Erasmus Year Abroad: Being Assaulted and Halloween Happiness

Last Saturday was Halloween, which meant that there were of course some funky shenanigans on the cards - but still our usual Thursday night party ensued. Therefore, we battled through the weekend, drink after drink. Thursday's plan was to have a fairly chilled night in our local bar/club ‘Bella Vista’ so we were alive and kicking for our friend Toby’s party on Friday and then Halloween celebrations on Saturday. Of course, the chilled Thursday night wasn’t as chilled as we planned, so Friday was a bit of a struggle! (But not a struggle that free sangria couldn’t fix!)

So, here's a little tale about the events of Friday. There we were at Toby’s party, where free sangria flowing like a river, when I suddenly felt somebody softly touch my bum. I jumped round to find a man, about mid 50s standing there without a care in the world. His grey hair matched his equally grey tracksuit, which struggled to fit around his disgusting soul. I didn’t think too much about it and carried on having a good time, but then my friend told me he had also just touched her. I began to get annoyed with this man who was clearly there just to molest the young women at the party. Later, I happened to witness his creepy sausage fingers grope three more girls’ backsides. This just didn’t sit well with me - I’d had enough. I grabbed his hand off the third Italian girl, who thanked me gratefully and then with a blank expression, the man held his hands up to say “Whoops”. I told him pretty much to stop effing touching everyone up, as it’s not OK, and I turned back around to my friends.

A minute later, my brain told me that there was a nice cold beer being poured over my head running through my carefully straightened locks. As I tried to come to terms with what was happening, the grey man finished by throwing the now empty glass bottle at me, still, expressionless. Rather than instantly flipping out, I was in shock about what he had just done, and also disturbed by the look on his face as he threw the bottle at me. He was taken out of the club, still holding his hands up as though he was innocent.

I went to the ladies to have a second to think about what to do: go home and be really angry that this man had pissed me off and ruined my freshly washed, blow-dried and straightened hair; or to stay out a say YOLO. I decided the latter would be the better option, and I was bought sambucca shots to cheer me up. Incredibly, as the beer in my hair started to dry, it created some wonderful volume and I quite enjoyed the look. Every cloud, hey?

But seriously, it’s not right that this kind of thing happens. In my opinion, this guy should be locked away before someone else tells him to stop harassing them, and he punches them in the face or something. But as my friends and I have discussed, we would probably be laughed at or certainly not taken seriously if we reported him. And this provokes the thought in me about how many other young women, and anyone else in fact, don’t report this kind of thing.


When Saturday came we were pretty exhausted, but the party was still on! After some hilarious pre-dinks in my flat with a fair few of us in my living room, we headed out to the Piazza Del Campo for a huge silent disco party. Hardly anybody was dressed up (as expected) because Halloween isn’t really a thing in Italy, but we did the usual “minimum effort facepaint” and got away with not being spoilsports.

Unfortunately, not all of us were able to get the headphones from the company, because there were so many people that wanted them. Thankfully, my aforementioned pal Toby gave me his own headphones that I was able to plug into my phone. The rest of my friends had the proper headphones and I was unlucky not to get them, but it really made no difference that I was listening to my own music rather than their shared playlist. At least I was in control of the tunes and could secretly listen to Shaggy- Boombastic as many times as I liked, heheh. We all agree that we felt like 13 year olds at a school disco, starting conga lines and not having a care in the world! It was so great to look all around and see so many smiles - the biggest of which was coming from Toby who was having the best time out of everyone. I even felt the need to take an extremely blurry selfie of Toby and I to capture his happiness mid conga, of course - here it is!

Again, this post has completely ignored anything about studying or the actual purpose of me being in Siena. However, at least you’re getting a real insight into an Erasmus student’s life, right?!

A presto!

Hair Care: My 'No Poo' Experience and Life-Saving AVEDA

Similarly to most other human beings on the planet, I am always on the look out for amazing hair and beauty products that are that little bit special. Being a student, it is sometimes hard to fulfil my desires for such products, so I love it when one happens to come along at a fairly low price, or if one is extra special that I can justify digging deep for.

No Poo

I love to experiment with different products- especially those that may be somewhat strange. This meant that when I heard about the 'no poo' method for washing your hair, I was pretty excited to give it a try. I won't go too much into detail here about what the method entails as this page clears it up nicely. To cut a long story short, it involves washing your hair with products other than with conventional shampoo and conditioner - fun, eh?! This is to avoid the nasty chemicals used in shampoo/conditioner that make your hair feel clean, but actually strip your hair of its goodness (such as sodium laureth sulphate/ SLS). I'm getting into checking the labels of hair products after reading a lot about the nasties you often find in your normal products, so I'm actually starting to feel like I'm on a diet!

Mistake 1 - Solely using baking soda

Last year I decided to give this crazy idea a go! I went for the baking soda option because it was something I already had in the cupboards. This involved me washing my hair with a teaspoonish amount of baking soda diluted into a jug of water each time I washed it (rookie error). It doesn't feel particularly good because it doesn't foam up like a ice shampoo does- it just kinda goes on your head and then you wash it off. After this I would sometimes use some kind of hair mask/conditioner on the ends (such as Ro's Argan Body Conditioner - yes, you can use it in your hair!) from LUSH because their products don't contain those pesky nasties that I was trying to avoid. I often left this conditioning stage out though, because  Ro's Argan can be a bit heavy and I hadn't yet found an alternative.

