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Hey all, this will be something of a list that I will be adding to over time, so I will keep it all in it’s own category. Oh and if you disagree or want to add to any of these, please feel free to do so in the comments 🙂

These are just a few things I have come across on my journey to becoming an adult (not sure if that is a destination or not to be honest. And do bear in mind that I’m a Brit so there may be some translation jumps needed for some readers but I think most of these will be applicable in all places

 

  •  Financial stuff (bills, trouble with the bank etc etc) is much better sorted out sooner rather than later (a cliche and a bit obvious but definitely true!)
  • If you are paying for a service (tv, internet, deliveries etc) and the service is not up to scratch, then make the service provider aware. You have paid for the service and therefore held up your end of the bargain, make sure they hold up theirs. This applies to landlords/rental agreements too! However this is not an instruction to be an arse to the first person you get on the phone about the problem, chances are none of the problems you are experiencing are their fault in the slightest. Be clear that you are not happy, but ask who you need to be speaking to, and actually speak to them.
  • If your milk has gone off, pour it down the sink with plenty of water, WHEN you first realise, do NOT put it back in the fridge to be dealt with later (particularly if you live by yourself), it will start to turn to yoghurt and the plastic bottle will try to explode… not to mention the smell!
  • And finally (for now) Find a job that you enjoy in some way, you’re gonna spend most of your life at work so you might as well get some pleasure out of it.

New Zealand Part 1

1/1/13 7:13pm

Just on the train back to Newcastle now should be there within the hour. I’ve rand in the New Year/Hogmannay in Stonehaven with Steph, Rachel and Steph’s parents. We saw the live bands play (Revolver a Beatles tribute band and The Red Hot Chilli Pipers). They were brilliant and the dancing kept us from getting frozen to the spot. We queued for over an hour to get a drink that we’d already paid for (there was a coupon system so the people running the bar in the square didn’t have to handle money), got to the front and found we could only have Tennants, whiskey or blue WKD! Alcopops it was! Just got out of the queue in time for midnight!

When I get back to my place I need to finish packing for my trip to New Zealand. I leave in roughly 24 hours. Ahh!! I also need to tidy up the flat so its in a fit state for me to return to in a months time. I know I’m going to miss my lil fluffballs as I miss them already but also so scared! But it’ll be worth it I’m sure, hope I can sleep tonight!

 

2/1/13 10:55am

Oh my God! So excited, still feel ill but so shaky with adrenaline and a touch of fear! Right must do the dishes then I can sort the last bits out.

 

3/1/13 8:24am local time (4:24am UK time)

Sat in Dubai Airport and there are birds inside – weird! This place is massive and really rather posh, had a weird where I wondered if I should have my head covered, I think that was part sleep deprivation and part flying over Iraq and Kuwait.

I’m knackered, I think I got in total an hours worth of sleep on the 1st flight and that was in little cat naps. Lots of young children (so lots of crying, although it could’ve been worse) and difficult to get comfy. Got just under 2 hours until my next flight and then I might get some sleep. Flying with Emirates is amazing! Met a nice guy (can’t remember his name) but he was headed for Sri Lanka for a holiday after the crazy busy holiday period (he’s a registrar – forgot when he said it, for a minute, that that meant doctor!)

 

4/1/13 (time not recorded, was roughly 3pm)

Couple of quick thoughts jotted down while on the bus from the airport.

Auckland could teach Heathrow and Sydney a thing or two about how to do passport control.

Love that, when queueing for passport control, I heard ‘Gollum! Gollum!’ coming from behind me from two girls that I think were chattering in German!

 

5:38pm local time

Checked into the hostel and had an epic battle with my bag, trying to sort stuff I’ll need out.

Met 2 girls that are staying in the same room at the hostel both from Sweden (I think, certainly Scandinavia). Further evidence that my brain is barely working, so tired! But I’ve gone out to explore the city (Auckland) and stretch my legs. The latter definitely needed after that flight!

Found myself a bar – as I was writing this the bar tender came across to check on me and have a chat. What I’ve been told about the friendly atmosphere here is certainly seeming true – currently drinking a pint of cider from ‘Macs Brewery’ and watching two birds (that look like sparrows to me) chase around the floor of the bar.No zoom needed!

