Where I sit writing this blog post in the idyllic Tutukaka Coast of New Zealand’s Northland, I realise that I couldn’t be in a place further or of more contrast to London. As I prepare for my big adventure, the tranquil Ngunguru Estuary laps at the edge of the garden where the kayaks are moored to our boat shed. My Chihuahua, Cooper, sits next to me, rolling between beach towel and grass; having the time of her life. I look across to the family on the far side of the estuary, less than 100m across the water flowing in on the incoming tide. Being only accessible by boat, today they’ve got that whole side to themselves. I can hear their voices travel across the water, laughing and soaking up the New Zealand sun this long Easter weekend and doing what is known as ‘the kiwi lifestyle’; enjoying the outdoors, summers at the beach, picnics, BBQs, boating, friends and most importantly family.
It’s what we kiwis do, and what we love. And then I wonder why I am choosing to leave it all behind for the hustle and bustle of one of the biggest cities in the world.
If I don’t try it, I will always wonder ‘what if?” I’ve been thinking about going on an adventure of my own for a few years now. I’ve seen friends take the leap, colleagues pack up and go, and read about strangers dropping everything on a whim.
At first I fell in love with Paris. I knew I would before I even stepped foot on French ground, but the beauty and history of the city embedded itself as the most wonderful place I’ve ever been the moment I reached the top of the steps from the underground train station. My Instagram news feed changed from food and animals to full Parisian life as I began to follow such users, and my life was obsessed with all things Paris.
One such blog is the very popular ‘Paris in four months’ which follows a young girl who packed up everything and moved to Paris after she too fell in love with the city. Carin, her proper name, often wrote posts about her move to Paris, her nerves, what she had to overcome, organise, and the challenges she faced. She followed her heart, and now lives her dream life in Paris, and it’s everything she ever hoped it would be.
So got my little mind ticking; ‘why couldn’t I do that?’ All I wanted was to move to Paris. I thought and thought and dreamed and dreamed, but ultimately nobody supported me. My parents thought it would be too hard because I cannot speak the language. I only wanted to live there for a few months to immerse myself in the Paris lifestyle, but they thought I’d be too lonely, that the city would lose its charm and that I’d regret coming home after three months with no money, having spent all my savings. It was such a shame, but sometimes that’s just what you need; someone to be the voice of reason.
So I didn’t move to Paris. However I didn’t stop thinking about it. Upon my parents return from visiting London in late 2014, my mother suggested it as a place to move to instead. My initial response was no, because it wasn’t Paris, but the seed was already planted and there it grew.
One morning, London just seemed right. I had friends there (well people I knew, and maybe they could become good friends!), I was offered somewhere to stay, and I had a friend who was interested in coming with me. Suddenly everyone was talking about London. The more I read about the city, its history, numerous amounts of Kiwis, ease of getting a job, it’s proximity to the rest of Europe and my eligibility to get a British passport, I was unsure as to why I didn’t decide on it earlier.
I made the decision in December. I took the leap and booked in January. I resigned from my job in February. Now, one week out from departure, I finally all ready to go. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone – 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, it all depends on who I meet and what I experience. All that matters is that I give it a try.
Unlike my dream of packing up and moving to Paris on a whim, this trip has been planned meticulously. Everything has been considered, thought about multiple times, figured out and researched. That’s how I work. Whilst I’m nervous to leave my life here in New Zealand behind, having everything (that’s within my control!) organised make’s it not so scary. There’s been a heap to organise: passports, visas, bank accounts, NI numbers, recruiters, references, and most importantly how do I fit my whole life into one 75litre suitcase? Everything is now sorted, and I can enjoy my last few days with my family before I do what I’ve never done, and leave them behind.
Everyone I talk to seems to have an experience with London. Whether they’ve passed through on an overseas holiday, or did the same as me, albeit 25 years earlier, they’ve all got a story to tell. Some loved it, some hated it, and some were midway in-between; all I know is that I’m looking forward to making my own mind up, and that 8 million people cannot be wrong. As my mum says, if it doesn’t work out I can always come home, much unlike the now-retired founder of my current workplace who went to London on a boat which took six weeks!
My friend since decided that it wasn’t the right time for her to move to London, so I’m going on my own. It’s a little scary; part of me wished I had someone too to share all the experiences with, but there’s also a huge amount of freedom associated with travelling on your own. A lovely colleague of mine said that it takes a certain type of person to be able to pack up their life and move to the other side of the world on their own. I like to think that type of person is confident, brave, self-sufficient and up for a challenge. If I’m not that already, I will be by the time I come home.
I leave for London in 2 days and it feels right. I can’t wait to arrive, explore, make friends and to travel. Of course my first trip will be to Paris.