Mistake 2 - Not using conditioner

When I went away to Italy for 6 weeks I bought a 'New' shampoo bar from LUSH to take away with me, as it is a little easier to transport in a suitcase than baking soda. Because of the whole 'avoiding chemicals' pilgrimage I was on, I became a little despondent to using conditioner whilst I was in Italy, so I ended up just using my trusty shampoo bar.

Bad idea.

My locks were in a bit of a state after 6 weeks, to be honest. "Blimey, your hair's dry!" was literally the first thing my Mum said to me when she hugged me hello. So I knew that I needed to stop being silly and take better care of my hair. But, I wasn't sure how to do it without returning to cheap shampoo that would also further harm my hair.


Thats when I discovered AVEDA damage remedy.
After trying to be smart by saving money and not using nasty chemicals on my hair, it turns out that I pretty much caused more harm to it than good! The ends of my hair were very dry and I felt pretty guilty for abandoning my hair. Therefore, to rectify my mistakes I forked out for a hair cut and this dreamy product which I had read great reviews about.

Aveda products incorporate plant and flower essences to create products that are good for your hair, skin, face etc. I was recommended by the assistant in the Bath store to use Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair which would supposedly repair my hair from the inside out. I use this product every time I wash my hair (every 2-4 days). I simply squeeze a 5 pence piece amount into my palms and rub together and then lightly stroke the product through my mids and ends whilst damp after washing. It acts as a heat protectant from irons and blow drying, and also helps as a de-tangler, so brushing time is reduced significantly! (And trust me, I appreciate that!) You can then safely blow dry the product into the hair or just leave it to dry naturally like I do.

To accompany this product, I bought some Faith in Nature shampoo and conditioner which contain natural ingredients so I didn't revert back to naughty, cheap drugstore shampoo. This worked pretty nicely for me- it didn't foam very much (which is a good sign) and my hair didn't get greasy very soon after washes. It was also pretty cheap at around £10 for the pair. Yay!


Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair is a very good product. It smooths, detangles, protects from heat and repairs your hair with friendly and organic ingredients. It's not a miracle worker, but I do think that it contributes to the long-lasting, good condition of my hair. Maintaining long hair is hard, and this product reduces my hair-brushing rage A LOT, which in turn means that I rip less hair out. Win win!! It has also lasted me a long time which is surprising, seeing as I have so much hair.

I wouldn't recommend anybody use baking soda on their hair for a long period of time, especially if you aren't using a conditioner to accompany it. I have heard that using apple cider vinegar is a good, natural conditioner that can be used alongside the baking soda, so perhaps give that a try if you are dead set on going 'no poo' using baking soda!

I'd love to hear your stories about how you have gotten on with this method/ or if you will give it a try after reading this! Fingers crossed you learn from my mistakes.

A presto! 

Erasmus Year Abroad: San Gimignano, Worlds Best Gelato

So, I am now well into the swing of things on my year abroad in Siena. I have been very naughty by pushing every single important thing I should be doing to the back of my mind, hence why I haven’t written here in a couple of weeks. One of the things to blame is my discovery of Netflix, or more directly, Breaking Bad. How have I missed out on this show for so long? Over the past two weeks or so I have been binge-watching like a mo-fo and I am really starting to worry how I will cope once I complete it. However, I am in Italy after all, and let not pretend that I'm the only relaxed one here.

My pals and I have kind-of worked out that we can’t survive the week if we party before a Thursday night. This means that from Thursday onwards it’s all go! Up until Thursday, we all stumble through the week (probably still hungover from our three-day bender) going to lectures, studying, eating and napping. I think I am finally done with going to random lectures, deciding I can’t understand a thing, and never returning- and actually settled on 4 subjects to do this semester. Year Abroad bureaucracy is busting our balls as expected, and the deadlines for handing in important documents stating our subject choices are currently happening. It is possible that we have actually missed the deadline for the dreaded “learning agreement’ hand-in, but none of us really know what the hell is going on.

As I mentioned before, we usually party Thursday through to Sunday, so our three-day weekend is mostly full of hangovers and regrets. But last weekend, we thought we should do something worthwhile. The nearby town of San Gimignano with the girls was the perfect little day trip! Following a Friday night spent in the pub, we almost missed the bus and had to run for it with doughnuts and espressos in our hands. An hour and a half later we arrived in an extremely cute and picturesque town perched on top of the rolling Tuscan hills. It was quite a relief to be off the bus full of 12 year old boys saying “I have a very long spade” with suggestive Italian smirks. The weatherman said it would be around 24 degrees, and he certainly delivered. We strolled through the winding streets in the autumn sun, stopping occasionally to gawp at the views of the hills around us.

Rather than having lunch in an overpriced restaurant, we found a supermarket and filled our baskets with mozzarella, cured meats, bread, olives and other Italian delights (not forgetting the vino!) We found a lovely little spot in the corner of a sunlit piazza and laid out our feast on the floor. A musician played a steel drum in the background as we chatted and scoffed our faces with cheese; it was absolute perfection.

Ice cream was the next thing on the list. San Gim is renowned for its ice cream, as one of its gelaterias earned the “Gelato World Champion” title twice in recent years. In my eyes it isn’t worthy of its title, (nor the huge queue that we had to battle through to get in the door) - but it was still nice of course, as it was gelato after all!

Almost every one of us fell asleep on the bus home as we were all so wiped out from our exciting day trip! Our plans for that night quickly went out of the window as we were all so tired....PARTY HARD!

A presto!