Every Monday I try to have a little chat to you about what I have been thinking about (check out the past couple here and here) this week I was thinking about when I moved over to England when I was 18 and how I had no real discernable plan when I did so.
Why did I go?
When I was 18 I wanted nothing more than to get away from Belfast, I felt stifled here and that I just did not enjoy being in the country anymore. It was a weird time for me, I had a great family and friends, but everything just felt off. I knew I wanted to go away somewhere, but because I was a bit of a dope, I had not gone to any University interviews as my mind was in a bit of a muddle. So the summer came by and I thought to screw it, let’s just go over to England and see what happens. If I don’t like it I can come back no harm no foul. If I like it then that’s grand. I am not too far from home if I need to be there, I can always pick somewhere near an airport that services Belfast.
I was pretty selfish back then and as I think I have mentioned elsewhere on this blog. I really didn’t consider the thoughts and feelings of my friends or family. It was all for me and I think a lot about that nowadays. But I wanted to go and try something different. In retrospect, I really should have chosen somewhere interesting to go to for a year or two. I could have gone to America or Canada, Australia, New Zealand or even a country where I would have to learn the language. But, no I chose England and I think I chose England because I had a pretty good safety net as I knew people in England and in fact for a couple of years made that my mainstay as it was a small town, but close to London and Bristol and had colleges so why not right?
What did I do when I got there?
I immediately set about looking for a place to live, I couldn’t very well stay with my friend’s family for the entire time. After a false start in staying at an apartment with a truck driver friend of the family, I found a room in a house on a good street and it was quite affordable! Accommodation tick! Next, I had to work out how I would earn money as savings can only go so far. So off into the town centre I went and took application forms from every shop I could find, sent in CVS everywhere. I was a busy little bee that summer. I got to one place called BookWorld which was like a Bargain Books or The Works. I handed in my CV to the Assistant Manager and continued walking around town.
That day (yes day) I got a phone call to ask if I was free to come in for an interview, if possible today… I said sure and bolted home to get ready. I came back into town ready and the manager was lovely. She asked about my A-Level art and why I liked art as she loved to be creative and was an artist herself. There was never really an interview… We finished the “interview” and she asked if I could start tomorrow. Of course, I said yes and she then had the assistant manager show me briefly how the till worked so I knew a little bit for the next day. I thought I was amazing for how quickly it all worked out! Needless to say, I never got a job that easy again…
With a place to stay and a job I was all set, but what was I going to do in September. I had no University place as I was a tit. What was I going to do? I looked at the nearby college for a little help and decided if I wasn’t going to go to University this year that I would at least do some more education as that would relieve the worries of my parents a tad and it would give me a good purpose.
Back in sixth form I didn’t really have that many good options for subjects that would be considered “fun”. So I took it upon myself to try and complete a few extra A-Levels before I went on to University. Made sense to me as then I had more if not better grades! I ticked my three things to get done and I was pretty chuffed!
Was it the right the thing to do at the time?
I think so, I could have stayed at home and studied for a year or worked for a year, but the likelihood would have been I would work for a year and then maybe have bothered with further education and I wanted to see how far I could push myself academically. I think once most teenagers reach 18 if they haven’t already that they want to move out. I just didn’t want to stay in Belfast as I naively thought nothing was there for me.
I like being independent and there is nothing more independent than moving away across a sea from your family. I still remember the weird thing of not being homesick. I would miss my family of course, but I didn’t overly miss home. Which is probably a bit weird coming from someone who now owns and lives in his family home. But there we are!
Do I regret it?
I do and I don’t, I regret moving away and not being there for my mother when she got ill. That will always partially haunt me that I was not as present during that time for my family. But, at the time she was okay and I had no idea what was going to come next for me when I moved. I could have gone to a University in Lancaster and become an IT teacher, but I didn’t. I could have done many things, and I have no clue if they would have made me any happier than I am at this point in my life.
When I don’t regret it is when I realise I would not have had the same experiences if I had not done what I chose to do. I would not have moved around a little in England I wouldn’t have gone to University in Lincoln, I wouldn’t have met the people that I did and experience important things in my life. When my mother passed away and I had to return to University to restart my second year (my University basically let me finish 2nd year the first time and said if they felt my grades were affected they would wipe it and ask for me to retake the year) I had an amazing support group around me to get me through those years. I would not have come home when I did and completed a Masters and I would not own my family home and see my dad retire in a bit more comfort and I wouldn’t have gone on month-long holidays exploring countries and I would not have met Victoria. So there is a bit reason not to regret my decision right there, the same as not regretting my decisions after Uni. It is all connected.
Should others do it?
I think if they are strong-minded enough and confident enough then absolutely. Leaving for another country is never an easy choice, even if it is just for a year! You have to want really want to try it, especially if you move off to a far-flung country and say go to University there, it isn’t as easy to get back!
For some people, going elsewhere is natural, as a species we have been doing it for thousands of years for a variety of reasons. Why shouldn’t we go and live somewhere else and see what life is like there for a while? Life is about making memories and you won’t make those in your own house doing nothing. But, as I said, it is all dependant on the person. If they feel up to it, then why not?
I think I will broach upon this subject again another time to further expand on reasons why others should as it feels like I have spoken enough and I know I could go on about this for a while… I mean look how many posts I did about travelling on your own! Until next time.