I’m moving to London!

I’m moving to London!

Yes, it’s true. London! In just two weeks!

I’ve always wanted to study in London full time, but there is no way I could ever handle it financially. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the world! The Erasmus exchange is another story, though. It’s a European Union student exchange programme, where you can study for a semester or two in a different European country, without having to pay any fees. You even get a scholarship to cover part of your expenses; a very small part, when you’re moving to one of the more expensive countries.

I applied last year, because the university in London only accepts fifth-year students. There are many places available in Spain, Germany, France, Italy… but only two in London. I, however, didn’t want to go anywhere else, so the choice was obvious. And then my dream came true!

I was accepted into the programme in early 2013, but the weird thing was knowing I had to wait more than one year before anything happened. It felt like the day would never come. I applied in January, got accepted in February, applied to the school in August, received confirmation in January and I’m leaving in two weeks. Which is almost April. 2014!

For the curious among you, I will spend four and a half months studying at the University College London, which is, gasp, the fourth best university in the world (right after MIT, Harvard and Cambridge), according to QS rankings. Its most famous alumni include Ricky Gervais, Christopher Nolan, everyone from Coldplay and Alexander Graham Bell (he invented the telephone!). Movies have been shot there. The more I read about this university, the more I can’t believe this is really happening to me.

What is it that I’ll be doing there, you ask? Research for my master’s thesis, which will probably have something to do with cancer. Or Alzheimer’s disease. I’m not sure yet, but I will find out on my first day, which is 26 March.

Of course, this is not a permanent move, so I didn’t have to sell my car (I don’t own one) or house (don’t own that either). The whole process was easy because I’m a resident of the EU and I don’t need a visa to study in the UK. All I had to do was apply for the scholarship and find a place to live. That turned out to be a very hard task. I had to change my perception of the words ”cheap” and ”expensive” a few times. I ultimately found a student residence that’s cheaper than the rest of them (and looks nicer, too).

I’m now wrapping up the last few things at school and home. Cleaning, selling and donating things I don’t need any more, that sort of thing. I don’t want to leave a mess behind when I leave. It’s a weird feeling to know that I’ll be gone for almost five months, but it won’t be the first time. I have yet to tackle the most intimidating task of them all: packing. The last time I left for four months, it was for the US where I was packing for one season only: summer. To work on a farm. Now I have to pack for three different seasons, and the real world. Well, at least this time I have a bigger suitcase. (And a mother who has already agreed to send me everything that won’t fit into it, by post.)

Photo sources: 
London Skyline by Tom Soper, CC BY
University College London Edit, by Happy Chef, CC BY-ND   

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014!

Happy new year, everyone! I know, I know, it’s March already, but it needed to be said. As the first quarter of 2014 is almost over and I’m feeling blue because it’s almost spring again and I’m ageing so fast and I’m going to run out of time to do everything and go everywhere, I wrote a summary of last year to convince myself I’m using my time wisely.

Some major things happened in 2013, education-wise: I passed 10 out of 11 remaining exams, including the hardest one yet, finished all practical work – and no more lectures for me! I only need to pass one more exam before I can finally graduate. In February I applied to the Erasmus exchange programme – and got the country I wanted! But more on that later.

I survived one year of hooping lessons. And then I bought a slackline, because I obviously needed one and because I was obviously meant to be a circus performer. Money well spent! My hoop and slackline are both pink and cannot be used simultaneously.

No holidays for me in 2013, partly because I had to save money to go live abroad and partly because I had no time and/or people to go with. Instead, I spent a week at an international students’ camp, which was 10 minutes away from where I live. Yay!

I revived and renamed this blog and I think it looks rather nice. If only I had all the time in the world to bake, photograph and write about everything that comes into my head. I also threw my first adult birthday mini-party and it was a success.

