What happens when you live abroad

I saw this post today, shared through a fellow ex-pat friend on Facebook, and I had to share it here because it echoes my thoughts exactly. Thank you Chelsea Fagan, I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

“So you look at your life, and the two countries that hold it, and realize that you are now two distinct people. As much as your countries represent and fulfill different parts of you and what you enjoy about life, as much as you have formed unbreakable bonds with people you love in both places, as much as you feel truly at home in either one, so you are divided in two.”

Read Chelsea’s post on ‘What happens when you live abroad’.

My top 5 picks for tourism marketing films

My readers will be happy to know that I can no longer winge (canadian translation = moan) as much as usual about the weather. It has finally started to get better, slowly but surely! Today was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky, although it could have been a bit warmer for mid-April. Nevertheless, things are looking up!

So there’s now less than two months until I return to Canada in an attempt to acquire a sponsored work visa, and I’m not gonna lie, I’m quite stressed! Logically, there’s not many reasons why it shouldn’t work out as it’s a points-based visa, however if things don’t work out…. that’s the part I’m stressed about. However, I will focus on the fact that I AM getting this work visa, as I’ve already started to plan things in London after that date!

My next kickboxing grading comes the first week of July, so if all goes well I will have a party to celebrate acquisition of my new visa, my red 2 kickboxing belt, and my 25th birthday. This summer could be one of epic proportions I hope! Mid-twenties whoa!

On my travelling agenda, next comes Edinburgh. I’m heading up to the great Scotland for three days over the first May bank holiday weekend in a couple of weeks. My excitement hasn’t quite kicked in yet, but it will as the time draws nearer! This trip will be the first one out of London (not counting going back to Canada) since last May when I went to Paris, so to say the least… it’s gonna be pretty awesome and very much needed!

And on the topic of travelling and the spur for my post today… I’ve been curiously looking at tourism marketing videos and found a few I’d like to share with you. It’s interesting to see how they differ and how each promotes it’s respective country and how they all do a fairly good job of making you want to visit there! So, here are my top 5 that I have found:

#5: New Zealand

This film relies firmly on visuals and the idea that New Zealand is the youngest country in the world. I give them kudos for using youth as it seems to be something most people crave as they grow older.

#4: Finland

Who doesn’t love Summer? Finland does a great job with putting forth the one thing everyone loves and saying you can have it at midnight. Good music choice doesn’t hurt either.


#3: Norway

Norway does a great job of showing off both their landscape and their culture and history. Points for making it slightly humorous as well.

#2: Iceland

I have to say I don’t know many people who think of Iceland and put it at the top of their list for places to go. However this video makes Iceland look like a fun and fantastic place to go no matter what the weather and the landscape looks like. Good work Iceland.

#1: Canada

I know I’m biased and all, but you didn’t expect me not to put them first did you? Well, honestly though – they really did do the best job. Canada is already very rich in beautiful landscape and cool outdoorsy things to do so all they needed was for the people who live there to bring it to life. Good job Canada – the rest of the world could take a lesson from your tourism marketing books. ūüôā

 

In short, some lessons about tourism marketing films:

  • Make it real and fun
  • Make it play to the countries natural strengths
  • Make it under 3 minutes MAX
  • Put it to sweet music tracks
  • Make it something that people see it and go “YES, I WANT TO GO THERE”.

I would have thought that last one was obvious, but I’m not so sure it is given some of the other films I’ve seen for places like Stolkholm, Dubai, Central American countries and many others!

Perspective

The days are finally feeling longer again in yet the temperature refuses to keep up with the times. Apparently this is the longest, coldest winter the UK has seen in over 30 years and I get to be here for it! I really do get why the British are so obsessed with talking about the weather though, I mean it’s¬†positively¬†ridiculous – how could you not be?

The reason for my post today is slightly linked to the weather actually. You see, I’ve recently posted on Facebook quite frequently about my dislike and contempt for this weather. And one of my very dear good friends posted something along the lines of “oh poor you, in London with bad weather”. I understand you, Leslie – I really do! And she’s right, of course. How dare I complain about the weather when I get to live in as great a city as London with no kids to be responsible for or any mouths to feed other than my own or any hypothetical ropes to tie me to my location? It sure does sound selfish and unaware of me doesn’t it?

