Departure Day

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The day has come. Very soon I will be getting on a plane to fly away from my life in America, over to my new life in London. Woah! It’s actually happening. I never imagined that the moment three years ago when I decided I wanted to do this would happen. It was a thought that turned into research, and from there turned into fear when every possible process to make it become real was too intense for my liking. My mind went back and forth on the plan. I didn’t know if I’d be able to go through with it. But I did, and I am now on my way to London to study writing and get my MA. It’s still too surreal to me to handle. I am a huge ball of emotions right now and don’t know how to find one to hold onto.

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I am now currently sitting in the airport, which has surprisingly faster wifi than I was expecting, and three of my lovely, amazing friends came all the way down to SeaTac just to say goodbye to me and see me off, and now I’m eating some of my mother’s homemade low carb cookies while I wait for my flight to take off. It’s also right now that I’m remembering how terrified I am of flying, but it will be worth it to be on a magical, flying machine and soon in Reykjavik and then London. My new life is just about to begin. The next blog post will be from Europe!

Last American Day

So, I leave America tomorrow. Should I eat a cheeseburger and apple pie before I go? Is there anything American that I will truly miss? Probably more than I realize at the moment, but for now, I am just anxious to get out of here and get on that plane. Today is a day of finalizations. I will be finishing my packing, spending time with family and trying to fully force my mindset into that of a person about to uproot their life and become an expat.┬áThere’s a long post I wrote over on Londontopia, that basically sums up what I’m feeling, so definitely check that out, so I don’t have to repeat what I’ve said in two places.

As I prepare to leave, I’m getting myself together, as well as planning out my flight outfit for my journey. Below is what I’m pretty positive I’ll be wearing. It’s simple and will keep me looking fashionable, but practical for the next few days. I probably won’t be changing my clothes until Sunday morning when I prepare to catch the meet and greet shuttle from Heathrow to my temporary housing.

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I really wish I could move into my dorm early, but apparently there’s construction being done, so I can’t arrive until the 13th, but until then, I’m admiring my building from Google Street View, and hoping I get a room with a view, or at least a tiny balcony. After mapping it out, the Starbucks is literally right out the door of my dorm, which may be dangerous for me, but also, nice to have close if I need a place to get away to with free wifi.

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I keep getting invites to a lot of parties and clubbing events for the Freshers, and it’s making me realize that I am too old for all the Freshers events and I don’t want to seem like a curmudgeon when it comes to going out and meeting people, but I will be on a very limited budget my first few weeks (until my financial aid comes in), and I already did the whole first year excitement thing 3 years ago in Chester. I very much want to make friends, but I’ll find another way, since a huge gathering of drunk 18-year-olds is not my idea of fun at this point in my life.

Now, what to do? How will I spend these final 24 hours in America? Enjoying my relaxation time I guess. There’s nothing to do at this point but wait. Wait for the clock to keep ticking away until my departure. Today may be the longest day of my life as I sit here waiting. Everything is prepared, so all I can do it hang out and enjoy the comfort of my home until I have to leave it for a very long time.

Amelie & Rain

Yann Tiersen’s music has a tendency to make me cry; specifically his compositions from the Amelie soundtrack. The mixture of this music and the pouring-down PNW rain probably aren’t good for my deteriorating emotional well-being, yet I am still listening to it and occasionally glancing up and out the window of the Starbucks I am in, looking at the rain hit the pavement and actually being happy that this fall weather has finally arrived, which lifts my spirits a little bit.

A year ago, I’d just moved to Los Angeles and had just done the whole goodbye thing to many of the same friends I just visited in the past few days. It was hard to say goodbye then, but in a different way. I was leaving in a very spur of the moment decision, and I was confident that this goodbye wouldn’t be forever, because at least LA was on the same coast and I could come visit them during Christmas time. Moving to London is an entirely different story. This has been planned for ages, the goodbyes were imminent, and this time, I’m not going to just be able to take a 3 hour flight home. This move is life-changing.

Today is my last full day in Bellingham, and I’m wondering if I’ll ever even step foot in this city again. If I do come back to Washington for a visit, will the effort to drive an hour and a half up to my college town be worth it? Will anyone still be there for me to visit? Is there a reason to go back? Will my wish be granted, and I’ll be able to stay in London indefinitely, which means coming back to America will be a a rare occasion? I really don’t know at all. I’m trying to force my mind into thinking that I will be a permanent expatriate, or if I’m not, I’ll become a New Yorker and abandon my PNW roots.

