*Note: Writing a letter to my past self feels a little silly but it was all I could think to do, so here goes.*
Congratulations, you made it!
It has been exactly 365 days since our plane touched down in London.
You boarded a plane with three suitcases and a heart wide open and you have really embraced the highs and lows of a new life abroad. You did something you yearned to do, set out to see things you'd only dreamt of, learned from your experiences and made yourself a comfortable home in a completely foreign place.
I remember how you felt before you moved.
You were sad to say goodbye to your friends. You were heartbroken to say goodbye to your parents. Naturally, you were scared as hell! But you were also so deliriously excited to start fresh somewhere new. Basically, you were a complex Rubik's cube of mixed emotions all of the time.
How could you not be?
I mean really, who just decides when they're 24 that they want to move to London on their own (having never been, by the way) and then up and does it? Us, apparently.
As your current self, I thought I'd tell you about some things that will happen during your first year in London.
You will become a yes (wo)man.
You'll realise that the best way to meet people is to say 'yes' to just about everything.
'Want to go for coffee?' Yes.
'Want to join me for a night out?' Yes.
'Want to go to this workout class with me?' Yes.
'Want to go hiking in Switzerland?' Yes.
'Want to come watch my friends play cricket?' No idea what that is, but yes!
Saying yes to everything will open you up to so many new people, places, and experiences.
It can be intimidating, of course. Being the new girl in most social situations will feel a bit uncomfortable and you'll be surprised to learn sometimes you can actually be quite shy. Don't stress about this. Eventually, you'll relax and be yourself and 9 times out of 10 you'll end up having a great time. Even if you don't have a great time, at least you showed up!
You will learn that living abroad is an emotional roller-coaster.
Living abroad is incredible.
It's invigorating, freeing and to put it simply, it's fun! It's also one of the most challenging experiences of your life.
For the first few months, you will wake up every morning and think 'Holy shit, I'm in London. No wait, I LIVE in London!'. Everyone you meet and everything you see will be 'amazing' and you will throw yourself into work, new friends, and the city like a battering ram. This high will last for a while and you will love every minute of it.
Eventually, you will start to settle in and you'll recognise that whilst it will always be cool that you live in London, life here is like life everywhere else. People are people no matter where you go; some will be great and some will suck. Work isn't always easy and there will be times that you hate it. Cities are expensive and no you CANNOT spend all of your money on clothes, pints, and take away because we need to have enough money to live!
You will miss your friends and your family and sometimes you will resent the fact that you can't drive home, go to the lake, or visit Anna and Ryan in Philly just because you feel like it. Sometimes you will question what the hell you thought you were doing when you decided to move here in the first place.
All I can say is to trust your instincts and to take comfort that through whatever ups and downs you face there will never be a day when you aren't grateful to be living here. You will know deep down that, for now at least, you're where you're supposed to be.
You will visit many places and be visited by many people.
One of the biggest reasons you wanted to move to London in the first place was to travel more. Girl, do you do just that!
In this next year you will go to 6 countries, 9 cities, and 8 English towns. You will walk behind waterfalls, stand on famous cliffs, float in a mineral hot spring, dance under the Midnight Sun, climb mountains, and lounge by the sea.
You will be visited by 11 friends and family members, who while they're here will give you the comfort of home. You will revel in showing them around this city you call home, showing them the standard tourist spots, your favourite markets, and frequenting the local pubs. There's not one visit that you won't look forward to, and you'll get more quality time with them in London than you probably ever did in the States.
I don't need to tell you not to take those visits for granted, because I know you know how much it will mean to you every time someone shows up.
Try not to put your life on hold while they're here though - it's okay to go to the gym or go on that Bumble date, especially if they're staying for an extended period of time (*cough* Mom and Dad *cough*).
You will become more self-assured.
You’ve always been pretty sure of yourself, but moving to a new country takes a different kind of self-assurance. You need to be to put in the effort to make new friends and to make London really feel like home, which I think you do pretty well.
You'll find stupid joy in doing mundane things on your own like setting up a bank account, finding your first flat and registering for your local GP. You'll take pride in your little flat and put extra care into making it feel like home.
You'll get a better understanding of what you value most in friendships and relationships and will become more comfortable with what you bring to the table.
You’ll realise that you really can take care of yourself without anyone else's help, and in some ways you’ll nurture yourself better than you have before.
You will have so much fun.
I don't want to spoil it more than I already have so I'm going to stop here. Just know that I'm really freaking proud of you.
You took a leap of faith and not only did you survive but you thrived!
This next year will be full of adventures both big and small.
Truly, you will have the time of your life.