What I really think about England

Copy of How to Survive the Visa Process

Dear England,

One year ago I stepped off the plane at 1 am and stumbled my way into the long customs line. I was leaving my family and friends & the drawn out, stress filled visa process behind and spider monkey jumping into the arms of my goofy English man. I thought it was my happy ending or maybe my happy beginning.

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This was not my first international move, but my fourth. My fourth time choosing to start over in a new country.

This time felt different.

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How to Survive the Visa Process

How to Survive the visa process

A year ago today was one of the most emotional days of my entire life. 1 year and 48 hours prior, I received an email that I was waiting for four months. Four long months of being seperated from my partner in crime and the love of my life. Not by choice but because we were simply born in different countries and had different passports. I have to start by thanking everyone who supported us during that extremely difficult time in our lives. You kept me sane and I’m forever grateful.

On this email from the U.K. immigration office, it simply said that the decision for my visa application had been made, not what the decision was. I was staying at my childhood home visiting my parents until I got the decision. I had tracking on the package that contained the decision and my passport so I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know what time so I refreshed the app about 386 times that day.

My mom and I waited by the door the entire day peering out the windows for the UPS truck. I made her stand guard while I did my workout and showered. We took turns using the bathroom. We tried to watch cheesey rom coms to drown out our anxious thoughts but nothing was helping. I have never had so many butterflies in my stomach.

It was such a surreal experience when I saw the brown UPS truck park outside my house. I shot up from the couch and my mom had to catch me in her arms because my legs nearly gave out. I wasn’t sure if I could open it in front of my parents or what I would want to do. As soon as we got the package in the house, I barely remember what happened, the emotions and anticipation flooded my body.

My Dad opened the package for me with a letter opener and handed it to me without looking. My hands were shaking as I read the first line “You have been successfully granted your visa to the U.K…”  and burst into violent tears of joy. Straight up SOBBING.

“I GOT IT!!!!” I screamed eventually because my parents weren’t sure if they were happy or sad sobs. I immediately Facetimed my partner who was waiting for my call in England. I was still sobbing. I won’t lie, I’m a crier but I didn’t expect that reaction. He answered the phone and I was sobbing and within seconds I froze. He had no idea what was happening and thought I didn’t get it. I hung up and tried again and thankfully got a better connection. He was so relieved they were tears of joy. The stress and the build up of almost 2 years of international visa drama were over (for now), just like that with one UPS delivery.

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This all sounds very dramatic, trust me, it was. That’s why looking back a year later I can’t hardly believe that was our reality. When I was going through the process of applying for a partner visa in the U.K. I had no idea where to go to for advice and all I wanted was some personal experience. I couldn’t really find any blogs and all I wanted was someone who understood. It was so stressful it’s taken me a year to even be able to write about it. Every website had conflicting information and you had to pay a lot of money even to get an appointment to see if you wanted to potentially work with an immigration lawyer.

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WCW: Yasmin Muzil

I’m making it a September to Remember. So the #WCW series is BACK! The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Yaz.

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Yaz and I met in Australia at a random hostel in a tiny beach town called Mission Beach. My brother, Jackie and I had been backpacking the east coast of Australia for almost a month and when I came to Scotty’s I was ready to relax, detox and recharge. I will never forget the moment I heard Yaz’ strong welsh accent and saw her flopping into the pool. I could tell right away she had a personality that was larger than life. We got to know each other quickly and spent a magical 24 hours on Fitzroy Island together with my older brother. It was a day I can never forget. It seems to last a whole week in my memory and I knew that day Yaz would definitely be a friend forever.

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Our traveling paths took us separate ways but we finally reunited when I came back to the U.K. with Harry last year. Since then we have just strengthened our bond and have so many exciting things planned for the future. I’ll let her take it from here!

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A Slice of England: Beyond London

 

I came to England for the first time in August to meet my partner’s family and travel in Europe for the summer. My partner and I decided to stay longer term and I’m hoping to make it my home now(after a few months of sorting out my visa.) Many people think London as soon as you say England, but just like New York is much bigger than New York City– England is much more diverse than London. London is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but newsflash to my American peeps..  I don’t live in London. I am definitely not an expert on England and I still have tons of places I want to visit but I am going to share with you the gems I’ve discovered since living in Southern England for the last four months! When you plan your trip to England– explore a bit more and see what else this historical and adorable country has to offer.

