3 year Londonversary!

London

Today, marks three years in London and this crazy full-on, diverse, drink loving country. It’s my Londonversary, and also the longest I’ve spent in one place since 2009, so I figured, ‘hey, let’s launch that blog you keep thinking about.’

But first, let me tell you the story of how I got here – because it was never in the cards. 

Setting: Nova Scotia, Canada

Time: Three years ago (April 2014)

Scene: I just graduated university, was living with my parents to save money, I had a cushy, soul sucking government job, which I LOATHED and needed an escape. Looking back, as horrible as that job was, I probably never would have been here if it wasn’t for it. My job made me so unhappy I didn’t even care about anything, to the point where I booked a one-way flight to Iceland with no plans on where I would go after that. And honestly, it didn’t even matter, I just needed out. I remember booking the flight with IcelandAir on my credit card, fingers crossed HOPING it would go through – because the card was basically maxed (if we’re being honest, that card has been maxed since the day I got it haha). I think after the purchase I had $0.37 available credit! PHEW!

I bought the flight in April with a departure of mid-July 2014. Then I started saving for whatever was to come. The contract I was on at work was up for renewal in July and I couldn’t even bare to finish it out, so I ended it early and worked for a month at a fish and chips food truck and it was one of the BEST jobs I’ve ever had! I decided on backpacking Eastern Europe as that would make my money stretch the longest. I bought a bible, aka Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring and started planning.

I registered with WorkAway, an online community of cultural exchanges, and thought I’d try and maximise my time away by volunteering somewhere in Europe. Most of the roles posted on the site are helping around the house, farm work, gardening, labour etc, but I somehow secured a marketing internship at this organic salad farm in northern Scotland. I was completely set on spending 3 months working for them, while also getting career experience. Ultimately, I decided against it because they were so far north that if someone wanted to come at me with an axe, no one would hear me scream (this was my actual thought process … yes, I’m insane).

A friend had done a working holiday visa in the UK so I figured, if I was willing to work unpaid for a few months, why not stretch the travels, make a home base and get paid for it! As I already had my flight booked, I was down to the wire with getting my visa approved before departure. I snuck out during my lunch hour to go pass the paperwork in, and two weeks before take off, my passport arrived back and I was approved! Sweet relief!

 

London

The Plan

I was planning on doing a little homeland tour and spreading my two year visa over my heritage. My mom’s side of the family is from Blackpool, England and my dad’s heritage is Scottish, so; one year in Liverpool (I DIE for a scouse accent!), and one year in Edinburgh (coincidentally, I also LOVE the Scots). Sorted. 

Not sorted.

When backpacking, my last stop was Berlin, and the cheapest flight into Britain was, naturally, London. As soon as I saw the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus I abandoned all plans. London was my new home.

Fast forward three years, here I am.

Collaboration with @tai_santos25 #notestostrangers

A post shared by Andy Leek (@notestostrangers) on

London Life

Did I think I’d still be here? No, not at all. London has knocked me down and picked me back up again more times than I can count, but I’m incredibly thankful for all the opportunities London living has thrown my way. It’s forced me to grow up – while still remaining a reckless child, it’s taught me to be ruthlessly frugal (it’s amazing how long you can stretch £10 when it comes down to it), I’ve made amazing friends from all around the world, I have a great job, which I love, and Europe is at my doorstep.

Why I decided to start a blog after visiting 41 countries…

I know what you’re thinking …. Olivia, you’re a little late to the blog party, mate.

You’re not wrong.

The truth is, this blog has actually, secretly, been live for about a year, I was just too lazy to do anything with it. Which, to be honest, is a pretty shit reason. I’ve decided I need more structure in my life, so I’m going to dedicate time to writing for this. I can’t promise the posts will be consistent, or even entertaining, but I can promise you that the content will be real. I want to tell my truths about travel, not the type of fluff PR people want you to say (my degree is in PR, so I’m allowed to say that :D).

(PR people, please work with me)

So, take a mosey around and see the backlog of secrets posts I’ve made but did nothing with, and let me know your thoughts. I have loads of stories to tell, which I promise will come in due course. For now, I’m going to kick it British-style and sit in a park and drink because today is a holiday and I have reason to celebrate.

To London: my bestest friend, and also my biggest pain. I love you, I hate you, I need you. Thanks for bringing me along on your roller coaster ride.

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11 Comment

  1. Stephanie whitworth says: Reply

    Very interesting I enjoyed hearing about your amazing adventures , keep up the good work.
    And let us in on your next adventure

  2. I LOVED reading this post!! Your style is so chatty, I feel like I’m having a conversation with you! My next London trip, I’d love to meet up with you!!!

    1. Thank you!! So happy to hear you like it 🙂 I would love to meet up! When is your next trip to the city? x

      1. I haven’t organised it yet because I am getting settled back into work after the summer break and not napping in class is the main focus of my week but I will totally let you know!

  3. I don’t think that feeling ever goes away ha. Swap napping in class for napping in meetings ha! Msg me on Instagram next time you’re up – I’ll answer faster that way https://www.instagram.com/livonashoestring/ x

  4. Wow Olivia you’re a great writer! I have always loved following your adventures on Instagram! Xo

    1. Thanks Kailey, appreciate it:) Lots more adventures to come! Your honeymoon looked so much fun! Croatia is incredibly beautiful! xx

  5. elitravelbug says: Reply

    I love this!! Can’t wait to read more about your life here! xx

  6. Peter says: Reply

    This is the BEST BLOG EVER!!! Well written Miss O!!

  7. Nar says: Reply

    Hi! Really curious as to how you stayed for three years as the Youth Mobility Visa is only two!

    Also, I had previously applied for a YMV however I ended up not using it sadly. Are you aware if I can get another one in the future as long as I’m still under 30, etc?

    1. Hello! Thanks for stopping by. I only stayed for two years which is the maximum time allowed on the visa. I was then lucky enough to be sponsored to stay longer. I think you only get the visa once per country, so if you didn’t use it, unfortunately I don’t think you’ll be able to get one for that country again. Depending on your nationality, there’s a big list of other countries you can do the YMV in (Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, UK, Canada, etc), and some of them you’re allowed to do up until your 35.

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