Shelly Biswell checks in as her overseas experience begins. You can see her first installment here.
For my overseas experience to be a proper adventure, I knew I needed to start from home. Not from my hometown of the past 14 years, but the home of my childhood – Cheyenne, Wyoming.
On the way, I celebrated an important family wedding, gave hugs to friends to see if together we could ward off an unwanted invader (otherwise known as cancer), and arrived in Wyoming in time to celebrate my Mum’s birthday.
The short days of January and a much-needed snowstorm meant that Mum and I stayed close to her home and talked – about life, about relatives, about dogs, and about what to eat. We found our winter rhythm.
The first night at my Mum’s house, I saw on the news that we lost the great writer Ursula K. Le Guin who, along with J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander provided the subtext of much of my young life. I feel sadness, as if I’ve lost a personal guide and mentor. Judging by my Facebook news feed, I’m not alone. I remember doing my morning paper route on icy January mornings in the late 1970s – cold ears, cold nose, cold toes – and wondering how I could find my way to Le Guin’s mystical Earthsea.
But now, as my Mum and I walk her elderly dog, I ponder potential UK house sits. It’s not that my dreams are smaller, but I’ve travelled enough to know that wherever I go, I’ll still be looking at myself in the mirror.
As Le Guin wrote, “true voyage is return”.
After my week in the US, I fly to London. My husband Ken has arrived a few days ahead of me to establish territory, which from his perspective means finding a good pub and contacting a few recruiters.
When I arrive, I realise January is the perfect time to make a big life change in the Northern Hemisphere because:
- No one thinks you’re a tourist – if you’re in London in January you must have a good reason.
- There are no distractions – the holiday lights are down and Valentine’s Day isn’t really a thing.
- Ken’s new suit fits the general colour scheme of a London winter.
Today we move to an Airbnb off Portobello Road, and this weekend we are being interviewed for two potential house-sitting jobs. In other words, I’m Earthsea bound.
When not on her OE, Shelly Farr Biswell works as a communications consultant in New Zealand.