Monday, 28 May 2012


Hey everyone

I have been really terrible with keeping this blog up to date but i am going to put it down to me having no time as i am having so much fun. Really its the truth. We are now at the end of May and next month will be my last full month in Mauritius… honestly cant believe it, everyday i feel different about it. I miss home of course, but me as a person has changed over here in Mauritius and now everyday things i use to question become normal for me. Looking over my time here i have grown so much. 

Since i last wrote we have been taking holidays for a break because we haven't been off since christmas. Freya and I both took two weeks off but separately. It was really nice to have some time away from work and relax. Most of my time was spent with one of my Mauritian friends who took me around the island a bit. There are only a few more things i need to do before i go, like scuba diving but its pretty expensive so waiting until the end of my year. For now we are back at work teaching after the kids had two weeks off. There has been some Drama at work.. one girl had to leave shelter because she was really badly behaved. The police had to even come and she still bad mouthed them. Really couldn't believe it but it made me realise where these girls have come from and what they think is acceptable. More recently a group of the girls caused havoc one evening turning off all the lights and taking out new plates etc and chucking them around, smashing everything up. Was pretty scary to think some of the girls were capable of this, i was more shocked and disappointed than anything. They don't realise that this stuff is for them to use.. but still they break it. It was a hard day for us as we realised how maybe we also were not appreciated. Its frustrating more than anything, we gave up a year of our lives to come out here and help but they just don't understand, we some of them anyway.  Right now at work we are teaching maths a lot as we have recognised a lack of knowledge within this area.. for example how are they going to work with small change when they leave? to buy their food etc.  All the girls had tests for HIV and AIDS last week which is really good for them to do, we also did one to put them at ease. Its really great that people come into places like this and help. 

There has been a dramatic change in the weather, its defiantly winter now. Gradually its been getting colder, the jeans have been on and a thin jumper. But today.. wow i was actually shivering. The rain is pretty bad too and everyone is saying its like cyclone weather… oooer. Sunday's are now not good for going to the beach… well for me anyway cause im no longer a typical tourist. IM MAURITIAN!! 

Everyday i think about my time left, Im excited of course but wow i am so scared as well. Just picking my life up and moving back home when you have become so relaxed in a community you were once never part of. Leaving people who have become so important to you, great friends and people you will never forget. Will defiantly miss this place and i know i will be back so soon!  so yeah my emotions are weird right now. 

I haven't got much else to say other than the next month is going to be really hard for me, really don't wanna leave! 

take a gap year


Saturday, 10 March 2012

I cant believe its March...

Blog - March 2012

Half way through my gap year.

Hey Everyone. Cant believe its March already, pretty scary how time flies. I have now been in Mauritius for over 5 months and i am still loving every minute of my experience. I will be back in Inverurie soon so need to make the time i have left :(, sorry guys but i just cant imagine coming home!! It seems like only yesterday i was raising my funds to get here and now its March already! Anyway i will tell you what has been going on over the past few months.

Since my operation we have still all been having small boils and abcesses which is really annoying swell as painful. Our doctor over here has been so kind letting us off with expensive appointment fees and such like! Right now she has decided to put us on a course of anti biotics for 2 weeks for all 4 of us living in the house because she reckons we keep re infecting each other!!  It has been a really burden for us and everyone here is confused on why we are getting these things, most people put it down to our weak scottish immune systems! We think the problem originated from my workplace as the girls there are often complaining about boils, theres not much we can do about it. Enough about that though, you probably didn't want to hear!

