So you’ve decided to move to the UK…

Congratulations! Making the decision to move is the first big step I reckon. Yes it’s scary and yes it’s a big deal but rest assured, it’s going to be one of the most amazing experiences of your life. And you’re going to love it, even when you have days where you absolutely hate it!

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While my decision to move was a long time coming, I really did just pick a date, bought a one-way ticket and then did the countdown. Of course, there were bits and pieces in between but I did it the way I did because I knew if I didn’t, then I’d waste more time talking myself out of it.

The key to success I think is to be prepared. I know it sounds like a total cliché but if you want to do well, you will need to do your research. And lots of it. There are plenty of guides online and blogs by people who have been in your shoes and I really think they helped me with my planning. In saying that, I also felt like there needed to be more people blogging about their experiences because it’s always so fascinating to read! Everyone experiences moving to a new country differently so getting a variety of perspectives is always handy.

In saying this, here are some of my tips and experiences to add to the mix to help you prepare for your big adventure. While my advice would be more relatable to a fellow Kiwi, I’m sure there are still some bits and pieces non-Kiwis will find helpful.

The important things before the trip

This is the kind of boring part of the whole process but it’s also the most important. If you don’t get these things sorted, honey, you ain’t going anywhere!

Make sure your passport is up-to-date! Or if you’re like me, make sure you get your passport! Cause guess what… if you don’t have your passport, you’re not leaving the country!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetBefore I bought my ticket, I applied for my passport. In New Zealand, it costs $180 to get a passport. This is the standard fee but if you need to get one urgently, it’ll cost about $360. Mine took about a week to arrive and I was so happy when I finally got it in my hot little hands!

You can find all the information you need about getting your New Zealand passport here.

Now that you’ve got your important little booklet with your swanky, ‘just got out of prison’ photo (or is that just me?), it’s time to think visa. As a New Zealand citizen, if you’re between the ages of 18 to 30, you can apply for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa, which entitles you to live and work in the UK for two years. If you’re lucky enough to have grandparents that were born in the UK, you can apply for an Ancestry visa, which entitles you to live and work in the UK for five years, after which you could probably apply to be a resident.

It’s important to note that you can only apply for your visa six months before you intend to travel. So if you’ve chosen a date that’s far, far into the future, make sure you note down in your calendar when it’s time to apply for your visa.

For a Tier 5 visa, there are fees you need to pay:

  • £244 application fee
  • £300 healthcare surcharge
  • £1,890 in savings – I’ve included this as an expense because you need to be able to show that you’ve got equivalent to this amount in your bank account as part of your application

It doesn’t take long for your application to get processed… well, I didn’t think it did anyways. Once you’ve applied, a decision will be made and you’ll get a letter in the post confirming the outcome. My memory is a bit fuzzy but after my application had been approved, I had to go down to Wellington for an appointment to get my photo taken and to get my fingerprints into the system for my biometric residence permit (BRP). A BRP is a little card you get when you arrive in the UK and it’s a form of ID that confirms your right to live and work in the UK.

Once that’s done, you’ve got your visa sorted! All the boring, legal stuff is now done and you get to move on to the more exciting parts!

If you want to check your eligibility or want to apply for a visa, check out this page.

Money honey!

I think it’s important to stress that the UK is not a cheap country. While groceries tend to be cheaper here, everything else is relatively expensive and I can’t stress enough that you should save, save, save and bring as much money as you can possibly can.

Based on my research, people have said a comfortable amount to save and bring with you is around £5000 so you’ve got enough for a deposit to move into your own place and enough to tie you over if you’re stuck without a job for months. I think it’s sound advice having now been here but I have to admit, I didn’t listen to this advice… only because I’m absolutely RUBBISH with saving.

So I came here with about £1500 in my bank account. I honestly thought that I’d probably have to move back to New Zealand in a week because there was no way I could’ve survived on that, especially if I was paying for my own accommodation.

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I was EXTREMELY lucky in two ways: I got a full-time job within two days and I had the luxury of staying with a friend for free while I settled. After I got my job though, I immediately went out to find a place of my own just because I’m the type of person that likes having her own space. So, I found a place in East London in the thriving metropolis that is Bow. I paid £1270 for the deposit and moved in the following day. The rest of my money went towards groceries and pillows, blankets, sheets, etc.

