Hard to believe the time has finally come. Tomorrow morning, I board a plane headed for Toronto and not making a return back to London. It’s even harder to believe that it’s been a whole year since I arrived in London and started this adventure. So much has happened this year- both good and bad. I’ve done so much, and seen a lot. So I wanted to take time to reflect and think back, month by month on how the adventure has taken shape.
I arrived in London on July 3rd early in the morning. I remember arriving and thinking this is the saddest thing ever. No one is here to greet me, no one is here to welcome me or show me around. I was really on my own. The first day was hard due to time adjusting and really just learning where I was. I started my job on July 6th, only three days after arrive. I stayed in a university residence for the first week and a half, and that Saturday July 10th I rushed all around London to find a place to live. I learned quickly that I could no be picky- not with my time limit, and not with my budget. The rest of the month was really about getting things I needed, getting used to my surroundings and trying to keep up with the high demands of my job right off the bat. I wasn’t really able to tour around because I was more focused on just getting my feet on the ground. The one really cool thing that happened that month was that I got to see some friends I met on a cruise years ago. One family and one guy- they all happened to be in London on the exact same
day, so I was lucky enough to see both of them that day, catch up, have a drink and just enjoy the small world that it is.
After being in London for about six weeks, my best friend and her boyfriend moved over to the U.K. and for the first time I didn’t feel so alone. They live about an hour and a half away from me, but I had the security of knowing that if something went wrong someone is here. That month, my Dad came over and visited me for the weekend. We had the best time because it was like a mini vacation for just the two of us. It was hard when he left because it was like saying goodbye all over again, although this time the goodbye would last longer since I wouldn’t see him until Christmas. August was a hard month for me because it was when things started to go wrong. I was told in my company that our structure was changing and that my job would be eliminated; however, they wanted to keep me on but find me a new position. Well it was the longest, most agonizing three weeks of my life while I waited for that new role. It brought on anxiety that I had never experienced before, and stress like I’ve never know.
Well it wasn’t officially until mid September that I found out about my new role, and where I would be going, but the anxiety continued to escalate. So much so that I felt physically sick everyday for the month. I had a hard time taking the tube and trains, I didn’t want to socialize, and worst of all the homesickness started to kit in. This was probably my worst month of the entire adventure. The one positive thing that happened in September was that I got the chance to travel to Portugal. It was my first “business” trip that I have ever been on. It was nice to go to a new place, a new city, and a part of the world I have never been too.
October was when I officially started my new position, which was great for a while. I thought I could finally settle into something, figure it out and do it well. Soon enough Canadian Thanksgiving came around, so I gathered my expat friends and we celebrated at my house. I cooked a turkey- yup a whole turkey! Here is the picture to prove I did it. When Halloween came, I was all excited for it, but sadly let down. NO ONE DOES HALLOWEEN HERE!!!!!
November was the longest month, at least so it felt. It dragged on and on. This was because work was getting stressful, I was getting more and more anxious to prove myself at work, I was missing home and my family. I was very lonely, and all I wanted to do was go home for Christmas. I didn’t do much the entire month, the coolest thing that came around was November 5th. I learned about anonymous and how that all came about and got to see the fireworks on Guy Fawkes day to celebrate it. Strange celebration I must say- celebrating the guy who failed blowing up parliament.
This was the month I was waiting for for so long. I travelled to Brussels for the weekend with a friend which was a lot of fun. It was my first trip out of the U.K. that I had paid for and planned myself. I got to stay in a nice hotel, and go to the Christmas markets. It was a really great, relaxing trip. After I landed back in London, it was only two weeks until I got to go home for Christmas. I thought “this is great, I’m so close”. At this point my anxiety was through the roof and I was so excited to go home because I thought that it would give me the chance to relax, see a doctor to get it under control, and feel safe and secure with my parents for a little bit. I also decided to sing a lease for a new place starting in January because I could no longer stand my current place- it was so small and just poorly maintained. At this point, I still had two weeks of work left to get through- so I thought. The Friday after I got back from Brussels I got let go. This was the most devastating thing to happen to me because I had never been let go before. I was so confused on what to do. I had 7 days before my flight back to Canada- should I go back and not come back, should I come back and look for a new role? What should I do? I wanted to come back, and so I did. I applied to a few jobs that weekend and by the Tuesday, I had a job (turned out to be a great place, read blog #9 to find out why). So I went home for Christmas to get some relaxing and rejuvenation.
