It’s hard to believe it but last week marked a year since Matt and I moved to the UK. When August 15th came, I was filled with a lot of mixed emotions: happiness in reflecting on what a incredible year it’s been, pride for what I’ve achieved, learnt and how much I’ve grown as a person since the move but also sadness that with year one passing, it means that we having only one more remaining on our visa.
A lot of friends and followers assume that Matt and I moved permanently and don’t realise that we have a time limit or that it’s not as easy as just renewing our current visa to stay longer. As New Zealanders, it a huge cultural experience to move to London in your 20s as we are able to get what is called a Youth Mobility Visa. This basically means we can work in the UK for 2 years while we are under the age of 31. It’s a relatively easy visa to get as long as all the paperwork is correct and many young kiwis take advantage of it when they want to spread their wings and see the world.
We applied after feeling like we were in a little bit of a rutt. We both had good jobs back home but the cost of living and housing prices were just depressing and there was still so much of the world we wanted to see! We felt like we had come to the point where if we stayed in Auckland, we needed to focus on saving for a house deposit which would have meant no more travelling for a long time. And at 26, I just wasn’t ready for that.
So we figured we might as well try London. My Mum had moved to Ireland a couple of years before by herself and was loving it so I think she inspired us to give it a go and she’s been a great support person to have on this side of the world. We’ve also been able to do lots of travelling together which is so much fun
8 months after we made the decision to go, we were on a plane to London, England. Neither of us had jobs lined up but luckily we had somewhere to live. When we initially discussed the possibility of the move, I didn’t even really think about it in a ‘career’ sense. I knew I wanted a break from hairdressing and thought I’d try to get a job in a vintage shop or in marketing. I honestly was open to anything as long as the pay was good enough to be able to live and travel once every month or two.
The idea of me being able to work full time as Miss Victory Violet didn’t even cross my mind. But when we arrived I got booked for some shoots, and then a few more and soon I realised that maybe I could hold off on finding a 9-5 job. One year on and now I have no idea what to say for my job! I model, I blog and I travel teaching Hair and Makeup Workshops, it’s pretty damn incredible and I’m so grateful. It’s not always easy juggling everything but I’m getting better at making everything work.
I’ve had the opportunity to be able to model for brands like What Katie Did, Voodoo Vixen, TopVintage and Campbells Crafts and invited to teach in beautiful countries and meet wonderful people along the way. Since arriving I’ve been to The Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, France, Czech Republic, Sweden and soon Denmark.
Even the area where we live is just ‘pinch myself’ worthy. When I say London, really we are on the outskirts and technically not in London city. But it’s beautiful down where we are, it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s a very family orientated area and we have the Thames River, Hampton Court Palace, numerous parks and bike paths close at hand. Since neither of us have to work in London city, it’s suits us perfectly as I think that it has the potential to wear you down a little. Where we are we have the benefits of both worlds and I absolutely love it.
So what happens next August when our visa expires? I honestly don’t know. As much as New Zealand is home, the thought of having to return just makes me so sad. London and Europe has so much potential and opportunity and I feel like it’s allowed me to stretch my wings in a way that New Zealand never could.
We can’t extend our visa, we would have to apply for a different type which is harder, expensive and not guaranteed. I hope we can find a way as this butterfly isn’t ready to give up her wings just yet. I know eventually we will probably find returning to New Zealand more appealing but right now I would give anything for another few more years. This situation has also made me realise how lucky we are that if we do have to leave, at least we return to a country that is safe- unlike so many around the world who seek sanctuary from their war-torn homes.
London has been a truly amazing experience and I’m so grateful for everything the last year has bought – good and bad. Matt and I are closer than ever, we have wonderful friends and we’ve made so many cherished memories. It just goes to show that sometimes the scariest life changes can end up being the best thing you could ever have done.
So thanks for everything London, here’s to another year – you know I’ll be making it count.
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