WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS- LOADS OF THEM 

Episode: Survival of the Fittest

I was a bit of a latecomer to the “Scandal” watching crowd and managed to get up to date on all five seasons within a couple of weeks. In typical me fashion, that left me to wait a month for season 6 (I know, it’s not that bad compared to others but I easily could have just extended my viewing of it). I had watched the trailer about 40 times, trying to suss out what was going to happen and making assumptions on who was going to win the presidency. The trailer said that it was going to be dramatic within the first 10 minutes, and I can safely say now- it did not disappoint at all.

There was an explosion, a presidential victory and a shooting- all in that order. Perhaps I hadn’t watched as many political dramas as I had thought as the ‘victory’ didn’t go to who I genuinely expected. I mean, I wasn’t surprised that Vargas won and if it was a real election, I probably would have voted for him if I had the opportunity to but I was really hoping Mellie would win. After everything she had been through and everything she had sacrificed, it would have just been the icing on the cake for her to have won the election. I actually felt horrible for her despite having an immense dislike towards her for the first few seasons. But, it wasn’t meant to be and that has drawn a lot of uncanny parallels with Hillary Clinton’s presidential loss. To be fair though, Vargas is a much better alternative than Trump I must admit.

On the point of Vargas though, the poor guy didn’t exactly have the chance to finish his victory speech before being shot three times. I can usually see things coming, but this time (as per usual) Shonda got me (and all of us)…again. There was the constant “oh my God…what?” coming from my room as the commotion took place on my screen. Eventually the severity of the situation was brought to everyone’s attention and threw a spanner in the works, ultimately setting up the season nicely.

In true Olivia Pope fashion,  OP&A went to work to figure out who set the whole saga up. I’m pretty sure most of us Scandal viewers all agreed it was Cyrus but then after seeing his reaction to Vargas being shot and then dying, we all felt bad that we even thought that of him and felt sorry for him. That left us thinking, but who else? Seeing Cyrus standing at the hospital and mourning the loss of his ‘friend’, the governor he built up and ultimately turned into the president-elect, it threw us off his path. However, were we really that surprised at the end when Olivia and the team established that it was him after all? This is Cyrus Beene we’re talking about here- the power-hungry, evil narcissist who is capable of doing anything if that meant getting what he wanted. He considered killing Michael, remember? Although he’s one of my favourite characters, it definitely doesn’t mean he’s an angel. Quite the opposite in fact.

And now onto current president Fitz, who had a bit of a quiet role in the first episode. Whilst the focus was primarily on the election and the chaos that followed, Fitz had a huge decision to make regarding who the new president would be. Would it be Mellie? Would it be Cyrus? Or someone else entirely? After losing, Mellie’s confidence shattered and it made her realise what Fitz felt like when they were together and he didn’t want the power. However, after a conversation with her ex-husband, she decided that she did want the position after all. For a while there, we all thought Fitz would pick her but then one thing led to another and he ended up choosing Cyrus. It wasn’t until after the announcement that OPA figured that it was Cyrus who had set up Vargas’ assassination.

The premiere wasn’t all doom, gloom and explosions though. In what was probably my favourite part of the whole episode, Charlie technically proposed to Quinn (this is Charlie and Quinn so hence the ‘technically’) at the fault of Huck. Quinn was initially hesitant and asked a heap of questions, chirping away in Huck’s ear as the duo went to find where the source of their conclusion that Cyrus organised the assassination was supposed to be staying. The cabin in the woods exploded when they were close by and the near death experience resulted in Quinn returning to the office and saying yes to Charlie. It was adorable. I was happy. I was doing a happy dance whilst Olivia was trying to figure out what was going on- which is a rare moment because Olivia usually knows everything. I mean, she usually organises the proposals too. Remember back in season 1 when she bought the ring and watched Stephen propose to his “normal” girlfriend?

Episode 1 of season 6 didn’t disappoint. The only thing that annoys me is the fact that now I have to wait an entire week for the episode. The premiere was explosive, fiery, dramatic and everything else you’d expect from a good quality Shonda Rhimes show. This season gon’ be good.