New year, new start. I was on my way back to London to do it all over again. I was starting a new job, moving to a new place, meeting new friends and making a fresh, clean, new start for myself. It really did work! I was starting to enjoy things again. My friend came to visit me in London on his European adventures. We got to hang out, see the sights, and I was reminded as to why I loved the city again.
I started to work like crazy during February. The change in salary meant that I needed to pick up as many shifts as possible, but it also felt good to be busy, and to enjoy what I was doing. Going to work didn’t just mean put in 8 hours and go home. It was like a community of friends at work. We were all going through similar experiences, I had people that cared about me, and I cared about them. They got me into work out and being more healthy- mind, body, and spirit. I was really into it and have kept up with it ever since. I even had the opportunity to take one of my co-workers skating for the first time.
Still working like crazy this month, but I was starting to really get into working out even more. March was also a little stressful because I knew that April was approaching and come April my contract would be up and I would need to figure out if I am going to move home, or try to find a new job and stay a little longer. The nice thing I learned about March in London is that spring comes very early! It was a beautiful month and we even had days where it was 20 degrees. I finally got a taste of a real spring and loved it!
This might have been one of my favourite months because it was a month full of fun! My 23rd birthday was celebrated in London and I had a very special birthday gift of my Mom coming over to celebrate my special day with me. We did everything, went everywhere and spent a lot of time together. It was special to me because she has never been over to Europe before. I also knew that my time was starting to come to an end as I learned my contract would not be extended. So I made a plan to make the most of it and to try everything, see everything. So much so that I even tried aerial yoga!
So the month of trying everything and doing everything began. I started off by going to every museum that ever seemed interesting to me- The Natural History Museum, the V and A, the Tate Modern and some more later on. I discovered the wonderful world of Cat Cafes, which happens to be one of my new favourite things to do when I am bored and have no one to hang out with. Coffee and cats- nothing better. I visited Kew Gardens which was beautiful! I really embraced my inner 90 year old self this month. However, I ran my first charity 5k placing 20th out of the 1200 participants. This has always been a goal of mine to run in a race. I know 5k isn’t very far, but for me it was a big deal and a personal goal of mine, so I am happy that I finally got to do it. What made it even better was that it was in front of the Tower of London. I even got to travel to Germany to see my family. I hadn’t seen them in years, but it was so nice to travel a little, see a new country, and stay with family. They were so kind in taking me in and showing me all around. I had the best time and I can’t wait to see them again when they visit Canada.
The last month. Let’s just say that as soon as I got my last pay check- I went a little crazy. I set out to do it all and finish my bucket list. So I went to a few more museums- the Imperial War Museum (highly recommend) and the Science Museum. I took a trip to Oxford to see all the old buildings and how the university is made. Also, of course I stopped to see all the famous Harry Potter places. I took another day trip to Brighton. I really wanted to see what all the fuss was about- see the pier, the ocean and the city. Both trips were on some of the coldest days in June which was kind of a drag, but at least it didn’t rain! I took a big trip in June as well. I went to Palma Majorca, Spain all by my self for two days. It may have just been the best thing I have ever done. It was incredibly relaxing. The sun was hot, the sand was nice, and the ocean was everything I needed. I got a nice tan and a small sun burn to match it. After my trip I had two more things that I really wanted to do. I had bought tickets to the play “Harry Potter and the Cruised Child” back in August of last year. The day finally came and I got the see it with my best friend! We had so much fun not only watching the play, but chatting and hanging out one last time before I left. I won’t see her again until August when she comes back to Canada. The last thing I really wanted to do was see the Trooping of the Colours- this way I could finally see the Royal family up on the famous balcony. The crowd was huge, it was 32 degrees but 150% worth it in the end! Watching them up there while her regiments played “God Save the Queen” was like a perfect ending scene for a movie. Allowing me to feel complete and whole. I started my obsession with the U.K. and London because of the Royal family, so it only felt so fitting that on my last Saturday I stand out there, waving a Union Jack and wishing her a happy birthday for a second time this year. For my three remaining days after it, I have just been packing away and saying my goodbyes.
Crazy to think that it has already been a year. So many ups and downs this entire year that it’s been the longest roller coaster of my life- but oddly enough, I wouldn’t change a single second of it. Good or bad. It’s been nice being able to think back and reflect over the past year as so much has happened and so much has changed. Not to sure where the world will take me next, but I know I will still be capturing it as the weeks continue on (52 weeks of blogging that’s my goal). Am I am excited to go home? Yes and no. I am happy to see my family, and am looking forward to what ever my next adventure is, but sad to leave the friends and life I have created here in London. I know I can always come back and visit one day, but it will never been the same. London has forever stolen a piece of my heart.