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!
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.
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.
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.