So yes, while I was very lucky and managed to get a job and a home in a couple of days of arriving, I could’ve also been extremely unlucky and not gotten either and would probably be back in New Zealand right now drowning myself in sorrow. I am a stickler for preparation… however, I’m also a useless saver and a damn good spender. So my advice to you, dear reader, is save as much as you can and unless you have a free home to go to and a job lined up (or know you’ve got a high chance of getting a job within a month), definitely bring more than £1500. I think the safest thing to do is to bring AT LEAST a month’s worth of living cost.

Bank accounts and transferring monies

When you get here, you’re going to want a bank account and a bankcard so you have access to your monies. It’s true what they say – it can be quite challenging to open a bank account. You’ll need to provide proof of address so the logical thing to do is to get your bank to send a copy of your latest bank statement to your new address in the UK. If you don’t have a home in the UK, then you’re screwed (but not really).

If you have friends or family in the UK and they are happy for you to use their address, have your bank send your statement there. Bear in mind though, they want proper hard copies of the statement, not a printout.

While I had my bank send my statements to my friend’s address, both Barclays and Lloyds wouldn’t accept my statements as it looked to them like a printout. It baffled me to be honest but oh well.

I was introduced to an online bank called Monese where you could open an account without having to provide copies of your bank statement. All you need to do is send them a copy of your identification and then bam, they give you an account and send you a contactless debit card. Easy! Monese has been great.

There’s also another online bank called Monzo which is quite popular in the UK actually. They have these insanely bright coral debit cards which I must say, gets a lot of attention every time I whip it out to use it. They also offer overdrafts which is great if you’ve got a credit record but as I don’t have one (and it’s likely you won’t either if you’re an expat), you won’t be eligible.

So if you’re struggling to apply for an account with ‘traditional’ banks, definitely give these ones a go, even if it’s just for a start.

With regards to transferring your monies from your current account to your UK account, I highly recommend Transferwise. I’ve used them religiously since arriving to transfer money to and from my New Zealand bank account. They’ve also got great exchange rates and best of all, no bank fees. They do charge a transfer fee but it’s quite nominal compared to what you’d pay at a bank or at an exchange counter. They also provide a calculator so you know exactly how much you’re going to get. Another bonus is that you usually get your money within a couple of hours!

BTW, I’m not sponsored by any of these companies (as much as I’d love to be!). I’ve tried them and highly rate them for the service they provide and just want to share the love!

Finding a flat 

Finding a new home is quite similar to finding one in New Zealand. There are flat sharing websites available, such as, Rightmove, Spareroom, Zoopla and you can also use Gumtree (though I’ve never actually used it).

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Most places are advertised via an agency. Move in costs are usually a month’s rent in advance, a bond (which is typically equivalent to one month’s rent) and sometimes, agency fees, which can be up to £200. As the rental market is a competitive one, if you find a place that you’re really keen on, some agencies require you to pay a ‘holding fee’ which comes off the move in costs when you sign the paperwork. This just tells them that you’re definitely serious about moving in and secures you as the tenant. Some agencies ask to do a reference check (so definitely ask your landlord back home if it’s okay for you to use them as a referee) and if you fail it, or if for some reason you lose out on the room/flat, you can lose the holding fee as well. So just be mindful of this…

Another thing to be mindful of is that you can actually secure a room before you’ve even arrived in the UK. So if you’re very keen, like I was, you can do your research, talk to agencies and if you like the look of a place, pay the holding fee and it’s yours when you arrive. I didn’t do this but I did book a few viewings before I arrived. Agencies also tend to want to work with you so if you tell them what you’re after, they’ll give you a list of places they have available that fits your requirements and that saves you having to do more searching.

In my experience, I never did the whole holding fee or had to do reference checks. When I got my place, I gave them £100 to hold my spot, signed the contract and then paid the remainder of the move in cost later that day once my money came through (thanks Transferwise!). I then picked up the keys the next day and moved in. As for the place that I’m in right now in Exmouth, it’s owned by a friend’s employer and I just paid a week rent in advance plus four weeks for bond and moved in immediately.

So again, it’s one of those things where everyone’s situation is different.

It’s also true what they say, you do come across some shocking places in London. Rental properties are EXTREMELY expensive and you get bugger all for what you pay. I was paying £585 a month including expenses for a room in a flat in Zone 2 where there was no lounge, no dining room and no garden area. There were six of us in the flat with one bathroom, one toilet and the tiniest of tiny kitchens. If you want to live in a decent place in either Zone 1 or 2, you’re gonna have to be prepared to shell out a lot of money.

