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How To Survive In Paris Without Making Parisians Hate You For Not Speaking French

They are rude. They are arrogant. They hate foreigners, specially foreigners who don’t speak French. These are just some of the descriptions attached to Parisians, enough to make anyone develop anxiety about how to survive in this busy city. 


From the top of Notre Dame

 French Phrases

If you’re hoping your lack of French language skills will get you killed,  I hate to tell you that you can actually continue your existence in Paris using only one phrase aside from “Bonjour” (Hello) and “Merci” (Thanks). And no, I’m not talking about the popular song lyrics “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” (Do you want to sleep with me tonight?). 

Basically you only need to learn “Excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais?” (Excuse me, do you speak English?

This proved useful to me as soon as I arrived in Paris. I have to be honest I was really scared to talk to these Parisians. I didn’t want to find out for myself how rude they were, so I was determined to survive my first day without having to talk to any random French. Alas, some signs in Paris are confusing, and the translated English signs sometimes aren’t the best, so talking to a local was necessary.

Speaking French To A Random French For The First Time

I mustered enough courage, went up to someone who didn’t look like a confused tourist, and in my best French accent (courtesy of Duolingo application) fluently asked them in French if they could speak English. I (hopefully) didn’t show any sign that I was afraid they’d turn me away or bite me. 

As it turns out, French people are helpful and lovely. They would answer your question with “A little”, but truthfully, they could understand a lot of English. 

Perfectionist French

I mentioned this notoriety of not speaking English to some French friends. They told me French people are normally perfectionist and don’t want to make mistakes, hence they often say they don’t like speaking English.

Lack of English Skills and Duolingo Application

A few can’t really speak English, however. I couldn’t find red wine at a shop so I had to ask the seller. He answered me with “I’m sorry I don’t speak English”. I hesitantly said “Uh, rogue vin?”, thanks to my stock knowledge from Duolingo (yes this app is a life saver!). Never mind that I actually pronounced it incorrectly and that it’s supposed to be vin rogue. The seller understood me and I got my bottle of wine. (It’s worth noting that the wine is goddamn cheap in Paris and exceptional. 3€ a bottle? Yes, please.) 

Hemingway and a few Revolutionaries frequented this restaurant in Paris

At the supermarket, apparently the cashier was asking me to scan and put the price sticker on the banana I was buying. This was new to me since we never had to do that in New Zealand and Australia. I couldn’t understand her, but this old woman behind me took the liberty to walk to the scanner and scan the banana for me, which was extremely nice. 

I’m sure there are also legit rude Parisians (even their fellow French from other cities and towns say this), but of course there are also lovely ones.



Just make sure to at least show them you’re trying to speak their language even by simply saying Bonjour (people always say this when entering shops), Merci (whenever the opportunity presents. There will be a lot.), and Excusez-moi, Parlez-vous Anglais, before proceeding to speaking clear English. 

Duolingo also taught me “Je peux vous offrir un bierre?” (Can I get you a drink?) but never got to use it. Maybe How I Met Your Mother‘s Barney Stinson would, just before he asks “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce-soir”.


Legendary Barney (Photo from the tv show)



How I Almost Became ‘Instagram Model’ (Actually A Few Words On How People Get Scammed)

Somewhere, in a parallel world, I’m now posting discount codes on Instagram.

Some clothing accounts on Instagram told me they want to collaborate and that they’re looking for models etc. But really, they’re just capitalising on girls’ narcissism for profit.

It all started on my Instagram photo shot in Lyon, France.


Shops started leaving comments.

“I think you’re absolutely gorgeous! DM us for collab.”

“Hey pretty! You look so lovely! DM me, we’d love to collab.”



It’s flattering they noticed that photo. I was just joking a few days ago about “The Cheerleader Effect” according How I Met Your Mother’s Barney Stinson. It’s when girls look hotter in a group than they are individually. My friend, who I was standing next to, is absolutely gorgeous. No debate about that. For some reason I looked great on this shot too. Thanks to The Cheerleader Effect I guess? Or maybe it’s the Lyon view. Maybe it’s the dress. Or okay enough with the self-deprecating humour, I admit I can look hot if I want to. *insert sassy woman emoji here* We all have Good Face Day.

