Archive for the ‘Planning, Packing & Moving’ Category

California to London: My Personal Case Study

This could also be entitled, “Why moving away from my homeland has been the best decision of life and why all human beings should experience the same thing: a case study,” but I thought that would be entirely too long. Also, let me define: by case study, I mean my personal experience which, herein, will be used as a case study and the base for this discussion/monologue. I suppose it’s primarily intended for those who are looking to move away for graduate school, work or study abroad, but anyone with input, please comment away!

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I spoke with a friend of mine who, rather abruptly, gave up her life in Northern California to pursue a Marketing/PR internship opportunity that had arisen in LA. She had never lived away from her family and there was no pay attached to the internship period (although there were hopes of a future job opportunity), but working in public relations in the LA area had been her goal. About a month after her move (a couple of months before my move to London), I asked her about her feelings on moving away and starting an entirely new life. The verdict? Hard at first, but ultimately the most fulfilling adventure.

Now that I’ve been living in London for nearly four months, I would tend to agree with her perspective on the move. Although I miss my family, my friends and the relative normalcy (read: monotony) of life in Northern California, I can positively say that the path that I chose was undoubtedly the best personal decision of life, to date. The move has given me new perspective on relationships, on other cultures and on life.

Tiff & I <3.

Chris & I at The Lion King!

I have had the opportunity to look intently at my relationships and realize that the connections built in life don’t need to fade away just because the distance between two individuals grows; that physical proximity and emotional proximity are not linked, even in the slightest (although I’m sure the advent of social networking sites has helped make this much easier than it would have been 25 years ago)!

National Gallery

I have also been able to experience life in a foreign country and soak up all the nuances that come with it. Living life in a cosmopolitan city (London, Paris, New York, etc.) grants one the ability to marinate and grow in an undeniable melting pot. Daily, I find myself running into people from France, Germany, Belgium, Georgia, Canada, Nigeria, Ghana (and the list goes on and on). In one term of classes, my eyes have already been opened to the vast differences in culture and individual perspectives; issues that I had been dealing with at home seem ridiculous when compared to famine and $1.25 per day that my classmates are familiar with. Moreover, it’s not just reading about these far-off places (Malawi, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Uganda) and theorizing about how life is lived there; it’s a chance for me to talk with new friends about how their lives are and how their personal experiences have changed their personal paths.

Perhaps the best part about the move, though, is the fact that I now know that I am fully capable of being on my own in the world. Despite having lived away from my family for the past five years, I was close enough to know that I could call if ever there were an issue. Now, I am in a completely foreign country with an entirely new set of people surrounding me and amazing new experiences every day and I absolutely love every second of it. I know now that I am capable of keeping my options open after graduating, and living/working abroad without feeling detached. Instead of being scared of things, I feel as though now I have fully realized that every day brings something new: new people to meet, new things to learn, new mistakes to make and new ways to be a better, more fulfilled person.

So, for anyone wondering whether a move is a good decision: what is there to lose? Really? A small bit of income that can be regained? Leaving behind some friends that you can contact via Facebook and Skype? On the flip side, think of everything that you can gain from pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. I think in this case the reward is definitely worth the risk.

Lots of love from London,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Prepping for an Early Morning Mediterranean Excursion!

Now that today is my last day of term, I finally feel the excitement for Malta building up! Not that I wasn’t excited before, mind you, but I felt so consumed by all things school-related that I didn’t really have time or energy to get as excited as I should have! Despite the fact that I’m 75% Maltese, I have yet to visit the hailed archipelago and am beyond excited to see my homeland (if you will) and check out the places where my mom and grandpa were born! Now, before the excitement can really begin, there are a few minor things to get in order: packing, getting to the airport and purchasing a thank you gift! Our flight leaves at 715A on Sunday from Gatwick airport which means that we have to be there by around 530A to check in and get through security. We’re flying Easy Jet, which means we can only bring one piece of hand luggage free of charge, anything that gets checked in is a charge (£18 per piece). Despite the fee, I’m opting to bring some luggage. Unlike American Airlines or British Airways, you’re not allowed a carry-on AND a “personal item”. Your personal item would qualify as your carry-on. Thus, since I’m bringing a laptop and other goodies, a checked bag is pretty necessary for five days worth of garb. Also, if I didn’t mention this before — Easy Jet is spectacular! We got our roundtrip flights for £58.

