Happy Anniversary, London.

Dear Sam,

As you know, my two biggest dreams in life is to (1) Write a book and (2) Open a cafe. Because I thought the two would be highly unlikely, I just thought I would aim to make a blog and bake for friends.

Three years ago, still back home in the Philippines, I had this lightbulb idea of making a blog–small girl, big city kind of one. I had a pilot post all drafted up here on my laptop and was aimed at all the OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) or anyone thinking of being one. I was too chicken to do it of course, and it took me about two years to actually start one up and used you as my unique selling point instead. (Lol)

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But here I am, three years after making that draft, thinking that I should share it to you. Ones written in italics are from present me.

Top 10 Things To Do Before Leaving The Country

Besides the very obvious things to do like finding a job and place to live in, here are my things-to-do before leaving the Mother ship.

Eat All Day, Errday

Just like your sanity, you will miss it when it’s gone. I am not ashamed to admit that this past month, I have eaten in A LOT of Filipino restaurants in Cebu. (I love you, crispy pata and baked tahong.) I know I won’t be getting much (or any) of my-people food so I might as well indulge now and cross my fingers that I will find a decent Filipino market that sells Pancit Canton.

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There are decent Filipino stores and restaurants but nothing beats the taste of home. 

Important Documents

I do not want to spend a lot of money on sending papers back and fourth, thank you very much. So I took the liberty of listing all the important documents I will need, retrieved them, made copies, bought an expandable envelope, color coded—well, you get the picture. Better safe than sorry!

Even after all my organizing, I still ended up sending documents back and fourth.. and it wasn’t cheap! 

Snip, Snip!

Haircuts in London on average costs £50. That’s about 3,600 PHP and over 70 times more than the haircut I can get if I go to the salon across the street. If you are going to the States, their average price for a haircut nationwide is $44! That’s a lot of money and a lot of Math in two sentences.

That £50 was a number from Google and it was probably a little bit exaggerated. Because you can get cheaper cuts. I think the cheapest haircut I paid for was £25. But when I worked at retail and had zero savings, I learned how to trim my own hair. It was bad but it wasn’t horrible. 

Garage Sale

In a span of two weeks, I had a total of three garage sales. Yes, I have a lot of stuff. Obviously, I can’t bring them all so might as well sell it, get some money and feel some weight taken off my—cabinet? And like they always say, “Less is more!”

I accumulated a lot of stuff over the years anyway (as you know) so looking back at this, it was a good idea to just get rid of a lot of stuff. Start fresh. You can always buy new things. 

Bye Bye, Bank!

I have maxxed out my bank account, PayPal account and my dad’s pocket (just kidding!) No use of them here anymore and I will definitely need them when I’m trying to settle in.

(1) London is not cheap. And I had to train myself to stop converting within the first couple of weeks. 

(2) Opening a bank account was not easy but I tried to sort that one right away. 

Sleepovers, Movie Nights, Coffee Dates and More

This one needs no explanation.

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I will always miss sleepovers, movie nights and coffee dates from people back home. And this too, needs no explanation. 

Sort Out Your Things, Including Your Hard Drive

I had to make two piles of the things that were left after my garage sales. “To Bring” and “Stay Home But I Still Love You” 30 kilos doesn’t give me the chance to bring so much stuff. (Tear) Also, I had to clean my hard drive to make room for TV shows and movies I can binge watch when I’m being my lazy self.

Now you see me sorting out my things every season change. But it’s something you gotta do. 

Make A To-Do List For When You Arrive

Here’s mine: (1) Hug the living crap out of my gorgeous yogi sister because I arrive on her birthday. And the rest, the usual grown up things like open a bank account, get  an insurance number, find a job, etc. It’s important that you set priorities and don’t get side tracked to the beautiful alien world that you are going to move in to. There will be a lot of time for exploring later.

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Not long after settling in, I made a list of places I wanted to see. 

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Buy Pasalubong

In English: dried mangoes, Nagaraya, Boy Bawang and the like. It is customary for Filipinos to bring gifts for when they are meeting another Filipino. In my case, my sister. But I think bringing along with you Filipino treats is a great way to start a conversation or make a new friend. “Hello there, co-worker! Would you like to try a nutritious and delicious fruit snack from my country?” Lol. Or something to that effect.

I was surprised how much foreigners liked dried mangoes and how many places sold them. 

Last But Not The Least: Brace Yourself

This whole new chapter will be a great big change for me. (and you, if relevant) And for my last few days, I have been mentally and physically preparing myself for the challenges that I will face. No more father to drive me to places or cook me food. No more yaya to do my laundry and cleaning. And no more mother to tell me what to do. #shijustgotreal –Bring it!

Living with strangers was a weird new concept for me. So was public transport. And heating! 

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I have done a lot in the last three years. I’ve moved from retail to being a nurse in a hospital to now working for a big corporate company. I have travelled to a number of countries. I have met a lot of amazing people. And I met you. I am constantly rewiring my small city mentality and opening myself up to new things. It has been tough at times but I always manage to pull through somehow. I have grown a lot (not in height unfortunately) and I have come a long way.

Looking forward to more London moments, 

Isabel

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