Things I HAVE done before 30: Part 3 – Education and skills

It’s been aaaaages since I started writing this series. Berlin and day trips and other happenings got in the way and made me forget about it. But now I’ve remembered I’m back with the third (and final) installment of things I have achieved before turning 30. I decided to call this post “Education and skills”, for want of anything better. If you haven’t read Part 1: Travel and Part 2: Experiences, feel free to click the links. Right here, you can read about all my education and skills related achievements.

Before 30, I have…

Got two degrees

A Bachelor’s in German with International Relations and a Master’s in Translation, to be specific. I did the Master’s part time via remote learning while working full time, and managed to pass with a merit – an achievement I am genuinely proud of!

Passed two Open University short courses

Start Writing Fiction and Science Starts Here.

Learned to speak another language

German… in case that wasn’t obvious 😉 I wouldn’t say I’ve reached native speaker level (I’m not sure that’s possible after the age of about 6), but I’m pretty fluent! I’ve been trying to learn Spanish for about 4 years now, but unfortunately haven’t been getting very far. It’s sooo much harder than German!

Read many, many books

Open Book
Open Book (Photo credit: White Magnolia Photography)

I’m counting reading under education simply because it didn’t seem to fit in either of the other two posts, and I really have read a lot of books. I wouldn’t even know where to begin counting them all! I have always loved books and reading, starting with Each, Peach, Pear Plum in nursery, then moving on to the likes of Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, the Narnia books and later Point Horror and The Babysitter’s Club, and my first “adult” books by Agatha Christie. One thing I was always guaranteed to get for my birthday, no matter how little money there was to spare, is new books. Forever grateful to my family for that!

Learned to use several computer programs

There weren’t that many computers when I was a kid (I still remember having an old BBC computer in the primary school classroom!) and even once PCs did appear we never had one at home. My first introduction to a PC was in IT lessons as a teenager. Since then I’ve learned to use most of the usual programs (Word, Excel, etc.) and also four different translation memory softwares… soon to be five as I’m just starting with a new one at work! My computer scientist boyfriend would probably laugh at my so-called “skills” but personally I’m amazed that I can do anything on a computer! I’m still convinced they’re plotting to take over the world…

Learned to cook (and bake)

I consider cooking and baking to be a skill (and also something pretty much anyone should be able to do. Following a recipe isn’t that hard!). But I will be the first to admit that I’ve gone beyond the basics and can now whip up some pretty amazing concoctions. Being able to make an excellent Christmas dinner may not be particularly glamorous, but we can’t all be musicians, artists or geniuses and there aren’t many people who don’t enjoy a good meal (or delicious chocolate brownie…)

Aaaand that’s all for this series. Next time I ask myself what I’ve been doing all my life I’ll have to look back at this and remind myself that, actually, I have done quite a lot. Now if only I could figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life (other than not end up as a career woman, that is, however convinced my family may be that precisely that is my fate).

In case you missed them, links to the first two parts:

Things I HAVE done before 30 – Part 1: Travel

Venice from the air
Venice from the air

I said I was going to have a think about the things I have managed to achieve in life before hitting the dreaded 30, and since I currently have nothing else worth saying, now seems as good a time as any to start blogging about what I’ve come up with. I thought I would start with some of the travel-related things that I’ve done. Here they are…

Been to Rome – twice!
I have been to lots of places, actually. But Rome seems to be one that’s always mentioned when people talk about places  they would like to go, or think that everyone should really have been to.

The first time I went to Rome it was an 18th birthday present from my uncle. I went with him, his partner and my sister for a long weekend. I mostly remember delicious pasta, my uncle walking off in his own little bubble – crossing roads like the traffic wasn’t even there while the rest of us struggled to keep up, queueing for absolutely ages at the colloseum, but finding it was worth it once we got in, deciding Trevi fountain was my absolute favourite place on Earth, falling asleep under a tree in a park and drinking cocktails in an Irish bar. It was a good weekend.

My second trip to Rome was with Jan, my mum and step dad, my sister (again) and her boyfriend and my brother. I wrote a little about that trip here. My main memories of my second visit to The Eternal City include walking until I got blisters on my feet, finidng Trevi fountain to be just as beautiful as I remembered but much more crowded (I’m sure it must have been just as bad the first time and I’d just erased it from my memory), feeling like I was going to pass out from the heat at the Roman Forum (it’s impressive but there’s literally no shade!), creepy monk bones in the Capucin crypt (which you can read all about in the post I linked to) and queuing for ages to get into St. Peter’s Basilica.

Foro Romano: Impressive but severely lacking in shade!
Foro Romano: Impressive but severely lacking in shade!

Travelled first class
In Germany, it often works out cheaper to get the first class savings price than the regular price for second class (once the savers price for second class has run out). Jan and I did this on the way back from Hamburg, among other trips. I was also once allowed to take a seat in first class when the car where I had reserved a seat was not actually part of the train (this happens quite a lot in Germany… why?!). First class seats have more room, but other than that travelling first class on a train isn’t all that amazing.

I have also flown business class. The day we went to Rome was my 18th birthday. My uncle, at the time, was working at the airport – as was his flatmate. The flatmate was on duty that day, so he took our tickets and passports to wherever those in charge hide out when they’re not telling you what to do and had them upgrade us as a birthday treat for me. We also got free champagne on the flight. And before take off the co-pilot came to me and said he’d heard it was my 18th birthday and would I like to come in the cockpit for the landing? I was too stunned to reply, but luckily my sister said yes on my behalf – so when we landed in Rome I was in the cockpit of the plane! There’s an experience I doubt many people have had.

