Saitama 2019 | Worlds Figure Skating Championship

First and foremost, I know next to nothing when it comes to figure skating as a sport. I don’t know the technical rules, the difference between a salchow or a lutz, but I do know what a Biellmann spin is and that Yuzuru Hanyu has a really, really good version and I die every time I see it.

Yuzuru Hanyu Biellmann spin
just look at that slope!

While my history with figure skating begins at watching Ice Princess back in my childhood, it kind of gets kick-started into another life during my year abroad in Japan; their love for Yuzuru Hanyu and their pride for him as a national athlete was clear to me, even as a clueless gaijin. And so three years later, I find myself keeping an eye on the figure skating world like an amateur fan.

LiberaTarts Live-Tweets #Saitama2019

My day began when I woke up in a panic at 8:05am Spanish time, thinking that I might miss the start of the Men’s Singles events in the Worlds Figure Skating Championship, hosted in Saitama, Japan this 2019. With the way that timezones work and my confusion still in realizing that I am an hour ahead of London’s time zone, my body – without my outright thinking about it – went jerked upright like a newly alive Frankenstein’s monster.

I spent a good chunk of an hour looking for a way to watch BBC iPlayer’s live stream of the event, but ended up finding this extremely useful post instead. I somehow ended up watching an unblocked Russian Eurosport stream (whatever that means!) and thoroughly enjoying myself for up until the early afternoon.

In all honesty, I wanted to catch the finals mainly because of Japanese skaters Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno, but Korea’s Junhwan Cha caught my eye! He was just so graceful on the ice, and I would like to see more of him in future competitions.

And let’s not forget the other skaters! The music choices that the others had had me giggling from sheer joy. From musical soundtracks from Grease to Queen classics and AC/DC… Obviously, these people love what they do and while they’re not technically the best they certainly have fun doing what they love best – it is something everyone should strive to do in life, to be honest.

When the anticipated event happened, however, my joy in watching these skaters have fun on the ice retreated and was taken over by my fear. I hold Yuzuru’s skating close to my heart and it physically hurt to hear that he popped his quadruple salchow during his short program last Thursday. A quick online search told me that Yuzuru Hanyu had the tendency to make up lost points in the free skate, which was why I was so eager to catch everything live.

But as it turns out, his admirable efforts was not enough to beat Nathan Chen’s combined score. Not that second place is a bad place to be! You go, Glen Coco!! Four for you!

To summarise:

World Figure Skating Championships: Men’s Singles Free Skate | March 23, 2019

  1. I panic-searched for a livestream first thing after I woke up
  2. I realised I needed to learn more Russian than привет and спасибо if I want to continue being a fan of figure skating – all the good streams had Russian commentary and no English subtitles!
  3. I used my relatively dead Twitter account to live-tweet #Saitama2019, and
  4. Yuzuru Hanyu is still Number 1 in my heart (。♥‿♥。)

Over to you guys: Is anyone a fan of competitive figure skating? I would love to know more about it, so do feel free to comment and share your information! But please be nice about it – I don’t like it when people bash other competitors for the benefit of their favourites. That’s just bad sportsmanship.

Digital Detox for the Smartphone Obsessed

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten a cramp because you’ve been holding your smartphone for too long. Keep raising your hand if you’ve gotten headaches from eye-strain, having spent the majority of your day looking at the Big Internet on your computer and the Small Internet in your smartphone.

If you didn’t raise your hand at all, I call thee a liar.

If you raised your hand, congratulations/commiserations because you’re just like me.

This 2019, as each month plods along and threatens the passage of time, I have decided to stagger a New Year’s Resolution checklist. I know myself enough to acknowledge that anything I list down on January 1st will hold no meaning for me six months down the line… and so, the 2019 Monthly Challenge began.

The LiberaTarts 2019 New Year’s Resolutions for Irresolute People

I spent January being annoyingly precocious by becoming teetotal. Despite the party atmosphere of December 31st and January 1st, I did not drink a single drop of alcohol.

75 days later and well into March, I have yet to have a sip of the nectar of the gods. I can’t count the number of times I had to explain in social situations that yes, I am of legal drinking age, I just choose not to drink. It makes for a tedious experience, I have to admit, but it’s the hill I choose to die on.

my new home address

February was my self-appointed digital detox month, simply because it had the shortest number of days in the month and I knew myself enough that I cannot abstain from social media longer than 30 days. The very idea felt like complete torture. But 28 days? That, I can do.