In October, I finally became a fifth year student and I started my four-month internship at a hospital pharmacy. In short, I got to wear a uniform that I didn’t have to wash by myself, wear Crocs all day without anyone judging me (I hope!?), and spend three hours a day commuting to work and back, something I have always said I would never do. I have learned my lesson: never say never. But I do hope that my next job will be closer to where I will be living at that time, because once you spend eight hours at work, there’s only so much time left in the day and I know I don’t want to spend it on the road.

The internship ended a week and a half ago, so now I’m free as a bird – almost. I still have a few workshops to attend, but they’re not as time consuming as work was. I love having those extra 11 hours a day all to myself.

So, what’s about to come, now that I finally have all this free time? Well, there’s a freaking coconut cake! A rose cake! Lots of apple-y desserts (who doesn’t love apples?), because why should you bake in December only? Other winter months deserve to be survived as well. Seriously, though, aren’t January and February the weirdest months ever? It’s like falling from paradise (December! Food! Presents! Christmas lights! Obesity!) into THIS. It doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s all eat some more.

Oh, and one last thing. I’m moving to London! Soon.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Sour Cherry Filling

Chocolate Cupcakes with Sour Cherry Filling

The school year has, once again, started, which means pretty much everyone I know (and myself) has moved back to Ljubljana. Since my birthday was in September, this is the time to celebrate it. So I threw my first adult birthday party!

I live in an apartment by myself, so I had plenty of space to host ”many” people. Nevertheless, I only invited two.

We ate – and you’ll find the recipe below. Inspiration for the recipe struck me two nights before the party. I had recently tried to recreate a chocolate-raspberry cake from a local pastry shop – and failed spectacularly. I thought I should try again, but this time, using cupcakes. After all, this blog used to contain the word cupcakes in its name and I have a few thousand cupcake liners stored in a box, waiting for me to use them.

Since I love the combination of sweet and sour, I decided to make chocolate cupcakes and fill them with a sour cherry filling of some kind, made of frozen sour cherries. I found this great recipe for cupcakes and made up the recipe for the filling. It all turned out great. I’ve never made such a fluffy and light cupcake before. And it turns out that whipped cream is the perfect cupcake frosting. Beaten to stiff peaks it’s easy to decorate the cupcakes with and it makes the whole cupcake lighter than the usual butter-and-sugar based frostings.

Seriously, I have never had a better tasting chocolate cupcake (homemade or bought) in my entire life.

Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Bake It In a Cake) – makes 24 cupcakes

4 ounces (110 g) semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole milk
1 1/2 sticks (170 g) butter
1 1/2 cups (340 g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (60 g) cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups (275 g) flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Break the chocolate into small pieces, add two teaspoons of milk and melt it in a microwave or a double boiler. Leave the mixture to cool.
  2. Beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 90 seconds – until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and make sure every egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. Add baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract and salt to the mixture on medium-low speed. Add cocoa powder and mix for 30 seconds on high speed, until well combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula again.
  4. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, alternating with milk, 1/3 cup at a time. Mix well before every addition. 
  5. With the mixer on medium-high, add the melted chocolate mixture and mix for 30 seconds, until smooth.
  6. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached.

Sour Cherry Filling

1 1/2  – 2 cups frozen sour cherries
4 tbsp water
4 tbsp sugar (optional)

Simmer the frozen or already thawed sour cherries with water and sugar (optional) in a pan for for about 3-4 minutes, then leave them to cool.

Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream
powdered sugar, to taste

  1. Add as much sugar as you’d like to the cream and mix it with a spoon. 
  2. Whip cream to soft or stiff peaks, whichever you prefer.

Assembling the cupcakes

  1. Cut out a cone shape from each of the cupcakes, about 1 inch in diameter and about 1 inch deep, depending on how much filling you would like in your cupcakes. Fill the hole with 2-3 cherries and a teaspoon or two of the sour cherry juice remaining in the bowl. 
  2. Remove most of the cut-out cone, leaving just a very thin ”lid” and place it onto the cherries, to seal the cupcake.
  3. Top with a tablespoon of fresh whipped cream.
  4. Optional: decorate with a cupcake topper, preferably one with a cat on it 🙂