Now, here’s our very minor predicament: We need to be at Gatwick airport by 530A. We’re opting to take the Gatwick Express, which leaves from Victoria station, instead of EasyBus (or a similar service) because it’s so quick and convenient. At 430A, I’m all about quick and convenient. That being said, I need to actually get to Victoria Station. The problem? The tube is closed that early in the morning. So, to manage everything that morning, I’m booking a cab (which, FYI, charge a higher start rate when booked — convenience fee, perhaps?) Here’s our plan of attack to make it to the airport:

415A: Cab pick-up at my flat
430A: Pick up Al from her flat
440A: Get to Victoria Station
510A: Arrive at Gatwick on the Express!

I’m hoping that the Gatwick Express is as great as the Heathrow Express! Lindsay and I opted for the latter when we were heading to Heathrow for our Italian adventure. It’s £16ish for a one-way ticket, but it’s honestly so convenient! We were there in less than 30 minutes and it was so much more comfortable than a bus. EasyBus is another options for travelers looking to get some where on the cheap (I think Alex & I paid £6 each way when we went to Germany). The bus does take quite a bit longer though and it’s not nearly as comfortable!

I think I finally have everything in order. The only other bit on my agenda is purchasing a thank you gift for my Maltese family. They have been kind enough to allow us to stay with them for our five day stint and I’m trying to find the perfect something to say thank you.

Any ideas on an appropriate thank you gift?

Hitting up Borough Market tomorrow morning for a last bit of London love before my Malta/Scotland whirlwind adventure!

xoxo,

Realization.

LSE Beaver

You know when things are just surreal? When everything around you just seems like a dream and you’re waiting to wake up? That sums up my life at this moment quite well. I just finished packing the two suitcases that contain my life for the next twelve-plus months, and am slowly putting the finishing touches on my carry-on. As I put away my Let’s Go Europe book and zipped up a pouch of toiletries, it dawned on me: I am leaving the United States in two short days. I have one real day left in the US, and then I will be sitting on a flight to the United Kingdom, courtesy of United Airlines. Not only am I moving to another country, I’m moving to another country to study at one of the best institutions in the world. If ever there were one single word needed to describe this university, “institution” sums it up pretty effectively: educating the likes of John F. Kennedy, fifteen Nobel prize winners, a load of Prime Ministers, Presidents, Kings and Queens speaks volumes. Whomever looked through my application and decided that I should study at the same institution that bred that prominence is my new hero. There is such a mixture of excitement (for the opportunity to study at such a magnificent university) and nervousness (for fear of being overwhelmed by the brilliance of it all). I find that for me, the nerves typically breed greatness; at the times when I fear failure in any capacity, I put in that much more time and effort into being able to compete and succeed.

One of the underlying reasons for deciding to study in Europe was to create an inherent opportunity to travel and see the world. I truly feel that experiencing the way that other people live is an eye-opening, life-altering experience that is necessary for total self-actualization. I don’t fully think that I can be the greatest version of myself without knowing everything that is out in the world. There are people to meet, perspectives to understand and valuable lessons to learn, and without having gained that worldly knowledge, your world stunts you; it is too small for you to fully grow and develop. That essentially sums up my greatest goal for the year. To grow and develop. In every possible capacity; as an academic, as a youth of the world and as a human being. Everyone talks about how experiences like this change your life and your views forever. At this point in my life, I think I’m more than open to that.

So, in conclusion, here’s to an amazing year; a year of change, a year of growth and a year of amazing adventures.

Now I’m off to enjoy my last few moments in the States.

Lots of love,

SignatureStamp

Here’s an undergrad lesson for those not versed in Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs (summed up in a super-fun pyramid):

Maslow

 

Jet Lag: Averted

Keep Jet Lag at Bay

It is my mission to be as jet lag-free as humanly possible when I arrive on Friday. My flight leaves San Francisco airport around 7P and arrive in London at 1:35P (UK time) on Friday. Considering it’s a straight, 10 hour flight, getting some sleep on the airplane should be relatively doable. I will hopefully be going to the Coldplay concert with my girlfriend on Friday night, so I MUST have the energy to be fun & enjoy it to the fullest. Here’s my plan of attack:

1. Lots of Water. Although this will inevitably result in heightened lavatory use, I think water is key on a long flight like this. Many experts think that lack of hydration = increased jet lag, so pumping in some serious H2O should hopefully help on this front.

2. A one cup of coffee limit. Please. We know that this is relatively impossible considering the ridiculous amount of caffeine I tend to consume, but if dehydration = jet lag, and caffeine = dehydration, then it follows that caffeine must increase jet lag (If a = b, and b = c, then a must equal c, right?) This is going to be quite a task, but I’m going to try to drink WATER only… I said try, mind you.