Work is good but can sometimes be frustrating and hard, which obviously i expected. Not going to tell you that everyday is amazing, i am going to tell you the truth. At the start of January which is the start of the school year here in Mauritius, we had a small class of around 6 or 7 girls ranging from 7- 14.  They were all meant to go to school but the office staff hadn't sorted it out in time which is such a shame. Those who were able were becoming frustrated with us asking why they had to stay at home. We structured a school day within the shelter which included Maths,English,French,Art,Cooking etc. Originally i was given a social work project but now it has turned into full time Teaching, i am  fine with that but could of done with the specific training. The teaching is easy stuff, a few of the girls have trouble recognising numbers and knowing how to write numbers so i can say its quite a challenged. The same problem in English also, not knowing how to write or recognise letters of the alphabet. One girl has been through the school for 13 years but they let her go this year because of her lack of intrest and ability to do the work which to me is terrible, they need to keep trying with her. I am finding it hard to get through to her, at the age of 13 i am totally shocked by the understanding of numbers and letters.  The other girls are around 7 -10 and they have been luck enough to go to school this week which i am happy because i can see them progressing far as they are being sent before its too late. So after maybe 6 weeks of having that group we were changed a day before our project trust manager came, ahhh! Things like that is what annoys me, the staff need to sit down and discuss what they wish us to be doing. So now we have girls from the age of 13-18, teaching them various projects, right now is Marine life and pollution within that. Many of the girls do not want to work and wish to sleep all day, so motivating them is a challenged. We also don't have a classroom so we are disturbed a lot by other girls in the shelter and the young babies. We try and teach maths and english from 9am-12pm and in the afternoon do something fun like art or cooking. Right now we are focussing on Mauritius Independence day which is on the 12 of March and is taken rather seriously!! the girls now left in the shelter are those who are sitting for the CPE examination and those who refuse to go to school. It has been really weird seeing all the young ones go to school and nursery. Some of the girls who stay home are difficult with us and sometimes very rude to us, it is hard for them to understand that i cannot always be their friends but their teacher too. In January a few of the older girls turned 18, so legally they can return home, 2 girls left which was great but they left behind 2 other girls who were there friends, these two found it very difficult without them and decided one night they would run away, very sad again and now they are in a worse shelter with around 100 children. It is sad when things like this happens.

Last week we had Nick Rowland our desk officer from project trust visit, to see how we are getting on. It went really well! He visited shelter and had a nice lunch and saw us in action, although the kids acted really loud and behaved badly it wasn't too bad!! He said he was happy with us and so was our boss Sheela. While Nick was here there was a function at the British High Commisioners for potential NGEO's to come forward and potentially have volunteers in the years to come. It was a really good evening and we met many worthy charities which would really benefit from having Project Trust Volunteers. Also very sad to think new volunteers will be coming soon :(! I do hope Mauritius stays open as a project but it is a really expensive country for volunteers to be living in and the projects would need to have accommodation rather than a flat, which is totally unique to project trust this year as many volunteers live in their projects. We also had a really nice day out ( taking advantage of nicks car ) we went down the west of the island into the black river gorge national park, we visited Victoria waterfall, Chamarel where they have 7 different types of soil, all different colours. We also drove along the coast of Le Morne which was beautiful, saw a lady having wedding pictures taken on the beach, thats how stunning it was. My tan is still going strong!

In January we also experienced our first stage 3 tropical cyclone! It meant that everyone had to stay indoors and everything was sealed down! to be fair it just felt like a wet scottish day! Still an experience though. First one in 4 years for Mauritius.  As for our plans to go to the other Islands surrounding Mauritius it is not looking good! Really expensive and with all of us hoping to do more travelling when we return to the UK we all feel like we would prefer to save our money. I am planning to take a week off in April after the girls at the shelter have had their holidays. In that time i will probably get around the island a bit more. Also before i leave in July i will take 2 weeks off to do scuba diving and such like. Really looking forward to my last 4 months in Mauritius and hopefully it doesn't seem like its flying by!

As for me, im fine embracing all the experiences and changing everyday.

Hope everyone is well and Uni applying isn't too stressful, i hope some of you really consider a gap year!


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Week 13 - Christmas news

Week 13 - approaching 4 month target

Bonjour mo amies !