The goodbyes have been very hard, and really the only thing to give me some peace is the fact that I will be seeing my boyfriend in Europe in a month, so this goodbye is really just a “see you in 30 days,” and that’s something I’m a little at ease about. At least I’ll have one familiar face to comfort me after being away from America for 4 weeks. It’s strange, because I’m not scared about this move because of loneliness abroad or being in a new city. I’m mostly scared about losing the people I care about. To me, it’s not an irrational fear. There are college friends I don’t really talk to anymore, and we still live in the same state! It’s hard to keep a connection when there’s distance involved. But I’m hoping my “true” friends will stick with me, even though I’m far away.

So there’s three days left until I leave, and I’m hoping that I don’t dry up from crying too much or have a sudden panic attack like I did last summer when I moved to LA. I head back to Whidbey Island tomorrow to clean out my car so my sister can take it from me, I need to actually pack my bags and weigh them, and I need to collect and compose myself with some good vibes and energy so I can have some stress-less final days.

Why Do We Need an Excuse to Travel?

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I was having a lovely farewell coffee and chat with one of my good friends the other day, and we were talking about traveling, and she said she doesn’t think she’ll be going anywhere soon, because she needs an excuse to. That triggered me to wonder why we feel the need to have an excuse to leave our comfort zone and travel. We can’t go to London unless we’re visiting a friend there. We can’t go to New York City unless we’re on a business trip. We can’t go to Paris unless we’re on a honeymoon. Why is there this need to say that we can’t go somewhere unless we have an excuse?

I fit into this category too. After never taking any family trips as a kid, the only way I could finally get to Europe was when I studied abroad, which was an excuse my parents finally went along with. I only ended up going back the next two times because I won a contest. Since then, I haven’t gone anywhere. There’s been no excuse to until now; grad school pulled me back over to London, which I wasn’t able to do without it. And why is that, I wonder… Money. Money is what stops many of us from traveling without an excuse.

If we could all be trust fund babies or be given free trips all the time, we wouldn’t have to find an excuse to travel. We’d have unlimited resources to be able to explore the world. Money stops us from bypassing the excuse and making a trip happen. Not everyone can afford to buy plane tickets or stay in resorts. It’s easier to use the fact that you have a friend or family member living in another country to give you the drive to go visit them. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many of us poorer souls.

So, how do we overcome this? We have to start putting ourselves into a mindset that we don’t need to have a reason to travel. The reason is that you want to explore a part of the world and you should go do that. Yes, money sucks and we don’t all have enough of it to go make travel a part of our realities. But people do it anyways, and that’s what’s amazing to me. There are people who bought a one-way plane ticket and hitchhiked their way across Europe or Asia, doing odd jobs and not caring that they were broke. It’s possible, and I hope to put aside my fear on the issue and travel this way as well. So I challenge you to get rid of the excuses and reasons you need to be able to go, and to just go!

One Week: Travel Playlist

*If you didn’t notice, I updated my blog to give it a more clean, professional look! Don’t worry! Nothing has changed except the layout!*

Around this time next Friday, I will be waking up and putting together the finishing touches to my luggage, eating one last breakfast with my family and then heading to the shuttle that will take me to SeaTac airport. How has the time passed so fast? It feels like there’s still so many months between me and my departure, but there isn’t. I have less than seven days left to spend time with the people I care about before jetting off to start my new life. This will be the biggest change I’ve ever faced, and while I’m ready on paper, I’m still a little scattered in my mind about how I feel. I can’t wait to get over there and experience my dearest London again, but I’m scared about losing the people I’ve left behind in America. I’m sure I’ll be fine once I arrive and get settled, but for now, my nerves are wavering.

Every time I travel, I put together a music playlist to accompany my journey. This time around, I’m compiling my songs, and here’s what I have so far…

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I’d love to get some suggestions for good travel music. I’m trying to stick with a more calming feel for this journey, since I feel like the soothing indie music will keep me in check. Let me know of a song to add to complete my list!

