Sit & Be Warm

They say you should always be in touch with your feelings; get a diary and fill in the lines with words, find a friend and talk it out, add a tally line to the list of things that worry you. Well, I suppose those do work, but sometimes it’s not that complicated. And yes, you read that right – maybe the resolution we need is a little too simple, that we overlook it.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little better about this whole “I live in New Zealand now” thing, but today was a slightly not-so-great day. Not a bad day – don’t be mistaken – it was just one of those days where I felt a tiny bit engulfed again, about work mostly but also the lacking and overwhelm of my life all at once. As the last hour of work for the day came to a close, I decided I would not let the stress devour my evening as it once would.

So, right now, I’m sitting in front of the fireplace, sat upon a brown woven floor cushion; my new favourite thing. And with a glass of Pinot Gris, and Julia Michaels’ latest album playing,  I’m feeling less stressed with every sip and chorus. Since moving to New Zealand, I’ve found less saviour in words, and more so in actions of bliss. I don’t quite know how else to put it. I guess, sitting here right now feels more therapeutic than thinking.

So, I recommend two things to you on this fine evening.

1/One – take some time to just sit and be warm, whether that be in the arms of someone you love, outside in the sunshine, or in front of a wood burner – enjoy that small moment.

2/Two – listen to Julia Michaels’ music, I’ve come to realise she’s an actual lyrical genius/speaker of truth/queen.

I suppose this is one of those blogs I post that isn’t really a blog, and more a thought. I hope you enjoyed this little Friday thought process. And remember, life itself is a process, don’t try skip the slow parts.

Long time, no see.

Hey there. Guess what, I am finally back from a few months of silence.

As you all know, in November last year, I moved to little old New Zealand and have been rather busy with settling into my new life. So, after that eerie period, I’m dusting away those cobwebs to write this piece.

It’s funny how you very quickly settle into a space you know so well. I grew up in New Zealand, in my small town aside the ocean, and to be reunited with it after 4 years came easier than expected. Before I left London, I always got the “it’ll hit you after a while, you’ll miss the hustle of London.” – well, I’m here to tell you, I don’t.

And honestly, I don’t miss it at all. I thought I would; miss the traffic, the busyness, the cafe ridden streets, the atmosphere, but I simply don’t. However, the one thing I do long for, is hangouts with my cosmopolitain friends; the work pals; I met some of the best people in the world in London; I just don’t long for the place itself.

This did come as a surprise to me. I expected myself to struggle with small town living at least for a little while, to regret ‘giving up’ (for better the word) London for a simpler way of life, but I’ve come to realise that New Zealand kinda suits me. I thrive on exercise, and fresh air, and devour outdoor spaces. I’ve caught up with old friends, explored new places, rediscovered my love for cooking and creativity, joined a band; the open space of New Zealand, has allowed me to fill it with more fulfilling activities. There’s something special about this country, and I cannot wait for my London-made friends to come and visit me, so I can show them too.

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It definitely takes leaving a place, to find the appreciation.

It’s cheesy, and the same sentence has probably been said in a million different ways, but it’s true. I left thinking I was too big for the small life, that New Zealand was boring and not good enough for the life I thought I desired. In reality I just didn’t know how to live yet.

I went to London and it was there I learnt how to live. I discovered myself through trials, tribulations, tears and smiles. And that person, this person I became, ended up craving a bigger space to breathe and grow. London suffocated me. It’s definitely a big city, but it’s also hugely populated. I listened to my body, and it was telling me I needed to move on – it’s funny how perfectly, gloriously, accurate your gut instincts can be. Researchers are discovering that microbes in our gut can send messages and important brain chemicals to our brain, affecting how we think, feel, and remember. Well, my theory is that so do your lungs. Breathe the air you should breathe, and you exhale happiness.

I don’t quite know how to explain it, but I just know that New Zealand air is my kind of air. I encourage you to find yours.

Cafe #4

The café in which I sit is so similar to what I’m used to, yet it’s so different. It’s a standard chain you’d find anywhere in London; the selection of drinks to the branded coffee cups, same.  The coffee shops I usually sit in are infested with business suits, men and woman having meetings with their ear pieces. I’m usually the youngest amongst those who are using the space as an office, or are having a lunch break. Here, it’s a student city. There are students everywhere, and in my ray of vision, I can only spot one person who could be past the age of 30. It’s weird being amongst people my own age. I often find myself immersed in activities with those older than I – poetry readings, libraries, or simply cafés which are clearly in boroughs that don’t typically host the youth.  I feel as if, sitting here typing this,  I could be mistaken for one of them. One of the kids who went on to study more,  one of the kids spending further years of their life dedicated to books; one of the kids with direction – potential or intentional. But I’m not. I’ve tried to be that person, giving up my creativity for the regime of tests and assignments, and it wasn’t for me.