Firstly Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great Christmas, for me it was a little different to the one i experience at home. I will take you back to december where we had a very important day at Shelter. Construction work has been ongoing since my arrival in September and they have finished one part of it, a covered outside area for the girls to play in when its bad weather, which is rare!! We had a visit from the prime minister of Mauritius who came and looked at all the work which had been done, he also stayed for a little show the shelter girls put on. They danced for him and sang christmas songs which i too joined in. He looked like he had a very good afternoon at Shelter. Freya and I have also been invited over for dinner at his home by his wife who studied in the UK for sometime, exciting huh! Also in December we went to a 2 day traditional indian wedding. It was the wedding of a colleague. We were told we could wear anything but we wished to dress traditional - i wore a churidai and trousers, many women wore full indian dress- Sari. The colours were amazing.It started on a Saturday evening where it was the girls ceremony at her home. Her side of the family attended and her friends. The same was happening at her partners house. We firstly ate traditional indian food, Dholl puri which is several curries served with duri ( rice) and crisp breads. We ate with our hands on a banana leaf. After we ate we made our way to the ceremony where the girl would be given away ready for the wedding tomorrow. The prayers were said in Hindi so there is not much i can recall, but i do remember that they could not put saffron on her forehead because it was a full moon that evening and in the Qurran it forbids this until early the next morning when the moon is out of site. The next day we returned to the girls home and now the marque was full of both families, never seen so many different coloured saris. The man arrived with a lot of indian music playing, he sat at the alter and waited for the bride to come down, she was wearing red and a lot of gold, she looked stunning. The ceremony was long and gifts were given from both families. There is no reception here, everyone then moves onto the boys house and celebrate and they then leave for there honeymoon. It was a very special experience and i will always remember it! on the run up to christmas we took a few days off. We decided to hire a car to make the most use of our time off so we could see a lot more of the island.

On Christmas Eve we went to the Casela Nature Park at Flic en Flac we had booked a full day there, doing zip lines and such like. When you imagine zip lines i think of the one in the local park at home, it was so amazing when it was built, every child wanted a go on it, but boy when i saw these zip lines i was a little scared. they were around 400 metres high and all you could see was jungle beneath you. In total we did 4000metres of zip lines. Once you did your first one you didn't want to stop!! They gave you a adrenaline burst and the views were breath taking. After we had done at least 2 hours of zip lines we did some hill walking into the jungle and found a spot to have lunch and there were natural pools of water with waterfalls draining into them, ideal place to swim! the pools were 15ft deep, we were diving in and using zip lines to plunge into the pool, it was amazing!! We had a bbq there and it was a good time to reflect why i took a gap year, to experience these kind of things! After lunch we walked down back into the jungle and found a canyon which we had to cross to get to the other side of the mountain to climb up. there was a canoe which we put our clothes in and took through to the other side of the canyon, we swam along with the eels to the other side, put our clothes on and started hill walking again, and our next challenge faced us, a 40 ft bridge between two mountains. We were accompanied for this as it was quite dangerous, we took it very slow as it was unstable. Again it was a scary experience! Casela was such a good day and i would defiantly consider going again before i leave.

Christmas day was spent opening the presents we were given and we also went up to shelter for lunch which was nothing like home! We ate various curries, rice, noodles, etc! very different but very nice! it will be now 2 years i  until i eat turkey!!  The day was relaxing and nothing much happened. People treated as a normal day, many shops were still open which i find really weird!! The variety of Religions is probably the reason it is barely celebrated.  Of course Christmas isn't christmas without playing monopoly( well in my family) I am also champion here 3 time winner and yet to be beaten!! Love it!  Boxing day was spent at the beach, one in the South unfortunately it was a poor day and we didn't spend very long there. In the evening we took a trip to the new mall of Mauritius called bagatelle where we went to see the new twilight, we couldn't resist, - Sorry gap year!! New year was great spent with my friends here and our neighbours- everyone really comes together! We made friends with people on our street and had a few beers with them which was nice, its nice to accepted! Fireworks were everywhere and lovely to watch. they are still continuing now and its the middle of January!!

