Imagine waking up to a new world…

Just imagine, you have been asleep for the past two months. You awaken from the deep sleep. You put on your shoes and open the front door, the sound of traffic hitting your ears is for whatever reason not heard. You look down the street, everything just seems a little odd.

The neighbour that you stop to chat with on route to the shops, he crosses the road the moment he sees you. Anyone you pass tends to keep a few feet away, looking concerned. They wear gloves and masks. Further down the road, the train station often too crowded is now worryingly empty. Commuters look up to the timetable with less urgency and more confusion.

Lost.

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You check the board to see the date. It must be a Sunday right?!

‘Monday’ you learn.

An announcement over the speakers thanks the population for staying home and saving lives. Advising to travel only if absolutely necessary. To do what you can to stop the ‘spread of infection’.

Infection??

Shops are shut. Adverts thank care workers for their hard work on bus stops and electric billboards. It’s apparent something major has happened. But is it all of London? The UK? The world??

You hear radio coming from a nearby house, broadcasting the words of world leaders. It is clearly further than my neighbourhood.

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Only some people take to the streets. The odd police car goes by, looking as if they are keeping an eye out for groups or people that shouldn’t be out. Some people look like they are out for exercise. Some to keep everything tidy. Some because they don’t know what else to do.

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Imagine if this is the world we woke up to without any prior knowledge.

If you had no signal, no family in the area, no wifi…

How would you react?

 


 

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.

Stay home, stay safe and happy blogging!

Sam


 

Connect with me!

Have a blog you want to share? Introduce yourself here!

Using Insta? Click here for my Instagram!

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Life in lockdown: Teaching a class in Kuwait… from the UK

I’m Joy and I was born in Leeds in 1982. My mom was a drama teacher and my dad was a fireman, we lived in Garforth for the first few years of my life. They had recently been converted to evangelical Christianity and had got ‘the call’ to be in mission work. They joined a mission organisation called NTM and started a year bible school in Matlock Bath, which was where my sister was born.

After that year, we moved to the States for them to complete their training. NTM works on a self-funded basis, so my parents spent a lot of time visiting churches and raising support to be able to be missionaries abroad. We lived in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Illinois as my parents did different parts of the training in linguistics, bible training and ‘boot camps’ (consisting of building our own houses and being self sustainable living in the forest). They eventually decided where they wanted to be missionaries and when I was five we moved to Ivory Coast, West Africa and we lived there from 1987 until I graduated in 2000. We would come back to the UK (after also making a trip to the States to visit supporters for a month or so) every four years for a furlough. We always went back to Whitby, as that’s where my mom’s side of the family is from and my grandparents had a house big enough for us to live in together.

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I didn’t really have a career path in mind growing up, unlike my sister who knew she wanted to be a nurse from the age of 3, and of course, I was always her very reluctant patient. I drifted from ideal job to ideal job in my mind, but the one thing that had always fascinated me was learning about other cultures and languages, how we could be so similar and yet so far apart in many aspects? – I found it fascinating.

I had plenty of opportunity as well; not only from living in Ivory Coast and learning the differences between the people who lived in the cities, to the people who I grew up with in our tiny village, 25km from Ferke. I also got the chance to learn from living in the boarding school dorm from the age of eight, surrounded by missionary families from the States, Northern Ireland, Holland, Germany, Vietnam, Canada, France and many, many other countries.

That was what ultimately decided my university degree, in Intercultural Communication

I kind of fell into teaching English as a Foreign Language, I laugh when I say that as many people who teach TEFL say the same! In my last year of university they were offering the CELTA qualification in TEFL and I thought it would be a good thing to have ‘under my belt, just in case’. At the time, intercultural communication didn’t have as many job opportunities, so my first job was teaching English language back in Whitby. My parents at the time were living in Sanford, Florida and working at the mission headquarters there as everyone had had to leave Ivory Coast when the civil war kicked off in 2002. So their house was free, it was a good move as it gave me time to get my feet under me financially and get some experience. 

I didn’t plan to continue being an English language teacher, but I did enjoy it – I got to meet so many interesting people from all over the world and I love meeting new people and hearing about their lives – so it fit well with me! My early twenties were tough, really tough and I struggled a lot. I drifted a lot, moving here and there and worked in so many random places; bartending in Harrogate, teaching Ancient History and Life Skills to 9th graders at a Christian school in Florida for a year, in a clothing shop in Whitby, cover teaching all over Yorkshire, teaching assistant for SEN students at a college, a summer teaching TEFL in Scarborough… While I was at that last job, a fellow teacher said they were looking for permanent staff at an English Language school in York (ELC, now BSC) and I thought it would be interesting to try to stay in one place for a bit longer than six months! I got the job and stayed in York for 11 years. 

