The Ripple Effect (conclusion)

Jan 31, 2014 by

Old Street

I never realized London is notoriously unfriendly. How does someone who comes from “Friendly Manitoba” adapt? To be honest, you get a little bit meaner. You get a thicker skin. You stop saying sorry every time you bump into someone on the tube. You walk with grit and determination; complain about the slow-moving tourists on Oxford Street. You avoid tourist traps and pickpockets, and learn what end of the platform will lead quickest to the exit at your next station.

You fight the gray, sunless, reading-filled monotony with afternoon pints, walking tours, and day trips to Greenwich.  You learn the West End really is sunnier and cleaner and happier. You learn the fastest way to class, and the best spots in the library. You learn what professors are worth your time. You learn that letting agents are scum. You learn that Columbia Road Flower Market is heaven, filled with cockneys selling flowers and searching for kids by playing telephone à haute voix.


You take a French class for fun. You plan vacations. You discover Hampstead Heath and St. James Park. You learn to take your grades not too seriously. You learn to accept you don’t need to be the best in the class to succeed. You learn about dialogical self theory. You learn that you know nothing about warlords in Somalia. You learn that Primark is not worth the money. You fall in love all over again. You learn to treasure the people that love you. You learn it’s ok to feel scared and ashamed and brave all at once. You learn to bike on the other side of the street (by constantly reminding yourself “left, left, left!”). You visit over and over again that small teashop in Kensington you went to that one time with your mom in 2005.

Muffin Man

You learn every other cool café is about the same and a slash art gallery. You learn where to find pizza for 3 quid. You learn about Edinburgh and Dublin and Salisbury and Jamie Oliver. You start to love Northerners. You learn how expensive clubs are. You start “getting” architectural brutalism. You learn how to embrace making new friends. You learn how to love quiet afternoons at home alone. You learn how to love spontaneous trips to the local museums. You learn how deceptively long walking can take when there is no straight street in the entire city.


You find the best spot on the double decker bus (top floor, in the front on the right). You learn about the British Library. You listen to music that makes you nostalgic for home. You learn to miss winter and summer and seasons and wild, free lands. You live for when your cousin or your brother visits. You have that moment where you stop worrying and learn to love the rain and mist and damp.

Street Art

You stop caring about tutors that don’t give a shit and are just in it for the research grants.

Beer Garden

You learn the importance of visiting friends and making space for happiness. You travel to France and the Netherlands and Germany and Austria and the Czech Republic and Hungary, while avoiding Belgium all together. You cry at the Berlin Wall. You think about the story you hear about the mother being separated from her young son because he was in a hospital on the West side of Berlin the day the Wall went up. You start seeing the old bullet holes at the Pergamon. You think Berlin is a city that died and is still slowly reincarnating.

Berlin 1

Berlin 2

Berlin 3

You drink by Prague Castle. You hear about how Hitler wanted to keep Prague pristine as a relic to a dead Jewish race. You sleep on trains. You see a Llama at the market in Budapest. You drink in a ruin bar and eat a fresh carrot. You live.


You embrace carbo-loading and stress-relieving angry gym workouts. You are introduced to Would I Lie to You and Q.i and Doctor Who. You fight the fear of failing your exams each worth 100%. You invent new games to play with your friends – Friend Jeopardy being the highlight. You learn to make sushi, and how to get American Netflix.

Friends 2

You meet the Queen and see the last Dodo Bird. You stand in the pouring rain inside of the Barbican and don’t get wet. You go on hikes in the Lake District and learn to love having four people sleep on your living room floor at once. You start saying yes to enjoying your life and stop saying yes to fear and frustration.


But every single one of these moments is punctuated by those moments of insecurities, of sadness, of frustration, of depression.  There are days where you cut all your hair off in a fit of tedium. There are days where you sit in the bath for four hours, hoping that lavender candle really does relieve stress and anxiety like it promises. You have a silent panic attack on the tube heading towards Covent Garden. You don’t get out of bed for days in April. You fear you’ve made the wrong choice in every part of your life.

