It’s happening

I’m finally leaving!

Tomorrow has been a very long awaited day in my household: which is possibly the reason why I’m still not nervous in the slightest. I think after 2 years of mentally preparing myself and forming expectations I’m just so ready to start this year, so all I’m feeling is excitement. But then again, we’ll see if I can still say that tomorrow afternoon.

Saying my goodbyes has been upsetting though. They’d been really spread out until this weekend so I hadn’t been particularly emotional; until Friday, when I got long hugs from three of my best friends and I realised I wouldn’t be able to hug them again for a year. It suddenly seemed like a really scary concept.

The next day, my three favourite little boys and their parents popped over for a while and saying goodbye to them was particularly hard. They will all change so much whilst I’m away and after being a consistent part of their lives for the last 4 years, I hate the idea of missing out on watching them grow up.

Luckily, my big sister made it home for the weekend and I’m really grateful for these terribly English, autumnal two days with my family. I’m also extremely grateful that they helped me pack because it truly has been the most stressful experience since A levels. The number of things I’m being forced to leave behind is heartbreaking. But I’m finally feeling somewhat ready- got there in the end! I really hope I haven’t forgotten anything important!

For those of you who aren’t aware: I’m spending my first week in New York for orientation and training and then I travel to my family in New Jersey at the weekend. I’m staying in the New Yorker hotel with a large group of Au pairs who have come from all around the world and will then be going off to stay in various different states. However, I have been in contact with a group of British girls who are all going to be at my orientation (two of which I will actually be meeting at the airport and getting on the same plane as), so at least I already know people out there! I was speaking to one of the girls, before we got in contact with the rest of the group, because we’re going to be living about 15 minutes from each other in New Jersey, which is really exciting. It’s comforting to know that I’m not doing this alone: also part of the reason why I’m not massively nervous- I suspect I’ll end up doing a lot scarier things in the future, if all goes to plan.

My flight is at 4pm and lasts almost 8 hours, so I’ll be arriving at New York airport at about ten to 7. I’ve never been jet lagged before and if you know me at all, you know how much sufficient sleep means to me: so I can’t wait to see how that works. Hopefully I’ll be too busy and excited to notice. Also, I should mention: at the end of last week I received emails about the possibility of the hurricane in America passing over the east coast and affecting my flight, but fingers crossed, everything seems to be alright at the moment.

So, I’ll see you on the other side everyone. Over FaceTime, that is. Please stay in touch just as much as you would if we were in the same time zone, I promise I will be working hard to do so myself. Wish me luck!

A week until I leave

I had a very busy few days at the end of last week visiting one of my best friends at her uni in Canterbury, from Thursday to Friday, and then my boyfriend in Bath, from Saturday to Sunday (two very nice areas and universities, I should add). It wasn’t until I was on the train home on Sunday that it dawned on me how little time I have left until I leave and how much I’ve got to get done before then. For these last few weeks I’ve been focusing on spending as much time with as many people as I can; which has been lovely but also completely unproductive. I think previously I’d been a bit delusional about how far away the 5th of October really was. But now, it’s exactly a week until I leave and I could not be more unprepared.

Mentally, I’ve been ready for this trip since two years ago when I decided it was what I was going to do. For some reason, it’s really never been a big deal to me, contrary to all the reactions I’ve had when I’ve told people. I think a few people have been a bit disappointed when they’ve asked me, eagerly “How are you feeling about America?” and I just go: “Er, I don’t feel anything really”.

But I am starting to get excited now, and the only scary part for me is the commitment. It’s a whole year. It’s not like going to university in England where yes, it lasts three or four years, but coming home is an actual possibility. Living in a different continent doesn’t exactly make it easy to pop home for a roast dinner every few weekends.

I already miss living down the road from my best friend, Daisy, who moved to Cardiff just over a week ago. Whose wardrobe am I supposed to raid now when I’m stuck for an outfit? (Just kidding, Dais, I exploit you way more than just for your clothes.) I’m also going to miss how my group of best friends (who haven’t changed since primary school) have always lived within a ten minute radius from each other and our regular ‘wine and hot tub’ nights. I’m going to miss James, of course, and Issie and Laurel and probably a lot of unexpected people too. I’ll miss my double bed, my mum’s home cooked meals and my insane family. Although genuinely, I think what I’ll miss the most is just being able to text my brother, any time I’m bored, and then him appearing instantly out of his bedroom so we can make tea and biscuits and watch TV together. I’m not kidding; we have an episode of Fear the Walking Dead to watch when he gets home later and I’m more excited about that at the moment than spending the whole of next week in New York.

But anyway, I know that this year is going to keep me busy and I’ve never suffered from homesickness before, but I have prepared myself to miss people, as well as the things that I’ve become accustomed to here in my comfort zone. That’s what this year is about really: experiencing a large amount of change in one go so that I can really challenge myself and get a sense of what I’m capable of and what I want to do for the rest of my life.

But for now my priorities are: buying a suitcase, putting my stuff in it, and then getting all the other nitty-gritty bits ready for myself. I can think about ‘the rest of my life’ next week.

Hello, but also Goodbye?

Hello!

My name is Alana, I recently turned 19 after finishing my A levels and I have a very exciting year ahead of me.

I’ve never been entirely sure what I wanted to do with my life; I know what my talents are and where my interests lie but I’ve never been pinned on a particular career path. The one thing I have always known for sure however is that I aspire to travel as much as I can make possible. When I say “I want to see everything“, I truly mean it. But everyone has to start somewhere, and for me I chose a safe, but some have also said brave, option to start me off: for the next 12 months I will be an Au Pair for a lovely couple in New Jersey with two gorgeous children.

I came across this scheme when browsing for gap years and it seemed to be perfect for me. Firstly, I have over four years of childcare experience, I met all their other requirements, and living in the USA for a period of my life was quite literally one of the things on my bucket list. It was also cheap and meant I could earn myself quite a bit of money that I could put toward future travel plans. So I decided to become an Au Pair and went through a lengthy process of application starting with an interview, followed by setting up a huge profile on a website where Au Pairs and host families can match, and then being interviewed by several American families until I was chosen by one who were as keen on me as I was on them.

I’m now all set up and ready with my family, my visa, and my flight, and I leave in two weeks to the day. That doesn’t mean I am completely prepared though: there’s still a lot to think about and get done before I go, so it’ll be a busy two weeks for me. I’m also trying to fit in all my goodbyes which will be the hardest part to do I think!

But I wanted to start up a blog at this stage so that I can post during the preparation period and also describe my thought processes just before I leave. I hope this blog is somewhat entertaining, informative or maybe even inspiring for anyone who feels anything like I did before knowing what I wanted to do post A-levels (of course, feel free to contact me if that’s the case).

Stay tuned, folks.