art building with so many paintings inside by various artists such as Goya, Tintoretto and Velázquez, to name but a few. I found it so interesting seeing so many of the paintings and finding out about the context behind them. It was just unforunate that it closed at 8 so we only actually got about an hour and a half in it. I'll definitely be going back if I get the chance to return to Madrid! Afterwards, we went to the huge Atocha station. Our little train stations in Ireland don't even begin compare with that one! It's massive!!!
El Museo del Prado
On Thursday after school, María and Bea took Sarah and I to the Parque del Retiro, a huge park in Madrid. Considering it was winter, it still looked really nice. As I was walking, though, I could imagine just how beautiful it must look in the summer with flowers on the trees and the sun shining.

In the park
Inside a little exhibition in the park
After walking around the park for about 2 hours, we went to a three-floor Abercrombie and Fitch store. It had so many nice things but was just a bit too far out of my budget, unfortunately! On the walk home we saw the incredible and I mean incredible city hall of Madrid. I couldn't get over how huge it was! It was all lit up and looked so beautiful!
Madrid City Hall (Sorry for the awful quality - I had to take this on my phone)

On Friday afternoon, Bea and María had planned for us to go to la Puerta del Sur, where they said was a huge shopping centre. However, their plan didn't exactly go to plan as after we had travelled about 7 stops in the metro, Bea realised we were on the wrong line and were travelling in the complete opposite direction! We laughed for ages when she told us! Both she and María told Sarah and I that to go back to la Puerta del Sur would take over an hour, so instead we decided to go to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home to Real Madrid. We didn't actually go inside it, instead we just took pictures together outside it. It's so big! (I know I've said that so many times in this post, but everything in Madrid is just so big compared to Ireland, haha).
Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (Again, sorry for the awful quality)
 After stopping in a humongous Corte Inglés store to have a look, we walked back to el Principe Pío, the shopping centre we were at on Tuesday. We did a bit more shopping and I bought an adorable set of six pairs of earrings from a shop called Six. Then for our last supper we had a very traditional Spanish meal of Burger King! We spent a good two hours in the restaurant chatting and laughing (a LOT!). I couldn't remember the last time I'd laughed that hard.
Earrings I bought

On Saturday morning, we left Madrid. Our flight was early so we had to be at the airport for half 8. This didn't fare well with Bea and I as we had stayed up until 2:45 that morning, Skype'ing my partner from the last exchange (her and Bea are best friends). But we soldiered on. After checking in, it was time to say goodbye to our friends and their families, which was so sad. I even started crying!
Ew @ my face - I'm such an ugly crier, hahah
I had such an amazing week. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life, living in Madrid for a week and even working in a Spanish primary school! If you ever get the chance to take part in an exchange programme or something similar, no matter where it is, I urge you to take it! You will make some of the best memories through it, because I know I have.

I have completely fallen in love with Madrid all over again and have made friends there that I know I will have for life. I can't wait to go back!

- Caoimhe x

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Nivea Everyday Essentials | Review

As you may or may not know, I spent all of last week doing work experience in Madrid (which you can read about here). Obviously while I was away I needed basic toiletries but with a suitcase allowance of just 15 kilograms I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to do it. That was until I was introduced to this little beauty. It was honestly such a lifesaver to me while I was away. It meant I didn't have to bring any full-sized products and still had more than enough to tide me through the week.

It says on the outer bag (which I accidentally threw out before writing this post, sorry!) that the kit is suitable for hand luggage, but I know some airports are really fussy about what you can and can't bring in your hand luggage, so I just played it safe and put it in my suitcase.

The kit contains all the basic essentials you would need for going away for a week: deodorant, moisturiser, lip balm, shower cream and cleansing wipes. The products, I found, were all really good quality too. I was a bit wary about using the cleansing wipes on my sensitive skin as I haven't really used facial wipes before but I was really happy with the outcome. They left my face feeling clean without leaving it feel rubbed raw.

Overall, I think this little kit bag is perfect for going away for a week. It has the perfect products, all perfectly-sized and the little zipped bag is so handy to keep them in! The only thing I would say is that the whole kit probably wouldn't last you more than about a week and a half to 2 weeks, in particular the shower cream and moisturiser (and cleansing wipes depending on whether you use them once or twice a day). But it wouldn't cost much to go out and buy more shower cream or moisturiser while you're away so I don't really think this is an important point. Priced at £5 from Superdrug, I think it's an amazing bargain and worth even more than that, to be totally honest!


If you are interested in reading about any of the products separately, here are the links to see ingredients and what they do etc.:

Nivea Refreshing Facial Cleansing Wipes ~

- Caoimhe x

Thursday, 15 January 2015

L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Tinted and Shimmering Gel | Review

The first thing you should know about this self-tanning gel is that it is called 'Shimmering Gel' for a reason. It is VERY shimmery. If you are going to use it I would advise you to apply it before going to bed and then getting up in the morning and jumping in the shower. The glitter will wash off and leave the tan. And it's okay to apply it for bed as it dries on your skin quickly. I would leave it for about 10-15 minutes and then it's fine to put on your pyjamas. It won't leave those awful orange-brown stains on your bedsheets.

