Thursday, 18 July 2013

Throwback Thursday: All By Ourselves

This has been a very busy blogging week!

Today is Throwback Thursday, and today's topic is when we moved away from home.
Moving away from home was hard for me. It's strange, I never thought of myself as a home body but I like/liked my parents and by the time I hit 16 they were more like friends. I went to football matches with my Dad and shopped with my Mum and never really considered the impact that moving away would have. 

The first time I moved away was to University. I had deliberately picked a University that was far enough away from home without being too far. In the UK distances aren't quite what they are in the USA so 2 hours seemed sufficient. I headed to Bournemouth. All my friends were heading off to their various locations around the UK so going away to Uni felt like the thing to do - it was all everyone talked about the last summer I had in Reading. It also helped that I felt I wanted to see somewhere other than Reading. 

The beautiful Bournemouth coast
I was last to leave - my University started slightly later than most as the town is inundated with tourists over the summer. I drove down in a car with my parents squashed between bags and bedding and generally quite excited. 

That was short lived. 

I arrived at the hotel where I had been allocated as the halls of residence were overbooked. It was not what I had remembered when I came down to visit months earlier. Instead of the welcoming owners and the games room there were signs saying 'not to be used' and before we could officially 'move in' they wanted a deposit - there and then, on the doorstep. I knew as we couldn't afford for me to have my own room I would be sharing and I had convinced myself it would mean an instant friend but I did not anticipate what would turn out to be the WORST living conditions I could imagine. 

As I opened my room door Lucy (my room mate) had already made herself at home. I tried to tell myself that as we had both brought a 'Me to You' bear it must mean we are a little similar. We were NOT. As my Mum busied herself unpacking we realised there was only one plug socket for the room. ONE! So my Dad was sent out to buy an extension lead. It didn't help that the plug was under a sink so every time someone washed their hands we had a power outage! 

Not the exact one!
We had to share the bathroom, which was in OUR room, with no less than NINE people! That's right, at ANY time if our door wasn't locked, someone could come in to use the bathroom or shower. It was horrible, even though it was a room it was never a private space. We had no TV, no computer and mold - a lot of mold. Oh and no way of cooking for ourselves, as it was catered: idea that I thought was amazing at first. When we when to the hotel months earlier they promised options and flexible dinner times. In reality there was one choice - often something floating in grease- and if you missed the time, you missed dinner! 

I am not joking that the chicken takeaway at the bottom of the road knew my name and would often give us extra as he felt sorry for us! Tragic, right! 

It didn't end there either. On top of all of the above Lucy and I DID NOT get on. If I wasn't in by 10pm I would be locked out of the room. After people started seeing me in the hall they bought me an air bed for a Christmas present so I could sleep elsewhere. Three months later I got put in another room permanently. 
Getting our geek on :)

It made getting used to Uni a breeze - I was glad to get to lectures, I spent hours in the library and I forced myself to make friends (not an easy task for me). Thankfully, I sat next to a lovely girl called Krystal on my first day. We were both confused at the mention of 'Accountancy' on our course outline, but it gave us a common starting point and we remained friends throughout. It was also a relief to find out she had a flat on campus - one of the lucky ones. Oh yeah, I should mention, my hotel was located on the sea front - an hour walk away from Uni! 

These people got me through Uni!
I really struggled missing home though - I missed my own space, and this was before mobiles were a huge part of everyone's life so I missed keeping in touch (This was even pre-facebook - imagine!). I even asked for my old job back at Reading's M&S so I had an excuse to escape at the weekends. Most Uni social stuff happened in the week so come Friday night I would jump on a train. I was happy to work just to know I was having a good night's sleep in a non-damp bed and dinner of my choice. It also meant I could see my parents who tried many a time to persuade me to leave and start again the next year when I would get a flat on campus. 