But then the sun comes out. And then your friends stay at your house and make you a sandwich and hug you and say they love you even if you fail your degree. And your hair starts to grow out. And you learn to start loving yourself and your life again.

Friends 1

You realize that if you hadn’t moved here, neither would some of your friends who met their loves or changed their lives. You realize that moving away doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone around you.


It means your brother visiting you and his best friend getting lost on the tube. It means your cousin and her beau stopping to see you in the middle of their European trip so you can get day drunk by Southbank. It means your friend meeting that Australian girl or that Dutch girl. It means visiting Highclere Castle and the Cliffs of Moher with your mom.


It means giving the opportunity or excuse to have friends visit, and how their visit is a trip of sharp and rich and lasting experiences. They’ll remember the walk to the tube because they don’t do it everyday. They’ll remember every pub and museum they went to because they don’t go everyday. And they’ll remember what they did on May 28th 2013 because it was not like every other day and they saw the Shard from your kitchen window.


Living in a place you’ve always wanted to means learning how to fight your own battles and how important finding home and coming home can be.

Home 1


Have you ever wanted to move away and live overseas? I would love to hear all about it. Don’t hesitate to send me an email at [email protected] and tell me about a place where you could totally live. Also, be my best friend and like my Facebook page, follow me on twitter and join me for some Instagram fun

Now, let’s all show Natalie some love for writing such a gorgeous piece for me. Send her some comment love below!

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  1. Lauren

    Atta girl Nat

  2. I’ve been following all three-parts the past few days and I must admit that I absolutely love it! Very well expressed and beautifully written, Natalie!

    • Colleen

      I’m so glad that you followed all three posts and that they spoke to you. My cousin Natalie is a wonderful storyteller!

  3. Gillian

    Well Nat, I must say that I think you’re pretty great.

  4. Ann

    Loved it,sob. Beautiful selection of photos. They captured the moments perfectly.

  5. Alexa

    Thank you for sharing. Currently living in the UK and that was perfect.

  6. Claire

    So interesting to hear the Canadian/Manitoban perspective on moving to this part of the world having left my Dublin home to live in Winnipeg for three and a half years! While spending those years missing the rain and mist and damp, I learned to love the snow and temperature extremes. Now I’m back and coming to terms with the wet again while also coming to terms with the fact that sadly, I can never live in my two beloved hometowns at the same time. Boo to that!

  7. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I want to live overseas so bad, I’m not sure how to function. Even despite the honesty written here. Maybe it’s because I don’t really have a place that feels like home here. My parents broke up when I was away at college and each moved to different states, so it was kind of a swift snip of the umbilical cord. The *only* good thing about that scenario is that it’s really hard to get homesick when going home isn’t an option. “Home” is where the depression gets me.

    The longest I’ve spent outside of the U.S. was two months, and it was phenomenal. Of course I got a little “culture sick” — missing certain things about my home country that just don’t exist in Central America, like consistent electricity — but I could get over that when I thought of all of the cultural things I *don’t* like here. Things that other countries do so much better. And it’s just made me thirsty for more. 🙂

    • Colleen

      I hope you get a chance to live overseas again, no matter the amount of time. I believe that despite any and all “sicknesses” it is always worth it.

  8. It’s interesting how the rose-colored glasses that we all possess at times can deceive a reality, isn’t it? Your resilience and fortitude were fantastic here, Natalie. Friend Jeopardy? That sounds like a fun game! That last picture definitely brought it all full circle. A fantastic series and may all of your dreams come true, young lady. Thank you for sharing your cousin with us, Colleen! 🙂

    • Colleen

      The rose coloured glasses… that’s exactly what I was thinking. My cousin Natalie is one of my best friends as well as family – I am so proud of everything she’s done!

  9. Great entry! I’m from England and this has made me miss home! You can’t beat a spot of good old English rain… and the Lake District is one of my favourite ever places, glad that got a mention 😉 x

    • Colleen

      It’s fantastic that this entry spoke to you, a native of England! That makes me super happy. 😀

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