Out of all the people I have told so far, only one person has asked me why I’m moving to New Zealand. Perhaps that’s an indicator that people are ready to see the back of me, but it’s worth answering.
I first knew I wanted to leave the UK while I was still living in Brixton, 4 years ago. I was sitting on the 59 bus, opposite a guy who was cutting his fingernails and brushing the clippings to the floor. The UK was leading up to the recession and the press was heavily focused on the spate of stabbings going on throughout the city. We crossed Waterloo bridge, the sun was setting and I took in the view of St Paul’s on one side, and Westminster on the other. If I wanted to fulfil the cliché of a successful yet unfulfilled woman living in the city, this would have been the point where I would have sat down at my laptop and mused on my predicament. Fortunately, I’m doing that now.
After putting away my Anthropology degree I started clinical medicine and any thoughts of living abroad went to one side as I got to grips with dealing with patients, and more importantly, other doctors. It was a struggle at times and there were plenty of moments where I had to put on a brave face on the wards and then cry in the toilets shortly after. I considered taking a year out; I wanted to explore South America and do some charity work, but then my landlord decided to sell the house I was living in, and by then I wanted to just get my degree over and done with.
At the beginning of my final year in medicine, I went to Thailand to do my medical elective. I also visited parts of the US including Hawaii, NZ, Australia (for 2 days, does that even count?) and Singapore. In New Zealand I literally got in a car and drove around, experiencing a sense of freedom I hadn’t felt in a long time. As I took the following picture, I told myself I would be back.
Not bad considering I was on the verge of vomiting over myself
During my travels, life took on a manic pace; I ended my long-term relationship and I found myself on Koh Phi-Phi wondering whether I should fill out my UKPFO application (for medical work in the UK) or just leave it.
I submitted my form online while a cluster of mosquitos feasted on my ankles. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the situation but figured it was best to keep my options open. Fast-forward to Feb 2010 and I was offered my dream jobs: 4 months of obstetrics and gynaecology, 4 months of cardiology and 4 months of general surgery. I told myself that this was great, except I had knots in my stomach and felt emotionally wrecked. I then looked at a list of goals I had jotted down, ‘live and work abroad’ decided to just do it, and instantly felt better.
So I booked my first ever one-way ticket, withdrew from the UK Foundation Programme and qualified as a doctor. Not the most conventional way to do things, but as my mum often laments, I’m not a very conventional person. There are of course gaps in this complex tapestry, but that’s a good reduction of it for now. This time next month I will be in one of the most beautiful places in the world with access to loads of yarn and decent coffee.