The Year That Was – 2017

Exactly one year ago (17.30, December 31st) Alex and I arrived in Edinburgh.

Writing that sentence feels surreal. Sometimes, when I’m just lying in bed or reading a book or cooking dinner, I forget that we’re actually here. In Edinburgh. So the fact that it’s been an entire year since we arrived just strikes me as ridiculous.

As all years seem to do these days, 2017 has gone by in a flash. On the surface it feels like it happened to quickly, a rush of milestones all blurred into one vague recollection of the year that was. The more I think about it, though, the more I realise just how much I (we) managed to cram into one year.

Obviously there’s the big one: moving countries. We’ve firmly settled ourselves here in Edinburgh. We have a flat, bank accounts, phone numbers, friends, a local pub, and all our wee everyday routines that make somewhere home. I’ve had not one, but three jobs, all of which have been amazing in their own right, but two of which made me feel not only settled in Edinburgh, but settled within myself. When I think of where we were a year ago – newly arrived, unemployed, without a flat or bank accounts or national insurance numbers or sim cards or anything you need to actually live somewhere, it blows me away how far we’ve come. Perhaps it’s nothing to most people – people find flats and jobs all the time. But there’s something about doing it thousands of miles away from ‘home’, where it would be relatively straightforwards (or at least where you have an innate understanding of the bureaucracy involved) that feels like a real achievement. Working in retail wasn’t part of my plan when we first arrived, but as always circumstances undermined plans, and I’m so glad they did. Not only do I love the people I work with, I also (mostly) love what I’m doing, and it turns out I’m actually pretty good at it. The decision to move to working full time at H&M was hard, because it meant leaving behind the Museum on the Mound, and in particular the two museum managers who were willing to take a chance on this just graduated, no museum experience twenty-something. Finding volunteer museum experience is hard enough, but to have been given the opportunity to have a paid position in a field that I’d love to work in at some point in the future was a dream come true. The opportunities and change I’ve been offered this year were definitely above and beyond my initial expectations, and I know without a doubt that making the huge move over here was the right decision.

Along with moving overseas, we’ve had two trips back to Australia. Both were for weddings, most significantly Alex’s sister’s, and both were filled with family and friends that reminded me how much we have back in Australia. It can be easy to take friends for granted when they’re always accessible, and being so far away from the people I love and care about (looking at you, honours fam) has really brought home how important they are to me.

Perhaps most importantly, though, is that we made it. 2017 has been without a doubt the hardest, most challenging, most rewarding year yet. It was filled with incredible highs, but a lot of lows. There’s a lot of anxiety and isolation that comes with moving overseas, and I would be lying if I said it was totally in the past. Some days are still a challenge, days when my anxiety is overwhelming or the distance from my established support network feels too far to bridge. Christmas was surprisingly hard, but, like all the other challenges this year, we came out the other side. I’ve come out of 2017 stronger, even if some days it doesn’t feel that way.

I don’t know what 2018 will hold, or where I’ll spend it. I’ll work that out later. For now, I’m just going to enjoy the final night of 2017 in the city I love most, the city I’m lucky enough to find myself living in. I’m just going to enjoy the moment (and maybe make Alex cross arms with me and sing Auld Lang Syne as the fireworks signal midnight).

Happy New Years to all of you, wherever you are in the world.

And, as always, happy birthday to my wonderful dad. ❤

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