3. Sleeeeeep. Since there are no stops to wake me up on this flight, I think that catching some shut-eye will be amazing, if possible. I have a relatively difficult time sleeping on planes unless someone I know is with me. I’m going to pop a couple of pills before I get on the plane to help knock me out (Benadryl, perhaps?), plus I’m toting a mini pillow (courtesy of grandma) and an eye mask… maybe some earplugs are in order, as well (I don’t know if there are any pesky children on this flight, after all.)

4. Pack My Own Snacks. I don’t think airplane food is all that awful, but I definitely prefer to bring my own healthy snacks in case hunger strikes. There’s something comforting (for me) about eating something that I know is good for my body. I’m packing a bag of mini carrots and cucumbers (which may double as puffy-eye deflators) and some trail mix.

Does anyone have good tips on avoiding jet lag?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

My Name is Shannon and I’m a Bum.

I didn’t make it a point to get to bed at a decent hour last night and my alarm didn’t scream at 6:15A like it normally does. It’s currently 745A and I’m sitting in my kitchen, sipping home-brewed coffee, browsing Nordstrom’s website and organizing my online life (read: unsubscribing to emails from a million obscure websites that bombard my inbox) before leaving for England on Thursday. It feels like a three-day weekend today; the Monday after Labor Day, perhaps. It still hasn’t hit me that I have opted to be a jobless bum for an indefinite period of time. My schedule today is filled with the oh-so-important tasks of shopping, gymming, tanning, laundry and packing. It’s truly bizarre because I haven’t been jobless since I was 15ish and now my “job” is to be a super student and traveler extraordinaire (and blogger, of course). If that’s the case, I suppose I should hope to graduate with a Masters with distinction (or high distinction, if such a thing is humanly possible) and should return next year with the most amazing pictures ever! On the traveling front (to ease my bummy nerves), I do have trips to Germany, Malta, Italy & Greece nearly set in stone, and getaways to Scotland, Ireland and France are a must considering their proximity to England! In any case, before I start thinking about those fun-filled adventures, I’m off to Kohl’s to stock up on an array of socks and shoe inserts.

Don’t be jealous.

Hope everyone’s having an amazing day at work!

Shannon

PS. As a side note, I tried Skype with my iPhone last night (with no phone plan or SIM card or anything!) and it worked like a charm! Provided you have internet access (and the Skype subscription — $30 a year to the US and Canada), you can call any landline or cell — CRYSTAL clear!

PPS. Buy one, get one 50% off at H&M! Download the coupon here.

Last Day of Work — Where Have Four Years Gone?

It’s early in the morning and I’m currently sitting at work while the majority of people have yet to start their work day. Today marks my last day of work after four years with the company. I don’t think that it’ll fully hit me until Monday morning rolls around and my alarm doesn’t go off. It’s not going to go off for two reasons, mind you: 1) I won’t have to be at work at 8A, and 2) My alarm is attached to my cell phone which is property of the office. I have been lucky enough to have a cell phone provided to me by work for the past three years and now that I’m leaving, I’ll have to turn in my handy sidekick, meaning I will be phone-less for 6 whole days! How ever will I live?!

My emotions are very mixed this morning. Although I anticipated more excitement than anything, it’s definitely a bittersweet feeling. I’m extraordinarily excited about starting the next chapter of my life, moving abroad and working on my education. For as long as I can remember, my goal was never to be a wife or a mom, but rather an educated woman with a wall dotted with degrees. I’ve always been impressed by women that have incredible education (and intelligence and wit to match) and thusly made it my goal to follow in their proverbial footsteps. In six short days, when I get on the plane at SFO, it will be a start to that journey. Despite the excitement and the fulfillment, I’m definitely feeling a bizarre sensation of sadnesses and nervousness. Sad to leave behind four years of friendships, co-workers and memories. Nervous due to the realization that today I will receive my last paycheck; the last bit of income until I’m done with my Masters (or until I decide that I’m too antsy without a job and get a part-time gig in London… whichever comes first!) There’s definitely a comfort in knowing that you wake up each day with purpose; with a task at hand and I’m definitely going to miss being hyper stimulated. After so many years of full-time work and full-time school, being only a full-time student will be a bizarre turn of events.

Girls

Wednesday night I had a mini going-away gathering with a few co-workers after work and today I get to have a Bon Voyage lunch with our sales staff at a sushi joint downtown. I’m secretly hoping that I don’t suddenly burst into tears! So, it is with incredibly mixed feelings that I say goodbye, co-workers! I will be missing you!

Signature Stamp - Shannon