Hello from a sunny Medellin, Colombia.

A note to let you know I've moved. I am now writing on www.hollydavina.com.

Come & say hello!

H xx

Roll Up, Roll Up, Feminism for sale

Image source: PLT Instagram

"Ugh. Babes for Babes is just cringe-worthy within itself." my friend exclaims whilst scrolling through her Instagram feed, having stumbled across fast-fashion brand, Pretty Little Thing's latest attempt to jump on the feminism bandwagon. I laugh in agreement as it becomes apparent that I'm not the only one feeling like 20% for International Women's Day is an offer a little unpalatable to swallow. Indeed, all of these brands suddenly wishing to show support, couldn't possibly be in a bid to sell more things could it? 

This year, brands using International Women's Day as an excuse to piggyback their logo across social media were unavoidable. Whilst originally intended to recognise and celebrate women for their achievements regardless of gender or divisions, I can't help but feel that the day's meaning got lost in the ploys of marketing teams. Whilst we all love an offer, what was being said about what the day really meant? Truth be told, I'm also a little uncomfortable with the idea that your support for international women's rights is validated when you like their latest Instagram post. Not only this, but the irony really hits home when you consider fast-fashion brands paying women making the clothes pennies a day on the other side of the world. Kind of feels a little disjointed from the 'Yay, Happy International Women's Day!' rhetoric we're becoming so accustomed to hearing, huh? 

Google, 'feminism for sale' (this article is great) and it is clear that I'm part of a growing millennial group questioning what brands and corporations are actually doing for gender equality. Already branded as McFeminism, brand's lack of altruism is scary and isn't going unnoticed. Maybe I'm totally off the mark here, but surely it's only a certain amount of time until people start calling corporations out?

Of course, you can argue that it gives the movement a bigger platform to stand on, raising awareness for a greater cause. But where do you draw the line with brands promoting something good for the wrong reasons? Is it a good or bad thing that 12 year olds are walking around with GRL PWR written on their T-shirts? And who's to say whether it is or not anyway? 

Judging by our inundated feeds and high-street merchandising, I can't help but think that this trend is unavoidable. Feminism won't be the last political movement up for sale. So, does this mean that fast-fashion brands should look to a happier alternative? Perhaps fast-fashion retailers should look to established designers like Stella Mccartney for their environmental activism and Burberry for involvement with the LGBT community. Instead entwining it with their core values, making their standpoint more than just a one-day thing and something they stand for throughout the year.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel brands are putting feminism up for sale?

Money Diary - Refinery 29 Style

Refinery 29, my favourite online platform for binge reading has inspired today`s post. Each month, the site releases a randomly selected reader`s money diary (I`ve linked it here).

In combination with job title and salary, here they list every minute detail of what the chosen reader spends their money on - rent, food, dates... You name it - it`s on there. And it`s the perfect lazy read if you`re nosey  curious, like me.

Besides being a fun piece, I think the taboo we hold over money in the UK is a little obscene and something  to be addressed. I don`t care if people know how much I earn. I think it`s important that we share this information as young people (and perhaps even more so as women when the gender pay gap comes into consideration). It`s not cool to be clueless about the pay check you deserve and we shouldn`t be underselling ourselves. Even though I don`t currently have a `proper` job, hopefully this post will help someone who is interested in teaching or living abroad.

Industry: English as a Foreign Language Teacher
Age: 23
Location: Rio de Janeiro

Expenses (In GBP):
Rent:  £79.25 per week (Room in an apartment with 3 other flatmates)
Bills£5.62 per week
Travel: Roughly £12.00
Beer: Roughly £20.00
Food: Roughly £30.00 
Portuguese Lessons£15.00

Total spent: $104 RS (Roughly  £25)

Dancing Samba under archways in the rain - I`m so in love

Wake up at 7.15am and eyes still half closed, hobble into the living room. Try to find the hideous bright blue T-Shirt I have to wear as uniform to teach Chinese students online. I teach for 3 hours (including one awful rendition of Happy Birthday to a 3 year old boy and his parents). Quickly shut laptop and run to my Portuguese lesson next door. The lady is 80 and writes all of my lessons on a type writer (it is SO sweet). I pay her 70 reais for an hour (Normally it`s 60 but I owed her from the last week). Proceed to spend the afternoon moping and complaining that I miss London.

Finish my 2018 Goals blog post and curl up in a tiny ball on the sofa, proceed to watch 5 episodes of End of the F*cking world on Netflix. Realise that I`ve spent so much time claiming to be lonely that I am actually late to meet my friends (lol) - put on the bodysuit I've been saving to wear until I feel like a need a pick me up (you know those clothes that make you feel fancy), a denim mini skirt and a retro fanny pack I wear across body. (I'm heading to downtown Rio and its not the place to bring a handbag - unless you want to be robbed). 

