31 May 2014

So Social

Recently, I've been updating and renovating just about everything on this blog,
and while doing so, if there's anything I've learned about maintaining a blog,
social media, social media, social media!
So with that,
I'm jumping on the social media wagon, and making a Facebook page for this blog.
I'll be posting over there full of
blog updates, life updates, and all of the other updates that you can think of.
Click below to 'Like' the page (pretty please!)
I'm pretty excited about what's to come in the future for myself,
I'm finally applying for my visa this month,
finally finding a place to live
(You THINK flat-hunting is hard ...
try doing it from another country),
then I will be FINALLY beginning that crazy packing chaos,
and boarding my flight in August.
There's still a lot to do,
which means there's still a lot to write about.
I'm pretty excited. You should be too.
Juuuuuuuust trust me.

Blogging It Forward

liebster award 2 

The Liebster Award was passed on to me from the lovely blogger Miranda at Miranda in the Middle!
I've just learned what this things is.
Basically, bloggers give this award to other bloggers.
Kind of like a chain letter,
except more of a nice little "pay-it-forward" things
rather an "if you don't do this everyone around you will die on Sunday at 3AM"
sort of thing.
There are a few different instructions I've seen,
so I'm going to do it the same way that Miranda did hers:
1) Answer five questions from the nominator
2) Create five questions of your own
3) Nominate five more bloggers 

Alright, let's get to it!
weird habits
The only thing that really pops into my head is that I still rip my food apart when I eat it.  When I was 13 and had braces, I was always so self-conscious of getting food in the front wires and looking gross, that I would rip my food so I would bite into anything.  Well, seems that habit hasn't gone away, and I now either look like a cannibal ravaging their meal, or a complete OCD ritualistic eater.
current addictions
Current? More like forever addiction - the music of the 60's.  I've gained an unhealthy obsession to the Beatles, the British Invasion, and pretty much the 1960s in general.  I've never found a genre of music that I can listen to ALL THE TIME, and still want to listen to it more.  It's become such a big part of who I am, and it's given me the greatest experiences and memories of my life.
Current addiction? This is embarrassing - but I've been obsessing over Dancing with the Stars lately.  I have never watched the show, but have seen the past few episodes of the last season, and have become obsessed with Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis's partnership.  I have watched these dances over and over again because I'm actually mesmerized by it.  I think I may have a calling in professional dancing .. but only if my partner is Maksim.
Just watch. Ugh someone please agree with me. 

looking forward
I think this blog is kind of the answer to this question - there is nothing I've ever looked forward to in my life more than this move to London.  It feels like my life is about to really begin - I really can't explain it other than that.
favorite quote
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
"Not all those who wander are lost" has been my favorite quote for quite some time.  I love this entire poem as a whole as well though - perspective is everything.
son gin head
The song I have been singing non-stop lately is Led Zeppelin's "Going to California." I'd love to learn the song on the guitar .. if I knew how to play the guitar.

And now for my questions!
start blogging
I started this thing in the end of 2011 as a way to document my study abroad semester in London.  I used it to ramble and write a few times a month, just to have something that I could go back to and read when I'm missing memories - which I still do from time to time.  Once I came back, I wanted to keep this, because I knew I'd be working my way back to the UK, or at least would have some adventures that I felt I wanted to keep writing down.
what song
Hmmmm .... there are SO many of these.  Lately, I've been hardcore jamming to 'Dig A Pony' by The Beatles.  I always have to blast Billy Joel's 'Allentown,' whenever it comes on too.
And then there's those generic songs you can't help but scream, like ' Bennie and the Jets,' and 'Party in the USA.'
Judge me.
gre up
Really weird, and really random - I used to want to be an author when I was growing up.  I had this little notebook where I would write stories in, and I remember coming to class and reading them in the last few minutes before we were let out of school.  I was pretty positive one of those stories was going to get published.  I was clearly a very over-confident 8 year old.
visit anywhere
I would really love to take a trip to New Zealand - it looks absolutely gorgeous, and I've heard how friendly everyone is there.  Also to Africa-I really want to go on an African Safari!
next five years
In five years,
I want to have a stable job, where I am able to support myself
I'd like to be with someone who I'm going to spend the rest of my life with
I don't know or care if we are married or settled by then - honestly I'd rather still be traveling
And most importantly,
I'd love to be applying for my UK passport.
This girl's got dreams.
It'll be nice to come back to this post in five years and see what's really going on in my life.

