In June 2015 I moved to the UK. Originally, I had planned to be here for 2 years on the Youth Mobility Visa. We all know the story now, and here I am, three years later, living in the UK still.
On my third anniversary in the UK, I’ve realised that I’ve changed a lot, learned a lot and my life has evolved into something completely different than what I had envisioned when I packed my little backpack up three years ago to move here.
Things I’ve learned:
- London is hard. Moving here, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I knew I would have to adjust to life in a massive city (coming from a place with a population of 65,000). Taking the tube during rush hour, navigating massive crowds, finding a job, finding myself – all of it is work. London is work.
- No one actually gives a shit. Stop worrying what other people think of you and just do what makes you happy. No one actually gives a toss about why or how you’re doing something. They’re all just as freaked out as you are.
- Working in the UK is different than working in Canada, by a long shot. Employers generally don’t give a shit about you and you’re easily replaceable. It seems as though they generally don’t give a shit about any human being, which is exhausting.
- I’m a lot braver than I thought I was. I’ve done lots of things and have accomplished a lot, and a lot of that took me being brave and willing to take risks. They were almost always worth it.
- Being an expat is fun, but also draining. It can be quite sad to be away from your friends and family. Missing milestones is hard. Skype and phone calls help, but sometimes it really doesn’t replace the real thing.
- I don’t travel as much as I thought I would when I first left Canada. I planned on travelling every weekend. I definitely don’t. I’ve been to loads of new places since moving here, but I definitely don’t get away as much as I thought I would have.
- There are so many misconceptions about being an expat (see above), but it’s all worth it. I really thought I would be exploring London more and travelling a lot, but I really don’t have the time (or energy) for it most weeks.
- There is no place like home, but I have created a new home with my little family. Saint John will always be home, but London has my heart.
- If you set your mind to something, you can achieve anything. You may not be successful at first, but if you want it & it’s worth it, you’ll get it eventually.
Things I Love
- My family. Without moving to the UK, I never would have met my husband. We wouldn’t be living our little life with our perfect little puggo.
- Being able to travel abroad when I want to. It’s easy to pop over to France or Belgium and its cheap to buy flights within Europe. This is completely not the case whilst living in Canada.
- The wide variety of food options in London. Living in the Maritimes, everything is relatively limited, but here, I have the world at my finger tips when it comes to food.
- Markets. London has fabulous markets. There are so many options to choose from, but my favourites have to be Borough Market & Colombia Road Flower Market.
- Being able to hop in the car and drive for 20 minutes and be in the country side. We live in Surrey, so get the best of both worlds – being able to get to London easily or being able to go to the country side.
- Pubs. There are absolutely no shortage of pubs in the UK and it makes my heart so happy.
- Gin, Prosecco, Pimms – all of these things are basic institutional rights in the UK, it seems.
- Having my family visit me in London so I can take them around the city and show them the place that has won me over and that I now call home.
- Access to wifi / internet to skype my friends and family when I’m feeling sad or a bit homesick.
Things I miss
- I’ve been missing food a lot lately. Tonight, it’s donairs.
- My local. I miss popping round the corner to my favourite pub or restaurant and getting my usual.
- Friends. My god I miss my friends. I have a very, very limited social circle here and I have been trying to be more active in meeting people but fuck it’s hard. I miss having people to go for a drink with. Every Friday after work, we would always go out for drinks. I desperately miss this ritual.
- My family & the milestones I’ve not been able to be home for. My niece was born a month before the wedding so I obviously didn’t get to meet her until she was 5 months old. I miss a lot of stuff with my family, like my grandmother going in for a potentially life-ending medical procedure. I always feel a bit guilty.
- The ocean. I miss having the waves crashing within earshot while trying to sleep. I miss the salty air.
- Friendliness. The east coast of Canada is so bloody friendly. Everyone is just kind. You don’t even think they’re trying to get something out of you for being nice. They’re just genuinely nice.
- My job. I miss most of the people I used to work with. I enjoyed my job too. I was active in the community and really enjoyed what I was doing.
- My little piece of east coast. Saint John is such a lovely city. It really does get shit on, but it holds such a special place in my heart.
- Easiness of everything. Time just stands still in the east coast. Everything is easy. You can get places quickly. Nothing is a hassle.
Things I’ve done
- I’ve travelled to Bulgaria, Hungary, Vietnam, Australia, Thailand, France x2, Turkey, Italy x2, Ireland, Cuba, Belgium, America, Canada x3, Croatia, Bosnia + Herzegovina, Morocco Scotland & other various spots in the UK.
- I’ve had the experience now of working in three countries: Canada, Bulgaria & UK.
- I’ve met my husband & got married!
- We bought a flat together & have spent so much time making it into our little home.
- We got a dog and our lives have completely changed to revolve around him.
- We’re planning some pretty fabulous journeys together this year – Ireland, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
- I’ve explored lots of London and the UK, with more to come.
- I’ve realised my potential, both professionally and personally.
- I’ve found my family and have the rest of my life to figure out the fun bits together with someone who’s pretty spectacular.