Home

And just like that, I’m home and everything has changed so quickly. So quickly that even this paragraph I wrote 10 days ago is almost irrelevant but I thought I’d share in anyway.

‘It’s a strange time, there are moments where I forget that it’s real life. Grounded flights, countries on lockdown and barren supermarkets feels more like something out of a dystopian disaster film than a week in 2020. But that is what’s happening. It’s all anyone is talking about and it’s taken over a lot of people’s thoughts. I think partially because it’s a situation so out of anyone’s control, people like to be able to plan and control situations as much as possible but in this instance it’s impossible. I’ve been trying to plan my travels over the past week which has proved slightly difficult, the unknown creates a hesitancy to plan anything more than a few days in advance. My brother has just had to cancel his trip of a lifetime to India and another friend had to decide to postpone 5 months in South America the day before she was meant to fly. Obviously the virus is having a far worse effect on the health and livelihoods of others, it’s just the scale of the impact I can’t get over. Suddenly I’m wondering whether and when I’ll be able to get home and if I should be putting any kind of plan in place.’

Five days and much deliberating after that, I booked a flight home. A hard decision but the developments in the past week have reassured me it was the right one. If I’d stayed in Australia I wouldn’t have been able to travel, would’ve lost my job and just been stuck there, paying rent, on lockdown and on the other side of the world to the people I cared about. I was lucky, over the last couple of days it’s become pretty much impossible to leave Aus and all non-essential businesses have closed.

Being back feels strange, it’s like I never left, the past 10 weeks past are a hazy dream with golden edges. It’s been very different to the homecoming I’d imagined, there hasn’t been any excitement or big reunions with friends, no one is interested in hearing about my trip when there are so many more important things on people’s minds. I’m frustrated at myself, part of me feels I wasted the time. I went all that way and didn’t make it outside of Sydney, I didn’t see the best parts of the country or experience the any of the incredible scenery. But I’m just trying to remind myself that that’s ok and actually focus on what I did do rather than what I didn’t. I ate, drank and sunbathed my way around the city and felt what it’s like to live there, a luxury I shouldn’t take for granted. I met some wonderful people and I’ve been thinking that even if those friendships are the only thing to have come out of the past 10 weeks, then they were still definitely absolutely worth it.

There will probably be a final Australia post once the initial shock of this has all passed, there are photos and stories I still want to share but I’m not sure now is the right time. I hope you’re ok, that staying in isn’t driving you completely mad and the disruption to life isn’t too much, remember it’ll pass. Stay safe, stay inside and stay in touch x

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

 

Australia: Part 3

A month in Australia and I’ve moved into my new place, the location is great, the number of cockroaches who also seemed to have moved in is less great but it’s all part of the experience. I’ve made a bit more of a plan for the next few months which is exciting, Sydney is brilliant but I’m aware there is a whole country to see which I’m looking forward to. In the meantime, I need to earn some money to be able to afford all the travelling I want to do so the job hunt continues, with more urgency everyday. 

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Being unemployed means lots of time for people watching which I’m enjoying, I’ve noticed there is always lots to take in when you’re in a new place but I think that perhaps the longer you spend somewhere, the more you notice it all. When you’re just visiting, you tend to rush through the days, trying to see everything and fit it all in. But when it’s more permanent and you have the luxury of empty days there is more time to observe the routines and the movements of a place. That being said, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve noticed since being out here, a few things about the movements of the city.

  • There is more small talk and fleeting connections. When people in coffee shops or supermarkets are asked how their day is going it’s met with a smile and a conversation instead of that subconscious british hostility we’re so used to.
  • They toast their banana bread which makes a simple but life-changing difference. This is the only place I’ve been where I feel like my love for banana bread is matched.
  • Bus drivers wait for people, if they see you running they won’t close the doors seconds before you reach them, they’ll hold on a minute. Generally everyone can hold on a minute, the sense of urgency that exists amongst us at home seems more rare here.
  • Early starts and early finishes. I saw a sign in a gym window inviting people to join a running group that meets at 4.40am. On Saturdays. The days end much earlier too with people eating out at 6 and heading home rather than experiencing the long summer evenings.
  • Coffees are tiny, it seems like caffeine is there to serve a purpose rather than be enjoyed. They have keep cups the size of espressos and most lattes you can see off in two sips.
  • The more cockroaches you see, the less fazed you are by them. Slightly concerning because I definitely don’t want to get used to sharing my kitchen with the uninvited guests but on day one I was squirming at the sight and now I’m batting them away like flies.

So a month of not working has been great, it’s been incredible to enjoy the city, but I’m ready for a job now, for more routine and structure and something to fill the days. So if someone could hire me now that’d be great. Please.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

London

A month ago I moved to London. I’m living in a house full of builders and dust and mice. Everything is expensive and I miss Leeds and there are so many people that I physically bump into someone daily. A woman accidentally put her hand in my mouth on the tube and every social occasion seems to involve too much alcohol. But I’m happy, so happy that some days I almost skip to work and in my lunch breaks I can’t stop smiling. I feel very lucky to be here, to be meeting people, to be experiencing it all.