I sent them a Direct Message (DM).

They offered 30% discount every time I buy a product from them and post on Instagram. Based on how they talk, it felt like I should feel #blessed that they chose me! This is hilarious, because the thing is I have zero intention to buy anything from your shop? I want real money, not discount code. I want income, not just yet another expense.

They also mentioned something about a photo shoot in Australia but didn’t really give details, and it looks like I’ll have to buy something from their shop first before they can consider me for that. (Once they’ve gotten over the fact that I’m just 155 cm I guess.)

Speaking of models, I know someone who was actually unwittingly scammed using the promises of being an actor/model in Australia. They had to take “professional photos” of him and why yes of course he had to pay them! They texted about possible works as an extra for some TV series, but nothing ever happened.

To this day, I don’t think he realises he was scammed. I didn’t want to point it out and say “Yeah sorry man, but you’re absolutely idiot. How could you not tell they were lying to you and just wanted your money?!” Since he already lost $$$, I just let him believe what he wanted to. I had an inkling he would disagree with me and get annoyed for even suggesting he was taken advantage of. (If you’re reading this, because I know you creep on my social media, now you know. And please don’t ever do that again to yourself.)

I sound like I’m victim-blaming here, but the thing is people have the option to say no in instances like this. However, the Instagram shops doing this to people, I think they’re a joke. Even though I admit it’s evil-genius to profit from someone’s narcissism.

In the future that you see me posting about discount codes, it means I’ve bagged a good deal, where I would actually earn money instead of paying clothing shops at 70%.

I seriously hope people on the internet are not falling for this scam in exchange of being self-proclaimed “Instagram Model”. I hope fewer people are entering deals where they are actually taken advantage of without realising it. On this “collab”, cash is flowing out not in, honey! In layman terms, they’re using you.


Have fun reading this convo.



Here’s another asshole. I knew early on it’s a scam but I was baiting them to give me more info.


Know your worth, Queens.


Should I Buy It? 5 Quick Steps That Help Me Decide If A Purchase Is Worth It

This article appeared on The Financial Diet.

I’ve been reading The Financial Diet articles for quite a while, and one thing I’ve noticed over and over is how a lot of people have an insane amount of credit card debt, or how some advocate the polar opposite — not getting a credit card at all. That’s fine if you have a debit card that works for online payments and cashless transactions at different establishments.

But before we conclude that credit cards are evil, we can start questioning if a credit card itself is the problem, because sometimes the culprit is people’s habits. I have one, but I have never had debts. On the occasions that I have to use it, I pay the credit card company as soon as the item shows up on my online bank account. I even sometimes make a Google Calendar entry to notify me about payment, in case I forget and it racks up interests (it never has so far). Why would I want to delay payment and end up paying more for something?

Many also seem to buy things even though they don’t have that amount in their bank account yet. Some would argue that it’s an investment (e.g., a DSLR for photography business), but it’s easy to fall into this habit and justify everything as an investment. A good rule of thumb is: don’t spend money you don’t have. It also seems pretty common to use a credit card even for purchases like clothing, technology, and eating out — basically items that would fall into “Fun Money” category. If you’re tired of wasting away your money, here are some tips that could help you decide whether you should buy that special item you’ve been eyeing on.

1. Is it a necessity?

I was raised with not much money, usually just enough for necessities, so I give every purchase a long thought as to I should really buy it. If I need a jacket, sure. But if I want another one just for the heck of it, it’s best to give it another week or two of thinking.

2. Will I use it often?

If a dress is just for one occasion, you’re better off not buying it. (Unless it’s your wedding, I guess! But even then, secondhand wedding dresses are popular nowadays.) So really, are you just using this new dress for one Instagram shot?

