Well, talk about life changing direction.
This time last year I was working as an Early Years teacher at an International school in Kuwait (a teeny dust trap nestled safely between Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the Gulf). The decision to go out there was VERY last minute. Phone calls to friends and family went something like this:
“I’ve been offered a job in the Middle East!”
“The Middle East. I’ll be working at an International School in Kuwait.”
*prolonged period of nervous laughter*
“Um, that’s random but okay. How exciting! When do you go?”
This time two years ago, I was well and truly in to my final year of University – a third year Education Studies student living in Worcester.
Prior to starting Uni in 2010 at the ripe old age of twenty (it was a big deal to me at the time), I had a horrible time at secondary school which resulted in me moving to a different college, dropping out of said college, volunteering in a local primary school and eventually joining an Access course in Milton Keynes. To say that my life has not taken the smoothest of routes would probably be the understatement of the decade.
Up until 48 hours ago, I was back in the UK volunteering as a teaching assistant in a local primary school whilst undertaking studies towards the PGCEi – a distance learning course designed to aid teachers working abroad.
Teachers. Working. Abroad.
I took the very last minute – and extremely difficult – decision not to return to the Middle East on the day (yes, the DAY) I was due to fly back for this academic year. A number of factors played a part in that decision making process, one of which being the scarily close proximity to the then-sprawling Islamic State, another being far more personal and one which I don’t care to publicise. Never in a million years did I think I would miss Kuwait, but I do. I really do. I miss the warmth (when you acclimatise to 40 degrees Celsius, that’s understandable…), I miss the food, I miss the culture – albeit hugely different to anything I’ve ever known; I miss exploring a different land. Above all though I miss the people. Out there, the friends you make become a sort of surrogate family and I was part of a great one.
Needless to say then, my decision not to return to the M.E has not made the happiest person. I LOVE my family and place them above all else in the vast expanse of life, so have enjoyed being able to spend more time with them. I adore my home-grown friends and have had the opportunity to catch up properly with those I would otherwise go for months, even years without seeing. I have loved getting to know my baby sister better as an ADULT, hanging out just the two of us whether at the local (and most amazing) Thai restaurant, indulging in a theatre trip down in London’s West End, or playing the “how many trains can you travel on in the space of six hours” game in between vetting potential suburbs in which she will eventually live, upon starting her first “grown up” job. I’ve been able to introduce my 14 years-young cat to the joy of having her claws trimmed in an effort to prevent any further “cat stuck to the sofa” traumas. I’ve enjoyed helping Mum build her cake empire, offering design ideas and sculpting the occasional Pug, Scarecrow or baby. All of these things have been possible as a result of my not going back to Kuwait. I appreciate every minute of it, yet there is still something missing.
I took the decision not to return to Kuwait, I didn’t take the decision to return to the UK. My travel bug has not been fed.
So today, Saturday 25th October 2014, my life has begun to change direction once again. I have booked a one-way ticket to Australia.
The trip itself has been planned for a while; we have family out there and have always wanted to visit (“we” being my parents, sister and me). Only difference is, I have no idea exactly how long I will stay out there. My plan is to go out on a Working Holiday visa, which is valid for 12 months, work my way around Oz, move on to New Zealand – again on a W.H visa – before pootling back to the UK via a few other places. It has basically evolved from a 2 week holiday to an around the world adventure.
As mentioned previously, my family is extremely important to me and if it wasn’t for 21st century luxuries such as Skype and the internet in general, I’m not sure I would be brave enough to go. That said, those who know me know that world domination has always been in my family’s sights. Ask me where my family hail from and you’d best pull up a chair as we’ll be here a while. Travelling is in the genes and this is something I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do more of.
Summer 2016 will see us celebrate the 80th birthdays of my Grandma and Grandad – in addition to their 60th wedding anniversary. To say we’re having a party is putting it mildly. So I will DEFINITELY be back in the UK by then. What will happen in the 18 months between now and then, well, there are no certainties. All I know is that on the 14th December, I will board a flight from London to Sydney. I’ll take the rest as it comes.
So THAT is the reason for me starting this blog. A way of keeping my loved ones – and anyone else who takes an interest – up to date with my globe trotting adventures. For now, I’ll leave you with a snippet of the adventures I’ve been lucky to have over the past 12 months in Kuwait, Bahrain, Dubai, Thailand, France and the USA.
Watch this space for updates as I embark on this next stage in my life.