My Top 4 London Markets

I have successfully been enjoying life in west London for two months now, and I’ve tried to explore the city’s hidden gems in my spare time. London has tons of markets to choose from, but these are my top 4 must see London markets. As someone who is vegetarian and gluten free (not by choice, mind you), I enjoy these markets especially because my friends don’t have to suffer through finding a restaurant that caters to moi – we can all find something different to eat and enjoy. Whether you’re a London native or only have a few days to visit, any or all of these markets are sure to lead to a great time (and a happy stomach!).

Mercato Metropolitano – Located in Elephant and Castle, Mercato Metropolitano is one of those places you’d probably have to know about to find. With Italian, English, Asian, and other cuisines available, everyone is sure to be happy – even gluten free peeps like me! From German beer to vegan focaccia, this market has everything you need for the perfect night out. I enjoyed gluten free “gnudi” (as opposed to gnocchi) and a hearty serving of raclette to go with my fresh grapefruit cocktail. Did  mention there’s a secret fairy tale cinema ? I will 100% be back to catch a film here!

Dinerama – Located in the hipster area of Shoreditch, Dinerama definitely caters to the cool crowd. From specialty gin drinks to traditional English fish and chips to vegan Mexican food, Dinerama is a market to make time for in London. I ate a vegan and gluten free jackfruit taco (sans avocado because I am cursed with being sensitive to avocado!) and a nice gin signature cocktail. The rooftop wasn’t open on the rainy night I visited, but I’ve been told it’s awesome when it’s open during spring/summer.

Camden Market – The Camden Markets are a classic London to do. These sprawling markets are great for shopping, eating, and admiring the boats on the canal. My favorite way to get to Camden is to first stop at the British Library (which has lots of really cool free exhibits!) and then take the lovely 20-30 minute walk up to the markets. There I like to peruse the numerous stalls for things I will never buy and food I sadly can’t eat. However, last time I was there I passed a gluten free place (after I had already gotten Mexican), so there’s definitely food for everyone.

Portabello Market – I live in Notting Hill, so it would be a crime to not include the Portabello Road Market in my list! Portabello market has a great mix of standard shops and street vendors that offer everything under the sun. From organic produce to high end charity shops, Portabello is the place to spend an ideal Saturday morning. My favorite coffee shop, Joe and the Juice is located right across the street from the uber cool Ginstitute, along with quite a few other pubs, restaurants, and coffee shops (yes, there’s even a Starbucks for when I need a white mocha). I end up on Portabello road many times a week, and if you’re ever in London I’ll always suggest we meet up there.

Have I missed your favorite market? I’ve still got 4 months in London, so comment below and I’ll be sure to check it (or any of your other suggestions) out!

When Plans Change

Remember how I told y’all I was headed to China? Well, plans change, and I am no longer heading to Asia.

Let me explain. Visa work is awful (as I’m sure some of you know). I pushed back my start date for China 5 times because of visa hang ups before I finally cut my losses. However, the visa hang ups were not the only reason I am no longer going to teach in China. After thinking out loud while working at a summer camp a few weeks ago (summer camp makes you think y’all), I realized that I have never dreamed of living in China. Not that I’m against living in China, it just didn’t seem worth going through hoops to go to a country I’m not passionate about living in. After I finally said it out loud, I immediately wanted to cry from relief; a huge weight had been lifted after months of stress and worry.

I have since realized that I currently really, really want to be in Europe. However, I also don’t necessarily want to get a visa for one specific country. So, I have decided to work towards my new dream of becoming a digital nomad in Europe. So far, this has proved difficult, as it is (understandably) hard to transition from extremely part time freelance to full time writing. I’m currently applying to jobs like crazy and working to leave the US in October (fingers crossed!) along with a great adventuring friend who also wants to explore life as a digital nomad. This is a big goal, and I appreciate any good vibes, advice, or job referrals you can share.

