Posts Tagged ‘Moving Overseas’

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

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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

Nine Days Until Liftoff!

I was lounging around yesterday, playing Trivial Pursuit with my family, when I realized that there were only ten days left in the United States to enjoy that type of family-oriented leisure. As of this morning, there are nine short days left until I leave, and although that is fast approaching, I find that I’m not as nervous as I thought I would be. I feel as though I have done well to organize everything in advance and knowing that my bank account, my phone, my housing and my finances are in order (as much as they can be!), help make the trip more exciting and less nerve-wracking. I got my official email from the housing department at LSE noting that I secured a standard single room (not the big one that I had hoped) and am looking at about £163.66 per week (£654.64 for the month, to save you the calculation), which is about $1080 at the current exchange rate ($1.65). It’s definitely not cheap, but it does include the room, kitchen, lounge, computer area, utilities and internet (a must)! I’ve heard that the rooms tend to vary a bit in size, so I’m really (really!) crossing my fingers that it ends up being on the larger end. Either way, the area is so prime, that I have every reason to be ecstatic about this situation.

I have to re-cap my weekend since it was rather eventful and totally fun! I spent tons of time with family and friends. Friday night, my sister took me out to sushi at one of my favorite places downtown, Tamaya. We got t0 spend some time bonding over one-too-many rolls & some amazing lychee martinis (their lychee sake is equally tantalizing). I love my sister to death so the realization that we only get a few more nights like that together was a little bittersweet.

Sisters 4

Saturday morning, after an 8AM 60-minute cardio sesh (which made my life), my grandma, dad and I headed over to Starbucks for coffee and conversation. Definitely a perfect way to start the day — we all ended up going to my parent’s house for dinner that night and followed the food up with a riveting game of Trivial Pursuit (which we are now obsessed with). I was able to spend Sunday with my friends, which was much-needed. My friend, Hilary, was in town from LA and we were able to get together for a couple of hours on Sunday and catch up — she always puts a smile on my face so it was good seeing her! By the way, check out her hilarious license plate:

HilLicensePlate

Afterwards, I met up with Laura to chat about London! Laura & I have known each other for years (twelve, perhaps) and she studied in London a few years back and lived a short walk away from my soon-to-be home. She has been an awesome source of information plus an inspiration on the finance front — she managed to travel on a serious budget, which has helped me put things into perspective! Side note: I still need some consolation on this front — I keep worrying that $15,000 won’t be enough for food, travel & basic necessities (toiletries, cell phone, gym, etc.)… I don’t have a reason to worry, right?

Yesterday, I finished the majority of my packing, which was way less stressful than I had imagined and way more successful than I had hoped. I managed to fit a ton into one suitcase and the second suitcase (that I am currently working on) is housing shoes and some soon-to-be-washed clothing (lots of jeans and basics that are frequently worn).

My goal for today is to gather all of the needed paperwork and organize them into a neat packet to have everything I need on hand while at the airport (in SF & London). My plan is to make two copies: one extra copy to stash in a suitcase, and a set to give to my parents (just in case)!

Paperwork That’s Getting Packed:

* Passport/Visa
* LSE Acceptance Letter
* Housing Confirmation Letter
* Loan Confirmation
* Flight Confirmations:
– SFO to LHR
– LHR to MUC (Oktoberfest)
– MUC to LHR
*  Dot2Dot Chauffeur Service Confirmation
* HSBC Paperwork (to open bank account)

I’m half way sure that that’s all the paperwork I need to keep on hand, but I’ll have to keep that list updated as I find new things to add to it!

Nine days until departure!

Anyone else have a fun-filled three-day weekend?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Rainy Days & Mondays.

I’m trying to get over  rainy days getting me down, seeing as how there will be a lot of those coming up. The Mondays, though… well, they’re not so fun. Weekends never seem to last long enough and Mondays come around entirely too quickly. Despite having a (semi-) fun-filled weekend, the scream of my alarm at 615A was definitely not welcomed. On the bright side, I did get to spend Saturday soaking up the sunshine, which was pleasant. Today marks 30 days until the big move (September 17th!), so I’m trying to get in as much sunshine & tanning as possible before sunshine becomes an enigma known only in my dreams.

LSE2

With thirty short days left, what’s on my calendar?

What still needs to be done?

1) Visa. I have applied for my visa, of course, but I have yet to hear back from the LA office. They received the package on the 3rd of August, so I should know within the next few days whether or not it has been approved. Once that’s done, my stress will be hugely relieved.

2) Packing. I have begun the packing process, but I (obviously) still have a lot to sort out. I feel relatively unorganized in this arena: I have jackets, sweaters, pants, dresses, etc. packed, but I feel like there’s an entire world of items that I haven’t given enough consideration. I will be buying shampoo, conditioner, etc. once I’m over there (to save the space & weight of those items) and will be traveling with mini, travel-sized versions, in lieu.

3) Shopping. Oh, I do plenty of this, but I still have to go out and get a few things that I don’t want to have to worry about overseas: some back-up make up, new brushes, sunless tanning lotion, etc. For the most part, my shopping is complete, but there are a few beauty items that I need to acquire before leaving (as to not deal with exchange rate fluctuations and already high prices in London).

4) Ethernet Cable. I can get one of these guys whilst overseas, but since I’m addicted to be connected, I would like to take one over with me so I can plug in as soon as I’m on-site!

HoughtonStreet

What’s done, already?

1) Bank Account. I’ve already applied for a bank account with HSBC and have gotten the majority of that hassle out of the way. I just need to pop into a location, show them my CA ID & my passport and I’m golden!

2) My Phone. My glorious iPhone is already in hand. I just need to get to an O2 store and sign up for their SIM Only – Simplicity plan.

3) Chauffeur Service. Since I’ll be arriving at Heathrow with huge bags in tow, I will be needing some serious assistance and am definitely not opting to take the tube. I have booked my trip with Dot2Dot and have them picking me up from the airport & dropping me off at my new home!

4) Luggage. After perusing the aisles of discount stores, I now have two 29″ bags plus an awesome carry-on in which to take my life.

5) Visa. I have to consider the hardest part of this done — it’s sent in with all of the necessary information. I just need to wait for it to be approved. (*Please be approved, please be approved.*)

6) Classes. Now that the provisional timetable for classes has been posted, I have been able to go through and check out the availability of classes and see what my schedule will tentatively look like — as of now, no Friday classes!

7) LSE e-mail. I am the proud owner of an LSE email address: s.e.falzon@lse.ac.uk. Lovely.

I can’t believe how fast the summer has come and gone!
Thirty days left until I’m wandering the streets of London!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Packing & Shipping Overseas!

luggage tag

I have been giving a lot of consideration to the fact that I have to somehow manage to pack my entire life into two suitcases and a carry-on, per US Airways’ guidelines. This is so absurdly unrealistic for me! Now, it’s not so much that I don’t want to pay for the extra piece of luggage; I don’t mind the cost so much, it’s more of facing the reality that it’s going to be physically impossible for me to carry 3 huge bags, a carry-on and a personal item from the airport to my final destination. Sadly, I’m just not big enough to handle the task. I have since been perusing the Internet to find a (relatively) inexpensive way to ship all of my extra items overseas. My coats, shoes, some extra personal items and my sleeping bag will probably be shipped over to me instead of joining me on the actual trip from San Francisco.

Thus far, I’ve run into USPS as a legitimate option as FedEx and UPS are extremely overpriced for the most part. I have also heard mention of EMS, although I am not very familiar with the organization; it looks like an Asian-based company from the looks of their website. I visited all of the websites and calculated shipping for one 65 pound box from California to London with their least expensive options.

USPS :: $208.53
UPS :: $389.09
FedEx :: $482.31

USPS is by far the winner on this front! $208 isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s way better than $400+!

Has anyone else been in a similar situation?

What’s the best way to get everything overseas without spending a bundle?!

Signature Stamp - Shannon