I’ve talked about perspective before, I’m sure. The thing is that it keeps cropping up and I always try to remember that behind every argument, misunderstanding, barbed comment, and quietly uttered gossip, there is perspective. Of course, there are situations where one party is right and the others wrong, however I think a lot of the time it is really just a difference of perspective and the inability to either recognise this difference or the inability to understand the other side of the coin.

Every single weekday morning and evening I walk by a Tesco on my way to work. A lot of the time there is a homeless man standing outside asking for change. I know he recognises me because he sees me nearly every day as I pass by. (As a side note I just realised I typed “recognises” with an ‘S’ automatically and now I’m afraid of how English I’m really becoming without my noticing… but I digress).¬†And there are times at the end of the work day where I just feel utterly exhausted and defeated and walk with my head down and shoulders slumped. When I pass him he says, with a smile on his face, “that bad is it?”. PERSPECTIVE. He’s a homeless man asking for change (in THIS weather!) and I’m moping about over a hard day at the office.

That said, let’s look back to my beloved friend Leslie (I hope she doesn’t mind) – she has two beautiful children and a loving husband. She lives in Yellowstone National Park with nature abundant around her. Her likely perspective (which I can understand): she has two children demanding every second of her precious time, her loving husband works nights and there’s nowhere to go because she lives in the middle of a national park with scary-looking buffalo surrounding her backyard. My perspective: she has a man who loves her no matter what and a family she has been able to create with precious moments and memories only children can give you every once in a while. And she has buffalo surrounding her backyard.

I live in London and have a good job with some pretty awesome friends and free evenings to myself whenever I want them. Her likely perspective: I live in a city where nearly anything is possible, I have a great job, and I don’t have anyone to worry about but myself at the end of the day. ¬†My perspective: I live in a¬†polluted¬†rush of life and while I don’t have anyone to worry about but myself at the end of the day, I also don’t have anyone to worry about me at the end of the day either.

It really is all in perspective and, no matter what your religious or non-religious views, thankfulness. I know for a fact that Leslie is thankful for her family although it no doubt must try her patience and strength sometimes, as it does all mothers. And I know that I am thankful for where I am in life as well. That doesn’t stop people (or at least not for long) looking at others and envying what we do not have – I guess it’s human nature and the result of an ever-connected semi-transparent world. It’s also partly a result of people posting on social media about the pseudo-perfect life they want people to see, rather than how their life really is. And how can we blame each other, when if I was to post how my life really is, you would look at me and ask why I was complaining and vice versa? Not only is this perspective but the different things each person values.

Perspective. It is in everything, because we are all unique. And thank goodness for that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a half-full bottle of wine sitting on my kitchen counter that I believe I shouldn’t leave alone…

No such luck o’ the Irish

Yesterday was not a good day. Neither was Thursday evening for that matter. There was certainly no luck to be had for me, Irish or no.

A St. Patrick’s Day themed bake-off took place on Friday (yesterday) and so in advance I had done some research and found something I wanted to submit to the competition in a third attempt to win the crown, despite my hatred for weeknight baking. Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake. On my way home from the office on Thursday I picked up a few things I needed and then set off home to bake cake.

Since this cake is meant to resemble a pint of Guinness with a large black-ish base and a creamy white foam-style icing topping, I doubled the recipe so that I had lots of batter for the cake (which doesn’t have layers) and to make some cupcakes too. The problem was that somehow I managed to not double JUST ONE INGREDIENT. One of the most important ingredients too… Sugar. So half the amount of sugar was in the cake than was meant to be and it was too late to fix it.

After sulking around the house for a bit trying to decide what to do (I couldn’t possibly take a less-than-perfect cake to a bake-off, my reputation would be ruined!), I finally decided to head back to the (luckily) 24hr Tesco near my flat and pick up some more of the ingredients to make a second cake. I had to win, and I couldn’t go empty handed, even if it meant going to the store at 11pm and coming back to make another cake until 2am on a school night.

Then the next morning, I left the flat with a cake carrier in one hand and a tray of cupcakes in the other. Waiting for the bus, I set the cake carrier on the bus stop bench and put the cupcakes on top of it. Seeing the bus coming, I picked up the cupcakes in one hand and unfortunately the balance was all wrong on the cake, flipping it to the ground and covering the inside of the cake carrier with icing. NO! But I talked myself up the rest of the journey, thinking to myself “it’s okay… I can scrape the icing from the inside and re-ice the cake… do a bit of surgery and it’ll be fine!”.