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The main reason why I really ended up moving to Kuwait is far too personal to share. But I’d been teaching mainly Arabic students for over 12 years and I’d always promised them all that one day, I’d go over there and visit. Now I had the chance to move over there and work! I had always been fascinated by Arabic cultures, and had spoken at several Intercultural conferences and published papers over the years on their culture. I spend most of 2019 searching for a good place to relocate to and finally was offered a good place at the college (soon to be a university) in Kuwait City. I thought it would be a great place to start, and it’s location perfect for travelling to other Arabic countries to visit and explore. 

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I had so many positive experiences in my short time there. I really loved that some of my ex students wanted to meet up with me; two of the students I taught four years ago were visiting from the UK and took me our for a (non-alcoholic) cocktail and food at a burger bar (everyone loves burgers and sliders over there due to the major American influence in recent decades). It was awesome to hear how their years at university had gone and how much they love living in the UK, and how their futures might go after graduating. 

I met up with a student who I’d taught over 9 years ago, he’d finished his education in the UK and got a job in dentistry in Kuwait, not far from the school I was teaching at. We met up with him and his friend (as a chaperone, as he was recently married), he showed me the Mubarakiya area of Kuwait, a traditional market which sells everything you could possibly want as a Kuwaiti.  As we were walking through the market, I had worn jeans and a very long black jumper, and he the traditional Kuwait male dress;  we got a few stares as a traditionally dressed Kuwaiti man and an obviously Western dressed woman! After we got out of the market, we both laughed and said next time I’d either wear a hijab or he jeans and a t-shirt!

All the other students I had taught and I has promised to visit did message, but it was always the ‘wrong time’ to meet up with me. The ones I’ve mentioned were the only ones I saw in my time there. Culture did not permit random meet-ups, even though I had been their teacher, I was a single western woman.

I met new people though, I’d had a student who was still living in the UK, but her sister lived in Kuwait. She gave me her number and I got in touch. She arranged to meet up with me and we met at a Lebanese restaurant on the beach front. She had brought along a friend. The experience was amazing food wise, we tried to communicate, but neither of them spoke very good English – they mostly spoke to each other, with me trying to pick up an understanding from my limited understanding of Arabic picked up over my years of teaching Arabic students. They were both so lovely, and we took Snapchat filter photos together. If it’s the one thing I learned, is that Snapchat is everything over there, taking filter photos and especially… pictures of food…. We met up again the following week, we went to her friend’s house, I had no idea if it was in my honour or just something they did on a weekly basis. The girls (of course all female) from different countries, Jordan, Egypt, and Kuwait. We sat, them speaking in Arabic (me trying to understand the general context) all smoking shisha pipes and the lady went back and forth prepping the massive amounts of food which she eventually brought out. A million different types of food… for the main and the dessert. Then, the Bluetooth speaker came out (they love listening to music there!!) and each woman got up to dance. We were also invited to a desert gathering two weeks later by a different group of people I had the opportunity to meet. They all listened to western and Arabic music, and danced a lot. (Alcohol in Kuwait cost £150+ per bottle, most people got vodka or whisky as it was just as much to get a bottle of wine!) 

In Kuwait I met some really wonderful people; at work; my boss: a poet and author, my colleague; a kind, interesting man who’d spent years living in Arabic countries- we connected so well, the IT director who lived in my building; from Iraq originally, with a family in Oman, we smoked shisha together and he gave me such insights into the Kuwait culture, my students; as insanely lazy as they were; had such drive in so many other aspects, otherwise; the women I met through my neighbour; so driven, intelligent and modern, with goals that they would reach by hook or by crook…

Before the covid outbreak, I did get the chance to visit some key places in Kuwait City. I lived near the ‘beach front’ and tried a few shisha bars down there with a friend from work a couple times and went for walks before doing my weekly shop at the supermarket in the mall. I went to the main park in Kuwait City, Al Shadeed, it was quite pretty, lovely water features. I visited the Al Hamra skyscraper, which I could see from my flat window and with a colleague, wandered around the elite shops and had a meal in an Italian restaurant. I went to the Avenues mall, designed to feel like you were walking along the Champs-Elysees, or the Rodeo Drive in LA, it was mind blowing… but the overall feeling was that, no one except the few could afford to shop there. People came for an outing, and the Kuwaiti nationals were the only ones who could go into shops, especially ‘The Grand Avenue’, which featured the most expensive, exclusive shops imagined from around the world….