 

The other day whilst scouring through Twitter, I noticed another blog post about countries where people really want to travel. Of course, me being me, I had to write one for myself as since my trip overseas in 2015 all I’ve really been looking forward to is travelling. Now me also being me, I’ve limited this list to my top 10 places because otherwise who really knows how long this list would be. I might just add in quickly now that at the beginning of March I’ll be heading off to Thailand for a week so expect some more travel posts coming from that. Just a warning, the majority of these countries are in Europe. Anyway, here’s my list.

1. Croatia
Yes, I know what you’re probably thinking- “you’ve already been there though?” Yes, I have been there but I want to go again and this time around, I want to see more of the country during summer. The last time I went was in December 2015 (insert link here) and I only saw Sibenik and Zagreb. I’d love to go to Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Hvar and other gems on the Dalmatian coast as well as along the Istrian peninsula. On top of this, I would love to go to towns like Davor, Podravina (the home towns of both my grandfathers), Osijek, Vukovar and Knin. The aim is to see a good mixture of regional and coastal towns and really just immerse myself into my heritage. And of course, I’d love to go see a Dinamo Zagreb game and a Cibona game.

2. Hungary
Again, as I have Hungarian blood, I would love to visit the country of my ancestors and visit the numerous historical places there. Budapest would probably be the one-stop shop there and just seeing the cultural significance of the capital city from photos, I really have the urge to go and just explore. Before that though, I should probably actually brush up on my almost non-existent Hungarian.

3. Italy
I’ve been to Rome and I really want to go back. Like Croatia, I would love to just go through the whole country and just see and experience the beauty of the country. From Rome to Venice to Florence to Positano to Torino to Montepagano to Milan…yeah, you get the point. I’ll also add that I would love to go to a couple of soccer matches- preferably Inter Milan and Juventus. From the coast to the historical cities to the sport, Italy is a must go (or must return to?).

4. USA
When I was younger, I wanted to live in America. I might, eventually but now the urge has somewhat dwindled for a number of reasons. I’d love to go to the major cities like New York, Chicago, LA and so forth. I’d also love to catch a Celtics and Red Sox game in Boston (and also go to Wahlburgers). New Orleans would also be on the list of cities to visit because of the culture and also because I’m a bit of a Saints fan so it would be great to see them play at the ‘dome. Other places of interest would be San Francisco (and pretty much anywhere else in California), Charleston, Las Vegas, Seattle and Miami. And of course, last but not least, I would absolutely love to go to Hawaii.


5. Germany
I learnt German for 6 years at high school and was only after I finished that I actually had the desire to travel to the country. I spent a couple of hours at Munich airport but that was enough to make me want to make a comeback to Germany. There’s so much history and amazing things to see there and I think it’ll be a great place for someone like me to visit. Again, soccer matches are a must along with trips to historical places like the Berlin Wall.

6. Great Britain
Great Britain is a bit of a new addition to my list of places I must travel to. Nevertheless, I would love to go all the major cities like London and Glasgow and then also to the quaint little towns with the pebbled streets and cosy pubs. Again, soccer is a must…but don’t worry, I’ll most definitely be calling it football over there. The aim is to go see at least one Arsenal game and see my Gunners win. I wouldn’t mind also going to the coastal towns like Brighton.

7. France
The events of the past two years have somewhat deterred people from wanting to go to France as they fear they would get caught up in a terrorist attack. For some reason, I have no such fear…or maybe I’m just naive and silly, but oh well. France has so many beautiful places to travel to and I’ve learnt a heap about French history which has made me want to go to the places where these events took place. From Paris to Normandy to the coastal towns like Brittany, there are a number of places to see and things to do (and plenty to eat as well). St Tropez? Cannes? Anyone?

8. Spain
My number one inspiration for visiting Spain is the soccer if I had to be honest. Other than that, I’ve watched Cheetah Girls 2 way too many times to not want to strut down the streets of Barcelona. I’d also love to visit Madrid (and see El Clasico of course), Sevilla, Ibiza, Granada and Majorca. I want to visit a lot of places, okay?

9. Thailand
I’m going to Thailand in just over a month and I have to say that I am super excited. I’ve always been a beach bum and from what I hear, the area I’m going to literally has my perfect lifestyle. The shopping is cheap and I’m super pumped to reboot my wardrobe and struggling to choose which pair of shoes I want to wear. On top of that, I can’t wait to finally get a new iPod dock which will be of great use to me. A week on the beach and by the pool? Yes please. As long as I don’t get sunburnt, it should be a blast. Sunscreen is seriously going to be my best friend.