And lastly, I want to pass it on to five more bloggers to do this! If you've already done it, then sorry .... do it again!
1) Heather at Bird in Britain 
2) Ashley from Ashley in Adventureland
3) Van at On The Road Again
4) Camila at Things I Am Crazy For
5) Darci at Freedom of Excess

28 May 2014

Advice for an International Job Hunt

I recently received an email from fellow blogger and London lover, Darci,
asking me about my trip in October
where I did my first job hunt in London,
and what exactly I did to make that happen.
I did not have the luck of securing a job,
but I was able to secure six meetings
before I even landed on UK soil,
as well as leave London with a job offer.
So I wanted to make a post
just to give some tips and advice on what I did to get myself in the door
to speak with these different businesses.
There was a lot that went into the trip before I even got to the city.
I booked my ticket to London in July,
with the plan to bust my ass in the next two months
to find myself a job that would keep me in the country.
There are a lot of requirements
that go into being cleared for a work permit.
One very important point in this
is that you need to be proven to be a better hire
than a UK citizen,
so that you are not taking away the jobs
of the people that are already in the country.
Because of this,
I focused on businesses that I either knew were registered sponsors,
or were in the midst of expanding their company.
I did a TON of different things to search and find companies to contact:
1) Looking for growing businesses, I did a lot of google searches.
"Top growing companies in London"
"London companies to watch for"
"Expanding businesses in London"
You can tell they are all really similar searches, but in different wordings.
I did this the most out of any search.
I would find top 10 lists of companies to look out for,
articles on specific companies and how they were expanding, etc. etc.
2) I used LinkedIn quite a bit too.
What I would do, is get onto LinkedIn,
and do a job search with general criteria.
But with the list of job offers,
I did not apply through LinkedIn for these.
Rather, I used this to simply provide me with more companies
that were on the lookout for work.
I used this, and went to the actual websites,
to contact them directly.
3) Another thing I used LinkedIn for was for HR Directors.
I  would do company searches, to find out the names
of the HR Directors for those businesses.
Through that, I would try and contact the HR department directly.
They are the people that do the hiring, so if you are able to get straight to them,
you're one step ahead of the rest whose emails
are being forwarded through the company.
4) International hotels (Marriott, Hyatt, Hiton, etc.)
have a certain amount of work visas they are able to use a year.
For example, Marriott in UK has about 80 work permits to give out.
Yes, these are given to their already employed to renew their visas,
but with people moving departments, leaving the company, etc.
there are always the chances that there are work permits still available.
During our meetings with these hotels in October,
they were out of their permits by then,
but I have kept contact with the HR Director I met with
who discussed a possibility of a position within the area I have my experience in,
in the next year or so, when things get renewed.
So regarding businesses with this situation,
be sure you get your name out to these places
towards the end of a year, or right in the beginning,
where you are able to be in discussion with them at the best time possible.
5) London has a TON of recruitment agencies.
I emailed quite a few of these
explaining my situation -
that I was an international, looking for work
to permanently relocate to the UK,
and would need a company to sponsor a visa for me.
They know that it's tough, but they are willing to help.  
And their job is to help find jobs, so they know what they are doing.
 I still keep in contact with the gentleman I met with while I was in London, and plan to meet again when I arrive back in the city.
6) You should notice that I have mentioned more than once
that I keep in contact with these people.
Even if the time isn't right then,
that doesn't mean that it won't be right in a few months.
Anything can happen at any time,
so make sure you stay in these businesses minds
because in the case that something does come up,
you may be the person that pops back up.
7) The UK Government website lists organizations that are registered sponsors 
(companies need to apply to have the ability to sponsor work permits.
As if you already knew it was a long process - it's even longer than you thought)