Once off the train and walking to the office, I needed to stop and switch hands as both items were fairly heavy. So I stopped at a bench outside of Urban Outfitters on Commercial Street and set everything down so as to change my carrying method. Somehow, I don’t know why, one of the ONLY TWO clips on my carrier came open. I’m sure you’ve guessed now what happened. I picked up the carrier and the cake did a face-plant on the pavement.

Before and after the tragedy

Before and after the tragedy

After having made two cakes, staying up until after 2am, and already having the cake dropped once… my emotions gave way. I sat down on the bench, defeated, and did my best to hold back tears. I did so well until I got to the office. Sherrie immediately knew something was wrong, but when I tried to tell her what happened I burst into ridiculous sobs.

I did pick up the cake and put it back in the box and, after recovering from my ridiculous break down, I proceeded to try and salvage what I could. I cut off the top of the cake, which was the only part that had touched the ground, and tried to get as much icing as I could back onto the cake. There still wasn’t enough icing though, as it was still on the pavement outside Urban Outfitters, waiting for some lucky puppy to come along and lick it up. At lunch I went to the four nearest supermarkets in search of store-bought icing to at least make it presentable again, but had no luck. In the end I submitted my cupcakes and I still didn’t win, or even place, for a third time in a row. TOTAL BOLLOCKS.

ANYWAY, this doesn’t mean I’m done with baking – just weeknight baking so long as I can help it. My friend James has resigned from H&C and is leaving me to produce his much more exciting feature film, The¬†Fitzroy – so I will make him a farewell cake this week but that is the last one, no more weeknight cakes after that.

My good friend Netra brought on a spark of genius though… and I’m considering making my own book (on Blurb maybe?) that I can give away at Christmas which will feature a selection of all my favourite cakes/goodies I make this year. I’m open to title ideas so let me know if you’ve got a brilliant one!

Transitioning through your adaptations

I live in London. England. United Kingdom… but then, most of my readers already knew that. I guess there are always times where I find myself in an odd sort of surreal feeling about being here and that I actually live in this city, independent and without assistance. Being far from all you grew up with day in and day out, all alone, does that to you sometimes… or perhaps it’s just me.

My mum once said to me, and not too long ago, “you may not realise it, but you are in a battle every day to get through on you’re own. You don’t notice it because you just do it and get on with it.” At the time I was like “yeah, okay, I guess?”. I get it now though, because she was right, and strangely enough I notice it only when I isolate myself from¬†sociability once in a while.¬†Sociability¬†(and London) seems to be good at keeping me distracted.

Getting by on your own doesn’t just mean having a job, or a roof over your head, or food to eat. The people you let into your life make a huge difference as well. Do not mistake the absence of misery for happiness. I am NOT miserable, by any means – however that does not mean that I am happy. I am in limbo – a middle space where you get by every day by habit and the fact that in the larger picture nothing is really wrong. Sure, I complain… hell, why lie? I bitch a lot. Women generally like to do that. If you are not particularly miserable your complaints are probably pretty feeble, however if you’re not happy either, you will complain about something.¬†Which is what I do many of these recent days (sorry, Sherrie).

What am I trying to say, you ask? Leaving home isn’t easy. Life, isn’t easy… or fair. It’s an adventure. It’s uncomfortable. Then it becomes comfortable. It become natural. And then you stop and look from the sidelines and see that it’s still really not easy, it’s still not natural, it’s still not comfortable, you’ve merely just¬†adapted.¬†Humans are remarkably adaptable creatures. I have adapted, and I guess what I’m trying to say, is that our whole lives are just a constant adaptation to the variable factors that come and go in our time. What you need to learn, is how to transition smoothly. And sometimes, you even need to know when to keep yourself distracted.

On a lighter note, the cakes continue to be made. Last weekend another carrot cake was made to use up the last of the carrots and this weekend I made a lemon drizzle cake, which is not very pretty, but still pretty dang tasty. I’ve also used some of the cake fund to have a large delivery of key ingredients to keep me going for a few more weeks.

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P.S. To Mum: Happy UK Mother’s Day!!