Today marks a very special anniversary for me and an opportunity for some personal reflection. Yippee!
It was exactly a year ago that I walked off the plane in Heathrow, travelled for forty five minutes to my Aunty’s place in West London and collapsed exhausted onto the bed in her spare room. Five years in the making and here I finally was – in London. After three months in the Middle East, a week in Oz and another six travelling around Europe, it was time to settle back into routine. All I had to do was find a job, a gym, a place to live and somehow pull my life back together.
It was easier said than done, that’s for certain. I’m still yet to join a gym, for one thing!
Over the course of the last year I’ve lived in Zones 5, 2 and 1, worked five different jobs and have been to three continents and 12 countries, as well as multiple destinations around the UK itself.
I’ve seen three West End shows and one outdoor play. I accidentally fell asleep at the opera. I’ve had afternoon tea and went to my first Michelin Star restaurant. I’ve eaten in the dark and drunk in a toilet bar. I had my first winter Christmas. I went on a series of average to middling dates, before striking it lucky with a handsome bearded Englishman. I’ve read more books than I can count and I’ve not a single problem with that!
My relationship with London has been rocky at best – there’s been a lot of moments where I’ve wanted to pack up and power on, leaving this city well and truly behind me. An inability to slow down and a tendency to overwork is what I suspect is behind these moments. London is what it is – a bustling metropolis, bursting to the brim with colour, culture and flavour and I’m so glad to finally be able to see it in its full glory. I still have instances where I miss home so much my heart aches. Yet, at the end of the day, I’m glad I stuck it out.
England is my mother country and funnily enough, my mother’s country and somewhere along the line it got under my skin. Australia will always be home, nothing will ever change that. But I feel like my heart resides in two places now (well, three if you count Iceland) and I am totally at peace with this fact.
Living overseas is an interesting adventure. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But there’s not a single day that goes by that makes me regret my decision, that leaves me feeling nothing but extreme gratitude for this life that I’m slowly carving out for myself.
So that’s one year in London, done and dusted – the hardest one over, if other expat accounts are anything to go by. It’s not a year I would want to do again, but it’s strangely been one of the best years of my life.
Whatever the next twelve months bring, I look forward to sharing them with you.