Blimey, where has the time gone?!
Six months ago today, I moved from Arizona back to Brighton. Here is what I’ve been up to since my leap across the pond:
- In the days and weeks before I left, I spent quality time with my family and friends, including a trip with my dad to New York and Washington, D.C.
- On 11 September, I flew from Phoenix to London Gatwick via Calgary.
- A few days later, I moved into my university house.
- I walked the Camino de Santiago from Porto, Portugal.
- Before lectures began, we took a local class field trip to Knepp Wildlands, where I got to knew my coursemates and lecturers well.
- Lectures properly started and I chose my dissertation topic.
- I got a cleaning job.
- I saw Arcane Roots and Chon live.
- I got my Open Water Diving qualification.
- My course got a private tour of the Natural History Museum.
- I saw Rise Against and Enter Shikari live.
- I quit my cleaning job and got a pub job.
- First term lectures concluded.
- Spent the first half of the month drowning in university deadlines.
- Spent Christmas on a LiveAboard scuba diving trip based out of Hurghada, Egypt with a day trip to Cairo.
- Got my Advanced Open Water Diving qualification on the LiveAboard trip.
- Got let go from my pub job.
- Got two new jobs as a care giver and cleaner.
- Saw drag queen Trixie Mattel, Architects and Marmozets live.
- I quit the cleaning job, but continued care giving.
- Enjoyed the snow in Brighton.
- Started mentoring for IntoUni.
On Twitter, I wanted to hear your questions about my move, and I got a lot of great ones!
What on earth are you doing here?
I studied abroad at the University of Sussex for my entire third year of university (September 2015 to June 2016) and loved it so much I decided to come back for my Master’s degree. This time around wasn’t as scary as my year abroad because I’m familiar with Brighton and know my way around, so there are few surprises in that aspect.
I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit around the U.K. and Europe, but Brighton has always been my favorite place. I love being by the sea, but also surrounded by rolling green hills. The city is also quite lively, but not too busy (most of the time). Brighton is also not too big like a city like London and is easy to reach every corner by public transit. There are a lot of like-minded people here: tree-hugging, socially liberal lefties like myself. All in all, Brighton is a beautiful, free-spirited town that feels like home to me.
What was the first thing that stood out to you as different from where you came from?
How green it is! I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m used to seeing all dirt landscape in Arizona. It makes for lovely mountains, but I was ready for a change of scenery.
What’s your favo(u)rite British phrase that you’ve started using since you moved to the UK?
I love the word “cunt.” Here, it’s almost never taken as a serious insult like it is in the U.S. It’s all about tone and 99% of the time, the tone is playful. I’ve also grown quite fond of “blimey” recently and find myself saying “faff” and “can’t be bothered/ arsed” a lot.
What are the best and worst things about moving to the UK?
Best: rediscovering my love for Brighton… and still do everyday! And the ease of local and international travel.
Worst: the visa and housing rigmarole, which I wrote all about in this post.
What was the most difficult part of your move and how did you overcome it?
I would have to say, again, visa and housing. Visa process is fairly simple, but I kept messing up, my appointment was at a really inconvenient time and I wasn’t sure if I would get my passport back in time for my move. To put my mind at ease, I paid for expedited service which was 100% worth it. You can’t put a price on the peace it brought me.
As for housing, some parts were simple while others were quite stressful. At first, I was just going to live with Diego and his friend Alex, but we couldn’t find a decent three bedroom place, so we sought out other roommates and landed with two more roommates. With that, Alex really took the lead from there finding a place, giving it a look and moving forward with the paperwork. However, as a student, the housing agency required a U.K. homeowner guarantor, which I lacked. I could have gone through a scheme to help me out, but that would have been an extra few hundred pounds. Luckily, it was Alex to the rescue who volunteered his dad to stand as my guarantor, but he knows I’m good for my money. Once moving day came, our house was not in great shape and my room was a lot smaller than I expected, but we all worked together to make repairs and I made the most of my room with storage solutions and little bits to make it feel cozy.
What’s your best memory of the UK so far?
Since I’ve been back, some of my favorite moments would have to be I would have to say seeing it snow in Brighton, meeting other international students and showing them around Brighton, getting to know my coursemates on a short field trip, meeting friends at concerts (particularly Enter Shikari, Architects and Rise Against) and getting my care giving job. It’s hard to pick just one!
What was the biggest culture shock when you moved to the UK?
On my year abroad, I don’t remember the culture shock being that bad. There were most certainly some new things to get used to, but it never frustrated or upset me. However, the reverse culture shock coming back home was all too real. I wrote about reverse culture shock and coming back to the States in this post.
What stereotypes about England have you found not to be true since moving here?
I wrote about this a bit in this post, but I would say the biggest one is that before I came, people claimed it rains all the time. I didn’t find that to be totally accurate. Yes, it rains quite a bit, but the downpour is always so light and sporadic that it barely merits an umbrella. I’d say a more accurate description is that it’s more cloudy here than rainy.
Was moving here worth it? Or would you rather have stayed home?
This is a really tricky question and the answer varies day by day. When I was let go from my pub job and had a lull in university work a few months ago, the lack of things to do made me depressed and wondering what the hell I’m doing here. The truth is this: my life would have been quite comfortable back home. I excelled at my internship and would have been offered a decent entry-level job relating to my degree, I would be close to my family and friends and I most certainly would have been content. However, despite all the craziness, I’m extremely happy here. Living abroad is an invaluable experience and the ups and down will ultimately manifest as important lessons I can carry with me for the rest of my life.
What do you miss the most about the US?
My dog. My family may take this personally, but I’m gone for a larger percent of his life than theirs and he’s not getting any younger. I’m tearing up just thinking about it… I also of course miss my family and friends, Chipotle, Ike’s… mostly my favorite restaurants. I also have a love/ hate relationship with public transit that’s tilting more on the side of hate these days as I spend up to two hours on a bus everyday for a journeys that could take less than half an hour by car, so recently I also miss having access to a car.
Do you want to move back to the States?
I’m not quite sure. I’m really happy in the U.K. but I understand that working here upon graduation may not be possible. Staying would be my first choice, but if I can’t then yes, I’ll probably go back to the States, at least for a while. However, I don’t think I’ll live in Arizona, I would like to try to live in New York, Seattle, Chicago or Philadelphia.
Thanks for all your questions, I had a lot of fun with this post!
Here are some other posts in the text about my study abroad journey, life and travel in the U.K. and my move respectively:
Photo by John T.