My Big Move to London

This feeling – the jittery, jumping feeling that keeps me pacing, tossing, and turning – it’s what I live for.  I am in love with the anticipation of change.  It used to haunt me and make me fear the coming season of trials and tribulations.  But now, after an entire year of change, I am ready for whatever comes my way.  I have been able to seamlessly transition through a move to Australia, my first big girl teaching job, living in a big city for the first time, and making a plethora of adultish decisions.  Even though I was paralyzed with fear right before we moved, I am SO glad I jumped and pushed past my worries.  I now live a crazy adventurous life full of wonderful opportunities, travels, and love.  What more could I ask for?  

 

Well…. I have been keeping a secret from you all for quite some time now.  It started as a far off dream that didn’t seem very achievable. Then it grew into a full-blown mission that I was determined to complete.  Then I was brought back down to size and closed the door on this dream, hoping that it would come about in a couple years’ time.  Then, A WINDOW OPENED!

 

I am moving to LONDON, the city of my dreams, in January of 2019!

 

Before I explain how I’m doing such a crazy thing, I’d like to tell you the whole story.  So here it goes…

 

When I first moved to Melbourne, I was in love with the city… but I knew deep down that it wasn’t where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.  It was too far from my friends and family, too small, and much too far from Europe.  I was really proud of myself for successfully working and living abroad, but something in my heart told me that this was not the end of my adventure.

 

In 2016, I spent a summer studying abroad in Scotland and visited my friend Mark in London while I was there.  I was fascinated with the city and how vibrant it was and knew that somehow I would be back.  That summer really cemented my obsession with the UK and made me feel like I had found where I belonged.

 

Fast forward to 2017, when I met Rory and we started doing long distance while we both finished up our university degrees.  We agreed at the end of camp to meet up again in Liverpool over Christmas.  That trip was such a happy time in my life and Rory’s family showed me immense love. Even though we have decided to go our separate ways, his family still shows me so much love and support and is always just a call away.  That trip really cemented my love for the United Kingdom and got me thinking that I could really live here permanently someday.

 

After that, my family took a trip to London for spring break.  While that was happening, I was falling harder for London than I had initially realized.  Some of my Kiwi friends from camp lived there and were leading such glamorous lives, and multiple Americans I knew had married their British boyfriends and made the move to the UK.  I was seriously jealous and a bit sad that I had already decided on moving to Australia, but I knew I would have a blast anyway.

 

So after living in Melbourne for about a month, I started to look into UK working and students visas to see if I could possibly move to the UK in January or September 

2019.  I sent my resume and situation out to about 12 different UK teaching agencies and got various phone calls, coffee chats, and emails stating the same cruel truth – Americans physically cannot live in England without a sponsorship visa.  And sponsorship visas – the tier 2 general visa – were extremely hard to come by. You had to find a school that would agree to sponsor you and pay for your visa to come all the way over to England. I thought that I could totally do that… But then I was alerted that my occupation had to be on the shortage list in order to get sponsored – and it wasn’t.  Strike 1.  They also hand out a very limited amount of tier 2 visas each year.  Strike 2.  Also, the Brexit happens in March and will completely change all of the immigration policies, making it harder to ever live in the UK.  Strike 3 – I was basically out of luck.  I cried several times just trying to find a loophole to work in the UK – even trying to get a visa to Ireland – but everything seemed to be at a dead end.  I talked to my parents about getting a masters degree over there, but it would put me out about $25,000 and I would just have to leave after a year. It seemed that I was seriously out of options.

 

With all of the sad news, I decided to stay and pursue my job in Australia with as much spunk as possible.  I was determined to not let my visa issues make my life in Australia seem sad or less than admirable.  I was living in a beautiful country and completely taking my time there for granted. So I closed the book on the UK and started to enjoy my friends, work, and life in Melbourne way more. 

 

Then, when I was vacationing in Cairns, I received an email from one of the teaching agencies I had randomly talked to a while back.  My agent had found a school that was really interested in my CV and wanted to interview me over the phone for – excuse me while I scream – SPONSORSHIP!  I could not believe my eyes and had to read it several times to really believe it.  So we scheduled my interview call for the next day and I read up on the school as much as possible.

 

Well, about 30 minutes into the interview, the principal told me he wanted to hire me and sponsor me to come to Basingstoke, which is an area on the fringes of London.  He hired me right then and there and sent me all of the information to get started with my sponsorship visa!  I was shocked and couldn’t believe it was real.  It has been such a surreal feeling to know that I beat the odds and actually achieved my dream of getting sponsored to move to the UK for the NEXT 3-5 YEARS!