The place I’m in now is a HUGE improvement and I pay £400 a month including expenses to live in the heart of Exmouth. It has a lounge and two bathrooms and there’s five of us that live here. The kitchen is open plan and it smells nice most of the time. Plus it’s clean and carpeted. I guess you expect to pay so much less and get so much more when you move outside of London.

Oh, and another thing that’s quite common here is, you don’t tend to meet the flatmates as most places are advertised through agencies. Some places are advertised privately so you do get to meet them before you move in. But most cases, you don’t, which can make it tricky when moving in and realising you’re going to be spending months with a bunch of awful people. If possible, try to meet them when you go for your viewing or try to get into a short-term contract where you can extend should you choose to stay longer.

Packing light and packing right

It’s a bit tricky to ascertain what you’ll need when you move over. I did a lot of trawling on Pinterest for some inspiration on what basic items I may need. I knew that I had to make sacrifices seeing as my baggage allowance was 32kg and I also knew that I’d end up accumulating a bunch of stuff once I was there anyways (cough, Primark, cough).

I did a lot of research on the season and what the typical weather would be like for March when I arrived. It was the end of winter so I knew it was going to be cold but as it was going into spring and summer, it was going to warm up. So using common sense and being inspired by Pinterest, I made sure to bring a coat, raincoat, clothes that could be used in both summer and winter (for example a pinafore that I could wear as a dress on it’s own in the warmer weather but I could also wear layers underneath when it’s colder).

Again, remember, if you forgot something or need something, you can always go shopping. After all, you’re not moving to the middle of nowhere!

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Okay I know I’ve basically made your eyes bleed with the amount of information I’ve put up but hopefully you’ve found the whole thing or at least aspects of it useful. Please don’t feel overwhelmed and end up putting off your trip! It’s a lot of information to take in but it’ll make so much more sense once you’re here.

There’s still heaps more to talk about like finding a job which I thought I’d save for the next post otherwise this would get WAAAAAAAY too long and there’s lots to talk about with that topic.

Let me know if you have any questions and if you’d like me to cover something in particular… I’m always open to new content! Until next time 🙂

UPDATE: It’s been six months and I’m sorry!

Before you bite my head off for abandoning you despite promises of showcasing all the wonderful things my life had in store for you, let me just say that there are no words, rhyme or reason to explain why I’ve slacked off. Aside from the fact that I’ve been quite busy getting my shit sorted and enjoying life at the other end of the world.

To be honest, I don’t really think I’ve sorted my shit out very much. There’s still a lot of shit to be thought of but I’m getting there. So enough of me digressing and let’s get to the good stuff: how in the heck am I doing?!

Coming to London

I’m going to be very honest with you.

It wasn’t scary at all. I guess it helps when your good friend is a GC and goes all the way to bloody Heathrow to pick you up so your stubborn ass doesn’t give up on working out the public transport system and spending a fortune and a half on an Uber… or worst, a black cab. I’ve heard about how manic rush hour can be when catching the tube but nothing prepared me for what I witnessed. With my massive suitcase (it’s nearly as tall as me, no kidding), my backpack and a tote filled with unnecessary items, we caught about three different tubes and then the DLR and then finally made it back to Canary Wharf where I was crashing for a few days.

Despite how manic everything was, I was really, really excited to be here in this city that I had dreamed of coming to. So, despite my friend telling me I should have a nap, I got ready, went to Oxford Street and shopped til I dropped at Primark. At 5pm, I crashed SO hard I had to haul my ass back to her place and practically crashed out within seconds of lying on her bed. I then woke up at about 6.30pm when she’d been trying to contact me to let her in since I had her key… and then by 7pm I was out of it again.

I remember waking up at 3am, feeling absolutely shattered and wanting to go back to sleep. But alas, I had an interview to prepare for so I stayed up and did some life admin stuff, caught up with family and friends and did some interview prep.

The interview I had was with a university in a communications role and I’m telling you, I’ve never done an interview jetlagged before and I don’t recommend it. I remember trying to explain something but it just wasn’t coming to me so we sat in silence for like 5 seconds… that feels like a lifetime when people are waiting for you to say something. Needless to say, I got the job! Fittingly, I was told on Friday I got the job so I got completely shitfaced in Borough Markets with my friends and on Saturday, I experienced my first London hangover. It was awful but so, so worth it.

To top off my weekend, I managed to secure a room in a flat on the Saturday and then moved in on Sunday and I started my new job the following Monday so life moved very, very quickly for me.