I found this list very close to the day I was leaving for London,
so I didn't use it too much,
but it has hundreds of thousands of companies that are already able to sponsor,
along with their locations in the UK.
You can find this here.
Once you find the businesses,
there are a few things to remember for when you do get in touch:
1) When you email, make sure that you have researched the company you are contacting.
Include what you found that drew you into them, why you want to work for them,
and why you would be a great addition.
You will get few replies with a generic email that doesn't show
that you've done at least a little bit of research.
2) Update and perfect your resume!
I didn't include my address (and if I did, I used a friends local London address),
but only my phone number, email, and LinkedIn page.
Just like you'll find in America, companies are much more inclined to talk to you
if they believe you are already living in the area.
Also - keep it organized!
I'm assuming most of you know the basics of getting a job,
and you also know that the company will not
spend too much time on your resume.
Make sure what you want them to see is closer to the top,
and that it's easy to read through.
COShaResumePDF copy
3) I made sure to include the dates that I will be in London when I sent out my emails.
I wrote these emails so that they absolutely understood that I was in the area
and my intentions were to physically meet and speak in person.
The most difficult part is getting your foot in the door.
If you are able to get over that hurdle and be in communication,
you're that much closer to scheduling a meeting,
and once you meet - that's your time to shine!
I know first hand that a work permit
is one of the most difficult things to obtain,
but if a company wants you enough, they will work with you
to get you in with them.
So do your research, bring your confidence,
and impress the hell out of them.
I used the month of September to really set my schedule.
If I were to guess, I probably sent my resume out to about 300-400 companies.
From those emails,
I got plenty of rejections,
plenty of replies that there might be something in the future,
and a few who seemed interested to know who I was.
By the time I landed in London,
I had secured meetings with a PR firm, a recruitment agency,
a telecommunications agency, Marriott International,
and an SEO agency in Oxford. 
Within these,
I left with an offer for a graduate position as a Digital Marketer
 at the SEO agency.
Once we sorted through the contract and began the process with the visa,
things were put on a halt
because the offer didn't meet the guidelines of the work permit.
So while I left London with the feeling of success,
it wasn't too long until I felt like I was back in square one.
Thinking "Will I ever get back there?"
And with that never-ending determination I've gained,
I didn't stop.
Which is what led me to graduate school.
Graduate school is not always a viable option for everyone.
There is a lot of money involved, a lot of preparation,
and it is a HUGE risk to do that
when there is no absolute guarantee of sticking around once you get your degree,
but there are benefits to this:
it gives you a year to be living within the city,
making it easier to connect and network,
complete work placements,
and let businesses physically see you and your work ethic,
it also gives you a higher education degree
that makes you stand out more than the next person
who you are competing with for the job.
I've been through trial and error plenty of times with this journey,
and this final plan is the biggest risk I'll possibly take in my life.
I haven't felt an ounce of regret - only excitement for what's to come.
And that's how what I know I'm doing is right.
I can't wait to write that post
about how I finally got that job that I've been working towards for so long.
be where you love

27 May 2014

Quick Post - Memorial Weekend Memories

Just a short little post,
but I finally had a visitor!
My best friend from High School, Holly
came down to Jupiter for Memorial Day Weekend.
It had been an entire year since I'd seen her,
so it was pretty amazing to have a few days on the beach with her,
especially since I'm not sure exactly when I'll be seeing her again.
We spent most of our time on the beach,
drank some fruit drinks, ate some fish food,
realized paddle boarding is a LOT harder than we thought,
and flew off some waves on a couple of jet skis.
I was able to explore South Florida
a little more than I have before.
And I've seen how much I really do enjoy living here.
I'm pretty lucky to be spending this gap time in such a beautiful place.
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22 May 2014

