Shine On

Well, this week wasn’t short of being eventful… Somehow I was able to keep myself up until 9pm on Friday, which was extremely difficult! My eyes were burning, my head was bobbing back and forth, and my body was asking, “Why are you doing this to me?!” Finally, I let myself pass right out and woke up full of energy and ready for the day at three different times: once at 3am, once at 5am, and once when my alarm went off at 8am. I’ve defeated jet lag many times and I’ve found that the trick to getting over it as fast as possible is to:
A) Stay up as late as the locals (okay, maybe 9pm isn’t AS late, but it’s close!)
B) Don’t let yourself oversleep during the first night (set an alarm)
C) Absolutely NO NAPS!!!
I’ve been completely fine after that first day (at least, sleepwise), and I’ve adjusted to the schedule perfectly! Saturday was supposed to be the only nice day of the week, so I decided to get my bank/phone stuff sorted out so I could enjoy the rest of the day. Unfortunately in order to get a phone contract, you DO need to have a bank account. So I made my way to the bank and they said it would take TEN BUSINESS DAYS to get a new account! I checked in with HSBC and they said it would be quicker; all I’d need is a specific letter form the agency I’m working for. You know, I’m not exactly “dressed to impress” so if I were working in a bank, and saw me come in, I might be hesitant about giving myself a bank account too… Anyway, I sent all the info back to my agent in Canada and went on my way, since there wasn’t much else I could do. I decided to just do a lot of walking that day – through Green Park, to Buckingham Palace, through James’s Park, to Trafalgar Square – and by that time, I couldn’t walk anymore. I had brought my cheapest flip flops and ended up literally skinning the side of my foot off. To this day, it’s still an open sore. Saturday night was a pretty tough night for sleeping because my bunkbed partner ended up being an alcoholic. He had slept the entire day on Saturday, and then decided to wake up at 3:45 in the morning to mix himself some more drinks while watching a movie with the volume on high. Therefore, the next day I decided to switch hostels.
 
After switching hostels, I already felt more at home in London! I didn’t do too much on Sunday, except for look at flats online and set up a meeting with an agent to look at different flats the following day. On Monday, I went to meet up with the agent in Sutton, which is kind of its own little suburb in the south of London. It’s absolutely gorgeous though! Much more green, less busy, and more homey feeling. I was supposed to meet with the agent at 2pm at the first flat, and I was there waiting from 1:45 to 2:20. Of course, I had no way of contacting her since I didn’t have Wifi so I decided to walk back to the station. And that’s when it started to pour. This rain isn’t like our rain back at home – not like the spitting showers or the quick heavy thunderstorms we get – it was a constant fall! Like rivers were running through the streets. Unfortunately, I left my umbrella in my suitcase so all I had was my rainjacket. I don’t even know what the point of an umbrella would have been since the entire bottom half of my body was absolutely soaked! I may as well have stepped in a shower fully clothed for 30 seconds; I was absolutely drenched (I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not)! You might as well buy a shower curtain and wear it as a toga. My Converse sneakers were full of water, I could have probably filled a kiddie pool with them. When I got to the station, I pulled out my ipod to kill some time, but it came out dripping wet, with no life left in it. Feeling wet, cold, and extremely defeated, I realized I had no way of communicating with anyone, meaning I couldn’t exactly look for houses, research phones, contact my agent, etc. I took (what felt like) the longest train ride back to my hostel, and stopped to pick up a bag of rice on the way back, which my ipod stayed in for about 15 hours. The next morning, still no luck 😦 I wasn’t too upset, since I’ve had this ipod for over 5 years and it’s one of the oldest ipods left in the world (I’m guessing). But you really don’t realize how much you need your devices until you don’t have them. Besides the obvious email and Facebook, I had no weather, no directions, no alarm, no writing blogs(!) (side note: this has all been written in a notebook before being posted). But at least now I have 1-2 pounds of rice to carry around if I get hungry!
 
Tuesday morning, I had to make the difficult decision on whether I should wear my still-wet Converse sneakers, or the flipflops that were ripping my feet apart. I decided on the Converse and went to an internet cafe to see if my agent had written me about the bank letter I needed (which she hadn’t). So I decided to take matters into my own hands and go to Prospero (my teaching agency) myself. Something I’ve learned from working in the service industry is: If you want something done (and done correctly), then do it yourself. I went, gave them the information, and got my letter! Then I went to HSBC and they were able to fit me in for an appointment the next day at 9AM. Great! Then I realized I’d have to get up early but had no alarm. So I walked down Oxford Street until I was able to find an alarm clock with a battery. As long as it lasts for the next 24 hours, I’ll be happy 🙂 Thank you elementary school, for teaching me how to use problem-solving skills! I also found out that my hostel had filled up, so I’d have to find a new one for the following day. Back to the internet cafe it was…
 