Stop by a bakery and grab a pastry repeatedly check with the guy that it is `Sem Carne`. Once absence of carne is confirmed, I run to the Metro and realise I`ve not topped up my Metro card. I pay 10r (Around 2.20) and jump on the next train. 

f*ck f*ck I`m half an hour late.  I get there and thankfully, they`re still there. We leave the Metro and realise its peeing it down with rain (tropical rain storms are so common here). We jump in an Uber (my friend pays) and head to the party. It`s a Samba bloco that is prepping for Carnival. 

Despite it absolutely pissing it down we dance for hours in a courtyard between worn colonial style buildings that tower above us. Enclosed by street venders that sell questionable beer and meat. My feet quickly become so dirty from the combination of grimy streets, rain water and flip flops. I buy a round of drinks (12r) and am SO happy. 

Head a little fuzzy from the beer we decide to go into Lapa (another party area). As we leave a Brasilian guy comes up to me and asks me where I`m from. He tells me that I samba really well (believe me this is not true.. I was shuffling my feet like the penguins from happy feet and occasionally moving my arms in the hope that it would remotely look like I know what I am doing.) He tells me he`s an artist and wants to paint me. To which I laugh because I find it incredibly cliche and say what like Titanic? (So smooth Holly, SO smooth). 

At this point I can feel my friends staring at me and mouthing `HE`S HOT, HE`S HOT`. I let him put his Instagram in my phone (everyone asks for Instagrams here?) and run off. To which I then spend the next taxi ride explaining every detail of the conversation to my friends in the Uber. We arrive in Lapa (anyone who`s reading this and been to Rio will know this neighbourhood). I cant even begin to explain - basically it`s a huge street party area that is as weird as it is a fun night out. Huddled round a bowl of pasta (5r), I share my second carb fix of the night and discuss the plan of action. Someone plants the seed of going home and everyone agrees. We grab the last metro and head home. One of the girls, Eira, is staying at mine and we stop off to buy sweets before going to my apartment (2r). We spend the next hour analysing the Artist Guy`s instagram and have a deep chat about how we have no idea what we are doing with our lives. 


Total spent: $20r (Roughly £5)

As per, I wake up early compared to my friend and lay there for a while. Curse of an early riser - I always wake up at 7am and feel pressured to wait for my friends to wake up. I scroll through my phone for half an hour whilst trying to decide my level of hangover - I`d say a 6. Winning. 

Eira finally wakes up and we form a plan of action - snacks and Netflix. We head to the supermarket and buy breakfast. They say never do a supermarket shop when you`re hungry, but I think this is emphasised by 1000x when youre hungover. Ability to make good purchasing decisions? 0. I come out with fake brasilian pringles, watermelon, eggs, tomatoes, bread and cake (10r). 

Returning to my apartment, we attempt to make Turkish Eggs (Recipe here) and salvage a snack nest on the sofa. We start to watch A typical (really good TV show)... again watch 5 episodes (oops). 

After Eira leaves I facetime one of my closest friends, Abbi and discuss her trip to Rio in March (yaay), straight after I facetime my South African friend and realise I`m running late for my lesson. Later, I wolf down half a banana I`ve had laying in the fridge and take a brisk walk to the Metro. Realising I need to top up AGAIN (10r), I arrive 5 minutes late but thankfully this is normal by Brazilian standards - I finish teaching my student and take the Metro home. I curl up with a Tofu stirfry for dinner and make a pityful attempt at understanding my flatmates conversation in Portuguese about Star Signs ... I learn a new word Caraca (wtf!). Aaaand also agree to go for a drink with Brasilian Artist guy on the Monday....


Total Spent: $48r (Roughly £12)

The beach infront of my apartment 

Wake up at 7.15am and wolf down breakfast - coffee and banana + oats. I panic because I realise I have left the ugly blue top in the wash and sign in to teach. I stare at the computer screen. Sh*t. I don`t even teach on Mondays. 

Decide to be productive and sign-up for more overtime for later in the week. Start writing this blog post. After, I head down to the beach for an hour to read my book - a murder novel given to me by a friend`s mum. I head to the supermarket and buy some vegetables for the meals I want to make in the week (Ratalloui and Curry) (30r) - food is super expensive here (London Prices). 

I also grab an acai to eat while I plan my lessons for the evening (8r). I make a Thai salad (cucumber rice carrot and tofu) and set down to work. 5pm quickly rolls on and I have a Skype lesson. I make an attempt to make myself look presentable (I have the date later, remember?) - This entails a fringe wash and some concealer on the spot that has decided to take residence on my chin (I thought blemishes were supposed to stop at 18?)  and run out to meet another student. An hours teaching over and I am actually on time for my date at 8.15. 

