Homesick in London | Living Abroad

I’ve been in London now for 12 days, and I have to admit that it’s been hard! Of course there have been great times exploring the streets last weekend, wine and cheese, and afternoon tea – but it’s still been a challenge.

I’ve never travelled or lived alone before, so this strange feeling of both sadness and happiness is unusual for me.

I still feel quite out-of-place and not a part of any close-knit groups; which is something I had at home. Many of the other interns in my program enjoy partying and drinking, which I don’t really like doing anymore.

I would just rather be fully present in my surroundings and have full control of myself than have that uncertainty of going out.

I’m hoping that this weekend will cheer me up – I plan on picking up my residence permit tomorrow, doing healthy groceries (a break from all the pasta, bread and cheese), and maybe a little shopping and visiting some interesting sights.

I would love to take more pictures and try to connect more with all that London has to offer. Because believe me, I know this is an amazing place! It’s just difficult to feel like I’m a part of it rather than just an observer.

Fingers crossed I get over this hump and start to fearlessly conquer everything I set out to see and do! No one else here seems shaken at all by the life-change of living here, so I am starting to feel quite dramatic. I can’t turn a switch and be a cheerful partier, though.

Can anyone relate?

One Week In | London 2016

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London Bridge

One week later, and I’m still alive! It’s been quite the adventure trying to get used to being in a different time zone (+5 hours). I still can only sleep a maximum of three hours per night. My roomie suggests I take Melatonin; but will it actually help this level of sleep-deprivation?

I bought a desk fan and foam topper for my bed that I’m still waiting for in the mail. Hopefully this combination will help, in addition to fairy lights, as I also have this same set-up at home.

Restoring a sense of normality is crucial for me at this point. It’s been a mixed experience so far, as this is my first time living on my own, far from my friends and family (in Ottawa, Canada).

All of the other interns have lived on their own before, so I seem to be the one having the most difficulty adjusting. I love the city itself, however there is a sense that something is missing. Perhaps sleep!

This past weekend was a fun break from my internship; check out the pictures I’ve taken so far! Many more to come.

If you have any tips for jet lag or missing home, please let me know!

 

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Wine & Cheese
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Afternoon Tea

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T Minus 10 Days | Travel

So there are only 10 days left until I leave the country (Canada) over to London (UK)! I work every day until right before I leave, and yet I still have so much to do!

Figure out how to unlock my iPhone while still on contract, talk to my bank, buy luggage necessities, meet up with friends—the list goes on!

I’ve never flown before, so I’m also getting  nervous about all of that, especially navigating my way through airport security and baggage checking/claiming.

I have a track record of always getting lost amidst the chaos (like Toronto when I visit) which is terrifying when you’re by yourself and especially when you don’t have access to wifi.

Google can’t always come to the rescue! I guess that’s what paper maps are for?

If any of you have any flying tips, don’t be shy! I have a layover in Toronto (I’m flying from Ottawa) and I don’t even know what goes on with my checked luggage. As long as I make it on the second plane with everything intact (including my sanity), all should be good!

Wish me luck. xx

Going Out More Often (GOMO) | Travel

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The past year hasn’t succumbed to much going out for me. Saving money to travel and intern abroad has taken its toll! Both by not having money to spend on events, or time to try new things due to work.

This is all about to change!

In less than two weeks I will officially be living in London, interning for 4 months and travelling around on weekends.

As my social hibernation comes to an end, I’d like to share just what I have in store for the first few weeks of my internship!

1. Afternoon Tea 

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Bea’s Cake Boutique

Such a quintessential British experience! The first weekend of my internship, there is a tea-going experience at Bea’s of Bloomsbury planned for us interns. Fancy drinks, sandwiches and deserts are to be expected!

How delicious do those treats look?

Photo Credit: Bea’s Cake Boutique

2. Secret Gardens of London

Now, I know these may not actually be secret; but a lovely Vogue UK article alerted me of their presence. It’s always great to know the non touristy places, perfect for capturing special pictures or just enjoying some quiet in a busy city.

Photo Credit: Vogue UK

3. Cliffs of Moher | Ireland

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A close friend of mine from university is randomly starting her Master’s program in Cork, Ireland when I’m starting my internship in London, England. What a perfect chance to get together and spend a weekend trip sight-seeing!

I’d love to see the Cliff’s of Moher, as the area looks stunning. There are various day packages that include transportation.

5. The British Museum 

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The British Museum, London

One classic tourist destination is the British Museum. I love walking through museums and galleries in general, so I’m expecting to have a great time in a place with so much culture!

You might catch me here more than once casually strolling along, or sitting on those fancy white steps, people-watching.

4. Networking Events

Always liking to be prepared, I scheduled different networking events related to beauty/fashion/PR into my calendar.

Eventbrite has been my main supply for these events! You can even track your events with their online RSVP page. It’s a great resource for different cities, wherever your location.

For instance, there are events for bloggers like #BloggersFestival and Bloggers Xmas! Now try and tell me those don’t sound like fun.

I hope I’ve inspired some of you to try new things and get out of your comfort zone! You never know who you might meet.

I mean . . .