10. Switzerland
To finish off the list, I’d like to add Switzerland to the top 10 countries I would love to visit. The diversity there is a huge appeal to me with the French, Italian and German regions (conveniently, Germany, France and Italy have all been mentioned on this list so it’s only logical Switzerland would be on it too). Switzerland has stunning scenery from the Swiss alps to the views of the towns and cities. There are the castles and the waterfalls and it’s literally straight out of a fairytale. And then there’s the food in all it’s glory…and the chocolate. And just…yeah you get the point. I just really want to go. Oh, and on a more serious note- the UN is there too. It’s the perfect country for me to visit, I think.

 

What countries are you dying to go to?

 


If you ever get the opportunity to come to Melbourne in January, I would strongly suggest you get yourself some tickets to go see the Australian Open. You don’t really have to be much of a sports fan to enjoy it, especially considering the vast number of more social events taking place. This year for example, there were a number of “quarters” inspired by different places in the world, like the NYC quarter, the English quarter, the French quarter and so forth. There was also the beer garden and plenty of other entertainment and performances to keep you occupied.
For me, it’s become a bit of a tradition to go to the Open, having done so for the past few years (except 2016 as I was on the other side of the world). This post is basically going to be about the how-to’s of attending the tournament, from what to bring, what to do and whether it’s better to go on your own or with friends.

What to bring:
-Sunscreen.
-Plenty of water, especially when it’s hot. Trust me, it gets very hot.
-Snacks. One thing is that that food can be quite expensive. Another thing is, when you’re in the middle of watching a game and you can feel the hunger creeping in, you don’t exactly want to leave the match to waste another half an hour getting food and then end up losing your seats that were actually really good.
-Deoderant. It gets hot therefore it means you’ll probably get sweaty.
-A hat or something else to protect you from the sun.
-Depending on the weather, bring a jacket- especially if you’re going in the afternoon and there’s a cool change.
-Plenty of camera space and a fully charged phone
-A portable phone charger. It’s pretty good there because they have power stations where you can charge your phone, however, they’re quite hard to find and take ages to get to if you’re not close by.

What to do:
-Watch your favourite tennis players play
-Watch the live performances by a range of different acts on the day
-Socialise at one of the outdoor food venues or maybe go to one of the restaurants on site (I don’t know much about this- I’m yet to make the most of these sort of venues)
-Do a bit of retail therapy and buy a heap of clothes/souvenirs etc
-Take a lot of photos

Which tickets? Should I go on my own or with people?
-When it comes to the Australian Open there are plenty of ticket choices on offer. You’ve got ones for the day and night sessions in the major arenas like Rod Laver and Margaret Court and then you’ve also go the single day ground pass, three day ground pass and five day ground pass where you can pretty much go anywhere except for Rod Laver and Margaret Court. My personal favourite is the three day ground pass as many of my favourite players are usually on the outside courts. Usually (this year was an exception), I go in the first couple of days because that’s when most players are playing. The three day ground pass is my personal favourite because it gives you enough time to see as many players as possible because it’s not just for one day, and it’s not as long as five. If you’re not fussed as to who you see play and would prefer watching the big players, I would suggest getting to tickets to one of the big courts.
-As for going with friends or going on your own? That really depends on you. I’ve gone with and without others, and I have to admit that I think I prefer going with someone else. If you’re in the mood to just do your own thing and spend some time alone, I would suggest getting the one ticket. Otherwise, I reckon going with someone else would be a good idea, as long as they also have a interest and have the same priorities as you at the tennis.

Overall, going to the Australian Open is always a memorable experience and if you ever get the chance to go, you better grab some tickets and go!

