Big life changes

Big life changes

You know how in my last post I said I was leaving London in early 2016? Well, a lot can change in a week! I will be moving far sooner than I expected. While nothing is set in stone just yet, it looks like I will be leaving in July.

My initial plan is to move to Italy for three months, and then head to New York. I’ve wanted to live in New York for as long as I can remember, and I can’t believe the day is finally coming.

I have been thinking about leaving London for months. For those who have been following along with my visa story, I needed to accumulate five years in the UK before I could apply for indefinite leave to remain (which grants me the same residential rights as citizenship). At the start of this year, I found out that the visa I was previously on for two years (a youth mobility/working holiday visa) does not count towards the five year period. Meaning I have only achieved slightly more than one year towards my five year total.

I was pretty devastated when I found this out. I was not happy in my job, and I knew how difficult it would be to find another sponsor as the media/journalism industry is so damn competitive over here. I had also reached a point where I was ready to expand my online business, but my day job was preventing me from doing so.

I had to ask myself whether I loved London enough to put my dreams on hold for another four years in order to get my residency, and the answer was no. I immediately started exploring visas and European travel options. A large part of my recent trip to Australia was to see if I would be happy living there again, and that answer was a resounding yes.

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As an Australian, I can spend up to three months in most European countries without a visa. My initial plan was to spend three months each in Italy, Greece, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, before finishing up with a one-year working holiday visa in Paris. Hence why I started learning French a few months ago!

What I did not realise until a couple of days ago is that all of the aforementioned countries are part of the Schengen region, in which you can only spend a maximum of three months per six month period. So I could spend three months in Italy but would then have to spend three months in a non-Schengen country (such as Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Ireland, Ukraine, Bulgaria or Romania) before heading back to a Schengen country.

I have been to several non-Schengen countries and could think of worse places to kill time. You can carry on with this process indefinitely, so I could spend years and years travelling all over Europe. If I want to stay somewhere for longer than three months via a working holiday visa, I can only do so until I’m 30 to 35, depending on the country.

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Source

The only problem is that without a visa, I am still classified as a tourist and therefore cannot work. I am very fortunate in that I can still operate my online business, and will be able to dedicate significantly more time to expanding that as well as writing on a freelance basis and so on.

So my initial plan was to spend the next two to three years travelling all over Europe, then head to the US, Canada and Central America for a year or so, and then finish up in Thailand for a year before heading back to Australia.

To the majority of people I’m sure this kind of nomadic lifestyle sounds insane and unstable but, taking the financial concerns out of the equation, it sounds so exciting to me. There is nothing in the world I love more than travelling and meeting new people, and I will always regret it if I don’t take this opportunity while I still can.

wanderlust

This has been my plan for the past few months, but I now have a compelling reason to travel to the US sooner than expected. I think it still makes sense to head somewhere in Europe where I can live on the cheap for a bit before heading to NYC.

I can also stay in the US for up to three months without a visa, or I can obtain a six month tourist visa. The only downside to the latter is that I would need to go back to Australia to apply. If I had known I would be moving so soon, I could have done this last week!

It honestly makes more sense for me to head to France as I have a rudimentary grasp of the language and have been there numerous times, but my heart is telling me to go to Italy. I have never been and, if I head to the US and don’t make it back to Europe for whatever reason, I will always kick myself for not going.

All of this travel will obviously affect my training. I am still competing in five weeks’ time at the England’s Strongest Woman qualifier but I will not be here for the final in August, unless I fly back in to compete (assuming I qualify, of course). I will also not be here to compete in the GPC British powerlifting finals I qualified for in February.

So this upcoming comp may be my last for a while! But I’m okay with that. I’m still relatively young and I have more important things in life I want to experience beyond competing. The gym will always be there and I will just have to do the best I can while living out of a backpack.

If all else fails, I can just find some rocks on the side of the road like I did in Montenegro!

If all else fails, I can just find some rocks on the side of the road like I did in Montenegro!

Needless to say, my training has been far from stellar lately as my head has been all over the place. I’m spending every free minute I have researching visas, organising my finances, and trying to tie up all my loose ends in London.

I will still recap my workouts from last week in what is turning out to be a far-too-long blog post. Last week, I skipped squats as my back was still bruised from my new bar position. I’m squatting tonight but I have an actual lump on my back from training with the yoke yesterday (more on that later!), so it’s not going to be enjoyable.

Tuesday – Bench
Bench press: 20kg x 10, 10, 40kg x 5, 45kg x 5 x 4 sets
Incline bench: 35kg x 8 x 3 sets
Lat raises: 5kg x 15 x 3 sets
Dumbbell overhead extension: 16kg x 15 x 3 sets

This was my last workout in Perth. I had handed back my rental car, so I had to run to and from the gym (11km total!) which definitely sapped my energy. That said, my bench felt amazing and easy!

My last meal in Perth

My last meal in Perth – well deserved!

I arrived back in London on Wednesday morning and immediately headed out for burgers. There is a GBK and Byron (and pretty much every single shop/restaurant I can think of) within five minutes from my house. Uh oh.

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Thursday – Deadlift
Deadlift: 60kg x 8, 80kg x 5, 100kg x 3, 110kg x 5 x 2 sets
Max reps with 95kg in 60 seconds = 16
Deficit stiff-legged deadlifts: 85kg x 8 x 3 sets
Barbell rows: 50kg x 8 x 3 sets
Dumbbell holds: 39kg x 50 secs x 2 sets

I was trying my new deadlift set-up, and it felt (and looked!) pretty freaking awful. This was also the first time I’d done a set of max reps in several months, so that was as fun as expected. I’m really just trying to build up my cardio a little over the next five weeks. My comp weight for reps is 135kg, which I won’t need any cardio for as I’ll be lucky to make even one, but it will help in the other events.

Friday – Overhead
Log press: 30kg x 8, 35kg x 5, 40kg x 3, 41kg x 5 x 3 sets
Max reps with 40kg in 60 seconds = 7
Behind the neck seated press: 27.5kg x 6 x 3 sets
Prone lateral raises: 3kg x 60
Seated bicep curls: 8kg x 15, 9kg x 15 x 2
Rotator cuff and ab work (cable crunches, side bends)

The log felt really nice today – hopefully 50kg can fly up this easily too!

Sunday – Events Training
I was so not in the mood for it, but I had promised Meg I would train with her at Terry Hollands’ gym in Rochester. After 2.5 hours of sleep, I dragged my sorry butt to the station and tried to stuff myself with as much food and coffee as possible.

We started with the viking press, which I had never done before. I sucked at this so much! Thank goodness I don’t have to do it in my competition.

We then played with the yoke and farmers and did a keg loading medley. I worked up to 155kg on the yoke and 64kg on the farmers.

Everything felt super heavy and I was not in the right head space to push it, so I kept the weights relatively low and tried to work on my speed instead. The session really sucked and I dramatically contemplated giving up lifting right there and then.

Events training (I’m at the beginning and having a spectacular farmers fail at 2:47 if you don’t want to watch the whole video!)

I will try to practice events every week from now until comp day. It’s much more fun than my usual gym training, but it’s also exhausting and involves more travel.

Have you ever been a nomad? If you could live in any European country, which would you choose?

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