Speaking of freelance writing, do you need some quality content created? My portfolio can be found here; I’d love to hear from you at

How I Got My TEFL & Teaching Job

While I was an au pair in Paris, I was looking for other ways to work and live abroad. After searching for a while, I found that getting a TEFL certification is a great way to find English teaching jobs across the world. So, without a clear destination in mind, I got my TEFL through TEFL Educator, a decision I’m happy I made.

TEFL Educator is a TEFL certification company that has both online and in person TEFL courses. I chose to do online, as I was already living and working in Paris at the time. For their online courses, I had the choice of a 60, 80, 120, or 140 hour certification class. Many jobs are looking for at least 120, so I chose to do the 140 as it included all the certifications from the 120 hour certification (Teaching Business English, Teaching TOEFL®, IELTS®, TOEIC® and other Standardized Examinations, and Teaching Hotel and Resort English) as well as the TEYL, Teaching English to Young Learners certification.

The class consists of reading ebooks, utilizing the 40+ videos and ten podcasts, completing an exam, and creating multiple lesson plans. I was able to contact an instructor 24/7 via emails with any questions about the course. They also offer free Skype tutoring, which is unique in the TEFL certification business. Basically this company has a really personal touch, and I felt very prioritized and attended to throughout the entire course (and during the job search after).

After I completed the course I was emailed copies of all of my certifications and sent original copies (which overseas employers might want to see). TEFL Educator was helpful in providing information on different cities I had questions about working in (that people in the company have firsthand experience with). They have connections in many cities and were happy to recommend me to some schools they have worked with.

As for my job in China, I have decided to work with EF in Shanghai at one of their Kids & Teens centers. As I have experience in childcare and the 140 hour course gave me a TEYL certification, this seemed like a great fit for me. During my interview with EF I was able to choose my location from many cities in China. EF has given me a great employment package and I am excited to work with them this fall. If you are looking to work in China, most schools (that I looked at) wanted potential employees to have a 4 year degree and at least a 120 hour TEFL certification. If you’d like me to refer you to EF, feel free to contact me here or at

If you’re interested in getting your 120 or 140 hour TEFL certification, I have a discount code to make this affordable certification an even better deal. If you got to this TEFL Discount Page and use the password “Celina” you can access the 120 hour TEFL Certification and 140 hour TEFL Certification for a $30 discount – the 120 hour course for only $168 and the 140 hour course for $188. These certifications are recognized worldwide and were essential in helping me find a way to live abroad again.

Do you have any questions about getting a TEFL certification, TEFL Educator, finding a job, or working in China? Comment below and I’m happy to answer!

16 Things I Learned in ’16

2016 was…interesting. I personally had many ups and downs. Here are a few things I learned:

  1. I don’t have to do what I think is expected of me. – This one is really, really hard for me. Whether it be dating, exploring Paris EVERYDAY, or having huge groups of friends, I find it very hard to do what I want without feeling guilty for not doing something else.
  2. Sometimes when a group of new friends say a guy is trash, he is. It might take you months and months to realize this, and that’s ok.
  3. Sometimes you have to deal with crap and keep going – Literally, I’m an au pair and clean up a lot of poop.
  4. IT’S OK TO SAY NO. – I’m still learning this one.
  5. If someone makes you feel hard to love, or brings excessive anxiety into your life, it might be better to let them go. – I read a sentiment like this from a friend on Facebook and it just clicked with me so much.
  6. I’m not a “party girl,” no matter how hard I try. – I wanted so so hard to be a cool, party hard girl, but it just doesn’t make me happy, nor can I actually keep up with the cool party girls.
  7. Adult friendships are hard.
  8. I am unable to settle for a mediocre man. – No matter how much easier it would be to do so.
  9. I never want to spend Christmas away from family again.
  10. I need to and I am able to actually start saving money. – Right now all of my freelance writing goes into savings that I am trying not to (and haven’t yet!) spend.
  11. My time is valuable. If I want to stay home and write (or just Netflix, or relax and be alone), I don’t need to justify that.
  12. At the same time, I need to make plans with people to get out of the house sometimes. (Which I have been doing, don’t worry mom, I’m not a hermit, just aware of what I need to continue doing)
  13. I need to enjoy my time not having a full time job. – Freelance writing is a privilege that I get to do because I only work 30 hours a week!
  14. I need to start saying yes to scary things – So I am going on my first solo trip ever to Dublin for my birthday! I’m a bit scared but a bit more excited.
  15. Many of my friends here are a couple of years older than me, and, thus, slightly more put together. And that’s ok! I don’t need to compare myself to anyone’s life.
  16. I have no idea what I want to do with my life – and that’s ok! – If you read my last post, you probably think I’m busy trying to find work as an English teacher in Asia. Surprise, I’m not. I’m not sure where I’ll be after June/July, and I have no idea what I’ll be doing. But in this moment, I have decided I (probably) don’t want to commit to another year contract (for anything). So, although I don’t know if I will finish my TEFL course and teach English as a full time job, I still have a discount code for anyone interested. If you want a TEFL certificate that will enable you to teach English anywhere in the world, you can go to this link: and use the password “Celina” for a $30 discount off of already reasonably priced online TEFL certificate programs (under $200!).