I meet him outside the metro station of Botafogo, a really artsy neighbourhood and Rio`s equilivilent to Shoreditch. He looks very cool and has a great sense of style (he later told me that this was he only T-shirt not covered in paint... why is that attractive?!). We sat outside one of the bars, chatted and drank beer for a few hours. Brasilians are really touchy feely and at one point he grabs both of my cheeks (on my face...) and squeezes them like you would a baby. I almost jump out of my skin because of the sudden intrusion into my personal space ha, #ColdAsIce) And he tells me I`m fofa (cute). There`s a bit of a language barrier but the conversation is still good. Good enough for midnight to quickly roll around and me realise I need to get the last tube (Cinderella style). He needs to head in that direction too and so we ask for the bill. Despite my protests, he insists on paying - I can get it next time. After topping up my Metro card agaaain (ugh - 10reais), we get the metro. He gets off at my Metro stop (he is definitely going the longest route home just to walk me back) and walks me to my door. I get home and quickly make an egg sandwich ... burn the pan. Crawl into bed.

Total Spent: $42r (Roughly £10)

Canastra Tuesdays - A must if you ever go to Rio

6 hours later I wake up and make the preparations to start work... Aka donning the hideous blue t-shirt, making an attempt to tie up my (still) unwashed hair and wolfing down coffee/banana oats. I start teaching at 8am. Roughly 10 renditions of the ABC later and I am free for the afternoon. A friends brother is visiting and I agreed to help keep up appearances by going to the beach with them and demonstrating that she has at least one friend here in Rio (what are friends for hey?). I buy an acai for myself and my friend (20r) and head home to teach a lesson. Student cancels - fab.u.lous.

Later I head to our friendship group`s wateringhole - a huge street party called Canastra. 2 Pao de Queijo later (12r) and a caiprihina (10r) and I make the tipsy journey home.

Total Spent: $40r (£10)

Wake up hangover free and start teaching China. Draw up a to do list for the day. I have lessons`s until 8.30pm -It`ll be a long one. I run from lesson to lesson, picking up a quick bite of pao de quiejo as I go (5r) and inbetween manage to squeeze in a free class at the local language school to brush up on my Portuguese. I also agree to meet Artist guy at the end of the day. As the evening comes around I go for my final lesson of the day which is super chilled - we just have conversation over beer. I meet artist guy straight after and head back to the same bar I had my lesson (god I pray the barman doesn`t think I`m back to back dating or something like this). We chat for a couple of hours. It gets late and I insist on paying the bill this time (35r). He insists on paying my Uber.

Total Spent: $19r (Roughly £5)

8am and I am back online teaching China. I have little to no plans for today other than reading and doing a language swap. I sit on the beach reading for a few hours with a break to rest at a beach bar where I buy a beer (8r). Before leaving, I meet my friend who hands over and order of clothes I made from England. Including THE greatest item of clothing to ever exist (see pic) #AmIRight? A little later on I take a trip to an organic store and pick up a few hundred grams of oats, tapioca flour and some sundried tomatoes (11r). I make the 40 minute walk down to the other end of Copacabana and meet Angela, a lady who I do a language swap with. We talk in English over acai and then swap to fragmented Portugues (she insists on paying). Although I craved an early night, I somehow managed to go to bed at 1am, with an alarm set for 6.30am... joy.

Total spent: $5r (Roughly £1.25)

Friday mornings are always a rush. I quickly put together a bag and get ready (nowadays this consists of showering, concealing any spots and brushing my eyebrows. Having a tan is SO liberating for your face! I take the Metro to my students flat where he greats me with a coffee (thank god). I spend a few hours teaching him (8am to 10am) and upon leaving, grab some pineapple from the fruit man outside of his flat (5r). I head back home and plan a lesson for the afternoon, it`s on Skype so I have a relaxed few hours - Go to the beach for an hour (finish my book) and later make a huge batch of curry. A really relaxed night follows. It feels good to have a tame Friday. 


NB: I think this post must have a few typos. I`m using a Portuguese computer so it doesn`t pick up spelling errors in English - oops!

8 GOALS FOR 2018


With my last post being a reflection on 2017, it feels only right to follow things up with a round up of goals for 2018. Im blessed with the fact that my schedule here in Brazil leaves so much time for reflection. With that, I`ve thought long and hard about what I want to achieve over the next year and how I want to spend my free time.

For me, January marks Chapter 1 of a new book.That feeling when you were young at school with an untouched crisp white page in front of you . An opportunity to start afresh with a newly rejuvinated mindset. Exciting, motivating and (if I'm honest, a little daunting).

This year, I`ve made a pact to myself to do something small to work towards these goals everyday. The way I see it, I will be making progress everyday; slowly chipping away at the bigger picture - whether that`s listening to a podcast, taking a lesson or reaching out to someone I admire. 