On Wednesday, I actually woke up before my alarm and made it to the bank in time for my meeting. Unfortunately, they said I wasn’t allowed to use my place of work as an address. Fortunately, I know ONE person in London whose address I could use (and has been my personal lifesaver in many ways – thanks Helena!). We were able to put my application through; I just needed to get that letter with the address changed and bring it back the next day. Does this not just seem like some type of board game? –> go forward 3 spaces, go back 2… I headed back to Prospero to get them to change the letter and then headed to my new hostel. There, I was downsizing from a 15-person room to just a 12-person. AND they had triple bunkbeds, which were pulled away form the wall about a foot and had no railing on the back. I was placed on the top bunk, which must be at least 8ft off the ground, and I’m beginning to wonder why I didn’t get life insurance before leaving… But the good thing is that this hostel has a couple of computers, so no more internet cafes for at least a couple of days! Unfortunately, even if I get my bank account opened tomorrow, it still takes 4-5 business days for money to be wired here from my Canadian account. So until then, I have 75 pounds to spend on food and hostels. Good thing I know how to be cheap!
 
However, when I woke up the next morning, I headed over to Oxford Street to eat before my bank appointment and when I opened my wallet, there was nothing in it! I swear it’s one thing after another… I was told yesterday that most of the people in the hostel are homeless. I’m pretty good with keeping my purse with me or at least keeping it hidden, but they must have grabbed it when I was in the shower or something. So now I’m 75 pounds short, and am REALLY hoping that I’ll be able to take out money using my debit. I was so shocked though, I must have opened my wallet 4 or 5 times to see if it would reappear 😦 I hope karma bites them in the ass. Hard. Well I guess there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Yes, I just lost $150, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. Good thing I still have my camera, passport, and cards. They also left me 10 Euro, so that’s nice I guess. I’m more on a budget now than I thought… The last thing I’m gonna do now is take out MORE cash so it can possibly be taken again. So I figured I would wait until I opened my bank account and then I wouldn’t have to worry about carrying around cash. I went to my appointment and opened my account (YAY!). BUT (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) I won’t get my debit card for another 3-4 business days cause they have to order the card. Meaning I STILL can’t get a phone until I get that card. And also meaning I won’t take and carry around cash until I leave this hostel. So I have 85 pence to last me for the rest of the day (Side note: I DID cheat a bit and bought one meal using my Visa). Anyway, this blog is getting somewhat long now (and probably really repetitive). I apologize if it wasn’t that exciting.. hopefully this will be my most difficult week of them all! Love and miss everyone at home so much!!!
 