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The college had Spring Break, as it followed the American curriculum, most of the people at the college left as they were expats to other countries, to visit their family or take a brief week holiday. I went to France to visit a good friend of mine. As I was there, news started to get more serious about the Covid-19 break-out. We got daily emails from work about returning to Kuwait, or to be more specific, how we couldn’t return to Kuwait. Our workplace hadn’t given most of its employees residency visas (required for working in Kuwait) which made our worry so much greater. We were tourists, waiting to come back in to the country illegally. I was so grateful when we finally got the Kuwait news update that no visas; tourist or resident, would be allowed back into the country. I tried to change my ticket from Kuwait to the UK, but had to book it anew. At this point, I didn’t care. I was going home. 

We started off teaching again online when I arrived in the UK, and then classes were cancelled a week later as the Kuwaiti government said it couldn’t authenticate online teaching. Ten days later the Kuwaiti government authenticated online learning, so we were all re-drafted in for teaching. Since then, starting 3 weeks ago, I’ve been teaching my two classes online; 16 in my listening and speaking class and two in my writing and grammar class. I’ve learned so much about this new form of teaching, and have enjoyed the new challenge, it’s also included forming all parts of the curriculum to be digital- I’ve been learning so much everyday. I’ve grown so much in my editing skills. Every day is a new challenge, either from the technology issues, to having to create everything from scratch as all my materials and possessions are now in Kuwait, and I am here. Another challenge has been the time difference; when we started the classes back in March there was a three hour time difference, even longer for some of my colleagues, which meant getting up at 4am to teach my 8am class! Fortunately the clocks went forward in our interim break, as as Ramadan started last week, the classes are now all in the afternoon (Kuwait time). I can have a lie-in!

Most of the students have worked so hard to adjust to this new learning environment as well. Obviously, to some it would seem to be an easy transition, especially for students 18-22 years of age… You just log in and watch the teacher and answer questions as usual right? Definitely not! Besides the many technical issues that happen when relying on Zoom and other online teaching sites, they’ve also had to learn how to submit everything either through the college’s e-learning portal (which is not that clear cut….) or by email. I know that seems crazy to say, but this generation has no email, they all have Instagram and Snapchat, but email is for work only, and none of them have had work experience yet. A whole new learning experience for them! Another struggle is self-motivation. I’m not standing over them in a classroom cajoling and entertaining and pushing them, very hard to do online. They have learned so much about being accountable to themselves and their studies. Pushing the boundaries on their traditional learning styles and the assignments they have to do in a new way for me. I’m so proud of them all. Especially in these last few weeks of term, it’s now Ramadan in Kuwait, so not only are they trying to finish their foundation year, but fasting through it all as well. We have three weeks to go till Summer Break!!! 

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Thank you to Joy for providing the third insight for my ‘Life in Lockdown’ series, aiming to provide a glimpse into the lives of people around the world during this pandemic.

All words are Joy’s own and for more stories, photo’s and travel experiences please visit her blog, justjoythings!

 


 

Credits:

Featured photo by Ahmad Mohammed on Unsplash

York photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash

All other photos are by Joy herself

 

Layovers in Lockdown: (Guest post by Forevernads Abroad)

This is my first in hopefully many posts looking at the lives of other bloggers around the world, sharing their stories and seeing how the current pandemic is affecting work and travel. Here, Nadia tells us about where she is from and why she made the decision to move to another continent, her experiences along the way and how blogging is helping in recent times.

Due to the majority of bloggers not being self employed, certain information cannot be shared about companies and other aspects of life, but we do what we can 🙂

Please enjoy, and thank you Nadia for your insight!


 

My name is Nadia, most people call me Nads. I’m a small town girl from South Africa and I’ve always been passionate about change and personal growth.

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Johannesburg, South Africa

At the age of 25, after three years in an office, I set out for my first journey abroad as an Au Pair in Seattle, USA.  It was a roller coaster ride and I went through all the motions: a new job, a new “family”, culture shock and financial struggle. On this same journey, my friend circle crossed borders, I developed an intense love for hiking and the outdoors and I learned to be strong on my own.

Seattle is all about rainbow flags and gender neutral restrooms where black lives matter, the future is female and the nipple is free. It was a liberating experience, to say the least!