I guess you could say it was somewhat smooth sailing and I was very fortunate to be able to get a job within a day of arriving. I kind of needed to anyways because I only came here with £1500 in my bank account (highly recommend you come here with more!). But miraculously, it all worked out and I was settled and very, very happy.

Here are some of my very own London #tourist images…

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Right here, right now…

 My UK journey has been one that I well and truly do not regret. I’ve learnt so much in the last six month about myself, I’ve travelled a bit, I’ve met so many people, drank lots, slept less, tried heaps of things and made memories to last me a lifetime.

England (London in particular) is a whimsical, magical place. I was quite surprised by how easy it was for me to settle and call this place home. Despite the hustle and bustle (and occasional stress!) of being surrounded by 9 million people, I honestly wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else in the world.

My contract at my previous role ended so I’ve actually moved to the South West of England for a job and for a different experience. I’m currently based in beautiful Exmouth, which reminds me a lot of New Plymouth because the beach and estuary is close by and the views are absolutely stunning. I’m working in Exeter and I absolutely adore the city! I think I might move to the city in a couple of months just because I have so much love for it.

IMG_5637A view of the Exmouth Estuary, where I was sitting on the grass with a bottle of wine, great company and The Foo Fighters.

While I miss London like crazy, I figured I should spread my wings and experience the rest of England especially since I’ve got 18 months left on my visa. If I could stay longer, I’d totally still be in London.

So yeah, that’s my mini update!

I’m not going to overwhelm you with lots of information because six months is a long time and I’ve got HEAPS to share so I’ve broken up the content over a few different posts.  They range from tips/tricks/advice/what I’ve learnt, life stories/experiences and just general blogging of my travels.

If there is anything at all that you’d like me to write about, please comment below! I’m always on the look out for new content ideas.

I’ve really missed you. I promise I won’t leave you for too long again. Til next time!

It’s March!

… And I can’t believe we’re over a week into it as well! When I was setting up my bullet journal for March, I remember thinking to myself that March was probably going to drag on because February was such a short month and having to go through 31 days would most likely be painful. Don’t know what I was whinging about because I assure you, time has been flying by.

In saying time has been flying by, I’ve got seven (7) SEVEN days left until I leave for London. To be honest, it still doesn’t feel very real yet (key word being yet). I’m quite excited for the most part and honestly can’t wait to take an iconic photo in front of Big Ben… even if he’s covered in scaffold…

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Of course, I have my moments of fear of whether or not I’m going to find a job (even a temporary assignment), a cosy flat that I can call home and whether or not I’m bringing over enough money.

I think regardless of whether I bring with me $5,000 NZD or even, $20,000 NZD, I’m always going to be stressing out about money. And I’m sure it’s not just me! I think we’re all wired to just stress about money. Unless we’re the Kardashians, of course.

I’ve been working long hours and weekends to try and make as much money as possible in my last weeks before my contract ends and I’m off on that plane. So much so that I’ve even offered to work until Monday! And I leave on Tuesday morning! But the way I see it is I might as well work as much as I can because who knows how long I’m going to be jobless for.

But it hasn’t been all blood, sweat and tears. Over the weekend, a few friends from Wellington (where I was living) came up to visit and my sister used it as an opportunity to throw a ‘surprise’ going away party for me (wasn’t really a surprise cause I knew about it but bless her soul for trying lel). It was a lovely evening filled with friends, laughs, drinks and cakes.

I’m also enjoying the irony of how organise I was when I had 100 days left until the big day. I’ve been living out of my suitcase and all my clothes were in their relevant packing cubes, shoes nicely laid down and my PJs and coats neatly folded over the top. I don’t know what happened between then and now because all my shoes are out of the suitcase, my clothes are living in all corners of my room and my coat and PJs are strewn around the suitcase. Something tells me I need to start doing my laundry and sort my shit out.

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Source: Pinterest

You know what I’m dreading? Having to select a maximum of 6 nail polishes to take with me. SIX out of the 20 or 30 that I own. What a nightmare.

ANYWAYS, besides from this post being a quick update about how I’m feeling and what I’ve been up to as we draw closer to D-day, I wanted to say that I’m going to keep up with the blogging as best I can. My plan at the moment is to put up three blogs a week – Wednesday will cover work-related topics, Fridays will be all about my big move to London and handy tips and tricks and Sunday will cover productivity-related topics.