Booking Flights --Let Me Rephrase-- Booking CHEAP Flights

As if it wasn't already official enough,
Heather and I booked our one way tickets to London last week.
I still feel like it's not going to feel 100% happening until we actually find our flat,
but that ticket purchase made it pretty damn real.
It takes a lot of money to move abroad. A lot.
So of course we were on the hunt for the cheapest flight we could find.
There are a few airlines that are known for their cheap flights.
But also keep in mind with lower prices comes higher limitations.
For example, RyanAir and EasyJet have amazing prices
for flights throughout Europe,
but with that, you're only allowed one strict sized carryon.
Purses, even gift bags will count as your carryon if you have them,
so make sure they can either fit inside your actual carryon,
or be able to be zipped inside your coat where they aren't seen . . .
If you're looking for international flights,
which is what I have been dealing with currently, 
Condor and Norwegian Air are the cheapest airlines around.
They have flights from the states to Europe for as low as $400.
But there are additional fees for checked bags,
seat choices, and meals,
along with the lack of entertainment available for the long flight.
(Norwegian Air does state it provides free Wi-Fi though,
which we all know goes a long way!)
But then again,
if you are dirt in the barrel broke,
these flights are definitely the way to go.
Bring your own food, download some movies on your laptop,
and you're good to go.
One major thing to keep in mind with these cheaper flights,
They normally only fly out of major American airports;
Miami, JFK, Los Angeles, etc.
This was where Heather and I ran into an issue.
Heather would have had to book an additional flight 
from Kansas City to Miami,
which would have run her total spending to
almost equal to just purchasing a flight package
from the more popular airlines.
So we had to figure out something else,
and with a little bit of research
we found the best option for us: Student Universe.
This site offers the cheapest flights for students,
but also has deals available for faculty, alumni, non-student youth, and adults.
To sign up, you need to select which category you fit into.
As a student, you are to upload two forms of proof.
This could be a transcript, visa, student ID, etc.
Since I haven't began classes yet or even applied for my visa,
I uploaded my acceptance letter email,
as well as a second email thanking me for accepting the offer of enrollment.
And just like that it was through and I was ready to purchase!
So from my experience, they are pretty lenient
with the proof they need for students.
The flights use major airlines,
which calm the nerves of weird people like me.
Some flights have airline switches in connections,
and some have overnight layovers
(which might not be bad for some of you who want a stopover
in another destination),
but there are plenty of options for what you want.
Heather and I each found flights
that stay within one airline,
and gives us all the amenities of
checked bags, in-flight entertainment, etc.
hers from Kansas and mine from Florida,
that also allows us to meet in Charlotte to fly
the second flight into London together.
And these flights were only $750 for each of us!
That save us at least $500 from the major booking sites we'd use.
And that, my friends, is how you make a deal.
Everything in this post is of course my opinion only from my experience.

19 May 2014

Guest Post at Girl in London

So I'm an American girl with a blog about moving to London,
and recently I've stumbled upon
an American girl who had already moved to London.
Perfect? I think so.
Cheylenne is super sweet owner of Girl in London.
I've used this site for neighborhood guides, living tips, flat rentals, etc.
And lucky me, now I get to be a guest poster on the page!
Find me at Girl in London here
And follow her page!
If you aren't already, which I'm sure you are.

