The Expat Diaries: 6 months in

It’s been just over 6 months (6 months and 8 days to be exact) since Alex and I arrived in Edinburgh. It’s gone by so incredibly quickly, as time always does when you want to savour it. I thought today it might be nice to look back on the past six months, see how things have changed, see how we’ve settled in, and see what we’re looking forwards to.

January

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January began fresh faced and bushy tailed at a stupidly early time on New Years Day. We pretty much had the Old Town to ourselves (no one else was stupid/sober enough to venture out at 7am), and we wandered around taking in the sights of our new home. The first few weeks of January were an adventure – settling in, exploring, and binge-watching Food Network. The end of January was slightly more stressful. We began the dreaded process of house and (for me) job hunting, and the reality of what we were doing really started to sink in. Even though we never wanted to leave Edinburgh, when your plan to run off and live 10,124 miles away becomes your reality, it can take a bit of getting used to. We had our AirB&B until the end of February, but the realisation that we weren’t on holiday hit hard.

February

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We began February with an adventure to Glasgow, watching Hearts lose to Celtic from the very top of the stadium. The start of February also saw us finding a flat, though a job still proved elusive. The rest of February passed in a blur. We bought a few homewares, went on lots of walks, attempted to set up all the life things we needed (bank accounts, internet, utilities etc) and battled with anxiety of what the hell we were doing with our lives. I continued pursuing the dream of being a tour guide by being turned down by Mary King’s Close (in hindsight, a blessing), and tried to keep my eternal optimism alive with too many cupcakes. As February came to an end, so did our time in our AirB&B. We rented a car, packed up everything we’d accumulated (which was a lot in only 2 months) and moved into Dean Village. We also ventured out to Ikea in another instalment of ‘Rachel gives terrible driving directions and Alex ends up driving down a narrow country laneway’.

March

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March in one word would be ‘ugh’. I was in my third month of proper job hunting, and my optimism was quickly replaced by gnawing anxiety that kept me up at night and made me cry a lot. It was also the month of Crufts, which kept me up at nigh and made me cry a lot, but for very different reasons. March was the point where I began to question if we’d made the right decision. We had, of course, but everything started to build up. We missed family and friends, we missed our dogs, I was stressed about finding a job. The honeymoon holiday period was well and truly over. So, on a spur of the moment decision after receiving the invitation to our friends’ wedding back in Aus for April, we booked flights back to Australia for two weeks. Then, two weeks before we were due to leave for our ‘holiday’, I finally found a job, and on the 29th March I was officially hired as a tour guide.

April

If March was ‘ugh’, April was hectic. We started the month with a 20+ hour flight back to Melbourne, a 1am wakeup on our first day back in Aus, and an arrival back to Adelaide only to be locked out of the house. Visiting Australia was bizarre. It was incredible to be back with family and friends (AND DOGS), and it was strangely reassuring to see how little had changed whilst we’d been gone. Our friends’ wedding was lovely, and we were both really glad we went back for it (even if we were exhausted and sick). Being back, particularly being back in Adelaide, also felt…odd. It was home, and yet it wasn’t, and that’s a feeling that’s impossible to explain until you’ve felt it. Far too soon we were back on a plane home (featuring a full blown panic attack on my part at the airport in Abu Dhabi), and I was starting my tour guiding job. I also got invited to an interview for one of Edinburgh’s museums, and to my great surprise (after the stress that had been finding my first job) I was offered the position only an hour after my interview. Things were finally on track, four months in.

May

May was great. It was filled with two jobs I really enjoyed, old friends visiting, lots of walks out in sunny weather, and a feeling of deep contentment (and not anxiety). Honestly, it flew by so quickly I barely had time to register what I was happening. I made new friends in Edinburgh, I spent more time out of the house socialising, I got back into reading and writing. Basically, I just felt much more positive and relaxed than I had the past few months. By May we’d really settled into a routine, which was both good and bad. It’s nice to really feel at home here in Edinburgh, but I can’t help but feel a bit sad that some of the holiday magic is gone. The best way to fix that is a holiday, I think!

June

In June everything changed again. I ended up leaving City Explorers at the beginning of the month. There were a lot of reasons behind this, but the main one was that I simply wasn’t getting enough shifts. That left me where I’d started April: working at one job, but needing a second. Thankfully, June wasn’t defined by handing out resumes. We had more friends come a visit, I went to quite a few tourism events with the museum, and I spent a lot of time outside and enjoying Edinburgh. Going for a walk every day is firmly established in my routine, and I really love getting out in the city, even if it’s only down to Stockbridge to buy a coffee for Alex. Thankfully, job hunting was much faster this time around. By the time July appeared, I’d been offered a retail job and was preparing for an information session for another tour company.

So now we’re here. July. 6 months in. I honestly can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by. There have been times over these past six months when I’ve wondered if we made the right decision, but the answer is always yes. Edinburgh is home, and even the not so fun parts of the adventure are worth it. As we head into peak season here in Edinburgh, the next few months are going to be hectic, but I’ve still got a few things planned that I’m looking forwards to (most of them travel related). All in all, the past 6 months have been wonderful (even with a few down moments), but hopefully the next 6 will be even better!

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