3. Will it fit my backpack?

This is the most important question for me, ever since I started backpacking. Even if you’re not one, there’s something to be learned from backpackers. Making sure everything fits in a 55L bag pushes you one step closer to minimalism. If you can’t and won’t bring an item with you when you go backpacking, there’s barely a point to buying yet another shirt or shoes. Even if it’s cheap? Yes, sometimes especially when it’s cheap! Cheap things make it easy for people to buy a ton of shit and hoard too many things at home without actually using them much. It’s Consumerism in all its glory.

4. Donate

If you barely use an item or actually detest it, donate it instead of keeping it. Make a note as to why the item doesn’t work out for you and don’t repeat that mistake.

5. Stick to your budget

I used to save too much. Yes, there’s such a thing! I didn’t want to spend money at all when I could get away with it (see: growing up with not much money). But I decided I want a good balance of enjoying the moment while still saving for the future. I now normally follow the 50/30/20 rule — basically, using 50% of my money for necessities, 30% for Fun Money, and 20% for long-term savings. I want to be able to have fun without feeling bad about it, so it’s advisable to set a specific amount that you could spend on whatever you want weekly.

When I was living in New Zealand and Australia, my “fun money” was maximum 70 NZD/65AUD per week, and the rest of the 30% is saved for non-weekly “wants” such as travel. I budgeted starting Friday, as weekends would be the busiest for going out. I’ll be content for the rest of the week without spending on anything unnecessary if I’ve already had my fun on weekends and already used up my budget.

If I want to buy something unnecessary, I can quickly check if I still have money for it within that week on my Goodbudget app. Just imagine all the savings that you could accumulate if you only buy things that you’ll actually use and will fit a backpack. You’ll be closer to your huge money goals, and your future self will thank you.

How to Apply for Schengen Visa

Applying for a visa may be easy for many nationalities, but that’s not the case for Filipinos. It’s a gruelling process that tests your patience, dedication, and persistence.

If you’re from another country, this post can give you an idea how difficult it is for some nationalities to get a visa (and maybe get to feel lucky you’re born somewhere else. I would if I wasn’t born in Philippines!)

France Embassy refused my first Schengen visa application, only ticking one item on a pre-written list of reasons. “The information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable.” Or if you want to get hurt in French, “Les informations cominiquées pour justifier l’object et les conditions du séjour envisagé ne sont pas fiables.”

They didn’t and wouldn’t give further explanations. It’s up to me to figure out what went wrong.

I considered making an appeal, which needs to be in French. I have French friends who are lovely and willing to help so that’s not the problem. It’s the fact that it needs to be sent out to France. Many say the French Consular doesn’t even read it and would just throw it out. On the off-chance that they do open the letter, decision would take 2 months maximum, and embassies are apparently supposed to uphold the original decision. The waiting, the false hope. I decided to reapply instead even though it means another €€.

Don’t be like me. Make sure your first application is flawless so the embassy wouldn’t have any reason to refuse you a visa.

Where to apply?

Apply through the embassy of the country where you’re staying the longest and where your trip’s main purpose is.

If you’ll travel around and spend equal time in different countries, apply through the embassy of the first Schengen country you’ll enter.

I applied through France Embassy. Unlike Germany and Spain, there’s no interview, and I got the decision in 7 working days. It can take longer in some instances. As of writing, my sister is still waiting for hers even though we applied together.

You’ll need to apply online, then go to VFS in Makati to submit your documents and pay. Don’t bring bag, unless you want to queue and pay for a locker, which is only available for a limited time. Follow the instructions here. It’s pretty straightforward.

How much money should I have in my bank account?

€120 per day if you don’t have prepaid accommodation yet. €65 per day if you’ve already paid a place to stay at.

I used and chose the “no prepayment” filter so I wouldn’t have to pay anything yet. (Even though this means I still need €120 daily for cost of living.)

Include flight costs in the total calculation so the embassy can see how much money you need for the trip.

If you have credit card, you can include it, but it’s ideal if your cash in bank covers everything.

What to Submit?