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“The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.” —Benedict Cumberbatch

Photo Credit: Pinterest

If you know of any cool things to do in London, let me know! I’ll be living in Zone 1 this fall.

5 Ways to Save Money for Travel

Travelling abroad isn’t cheap. Add an unpaid internship to the mix and you’re really asking for a tight budget!

I’ll be abroad during the fall and return home for Christmas with (hopefully) many amazing stories and trinkets to share with friends and family.

But how do you save enough to live in London and travel to multiple countries when you aren’t getting paid?

Tip #1: Plan ahead and work as much as possible until you leave

I knew I wanted to go abroad almost one entire year ago. Since then I have been working mostly full-time in retail while volunteering on my days off to keep up with my work experience.

Working so much does get rough. When you work irregular shifts, it’s hard to sleep at the same time every night which can lead to painful mornings (though caffeine does help).

If you can push past the fatigue, you’re one step closer to funding your trip!

Tip #2: Do NOT spend money unless absolutely necessary 

Rent & Food

I am lucky to not have to pay rent yet as I still live at home. I also don’t pay for food. In the past year I remember I bought one bag of chips, and aside from a few dinners with friends, that was it. This was hard!

Saying no to buying material items

Buying clothes, technology or other things you would love to have just isn’t in the cards right now. Ingraining this into your head is important, since believing you will one day be able to afford these things is comforting.

Use what you do have sparingly

So of course you have to buy toiletries like shampoo and soap—you may be frugal but you have to stay clean! However, I tended to bend the rules a little and really push the boundaries between cleanliness and downright slovenly mess.

I saved on my makeup. How? I didn’t wear any! I saved on shampoo and conditioner by going to the dollar store.

I had this rule going for a while that anything I bought had to be on sale. (This made for very long shopping trips.) Be cautious and you will save money.

Tip #3: Ask Parents or Relatives

Now this I did not do (see below) as I was adamant from the start that I would figure out a way to do this on my own without burdening my parents or relatives. Plus, it has been a great budgeting adventure! However, I have read travel fund stories of using birthday or Christmas money.

Tip #4: Loan or Line of Credit

Ask me one year ago what the difference between a loan and line of credit was and I couldn’t tell you! But now, with endless research and financial advisor meetings, I do.

Here is a basic description of the differences between loans and lines of credit. I went with a student line of credit, which for me, has a 4.2% interest rate.

It was a long process to get approved, and since I didn’t have a credit score since I had never used a credit card, I needed someone to co-sign my loan. This was hard for me at first to accept since I wanted to be 100% self-reliant.

Fortunately, one of my parents was able to co-sign for me, which means that they are also responsible should I miss any payments. If payments are missed, your credit score and your co-signer’s credit score can be affected.

Tip #5: Try not to feel bad for skipping social events

Movie at your place? See you there! Going out? Not so much.

It doesn’t feel great to turn down your friends when they bring up ideas to hang out. However, you can always offer an alternative that doesn’t cost any money and see what they say.

I did go out for a few special occasion dinners, but turned down other offers that I could not fit in the budget. Stay focussed on your trip! Fear Of Missing Out will pass.

BONUS TIP

Now this may be obvious, but you need to create a budget—for your time spent saving and time spent travelling. I went all out and made a business plan to show my parents when I told them my future plans. There may have been pie charts.

Find what is comfortable for you and get all your information in one space. I also used word documents to visualize the numbers; there are also budgeting apps available.

That’s it for now! Let me know if you have any questions about saving money or any tips of your own!

What to Do in Ibiza

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Some of the girls I’m interning with in London for four months recently proposed the idea of going to Ibiza for a weekend. Which immediately made me think of this:

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Mike Posner – I Took A Pill In Ibiza

And after confirming sarcastically that this is not what will be happening, the idea has been really growing on me!

I’ve been checking out Pinterest and three articles caught my eye:

  1. 24 Hours in Ibiza
  2. Ten Things You Must Do On Your First Trip To Ibiza
  3. Top 11 Things To Do In Ibiza

And from these lists, my highlights:

  • Hitting the beaches is an obvious must—I’ll be in London for the majority of my trip which equals rain!
  • Watching the sunset—I love images of sunsets in general, and if you could see my MacBook skin, you would know just how much! (Hint: it’s a sunset.) There’s just something about all the colours together like a painting.
  • Check out Pacha, Amnesia Ibiza, Privilege or Space Beach Club—I feel like this is one of those When in Vegas moments; you can’t not experience the renowned nightlife in such a place.
  • Dalt Vila—this place looks pretty cool from an architectural standpoint. I love looking at unique buildings, and wandering around taking photos seems like a great way to immerse myself in the culture.

Have any of you been to Ibiza? Or planning to go in the near future? Let me know!

Travel 2016

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I’m starting to get more excited about my upcoming travels interning in London, England from September to December! I’m currently applying for my Tier 5 Visa which has been interesting. 

I’ll be in London with others who are also doing internships, and we’re going to be staying in student apartments. I’ve never lived on my own before so I’m both excited and nervous!

I like sticking to a planned budget—doing groceries will be something new. I’ll be using my XE currency app all the time to figure out what I’m actually spending.

Despite all the possible challenges, I think it will be worth it for the experience.