Fall Fashion Trends I’m Loving

My closest friends know that I wait all year until it’s fall fashion season once again. Who doesn’t love the comfy, stylish look that the autumn brings? This year, there are some very sexy trends coming up that I am so excited to wear. I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.

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I can’t wait until it is cold enough outside to wear my thigh-high socks. I think wearing these over tights, paired with boots, is super sexy and shows off the leg in a gorgeous way.

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Large cardigans and kimonos are making their way in at the end of the summer, and right in time for the chiller weather to pair them with. They’re cute and actually keep you warm.

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I think I got on the smoking slipper bandwagon before a lot of people, and I’m glad, because they are adorable shoes, and look great paired with a rolled up skinny jean.

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Burnt orange, mustard, purple and oxblood are beautiful colors, and usually only appropriate in the fall, which is lucky for me, because I get to wear them again!

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I didn’t used to be a fan of this type of shoe, but now I can’t get enough of them! They are very versatile and can be used for everyday wear, as well as for going out at night.

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Backpacks were never my thing, and over the years, my taste in messenger bag has evolved to this lovely brown, leather-look that the recent bags have. They look good with every outfit.

What are your favorite fashion trends for this fall?

Tips for Starting a Travel Blog

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Blogging is a beautiful form of communication. It allows you to write, post photos and links, as well as tell stories in a short format that people like to read. There are news, lifestyle, food, fashion and political blogs, but a type of blog that seems to be popping up even faster than the others is the wide-covering travel blog, that is an umbrella term for anything one wishes to blog about, while traveling. Many study abroad students create a blog to write about their adventures and let their friends and family know what’s going on while they are away. Some are started as a way to inspire themselves to travel more, and some people just have so many tips already that they just want to share them with the world. Any type you are, starting a travel blog isn’t hard, and here are a few tips to create a eye-catching blog that people will really be excited to read.

Research a blogging platform

I used all the major blogging platforms before I finally decided to stick with WordPress. Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress are all great sites to upload your writing and photos to. Test out each of them, and see which has the features you need to create your content. Make sure you like the one you choose though, because transferring posts to a different is a task that is a bit more advanced, but is doable if you decide you’d rather use something else.

Invest time or money in a good design

If you have Photoshop or any sort of design talent, taking time to create a logo and layout will make you stand out from the crowd of generic blogs. If you don’t know how to do design, googling tutorials is a good place to start. Or, if you have some extra cash and want to have someone else do it for you, there are many designers you can find through Etsy and other freelancer websites who will help you make the best blog you can imagine. The prettier your blog looks, the more likely people will want to keep coming back to read your content.

Stay consistent with posts

No one likes to read an inactive blog. It’s much nicer for subscribers to get continuous content, which will also lead to loyal readers who come back for more. Posting once a month is not enough nowadays. If you want to stay up to date, you truly have to be posting at least a few times a week. It might seem like there isn’t enough going on in your life or your travels to create new content that often, but brainstorming new posts, posting about things happening in your local area or giving helpful tips will keep your blog fresh.

Switch it up

In keeping with the last tip, keeping your blog fresh is important. A travel blog can be an online diary of your day-to-day life abroad, but the formula of “Today I went to a castle, and then I did this, and then I did this and here is a picture of this…” will get very old, very fast. The people who care about you who read your blog might be interested, but if you want a wider audience of readers, you’ll want to be posting something a little different in-between the journaling and give some life to your content. Instead of a “Here’s what I did today,” post, something like, “Things I Learned About Greece,” are more fun to read.

Reach out to other bloggers

A lot of us travel bloggers are very happy to help out newbies in this realm (since we all started at some point). Email a blogger you’ve been following and ask for advice or a possible shout out to drive some traffic over to your site. We really do want to help, and are usually fine with giving out some tips. The blogging community is wonderful, friendly and always ready to meet new travelers who we can collaborate with.

Find a writing space

My go to place to write is Starbucks. The internet is free, and it takes me out of my comfort zone of my own house, which means I can’t just lay there and watch Netflix, I have to look productive! Maybe a good place for you is your room, but sometimes getting out of the norm can help with inspiration, and ambiance noise can be good for keeping your mind on your work. A coffee shop, a library, a train ride or a park are all nice locations to put your mind on your writing and creating.