So here goes, although almost two weeks late (better late than never, eh?), my goals for 2018:

To study towards something
Constantly curious, I love learning for the sake of learning. Those who know me well will forever find me with my nose buried in a book or demanding that we pause conversation to Google something. So, it just makes sense to take advantage of my free time here and begin an online course. The only thing is that I'm torn by doing something I have personal interest in, like International Relations or instead, going down the more practical path of learning to code (#DigitalNomadLifeComeAtMe). I`m spending time over the next few weeks researching a few courses and will hopefully make my mind up soon. Any advice welcome! 

An obvious one... Become fluent(ish) in a second language
I can only guess the amount of time I will be in Brazil and with that,how fluent I will be upon my departure (uh it pains me to even think about leaving). But whilst I am here I want to try my hardest to pick up as much Portuguese as I can. It's such a beautiful language and I so badly want to interact with people on a deeper level. 

To speak up when something isn`t ok 
Grow a thicker skin, toughen up, no more Mr Nice Guy... whatever you want to call it. As I mentioned in my reflecting on 2017 post, this year I`m hoping to be a little truer to myself and voice when something doesn`t sit right with me.I need to stop being afraid of conflict and tell people if I think they`re being a little shitty. This includes being upfront and asking the questions I`m scared of - there`s been a few instances over the past year where I`ve replayed scenarios or wondered for ages what someone else is thinking (you know how it is). Now, I am going to pluck up the courage to ask. 

Look into creating a community or charity project
I discussed the idea of so many different projects with friends in 2017. From language swaps to coffee bean bag programmes and I`m kicking myself for just having the conversation and not actually looking into the feasibility of setting them up. The ´share economy` is ever present and this year, I owe it to myself to take my ideas a little more seriously and explore the idea of creating something that can make other people`s lives better. 

Conduct a wardrobe refresh
Something a little more materialistic, but nevertheless true. This year I want to streamline my wardrobe to contain only clothes I actually wear. So, in 2018 I will be saying  bye to the 2014 topshop sale dress that I *might* wear again and those badly fitted All Saints jeans I don`t wear but keep because they were a bargain. Not only will I be saying goodbye to many pieces (expect a monster Depop sale when I return to the UK), but I`ll be boycotting fastfashion and making a promise to only buy good quality pieces that will last a long time - either second hand or in store. 

To read everyday (even for 30 minutes)
Easily said and easily done but taking a small amount of time out of your day to read is such a valuable thing to do. For that precious half an hour you`re offline and training your mind to be present and focused on a singular thing - something that I (like most millennials) really struggle with. Not only this, but the amount of information available in books is so incredibly vast - you can find a career mentor, life coach or friend between the pages. For those who think I`m talking a load of rubbish, pleaaase watch this TEDTalk (Link here) - Tai Lopez puts his point across in a way 1000x better than me and it makes So. Much. Sense. 

To use my creativity more
Creativity is ingrained in my nature. When I was younger I would sketch, paint, write and loved making videos. Yet over the past few years, I think a combination of my degree, choice of jobs (and if I`m honest to myself, laziness), left me feeling like I couldn`t take time out of my day to do these things anymore. When I`m creating I feel at my happiest and most myself, so this year I`m going to be writing every day, reuniting with my watercolours and may even try to make some videos (there`s so many elements of Brazilian culture that I`d love to capture). I think this resolution even extends itself to becoming more involved with modeling. It`s something I love - becoming the character of clothes you`re wearing and working with a photographer to create a particular vision (more shoots please!) 

And finally, to write an article somewhere... 
Rewind 12 years and you would find a 12 year old Holly, like clockwork exchanging every shred of her weekly pocket money for Teen Vogue from the town centre WH Smiths. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor and looking at the journalist´s name at the end of the page and wondering what it would be like if I was to ever write an article. Although my choice of outlet has grown, I still do the same thing. I read articles from The Guardian to Refinery 29 and wonder what it would be like if I was to write about the same topic and how I would structure it. Whilst I don`t anticipate to see my name on Conde Nast traveller any time soon (although that would be a dream), I`m going to be submitting articles to online outlets. Eventually, I hope something will be published. 

A note: Reading over these goals again, it`s so apparent that 2018 will be a year of words for me. Absorbing new words in the form of researching new opportunities and more importantly, expressing words - whether thats language related, speaking my mind or putting pen to paper. And with 2017 still fresh in mind, I can`t help but think that it will be a year of words for the rest of the world also.  2017 brought us all so much change - political earthquakes and more people using their voices than ever. It`s so important that we carry this on in 2018 and continue to collectively use our voices to evolve so that the future is brighter and fairer - not just for ourselves but for others who haven`t been gifted the same platform as us, too.

So, here`s to 2018. Let`s see where the year takes us. 

Holly x