After one year of living and working abroad, I grew so much as a person and I was eager to build on this. Instead of going back to an office job in South Africa, I applied for a job as Flight Attendant in the Middle East, where I’ve been based for the past year.

Seattle and the Middle East are very different destinations, so both were challenging to adjust to in different ways.

Life in a traditional Islamic country is very different culturally. Most restaurants have a men-only section, personal display of affection is forbidden in public and women should cover their shoulders and knees. A different world to the one I was raised in, yet easy to adjust to with a small mental shift. So far it’s helped me gain perspective, which is a bonus!

I’m not here all the time though – the flight attendant lifestyle is a far greater challenge! With no routine and permanent jet lag it’s sometimes difficult to maintain a healthy diet, work out and socialize. This also makes relationships tricky. And speaking of relationships, what I miss most about home is my family and friends – this will always be a challenge, as they can’t be replaced. Meeting new people every day from all over the world does make up for it though.

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The strongest motivating factor is of course the layovers. It’s usually just a day or two, so I prefer long haul as this takes you to all the best places and gives you more time to explore! So far, my favorites are the places I’ve been to more than once like, Bali, Budapest, Prague and London. This is pure luck, as we don’t get to choose where we go.

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On a second or third visit I make an effort to try and find something that I haven’t seen or done before. Because of limited time, I never cram too many things into one visit, so there’s always things to do next time. As much as I love the typical tourist stuff, I get the most value out of unexpected findings. I could walk from morning til noon and do absolutely nothing but take it all in. This is how I pick up on a city’s vibe – and to me that’s what a place is all about!

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Statue of a man with an umbrella- Prague

What’s also convenient about visiting the same destinations more than once is that you are more savvy with transport. Sometimes it takes as much as an hour to get from the hotel to city center, so it saves a lot of time if you’re familiar with the route and all the logistics that come with it.

PS: I’m terrible at this!

We don’t have trains/subways in South Africa so I’m usually a little out of sorts at train stations. Besides the fact I’ve been to London a dozen times, I find the public transport there pretty easy. Go to Germany or Hong Kong and it’s a complete different story! As a traveler, language is your best friend. From getting lost too many times, I learned that when you can’t speak the language, a confident smile and good judgement of strangers is your best friend – you can always ask for help!

From getting lost between train stations to being stuck in hotels, the effects of the pandemic hit the aviation industry slowly and then all at once. I was visiting my family at home for a few days in the beginning of March and we were excited to finalize their plans to come visit me in the Middle East at the end of March. Within that time half the world closed their borders, which instantly made travel impossible for most.

Reality hit me towards the end of March when I was walking through empty airports and arriving to quiet hotels.

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No way through: A barrier restricts access in Flughafen, Nürnberg, Germany.

But this was also when I had time to write again… on my last layover in London I started my blog. That was a month ago – I’ve been in my base city ever since.

We are not officially on lockdown. People work from home and everything except grocery stores, pharmacies and food delivery services are closed. Other than that we can still move freely, given we wear a mask and practice social distancing. This break is not ideal for many reasons, but personally I have found ways to do things I don’t have time for “in a day of the life as a flight attendant”. I read and write and do yoga and study teaching online. Best of all, thanks to WordPress, I still meet new people and make new friends from all over the world every day!

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Thank you to Nadia for providing the first insight for my ‘Life in Lockdown’ series, aiming to provide a glimpse into the lives of people around the world during this pandemic.

All words are Nadia’s own and for more great stories, photo’s and travel experiences please visit her blog, Forevernads Abroad!

Click here for the Forevernads Abroad Blog

Click here for Forevernads Abroad on Instagram

 


 

Credits:

Featured photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

Johannesburg‘ photo by Jacques Nel on Unsplash

Chihuly Glass & Garden‘ photo by Hannah Ray on Unsplash

Umbrella Man‘ photo by Anastasia Dulgier on Unsplash

Deserted Airport‘ photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Friends overlooking the ocean‘ photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Other photos taken by Nadia herself

 


 

 

 

I took an even bigger walk today (lots more photos)

Today is my last day off work, and with that I wanted to make the most of it. I am only working four days and off for another four, but still. The 13 hour shifts take up the whole day and give me little to do other than have breakfast and grab a bite before bed.

So I headed to Victoria Park, a huge park east up the canal from my location. I started in the same area as I did in my previous canal post and began walking… It took me little over half an hour to get there. I took my winter coat in case of any rain, thankfully there wasn’t any.