Glastonbury– This was my first stop when I came to England because it’s my partner’s hometown. It is most famous these days for the huge Glastonbury music festival so most people know the name but haven’t been there when there aren’t 100,000 others lined up in tents raving for five days.

The town itself tiny- it’s colorful, charming and very spiritual. The history runs very deep.The streets are lined with crystal shops, vegan and vegetarian cafes and hippie clothing stores. Right in the center of the town are the Glastonbury Abbey ruins– a former monastery from the 7th century that was burned down in 1184. Christian legends claim the abbey was founded in the 1st century by Joseph of Arimathea.  Another famous landmark in Glastonbury is the Tor. You can see the giant hill with Saint Michael’s roofless tower from miles away. It is said to be a very spiritual location linked to many myths about King Arthur and has a lot of other lasting mythological and spiritual associations. The hike up is steep but the view at the top is incredible.

 

Some of my favorite spots: The Chalice Well, Rainbow Cafe, Red Brick Building– morning yoga classes, brunch at the Boca Bar(which also turns into an amazing night out- think silent discos, live local music and art gallery & bubbles type events) and simply wandering down the high street peeking in all the crystal, book and charity shops and people watching– you will not be disappointed as the fairies, witches and quirky attire is plentiful.

Bath– I fell completely in love with England when I step foot in Bath. It is the definition of a quaint English town with so much character- it almost doesn’t even look real. When I first arrived in England everything looked miniature to me. The houses, cars, buildings, roads. When my partner’s mom picked us up from the airport(we were exhausted traveling from New Zealand) I woke up in a panic in the back seat because I thought we were driving down a one way street! I couldn’t believe how narrow the roads were, and that wasn’t even the worst of them!

Bath is most well known for its natural hot springs. There is a large museum at the site of the original Roman-era Baths with many ancient artifacts, statues and temples. They have audio guides you can get more detail and it’s easily accessible for museum goers like me. I definitely want to see it but I don’t want to spend 2 hours at each exhibit. Quick and dirty is my approach for museums.

Some of my favorite spots:  the Botanical Garden and Royal Victoria Park, a picnic in front of the iconic Royal Crescent, Kennet and Avon Canal and just walking around exploring the amazing architecture, shops and cafes throughout the city. We only had a day there and I felt like we saw a lot but if you have more than one day there are many art galleries, fashion museums, history museums I have on my list for next time.

Bristol– This place is turning into the coolest city and county in South West England. While in England I have lived 30 minutes outside of Bristol(in a quriky little beach town called Weston-Super- Mare)  so I have been there quite a few times and everytime I discover something new to love about it. It has a bigger city feel but there are so many unique areas along the Bristol Harbour and adorable spots like Clifton. The arts are a plenty, the food is delicious and there is always something going on. I’m no expert but these are the places I have enjoyed so far

Clifton Suspension Bridge– In August right when I arrived we went to Bristol for the popular annual Balloon fiesta- bought a little picnic and climbed the hill to Clifton Observatory which has an incredible view of the bridge and the city! Unfortunately the windy weather lead to the balloons being cancelled but the view itself was magical!

Brunch spots– I’ve brunched a few times in Clifton. Proper brunch menus with avocado toast, eggs benny, and my personal fav shakshuka. Primose Cafe and Bistro on Boyce Ave has outdoor seating and very affordable brunch prices. The Crafty Egg was a cozy spot my friend introduced me to with an epic shakshuka and serious good vibes. The Grain Barge is an awesome converted barge that offers delicious brunch, pub grub, drinks and awesome views.

The Crafty Egg

Some of my favorite spots: people watching Queen Square, Arnolfini- an international arts center I saw the Grayson Perry exhibition, Street art- the birthplace of Banksy Bristol has tons of his work and many others scattered about the city. If you want to see more here’s an awesome guide.  Seasonal favorite was the German Christmas Market ( in November-December) and shopping/grabbing drinks along the harbor anytime of year.

Those are the main places I’ve frequented- but I’ve made awesome day trips to Wells, Burnham on the Sea, Sand Bay, Cheddar Gorge, Lyme Regis Beach,West Bay, Totness and Bantham Beach. All pictured below & worth checking out!

The most exciting part is this is only a tiny sliver of this beautiful country and I haven’t even explored the rest of U.K. yet. When you book your trip to England consider making your stay in London a bit shorter and get out there and explore. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Cheers mate. Happy travels! xxx

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