Moving to a new place is never an easy thing to do. Relocating to Canada would be the fifth time in my life that I have moved into the unknown but this does not make the experience any easier. I thought today I would take some time to cast my mind back to the big moves I’ve made in my life (some involuntary, some by choice) to help ease my mind about my current situation.
At the age of just 13, my parents shipped me over from the West Coast of New Zealand’s, South island to boarding school in Christchurch. I distinctly remember standing in the common room of the boarding house and the matron announcing that it was time for the parents to head off. My mum gave me a hug and cried. I was embarrassed at the time of the emotion shown by mum, oblivious to the fact that this moment would ultimately mark the conclusion of my childhood. The first term of boarding school actually turned out to be OK. I made some friends, learned about living in the city and even learned a few things. However, with the arrival of the second term came darker, colder evenings. The Rugby season started and due to the fact I was ½ the size of the other guys (and that I was completely uncoordinated) I didn’t play. This meant the majority of my weekends were spent in the boarding house alone. Sometimes a week or two would pass and I wouldn’t even leave the school grounds. This is when times got tough and all I wanted to do was go home. Unfortunately this was not an option and my parents insisted that I spend the next five years in a place that at the time I absolutely hated. It took about two years before I actually was ok about being at boarding school. This was when freedom was something that was offered to us more far more mature 15 year olds. I ended up taking advantage of this and received a suspension for returning to the boarding house and after attempted to drink red wine for the first time.
Fast forward seven years and I was finishing up my tertiary education at the New Zealand Broadcasting School. In order to finish the degree program each student was to complete a six month internship in their field. The twenty or so in my class had to publish our C.V’s on a website for the industry and one by one we received calls regarding jobs. I will never forget the moment my phone started ringing with an unknown number displayed on the screen. At the other end was the General Manager of a radio station in Hawkes Bay, in the North Island. As I was somewhat ignorant to the geography of the North Island I actually had to google the place to find out where I would be flying to for an interview. In 24 hours I caught a flight up from Christchurch, interviewed, was offered and accepted the job. It wasn’t until I landed back in my beloved Christchurch that I realized what I had just done. Three months later mum and I packed up my Honda Civic and began the long journey up to the middle of the North Island. When we finally made it I dropped mum off at the airport (no tears this time) and found my motel in Hastings. The next few weeks were tough; it was the lead up to Christmas which was the busiest time of the year for most industries. I worked on my internship wage from 7am till 7pm seven days a week, returning to the motel at night to cry in the shower. Although I had a job in Hawkes Bay this was all I had. I was desperately lonely and missed all my friends back down in Christchurch quite a lot. After a month or two I found a flat, became best friends with my housemate and grew my social circle through her. In a matter of months Hawkes Bay felt like home.
After two and a half years I was exhausted from dedicating my life to my job. I literally worked every day of the week and instead of just writing ads, I was writing news, producing, doing on air shifts as well as promotions in the weekends. I remember one day being sick at home with swine flu (it was all the rage at the time) and receiving 28 calls from the office. This was the last straw I had gotten everything out of the job I had hoped for and without making further plans decided it was time to resign and book a one way ticket to London. For the first time in my life it was my decision to make the move and would be the first time I was to live out of New Zealand. In the lead up to this big move, I actually thought little about what I was getting myself into. In fact I thought little about what I was actually going to do when I got there. The day before I left my aunty asked some friends of hers living in South London if they would mind if I stayed with them. Thank god that was an option as I don’t know how well I would have handled living in a hostel in London. Those first three weeks in I managed to get a job AND was diagnosed by the NHS with shingles (welcome to London). Let me tell you being extremely unwell and being new to the hustle and bustle of London did not make for an easy time in my life. I moved into my first flat after those first three weeks and the deposit for the place cost me all the money I had save to get over to London. After coming to terms with the horror of my financial situation I spent the entire weekends in bed as I had no money to leave the house. I told my friends and family back home that I was having a great time, little did they know I was miserable and questioning my decision to give up everything and move to the other side of the world. However in time things did look up. I made friends with two newbies from New Zealand and friends with their friends and their friends friends etc. Before I knew it my entire weekends at home in bed were replaced with sleepless nights in East London, weekend getaways to various European destinations and one raging stranger’s warehouse party after the next. My time in London was over just as it was starting to get good and that day I boarded a flight out of London for the last time as a resident of the U.K was probably one of the worst in my life.
After seven weeks traveling around Europe I arrived at my new home, Melbourne Australia. Like Christchurch, Hawkes Bay and London I was not exactly happy with my first few weeks in the city. It simply did not compare to the magic of London. I was expected to wait ten minutes for the train, walk the dark streets without CCTV and what the hell was with all the loud birds screaming at each other throughout the night? I guess in the grand scheme of things Melbourne should have been the easiest move for me to make. I had a place to stay, an established group of friends and a job within no time. But I guess coming down from the glory of London it took longer than usual to appreciate what I had and now that I have left Melbourne I realize just how much I took that incredible city for granted when I first arrived.
In two days I will have been in Vancouver a month and like all those moves I had made in my life previously, Vancouver has not been easy. Yes, I have a job, a place to live and this time I didn’t move alone. But even so there are still those looming thoughts enter my brain when I can’t sleep at night. Did I make the right decision to move here? Why did I leave my friends behind again? Am I really prepared to do another six months of winter? If I have learned anything from all that relocating in the past it is just this: It’s never easy to find your feet in a new place but perseverance and friendships are two key ingredients to turn and apprehension into affection for a new city.
Now all I need is friends… (oh and a better job).