Spotify playlist: Kerrang Rock Songs of the 00’s. I was feeling nostalgic.

And Ruled by Secrecy Matt, I thought you would like to know.

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The walk is just as entertaining as the park itself, with plenty to see along the canal. And although I didn’t show you this last time, LOTS of graffiti. I like it though, it adds plenty of colour. You will see this throughout the post.

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So this is where the taxi’s hibernate when they aren’t needed…

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And this pub looks like it’s been closed since the last pandemic… just kidding, it could be lovely inside for all I know. I don’t want to be banned in case I ever try it out.

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I made it to Victoria Park. Admittedly I didn’t know exactly how to get to it, but because of how big it is on the map I just knew I would end up close. I found this entrance with a dog statue, according to Look Up London these are replicas of 2nd Century Roman dog statues that can be found in the British Museum.

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All benches were covered in tape with signs telling people not to use. These were accompanied by spray painted instructions on the ground to ‘Keep Left’ at a distance of 2 meters. I imagine Banksy was given the task of inspiring London to stick to the rules in this instance.

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Now this park is huge. Not on the same scale as Hyde Park but more than enough to do one lap and get a good bit of exercise in. Here are some of my favourite shots from the walk, showing some of the parks highlights and due to the restrictions, closed off areas.

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Shouldn’t you be inside, human?!

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You see the hooped object just under the crane in the above shot? I didn’t know I walked that far, but this is the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a 114.5m tall sculpture in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. As I am sure many Premier League fans are aware, London Stadium is now being used by West Ham United.

The group in the picture spent their time shouting at potential groups gathering and being too close to one another. I assume this, as I heard one use the megaphone below whilst walking in the direction of the Shard.

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To give you a reference point, this is the map of London showing Victoria Park as well as London Stadium, The Shard and Canary Wharf.

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One Canada Square in Canary Wharf is the second tallest building in the United Kingdom, with a distinctive pyramid roof. It can be seen (faintly) in the distance behind all the buildings in the below shot.

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Police officers were present, some walking, some on bikes and some on horseback. I spotted an ambulance at one entrance too.

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aaand the walk back home.

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I hope you liked the shots!! Oh, and reading this post counts as your one session of daily exercise.

Just so you know 😉

 


 

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.

Stay home, stay safe and happy blogging!

Sam


 

Connect with me!

Have a blog you want to share? Introduce yourself here!

Also, I would love to grow on Instagram, please give me a follow over there as I will have plenty of London shots coming your way. Any help would be amazing as photography is fast becoming a passion of mine. Click here for onechancetoseetheworld on Insta and thank you so much for your support. It means the world to me.

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I filmed a walk through London during lockdown (video in post)

Today I spent the afternoon chopping/editing some footage I collected on my GoPro on Saturday. It was a video of my walk to the shops that I posted about here. Usually this isn’t the most exciting thing to capture on film, but during a pandemic this might be footage I show to my grandkids in decades to come. I was going for groceries and made a couple of stops, so it was allowed.

I have marked Old Street on the map below, so you can get an idea of where I am in London. Very central on the border of the boroughs of Hackney and Islington. From my starting point I face south and head down beneath the roundabout, then turning west and coming back up onto Old Street Road. The whole walk pretty much takes place in the little highlighted circle below.

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At the start of the video I walk through Old Street Underground station, it is almost empty. Over 20 million people head through the ticket barriers annually, however in the video it looks more like an abandoned station. An announcement can be heard advising those that aren’t key workers to stay at home, and all the businesses that trade down there are closed. A simple message of Stay Home, Don’t Travel, Save Lives. A huge contrast to how it looked when I took this shot earlier in the year.

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I head a little further, you will notice I say a few words to those I engage with on the walk. Yes, I do speak sometimes!! For anyone curious as to what I sound like, here it is. I speak to two homeless people, a couple of shoppers and the shop assistants. One day I may do a video where I speak to viewers directly, however I am still way too shy for that. And also this video was made purely to document what London is currently like during this lockdown.

I hope you like the footage, it was filmed on a GoPro Hero 7 Silver in 4K. I am so new to uploading videos (this is only my second upload on my YouTube channel) I have no idea how to upload with the best quality. The same during editing. So this is practice more than anything… it isn’t as crisp right now, but maybe it is still processing. We shall see.

I thought this would be my blog post for today, a little insight as to where I live and what London life is currently like.