Success can be found in many ways. You can get brain washed into thinking that the degree is what they want, that the piece of paper before you is what’ll make them pick you over them. This could be true, but it’s not something I’d wholeheartedly agree with. I suppose I’m talking about the arts; I know that a Doctor has to have some form of training, amongst many other professions. Props to them, takes serious smarts and dedication to get a profession such as that. In terms of painting, writing, acting, even some office jobs, I don’t believe you need to spend thousands of pounds to get a piece of paper to prove you can do it. A piece of paper isn’t proof of passion.

I’m sitting here, amongst those who are working towards that. That piece of paper, that proof of their ability to learn. I sit here and I have no stress, no deadline  – I have liberation and a clear mind. I see essays scattered on the bench tops, I see headphones blocking out distractions, I see students in heavy discussion. I sit here with my computer, I wear headphones so I can groove as I type, I text my friends about how their Mondays are going so far.

I’m not envious of the students in this café, but I can appreciate their dedication. Just don’t lose your passion amongst the deadlines kids. Have an impassioned direction in life, and don’t lose it for a grade.

730 days and a message for the future migrant

730 days and 730 nights have passed since I boarded the plane to London. Rather than repeating the summaries, the messages of gratitude, and the goals of the coming years, I wanted this blog to be slightly different. I wanted to write a blog which covers some of the lessons I’ve learnt whilst living abroad.

For those without English blood, a visa typically ends after two years. I, however, am lucky enough to have English ancestry and the right to stay longer – just the thought of being kicked out is scary, I have so much more I want to do. This is the case for a lot of antipodeans who travel abroad, right as they finally settle their lives and meet friends for life, it’s ripped out from underfoot.

For those who are hoping to migrate to the UK, or anywhere else in the world, I don’t want that thought to put you off. Moving to London was the best decision I ever made, and even if I only had the past two years, I would still stand by my choice to move. Remember that in life it is very much the same, you can’t not do something because you know it will end. Live in the moment and live for yourself.

If you’re reading this and considering an international move, here are some things I’ve learnt, and some quotes that have found accuracy within my life.

  1. Don’t feel fear in leaving things behind, because if it’s meant to be in your life, said thing will find a way no matter where you are.
  2. Age is but a number. At high school I had a very small, select group of friends; people I’d grown up with, either from an early age or the earlier years of college. We had birthdays within months of each other, and that was that. Once I moved to London, I began meeting people and making friendships based on conversation, laughter, and personality. In a lot of these cases, it wasn’t until we had hung out several times that the age difference came out. In some cases the age gap nears 10 years but they are absolute true friends – I’ve shared some of the best days of my life with these people.
  3. “Everything works out in the end”, “Everything happens for a reason”. These are two quotes that I’m sure many people will think are cheesy, or absolute nonsense. I’m here to tell you, I wholeheartedly believe in these simple sentences.  Enough said.
  4. “What’s the worse that can happen?”. When you find yourself in what you believe to be the ‘worst of the worse’ situations, ask yourself this question. If you get fired, something you own gets stolen, you made a fool of yourself at the staff party (believe me I’ve been there), what is the worse that can happen? You find a new job, you earn money to replace it, you strut into work the next day owning that glorious hangover glam. It’s never as bad as it seems. Never forget that.
  5. Technology makes the earth smaller. With modern society comes FaceTime, Instagram, Facebook and all of the other wonderful social mediums. A lot of people believe these sites to be detrimental to our social lives – pulling us away from real interactions – but in reality, for the modern day migrant, the internet closes the international gap. FaceTime has made my move a breeze, because of it I’ve been able to talk to my parents in an instant. Don’t get me started on Instagram, I love that shit.
  6. Save, save, save. If you decide to move to a city, such as London like myself, you’ll soon realise it’s not as cheap as one would hope. When I first moved, I had a lot of savings stashed away, and it was too easy to spend when I arrived. “Oh I’ve made it, I can treat myself” is a bad attitude, learn from my mistake. It’s not that I went out buying rounds for the entire pub, but I wasn’t as careful as I should have been. Money isn’t everything of course, nevertheless it sure does make your life more exciting.
  7. Aspire to Inspire. As my favourite quote, it doubles as a mantra for my life. I lose sight of it somedays, like anything, but I believe I should be living my life aspiring to inspire others. Working towards making a difference somewhere in someone. If we live this way, we become mindful, true to ourselves and find ourselves spending our time wisely.
  8. Be yourself. Try and see moving across the world as a fresh start and a way to stop trying. Being a teenager can encourage being fake and lying to not only your friends but yourself. Be true to yourself, and you will attract people who (as cheesy as it sounds) love you for you.
  9. Don’t put pressure on yourself to grow up. I definitely fell into this trap, in fact not until recently did I climb my way out. There’s this misconception that success is wealth and talent, and that to be victorious you have to start young.  In London, I am constantly surrounded by wealth and talent that I began to doubt my own progress in life; that because I’m 20, I need to be getting onto the path leading to a career, earning some money – some real respect. It took me two whole years of adulthood, of paying bills, of working full-time, of living in London to get completely over this idea. I fully realised that I want to write and I want to travel. So I’m working in a pub so I can do this. Life is too short for stress, friends. Don’t forget point 3.
  10. Trust your gut. It’s as simple as that, don’t do anything if it doesn’t feel right.