With the new year came bad news, over the months i have developed a few boils in my sweat glands, but they were easily resolved at home, but i found a huge one, the size of a golf ball, which was so painful i took a visit to casualty at a good clinic close by. I was looked at by a surgeon who said it wasn't a boil but a abscess which had to have urgent sugary. So scary! Why did it have to happen now eh? what are the chances! that day i went in for surgery under general anaesthetic- also a new experience, guess you gotta try everything once in life. But i was glad it was being removed as it was so painful i could no longer live with it. I felt nothing of course and the operation took 1hr 40mins. the doctor planned for me to stay in the surgical ward for one night but the next morning i was not well and suffered nausea for a few days after. I was later let out 3 days after surgery, but was instructed not to return to work for 2 weeks. Also i must go to the clinic everyday for re-dressing which makes it very difficult to be at work. Its a big thing being out of work for 1 month at least but i hope the wound heals well and i can return to work for the remaining months. Being in hospital was obviously a scary thing but when your on your own you find ways to deal with things, without parents or a support system you think for yourself and in the end your alright, well i was anyway and i know now i can tackle a lot of things ,especially after a year away from home. So having these two weeks off give me time to get things done such as this blog! also i am thinking of projects we can do with the girls who do not attend school, please if you have any ideas let me know i am very grateful. I am focussing on the health side of things right now, how to keep yourself healthy, fit and clean. Freya is planning on doing some embroidery designs with them. I have also been saving all our old cardboard from home and im hoping to introduce a 'space' project to the little ones like i did at school and design their own space ships!

See you in my next update which could be near the 6 months mark!

Keep safe

and if anyone who is reading this is thinking of taking a gap year,do it!!

Until next time,


Friday, 18 November 2011

8 weeks in

A lot has happened since my last blog update. First i will tell you that i am well and am still loving Mauritius and trying to make a change everyday to those who suffer. A few days after i wrote we visited Port Louis, i was surprised how long it took to get there, 30minutes by bus i imagined it being longer. first impressions were, that is is very different from curepipe, more like a british city with skyscrapers and a larger sea port, where cruise ships come in. We walked along the port louis water front, which is stunning and a most enjoyable walk with the sun beaming down on you. Port Louis is very hot and not overcast like Curepipe and surrounding areas. The reason we had came to Port louis was because we had a friend of a friend who invited us for dinner, and wow it was amazing. She was so kind and hospitable, opened her door to complete strangers and offered us a lovely meal. We ate traditional Briyani, Fish and rice, i ate with my hands, like all mauritians do. It is a hard technique to manage, but i reckon i have mastered it because at the shelter its an everyday thing. The lady said she was our mauritian mum, it made me feel safe. This was one highlight of our time in Mauritius so far, making such good friends. I cant quite believe how quick time is going, i feel living for the moment is accurate but also not letting the days slipping through your fingers is important.

At the shelter, life has been busy and hectic. I have been working for 8 weeks now, and i now know everyones names! Since i last wrote, we have been continuing with Maths and English tuition and also baking classes. I have taught traditional Victoria sponge which they loved. There was also preparation for the festival of Divali, (diwali in UK) which was a great experience, it started with cleaning the shelter inside out, which is common around the time of divali, equivalent to our 'spring clean'. Preparation of sweets and dishes were made days before and the shelter was decoration with lights and lamps ( deers in creole). Many of the sweets were made from cardamon, not my cup of tea but still a new experience which must be embraced. As the day approached i was exciting to see another culture celebrate an event. We went to work around 9am, streets were empty, buses not full, but the joy and happiness came from all the houses, the sound of laughter and family spirit. for divali i wore traditional indian dress. Arriving at shelter things were busy, food was still being prepared and balloons were being hung from the ceiling. Throughout the day many donations of sweets were made, such kind people helped the girls celebrate. They expressed to me that i was doing such a good thing, it hasn't really sunk in yet but on numerous occasions many people have said ' god bless you'. In the evening many people came, important figures in Mauritius ate and danced with the girls. Lamps were lit and it was so pretty. (please take a look at my pictures on facebook) On our way home we saw many houses with beautiful lights. It was a great experience, and even at home sitting outside our door there were more sweets, from the locals. It is so nice that they have accepted us in their community.