This post was a bit all over the place, but so was 2016, let’s be real. So, what did you learn in 2016? Do you have any words of wisdom/advice/you’re a psychic and know what I should do? PLEASE COMMENT. But seriously, share your insights!

Penniless in Paris

Hey my name’s Celina and I can’t afford tissues or body wash. That’s right, I use toilet paper and shampoo instead. My social media doesn’t show pictures of me eating the same exact pasta for dinner every night, nor does it show my boots that are falling apart. On my Instagram you’ll only see me drinking overpriced coffee in a cafe or eating a meal with a friend that I can’t afford.

Last week I had 7 euros to my name (not because I’m reckless with my money, but because of unexpected circumstances). I was determined not to ask my host family for an advance, so I swallowed my pride and spent 3 euros on food I hoped would last quite a few days. I ate as much fruits and veggies as I could at my host family’s when I was working. And I went home and ate gross pasta.

And I’m sick of it. I don’t make a living wage. Of course, I make enough to survive. But I do not make enough to go out with my friends. I spend a lot of time alone, not because I want to, but because I don’t have money to go get coffee, or drinks, or, God forbid, a whole meal. I work a job without a salary; I receive a monthly “stipend.” And no, my host family isn’t stingy. They pay me the average wage for an au pair in Paris, and have already given me my Christmas bonus (That’s how I had the privilege of spending 7 euro on a Greek salad and fries today).

I’m sick of getting paid the same as 18 year olds who don’t hold degrees (and whose parents’ support them). I’m sick of getting peed on and going home to eat dinner alone. I’m sick of being too poor to buy milk for my coffee, or shoes that don’t have holes in them. I’m sick of living in a city I can’t afford in a career (if you could call it that) that I don’t enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong y’all, Paris is amazing! But for me, it’s not a city that I can afford right now. So what am I going to do? Well, I’m currently working my butt off to find freelance writing gigs, as well as training to get my TEFL. Sure I would love to live in Paris for another 6 months or a year, but I refuse to continue doing a job I don’t enjoy for an unlivable “stipend.”

However, I am not quitting my job. I signed a contract, and I will be staying here until late May, 2017, after which I will visit home to see my little sister graduate. As of now, I plan to use my degree and TEFL somewhere else in the world where I can live comfortably and – gasp! – actually save money every month. Right now, that place for me is Seoul, South Korea, but in a few months, who knows, I may have another destination in mind.

So thanks for reading a real, not so pretty account of an au pair. If you’re looking for a budget way to move abroad, au pairing is a great start – but it’s just that, a start. Au pairing is not a way to save money, or really live comfortably without savings, support from home, or other work.

So now I’m off to work. After, I walk home in the 6 degrees celsius weather and make my famous 1 euro pasta meal. I’ll do some freelance work and probably watch some Netflix. Later I’ll write down what I’m grateful for, and hopefully go to sleep with a thankful heart.

How Not To Go From Paris To Prague: Prague (Kind of Solo) Part 1!