I’m gonna finish this blog off by saying that these past two years have been the best. I love London, I love living here, I love my life here, and I love travelling. I love living with a sense of adventure. I encourage anyone and everyone to do the same.

Happy two year anniversary London, same time next year, yeah?

 

Travel Log: Copenhagen

Monday 6:50

With an early start this morning, I ventured out into the crisp morning air. The only sound coming from birds – a fresh perspective on a city life.  Today I am off to Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a city I’ve never been to, yet experienced vicariously through those having borrowed my guide book. I’m currently sat in a café in Gatwick Airport waiting for my avocado on toast; one of very few vegan options I could find. I’m surprisingly awake for having woken up at 4am, perhaps it’s the excitement of spending the rest of my day in a new city.  Or perhaps it’s the 4-shot Soya cappuccino I just finished. This trip is very unplanned for me; I got my Danish krone at the airport, I have no idea how I’m getting from Copenhagen airport to the hostel, nor what my plan is for the return home tomorrow. I suppose time will tell.

10:18

I must be more than halfway to Copenhagen by now. The sky is the clearest of blue, allowing the sun to glisten perhaps too brightly off the plane’s wing through my window. I somehow always get a window seat, and I couldn’t complain less. It’s an interesting thing to be so close to nothing; so far away from everything you’re used to being near. Buildings insignificant and the rushing lives of those in the streets of London invisible. I feel calm, and I feel un-rushed in my impatient descend on Copenhagen. I’d like to think, as I look out at the world below me, if my plane were to fall that it would be caught in the soft grips of the clouds blanketing the earth.  The clouds – they bring us rain, food for the soil under our feet – they also separate London from the world beyond. We stop looking up after a while because we are so used to seeing the grey barrier above our heads; we get so accustom to looking down at our feet, knowing our direction, our daily path. It’s nice to be above the clouds, to feel as if there is nothing stopping me from seeing new things. I am amongst the unreachable. With the unexpected wifi on board, I feel confident in my plan once I land. I know I will take the metro, a 3-zone ticket bought with either coins or credit card, and I will get off at Hovedbanegården otherwise known as Copenhagen Central Station. From there I will walk to my hostel, check in, and carry on with aimless wandering. According to the flight tracker, we are 24 minutes from Copenhagen. The descend has begun, I am now gently leaning forward with the plane; gravity pulling me towards yet another destination to tick off the map.

17:49

My feet are ready to fall off. I got to Copenhagen Central Station just after midday and spent 20 minutes lapping the perimeter trying to find my hostel; suddenly earning a major appreciation for my Citymapper app in London. I found my hostel and then went back out in search of anything that defines Copenhagen as a city. I still feel near anxious being here. Not because of it’s size or population mass, just the fact of I know nothing about it. I always prepare my holidays, map out places I want to see, where I want to eat, I teach myself the language basics; this time I came in blind. After wandering in the heat and eventually discovering what seemed to be a busy part, I opted for a canal tour. A smooth sail into tourist mode. This was beautiful and somewhat informative. More than anything it gave me my bearings and sites to aim for by foot. The hour tour finished where it began, and so did my ventures. Saw beautiful buildings, did some window shopping, but more so just absorbing everything foreign. I followed it up with more wandering until now – Urban Bar, coffee in hand. As much as I am tired, I am also eager to see more and make the most of this 48-hour trip. I am headed to Tivoli Gardens this evening.

Tuesday 12:36

I am currently located in what seems to be the Danish version of Subway – iBagel. It’s pretty good, eggplant salad topped off with a beautiful dollop of humous (of course). I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to tackle another day of touristing. My first stop had to be food, and eventually I found my desired breakfast destination: 42Raw – a café that has surrendered it’s services to the plant-based community. An acai bowl and my new addiction, The Passage by Justin Cronin, made for a beautiful start to the day. Peaking above the city, reaching for the heavens, are spires scattered around the city. All distinctly different, I’ve been finding them an easier alternative to the maps within my guidebook. As 10:30 came around, I aimed high and true, and climbed 95m up Vol Frelsers Kirke. A beautiful old church which presented me with a stunning view of the city. Since my descend back down to earth, I have wandered; seen the Nationalmuseet, Christiansborg Slot, and Det Kongelige Bibliotek. It’s warm, I’m sun kissed veering burnt, but I feel calm and happy. My flight home to London is at 18:55, and according to the Central Station clock on the opposite of the square it’s now 12:57. I have plenty of time to continue this relaxing getaway.

I’ve done a bit of Rome-ing around.

Currently it is 16:10 and I am in the internet ‘cafe’ of my Roman hostel. I arrived in Rome on Monday roughly midday and since I landed on Italian soil, I have experienced a lot. Rather than posting weeks after like I normally would with a holiday such as this, I thought I would take a break from the heat and walking around to sum up my week – I leave tomorrow afternoon.

When I first got to Rome, the excitement that I thought would overwhelm me never came. I walked around that first afternoon convinced there was something wrong with me – I was in Rome and I was barely excited! I guess I had no idea what I was expecting. But over the course of the week, I have fallen in love with Rome as much as I did Barcelona when I was there last August.

The first night after roaming until my feet were aching, I sat under the Colosseum on fallen down marble pillars and just absorbed it. I was sitting under THE Colosseum and when it hit me I couldn’t wait to return the following morning to venture within it’s walls. My second day in Rome was full of everything that Ancient Rome could offer me – a Colosseum audio tour, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum; I was standing within the ruins of a city that Julius Caeser built; I walked down the streets that Romulus founded; the history was overwhelming. This part of my trip was definitely a highlight and it one of those things you just have to see when you’re visiting Rome.

A major highlight of the last 5 days I’ve spent in Rome has been the Trevi Fountain. The fountain made famous by film is beyond beautiful. I could have sat there all day if it wasn’t for all the tourists and the men trying to talk me into buying a Polaroid. The first time I came across the magnificent water feature was per chance on my first day of roaming. I didn’t really click what it was until I checked my guidebook and realized that it was the famous fountain I’d seen in the Mary-Kate and Ashley film I’d watched as a kid. I read the history and stepped down and turned my back to the fountain, and whist closing my eyes I threw €1 over my shoulder.  You will return to Rome. Good thing I didn’t throw two, cause afterwards I read that two coins means you’ll meet an Italian man, and the third means you’ll marry them – thanks, but no thanks. The second and third time I went to the fountain was with the intention of finding a highly recommended gelateria. I can honestly say that Il Gelato di San Crispino is the best gelato I have ever had – and this week I’ve had a fair amount, shh. As I ate the creamy honey, chocolate and caffé flavoured goodness in front of the fountain, I felt on top of the world.

Besides the beautiful tourist attractions – Vatican Museum, St Peter’s Basilica (highly recommend paying to climb up the Dome), Borghese Gallery, Pantheon etc – at 11.30pm on Wednesday evening I booked a spontaneous tour to Pompei. The next morning at 7am I arrived at Piazza del Popolo and departed with a bus load of people. The tour guides were amazing and had us laughing before we’d left Rome. The 3 hour bus ride to Napoli and the Ancient City of Pompei was full of Roman legend, culture and history of Italia. In Napoli we visited the National Archaelogical Museum which houses all the artifacts such as household items, paintings, and mosaics extracted from Pompei itself. This was amazing and made me extremely excited to see the Ancient City. After eating Neapolitan pizza for lunch (which is different to Roman pizza) and a history lesson on the food of Italy, we arrived at the long awaited city of ruins. I went into Pompei expecting a few ruins and was astonished at how much more there is to see. When they say a city, they mean a city; main streets, back streets, homes, mansions, graffiti, brothels, takeaway shops, restaurants, bathing house, amphitheatres etc etc. It was amazing, but heartbreaking at the same time. The clear day allowed us to see the looming Mt Vesuvius behind the city – constantly reminding us that a lot of people died there. It really is something I feel lucky to have seen and experienced with the local tour informing us of every small detail they’ve discovered. I recommend seeing it in your lifetime. After the drive home, stopping off on the way to taste test Limoncello, I returned back to Rome so energized and informed of everything Rome and Italy have to offer.