The week of divali i worked long hours, and worked 6 days, but was rewarded with a 5 day weekend, bonus! We were asked to work on saturday, and go on a trip up to the north, balaclava, which tied in perfectly as we were all going to stay in a hotel and visit friends of Freya's visiting from the UK. Woke up at 6am and got to work for 730am, Bus drove up north arrived around 9am, this trip was a donation from barclays bank, a full day of fun activities. We arrived at an aquarium, it was awesome, such colourful fish. also sharks and turtles, they were amazing. Back on the bus and we headed to turtle bay, beautiful beach, clear blue sea and golden sand. However it was windy and i felt cold, i have totally acclimatised. We left at 12 as we were heading to our posh hotel, YAY!! We arrived and our bags were taken to our room, a ice tea in hand i was in heaven. The hotel was so lovely and apparently in the UK classed as a 2star, here in Mauritius a 5 star!! Free water activites, I'm THERE. Me and Freya went and hand lunch on the beach with her friends it was lovely. After we chilled at the hotel and had dinner. Next day i took advantages of the free things, Glass bottom boat, but i remembered i get sea sick, but you only live once! Went into the blue ocean and saw several different fish, it was amazing, was feeling pretty nauseous! the stay at the hotel was wonderful, but it was also weird when we were leaving, we were going home to Eau Coulee, not UK, no catching a plane and wishing i was back by the sea.. instead jumping in a taxi and going only 30minutes down south. After our weekend we had 3 days off, which was awesome, i chilled to the MAX, don't actually realise how tired you are until you get your lie ins.

My 7th week here was especially difficult, coping with the girls problems can be hard but you have to remember to be strong for them. Unfortunately one of the girls who was pregnant, went into labour 2 months early and lost her baby girl, it was so tragic for her and everyone at shelter, the atmosphere changed and everyone felt very sad. Also the same night one of the older girls escaped from shelter after 4 years there, it was also very sad to know that she was out there lost on the streets on her own, of course the shelter is a very secure place for the girls, however building work was on going at shelter and one of the windows at the back was broken and she slipped away late one evening. It was a very stressful time. She was eventually found 2 days later as she turned herself into the Mauritius childrens development unit, however she will not returning to shelter after her behaviour. so there you go, things are getting more intense on our end.

As the summer has came we are starting to enjoy the Island, having outings with the girls. We are visiting beaches and going on boat trips.

Living here in Mauritius is exciting and new, but i reckon now i feel like im not on holiday. Work is tough at times, i have bad days but theres always a new day round the corner. Sometimes i feel i'm not making a change, but apparently they wont be visible everyday but by just being there it is security for the girls, love or comfort they need. I feel the shelter lacks mother figures, don't get me wrong the wardens are lovely but some of the younger ones just want hugs and love. My first reaction is to just be there for them but i don't want to make it too hard for me to leave when i do.

The language Creole is a dialect of French for Mauritius, i am speaking Creole now, rather than french, very easy to pick up !! :)

Send me letters, i love them!

one thing i miss about Scotland : the coldness at night when i sleep, NO MOSQUITOS think thats it…. oh and my family.. love y'all! 

living life to the full.

Take a gap year, you wont regret it.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

first week and bit...

hello everyone! Bienvenue a l'ile Maurice!

So been here 12 days now and its going well.  First impressions of Mauritius were.. Hot and its winter..yeah baby! The mountains surrounding us are funny shaped but can be seen all around the centre plateau. We were picked up by Mandy our rep from the airport, she was standing with a sign saying 'project trust'. I was so tired.. hadn't slept for hours and now its was 9.30am in Mauritius.. 3hrs ahead of UK time. we only found this out a week ago.. aha we thought it was 4hrs. We were first taken to our home, in Eau Coulee Curepipe, it was a 1st floor apartment with a huge lounge, kitchen, bathroom area and 3 large bedrooms. However there were four of us… we needed to do a random lucky dip, we all picked out the hat and i got my own room,  My tiredness had past me now i started to unpack and make my room my own before i slept in it for the first time. Mandy came back and took us out food shopping, it was more difficult than i thought… starting from scratch! It was very cheap though. At this time we also got our Mauritian sims and phone. We then went home and put photos up. felt more like home now. family and friends surrounding me.
Our first weekend in Mauritius consisted of learning how to use the buses to get to 'flic en flac' on the west of the island where there is a public beach. 2 buses later we arrived to a beautiful golden sand beach and clear blue water. It was slightly overcast but this did not bother us. I went in the sea which was colder than imagined, and experienced Mauritian cuisine 'beach food' noodles which were amazing. We were told to leave the beach at 4 as it gets dark and dangerous. The bus took us over a place called Bambous which was very different to Eau Coulee, houses made out of cardboard and corrugated iron. The little narrow streets held so much character, regardless of what they were made of they were houses of proud owners who put their own stamp on it. Arrived home in dark and it was only 6pm. Bed was early as we were shattered. Sunday was a relaxing day, we didn't do much but cleaned the house and did washing. Received phone call from my Mum and Grandparents, was good to hear their voices.  Monday came and it was time to start work, Sheela our boss, and founder of the shelter took us on our first day. We arrived and ate with two other volunteers who were only there for 3 weeks as part of university. was so scared to go through and meet all the girls, but they were very welcoming and the little ones loved the camera! week 1 was getting to know all the children. 39 in total. They were all lovely however the language barrier is proving to be a problem at the time, im sure in time we will learn creole. During the week i taught maths, english and art. Some thrived in it and others struggled.

