This blog comes to you on a Thursday because today, the 28th January 2016, marks the one year anniversary of my move to London.
This 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.
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.”
As 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.
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 and 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.
Lots of love, Kiwi Girl x
…living in London.