I seem to have a lot of time in my own head at the moment which, for once, I actually don’t mind, it’s giving me a chance to just take it all in and watch it all happen. I thought I’d share some of the random things I’ve been thinking about and taking in…

Black Tie

There is something about a person dressed in black tie that can turn a dreary dark evening into something more like a dream. The possibility of seeing someone in their finery as I leave the office as the light fades and head towards the Northern line is one of my favourite things about living in London. There is such a difference in our evening plans that I can’t help but feel excited for them, to feel curious. Who are they? Where are they going? What’s the event and where will the night take them?

I guess that happens regularly though in smaller ways, I often find myself people-watching and creating stories for the individuals I see. We love to live vicariously through others, to speculate and wonder about the goings on in people’s lives. We do it with those closest to us but when they’re a stranger, you’ll never know how close you are to the truth and I think that’s part of the excitement. Perhaps it is easier to daydream about someone else’s life than our own. To consider all of the options rather than have any confirmed. I think there’s a reassurance that comes with that though. If we imagine all the possibilities of someone else’s life, it reminds us of all the possibilities of our own. Of all the possibilities of a night in black tie.

Candy Crush

The underground is probably the only place you will see more than 5 self-respecting adults playing Candy Crush at the same time. Firstly I didn’t know anyone still played Candy Crush and secondly, I didn’t know it was the go to game for commuters. And yet, there is something about the monotonous rhythms of the tube and our compulsive need to distract ourselves that mean as soon as people mind the gap and step onto the train, they are desperate for something to do, they cannot just be, and so out comes their phone and they join their fellow travellers in staring at the familiar grid of brightly coloured shapes.

As people we find it very difficult to just be, we are filling our time with background noise, potentially to stimulate and educate us but maybe so we don’t have to listen to whatever is at the forefront. It’s a daily distraction and I know that most of us have them, whether its TV or podcasts or reading, I’m just surprised by how many I’ve noticed reaching for the same simple game.

That being said, I do see the appeal. There have been a number of times where I’ve caught myself peering over a fellow passenger’s shoulder and almost tutting aloud because they decided to move the blue sweet instead of the purple one.

Age

I have noticed that being in London makes me feel younger again. I’m aware that I’m not old, hence youngER, but I’m surprised. I’m living alone and have my first full-time job and yet I feel younger than I did at university. It’s a good thing, I think there is a sense of freedom and spontaneity that you can associate with your early twenties and after losing that for a while I was worried it was already over. I have a theory about it though. When you leave university, you’re normally one of the oldest amongst your peers and everyone is talking about life after graduation and it feels like a huge step. But then, and I know this won’t be true for everyone, then I moved to a city where I am one of the youngest again and very few people actually refer to the fact I’ve just graduated, they’re not fussed about what I did in Leeds they just want me to do the job. The stage I’m at in life feels far less important.

It’s a nice change, I don’t have to worry about readings I should be doing or essays I should be writing, work stops at 5 and I have the evenings to socialise and do whatever I want. Yes going to work 9-5 5 days a week has taken some getting used to but we’re getting there and it was going to have to happen at some point. It’s all only temporary which is maybe why it’s reassuring, I can have fun adulting for a few months then run away to Australia when it all gets a bit much because living in London has been a needed reminder that actually, when you graduate, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.

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Amsterdam on Film

Last week I went to Amsterdam. It was cold, expensive and wonderful. Here’s a little look at some of the photos we took and what we got up to.

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Apologies for the quality of some of these but I guess that’s part of the joy of a disposable camera. They’ll be plenty of decent pictures on my instagram.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

 

 

Leeds

In a week I head back to Leeds, and although there is still a while until my final year actually starts, I’m already starting to worry about what life might hold after it and I already have a strange sense of nostalgia.

The truth is that for me, university wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, at least not straight away. I found the majority of my first year incredibly lonely and overwhelming, which was something I hadn’t experienced before. I think perhaps we hear so many stories about how amazing it is and how you meet so many people who become your friends for life that you’re not prepared for what happens when it doesn’t meet those expectations. I found it could be quite isolating. I loved being in a city though and pushed myself to keep meeting people and by the end of the year, I was sad to leave it all.

Second year was much better, I felt far more settled and preferred being in a house. I surrounded myself with like minded people, made sure my days were busy and took advantage of opportunities that came my way and the city I was in. I spent a lot of the year laughing and doing things that made me happy with people who made me happy.

 

 

But now, I’m thinking about my final year, about all the things I said I would do at university but haven’t, about how quickly it’s all gone and about what I’m going to do after it’s over. It’s not that I’ve got no idea what I want to do, it’s that there are so many things, I have so many different paths I could go down. I need to remember that there’s no rush, I have 9 years left of my twenties and as hyped up as they are, there are plenty of years after them. I guess I just have to make the most of what is planned, because after that who knows where I’ll be.

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So this year, I’m going to work, yes, but I’m also going to join the societies I didn’t quite get round to joining and explore the city a bit more. I promised my mum I’d do a night of stand up comedy but perhaps that’s still a bit far-fetched. I want to actually do my readings so that there’s less late night library sessions and more time spent with friends.

Most importantly, I’m going to try not to compare my experiences with everyone else’s, because I’m pretty sure they’re probably just as stressed about it all as me.

 

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Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett