Friday, December 19, 2014

The Dog Days Are Over

Three months. That's how long I've been living in the UK. Though that might sound exciting to some, I'll be honest: I've spent about 90% of that time sitting on the couch (usually in sweatpants) looking for a job. Job hunting is challenging at the best of times, but considering I've been in a foreign country, living in a small-ish town where I know next to no one and lacking the funds to take advantage of the free time I've had on my hands... well, at times it felt downright depressing.

Roughly 60 or so job applications, four interviews and countless hours spent taking laptop selfies with Ben's dog Herbie later, I am happy to report that I have found a job! Come January, I'll be working as a Support Administrator for a specialist fundraising/direct marketing agency - in London! Neither Ben nor I have ever lived in such a massive city, so moving there will be an exciting change for both of us. Plus, it sounds like I'll get to learn a lot at my new job, which I'm really looking forward to.

I don't want to sound like my time in the UK has been all bad so far, because it definitely hasn't: I had a spectacular 25th birthday, have taken advantage of having beautiful English countryside on my doorstep and, perhaps best of all, really got to know Ben's lovely family. That said, these past few months have also been filled with a lot more stress, self-doubt and sheer exhaustion than I would consider ideal. Thankfully, the dog days are over - London here we come!

Some photos of Herbie and I over the last few months - I'm sure gonna miss this pooch!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Countryside Cycles

I consider myself lucky in that not only do I come from an amazing part of the world, but so does my British boyfriend! We've been living with Ben's parents in Shropshire, a county in the West Midlands, for a few months now while we look for jobs. Although it's probably not somewhere we'd choose to live long-term at this point in time (it's better suited to families, in my opinion!) there is a lot to be said for Shropshire, namely its abundance of tranquil countryside.

This is something Ben and I have tried to take advantage of whenever possible these last few months, especially when taking much needed breaks from job hunting! Throughout the autumn months, we frequently went for bike rides through small nearby villages with babbling brooks and churches steeped in history, past fields of sheep and houses with names like Pear Cottage... basically, quintessential rural England. Even though we were rarely more than 10 miles from Shrewsbury, Ben's hometown of nearly 100,000 people, it always felt much, much further away. Cycling through the Shropshire countryside has often been an ideal remedy to job (or lack thereof) related stress and, in times of frustration, reminded me to be grateful that I'm living in such a picturesque, postcard-worthy place.

P.S. It looks as though my job hunt may be over - stay tuned for details!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Now I Ain't Sayin' She a Tree Digger

As much as I love spending Christmas at home, there's one aspect of my family's holiday traditions that I've never liked: our artificial Christmas tree. We've had it for probably a decade or more, but I'm just as against it as when we first got it. True, we don't find pine needles around our house for months (and months) afterwards, but it's just not the same! 

With this in mind, you can imagine how pleased I was when I found out Ben's family (who I'm spending Christmas with this year) not only get a real tree every year, but they dig it up themselves. So earlier this afternoon, off the six of us went to a nearby Christmas tree... farm? (or field? forest? I'm not really sure what you'd call it) in search of the perfect tree.

Ben's mum Julie wanted a smaller tree...

... but she was outnumbered by those of us in favour of something slightly larger.

Once we'd all agreed on a tree, it was just a matter of digging it up (a job the girls left in the capable hands of Ben and his dad Dave).

It got wrapped up...

... and we brought it home!

Then, after nearly an hour spent untangling lights (a universal Christmas problem, it seems), stringing tinsel and hanging ornaments, voila!

Unsurprisingly, turns out I'm a big fan of going out and getting your own (real!) tree. Plus, it smells amazing - I'm enjoying the scent of pine (and watching Elf) as we speak! Only 18 days until my first English Christmas!