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?

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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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Adapting to London

I have been in London for a few days now and am slowly getting better at finding my way! I haven’t tried the tube yet, but I plan to within the next few days.

I also got around to asking the front desk how to work my stove. I can now successfully cook pasta in a pot, though I still don’t have a strainer so it’s been an adventure.

One thing that I have noticed is just how stylish everyone is on the streets. No offence to Ottawa (Canada), but this place is much more expressive!

I haven’t seen one poorly dressed person yet, which makes me glad that I decided on two suitcases instead of one.

My internship has also been excellent so far; everyone is really nice and the tasks are interesting. Being allowed to look at clothing websites for research? Yes, I can do that.

As for brands that I’m loving, MANGO and COS seem amazing! MANGO originated from Spain, and COS from Sweden, but we don’t have either in my hometown.

As for working in fashion, these are my Day 2 and Day 3 outfits:

Day 2
Top: Guess | Cardigan: American Apparel | Pants: Smart Set | Purse: Guess
3rd Day
Top: Guess | Cardigan: American Apparel | Leather leggings: Dynamite | Purse: Guess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess I should try to sleep now, seeing as it’s 3 a.m. Does jet lag ever wear off?

Also, Sainsbury’s or Tesco? I am out of food…

Arriving in London, UK

Well, the day finally came! Apologies for no posts this past week; I barely had time to sleep and eat, let alone blog. Even now I’m going off of three hours of sleep since Friday night.

Flying for the first time was crazy! I have a 10 minute video just of my first take-off. We hit a lot of turbulence on my flight to London, which the screaming child in front of me wasn’t too fond of. Before the flight, I thought: ‘If a kid can do it, so can I!’

There went that dream.

My second day has been much more calm. I started my internship today, and although that was a little nerve-wracking, it provided a nice, structured routine.

Work I can handle! It’s everything else that is hard. For instance, I just boiled pasta in the microwave because I couldn’t figure out the stove and was too tired/hungry to ask the front desk all the way down on the first floor.

I’ll be posting again on Thursday, so maybe by then I will have mastered how to live and survive by myself! (Another distant dream.)

Some pictures:

Leaving TorontoChasing the SunBefore landing in LondonDay ViewDeliciousnessMy View

That building is “commonly” known as the Gherkin building. I googled ‘rocket building in London.’ You’re welcome.

Let me know of any things I absolutely must do around this area! So far I’ve only managed to go to Boots and Tesco.

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!

To Journal or Not to Journal? | Travel

I’ve been researching the past few days on personal experiences related to travel in the UK. I found this great website, Rick Steves Travel Form, that has daily questions and answers about travel in England.

It has been great to read what locals think of certain spots in London, as well as experienced travellers. Amidst the posts, I came across a comment that linked to a travel journal by a woman whose first trip solo was in London.

Since I’m going in less than a month and leaving on my own, I figured I should check it out! The blog is by Deborah Guber and titled The Independent Traveler | The wayfaring journals of a single woman making her way through Europe, one city at a time.

Reading through her daily journeys made me think that I could do that too, especially to serve as a memory keep-sake for years down the line.

It might be overly ambitious to think it’s possible to create these logs on top of my twice per week posts and the fact that I will be interning full-time in London and travelling on my weekends.

I’m not sure, but it would be amazing if I could pull it off! If anyone else travel blogs or  knows of any good ones—feel free to comment links! I love getting inspiration from reading what people have done.

Goals, Plans, Success | London 2016

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So everything is coming together for my trip in exactly one month! I called my phone provider today to find out the details of paying my device balance, cancelling my contract and unlocking my phone.

To my surprise, I spoke with a lovely person who clarified the process and took as many times as it needed for me to feel 100% confident on what I needed to do.

Since I will be arriving in London (UK) the day before my internship starts, I went ahead and ordered a UK SIM card off eBay with the carrier o2. Now I have a number that will work over there, and I can make business cards ahead of time which is one less thing to worry about. I want to spend as much time over there having a great time, not fussing over details!

Other than that, I am really excited to start my placement and get my foot in the right doors. I plan on blogging throughout my stay—expect a lot more travel posts! I can’t wait to start using my new mirrorless camera (Sony a500), of which I blogged about here.

Stay tuned, and let me know if any of you will be moseying around England this fall! I hope to visit many other cities other than London on the weekends—it’s so hard to choose between them all!

If you had to choose, what city would you visit in all of the UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales) and why?

 

Flight Changes

So looks like I will be arriving a day later than planned in London. This brings me right up to the day before my internship starts! I’m not sure if I should be happy to spend another day with my family or disappointed to be missing out on whatever the other interns will be getting up to! FOMO is real, y’all.

I guess I’ll just have to be extra prepared, which is something I’m used to. I’m not so much worried about the jet-lag, as my circadian rhythm has never been normal, but having everything in order would be great.

Let’s just hope I can get everything set up in the span of one afternoon! Well hey, if a 3000-word research paper can be written in one day…