I know this may be ambitious given the upcoming life changes but I think it’s doable. And if it isn’t, feel free to comment below and tell me that I’ve just set myself up for failure.

With that, I’ll be off. See ya in the next one!

February Bakes: the most amazing coconut and chocolate slice

I’m really excited about sharing this recipe with you because it’s a classic in my family. My grandma used to make it for us all the time and it’s quite the treat. It’s more-ish without being too sickly, it’s comforting and chocolatey and best enjoyed with a steaming, hot cup of Earl Grey.

When my grandmother passed away, we stopped having the slice because nobody really knew how to make it (despite grandma teaching us how to make them!). It didn’t help that the original recipe had disappeared from her recipe box either. One day, I decided I was going to find a way to emulate the recipe and then I was going to share it with the world so we can all enjoy grandma’s killer slices!

Guess what? That day has finally come!

It all started with me trawling through her recipe box to find something similar to the base of the slice; something that was made in the way that I remember them being made. I came across her coconut chocolate biscuit recipe and I thought ‘yeah this could work’. Look at how old school the look and feel of grandma’s recipes is!

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To finish off the base, I made a basic chocolate icing, spread it all over the top like a disease and then sprinkled lots of desiccated coconut and voila! It tastes exactly how I remembered it to taste. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this about four times in the last month and a bit… yes, counting the one I burnt.

Best of all, it’s so easy to make and (depending on your willpower) lasts quite a while! I hope you give it a go!

Ingredients

½ pound of butter (I calculated this to be approx. 226g of butter – it may be a bit off from ½ pound but it works!)

1 tbsp of cocoa powder

1 cup of sugar (I use brown sugar)

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 cup of desiccated coconut

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder (or ½ tsp baking soda)

Pinch of salt

50g of butter (for the icing)

1 ½ cup of icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder (for the icing)

2-3 tbsp of boiling water

 

Method

In a saucepan, mix ½ pound of butter, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, sugar and golden syrup and melt over a low heat.

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Once it’s melted, leave it for about 20 minutes to cool down. Aim to turn off the heat as soon as the butter is melted – you don’t want to overcook it as the mixture will split and it’s not very nice when that happens.

When the mixture has cooled, preheat your oven to 160 degree celcius (fan-forced). Add the flour, baking powder or soda, coconut and salt into the mixture and combine them all together.

 

Spray cooking oil or use straight butter/oil onto a thin baking tray. Spread the mixture evenly and then throw it into the oven for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

I just want to point out as well that it may seem uncooked and you’ll be tempted to keep it in the over for longer but don’t do that because it will burn. Get it out of the oven after about 20 minutes even if it’s still soft because when it’s sitting there cooling, it’ll harden.

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slice before

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slice after

Leave the slice out to cool for about 5-10 minutes.

To make the icing, mix 50g softened butter, 1 ½ cup of icing sugar, 1 tbsp of cocoa powder and 2-3 tbsp of boiling water in a bowl. If your icing is too thick, add more boiling water. Mix, mix, mix and you should end up with a glossy, semi-thick chocolate icing.

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Remove the slice from the tray. Spread the icing over the top and sprinkle lots of coconut over it. As you can see, no coconut gets left behind in my slice!

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Lastly, enjoy.

I love this slice so much and it somehow keeps me close to my grandma. It’s honestly the ultimate comfort food and the best kind of pick-me-up when you’re having a bad day. Although they’re not kind to the waistline, they’re definitely kind to the soul.

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I hope you give it a go. I’d love to see your recreations so please tag @michellerosewrites and let me know how it turns out!

 

 

 

Three things to do to get into the weekend spirit

Picture this: You wake up Monday morning, ready to start your week (well, sort of ready). Suddenly, you’re in a routine of waking up, getting ready, going to work, working hard, going home, feeling exhausted, evening routine, bedtime routine then bed. This continues and then BAM!

It’s finally Friday! Yay! You’re all geared up for the much deserved two mornings of sleep-ins and a chance to finally relax, not think about work and have a good time. But there’s one thing in the way: you can’t stop thinking about work.

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Source: Pinterest

I know exactly how you feel because I’m a victim of not being able to fully unwind and relax because I’m constantly thinking about work. ‘Did I do enough during the week to be able to relax this weekend and avoid a meltdown on Monday? Is there something I could do over the weekend to keep my stress levels down the following week at work? I keep getting emails from colleagues and internal customers over the weekend which means they’re working hard so I must work hard too’. It’s a never-ending cycle and I’ve learnt the hard way that you need to relax and spend some time just chilling and switching off from work.

