International Stumblings of a Moneyless Idle

Lazily making his way through the world


Setting off


#cycling along #Tiendwegroad in #Netherlands #sun

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My last year of university was probably my best because it was the only year I truly delved into the university experience. This was partly down to the fact I became scared of losing the student lifestyle and this ignited a lust to make the absolute most of my final year despite the much increased workload. The main reason for my enjoyment of my final year of university was down to the people I met and spent time with, the go-getters back from Madrid.

One of those was a girl who will go by the name of Atlas. Atlas is a girl who chases excitement, adventure and experiences but doesn’t do it half-heartedly like me. She plans, organises and is always in control despite living the unsecure, turbulent lifestyle of a traveller. I was fascinated by Atlas from the first time I met her and a lot of the new experiences, the best experiences I had during my third year where because of her; via invitation or encouragement. From cycling around the Netherlands to attending music festivals, from canoeing along the Cornish coast to some great nights out.

I was always attracted to Atlas, but her free, unattached attitude towards life meant that anything resembling a relationship went against her life ethos. After being very close for a long while, I was lucky enough to gain something a little more than just friendship with her. But for two people who lusted for travel and adventure that something was always planned to end when uni life did. She wanted to go do her own thing and make her own way and what would be the chances of us both finding something in the same county, in the same city anyway? I thought slim.

But, there I was; on a plane going to visit her in Madrid and going on to live in the fairly close by city of Valencia. Not officially anything more than good friends; my mind and heart raced with questions of what indeed we would be … friends or something more?

#sunset over #gaasperplaslake near #Amsterdam #cycling

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Setting Off with Barely a Penny

#Cornwall #coastline between #Meanporth and #Helfordriver

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My date of departure was set for the 25th of July, well over a month away, however things moved much quicker than anticipated. Once I had filled in all the relevant documents and all the unnecessary Skype interviews had been conducted I was then asked to start a month early as the Hostel I was to be working for was short of staff. I was to find out later that this was because they had fired one its employees for promiscuous reasons but that’s another story. Starting early was both good and unfortunate news as in the month that I previously had available I had planned to use to organise and earn some much needed money. How I was going to do this however, I didn’t know and I was also soon to have nowhere to stay, maybe this early start was a good thing after all.

So now I was to travel to Spain in one week, only three weeks after hearing about the opportunity. My situation was not at all ideal: I was £500 into a student overdraft with no other money saved up. I had learnt that I was to only earn 100 euros a month for working at the hostel (with accommodation). At the time I thought that this must mean that I wouldn’t have to do too many hours. Lastly came the fact that I was a relatively inexperienced traveller about to travel alone to start a four month internship in a city I had never visited without being able to speak a word of Spanish. Like I said, not ideal.

But life is an adventure and adventure is what I sought. My first task was to find the cheapest way to get there. I had already decided that my first stop would not be Valencia but Madrid, to see the girl who I had last seen being driven off to the airport two weeks previously.

Comparing and searching for different travel options will always save you money, however it is also important to include effort and potential lack of sleep into your equation to. With only four days notice plane tickets from England to Spain are not going to be that cheap, so £40 from London Stansted to Madrid didn’t seem that expensive. Good old Megabus whom I had used on numerous occasions before would get me from Plymouth to London for £15 and added together this was still a saving of £10 from the flights closest price competitor. This did, however mean sleeping in the airport but with money being my primary concern this did not bother me. What I failed to consider was the additional price of Falmouth to Plymouth and London Victoria to Stansted which when included meant that sleeping in an airport was not really worth it.

I came to this realization early on into my (including airport nap) 20 hour journey to Madrid thus making me feel slightly annoyed and grouchy throughout. Annoyed I may have been but quelled of the excitement of my upcoming Spanish poverty battle I was not.

#madrid somewhere in its centre.

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Ambition and Opportunity

#ParqueRuraldeAnaga in #Tenerife

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I first decided that I wanted to travel after finishing my studies somewhere during my second year of university. I had dreams of escaping life for a while and becoming some kind of hippy conservationist living in the middle of a huge national park, or as a knowledgeable nature tour guide who treks people through mountains wearing a big hat. I knew these ambitions where far fetched but one has to dream. What these dreams were fuelled by was the realization that I really didn’t want to leave education, get a job and well, start life.

However these ambitions, which I believe many students and young people look towards, soon became clouded and seemingly unreachable. I mean, how does one just get up, leave a country and survive? Surely only the multi-lingual super confident manage that and not us lazy, underachieving, have a great idea for a book but never get around to it-ers. My hope and encouragement was restored with the return of a university friend from his Erasmus trip to Madrid. Through him I met two others who had been to Madrid on the Erasmus program and I was soon bombarded by amazing stories of travels, experiences and places. All had a fire, desire and more importantly a plan on how to travel after their studies.

Their way of exiting the life of free money, cheap housing and an alcohol powered life style then immediately entering and living in another country was through the Erasmus graduate grant. A grant given to graduates that manage to find a placement or job for a guaranteed three months or more out of the UK but within the EU and related to their studies. A task that sounds rather testing but it was a task all three achieved, but I didn’t.

Partly due to my Email locking me out just as I was starting to get some replies, largely down to laziness and somewhat down to promising leads unwittingly drying up; universities end came and went and I had nothing. No placement, no job (UK or abroad), soon to be no home of my own and also soon to have no unofficially official girlfriend. Needless to say, I was a little downhearted.

That girl, who also happens to be one of the Erasmus three was preparing to fly off to her newly found placement (with grant) back in Madrid. I had gone on what became an awkward trip to her parents’ house and was getting ready to see her off. It was here I received an Email from a job search agency she had used to get her internship which went by the no-nonsense name of ‘Spain Internship’.The Email asked if I wanted to go to Barcelona or Valencia and work in a hostel. Surprised and feeling very relived, without knowing anything about the job, salary or work schedule I said yes. All I knew was that I had been given a branch to grab hold of and by God I was going to grab it.

#PalacioRealdeMadrid from #RioManzanares in #madrid

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