 Week one flew by working 930am-330pm.So tired this week. Getting on the bus we often are stared at and horns are peeped constantly when walking down the road. Here we look so different and attract a lot of attention. Some cars often slow down and ask us if we want a lift places. The weekend came and we decided to go to flic en flac again where it was sunny, went right under the water this time, a lot more white people there.. its funny that everyone stares at us but when we see white people we cant take our eyes off them and wonder what are they doing here? ha! sunday we went to Quatre Bourne market which sells a lot of indian textiles. I got another pair of cheap flip flops and a indian style top. It was interesting to see all the foods being made at the side, dal puree,briani, rotti, all mauritian foods i haven't had yet.  Did my first airmail letters and sent them on Monday.

Today we started work at 12-5 to help those who go to school with homework afterwards. We arrived and found out that 3 of the girls had gone this morning, the twins and their sister. Hit a nerve when i found out as i had became close to them, hope they get on ok where ever they go. In the afternoon i sat in the classroom with the teacher and 4 students who were doing english which i was helping with. Some of them are really good at it and puts my french to shame. Many of them talk to me about missing their families which they haven't seen for months or years, i miss mine very much as well.

So i have settled in i think, just need to focus on making a change at the Shelter.  Miss you all!


D x

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Ten Days to go.. things are becoming scary

So last night we went out in Inverurie and got rather drunk haha. My friend Emma made me cry cause she was crying, quite hysterically hahaha. Ahwell we got through it with a sambuca shot. Which i am regretting now. 

Anyway ten days till i go and the packing is getting harder haha, items are coming out everyday due to my change of mind. Went to buy toiletries today... jesus got so much and some unrealistic things that i will never use but youve got to be safe! My room is becoming bare, photos are coming down and my mum is planning on decorating :( ! come on im not out the door yet...
Would appreciate any photos to be given to me that i can put on my wall in my bedroom in Mauritius and around my home to make its slightly more bearable in the first 3 months when things will be tough.
or anything that i can do when im not busy.. or help me plan my get away year on my return. 

Anyway see ya at my leaving party, its not a  big thing so its only close friends so i can say goodbye to them. 

Cheers everyone 


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

My first message. 26th JULY 2011

So, 5 weeks tomorrow i will be leaving from my hometown of Inverurie and stepping into the unknown. I will lead a different life, where there will be cultural differences and i will have to become completely independent. Pretty Nervous to tell you the truth, not gonna lie. Leaving the comforts of home will be so difficult, the ones i love and the people i spend most of my time with.  This blog will allow me to let out my emotions, bad or good, i hope good though.

Starting on the 31st of August ( a Wednesday ) i will be stepping on a plane to Dubai, then on to Mauritius. A country i have never visited, and i will be living and work there for one year. I will be working in a Shelter for girls from a few months old to the age of 18.
Living in Mauritius will be totally different to living in Scotland. Of course the climate will hit me first. The hot humid days will pressure my body to change and get use to it, instead of rain everyday!!
The Food will be different, no home comforts,  no meals made by my mum, but me teaching myself how to cook with the facilities i will have and the ingredients available. Washing my own clothes, cleaning my home, maintaining a healthy life style.

Im scared, so scared. But this year i'm sure will set me up for life, the experience will be unforgettable.
hopefully i will come back with some idea of what i want to do with my life, but if not its no big deal? more experimenting to find whats right for me.

I will leave now with saying, thanks for all the support to get my overseas. I cannot wait, but it will be sad to leave!

My next update will be the day before i leave or when i arrive in mauritius.