If you’re a modern day workaholic, I completely understand it may be hard for you to switch off; it was so hard for me to do at first so I created my own foolproof way of mentally preparing myself for the weekend and making sure that I unwind and not think about work for the two days that I’m given. Hopefully you can pick up a thing or two to help make your weekend a pleasurable one where you can kick work in the back of your mind.

1. Have something to look forward to

I think it’s really important to have something to look forward to, especially when you’re having a really long week. It can be anything – Netflix and chilling, going to a show/movie, reading a book, going for a hike… heck, even having a cheeky wine after work on a Friday counts! When you have an enjoyable activity planned and you’re counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds until you can do the activity, the last thing you’ll think of when doing said activity is think and worry about work.

2. Switch off

Mentally and technologically.

When I was in my previous role as a Communications and Engagement Advisor, I had my work emails synched to my phone so I never really ‘switched off’. Every time I got an email, I would read it immediately and think about the action points and how I was going to tackle it on Monday, or worst yet, tackle it over the weekend so it became less of a hassle for Monday. That’s why it’s so important to switch off your notifications so you don’t have it as a distraction. You don’t have to use your own personal, UNPAID time to worry about issues at work. It can wait until Monday… trust me, no one is going to die.

However, I understand that some people are in roles where they have to be ‘available’ at all times. If this is the case for you, perhaps set a time in the day where you spend an hour or half an hour if possible sorting through your emails. In fact, you can break it down and set this to two or three times during the day if you’re slammed. If you just straight up struggle with your workload during the week perhaps you need to consider delegating, reallocating or finding a better time management system.

Oh and another thing to add to this is don’t take work home. I’m serious. I was notorious for bringing work home. Leave it at work where it’ll be waiting for you on Monday. I promise you it’ll still be there.

3. Find something you’d like to do and do it

This can be anything – baking, knitting, boardgames, cosplay group, cooking class, yoga, gym, running, climbing mountains… I’m sure there are heaps of activities that you’ve told yourself you’d like to try but haven’t gotten round to it. Well, I tell you now, the weekends are a great time to start an activity. Even if you don’t like it, at least you’ve tried. If you do like it, well voila, a new hobby! And it’s a great distraction from looking through your emails or thinking about the stack of paperwork at your desk. You also get to meet new people and who knows, you might end up making new friends to do more weekend activities with. Plus, linking this to point number one, it gives you something to look forward to.

As you know, I’ve recently been doing a lot of baking and it’s such a great way to relax and keep my mind off the weekday shenanigans. Another thing I’ve been getting into is knitting. I learnt how to knit when I was younger but then I’d forgotten how to do it and I’ve always admired people who spend their time watching TV or commuting and knitting. Seems like a great way to be productive while doing something that’s considered nothing (eg Netflix). So, I’ve bought some knitting needles and wool and I’ve been teaching myself how to knit… with the help of YouTube of course. I’m hoping to make some sort of scarf by the end of next week… we’ll see how that goes lol.

So there you have it – my three foolproof ways of unwinding and enjoying the weekend. If you’re struggling to unwind, give one or all of these points a go and let me know how it goes!

What do you do to unwind for the weekend?

February Feats – What I’ve been reading #3

Happy Thursday! I can’t believe we’re already on episode three of this series. You know what that means? One more episode to go! I genuinely hope you’ve been enjoying the series and checking out the books I’ve been sharing.

I went through my kindle the other day and noticed that I’m a creature of habit when it comes to the books I read. Not only are most of them a particular genre, but if I come across an author that I absolute adore, I’ll read all their books. My top three authors, according to my kindle, are Val McDermid, John Boyne and Cecelia Ahern. It’s a pretty accurate representation of my top three authors.

Lately I’ve been trying to explore other authors and discover new favourites. I think this is reflected in the books I’ve been reading list. It’s definitely a good experiment because I find myself revisiting the author of the books I’ve enjoyed. A prime example would be Michael Robotham. I’ve now read another two of his books and yeah, I’d say they were hits.

Anyways, as usual, I’m digressing. Here’s this weeks what I’ve been reading lately…

  • ‘Lies’ by T M Logan

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This book appeared in a recommendations list that Amazon emails to me every week. I read the synopsis and it gripped me. I sampled the book and the next thing I knew, I bought it.