15 May 2014

New Life, New Blog

So I've done some updating!
I figure this blog is less about my study abroad adventures now,
and more about my actual life abroad.
So I may as well change things around - make a fresh start.
(And by fresh, I mean a much less of chaotic mess,
and with better pictures.
But hey, there's some good stuff in those past posts,
so as ridiculously long and unorganized as they are,
I just don't have the heart to change the way I wrote it then)
My life abroad.
I always thought that was what was supposed to happen,
but the fact that it actually is happening? Will never be real to me.
It's been a LOT of work.
A lot of tedious and terrible work. 
A lot of planning. It seems that all I do is plan now.
Heather and I have been budgeting and house-hunting - all the time.
There are few things that frustrate me more than trying to plan life when you are on an entirely different continent.
Calling costs sky-rocket when you make international calls to estate agents.
There is also a 5 hour time change,
so I've been woken to up quite a few 5AM phone calls from agents who don't understand it's not 10AM here too.
There's also trying to understand all the extra fees we may be paying on top of our rent.
And speaking of rent, there's that ridiculous exchange rate.
For ever British Pound, we are paying around $1.60.
Which makes a £600 per month flat, over $1000 for us.
I have come to the conclusion that I will forever be comparing and converting for the rest of my life.
And there's no other way to describe that than just plain 'that sucks.'
We dug these graves with smiles on our faces.
I've never been so happy and motivated to do such annoying work though.
We just booked our flights last night - and I'll have to add it is a one way flight.
So it's officially OFFICIAL! As if it wasn't before when I applied and got accepted and have been doing everything else.
I have an official ticket an official one way and life in three months my life can start againnnn!!
While all of this is going on, I've still been living in Florida with my family.
I work as a nanny here. Like a professional babysitter.
And I get to hang out with some pretty amazing kids - I work daily picking up, driving around, and watching a 7 & 11 year old.
And I have to say, I absolutely adore them 
And for something that doesn't exactly sound like much of a job, I'm making pretty great money.
And with everything going on, making money is VERY necessary right now.
I've been living here for a little over 6 months now.
It's great to be in the sun and on the beach - incredibly relaxing, even when you have a not so relaxing day.
I feel like I've been on a really long summer vacation, which I guess with the fact I'm going back to school, I kind of have been.
But I miss Kentucky more than I ever thought I could.
It's very true that once you leave a place, you realize how special it is. Kentucky will always feel like my home,
And I will say without hesitation, I do think that Louisville is the greatest city in the country.
And speaking of, my best friend is coming to see me in two weeks after an entire year apart, and I can't quite explain how EXCITED I am!
I want to say the longest we've been apart is around 3 months since I left Louisville in 2009.
A very successful long distance relationship, I'd say.
So going an entire year, I'm pretty surprised one of us hasn't needed to go into therapy for separation anxiety.
Because friends who wear ponchos together, stay together.
The rest of my tiny group of amazing, amazing friends are also coming in July!
Makes me so happy.
These girls, who all have full time, real-world, big girl jobs, give up their vacation days to come down and see me because I can't afford to go up and see them.
Now, the beach might have helped a little with their decision to visit...
But I do have to say, I feel pretty lucky to have people like them in my life.
Paul McCartney started his 2014 tour this past month in South America.
He's coming to the USA in June-August.
I'll try to contain my excitement but
I got to see him when I studied abroad in 2012, in the Royal Albert Hall.
And this past October, when I met him. When I shook hands with Paul McCartney.
Just saying that always makes me smile.
Anyways, it was all amazing (obviously),
but I have never experienced the full-blown, fire-exploding, confetti-shooting, Macca-fied tour.
I'm seeing him in Jacksonville at the end of June.
I don't think I have ever been so damn excited for a show.
Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 8.02.08 PMI've never spent so much money so happily.
I leave for London on August 16.
I feel like my life has been put in pause while I chill out in Florida and figure things out.
I would have never imagined taking a 'gap year' and moving home before starting my life in the real world.
But I would not have changed a single thing in how everything has worked out.
I've got three months left here, and with so many big things happening, I've got a feeling it's going to be a great summer,
but it's also going to fly right by.
I think this is a pretty pointless post,
but my last post was in February.
So I figure with an updated blog, I might as well update it with a post.
So I'll just end this with some hopefully not-as-boring pictures of life these past few months.


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