Always check with the embassy for the updated list of requirements. For this application, I submitted:

Application form dated and signed.
Fill it out online.

ID photograph

Passport bio and stamps (Original and photocopy)
Include previous passports if you have them. 

Any visa that isn’t on your passport
(e.g., Australia visa)

Flight reservation
P990 from Gazelle Travel and Tours. Takes 3-5 business days to process.

Planned itinerary
List places you’ll visit and activities you’ll do each day. Consider flights and train times.

Trains. Check schedules on sites like this and this. I didn’t buy train tickets yet but showed the price and schedule to the embassy.

Health Insurance.
Unfortunately you have to buy this before the application. I used Mawista. They do refunds within 14 days in case your application is denied. If it’s been over 14 days, they’ll refund in a year. Ask them for more information about this weird policy. 

Accommodation (hotel reservation). Use “No prepayment” filter. 


Bank statements. Your bank will give you more legitimate-looking papers compared to the downloadable bank statements online.

Bank certificate. Ask your bank.

Credit card statement. I printed the online statement.

Socio-professional situation

I’m self-employed so I submitted:

  • Proofs of the professional situation (Certificate of business registration)
  • Bank statement for work
  • Invoices
  • Business Outline, explaining what the hell I am actually doing with my life  work.

If you’re employed,

  • Employment Contract
  • Leave of Absence
  • Pay slips

Cover letter

Don’t be lazy writing this. Address anything that the embassy might question (e.g., my sister had to explain why her Leave of Absence is only up to the 18th but her flight arrives in Manila on the 19th. I also had to clarify in my letter that I’ll mostly do free activities, and for the few places with entrance fees, I’ll buy tickets on the day.)

They won’t call, email, or interview you in person, so you wouldn’t have a chance to explain anything. All you have is your cover letter where you can discuss details that might seem dodgy for the embassy officer.

You need to have a good argument why they should give you that coveted visa, supported by the documents you submit.

Explain what your purpose is, what you’re excited to do in Europe, what you do for work, where you’ve been before if you have travel experience. Reassure them that you’ve always followed visa rules and always come back to your home country.

The embassy was probably suspicious I wanted 3 months on my first application, so I changed it to 1 month. They gave me multiple entry 35 days, valid for 2 months.

ProTip: Using your valid multiple entry Schengen Visa, you can also enter Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus. It’s not counted in the number of days given to you. (Croatia and Schengen countries, here I come!)

Best of luck! And if you don’t get it, try travelling to nearby countries like Indonesia (Bali is a backpacker haven!), Vietnam, and Thailand. You’ll have fun, meet other travellers, learn about different cultures, and eat delicious food!







Free or Cheap Things to do in Melbourne

So you’ve been living in Melbourne and wondering what else the lovely city can offer. Here are some free or cheap activities to fill your time in the world’s most liveable city.

  1. Walk around

Seriously, do walk around and feel this city’s vibe. It’s full of arts, artists, and beautiful people!





2. Tim Ho Wan

This award-winning Hong Kong restaurant serves the best cheap pork buns and dumplings in town. Bring your friends, they’ll thank you for the foodie experience.

  3. Laser Tag

Every Sunday, Couchsurfing members organise an event to meet and play games with locals and travellers. Buying a drink earns you a free laser tag or bowling ticket. The place also offers unlimited laser tag for a small fee once a week. Check with Strike Bowling Melbourne Central for more info.

Location: 211 La Trobe Street

4. Eat The Beat

Enter before 11 PM on Saturdays for a free drink that you can sip over upbeat electronic dance music. It’s a small club with a lot of backpackers.

5. Billboard Saturdays

This huge place is where everyone’s clubbing on Saturdays. Get on the top platform for extra fun.

6. Hosier Lane

If you’re looking for street art, you’re at the right place.

melbourne australia_0124.jpg

7. Hunt for fancy restaurant discounts on Groupon

Our group got a 6-course meal for only $25 each at a fancy restaurant, thanks to a  Groupon voucher. You could get the same deal or even better. Happy hunting!