Today, my last full day in Rome, I took my tour guides advice and did nothing but meander. I tried Roman cuisine on the back cobble-stoned roads; paid perhaps a bit too much for a personally embossed Italian-made leather (refillable) notebook; I had the best cups of coffee; I soaked up the warm ‘winter’ sun in Piazzas.

Today I fell in love with Rome. Tomorrow I leave Roma, Italia and I’m not happy about it.

365 Days

This blog comes to you on a Thursday because today, the 28th January 2016, marks the one year anniversary of my move to London.

WP_20150114_005This time last year I was at Wellington Airport in New Zealand doing my best to put on a brave face and laugh off the pot of emotion that was my stomach. As the time till I had to board counted down, and as the gate call echoed throughout the airport, I was instantly overwhelmed. Even sitting here right now in one of my favourite cafes, I suddenly have a stomach full of butterflies just thinking about it. I got asked a lot before I left if I was excited; if I was nervous, but it wasn’t until that moment of having to go through security that my move became a reality; it completely sank in that within the hour I would be saying goodbye to my family, my friends, and my home of 18 years.994729_10208050194363073_7553208956738201222_n-2

There was a movie moment amongst the tears and hugs. My best-friend Hayley had been travelling around the South Island and her flight was due to arrive at the same time that my gate opened. It was getting nearer to having to go through security, and she still hadn’t arrived yet, but I insisted that I waited. My Mum was telling me that I would just have to go when I saw her at the opposite end of the waiting area – I dropped my bags and ran. As I ran, and as she ran towards me, we both had tears streaming down our faces. I was leaving my sister, closest friend, and a face that held memories from 5 years. No Spotify, now is not the time to play Yellow by Coldplay. Skip.

After saying the long awaited goodbye to Hayley, and finalising my farewell with hugs from my family, I walked away from the tearing faces behind me. I remember the lady at security looking at my red eyes and splotchy cheeks just talking at me because she knew if I went to speak I’d be an incontrollable mess. I think I was the only one in the waiting lounge in such a state. I put myself in the corner, crying my eyes out, attempting to drown out my thoughts with Cold Chisel playing deafeningly loud in my ears. Stepping on the plane I remember vividly telling myself repeatedly something my Dad repeated to me in the months leading up to my departure. It became my moving mantra, and it’s still something I tell myself often.

“There is no better feeling than getting on a plane and having no idea what is ahead of you.”

11891053_10207190203623842_8634745430585137083_nAs I travelled further away from New Zealand, and nearer to England, my sadness turned into impatient excitement; now that the hard part was over, I couldn’t wait to set foot in the city that would be my new home. I arrived at 12.30pm and I was out looking around the city until 10pm that night, with a grin so big I’m sure my parents could see it in NZ.

To think that this time last year I knew nothing about London, yet now I could give you directions to most places – bus numbers included.

365 days ago my home was New Zealand.

365 days ago I arrived in London and while wearing 5 layers I still went about silently complaining about how cold I was.

365 days ago I was terrified of stepping inside an Underground.  I had the biggest fear of going the wrong way. Even after staring at the directional signs – for what seemed like minutes on end – I convinced myself I would end up on the opposite side of London. I was scared of buses even more so; I didn’t use a bus until about my third month here.

365 days ago I knew no one in London. Today I am surrounded by people I can’t begin to describe how thankful I am to have. 365 days ago these people were strangers, today they’re amongst the most important people in my life.

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365 days ago I’d only dreamt of seeing places like Big Ben and the London Eye – now they’re on my doorstep. Not only have I seen these iconic places, I’ve been to Wales, road tripped around the south of England 11138083_878059408906967_4155009662216348277_nand visited Barcelona. I’m going to Rome in 3 days, and in June this year I’m going to Santorini; I’m sure there will be more too. Amongst my friends I’ve also been labelled the documenter/the photographer/the Instagram-er; what can I say? Memories are beautiful, but photos can often say so much more.

365 days ago I moved to London because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Sometimes you need to look at your life from a different perspective – what a better way than from the other side of the world? Today, I am a person with my passions rediscovered. I start university in 4 days studying something I love so much it feels like leisure. Not to mention I live in Europe, talk about opportunity.

365 days ago I was unsure of my purpose, who I was, and where I wanted to be in the years to come. This last year has been a year of realising what I love, who I want to surround myself with, and adventuring outside my comfort zone and beyond. Moving to London has been a scary but invigorating experience that has allowed me to grow in many ways.

365 days later, I live in London, my new home, and this has been the best year of my life (so far).

Thank you to everyone who has made this year so special. I love every single one of you. Thank you to my parents who have always encouraged me to live for myself.

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Lots of love, Kiwi Girl x

…living in London.