Of course, in this day and age, I couldn’t walk around without a device for communication, and so I downgraded my Galaxy Note 8 to a cringe-worthy blue flip phone. It didn’t even have any games installed like the classic snake game by Nokia!

The votes from my friends on social media were an even split of 50/50

Doing a digital detox for four whole weeks was a challenge, certainly, but I reached the end of that month feeling accomplished and more relaxed than I have ever been.

6 Positive Outcomes of a Month-Long Digital Detox

I felt better physically

Headaches from eye-strain were a thing of the past. My neck and back muscles got a welcomed break since I no longer had to hunch down to look at my smartphone all the time. Whenever I texted my friends, I could look away as I typed because touch-typing skills you learn in the early 2000s are a lifelong skill, apparently.

I had a better sleep schedule

I’ve always been conscious of my terrible sleep schedule. I’ve tried going to the gym before bed to tire myself out, but the cold winter walk from the gym to my home just made me more alert. My smartphone turns on the blue light filter every 8pm, but I have this habit of disabling it whenever I want to post a new picture on Facebook or Instagram.

With my smartphone metaphorically thrown into Mount Doom and locked away until March, I had no choice but to rethink my nighttime routine. I won’t lie and say that I read more books, but I worked more on my bullet journal (yes, I started a bullet journal!) and that’s something I’m really proud about.

I spent more time with my family

Without being constantly connected to social media, I noticed that I spent more and more time with my mother and my brother. We ate meals together most of the time, but usually we would be on our phones and we left the dinner table immediately once we finish our food. This February, it was a little different: I encouraged more conversation during mealtimes, and every so often we as a family would migrate over to the living room to continue the conversation and to update each other on what we did throughout the day.

We also watched more TV together, which was both a good and bad thing, but the sense of belonging and family I felt in my home was a privilege I never really appreciated until this whole digital detox thing happened.

I experienced less anxiety

When they say social media encouraged depression, anxiety, and all other kinds of mental health issues, I kind of processed that information like a little factoid rather than the Truth Bomb that it was. Imagine my surprise when I became less worried about people’s opinions when I wasn’t broadcasting every little thing I did on social media!

That latent fear of missing out? That strangely self-destructive notion of you only live once? Ain’t nobody got time for that during a digital detox.

I practiced healthy boundaries

With the onslaught of push notifications every time a friend posted something on Instagram or messaged me on WhatsApp, more often than not I find myself commenting or responding to something in the late hours of the night. When your mobile phone happens to be a lowly flip phone, however, push notifications were some futuristic nightmare that I was blissfully free from.

I turned my phone off during the night and only responded to texts during daylight hours. I had to keep my email inbox alive for business reasons, but I limited myself to only using my laptop for emails and important searches during the afternoons. Setting up these boundaries for myself in February helped shape my digital detox experience into a greatly efficient one.

Lastly, ending phone calls made me feel like a boss

I’d hate to make assumptions about the younger generation, but I doubt teenagers and those younger would have experienced ending a phone call by flipping their phone closed. There’s no fumbling for the red end-call button, no messy goodbyes as you try and fail to slide that voice-call to finish. Just a simple, sharp smack! and you can move on with your life.

A movie cult classic that I’ve never seen

3 Negative Results of a Digital Detox

Now, it’s not all fun and games! The nostalgia of owning a flip phone for 28 days was not enough for me to ignore the fact that a smartphone is really a convenient and useful tool. Navigating the world, both physically and metaphorically, was very difficult without the help of a mini hand-held computer.

I got lost… all – the – time

Most if not all smartphone these days come equipped with GPS and some form of interactive Maps application. I went to Manchester in February to attend a Train to Teach conference and the number of times I got lost because I had no Google Maps to help me! I would need to borrow another set of hands…

Yes, I did follow the street signs. Yes, I had to ask people for help. Yes, I did feel “more one with the Earth” when walking around with my head held high instead of looking down at a blinking blue dot, but I still wished I could get from Point A to Point B in the most efficient way possible.

I bantered less with my friends

One of the down sides of making friends in school, college, and university is that eventually, people will get jobs and move away to other sides of the country. Now, my close friends all still lived in the same county as myself, but none of us could drive and relying on public transport all the time was tedious! We like to communicate via WhatsApp or Facebook messenger, as well as various other social media. But with my self-chosen exile from all things Internet?

Goodbye social life.