I hope you enjoy!

 


 

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.

Stay home, stay safe and happy blogging!

Sam


 

Connect with me!

Have a blog you want to share? Introduce yourself here!

Also, I would love to grow on Instagram, please give me a follow over there as I will have plenty of London shots coming your way. Any help would be amazing as photography is fast becoming a passion of mine. Click here for onechancetoseetheworld on Insta and thank you so much for your support. It means the world to me.

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Uploading my last winter shots (and practicing presets for my summer ones!)

We are heading into the middle of spring here in Europe. The days are getting longer and brighter, even if we can only witness this from our kitchen window. But that window is being opened a little more everyday, and the sunshine alone is keeping me in good spirits.

Saying that, I still have a small backlog of winter photos that I haven’t had the chance to upload yet. So I am doing so before it’s too late.

The shot below for example. I captured a commuter yawning, or yelling at me, whichever you prefer to believe!

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I think I was heading up Regent Street to look at the Christmas lights, which is just past the Underground sign seen on the left of this shot. I could have also been doing a clothes shop as I badly needed new clothes on my return home. Oxford Circus is right up the other end of Regent Street and great for shopping.

I chuckled to myself looking at these pictures, as at the time of taking them all I could think about was the summer sun. I didn’t know that I would later look back and take that cold weather for a life without a pandemic…

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The ground at Piccadilly Circus looks more like a mirror in the rain. I love the reflections from the famous advertising boards and I have seen so many great shots of them on Instagram. The rain in London will give me plenty of time to perfect those puddle reflection shots that’s for sure. And speaking of the weather, it has provided me a little challenge to work on.

Now I am uploading more frequently on IG, I have been looking at creating a preset for my London shots to give a more consistent look. With the skies here constantly changing from bright blue to cloudy, the look and lighting in each shot varies wildly. Great for the variety, but hard to give shots my own unique look. Below is an example of my recent shots and you can see that despite the change in weather, the shots all share a similar colour and lighting theme. This is an example of a preset, pre-adjusted settings in software that you can create yourself and add to your photos.

I have a lot to learn on the Adobe software I am using (presets are in a programme called Lightroom), but with the free time I have this is a blessing I guess! Got to stay productive in times like these.

Are you using presets? If so let me know your theme and style. Hopefully I will have gotten much better in time for summer, and I hope you are liking the shots so far!

Stay safe,

Sam

 


 

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.

Stay home, stay safe and happy blogging!

Sam


 

Connect with me!

Have a blog you want to share? Introduce yourself here!

Also, I would love to grow on Instagram, please give me a follow over there as I will have plenty of London shots coming your way. Any help would be amazing as photography is fast becoming a passion of mine. Click here for onechancetoseetheworld on Insta and thank you so much for your support. It means the world to me.

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First impressions of London

London is so different to the rest of the UK. 13% of the country’s 66 million people live here, and you can tell as soon as you get that sweaty tube into the city center. I have to go overseas to find another city as busy, New York City is of comparable size. Neither are the biggest, but much bigger than any of the Australian cities I have been living in for the past two years. Within these borders however those that live elsewhere know just how much bigger London is.

I realised this when I first landed in City Airport after this mega trip from Melbourne. The airport itself was fairly small, but one of five (or six depending on what you count as London) in the city. Googling just how many airports London has I learned that Heathrow is in fact the USA’s 6th biggest airport, followed by Frankfurt. Who knew!

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And during the tube-ride from the airport to Kings Cross I found it very difficult to remain in high spirits. The sight of concrete, the smell of exhaust fumes and constant bumping into people isn’t the best way to carry out your day. The bright blue suitcase I bought to be easily spotted on the luggage carousel felt like a big mistake on a packed underground train. The fact I even commuted with one through London was an eye opener itself. After was seemed like forever I was begging to be in my home village in the north east, it would take me a week up there to see as many people as I did on the tube alone.

But three great weeks passed, and I made my way down to London to start my job. I work close to London Bridge, right in the heart of London. For this reason I am surrounded by tourists and commuters alike, walking by some of the cities (and worlds) most popular attractions.

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This was one of the first pictures I took in the city. A beautiful morning, even those heading to work seemingly stopping to take in Tower Bridge, one of the most famous bridges in the world. I don’t want to use this post to provide too much info on the structures in the images, as I want to create individual posts dedicated to them. As I mentioned in my previous post I would like to use Instagram more and incorporate it into my blog, using the poll feature to let you decide where I visit. Then I will take the time to explore the city and dedicate posts to certain attractions and places of interest that you want to see.

