The end of July marks nearly four months since I packed my bags and flew to the other side of the world to wee Glasgow, Scotland (where has the time gone??). Honestly, this month for me has seen nothing monumental happen, but it has been a month of starting to feel settled and more comfortable in this expat life. I still have frequent moments of loneliness, self-doubt and social anxiety but I’m also starting to feel like I’m making friends. I challenged myself to attend one meetup group this month and I did, joining a group of fellow expat girls on a hike around Helensburgh.
I’ve also started to acclimatise to the UK drinking culture as approximately 99% of friend dates/date dates I’ve been on involve drinking. As a girl who maybe would drink once a month back home it’s taken a bit of adjusting, but thankfully gin over here is delicious (and cheaper than in New Zealand).
This has also been a month of learning to prioritise self-care. I think one of the hardest things about moving to the other side of the world alone is that the low moments feel a lot lower than they would at home. Having a boy I met on Bumble ghost me somehow hit me harder than it would have had I been in New Zealand. I think it’s because life here is a lot more emotionally intense; I have to rely on myself for literally everything without a strong support network like I have back home. From bigger life decisions like finding a new flat and worrying about work to the inane, like boredom purchasing new togs (bathing suit for non-Kiwis) from ASOS then berating myself for unnecessary spending, I am completely in control of my decisions and life. And that’s kind of scary.
So this month (and actually, every month) has been about learning how to deal with my anxiety in healthy ways. I have a tendency to hole up inside and binge eat chocolate when I’m feeling down, so I’m trying to replace that with doing yoga, or exercising consistently, or messaging friends from home when I’m feeling lonely. Its small changes, and chocolate will definitely always be a part of my self-care, but I’m taking steps to ensure I’m looking after my mental health.
WHERE I WENT
Back to the travel stuff! This month I didn’t travel anywhere overseas, but I did spend time exploring more of my backyard in the UK. Some of my favourite experiences included;
- At the start of the month I caught the train down to London for a weekend with a friend from New Zealand. We had an amazing time seeing Wicked on the West End, hanging out with Will and Kate at Kensington Palace, exploring Borough Market and eating a lot of food.
- Hiking Goatfell on the Isle of Arran. An incredibly picturesque little island about 2 hours from Glasgow, Arran is a great Glasgow day trip, though next time I think it would be the perfect long weekend destination.
- Visiting Helensburgh with a group of expat girls I met. A charming holiday town just outside of Glasgow, Helensburgh is famous for the Hill House designed by famous Scots architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The surrounding countryside is pure Scotland; sheep, rolling hills covered in heather and an army of midges.
- About 95% (actual statistic) of boys I’ve talked to on Bumble have mentioned the best Italian restaurant in Glasgow, Paesano. Unfortunately none of them offered to take me there so I was super excited to visit with my best kiwi friend in Glasgow. The pizzas at Paesano are made in the traditional Neapolitan style and let me tell you, they are delicious.
- While Glasgow has a great foodie scene it’s a little low on the ground on good Vietnamese food. Hanoi Bike Shop, however, more than delivers. They have a great selection of vegan and vegetarian options and we enjoyed a veritable feast on a rare sunny evening outside. Their Halong Bay Iced Tea cocktail was also a winner.
- Honest Burgers is my fave and I was stoked to find our London Airbnb was only a 5-minute walk from their Liverpool branch. I got their Southern fried vege fritter burger and it’s the best burger I’ve had since I’ve moved (I haven’t yet managed to find any burgers in Glasgow that have wowed me).
A massive highlight for me this month was finally getting the courage to launch my blog. Awkward Adventurer has been something I’ve been dreaming about for years. I’ve quietly dotted down ideas in my journal, come up with a list of blog post ideas and talked about it incessantly with a long suffering friend. Finally, in April I started working on it (largely as a way to distract myself from loneliness and unemployment) and then this month after a lot of procrastination finally got brave enough to release it into the world. This is something I’m so passionate about and excited to see grow, so thanks to all 15 of my readers for a great first month.
A lowlight of this month has been continuing to deal with feelings of loneliness. I do finally feel like I’m starting to make friends, but as someone who struggles with social anxiety this whole period has been a huge adjustment for me. It’s the first time in my life where I’ve had to actively try and make friends. Throughout school, uni and various extracurricular activities that I’ve inevitably drifted away from (because adulthood), making friends has been fairly effortless and easy. Now it’s a lot harder. I don’t have friends to go with to events or parties where I can potentially make other friends, I’m not involved in any clubs or sports groups (though I should do that) and it can be hard to cross the bridge from work colleagues to actual friends. But I’m trying, and now have approximately four friends.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN AUGUST
I have lots of stuff planned for August so stay tuned for some great blog content coming your way! In a couple of weeks my contract at the BBC ends. I’m trying not to freak out about it and have to remind myself that I’ve worked in the TV industry as a contractor for a few years and that it’s always worked out before. Still, I’m also super happy about it because it means I’m back on the road! I’ll be doing a 4-day solo trip to Barcelona and Girona for my 25th birthday. The last time I went to Spain was in 2009 on a high school language trip and I’m thrilled to be heading back for some paella, sangria (missed out on that when I was 14) and fewer duck face pouting photos (not that 24-year-old Amy knows how to pose much better in photos).
Later in August I’ll be heading to Italy for a 3-week trip making my way from Venice to Rome. Italy is an absolute dream destination for me and I am SO EXCITED to be able to explore some of it. Bring on the pizza, pasta and gelato! My lactose-hating stomach is not so thrilled.
So thanks, reader (*mum), for following along with my awkward adventures as I attempt to navigate making new friends and prepare to stuff my face with spaghetti. There’s a lot of good stuff to come and I hope you enjoy the ride! Until next time, much love and safe travels.