I never realised how much time I spent tagging my friends on memes and vice versa. The majority of my humour was based on memes at least three levels deep. Whenever I encountered something funny in real life, I would not hesitate to take a picture and send it to my friends. With the digital detox, however, that weird funny pigeon I saw that one time is now a mere anecdote instead of a vivid image that my friends could appreciate.

Travelling to a different country was a nightmare

I got accepted for a job in Spain halfway through February, and the cheapest flight I could find left from an airport I have never been to. Can you imagine navigating through London City Airport for the first time in your life, juggling your suitcases and your printed flight information, and then landing in a country where you barely speak the language?

It was a nightmare and then some.

I had to travel without using Google Maps, Google Translate, or mobile boarding passes. The entire journey was not only unnecessarily stressful without a smartphone, but having all that paper with me felt like such a waste. At the very least I was able to recycle once I was safely settled in my new hometown.

bullet journal travel entry
bullet journal travel entry

Concluding Remarks

Doing this digital detox was a personal challenge; it’s not for everyone, and while I would like nothing more to say “oh my god, you guys, detoxing from your smartphone and basically living like an old person is like, really fun and amazing!”


I know that’s a really annoying thing to hear, so instead I will say this:

Do what you want. Take care of yourself, and do things that make you happy.

Taking a month off from my smartphone and social media did wonders for my mental health, my view of myself, and my daily habits. It also was completely irritating because I got lost so many times and that’s something I can never forgive myself for. Nevertheless, I would totally do another digital detox next year!

Over to you guys: have you ever done a digital detox? What was your experience like? If not, would you ever consider doing a digital detox?

Until next time!

New Year, Not-So-New… Anything

I’m not saying I forgot about this blog as it’s been a constant niggle at the back of my mind whenever anything remotely interesting happened in my life. It’s just that I’m a perennial procrastinator and this could hardly be news to anyone at this point.

The last six months have been a rollercoaster ride, from family madness to random job interviews and my own personal issues manifesting somehow only during the wintertime, but let’s not think about that right now! Let’s talk about fun, enjoyable things. Like food, and travel, and useless but cool-looking gadgets.

So without further ado, let’s get started on my first blog post this year… also known as:

LiberaTarts Gets Her Groove Back

December was a fun month, full of family-fun and Christmas cheer. It was a vast improvement to 2017’s Christmas, which I admittedly spent alone because my university term dates – when coupled with the extortionate flight prices in December – decided to fight with my bank account balance.

Christmas 2018 was spent with my immediate family, and honestly? I can’t remember the last time it was just the three of us, so the few weeks leading up to the 25th were one of the nicest weeks I’ve ever experienced. The gifts I got my mother and my brother were both thoughtful and practical, and I had a blast preparing for noche buena – the food planning, grocery shopping, the works!

The most iconic highlight of the month, however (aside from the Christmas spirit, family, yadda yadda yadda), was watching this Academy Award winning movie:

gif of Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse spotify video
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

The movie’s hilarious Christmas playlist were in all the background noche buena pictures; it was the not-so-silent fourth member of our little family, and it brings me joy just thinking about the memories.

January brought misery during the first half, when my mother admitted to feeling homesick and – since she had the time, means, and opportunity to do so – I encouraged her to go home to the Philippines and visit the good ol’ grandparents. Who are her parents, but there are only so many parental figures I can introduce in this narrative without confusing myself.

Not all hope was lost, though! After months of whiling away my time, taking a break from ‘Adulting’, I managed to land a Skype interview with a company that didn’t make my soul shrivel up and die at the prospect of working for them.

Aaaand this leads very nicely to the lovely month of February, where I ended up pretty much hauling my life to a different country to teach English for a bunch of high school kids. I’ve never really given it much thought when people say the situation snowballed, but my goodness that’s what happened to me: I did the Skype interview, got told I was pretty much a shoo-in as long as I ace the (very easy, super simple) grammar exam, and then two weeks later I was packing my bags and buying a very expensive plane ticket to Spain!

(Note to everybody: buying plane tickets two weeks before you fly? DO NOT DO UNLESS THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE. This will bankrupt not just your wallet, but also your soul.)

bullet journal travel entry
bullet journal entry: travelling to Spain

On the plus side, I managed to create something cheerful for my bullet journal. One of these days, I will create a post about bullet journaling for the non-artistic person and it will be full of hints and tips on how to cheat that bujo inspo hashtag.

Over to you guys: I know it’s March already but how did you spend your winter holidays? Tell me in the comments below! And if you’re a Spiderverse fan, by any chance, please say hi and I would love to hear your thoughts about the soundtrack.

See you next time!