The book is based on the main character, Joe Lynch, who stumbles across his wife’s car heading into a hotel car park. He decides to follow her and sees her having an altercation with her best friends husband, Ben. She leaves and he follows Ben out and confronts him and there’s a bit of a scuffle and Ben gets knocked out. Joe’s son is with him and he has an asthma attack so they bail to go get his inhaler and leave Ben alone on the ground in the carpark but when Joe comes back later, Ben is gone. And that’s when weird stuff starts happening…

An obvious theme for this book is social media and how easy it is to deceive and hide secrets (and to an extent, discover them) from our loved ones. Technology is another big theme as well. It’s an interesting book and there is quite the plot twist at the end – one that I didn’t see coming at all. I was already convinced in my brain of how the story was going to end but it didn’t go the way I expected it to go. Personally, I felt like the ending in my head would’ve been more interesting than the actual ending BUT that’s just my personal opinion. I’d score this book a 7 out of 10.

  • ‘Ragdoll’ by Daniel Cole

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I remember seeing the cover of this book at Whitcoulls and thinking to myself, I must read it; a very similar scenario to Stephen King’s ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’. So I went home and I downloaded a sample on my kindle and started reading.

I think you may have guessed from the title and the cover that this book is an investigative crime/thriller. It’s centred on Detective William Fawkes aka The Wolf who comes across a gruesome, stitched together corpse made out of six different bodies. So he ends up in a race to try and uncover whom the twisted murderer is before he claims more victims. To top it off, Wolf has his own personal troubles given he’s only recently been reinstated to his role and there’s an ex-wife in the mix.

I was actually quite hooked by the sample so I bought the book. I think I spent like $15NZD? Anyways, after a few more chapters, I think my interest just slowly waned. The premise of it was good and it has a lot of potential but it sort of just dragged on. I wasn’t particularly a fan of Wolf and given he’s the main character and the book revolves around him, it made it difficult to really enjoy the book. It’s like hanging out with someone you don’t like and trying to find ways to like them but then realising and accepting that no matter what, you’re not gonna like them. Again, that’s just my personal opinion.

If you’re a fan of gore and crime thrillers then give this one a go. Don’t let my thoughts influence your decision because I know this book has done pretty well out in the world. It’s also Daniel Cole’s first book and fun fact, he’s an ex-paramedic! I was quite fascinated by that. I score this book a 5 out of 10.

  • ‘Flawed’ and ‘Perfect’ by Cecelia Ahern

I must admit I didn’t read these books recently. The first time I came across ‘Flawed’ was over a year ago and then I read the sequel, ‘Perfect’ mid-last year when it came out. When I finished ‘Flawed’, I was so pissed off to find out that I had to wait a few months for the sequel. But like the good person that I am, I bit my tongue, hit the ‘pre-order’ button, set the release date in my calendar and read other books to fill in the empty space while waiting patiently for ‘Perfect’s release. I think that write-up speaks volumes on what I thought of the book.

‘Flawed’ is a dystopian novel and tells the story of Celestine North, who lives in a society that demands perfection, no matter what. Those that aren’t perfect or considered morally flawed are branded like cattle with a large F in different areas of their body, depending on their crime of imperfection. Celestine lives the perfect life that’s demanded of her society; she’s well-liked by her peers and teachers and she’s dating a popular boy who’s father heads the guild that runs the Flawed system. One day, Celestine makes a decision that sees her getting branded. The first book is about her journey on discovering that the Flawed system is in fact flawed itself. The second book covers her journey to challenge the system and society’s ideas of perfection.

I wanted to bring it up because I thought it was an interesting genre for Cecelia Ahern given that she’s known for her romantic novels or light-hearted reads with sweet endings that teaches you a bit about life. While the book is targeted for younger adults, I think it’s actually quite enjoyable… this is coming from someone in their late-20s. Obviously there was a cliffhanger that kills in the first book so if you’re gonna read it, I suggest you mentally make a note to yourself that you will be shelling out for the second book. This isn’t one of those ‘just read the first one and leave it’ books. So if you like a bit of dystopia and want to escape to a world where you can’t tell if it’s in the past or future or if you should visualise the area as being Ireland (I did based on pictures I’ve seen of Ireland but it looked pretty strange in my brain), then I highly recommend these two books. I score these books a 9 out of 10.