Saying that, I have had time to do a few laps of the City of London, taking in many iconic sights.

A great route for a run is over London Bridge (above) and along the river, back over the river via Tower Bridge and back to where I started. The numerous tourists I have to dodge hasn’t annoyed me yet, I still find it great to live in such a buzzing area. However I am sure I have ruined many photos along the way. I have decided to give up saying sorry 90% of the time for minor bumps and things before sunset as it is just inevitable, and if I say it anymore I will probably go insane. This is why the capital is seen to have so many rude people, it is just too populated. Being polite 100% of the time is just not possible.

The shots don’t do its hecticness justice, but London looks great from here.

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The old and the new. Between the two segments of the Tower of London, the modern day highrises can be seen showing how timeless London is. Many of the cities skyscrapers have funny nicknames which makes each one much easier to identify.

How good does London look under a blue sky? Since arriving I have had great weather…

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And not so great weather.

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Day walks…

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And adventures after sunset.

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The past couple of days haven’t been as nice as the ones you see in this shot, taken roughly a week or two ago. Below is a great view of the high rises and Tower of London from across the Thames.

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Can you identify ‘The Shard’, ‘The Gherkin’, and ‘The Walkie Talkie’ in amongst these shots?

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This month is going to be a tough one for me financially. I only received two weeks pay in September as I started work mid way through the month, and I am now brought back to the harsh reality that I will be paid monthly. This means that half pay will have to last me all the way until the end of October, and London is certainly not a city that you can survive in for too long on anything less that full time pay. I will be fine, however my blog posts until then won’t really consist of too much travel. If there is anything else you would like me to post about during this time I would welcome suggestions, I recall a few people asking me to post about how to grow and develop their own blog so I could do a post on how I run mine I guess, what has worked for me and what hasn’t.

I am going to try hard to save for a proper camera too, recently I have had more of an urge than ever to use something other than my iPhone 5. As good as the shots can be from it, it cannot compare to a proper camera. It is like me putting on the glasses I should always wear, it is easy to forget how much you miss out on until you see things through a better lens.

How long will this take in one of the most expensive cities in the world? I am not sure, but I will try. Work is great. Free meals, free gym and classes across the road a couple times a week and right now I live a short distance away so no commuting costs. These will all contribute massively and are very, very welcome.

And with that, I ask you employed people out there.. how often are you paid? Weekly? Fortnightly? Monthly? Do you like how you have it currently? For the monthlies do you feel like a millionaire like me for the first week and eat noodles for the last three? I would like to know if I am not the only one.

Stay tuned guys, more posts are coming. And when I receive my first full paycheck I will- despite trying to be more sensible with my money- ensure I will have some very fun posts heading your way.

Thank you, and I hope you had a great weekend.

Sam

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Connect with me!

@onechancetoseetheworld– Instagram

@octstw– Twitter

Introduce yourself– a place to share your blog and find new ones

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Travel/Instagram update: Moving to London

Hey everyone, as you can see I made it to London and I am really excited to start blogging around this great city. A city I haven’t properly explored before, I will be based here for the foreseeable future. I work roughly a ten minute walk south of London Bridge (to the right of this shot), the bridge I am standing on.

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When I first got to London the weather was great. And despite the odd torrential downpour it has stayed relatively mild. I am hoping that despite the inevitable cold snaps that will come with winter, I will get enough sunshine to use in my posts. I want to spend my first few months here getting out and about whilst I still feel like a tourist.

And with that I have an idea of how I want to plan my London travels. I have been on various travel websites looking at the classic ‘top ten must do’s’ and ‘101 things you can’t leave London without experiencing’ and have complied a list of those I find interesting. Some are obvious picks and others are a little bit different. It is safe to say I won’t run out of ideas anytime soon.

As those on Instagram will know, there is an option to do polls in the ‘Story’ section of the app… usually it’s asking people to choose whether ketchup or brown sauce is better or whether to have a night out or Netflix. I want to use this option to suggest things to do in London, two things of a similar nature. An example of this is let you choose one of two world famous attractions to visit or two markets to explore. You choose, and I go there. I think this will be a great way to help with my decision making on a weekly basis and allow you to have some input. Choices that aren’t successful will be used again later down the line with another option as there will be some that I will be dying to see no doubt.

Travels chosen by Instagram. I am looking forward to giving it a go!

