Thanks for all the great comments on my last post! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks some trainers have a few issues when it comes to promoting “healthy” eating.
Today’s post is not related to fitness whatsoever, but it’s brought on by a reader who asked me how I have adjusted to making the big move from Sydney to London.
To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult as I had already made a significant move once before – once you have done it once, it’s easy to do it again and again. Two days after my 21st birthday, I moved from Perth to Sydney (4.5 hour flight). I was starting my first proper 9-5 job out of university, knowing no one other than my two new work colleagues. After I had spent my evenings finding a place to live, I then spent a month sleeping on a blow-up mattress with no other furniture.
I’m not going to lie: it was rough. I was lonely and I was away from my fiance who I had left in Perth. Many evenings were spent on Skype in tears wanting to go home, instead of enjoying my new city like everyone was telling me to.
However, getting through that difficult time was what gave me the courage to do it again. I don’t know if I would have ever moved directly from Perth to London. But, having done it before, when I was faced with the prospect of quitting my job and moving to the other side of the world to pursue an entirely different career (without having the safety of a job lined up), I thought “why the hell not?” I had only been in London for a grand total of three days in my entire life but I knew I would make it work.
Having a strong sense of independence and courage in the face of the unknown carried over to all aspects of my life. It’s no longer about having the courage to move cities without knowing a single soul – it’s what allows you to take up a new hobby, take yourself out on a fancy date or ask out a cute guy without hesitation. Whenever I’m feeling nervous about something, I remind myself that I’ve done a lot of ballsy things in my time and fear doesn’t control me.
When you are put in a tough position, a fire lights beneath you. When you don’t have a job and rent is due, it’s amazing the risks you will take. I talked my way into my first job in London by having a confidence I never thought I would have had. While the scared part of me wanted to run away, I had to do it or else I would be living on the street.
There were more than a few occasions where I had to actually count out the coins in my purse to see what I could afford to eat. I didn’t have internet set up at home and I had to budget which days I could afford to go to Starbucks. Sure, I had moments where I thought I must have been crazy to give up my well-paying and booming career for that, but I was confident that everything would work out. If worst came to worst, I would have worked at a bar or coffee shop to make ends meet. When you want something badly enough, you will do anything to make your dream a reality.
In terms of making friends, I actually found it easier to do so in London than in Sydney. Most Australians already have established friendship circles from high school and university, and it is hard for an outsider to break in. I was working in finance and most people I came into contact with were a good 20-30 years older than me, so that made it difficult as well.
The usual tactics of trying to make friends in Sydney didn’t work. For example, I attended dance classes weekly in both cities. In Sydney, nobody talked to anyone before class and any time I attempted to strike up a conversation with someone, it never went anywhere. Conversely, I have a number of close dance friends in London. We go for long lunches together after every class, and see each other outside of class as well.
There are many people from diverse backgrounds living in London, who are also looking to make friends. I have very few friends who were actually born in London – I have friends who are British, German, French, Spanish, Greek and Indian, to name a few. I not only experience the excitement of physically being in a new city, but I also learn about other cultures through my friends.
There are so many things going on in this city and you constantly meet new people, so I think it would be hard not to make friends. It’s easy to make plans every single night of the week. Last weekend was the first weekend in more than a year where I spent most of it inside doing nothing. You almost feel guilty sitting at home when you have so much on your doorstep!
I’m very much an introvert and most people would have described me as shy a few years ago. Making these two moves, combined with the fact I had two jobs (journalist and personal trainer) which involved more chit-chat than most, forced me to come out of my shell. Whereas I would have once turned down an invite to a party where I knew no one to stay at home in my pj’s, I rarely say no these days as it always ends up being enjoyable.
That said, it’s still easy to feel lonely in such a big city. You are surrounded by people all day long, but no one talks to each other. I do go through bouts where I miss my Aussie friends and family a lot. The good thing about living in London is that people always want to visit, and I don’t mind flying home once every year or two. And Facebook and Skype make it so easy to stay in touch.
For most of the past year, I have lived alone in London. I haven’t had the financial or emotional support of another person to turn to when things got tough. The past two years have been the worst of my life, but in many ways they have also been the best as I have grown so much as a person. I have made some beautiful friends here who I know I will be friends with forever, regardless of where I end up.
A lot of people from my hometown have never lived in a different city or country. I just can’t imagine it. There is something extremely liberating about packing your entire life into one suitcase and starting a new life in a different city. I love travelling, so it makes sense to make my visits a little more permanent.
You can spend 90 days in most European countries without a visa. Once I have secured my English residency (in two more years), my dream is to spend 90 days in a bunch of different countries and write programs/freelance full-time. Many people won’t understand the appeal of living such a nomadic lifestyle, but I think it sounds amazing. Imagine waking up in Italy one day and Germany the next. There are around 50 countries in Europe, so that will keep me busy for a while! I still want to live in New York, but I would like to try some more diverse cultures first. I know I have time on my side here, and I intend on taking complete advantage of it before things like relationships and mortgages get in the way.
Taking a giant leap of faith and not knowing what the future holds is terrifying, but also exciting. I have gone through a lot of tough times in my life, but I can see now why everything happened the way it did. I have faith in myself for knowing that no matter what choice I make, it will be the right one at the time. And moving to a different country is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Have you ever made a cross-country or international move? If you could live in any city, what would it be?