Blog of the month - January 2010
Memoirs of a T.S.U.N.A.M.I Girl
My name is Rebecca, but I love it when people call me Bec. I’ve had many nicknames over the years...but we don’t need to go into that!
I am an Aussie, growing up in Adelaide, South Australia, but most recently from Brisbane in sunny Queensland.
I’m now living in SW London and have been here since May 2009. People keep asking me how long I plan to stay and to be honest, I have no idea. I usually say “a few years” and that seems to move them onto the next question. It’s a hard one to answer.
Back in 2003, I moved over to the UK to work in a hotel in a small village in Scotland. I lasted six months before the need to be in a city got the better of me and so one afternoon, together with two fellow Aussies, we got out a map of Great Britain and, not quite ready to make the move from the Highlands of Scotland to London, we picked a spot in the middle of both, which turned out to be Manchester. I loved Manchester in all its urban grittiness (is that even a word?) and we stayed there for a year. At the end of the year, the lease on our house ran out and my flatmates were going back to Australia, so I decided I would head home too. But I’d always felt that I left a little bit of my heart in the UK. So, four years later, I find myself back here, but in London this time, and loving it. Does that make me a “serial expat”?
I love being so close to so many different countries and being able to say things like, “I’m off to Paris for the weekend”, which I was able to do a few months ago and it was absolutely amazing. As much as I would love to see most of the European countries that are always squeezed into those “20 Countries in 3 Days” package holidays for the under 30’s (you know the ones!), I really would love to get to places off the beaten track, like Russia, Finland and Iceland while I’m here.
I chose London this time mainly because of my career change. I have spent the last 10 or so years working in hotels and offices, answering phones, filing, photocopying and slowly losing the will to live! It was time for a change. Before my time behind the desk, I had worked in child care and completed training as a nanny, and so I’ve come to where the big bucks in nannying can be earned. Not that I’ve yet to see the big bucks. Turns out my qualifications are not recognised in the UK, so I had to take a lower paying job to start with and this year, it’s back to school for me, to re-train. Fun!
My part of London is really beautiful. There are lots of trees, parks and houses that I could never afford to rent! My job is as a live-in nanny and I get my own space in the converted loft. The best thing about being a live in nanny is the commute. It takes just 15 seconds to get into work, down two flights of stairs. The worst thing would be shouting at 5.30am!
The things I miss most from home would be my family and friends, but I also miss good chocolate. The Brits think they have the best chocolate, but seriously, they don’t. It tastes terrible! I’ve never liked Vegemite, so I don’t miss that at all.
One of the strangest things I have discovered since I arrived is that people here will pay £200 for a pair of Ugg’s...and then wear them outside, in public! This is just crazy to me. Ugg’s are slippers, people, to be worn inside, and a good pair would only cost about $30 in Australia. Crazy! (Sorry. Had to rant, but I’m over it now. Moving on...!)
I first started my blog when I got my laptop about 12 months ago and my first post was actually made from my office computer, while I was at work on a really slow day. Is that bad? I started it because I knew I would be moving over to London in 2009, and I used to spend most of my day at the office reading blogs of other expats who had moved to London (always with some sort of Excel spreadsheet ready to click open in case the boss happened to walk past! That IS bad, isn’t it?). I wanted my blog to inspire others to live their dreams, they way those blogs had inspired me and helped me make it through those long, boring days. I have several blogs that I follow, which I have noticed in the past few years have changed from their original purpose, which I guess mine will to, in time.
I registered with Expat-blog.com when I first started my blog because it was the place I went to first to seek out blogs by people who had already done the big move like I was planning at the time.
My best memory so far? There are so many things I’ve done, but probably the best moment would have been when it clicked, as I was walking along Southbank around my third week here, that I didn’t have to rush to see all London had to offer in three weeks, before getting on the plane to go home. I was living here now. I could see everything I want to, and even go back to those places I liked. I think that’s when London felt like home to me. Having travelled and lived overseas before, it feels like I have several homes. Australia will always be my home, but I had a home in Scotland for a while, Manchester is home to me too and now I’m home in London.
My best advice to anyone who is thinking about becoming an expat is to, quoting the old Nike ad, “Just Do It”. It will be hard, but at the same time, it can be the best time of your life.
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