So there you have it folks, this weeks ‘what I’ve been reading’ done and dusted. I hope you enjoy it. I know it’s coming across as a typical Michelle-Rose booklist but I am going outside my comfort zone and reading other genres. In fact, I’ve started reading ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern and I’m aiming to have it done by the time the next list goes up. I have no idea what the genre of this book is or what it’s even about but I’ve heard it’s a good book to read so I thought I’d give it a go. So far, I’m enjoying it.

What are you currently reading?

One month to go

 

Wow I can’t believe there’s about 28 days left until I’m off to London. I remember thinking that it’s so far away and I can’t possibly wait that long but it’s true what they say, time goes by fairly quick.

So how am I currently feeling about the big move? I’m still very excited but of course, the nerves are starting to set as the big day looms closer. I feel like I’m in limbo because there’s so much to do, like notifying Inland Revenue that I’m leaving the country because it’ll affect my student loan, sort out my doctor referral paperwork, get rid of more clothes, sort out exactly what I’m taking especially the unimportant stuff like toiletries, makeup and god forbid nail polish; but it feels like it’s still too early to do all these things. I don’t know if I feel like it’s too early to do these things because somewhere in my brain I just don’t want to because the scared part of me doesn’t want to accept that I’ll be leaving the comforts of home, a job, family and a stable income.

But then the other part of me is like “YO IT’S ADVENTURE TIME AND YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED TO BE LEAVING THE COMFORTS OF HOME BECAUSE THEN YOU’LL GET OUT AND EXPLORE AND SEE AND EXPERIENCE THINGS YOU OTHERWISE WOULDN’T HAVE IF YOU JUST STAYED WHERE YOU ARE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE”. I know that that voice is the right voice to be listening to.

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I’ll be landing in London on 21 March at like 6ish in the morning. I don’t know how my body is going to cope given it’ll probably think it’s NZ time so about 7ish in the evening. I’ll be heading over to my friend Suzie’s place and I’m treating myself to an Uber (scored a 50% off code. Can’t even deal). Perhaps I’ll have a wee nap before getting up and deciding to go on a little exploration adventure… I mean, I kinda do need to find the Asda that’s close by to her place so I can pick up necessities and groceries. I’ll also need to sort out an Oyster card, bank account, work out my bearings… so old I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it but not gonna lie, so excited to be wandering the streets of London AND catching the train and double decker buses.

Anyways, this is what I THINK I’ll be doing… for all I know, I’ll probably spend the day slothing out in her bedroom not wanting to deal with life given the 30+ hours of travel I’ve had to endure. But I’m being optimistic and I’d like to think that I’d be wide-awake and ready to tackle London. Heck, I might even treat myself to an evening at the theatre.

I’ve linked up with Global Career HQ, which is an agency that helps people migrate to various countries around the world. They’ve kindly helped me set up a limited liability company within the UK for if I do any contracting work; they’ve also helped me work my CV so it’s in a suitable format for the UK job market and they’ve introduced me to two recruitment agencies. They’ve organised my meetings with the agencies and with the bank so the following Monday and Tuesday is gonna be pretty jam-packed with meetings and interviews. I’m gonna have fun trying to work out where I need to be and how to get there. But honestly, I highly recommend using their services if you’re a Kiwi or Aussie wanting to move to the other side of the world. Their support and advice has been invaluable and I don’t think I’d know where to start if I didn’t have their help. No they’re not sponsoring this post (although I’m totally open to being a spokesperson haha).

What else, what else…

I’ve put together my own little ultimate packing list as well as a carry-on packing list, which I’ll share once I’m clearer on what exactly is coming with me. Researching how to survive long flights, what to pack, and what to wear and what to bring in your carry-on has been lots of fun. Pinterest has been my go-to and my packing, travel and London boards are filling up pretty quick. Honestly, it just adds to the excitement of the fact that I’m making my dreams a reality.

I’ve also got some upcoming events to look forward to – Flight of the Conchords at the O2, watching Ian McKellen as King Lear at the Duke of York Theatre, lots and lots of food festivals and of course, a weekend in Prague. No doubt once I’m there in London, there’ll be many more trips and activities to book and enjoy.

So yeah, with 28 days left to go, I thought I’d give you guys a quick update on where I’m at and how I’m feeling. I’ll put together a moving series/what I’ve learnt/survival guide once I’ve touched down and worked out what the heck I’m doing.

Do you have any tips on surviving long haul flights? Any must-haves you gotta bring? Have you moved away from home? How’d it go? I’d love to hear them all!