 

As many of you know, I’m a bit of a sports addict. Name a sport and there’s a high chance I follow it. I’ve loved all kinds of sports for as long as I can remember- and no, none of them have been particularly influenced by my dad, grandpa or uncle. Since I could pick up a bat or throw a ball, I have taken every opportunity to play some kind of sport. It wasn’t until around my first year of primary school that I started following sports as more of a spectator. My family were not influential when it came to supporting teams. Other families have the teams they follow and their kids either take up the same team or they go for their own. There was no such thing in my family. In fact, it’s a struggle in mine because I’m literally the only one who actively follows sport and actually enjoys watching it. Take the 2016 Grand Final- the family didn’t want to watch and so I had to listen to it online until the last two minutes when I knew the Western Bulldogs had won it. That’s another story, however.  The first time I watched an AFL Grand Final was when I was five years old and I decided to go for the Brisbane Lions…which is kind of funny considering who I ended up supporting two years later. Since then, I’ve become a far more vocal supporter in a range of sports and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve added more sports and teams to my list of who to follow. From footy to rugby to basketball- name a sport and I’ll probably follow it in more than one league. However, that’s not to say I haven’t come across a couple of struggles as a female sports fan. I do admit though, I have broken a lot of stereotypes and changed a lot of male perspectives on the way girls follow sport. I think my sporting knowledge and expertise has helped me gain the respect that a lot of girls who don’t follow sport as actively don’t receive. Again, that’s another thing in itself but I’m not complaining. It’s one of the primary reasons I’ve always been “one of the boys”.

Alright now onto these struggles:

→ Can you even name more than one player/someone other than their most famous player
This is a classic to be honest. I admit, some females follow teams and only know their most famous player. So what? What about the countless number of us who actually do know who the players are? What about the rest of us who cannot only list every player in our team in ascending order of their number, but also name the majority of other players in other teams and statistics/memorable moments involving them? This happened to me once when I got asked to name at least five Collingwood players, so then I proceeded from number 1, onwards. I got to number 9 and the other guy told me to stop and from there on, him and his friends had a newfound respect for me and would always talk footy and sport in general.

→ You’re only watching because such and such is hot
Chances are, this such and such player is someone I don’t even find attractive. No, I do not watch the game for the hot player. That’s not to say I won’t comment on their appearance being like “oh hey, they’re cute”- but they’re most certainly not the reason I’m watching. I watch for the game itself because you know, chances are I probably play it myself.

→ Your family must be super sporty and promote following sport
HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA. No, which is really surprising to a lot of people.

→ Being ignored/brushed off when sports talk is on
If you’re going to talk about sports around girls, maybe ask if they’re into sport or better yet, let the girl talk if she follows the sport instead of ignoring her. Just because she’s a girl, doesn’t mean she’s not interested in sport and has no idea about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if she knew more than you- like in my case, where I can safely say I know more about sport than a lot of guys I know. There was one family lunch I went to and my grandpa completely brushed me off being like “I’ll tell the boys because the girls aren’t interested…” and proceeded to talk about basketball. And not just any basketball- 90s CROATIAN BASKETBALL. My jaw dropped and my dad and uncle just watched me, waiting for a reaction. So instead of cracking it, every time my grandpa would say something, I would list a statistic about a player or a game that he would mention. Eventually, he realised and then shut up whilst my grandma sat there nodding, pleased with the way her granddaughter stood up for herself.

→ Bedazzled/pink/super girly attire
Alright, this is more of a personal thing because everyone can buy what they want. However, why is there such a need for more feminine attire? I don’t want a pink jersey or something with diamonds or rhinestones on it. I can say for sure now that I’ll definitely be dressing my kids up in sports fan attire for my favourite teams (or my future husband’s if they’re different) and I’ll probably by boys’ onesies for my daughter instead of the frills. If she wants to wear frills when she’s older she can. If she wants to support a different team when she’s older, she can…not that she would want to change from the best teams but anyway. It’s sort of a personal, roll-my-eyes moment when I see all the girly-girly stuff.

→ Quizzing us like crazy in an attempt to stump us
Like the player naming one, we seem to be quizzed as to the extent of our sporting knowledge. Apparently in order to be a proper sports fan, you need initiation questions from a bunch of blokes. Thanks for the faith. I wonder what happens with guys who have no idea what on Earth is happening on the sporting field…

→ Violence in sport
It hasn’t been applied to me as much because of my history in karate, but I’ve heard a lot of girls get questioned as to whether they like the brawls in sport. I for one, can’t say I don’t enjoy a bit of a melee. Tempers flare. Both sides are passionate about their game, it happens. It’ll probably happen with me in rugby too. A lot of guys hate the violence too so it’s not just a “female” thing.