I wouldn't exactly say it gives your skin an instant glow. The first time I applied it, I did so in the morning and I didn't really notice a difference in the colour of my skin until I woke up the next morning. I do find that it takes a while to actually show up. I wouldn't put it on right before going out for the night because it won't show up, well on my skin anyway.

This fake tan claims to last one day, but, for me, it lasted a lot longer even with showering every other day. I first applied it after showering on a Monday morning, and after showering again on Wednesday, it was still visible, even after exfoliating. After showering on Friday, it was pretty much gone but had left barely-visible orange patches in my elbow crease, which didn't go away completely until after showering on Sunday.

Overall, I think this product can be good if, like I said, you apply it at night and shower the next morning. It dries quickly and does give you a natural-looking tan. It is just quite difficult to get off at the end.

My Rating: 3/5

Have you tried this product? If so, did you like it?

- Caoimhe x

Friday, 9 January 2015

Aussie Dual Personality Styling Curl Definition & Soft Feel Serum | Review

I absolutely love this product - it's fast becoming one of my favourite hair care products. I have hair that's on the oily side and even though this product is an oil, it doesn't leave my hair looking or feeling greasy at all.

You can use it on wet or dry hair but I prefer using it on wet hair. When I wash my hair and am leaving it to dry naturally, I put two pumps of this in my palms, rub them together and apply it to the middle section to the ends of my hair. My hair is naturally wavy and this does exactly what it's name says its does. It defines my waves, making my hair curly (which I love!) and well-conditioned when it's dry.

I would recommend this product to anyone, no matter whether you have dry, normal or oily hair. It's a definite bargain at £5.19 from Boots and I'm so glad I spotted it while I was in there a few weeks ago!

My Rating: 5/5☺

Have you tried this product? If so, do you like it?

- Caoimhe x

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Top 5 Tunesday #6

Happy New Year!
I can't believe it's January and 2015 already!

Whilst writing this post I realised that I listened to a lot of Christmas songs throughout December. Like a lot. But there would be no point in me telling you my top 5 most listened to Christmas songs in January so I thought instead it would make a lot more sense to tell you my top 5 most listened to non-Christmas songs of December…

1. On Top Of The World - Imagine Dragons

This song always manages to put me in a good mood. When I'm running and it comes on I'm instantly like 'yes! I can do this!' I love the upbeat tempo and the positive lyrics especially in the part towards the end: "And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down / And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground / Get up now, get up, get up now".

2. Mr C - Nina Nesbitt

I am just going through an obsession with this amazingly talented girl's music at the minute!
I love how brutally honest this song is. Now, I'm 16 so I've never had the experience of being hit on in a bar or whatever but I think all of us have seen it enough in movies to know how it sometimes goes. A good-looking, rich man is flirting with a girl he likes the look of but the more the girl sees his true colours. He turns out to be a selfish, arrogant, materialistic...uh...person.
I love this song and I think Nina portrays the whole situation perfectly.

3. Perfect - Emma Blackery

I love love love the positive message Emma is giving out with song and I love how it's positive without being cheesy. It's telling us to be strong and believe in ourselves. Everyone is different and that's a good thing. The world would be absolutely tedious if we were all the same. With this individuality, however, we have to learn to not care what others say or to change for other people, which can be hard but as Emma says, or sings, rather, "you're perfect the way you are".

4. You Got It All - Union J

This is my definitely my favourite Union J song. The lyrics are so sweet and I like that it's slow but not to slow, if you get me.
I like that the song doesn't focus on the girl's looks. Yes, it does mention beauty but that's not the main focus of the song. The focus is on the girl's strength, passion, courage etc. and I think that's really nice to see.
They also recorded a version of this song with The Vamps and it's just lovely so you should definitely check that out too if you like the song.

5. Do You Want To Build A Snowman? - Frozen

Even though Christmas is over we can still listen to Frozen, right?
I was over this song in like April but at the beginning of December my French teacher showed us this song in French and I just fell in love again. I will admit that I actually prefer the French version (same with 'Let It Go') but I'll leave you with the English version and the lyrics so you can sing along.
(Apologies in advance for getting this stuck in your head all day :P)

To buy 'On Top Of The World' by Imagine Dragons, click here
To buy 'Mr C' by Nina Nesbitt, click here
To buy 'Perfect' by Emma Blackery, click here
To buy 'You Got It All' by Union J, click here
To buy 'Do You Want To Build A Snowman', click here

To see last month's top 5, click here

- Caoimhe x


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