If you have Instagram great, I would love you to join in once I start uploading my ‘this or that’ polls. If not don’t worry, I will be uploading the main posts to WordPress once a decision has been made with the result of said decision and my experiences there. This will give me more than enough to post about every week and I will try to keep them all fun and entertaining.

What do you all think? It is a little different for my blog, I gained some inspiration for this from some bigger names using the Insta feature, such as Yes Theory.

 

Yay or nay? I guess that is my first poll 😉

 

Hello from London, and speak to you all soon!

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Connect with me

@onechancetoseetheworld– Instagram

@octstw– Twitter

Introduce yourself– a place to share your blog and find new ones

samoctstw

 

My Australian Journey #2: Arriving in Sydney

After departing on the 1st September from London, I finally arrived in Sydney on the 3rd. It is so strange to think that it would take three days to get anywhere in the world, but I did have a great big layover in Singapore to blame for that.

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I’ve just realised that on Instagram I am uploading these shots in the wrong order. I was about to type this post with the below shot of the Sydney Tower Eye as my first photo of Sydney, but it was in fact the one above. I was on the train and as I had no clue about the journey from the airport, almost missed the view behind me. I was on those seats that face sideways and was looking at the highrises of the CBD and probably noticed the harbour glistening in the reflections. What a view it was too. Here is a very short post I published at the time.

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This was a very tiring day. It was hot, I stupidly decided to bring two large heavy bags with me and due to having them packed to the brim, was wearing my winter jacket. I don’t know what made me decide to bring that with me as I was entering summer, but after experiencing a Melbourne winter (where I currently am) this wasn’t a bad decision. You can read another very short blog post on this day here.

Oh, and I also made a friend. I realised he has his problems like the rest of us.

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Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Cheers!

Sam

 

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Travel Diary: Instagram update

Hey everyone, over the past couple of days I have been arranging all of the photos I have taken in the two years I have been travelling Australia. I have found my favourites and will be posting them onto Instagram starting August 1st, ending around September 1st. I can safely say it took forever to sort through them, decide which ones I thought were worthy and find the best way to consistently upload so many photos over the course of a month. I aim to upload all of them throughout August, uploading three a day using a scheduling app called Later, created by Instagram themselves.

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This app will really help me to go about my blogging and daily duties as my Instagram pictures upload, however I will be on the app regularly as I do really enjoy using it and would love to grow the channel. It is a great site for photography and I look forward to sharing my journey through these pictures.

This brings me onto the next thing, I was going to ask you all for some help… I wasn’t sure how I wanted to upload these pictures. Should I do it chronologically, from the plane ride from London to Australia up to the current day, or in a different style? At first I was planning to upload them in a random order, and this made more sense in a way. As Instagram is focused on photography more than text, date order may not look as visually pleasing. For example if one day was beautiful blue skies and the next stormy, the page would look very untidy or inconsistent, whereas if I added pictures of blue skies together and slowly changed the pattern of uploads to match a drastically different image, this would work much better.

Buuuut, saying that, I went into the uploads folder and sorted the pictures into date order… and it didn’t look bad at all. The pictures flowed nicely and even if one does stick out, I am sure I could play around with the surrounding images a little. I went from not fancying date order to being pretty convinced this is what I am going to do. But I would love to know what you think and if you prefer date order as to appear more of a journey, or in a style that might fit a more visual theme.

I think if I upload three images a day, it won’t be too much. It would allow me to show you all my favourite pictures before I get back to the UK and explore further. I don’t plan to stop blogging, so I pretty much need to get them all on here now so I don’t create a queue for myself once I get back and start snapping more. It will be frantic, like one of those full time Instagrammers, but I look forward to it! What I may do is upload a weeks worth of my favourite shots here for you to look at as well, especially for those of you that don’t have the app.

I just wanted to give you a little update on this as I think it is a nice way to bring this travelling chapter to an end, and remind myself of the places I have been. Thank you for joining me on this amazing journey and I hope you have enjoyed reading about it! I look forward to seeing the pictures I haven’t seen for a while and with that, the memories from those experiences. Two years seems a long time ago but I remember it like yesterday. I remember getting on that flight to Singapore wondering what experiences I would take back with me and I wouldn’t change a thing. By the time the uploads are complete I will have another flight to blog about, London under my feet and Europe on my doorstep.

Until then… here is my Australian travel experience from September 2017- September 2019. I hope you enjoy, whether it is here or on Instagram.

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Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Cheers!

Sam

samoctstw