A couple of months ago (I know, I’m way late posting this) I got falafel with a friend, took out my recycling, and left my flat in Paris for my first European trip – 3 days in Prague! I decided to be very budget friendly and booked a night bus to and from Paris and Prague. 14 hours on a bus? No big deal! I am super great at making good decisions. So I took my polka dot backpack and made the 50 minute metro trip from my side of Paris to the other.

After getting to the bus station and wandering around, I realized they wanted me to pay to use their toilet, so I went with the budget mentality and held it. I finally found my bus and, after squishing with the crowd, claimed my window seat. A French girl sat next to me and after I tried to say hey I realized she did not, in fact, want to be my friend. I began to realize that the journey was so long because of the numerous stops that were relatively out of the way. Along the way I napped a bit, read, listened to music, and took in the scenery of France, Germany, and finally, the Czech Republic!

After the God-knows-how-long bus ride I hopped off and followed some people (and google maps) to the closer than I thought Florenc metro station. I descended the stairs and found a hoard of foreigners trying to buy metro tickets from old ticket machines that had an “English” button, but never actually changed to English. Through trying to buy these tickets and staring at the machine for 10 minutes, I found 2 fellow travelers struggling to buy tickets. At first we considered just getting on the metro without a ticket, but a local (possibly homeless) man warned us of the hefty fee if we were caught.

We gave up on the metro and decided to walk. They needed to get to the main train station, just one stop away, and I was also headed in that direction, so we used our offline google maps and turned around a few times in pursuit of the train station. We ended up following some savvy backpacker boys into a park where the station sat. I finally found a metro ticket machine that would take my card, and lost Sada (?) and Mikal (?) (my metro finding buddies) in the process. I took my ticket down the stairs, took the metro one stop, and found my home right outside the metro exit – Starbucks.

As I got in line I realized the wifi wasn’t working and I’d have to use all of my collective life knowledge to get to my hostel. So I took my very berry hibiscus iced tea and prepared to brave the streets of Prague.


Part 2 of my Prague series coming soon!

Sugar, Butter, Flour

This weekend I put my baking skills to the test and took a macaron making class in Paris, the capital of macaron-town with BonAppetour and Parisian Chef Benedicte. BonAppetour lets travelers meet the real chefs of the city they’re visiting and really get a hands on taste of the local dishes. If you know me, you know that the highlight of my baking career was forgetting half the ingredients and not draining the blueberries for blueberry muffins, giving me flat gray muffins. I knew that this class would challenge me, and my only goal was to make it out of the class alive (and drink champagne).


If you could see my face you’d see the fear in my eyes

We started by nibbling on some merengues and fancy puffy biscuit things that were sent from heaven. Chef Benedicte informed us a bit about what we would do as I sipped on fresh squeezed orange juice, and we were off! We measured and weighed our ingredients, sifted, mixed, whipped, stirred, and all had plenty to do.


As you can see, I was not looking forward to having to use math skills in this class.

We made the macaron base, surprisingly the same for every cookie, and added food coloring for the lemon, raspberry, and caramel goodies.


At this point I was a professional chef

Halfway through the class I was confident that out macarons would turn out great, and that I could have a career in baking. Just kidding about that last part, I’m still way too impatient to be a baker – but I truly appreciate pastry making now.

Clown in the kitchen, clown on the streets…is that how that goes?

This class somehow turned out successful, despite most of us never having made macarons before – which, although, not too hard, is a process that deserves an afternoon to enjoy and correctly yield a perfect maca’ (can I call them that?).

Struggling to sift

After we finished baking, we got to sip champagne and wait for our macarons to chill a bit, after which we devoured them.

Rewarded with some champagne!


If you’re in Paris and want to have a lovely afternoon with an amazing host, use my code QUIRKINGBA16 to get 20% a lovely afternoon with Chef Benedicte (and some pretty lovely champagne as well)! Thanks to BonAppetour for an amazing afternoon in Paris!

Check out the talented ladies I got to hang with:

Abby, all PC to her!