Lived in four different countries
Specifically England, Northern Ireland, Austria and Germany. Critics may say that, because we lived on an army base, we were technically in England, not Northern Ireland “proper”. I say that’s silly – of course we were living in Northern Ireland! And if anybody tries to tell me that England and Northern Ireland are not, in fact, countries but mere regions of the “country” that is the United Kingdom I may have to track you down and hurt you!

Feldkirch, Austria, where I lived for 10 months
Feldkirch, Austria, where I lived for 10 months

Been to the USA
Yes, I’m aware that it’s a big country, but going to the US is our equivalent of the Americans’ “go to Europe”. Where we go isn’t necessarily important, but everyone should (apparantly) have at least set foot on American soil.
Going to America had never been a particular ambition of mine, but Jan was there and I hadn’t seen him for 6 months, so when my dad offered me flights for Christmas I obviously leapt at the chance. I enjoyed my time there – my favourite of the places I saw was Philadelphia – but I have to admit I like Europe better. There’s just so much more history here! It was fun to visit a place called New Castle though – named after England’s very own Newcastle Upon Tyne! (Sorry, no photo. I have absolutely no idea where mine are!)

Seen Stonehenge
And Hadrian’s Wall, the Eiffel Tower, the Colloseum in Rome and the Statue of Liberty (from the ferry rather than up close, but still seen!).

Stonehenge on a cloudy day
Stonehenge on a cloudy day

Spent New Year in various places
Specifically New York (USA), Vienna (Austria), Prague (Czech Republic), Paris (France), Brussels (Belgium), Padua (Italy), Edinburgh (Scotland), Salzburg (Austria) and Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) – in that order. Next will hopefully be Madeira (Portugal).

The city of Brussels knows how to do fireworks! New Year 2008/09
The city of Brussels knows how to do fireworks! New Year 2008/09

Spent the night on a train
Once in the Liegewagen (couchette car) – the non-private, uncomfortable sleeping compartment where you get to smell complete strangers’ feet all night – and once in a proper sleeping compartment, which has more comfortable beds (with something resembling mattresses) and is for two people only. There’s also a wash basin in there (and the posh ones even have a shower!). The sleeping car I would recommend, the couchette not so much!

Been to all four countries of the United Kingdom
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Admittedly, I remember very little of Northern Ireland (I lived there for two years, but we left when I was 7), but I’ve still been!

Loch Lomond, Scotland
Loch Lomond, Scotland

Visited 30 German towns
At least that’s the plan. Hopefully by the time I reach 30 I’ll have completed this challenge! You can read all about my German travels on this very blog (check out the page on the right).

Travelled to numerous other places in Europe
The Channel Islands, Greece (Rhodes  – I would love to go the mainland), Spain, Portugal, Malta, France (not only Paris), Switzerland, Liechtenstein… I wonder if I’ve missed any?

A "living statue" on La Ramblas, Barcelona
A “living statue” on La Ramblas, Barcelona

If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading! Part two will look at some of the experiences I’ve had – such as trying different foods. Watch this space!

Things I HAVE done before 30

to-do-listAs you may have noticed, I am turning 30 this year (and if you haven’t you’re either new to this blog – in which case Hiii! – or you really don’t pay attention to what you read…). Naturally, this means the people I went to school with are also turning 30, and being almost the youngest in my year, this means most of my old classmates get to go through it before me.

Recently, yet another guy I knew in high school turned 30 (no, I’m not American. The majority of Northumberland still has first, middle and high schools).  This was his Facebook status on the big day (grammar corrected by me, because I couldn’t bring myself to sully my blog with things like “iv” instead of “I’ve” and a complete lack of full stops/capital letters!) :

Thanks so much for the birthday wishes people. I’ve had a class day with *name of his wife* being spoilt. I’ve been thinking about life and all the things I’ve done and achieved and I haven’t done too bad. Danced for my country all over the world, won and competed in some of the biggest competitions in the world, acted in Byker Grove lol, appeared at the Palladium in Oliver and Les Miserables with some of the best actors, done the Royal Variety Show etc etc. I’m only saying this as they are things I’m very proud to have done, but in the 30 years I’ve been here my two biggest achievements are 1- marrying the girl of my dreams and 2- being able to raise and be part of my amazing little girl’s life. I’m a very lucky person 🙂

My first reaction on reading all that was sadness. My heart immediately sank and I thought “why is it always other people that get to feel like that? When will it be my turn to get what I want?”. But one of the things I want to do differently as I attempt to make some changes in my life is to finally learn think positively, so I stopped myself in my tracks and tried to look at things differently. OK, I may not have met anyone famous (let alone acted with them!), been in any international competitions (mostly because I’ve never wanted to) or even done the two things he is most happy about, namely married the love of my life and created a child. But that doesn’t mean my years on this planet have been wasted. I’ve just done different things – and I’m sure there are plenty that other people I went to school with would be jealous of. Still unconvinced, I decided to make a concrete list of all the things I will have experienced and achieved by the time I turn 30 in August. And then, because merely writing something down for myself could never be enough, I naturally decided that I also had to blog about my experiences. There’s something about posting things on my blog that makes them feel that much more real to me (and plus it gives me an excuse to go through all my old photos, which is almost like experiencing the things I’ve done all over again).

And now that the explanation of why I’m doing this is a million miles long, I think I’ll put the actual list in a separate blog post. Or possibly even split it into sections and make a series of it. I’ve already started writing my list on paper (I would be finished if new things didn’t keep occurring to me!) and will be transferring it to the blog soon. Watch this space!