 

So I had to formally apply online for the job and my school had to advertise it to the entire United Kingdom for 28 days.  No one applied after 28 days, so then they had to apply for a certificate of sponsorship on the 5thof November (They said it has to be the 5thof every month- not sure why).  The certificate states that I have the experience and education needed to do well in the position and that the Bourne Education Trust is sponsoring me.  We received the certificate on November 11thand then hired an immigration lawyer to take care of my application.  I walked through every part of my application with her and even had to list every single country I had visited since 2008 – which was extremely hard!  

 

After the application was officially finished, my immigration lawyer insisted that I needed to be in the US to even submit the application.  I also had to go to a visa appointment at a premium visa application center in one of the major US cities.  I couldn’t book this flight until I was in the US.  So I had to book a one way ticket to Dallas, where my best friend Mcat happens to live, and work out my leave with my current job to make sure I wasn’t missing out on anything.  They were extremely kind about the situation and really looked out for my wellbeing during this hard process and I will be forever grateful for them. 

 

So I booked a one-way ticket to Dallas on a Wednesday and flew out on a Friday.  I was able to spend some amazing quality time with Mcat, see her win an art show, visit my friend Kathryn, and eat at my beloved Panera. But I also had to wake up at 3 AM to talk through my application with my immigration lawyer, pay the fees, and book my visa appointment.  I also had to pay for a premium 24-hour decision fee, or else it would have taken the Home Office at least 15 days to process my application.  I couldn’t miss work for that long, so I forked up the money and just went with it.  

 

The kicker was that the visa appointment center was in Houston.  Luckily Mcat had the time (BLESS THAT WOMAN) to drive me to Houston and also had a friend that we could stay with.  I went to my visa appointment on Tuesday and was told to bring my official documents, application, and passport.  If you even had your phone on you in the office, you would be asked to leave, so I left it with Mcat.  Once I got to the appointment, the kind lady at the desk just asked me a couple questions about my application, took my documents and my passport, and sealed everything into a UPS tracked package.  She gave me the receipt and tracking number and said that she would be sending it to the New York Consulate to await a decision and receive the UK entry clearance sticker.  I then had to scan my fingerprints and take a picture, both of which would be used for my biometric residence card that works as a form of ID in the UK.  They told me they would call or email me when they had a decision.

 

It seemed like I had to wait for about 1,000 years to hear anything about the decision and I was ridden with anxiety.  I couldn’t sleep well, didn’t want much to eat, and couldn’t really get my mind off of the fact that if I didn’t get the visa, I would have to come up with a new life plan.  A lot was at stake on this visa and I really wanted to achieve this goal that I had been working tirelessly on for several months.  I received an email from the Sheffield Home Office that stated they had made a decision on my application but couldn’t tell me if it was approved until I got my passport back.  So I emailed the appointment center and asked if I could come retrieve my passport, but they said it was still in New York.  Luckily they told me that the visa had been approved and I felt like I could breathe again!

 

I received my passport the next day and booked my flights back to Australia for the day after.  It was a whirlwind and I was extremely jetlagged for quite a while, but I’m so glad I dedicated myself to achieving this goal and really focusing on my dreams.

 

The school has been very helpful in the process and already introduced me to the others teachers I’ll be working with.  They’re all very sweet and one of them – an Aussie girl who looks like me – is coming over at the same time!  We are already good buddies and have soo much in common.  It’s crazy how life works sometimes, isn’t it?

 

I have just moved in to an amazing terrace house on the high street of Lavender Hill by Clapham Junction Station.  I had initially wanted to live close to my friends Allison and Mark in Reading, but decided that I didn’t work for this visa just to live outside of London.  So I hopped on Spare Room and started searching. Now I have a beautiful room with a fireplace, a large window, iron double bed, lovely vintage textile rug, and loads of shelves for my books.  It is seriously my dream room and 1 stop away from Victoria station, right in the middle of the city.  My roommates, Olivia, Katie, and Leigh are all so sweet and I’m really enjoying getting to know them.  I don’t think I could have picked a better setup if I tried!  It’s also been wonderful to meet up with old friends like Mark – who helped me move in – and new friends that I’ve met online or in Australia. It’s such a great time spending my days feeling like a giddy tourist while coming home to my own little piece of London.

 

So here’s the new life lesson I’ve learned – NEVER let anyone talk you out of your dreams.  If you want it, then seriously – go for it! The only thing stopping you is yourself. If I hadn’t pursued so many agencies and really reached out, then I would never have landed this job.  So push forward with all of your might, and you will always get where you want to go!

 

YAYYYAYAYYY!!!! I’ll keep you all updated as it unfolds, but can’t wait to blog all about my new life in the UK come January!

 

Cheers,

Kelsey

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