|Found a whole bunch of 'arty' photos of me on my FB from 2008, so thought I'd stick one in this post for authenticity.|
|All these years later, I really wish I'd had my hair down and closed my mouth for this photo.|
In a culture where pretty much everyone goes to university and gets a degree, it was awkward to have 'failed', come home and gotten a job. I didn't like seeing my friends much - I'm sure I've cited this before, but I will always remember driving around with a well-meaning friend and her telling me I'm 'wasted potential' for not going back to school. But that didn't matter, I figured I had 5 years to use my scholarship, so there was no harm in taking a break and doing something different. So I booked my ticket, and Dad and I flew to England - arriving 19th January 2008.
Dad came over to help me get sorted in that first week. He upgraded us to business class as a special treat, which was just so exciting! When we arrived, things didn't quite go to plan - the flat I had tried to set up when abroad for me to move into ended up being a scam (luckily I hadn't been silly enough to send them money before seeing the house (there was no house!)), I had put in some CVs but not managed to secure a job yet, and so my Dad dropped me and my suitcases off at a hostel, Globetrotters, in Hammersmith.
That was it - at 19 I was alone in a hostel with no job, just 6 months worth of savings (in American dollars too, awful exchange rate!) in London. Unfortunately, in typical teen fashion, I spent most of my savings in the 2 months I lived in that hostel (it had a bar in the downstairs!). But I made some friends I still keep in contact with, and had some really good experiences. I got a job as reception in a gym in Chiswick (where I met actress Vanessa Redgrave) and was lucky enough to secure a little room in a flat with two lovely posh English boys.
And when I say little, I mean little. It was big enough for a single bed, and about a foot of space around it. I struggled with homesickness and really living with others for the first time in that place, but on the whole I really enjoyed it. Particularly because of my flatmates (hi Sam!) - they were a whole different world than I'd ever seen - bars in Sloane Square with £15 cocktails, cabs, parties on the roof using a ladder they found on the street, it was always something new with them. I once got woken up to Sam drunkenly standing on our coffee table singing 'Sweet Home Alabama' (apparently my identifying tune) - I got into the living room just in time to see the table give way - legs everywhere, drink spilled, very dramatic! (spoiler, he was okay though!) - I loved that I got to spend so much time with English people, because as much as I loved the Ozzies at Globies, I came to England to immerse myself in the culture!
|Oh yeah and I looked like this - why did I not realise dark hair makes my skin glow even whiter than usual?|
In a temp role I met my first real friend, who took me to Bar Rumba, the African music club where I spent every Sunday night for a year. I loved the music, the dancing, the attention I got... poor Sarah, I later even made her go there for a few months after we started dating (as a pop music lover, she did not love it like I did!).
|Ready for Rumba, back in the day|
And then... I started at Knowledge to Action. That fateful day, I met Sarah. And you all know how that went.
Six years on, I would never have thought I'd be where I am today. In love with a beautiful woman, getting married, having lived in Australia for a year, traveled all around, in a job I love, with our family home purchased, loving my life and the endless surprises and ups and downs along the way.
I still am prone to depression and anxiety, but the tools I was given by my life coach long ago paired with the joy it has given me to take control of my life here in England has made my doubts much easier to control. I'm lucky as well that over the years Sarah has learned just how to knock me out of it whenever I do have little lapses - and if worse comes to worst, a Skype with my mum always makes things better.
I'm very grateful to my parents for giving me that push I needed to do the best thing I've ever done in my life (move to England) and for the support when I wavered. I am so lucky to have made that leap and ended up where I am today.