The ups and downs of moving abroad
11.08.2008 - 13.08.2008 22 °C
I have felt quite recently like a maniac-despressive, my mood bouncing up and down. (Apologies to any one actually suffering from the very serious illness of mania-depression for trivializing it).
I had a vision in my head of what it would be like moving to London, and I must admit that it was a lot smoother in my imagination than it has turned out to be in real life. There seems to be a lot to bring stress into my life. Delayed interviews, hiring freezes, getting lost, tube delays and getting caught in the rain are all enough to make you retreat to your bedroom and crawl under the covers.
It isn't so much that lots of bad stuff is happening, it is just normal life, especially normal life for those looking for a new job. In my imagination prior to coming over, though, I imagined me getting a new job, making a bunch of new friends and finding an amazing place to live in a couple weeks. Of course that wasn't going to happen, but that didn't stop me from dreaming it.
For ever bad day and foul mood though, there are times of happiness and awe. The other day I was walking down the street and suddenly found myself giggling as I realized I was walking down the streets of the city I LIVE IN, and that city is LONDON! Awesome!
I recently was reading an article in the Toronto Star (online version, obviously) that mentioned that Forbes magazine ranked Toronto the 10th most economically powerful city. Cool for Toronto, I thought. I scanned the rest of the top 10, and there at the top was my newly adopted home of London. The most economically powerful city in the world, growing faster than any other cities in the G7.
"I live there, the most economically powerful city in the world." I thought. "How cool is that?" I was smiling for the next half a day at the thought. I'm in a place where stuff... really important stuff... happens. I may not be doing the real important stuff, but at least I am close to it.
A few days later, I was down again. I could feel the sweat pooling on my brow as the woman said, "I need your passport, proof of address and a urine sample."
Not exactly your average first date. No, I was making an appointment for a physical to register with a doctor and the National Health.
I don't like doctors and hospitals. They make me squeamish at best, and often downright nervous. That being said, I don't like paying for health care when it's needed either, so off to get a GP, a requirement for health coverage here in the United Kingdom.
That being done, now I am a legitimate member of the National Health, and don't have to worry about being covered in the event that I break a leg, get run through with a javelin by a practicing future Olympian or get fed through a woodchipper by angry Thais after a disparaging remark about their classical music in my last blog entry, but the day and a half leading up to the visit was quite nerve-racking. Even though I am entitled under the rules of my visa to be covered by the National Health, I was really concerned that I had missed some small administrivia point and they would send me away with no coverage. My heart was beating, my blood pressure was elevated and I was covered by a film of sweat throughout the entire appointment, which just lead to the nurse scolding me for being out of shape, which just made me more nervous, and raised my heart rate even more. Ugh.
That evening, though, knowing that I was covered and don't have to worry about it, I was up again. I had gotten an email about a job interview schedule for Friday and I had just met up with an old friend from high school back in Canada who now lives in London. Despite the nerve-racking doctor's appointment, the day turned out to be a good one.
I was walking home along Westferry, close to the Thames River. A fox darted out and crossed the road in front of me. It was a clear and cool night, stars and the moon lighting up the sky above the apartment flats lining the Thames River.
Ever since I was a kid, every night I have looked up and at the sight of the first star I see, repeat the same thing.
"Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. Wish I may, wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight."
What I have wished for over the years has changed, depending on where I was in life. Lately, I've mostly been wishing for a job.
But that night, smiling and happy, I couldn't think of anything to wish for. I am living in an amazing city. I have a nice place to live. I am starting to make friends. I am making progress (albeit slow progress) on finding a job. That evening, I figured I had everything I needed.
"Give my wish to someone else tonight," I said, and whistled happy tunes to myself as I walked home.