Thursday, 29 November 2018

Expat Update: 6 Months Since Returning to the UK.

So it's been six months today since I made the move from Sydney back to London, and I thought I'd do an update on what I've been up to and how I've been finding it. I've made no secret that this year has been one of the toughest of my life - if not THE toughest - but as always I've come out stronger and with a gratitude for life, and a determination to continue living life to the full.

View of St Paul's from Madison Rooftop

I started the year with a second miscarriage, and then a few days before I was due to fly home for good, two of my grandparents were both rushed to hospital, and I landed back home to the news I was too late to say goodbye to my Grandad as he'd sadly passed away while I was changing planes in Singapore's Changi airport. My first two weeks back home in England were filled with emotional goodbyes with my step-grandma who was moved to a hospice, helping to plan a joint funeral, and starting a new job. Somehow amongst the madness I also met a new guy...

New Relationship & New Job

I'm not really sure how I found the time, but I somehow started seeing a new guy in these weeks as well. It was a bit of a whirlwind, and poor Alex didn't really know what had hit him when on our fourth date I answered "I've actually got my grandparents' joint funeral this week", when he asked what I was up to the rest of the week. He was lovely about it, and for those stressful weeks he gave me something to smile about and be happy about when everything else was falling apart. Every time I saw him I would get the biggest grin on my face, I felt like I might burst. And his silliness and laid-back personality made me relax and enjoy my time with him before I went home and was faced with questions of what music to play, and sobbing over deciding which photos to include in the slideshow. 

Two weeks after I landed back in England I also started my new job, and my new boss was incredibly understanding when I arrived and told her my step-grandma had passed away two-days prior. She told me to go home for the rest of the week and spend time with my family, and come back next Monday, which was appreciated so, so much, and gave me time to process and rest. So far the new job is great, the location is ah-mazing, the constant unlimited free food is insane, and I'm pretty sure I've gained loads of weight as everything feels rather tight these days!

Relationship-wise, it's now been almost six months and currently things are pretty dreamy. I broke it off briefly back at the start of this month, but quickly realised that we'd both been under an insane amount of stress in the weeks leading up to it, and actually breaking it off was a permanent solution to a temporary problem. After a bit of a heart-to-heart we both chose to continue things and work on it together (how adult does that sound?!). Also he has the cutest bunny rabbit ever who loves me and nuzzles into my armpit which makes my heart physically hurt from the cuteness, so there's that.

And then there was the time he gave me my inhaler because I was too drunk to hold it and was having an asthma attack. And the time I was mad at him and he drove an hour late at night to see me and rocked up at my door with my fave maccas meal and milkshake (nuggets, fries, and a choc shake FYI). And the time he gave me a bottle of water and two bags of my fave Percy Pigs for my long drive home. And all the other small things he does that make me happy.

Basically, a guy just needs to give me food and I'm happy.

Finding a New Home

My original plan was to stay with my parents' until October time and then move out, but I found myself finding it quite difficult being back at home after a year and a half of living by myself over the other side of the world. Suddenly having to tell someone where I was going and who with and what time I would be home was frustrating, and so I started looking to move out sooner.

My brother and I were moving in together so the hunt was on for a 2-bedroom apartment in central London. After many weeks of searching and over 20 properties viewed, we signed the lease on our beautiful flat in Fulham! It takes my brother just 15-minutes to get to work, and me 45mins (which is MUCH better than the 1.5-2 hours from my parent's place). 

But moving out wasn't all smooth sailing (it never is, right?), and I didn't quite realise just how stressful it is trying to furnish an entire flat, and sort out all the admin stuff needed! It's been crazy stressful and I've actually struggled loads with juggling it all, plus keeping my performance up at work, plus having the energy to see Alex and my friends, plus my blog and freelance writing stuff.

Also please excuse the random placement of the cushions in the photo below.

Missing Sydney

As we've moved into the colder months I've also struggled massively with Sydney-envy. There are days when I really miss my life there; I adored my old job and colleagues, my little house with my housemate Joe and Wilbur the dog, and my little daily routine of work, gym, cook, chill, sleep. I only went out maybe twice a week in Sydney and found I was really happy with that routine, but obviously in London it's slightly harder as I have so many more friends to see and family etc as well. 

The thing is, I was pretty bored in Sydney too. Yes it was nice having a routine and chill-out time, but I get such itchy feet that I was constantly longing for London and the busy city and my friends and family. I guess it's all about balance, so I'm trying to get that balance and go out a maximum of 4 times a week, and have 3 nights of chilling. When I first moved back I was going out every single night and it was a bit much! 

I've also been missing the obvious things like food! Thankfully though Sanza deliver Aussie products within the UK, and they kindly sent me a box full of my favourite Australian goodies (Burger Rings, Cherry Ripes, Shapes, Messina TimTams, and the thing every house needs for their laundry - a Sard stick). It's also helped my Sydney-pangs that TWO of my Aussie friends who I worked with out there have also moved to London (and one of them works in the same building as me, and the other is a 10min walk away), so regular catch-ups with them has helped loads.

Expat Update Return to UK from Australia - Missing Australian Snacks

Things I'm Loving

I'm loving being so close to friends and family again, being able to see them all whenever I want, and silly things like walking through London and eating a Greggs sausage roll. ALL the food things are still such a novelty for me (another likely reason for the weight gain). It's also been really fun going to the clubland balls and getting dressed up regularly again (although I am yet to write about one so far this year, so I'll rectify that ASAP).

I also love how London feels so much more relaxed when it comes to the way you look and the way you dress, there's so much less pressure to conform, and you can just be yourself and not be judged for it. I found Sydney a very judgemental and cliquey place, which really didn't sit well with me as I'm really not that person.

Things That Have Surprised Me

One of the major things that surprised me about my move was how little I go 'out-out' now (although saying that, I did go to The Box four times in my first few weeks back)! One of the main things I missed in Sydney was London's bars and clubs, but actually since I moved back I've only been out clubbing maybe once or twice a month, rather than every week like I used to when I lived here before.

I think it's partly due to being in a relationship and feeling settled (and maaaaybe being a little older these days - 27 is not a good age for hangovers), but who knows. Also I've been enjoying doing dinners with friends and then being in bed before midnight, rather than getting drunk and rolling in at 4am. Oh god, I really am old.

Medical Stuff

I've *really* struggled with the medical side of things in the UK. I really loved and appreciated the Australian healthcare system, as although you pay for a lot of it, it's so fast and easy! I've been back in the UK six months and I haven't had a single physio appointment, whereas in Aus I had them twice a week after work. I'm considering going private because I just can't rely on the NHS to give me a time slot that fits in with work as they're always at random times in the day and at a hospital that's ages away from where I live. On top of that I've also been considering seeing someone to chat through everything I've been through this year. It's been so intense emotionally and I'm really struggling to process it all, so feel it will help me get through it and move on from it all.

Do I Regret Moving Back?

At the moment, no. I loved my time in Sydney, but it was never a long term thing for me. I got Australia out of my system, and I'm still really happy to be back in the UK. The thing is, Sydney is a beautiful city, but it's all style and very little substance. There's no depth and soul to it like London. And what's the point in living somewhere beautiful, when you don't have the people who matter most to you there to share it with you?

If anything, this whole year has taught me just how important being close to family and friends is. I'm really grateful that I moved back right when my grandparents passed away, because I'm honestly not sure I could have coped as well as I did if I was in Australia when it all happened. It just reiterated why I moved home and that it was definitely the right decision for me.

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