So there you have it, moving out - the first time, was probably the worst experience I could have had. The silver lining was the friends I made though. As they say in the hardest of times come the greatest of friendships. I was never alone (even if I had wanted to be). There were always others who missed dinner or were sprinting for the bus to get to lectures. There was always someone wanting to escape their roommate or watch a film. I spent more nights in random rooms than I ever wanted to but those people slowly became friends. I hung out with people who in other situation I would have struggled to find things in common with and through it all I found great people to form an escape plan with - we eventually moved out together.

It's a shame that two of the people in my escape group turned out to be psycho but that's a whole other story...

Technically my first move away from home was to Western Washington University. I went straight to Uni from high school despite my parents suggesting I do the British/Australian thing - take a year off to travel. In the USA, going to college is just the 'done' thing straight from school, so I went, despite having no real direction or idea what I wanted to do. I had always done advanced placement classes and come top of my class - I even got a scholarship for school which cut my tuition in half!

Unfortunately, none of this meant I would do well at school, and before I had completed a year, I packed up all my stuff and drove home. It was nothing to do with Western, it was a beautiful school and I loved my classes, I just didn't feel like I was really doing anything, and I had no direction. 

Totes unattractive photo of me, but you get the idea
When I got home, I started seeing a Life Coach to help me figure out where I'm going, and to get over some particularly bad boy troubles which had definitely contributed to my leaving school. It was through Sandra that I decided to move to England! So I got a full time job, and worked for six months to get some money to support myself in London.

It's funny, I always struggle to talk about me leaving school, because everyone around me has always had degrees, and I feel like people will look down on me a bit. I was once called 'wasted potential' by a well-meaning friend, and that has really stuck with me, because I know I'm very smart and could have done 'great things' at school if it had been for me. But not getting a degree is not something I've ever regretted - I know it wasn't for me, and instead of sitting around wasting my parents' money, I got on with my life and learned in moving to England that experience is sometimes more important than a piece of paper, that I can climb the corporate ladder without a degree, and most importantly, that no matter what I do in life, work will not be what makes me happy - it will be what I do to fund the things that truly make me happy - like Sarah, family, traveling, and love. Anyway, rant over, this has pretty much nothing to do with this post.

So at the grand old age of 19, I moved to London by myself. Well, my Dad came over with me for a week, to make sure I didn't get abducted off the plane, but he set me up in 'Globies', a traveller's hostel that used to be a mental hospital, and left me on my own - I lived there while I got on my feet.

I lived at Globies for two months - for the first, I did what any 19 year old on her own for the first time would do when she lived in a place with a built in bar - I made a lot of (all Australian pretty much) friends, did a lot of jagerbombs, and saw London. I soon realised I was running out of money, and after asking my parents to get me out of a tight financial situation a few times, I looked for a job. Working while living in a place with a bar is SO difficult - not to mention in a room with other people, who didn't speak any English oftentimes, who were travelling and partying. I woke up more than once to the sound of someone puking, and once someone fell out of their top bunk (with two bunks below them!) onto the floor in a drunken stupor!

This is basically what living at Globies was like in one photo
Finally, I got myself out of there, and lived in my first flat with two awesome posh boys. I thought I'd made it, having my own room, despite the fact that I was pretty much living in Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs - it was big enough for a single bed, and about a foot of room around it. Sarah and my Mum were both horrified when they saw the tiny place, but I didn't know I could afford any more, and I enjoyed living with the boys, so I was there for eight months.

Being posh, drinking wine - oh right and I was very, VERY brunette
I came over here on my own at 19, and am proud that I made it - with only one panicked home-sickness caused trip to Idaho, I've now been here 5.5 years, and love it - definitely glad I made the jump across the pond, it was the best decision I ever made!


  1. These are awesome... I missed out on this as I was pregnant at the early age of 17 and a mommy when I was barely 18...

    I think it is great to have these experiences to look back on, it shows how far you have come:)

  2. you look beautiful as a brunette! you should try it again :)but then again, you always look beautiful :) love you guys

  3. It is pretty scary leaving home and both of you made some huge decisions, but it looks like you have both achieved a lot of happiness together and have a good life. :-)

    1. We do - it was definitely worth taking the plunge :)


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