Shine On – The Kooks

Can’t Stop Now

August 11, 2015
So here I am, just over a week away from my big move to London. Why? Well, even I’m trying to figure out the answer to that… I ask myself that question at least twenty times a day, and that’s only a small portion of what goes through my head. Most of it actually sounds something like, “What the heck are you thinking? Are you crazy? Insane? Do you need professional help?” I know what you’re thinking.. “You’ve lived in France for a year, this should be nothing new to you.” Oh, but it is… When I moved to France, I was an immature 18-year-old who was going through a depression and wanted to rebel and leave everything behind. I didn’t care what anyone thought, and I think I found satisfaction by rubbing it in everyone’s faces. Now, (I’d like to think) I’m a mature 25-year-old who somewhat has her life figured out, and has family and friends who love her. Plus I’m happy! So why am I leaving everything I know, everything and everyone I love, to move to the other side of the world?! I’ll let you know the answer once I figure it out…
I’ve been packing up my stuff for the past 3-4 weeks and while I’ve made quite a bit of progress, I still have a long way to go! For those of you who don’t know, I have to get everything packed whether I’m taking it with me or not. Everything I’m not taking is going into storage and therefore, all that should be left in my room is furniture (side note: This didn’t end up being successful…). After filling up seven large containers from Ikea, I finally went to Walmart and found the biggest (121L) containers I could find. But amidst all of this packing, I’m still working at Mi Hong every day AND everyone I know seems to want to meet up. All of a sudden. For once in my life, I know what it feels like to be popular! And it’s actually pretty stressful; I really don’t think I could handle it on a daily basis. The thought, “Why do I have so many friends?!” has crossed my mind multiple times, I’m not going to lie… Seriously though, I go through the past year hardly hearing from or seeing anyone (I admit, I’m part to blame for this one). Maaybe getting one text each week if I’m lucky. Pooosssibly meeting up with one friend each month if I’m really lucky. And then all of a sudden, people are texting me, facebook messaging me, phoning me and I’m writing plan after plan in my daytimer. Yes, my daytimer. I have three separate meetings with friends tomorrow alone, which of course has to fit around my work schedule. So not only is being popular stressful, but it’s also extremely expensive! I’ve gone out for at least one meal every day this week. I mean, I should be saving up for London but how is that even possible when food is thrown into the mix? I guess I’ve kind of thrown this upon myself, as I love food. And I much prefer one-on-one visits as opposed to just having a big get-together with everyone I know. It just takes a lot more time, dedication and money! SO I’ve decided that if this situation ever occurs again, I’m just meeting up with friends parent/teacher-interview-style. Example: Set aside two or three days (preferably my last weekend) when these “interviews” take place. Send around forms with 1-hour periods from 8am to 10pm, where friends can sign up for a slot. Pick a coffee shop and just sit there all day, waiting for my interviewees to arrive at their chosen times. Less travel time, less running around, less trying to fit people in, etc. I think it could work!  However I probably shouldn’t complain cause I’d much rather have too many visits and spend too much money than leave for London feeling like nobody loves me :-p
* * * * *
August 21, 2015
So here I am, already in London, sitting in a cafe, eating a panini, drinking a macchiato, and trying SO HARD to keep myself awake until at least 10pm. Right now, it’s 4:15… I arrived in London this morning at 9:30 in the morning, which is 2:30am Saskatoon time. Somehow I’m pulling an all-nighter in the middle of the day and my body is hating me for it! And because I’m tired and hungry and can’t find wi-fi ANYWHERE (even at my own hostel), I’m just feeling really bitter. Which is my usual feeling about a place when I’m jetlagged and have just arrived. It’ll wear off, I’m sure. But sorry if this post seems really negative. Let’s rewind a little bit… The last week before my trip was filled with some of the most stressful days I’ve endured in awhile. Originally, my plan was to stay with a friend in London until I found a flat of my own. But due to unforeseen circumstances, she wasn’t able to house me anymore. Which was fine – I figured I could combine staying at hostels and couchsurfing. My only concern was carrying around my bags from place to place, which would never work. Even though I’ve done this whole travelling thing many times before, this was the first time I didn’t have a permanent place to go to. And I think that made me feel uneasy, which made me need plan A, plan B, plan C,  and sometimes a plan D in order to make sure everything worked out. And when I was putting those plans together during my last week in Canada, I felt like I couldn’t even figure out a plan A! No place to stay, no place to leave my bags, no responses from couch surfers, no responses from flat owners, etc. And on top of that, the dollar plummeted, so the pound ended up being 2.08 of the dollar. Meaning all the hours I put in at my two jobs during the past 6 months were being cut in half (and then some!). Anyway, enough about all the negatives. My flight was relatively easy. Far less emotional.. I remember when I moved to France and cried the majority of the way there, while the person beside me probably thought I was a crazy person. This time around, I shed no tears until I watched Age of Adaline and **SPOILER ALERT** [she had to put her dog down.]** And then I thought of Zipper and bawled my eyes out. Of course, this had to be during dinner so once again, the guy next to me was probably wondering, “why is this crazy person so upset about the chicken dinner?” Other than that, the flight was good! Originally, I thought I could handle carrying my bags with me because I was only planning to bring one suitcase so I could avoid the $100 fee for an extra bag. Of course, that didn’t end up happening so I had two 50-pound suitcases, a backpack, and a purse (which may as well just be a suitcase). And while this is nothing new to me, I’m not as energetic as I was seven years ago. Being in your mid-twenties is tough! Luckily, my friend agreed to store my suitcases until I find a place so now I’m backpacking it for the next week and a half! After I dropped my bags off (thanks to the taxi that was supplied by my agency), I made my way to my hostel. But for the arrival at this hostel, you were supposed to call the office as soon as you got there so someone could meet up with you in order to check you in. Which I’ve never had to do in my history of hosteling. And it’s very difficult to do when you don’t have a phone! So I sat there on the front step for around 30-45 minutes until someone finally walked into the hostel and I asked to use their phone. And then I waited for another 20-30 minutes until someone brought me a key. And that’s how I ended up in this cafe, since I hadn’t eaten all day and it was already 4pm by the time I got moved in!
My plans for my first few days in London are to:
A) Get a bank account. Unfortunately, in order to get a bank account, you need an address. And guess what you need in order to get an address? If you guessed bank account, you’re 100% correct. So that should go smoothly…
B) Get a cell phone. Preferably with a data plan so I don’t have to run around looking for the nearest McDonald’s and Starbucks in order to steal their wifi. Not sure if I need a bank account/address for this?
C) Find a flat so I can hopefully move in by September 1st. That gives me just over ten days.

 

Not being able to find wifi makes the above tasks kind of impossible. So I’m HOPING I’ll run into it somewhere. It’s probably my old-school iPod that’s causing me problems, really… But if you’re reading this post, I guess I finally found some! 🙂

 
Can’t Stop Now – Keane