This is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down…
Okay, it’s not. But it is the story of my last few days in Canada, and my first few days in Nottingham.
In all honesty, I should have been terrified. I should’ve been losing my mind, freaking out about uprooting myself to not just another country, but another continent. I should have been scared of leaving my family and friends and moving to a place I’d never been, with no friends or even acquaintences. But somehow, I wasn’t.
Which is hilarious, because for anyone that knows me, I stress and worry about the smallest things… like whether there’s enough drink options in the fridge when friends come to visit. But moving to another country? Nah, that’s minor.
I was excited. I was anxious to get to England. I felt like I was just going on an extended vacation, not basically starting a new life.
I was more worried about whether my new co-workers would like me and if I’d be able to make friends here than I was about whether I would actually like the place I was moving to and if I could handle not seeing my family and friends back home every day. Backwards thinking, I know.
I guess I kind of always knew I would enjoy the experience of moving somewhere on my own, and that my family and friends would always be there whether I lived in Nova Scotia or not.
So the week leading up to my departure wasn’t really that eventful, honestly. The most stressful part of it for me was trying to fit everything I wanted to take in my suitcase without going over the weight limit. After struggling for hours and rethinking about what I really needed to take… I said fuck it. And paid the extra $100 for an overweight bag.
But the lack of stress and worrying allowed me to really enjoy my last week at home. I was surprised with a going away supper with close family and friends (huge thanks to my sister for organizing and reminding me I’d be missed <3). I spent basically every day with my friends and family, and when I wasn’t with them I was trying to organize all my belongings I wasn’t taking to England with me in totes to stay at my brother’s place (thank you Darren and thanks for buying a house with a ridiculous amount of space).
I’m sure it sounds pretty heartless of me to not worry about leaving my friends and family… That doesn’t mean I didn’t bawl my eyes out at the airport saying goodbye, or continue to cry while waiting at the gate to board the plane. It certainly isn’t easy leaving everyone you love to go to a country that’s a six hour flight away. It was just so exciting to me that I thought more about all the adventures I’d be going on than all the people I wouldn’t be seeing all the time anymore.
The flight felt like it took forever. It was a red eye and I can tell ya my eyes were certainly red by the time I made it to Nottingham. I didn’t sleep a wink on the plane, or the train to Notts. I got into Heathrow around 9am, which felt like 5am to me. It’s such a big airport that it took ten minutes just to walk from the plane to customs. Then it took something like an hour to get through customs. Then another ten minute walk to get to the underground. Then an hour with a change to another tube line to get to St Pancras International. Then a three hour train ride to Nottingham. So I finally got to Nottingham Station around 3pm.
Mind you, this was all with a phone that I had cancelled a plan on because Bell is useless and wouldn’t unlock my phone for me. But that’s another story. Navigating multiple different modes of transportation without being able to even get on WiFi is difficult. I’ve never felt more dependent on my phone than I did when I couldn’t use it in a country I’ve never been to.
But I managed to find my way to Nottingham. Luckily for me, I had studied a map of the city centre a bit on the train, and knew my hotel was near Theatre Royale. So when my phone died just as I got off the train, I had some sort of idea where to head to. I dragged my two suitcases and carry on bag for what felt like an hour over a lot of uneven sidewalk and tram lines, and finally managed to find the Crowne Plaza.
Thank God, I could finally lay down and catch up on sleep. After 12 hours of traveling and being up for 30 hours, I was chuffin’ knackered, as the Brits say. So I checked in, only to find out that my room wasn’t ready. And wouldn’t be ready for a couple of hours. They gave me six free drink tickets so I could pass the time in the bar though, so I couldn’t complain really.
I finally got into my room at 530 and crashed until 830. Got up and ordered room service, since I was in no shape to be seen in public, and went back to sleep.
I was up early to go house hunting the next day, and headed down to the hotel’s restaurant for the “continental breakfast” included. Well, I’d always known continental breakfast to be nothing special; just your typical cereals, yogurt, toast, etc. This breakfast had all that, but also a whole buffet serving traditional English breakfast. Which, if you don’t know, includes sausage, bacon, hash browns, eggs, beans, black pudding, fried mushrooms and roasted tomatoes. It was all delicious and I can honestly say I didn’t get tired of it, even after eating it for 15 days straight.
So house hunting would not have been easy on my first day in a new country without a phone or friends or any idea how to get around the city, or where the hospital I was going to work at even was. Thankfully, InHealth gave me a relocation package which included help finding a place to live, so a lovely lady named Ashley picked me up from the hotel and took me to see eight different properties, and give me a bit of a tour around the city.
I was shown such a variety of places, it was really difficult to choose where to live. The first place we went to was an old stable/carriage house built in the 1700s, converted into a living space. It hadn’t been updated in a few decades though… the bathroom had fuzzy reddish/pink carpet that went right up the side of the tub. No thanks! But quite interesting to hear the old chap explain the history of the whole estate.
The other places ranged from brand-new, never lived in apartments to old houses turned into multiple flats, to an old mill converted into apartments. The old mill had huge windows and brick walls in each room with nice high ceilings, and I fell in love with it immediately. It’s a gated building with a gym in it, all the stores you need just a five minute walk away, and close to work.
So this is my new home! It took a bit of getting used to… the upside-down light switches, the tiny washing machine that’s also a dryer, the weird plugs, the gas stove/oven… But it quickly became home-y and even better, I found out that one of my co-workers lived in the building too! She was a huge help with getting me settled in the UK and I’ll forever be thankful for having such a great friend so close for the first few months of being on my own in a new country.
Honestly, everyone I’ve met in this country has been unbelievably friendly and helpful; maybe England is more like Canada than I thought…