Monday, 29 January 2018

My Calais Adventure

Phew! It has been an intense, stressful and enlightening weekend all in one.

As I have mentioned in nearly every blog post recently, this past weekend Harley and I got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning and travelled up to Calais to volunteer with Utopia 56, a French charity that works to help refugees in France.

The Warehouse
L'auberge des Migrants Warehouse in Calais is an amazing volunteer set up that is the work of 8 refugee charities combined, both French and English, who all collaborate to produce a high organised system getting out 8 distributions to refugees in the Calais-Dunkirk area for both lunch and dinner as well as any items needed. The bigger charities, Refugee Community Kitchen and Help Refugees UK seem to oversee what happens, getting out about 2750 meals a day to an estimated 1000 refugees with no paid member of staff so it is incredible how organised it is.

The School Bus Project - getting education out to minors
Thanks to President Macron's visit to Calais the week before last, tensions were high and refugee numbers had risen with rumours that the situation might change, but essentially Macron didn't help - just saying that a situation like the Jungle can never happen again and seemed to encourage even further police brutality - it couldn't have been worse and I can't even begin to understand this mindset so it is at least reassuring that in this bleak corner of Northern France there is a whole team of volunteers working all day every day to make sure these PEOPLE get fed and warmth best they can.

We did everything, from peeling 150kg of onions for the kitchen to sorting and packing 800 blankets to be distributed and sorting some of the incoming donations that seemed to fill the giant warehouse. Although we weren't long enough to go out on the distributions and the tensions were too high for new volunteers to head out, I would still highly recommend going to anyone considering it, or even if you have a free weekend and nothing to do. Although me and Harley had a bit of a disaster with the accommodation booked through Utopia (see the picture below) it all ended well.

Oops! Airbnb to the rescue!

Sign up to volunteer with Help Refugee UK HERE
More Information about RCK HERE

To get to Calais from the UK you can drive or take a coach for very little or from Paris there are direct trains from Gare du Nord for as little as €40 and if you are going for a short while or up to a group of 6 people you can stay at the Airbnb Harley ended up in which was directly in the centre of Calais and right bus the direct bus stop to the Warehouse. Find it HERE.

If you have any questions, please get in touch. I can't promise to be an expert but I can certainly point you in the right direction. Be involved in something much bigger than yourself.

Have a good week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

Friday, 19 January 2018

Living the Paris Life

Two weeks since I've officially been back in Paris and it seems like I never left, nothing has changed. It's mid Jan and I can't believe that I only have 9 weeks left of term until all of the taught section of my masters is done! 9 weeks is a decent amount of time but with all the things I'm planning on cramming into the next few months I know it's just gonna fly by and that's gonna be it! It's mad, it seems like coming here in September was only yesterday and now it'll be over soon *gulp*

So I've got plan #makethemostofParis which involves my infamous list of things to do in Paris, and in this vein, I took a spontaneous overdue moment to head up to Sacre Coeur on a cold but sunny Wednesday morning. It was beautiful and cliche but completely life-affirming and once again reminded me why I am in Paris. Amongst all the masters work and everyday life, it is moments like these that make it special.

I promise I'll eventually stop going on about Paris!
In other news, next weekend is Calais weekend, I don't know what to expect but I hope I get to learn something meaningful about life on the French border for those who have nothing and are simply victims of the birthright lottery. 

Also, the end of January means my flatmate Hannah is moving out and onto her next placement which is sad for us, but great for Hannah to go to a new part of France but it also means we will be getting a new housemate, which will be ... interesting to say the least.

I'm really excited as well because after to-ing and fro-ing Josie and I managed to co-ordinate our group road trip from Bosnia through Montenegro, Croatia and Albania for May half-term which is going to be so cool! It means I get to explore 4 new countries that I otherwise probably wouldn't have got to. There is another plan in the works to get to Marrakesh in July with the girls from school and rent ourselves a private villa. Finally, if there is any money at the end of this I might treat myself to a solo week trip to Japan - all these summer plans are so exciting but I need to budget some time to write my dissertation as well haha, not sure when that is going to happen! If anyone has any knowledge on open border policies let me know!
2018 is shaping up to be a great year for travelling!

Have a good week my loves!

Lots of Love,  Kate xxx

Tuesday, 2 January 2018


Welcome to 2018!

I know last year I said that I wasn't one for always writing overly-motivational posts but there is just something about this year that fills me with a little bit more hope than the last few years... I mean pretty much what could go wrong went wrong in 2016 and 2017, so I think beginning 2018 globally in a more positive way has got to be a good thing, right?

While I'm not one for resolutions, the #newyearnewme was a running joke in my old uni house, shout out 35! Anyway, I'm still not going to make resolutions in the formal sense because let's face it, I have never managed to keep one ever, that doesn't stop me from using the beginning of 2018 to set a few unmeasurable goals.

I think the biggest thing for me over the next few months is the fall back in love with Paris again. There was a point in the last term (around the time when I got my phone stolen) that I was tolerating Paris, it was just somewhere I needed to be for a year to get my Masters and move on, but there is nothing like a few weeks away to get me back into the French way of life. I have made a new and improved Paris list that is growing as long as my arm so I'll look forward to sharing posts about that with you all over the coming weeks. Making the most of being in France, I am making a 2018 goal to try even more to become conversationally fluent in French - I'm getting there - but all that grammar though! Another thing to look forward to, maybe that's the wrong way of looking at it, but Harley and I are going to spend some time up in Calais working with the refugees stuck at the border, further displaced after authorities tore down 'The Jungle'. It's going to be really interesting and hopefully, I can make a difference for at least someone who is stuck in poverty simply because of where they are born - hopefully I can use my privilege for something good.

Also, I'm going to complete my Masters this year - I feel like I've only just started and in 3 months all formal teaching will be over! And I'm going to have to get a proper adult job, I'm not sure I can actually put it off even longer, although I'm also going to try and squeeze in a trip to visit Sabrina in China over the summer while I still have the free time -  so not completely giving up on travelling just yet!

Another goal for this year is to try something new and really give it a go - I'm not sure what this is going to be but I've got a few ideas in the works so I'll let you all know when I've got this little project up and running.

2017 was a difficult year for many people, and personally, it was tough for me losing my grandad, leaving the comforts of uni and moving to another country - but we just have to hope these things will make us all that little be stronger in the end.

What's your #newyearnewme goal?

Have a good week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

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