One year ago today, I stepped off the plane at Heathrow Airport to start a brand new adventure. Initially, I only wanted to au pair in London for a year and then either move back to New Zealand or move onto a new job, maybe somewhere else in the UK. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I got very lucky finding my host family and I want to stay with them as long as possible. A year just hasn’t been enough.
In the past year, I’ve done many things I expected and some I didn’t. I’ve travelled England, Wales, Scotland, Shetland and Ireland. Shetland in particular was a big one for me. I remember watching the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow before I went into uni for a tutorial. As I walked from the bus stop to my class, I googled Shetland, walking along through Lerwick in Google Maps and told myself I would be walking those shores for real in a year. That was July 2014 and my plans came to fruition in August 2015.
I didn’t make it to mainland Europe in the first year, but I’ve got flights to Amsterdam booked for June. I like pacing my travels, so they don’t all happen at once and so I can take time to plan them and enjoy them. I want to see Copenhagen and Helsinki and so many other places too, but one year hasn’t been enough. That’s not to say I haven’t done a lot this year. I’ve seen 5 West End shows, 6 concerts at the O2, countless museums, 11 new cities and made life-long friends. It’s been a pretty good time.
It’s now a whole year since I saw my family, at the airport before I left. We keep in regular contact, through Facebook every day and FaceTime several times a week. It’s been a bit tough at times, especially with the time difference between England and New Zealand, but I continue to surprise myself with how well I’m coping, especially when travelling by myself. Being able to take a FaceTime call from my parents at the water’s edge in Shetland or while walking through lush green forest in Glencoe helped a lot (thanks unlimited mobile data!). Unfortunately, our sweet family dog doesn’t really participate in our chats and I’m always wishing to give him a quick squeeze.
I hope that if I could have foreseen the first year as I boarded that plane, I’d have been happy with the way things panned out. Might not have made as many friends as I thought, or been on the London Eye, or spent every weekend in a different city, but I’ve changed and grown and I’ve done new things. That’s all you can really ask for.
Here’s to the next one.