Do what feels right

Your blog is really all about you, so post whatever you want and will make you happy. If you are a creative writer, make your posts all fiction. If you are a journalist, write in a news-like style. If you are a photographer and don’t like to write, just post photos. Your blog is your place to put the content you feel proud of sharing. Find a niche that works for you and go with it! And good luck new travel blogger. It’s a big world of adventurous websites, but with fun, unique content, you can definitely stand out from the crowd!

How I Became an Anglophile

If I look over my life and try to figure out how and why I became an Anglophile, there are many things and moments that spurred that love in me for the English world.

When Lucy Ricardo went to London, I wanted to go too.
Lucy & Ethel go to Buckingham Palace.

I always watched I Love Lucy as a kid, and Lucille Ball became my hero when it came to strong women in comedy (I think I picked up my ability for comic timing from her). I remember watching the season where the gang goes to Europe, and other than wanting to visit all those places too, the episode, “Lucy Meets the Queen,” was definitely one that struck a chord with me. The episode is iconic of Lucy trying to make a guard at Buckingham Palace laugh. This was so funny to me as a child, and still is as an adult. I wanted to go to London and try that too. Of course, I know not to actually do that, as it’s rude, but it was fun to dream about.

Colin Firth might've been my first crush.
Colin Firth might’ve been my first crush.

The next big item that awoke a love for the UK for me was when my mom showed me the 1995 BBC series version of Pride and Prejudice. I fell in love with the beautiful clothing and the proper sort of language they used to get their point across. Even as a young girl, not quite fully understanding of what was happening, loved the aesthetic of this Regency world. I read the book, started watching more Jane Austen films, and daydreamed constantly of being a part of that era. Through this literature, I was later inspired to write my own novels set in this time, and while I haven’t finished one yet, I hope to complete wrtiting at least one of these books by the end of this next year.

These books shaped my life.
These books shaped my life.

And of course, who can forget Harry Potter? I came across these books as a 10-year-old, and they were definitely something that made me the person I am today. I could imagine myself in this magical world, and it opened up my mind to so many possibilities. The Harry Potter culture was so important to my life, and with each book release or midnight movie showing, my teenage years were consumed by J.K. Rowling’s words and images. I think this is what cemented in my mind that I was meant to be in England. It was very much a driving factor in my quest to finally get abroad to the country I read so much about through this young adult literature.

Two Weeks To Go

Well, it’s officially two weeks to the day that I will get on a plane and fly to London via Iceland. It’s strange to think that I started this process last October and it’s now finally getting time to leave. When I began this all those months ago, I was not 100% sure it would even happen, but I had my dreams and ambitious nature to keep going, and look what I succeeded! It’s crazy that this to-do list I started months ago is finally complete.

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I did everything I was hoping to do, and it’s crazy to me that I really have nothing to do but wait for 14 days until I leave. 14 days! It seems like a lifetime and so short all at the same time, and I don’t know what to do with myself. How does one do all they need to do before they leave without forgetting something? How do I spend 14 days left in America? I’d be different if I had stuff left to do before I go, but everything is complete, which means I am free to do anything I wish.

They call two weeks a fortnight in the UK, and I’m just not sure to do with the fortnight that I have. I want to stay┬ábusy, but I also want to want to just relax as much as possible before my life gets crazy. It’s tough to find a balance of what to do with such a short amount of time. I’ve never been good at making decisions, so it’s hard to know what I should do. I’ve never had a bucket list of things to do in the PNW, so I can’t think of what to do in my own hometown. I’ve seen most of my friends at this point and said my goodbyes. I guess really all that’s left is to just take it easy and enjoy the last few moments without any stress. It’s probably good that my to-do list is done. I can cruise through these 14 days with ease.

The only worries on my mind right now are that I’m still in the dark on a few things, and I’m very anxious to hear from the university about them because it makes me nervous to not know. I really want to know more information about moving into my dorm, which I’ve heard nothing about since I got my housing offer back in May. I pre-bought some room stuff and hope that gets sent out in time. I’d love to know the schedule for the international welcome programme, as well as know what time and where I’ll be picked up from Heathrow airport. I wish I could buy a sim card now, but can’t. I’d also love to have my course schedule officially done, but it’s still very confusing to me from the limited information I’ve been sent. I just feel so unknowing of a lot of information that I feel I should’ve known by now, but I guess I have to be patient for another two weeks, as I have been so far.