8. Docklands Library

It’s a beautiful wooden library surrounded by boats, so where else should they get their interior design inspiration?

9. Play Table Tennis and Pool

The table tennis and pool are free to use if you buy a drink at West Village bar. They also have a bowl of free candies and chocolates, so munch away while you try to win that game.

10. Victoria Library

Whether you just want to checkout this library’s famous interior, or use the free wifi, Victoria Library is definitely worth a visit.



11. Artvo

Take silly amazing photos at this place filled with arts like these!



12. Eat pretty food at Dex2rose:


If injections contained chocolate, maybe less people would be afraid of them.

13. Chill at Sister Bella

If you want a small bar where you can drink and play board games with friends, the “hipster cosy” vibe-filled Sister Bella will satisfy you. They serve cheap alcohol (beer in a jug, anyone?).


All photos taken by me (except the ones where I’m in obviously).


Love Melbourne? Send an email or leave a comment if you’ve got any other recommendations!

I finally got a D3300 camera. Duration of the decision process: only over a year.

As suggested by my photographer bosses, I didn’t touch the lens kit but instead went for a 35 mm lens.

This is my first nice shot. It just took me awhile to nail that focus. And by “awhile,”I mean, lots of shots until I told myself “Okay, this is obsessive. Stop.” DSC_0061

What The Fuck Is The Problem With This House (A Memoir. Not Really. It’s A List.)

Probably a rant-y post but I thought it was the sort of kinda-funny rant-y post. Read at your own risk.

Continue reading “What The Fuck Is The Problem With This House (A Memoir. Not Really. It’s A List.)”

Log entry number 31: I’ve got eggs but they’re going to expire soon so all my meals lately are so different– boiled egg, poached egg, half-boiled egg, sunny-side up egg, scrambled egg, you name it. I can’t even read the expiration date properly. Best Before 2.. something along 21-28. My future diarrhoea will know.

Log entry number 32: This is the hardest part of sharing a house with strangers. They’re baking chicken and I can smell it from my room. It’s so good. But all I can do is smell it. Then enjoy my lovely eggs later. I had two in the morning. 5 eggs left then I’m free to cook any other food. I can’t wait for freedom.

Veggies, Feta Cheese, and Basically Cooking

I’m getting better at cooking. The first time I cooked these ready-to-bake kebabs, I slightly over-cooked them, which was fine as I prefer meat like that,  but you learn not to do that again when struggling to clean the burnt baking pan…

Mushroom added for health and yum benefits.

I never baked in Philippines as baking is rare and we never had an oven. In fact, I rarely cooked when I was in Philippines, not for the lack of wanting to learn but because my dear mother wouldn’t let me.

When I tried to cook, she’d tell me I was doing something wrong, then she’d end up cooking by herself. Way to teach her daughter how to be independent.

In a way it’s great to live by myself here. I mean, I get to cook these.

Tinola – a Filipino dish with onions, ginger, and chicken. It’s supposed to have green vegie too but I didn’t have any. It tasted the same nonetheless.

Fried chicken topped with pesto. Then I added tomatoes and feta cheese.

Greek salad.

Scallops + mushroom. (Doesn’t look great but it tasted amazing!)

I usually try to add vegetable now to any food that I cook, or at least make greek salad. Living with kiwis for a few weeks taught me this healthy habit. Eating meat by itself is just considered weird. I feel bad and fat when I don’t eat any veggie along with my meal.

In Philippines, we just ate what we wanted. There were vegetables sometimes but we don’t really have any definite rule what to eat with meat. (And we wonder why the average life expectancy there is 68 years old.)

It’s easier to eat green vegetables here like lettuce as they don’t taste much (I do miss the taste of Philippines’ lettuce though.) And any vegetable salad is instantly better with feta cheese.

Dear god, that food. I thought pesto was the one then I met feta cheese. These are food I never knew existed before moving to NZ (sad, I know.). If there’s really any reason to live in NZ, it’s the food. And don’t get me started on NZ’s restaurants.

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