→ Having to use some of your extensive knowledge just to be taken seriously
Like the quizzing, it feels like us female fans have to make an extra effort to be taken seriously when it comes to sport.  We have to stand our ground to even be included in discussions. Again, I’ve been luckier than a lot of others in this but even then, it’s super annoying.

→ It’s unladylike
So a lot of this list has been aimed at other guys, but this one is aimed at the women who are the literal stereotype of females not being interested in sport. I’d be a millionaire if I’ve had a greaser thrown in my direction by other female relatives for my undying love for sport. Apparently I’d be far more interested in cooking/cook books/fashion/beauty products/any other feminine thing than sport- just because I’m a girl. Certain ladies in my life know my love of sport, but list everything feminine as things I’m far more into and so buy me those things/talk to me about those things on a regular basis. Despite me telling them I am clearly not interested, they do not seem to get the hint. Meanwhile, the males buy me sports tickets/attire and actually understand me. Other women not interested in sport: If you know a girl who loves sport more than anything else, don’t put that aside. Work with it. Think outside the box and don’t be a tool. Don’t get her things she doesn’t like. Sure you can like both, but from personal experience- sometimes girls only like the sport. Respect that and don’t be one of those.

So people, seriously, respect us female fans. Don’t be a tool. Don’t just assume. Don’t stereotype.

  1. Drink water
    One of the most common health tips that I basically live by is to make sure you get plenty of h2o. There are an endless number of health benefits with drinking water from weight loss to skin care. I never leave the house without a water bottle- it’s a must have for me. At uni, staying hydrated helps me stay focused and energised whilst in lectures and tutorials- which, obviously, is useful for paying attention to what is being said and therefore, out of class, I am able to better remember and study the content which in turn is useful for assignments and exams and thus would…okay Monique stop. You guys get the point.  
  2. Eat a balanced diet with limited take-out, sugars etc
    It seems like everywhere you turn- whether on social media or in real life, there’s at least one article, ad or sign promoting the latest reality star’s “successful” diet and exercise regime which you should totally sign up for because they’ll help you achieve your dream body. That may be so, but honestly, you just need to learn how to stay balanced. You can start by eating a balanced diet and cutting out take-out and sugary foods. Do your research about what’s good and what isn’t and stay vigilant to what you’re eating and drinking.  
  3. MOVE, MOVE, MOVE
    I cannot stress this enough. You need to move. This doesn’t necessarily mean exercising, but more so don’t sit in the one place for too long. Get up every once in awhile, stretch and walk around. Get your blood flowing. Also, fit in some kind of exercise. It doesn’t have to be much- a half an hour walk will do. Or if you’re even more restricted on time, find some quick 10-15 minute Pinterest or Youtube exercise guides that will be sure to get your heart pumping.  
  4. Relaxation/stress relief
    Relaaaaax. You need to find a form of relaxation that will help relieve you from stress. It sounds easier said than done, but you have to try. The long term benefits of stressing less are phenomenal and your body will thank you forever. Read, watch a movie, meditate, play sport, go to the gym, hang out with friends. Seriously, it’ll do you wonders. Remember, that whatever you are doing isn’t the be all and end all. It won’t be the end of the world. Stress really isn’t worth it when you feel like rubbish and both your physical and mental state have gone down the drain.

  5. Sleep
    This is one of those moments where I should probably take my own advice. Get a good night’s sleep! If I’ve learnt anything this year, it’s definitely how important sleep is for your health- both physical and mental. I found that once I got a couple of earlier nights in a row, my health sky-rocketed. I wasn’t tired and I didn’t feel nauseous. Most of all, I wasn’t as panicky and didn’t flip out the second I thought there was something wrong with me (thanks hypochondria). As soon as I got more sleep, the stress levels decreased. The anxiety decreased and I felt better than ever.
    I hope you found these tips useful and might apply them into your daily lives. If so, let me know how it goes.

    Have you got your own tips? Comment below.

   Disclaimer: I’m not a health professional in any way. Please do not take the advice as though it’s professional advice. It worked for me but that does not guarantee it will work for you.