10 years in the UK!

I hopped off the plane at LHR, with a dream and a cardigan.

And now it’s 10 years later!

I spent the actual anniversary at Glastonbury, which was unreal, and basically frames what I wanted to talk about with this post.

The opportunities I’ve had since moving to the UK are so much greater than I ever would have had at home. I know that can be hard to prove, but I definitely feel that way. So here we have the things I believe I’ve gained from moving here as a fresh 25 year old after only one visit to the country 15 months before.

Epic theatre, music and events

Like I said, on the 23rd of June 2013, I was getting off a plane in London. On the 23rd of June 2023, I was camping at the biggest and best music festival – Glastonbury. It definitely wasn’t the type of the place I ever saw myself going when I lived in Canada, it’s definitely not as well-known over there, and I am a sleepy little weakling who loves her modern amenities. But you can’t pass up the opportunity to see so many amazing artists in one place, meet so many interesting people, and have a very specifically British type of fun!

This wasn’t the first time I’ve had that kind of “pinch me” experience. One of my first ones was shopping on Regent Street during the Christmas lights turn on event where 3 of the Spice Girls performed. Since then, I’ve been to the Spice Girls reunion at Wembley. I’ve seen Britney Spears. I’ve seen Taylor Swift (and will see her again for The Eras Tour!). There are so many others – artists that never visit Calgary, and maybe never will.

Then, there’s the West End. When I lived in Calgary, I had to wait until Broadway Across Canada toured big shows, usually years after they premiered on Broadway or the West End. Since moving here I’ve seen countless amazing shows – Hamilton, Gypsy, Come From Away, Wicked, Once, Heathers… I honestly can’t remember them all! As a big theatre nerd, this is a complete dream come true.

A varied and prolific career

I haven’t really kept up to date with the Calgary tech scene, but I imagine it’s not constantly growing and changing at the same rate as that of the UK. Had I stayed in Calgary, I may have ended up working for one of the large oil companies. Or maybe I’d be running my own business thanks to the slightly lower cost of living. Perhaps I would have still left Calgary, for a bigger Canadian city.

Whichever way, in the UK I’ve had such amazing opportunities to work for a variety of different tech companies. I’ve been able to attend conferences that I used to just read about on Twitter. I’ve met some bona fide tech celebrities. I’ve worked on projects for companies that are household names. I think these experiences have made me a better designer than I would have been if I’d stayed where I was.

Travel

One thing that’s pretty easy to estimate is that I’ve travelled much more than I would have had I stayed in Canada! Travel is expensive over there, and having Europe on my doorstep has been such a blessing. Not only have I travelled around the UK itself, I’ve been to the Netherlands, France, Italy, Morocco, Switzerland, Germany, and the Canary Islands – some of these more than once. This number would likely be higher had it not been for the pandemic. Regardless, I appreciate being able to pop to a new place with a different culture for a long weekend. Shout out to my 25 days of annual leave for helping with this! (In Canada, we only get 10 days.)

My amazing partner-in-crime and life

Okay I won’t get too soppy, but without moving to the UK, I wouldn’t have met my soulmate, love of my life, partner-in-crime. And that would be the biggest tragedy of my life.

Of course, not everything has been rosy

The UK has changed a lot in the last 10 years, and not necessarily in a good way. We’ve gone from having the lovely open borders and protections of the EU. There’s definitely a palpable divide in the country and not everything seems as full of hope and possibility as it did a decade ago. Maybe that’s just getting older, but I think it’s mostly the fault of the powers that be.

And I’ve missed things at home. It’s not easy being far away from everyone, especially as family members get older.

Canada just has a higher quality of life than the UK. It’s probably because they’re not packed on top of each other, taking up every inch of space on a tiny island that keeps further isolating itself from the world.

Future plans

I think I’ve said enough to make it clear that I don’t intend on leaving the UK any time soon. I’ve well and truly built my life here, and I love it.

I have Indefinite Leave to Remain, but I have delayed getting citizenship. It’s just a bit more money, but it’s mostly the faff of the admin, with very little impact on my life. I was kind of into the idea of singing God Save the Queen to a photo of Her Maj, but obviously that isn’t happening. And a British passport isn’t the key to living and working abroad like it used to be.

I’ll get around to it one day, preferably before we buy a place, but again that’s on pause because of how expensive this damn country that I happen to love is!