For anyone that knows me, knows my life, they can witness to what can only be described as the most ridiculous year of my life. For anyone that knows my sainted boyfriend, they can witness to his unwavering patience, understanding and ability to pull me together after the most ridiculous year of my life.
So for those of you who don’t know me well, and to give the rest of you guys a breakdown since I have basically stopped writing on a normal basis, here’s what’s been going on in my life in the last 12-18 months.
- I moved to London. As in London, England. For those of you that didn’t know that, scroll back a few posts ago to where I had a panic attack about packing up my life and moving 4000 miles away (spoiler alert, it turned out pretty good)
- I started grad school at Goldsmiths, University of London and interned with the US-UK Fulbright Commission. If you’re not familiar with Fulbright, well shame on you, because it’s the shit and the people who work in that office in London will forever be my family. Best people in the WORLD.
- I found my church family in London.
- I fell in love, hard. Bonus- I’m still in love and it basically makes everyone else gag but makes us extremely happy.
- I finished grad school (just barely) and will graduate in February (yay student debt).
- I got a job that would miraculously keep me in the UK (yay God and yay Fulbright connections)
So, really, those are the biggies in life since I last talked about moving abroad. I moved to London to do my Master’s degree, and truth really be told, the only reason I moved to London for grad school was because of Fulbright. For anyone who needs help clarifying all this, Fulbright is known in higher education as one of the most prestigious academic awards programmes in the world. Fulbright is important. And for me, who knew I wanted to be working in higher education, Fulbright was pretty much the #1 choice for an internship when doing my grad degree. So what’d I do? I based my choice of grad school solely on location. Ironically, as many who know my travel experiences well, London was the LAST PLACE ON EARTH I thought I would ever live for an extended period of time. Everyone knows that Greece has my heart (fear not Thessaloniki, you still do). But I could not say goodbye to the idea of working with the Fulbright Commission. Naturally, like any normal person would, I made my choice and committed. Finally. After choosing 3 different grad schools over 3 years, I pulled the trigger. I leapt. And boy, am I glad I did.
After moving to the UK, I was
sort of freaking out. Luckily my job at Fulbright kept me sane and my new schoolwork at Goldsmiths kept me engaged. But I was scared. That was until I found my church. Thankfully, Hillsong (yes, think Hillsong United, Australians, all that) has a church (well actually it has 2 campuses in greater London and another 3 in England) in London. So very quickly the Old Dominion became my place of comfort every Sunday. And God wasn’t finished working from there, ha, in fact, that was just the very beginning.
You see, there’s this little thing in the states I had called Tinder, and when I moved to the UK, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to meet some new people (since I knew literally zero people here) and take a chance at finding someone. Well, after a few months I was lucky enough to swipe right on the hunk I call my boyfriend to this day (happy 10 months tomorrow babe). I was rude. I didn’t give my sweet Karl the time of day until nearly 2 months after we initially started talking. Luckily his patience on Tinder translated to normal life together, and he miraculously still loves me today. We met on Tinder and today bring hope to the masses when they learn we beat the odds and fell in love on Tinder. For the record, my best friend just got engaged to the man of her dreams who she also met via Tinder. #trueloveontinder. So anywho, I met Karl, we fell in love, he’s the best and we are doing life together to this day. So there was that. God brought this wonderful man into my life. He gave me someone who made me feel at home. And from that point, I had a family. I think because Karl is such a babe, he also attracts the best people as his friends. Since moving to London, I’ve become close with many of the fabulous people who are part of his life. But God wasn’t done of course. I wanted my own network, my own people.
So when I went to an engage event through Church just before Good Friday, I met Emy. Emy is Jesus with skin on. Truly. Never have I ever met someone with such a heart for people, wanting to know the core of someone. She is amazing. And she took me under her wing. The following Sunday was Easter and God brought more wonderful people to my life. He introduced me to Aaron. Aaron is a
jerk wonderful person who left me to go study at Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney. Can you tell I’m bitter that he left? All jokes aside, Aaron connected me in a way that I am still thankful for today. He got me hooked up with my connect group, and every 2 weeks, I get to build community with my kind of people. Bonus, being part of connect group also brought my two favourite people in London into my life, Celest and Aston. Celest and I quickly learned that despite our growing up two very different lives, we are in fact the same person brought together years later in London. For real, we both studied at Goldsmiths, we both have backgrounds in marketing/pr/communications stuff, we both have a heart for Jesus, we both have anxiety for ridiculously stupid things, we both are awesome. ha. I love Celest and her hubby Aston. They are my people. LOVE them.
So God tackled my people problem. I needed to feel community and relationship in London. Check one in that box for sure. So fast forward through multiple panic attacks, feelings of inability, worries about ever being able to successfully complete grad school and just general meltdowns about life and visa applications and jobs etc, etc (thanks for putting the pieces back together Karl and everyone else both UK and stateside that helped in that process) I made it through.
During that same period, over the summer of 2015, I experienced serving at Hillsong Conference. Can y’all tell yet that Hillsong sorta is my home in London? So every year Hillsong London does their global conference (there’s also conferences in Sydney, NYC and I’m sure other locations too). It brought something like 10,000 people daily to the O2 Arena to learn about the church, be encouraged in their walks with Christ and just in general praise the God of our universe. It was awesome. Like over 2000 people giving their lives to Christ awesome. Yup. Big time awesome. And I served as part of the new Christians team during that time. Not only did I meet more Hillsong fam (holler to every one of you), I also got a really clear message from God. Brian Houston, the head of Hillsong Church, preached on that first night about declaring the desires of your heart. I told God that night that I was going to believe him for making a job happen for me in London so I could stay. It was two days later that I had an offer on the table to work with CATES Tutoring here in London. Boom. Another point in the God box. I also signed up that day to serve at conference in 2016, unsure if I would be able to stay in the UK. God is faithful, people. In case I forget or in case you needed a reminder.
I made a secret trip back to the states to finish (and let’s be really honest, START) my dissertation in August and by mid-September I found myself with 12,000 words finished and working a full-time job with CATES. While I am convinced that my visa application won’t be accepted when I finish the process in December when I’m back for Christmas, God is faithful and will provide the desires of my heart, and that desire is to build my life in London. Please continue in prayer with me that God delivers on his promises.
So to elaborate a little further, while I was back in the US in August/September, my (now) boss at CATES asked me to join the team in New York while I was in Iowa. So I took on a short-term role as their Director of Client Services while I was writing my dissertation, working remotely from home. So my what I thought would be vacation/writing trip, quickly became a writing/working trip home for 6 weeks. Once I hopped the pond and came back to the UK, I have since upgraded in my role with CATES and am now the Director of the UK for CATES Tutoring (internally screams because of fears of inadequacy). God has blessed me in ways I would never have dreamed, and I cannot wait to see where life takes me this coming year.
Once my visa is confirmed in December, I’ll be allowed to live in the UK for three years. So now, life in London long-term is becoming what I feel to be a reality. Knowing I won’t have to say goodbye to my family here, with Hillsong, Fulbright and of course, my dear sweet Karl, is the most relieving thing I can imagine.
So, when the new year 2016 rolls in, I will have a new life and purpose in London. Here’s lookin at you 2015, and looking forward to the amazing 2016.