The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

For those of you who have lived abroad, it’s a scary/exciting/nerve racking thing. You don’t know anyone in this new city you’ve chosen. You begin to doubt your move. Why did I do this? I’m so stupid!

Stop. Stop all that nonsensical thinking. Although I’m sure those thoughts crossed my mind at one point in my first few weeks in London, I likely waved them off just as quickly as they came. My first two weeks in London were absolutely brutal. Despite the sightseeing and checking out the local pubs, I had a terrible time of it.

Before I left Canada, I set up a bank account with HSBC. We were told that if we did this before we left the country, we could easily open one up in London. This is so not true. We got turned away at HSBC the first day we attempted to open an account. I can’t for the life of me remember their reasoning for it. But the four of us were left without access to our money back home.

I didn’t know what do to at that point. My savings, my nest egg was lost to me. I had a massive melt down which resulted in tears and cursing HSBC. So I did what any sensible young woman would do…I got drunk. Yes, drunk. Liquor was pretty inexpensive in London. It was also within steps of our front door. Thank you mini-Tescos across the street!

My roommate was treating me to a night of ‘let’s forget about this monetary nonsense and have fun.’ So we did. She made me dinner and a massive chocolate chip cookie. We learned that it was the only night we could watch a live hockey game on TV. I adorned my Vancouver Canucks jersey and we met the girls at the Canadian pub in Covent Garden.

We arrived and found ourselves in a  sea of friendly Canadian faces. Everyone coming together for our common love; hockey. Having already visited the pub earlier that same week, I had already met our bartenders. Having a friend behind the bar is a godsend some nights. And that night, he was.

I made all kinds of friends that night, Canadian or not. I ended up meeting Oliver…yes, that was his name and yes, I’m aware of how typically English that is…we dated for a time during my first while in London. Anyway, the night went on with the Canucks winning and drinks were never ending.

Waking up the next morning…or shall I say, afternoon was unbearable. How I was waking up at all was a miracle. It was about 2pm before I could even crawl out of bed. Thankfully, Sandra’s mum had packed Kraft Dinner in her suitcase. She was upstairs making it already when I woke up. KD saved our lives that day. Truly it did.

Now, back to the bank account situation. I didn’t know where else to turn so I emailed some friends from my hospitality job. I was sure other people were struggling with this as well, and I had hoped they could help. Sure enough they did. One of the guys working in the transportation department met me at Lloyds TSB and helped me set up my bank account. I, in turn, brought in my 3 friends and had them do the same.

A sigh of relief washed over me as I had access to my money again. It’s a terrible feeling to be without money. I honestly don’t know what I would have done had I not been able to get a hold of my accounts back home.

Anyways, money was in check. The job came later that same week. Things were all good in London again. My first date with Oliver was here and he took me on a walking tour of the city. It was a brisk, cloudy day in the city. He knew I loved taking photos, so he took me to all the landmarks. We must have been out all day just walking and talking. Typical first date things — and if you’re wondering ‘was he lucky enough to snag a kiss?’ Well you’ll be thrilled to know, he was 😉

And if you think my bank account story was the worst to have happened to me while living abroad, then you’d be sorely mistaken. The following month was probably the lowest point of my whole year. My grandma passed away after a not so happy move from Toronto to be closer to my mum. I just remember sitting at work, it was about 9am in London. Tears started streaming down my face. My grandma had been in hospital a total of four days at this point. My friend, Chloe, turns to me and asked if I had heard any news. I grabbed my phone and there was the text message from my sister waiting to be read. It was 4am back home. Grandma had died. Having not been overly close with her, I felt sad for my mum. She had been through so much with her own mother and I felt sad I couldn’t be there for her during this time. It’s difficult being so far from home when things like this happen. I felt totally helpless.

Reminding me that I had a pretty good friend by my side during my difficult week.

So when you’re having a bad day in your new city and in your new life, just remember that this is just one bad day. Honestly, all you have to do is look around you. See where you are. It will change your mood the second you appreciate where you are at the moment. Despite being so upset about my bank account snafu, and everything else after that, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be living in a city like London. The amount of bad days you have on your adventure will seem like nothing compared to the number of good days you’ll have had by the end of it. More often then not, you’ll be talking about the good times you had versus the bad ones. So enjoy every minute of your life abroad! Don’t let anything get you down for too long because you might just miss out on some of the fun.

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