This month’s travel linkup was titled: Your Greatest Adventure. I pondered several topics for this post: travelling solo to Berlin at the end of my degree; my family’s trip around the world to Australia, Hong Kong and the US when I was 14; and my first trip abroad with a boyfriend, when Ben and I spent 10 days in California in 2014. But then I realised that my greatest adventure started much closer to home.
Most of my childhood was spent growing up in the picturesque Suffolk countryside. It was an hour and a half bus journey to the nearest big town (Ipswich), and our Friday nights were spent wandering round the town we went to school in, roughly divided between the pizza and kebab shop and the playing fields. Until we got old enough for alcohol, of course. Then it was Friday evenings at the pub, day-glo house parties and festival-inspired shindigs in a field.
Proof: I partied in a field aged 18. Drinking cider sprawled on hay bales and creating Strawhenge in the moonlight. We were SUCH country bumpkins! Also, I promise I wasn’t drunk when this was taken, even though I know I look hammered!
As a child, my mum used to take me to London every now and then to visit my grandma in Fulham. I hated London – I thought it was dirty, smelly, grey and grimey, and I couldn’t wait to leave and escape back to the countryside. But, somewhere along the way, I changed my mind. Teenage me suddenly found herself drawn to London, compelled to visit and contemplating a move to our nation’s capital. And as A-Levels and UCAS choices rolled around, London unis made their way into two of my five choices: UCL and KCL (University College London and King’s College London, for the uninitiated!). And KCL made me an offer to study History – on the condition that I get three As at A Level. It was a stressful few months (I think A-Levels are the hardest exams I’ve sat to date!), but it all paid off in the August when I got the letter confirming my three As and my place at KCL.
I remember going to an accommodation visit at King’s with my dad not long before I was due to move to London, and wandering round Elephant and Castle near the halls I would be staying in. It was everything I’d hated about London growing up – noisy, smelly, dirty, concrete – and my dad asked me, half-seriously, “Are you sure you want to move here?” And I was terrified, but in my mind there was no choice. I had made my decision, and London was my future.
I moved to London in September 2009, and my life changed completely. All of sudden I was navigating the Tube, nightclub guestlists and independent living. It was such an eye-opener, but I loved it. I walked everywhere I could, getting to know the maze of streets around South and Central London. I learned some valuable lessons – DO NOT buy two bottles of wine for £7 from the off-licence over the road and then try to down it all that evening! DO always have an umbrella or an extra layer with you – you never know when the weather might change! DO NOT walk home drunk from Stockwell to Denmark Hill in the middle of the night just because you think you might throw up if you stay on the night bus! DO make the most of Time Out Offers, B@1 Happy Hour and student discounts whenever possible!
In the last six and a half years, I have experienced so much. I’ve lived in seven different flats to date, and got used to living out of boxes and cases. I have met friends whom I hope to know until my dying day. I have fallen in love and had my heart broken. I’ve gained confidence which I never dreamed I could have. I started my dream job, and continue to work in it to this day. It was such a leap of faith to move from the tranquil countryside where I’d spent most of my life to the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s craziest cities. But it has certainly opened the door to the rest of my life, and the life I’ve had so far, with all its opportunities, highs, lows and unforgettable moments, has been the greatest adventure so far to date.
So what has moving to London brought me?
This month’s travel link-up is hosted by Angie, Emma, Jessi, and guest host Andrea. Head over to their blogs to have a read of their greatest adventures, and to check out a whole host of other wonderful bloggers and their stories. You can also add the story of your greatest adventure before 7th March.