I’ve just noticed that this place has lamp stands hanging/stuck to the ceiling reminding me the laugh I got on the first leg of the flight when watching Alice in Wonderland (the original Disney version) ‘what if I fall right the way through the earth to the other side where people walk upside-down!’ Also watched the start of ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ but had to stop after I almost choked laughing at the line ‘what’s that got to do with my knob?’. Ah such an old film, from a much more innocent time!

Gonna make a note of this place and finish my drink. I need to go buy more deodorant (stupid customs rules!) and some other supplies and I think I’ll use the free internet I’ve been offered by Nomads to check in on facebook and to reread the first few days of the tour itinerary by STA so I know where I’m at and what I’m doing. Might see if I can go see the downtown/harbour area. I seem to have found a second (or 3rd/4th/5th) wind, gotta love the rejuvenating effects of a pint!

 

5/1/11 11:38am local time (10:38pm at home!!!)

Ah the difference a shower and a sleep in a real bed make! Currently sat in Devonport (a ‘suburb’ of Auckland which is about 15 minutes ferry ride away from the central business district) in the cafe attached to the Navy museum. – mmm banana milkshake! –

Slept well (doubt much could have stopped me) think I went to sleep at around 9pm but I know I was awake at around 6am (noisy bin men!) and once I was awake that was it, so tried to get dressed and grab a few things as quietly as possible – fail!

Spent a bit of time reading in the common room. Returned to the room for my purse and meds (happy pills for me, paracetamol for the Norwegian bloke with a fever – hope he’s not got malaria, since he’s been to Indonesia.)

Escaped for a coffee around 9, went down to the dock region searching for a coffee shop and found the wonder of asking locals where they recommend to go, although going to a place frequented by the locals got me some odd looks when I started applying sun tan lotion! After my coffee (the advice I received before I came out here from my best mate’s mum was dead on, flat white coffee drools) I returned to the hostel to ‘check out’. Basically I moved rooms, to one with only 4 beds and its own bathroom (the bathroom bit being a relief after the communal unisex bathroom from the night before). Everyone staying in this room tonight is on the adventure tour. Met one girl – Natalia – who is a teacher from Australia.

Yum! Now that’s what an omelette is supposed to be like not that weird rubber thing on the plane!

Have to be back at the hostel for 6pm when there is a meeting to start the tour (apparently. Info is a lil scarce, the staff at the hostel seem to have never heard of G adventures….) for now I’m gonna check out this Navy museum, aside from anything else it’ll keep me out of the midday sun. Already got heat rash on my left hand!

 

(The next entry skips a fair bit so I’ll do the next bit from memory)

 

Found scratched into the wall inside the caves on Devonport

Found scratched into the wall inside the caves on Devonport

Navy museum was cool if quite maudlin in parts, but was interesting to see bits about the world wars from New Zealand’s point of view, not something I’ve ever really considered before. They were involved from the start as at this point in history their navy was almost an extension of the British one, but I suppose the threat of WW2 for them was when Japan joined in, and yet there is such a big Asian influence in New Zealand culture today, strange how it turns out. The people here have such respect for their veterans and I have even seen dedicated sheltered accommodation for veterans here.

After the museum I went up to the top of one of the extinct volcano hills (one of 2 in Devonport, I think there’s about 90 in the Auckland area!) This hill had been used by the military as a look out so it was a nice continuation of my learning that day. It was also brilliant for the tunnels that had been dug and the mixture of them and natural caves leading to a small labyrinth to explore. It was so dark inside them but fortunately I had my torch on me (random I know!) And I think I found a geocache note stuck to the wall of one of the tunnels. The hike I did on this first day proved to me firstly how unfit I was, and secondly that the nature out in New Zealand is amazing, so much of it thriving and such a great attitude to preserving and supporting it.

When I returned to the hostel I joined Natalia on our trek to the roof (7th floor!) and found that the meeting for the start of the tour was happening up there, and that we were getting fed too (always a bonus!) We did a roll-call where I had to explain about my double name, and we all found out each others’ names and nationalities. We then had a bit of an introductory speech from Nuc our tour guide/leader/driver or as the company likes to call them Chief Experience Officer (rolls eyes). He was obviously pretty nervous and explained to us that this was the first trip in New Zealand that G has ever run. This also helped explain the random extra folks that were at our little meet and greet BBQ as there were several of the big boss types of G adventures there to see the tour start and be present at this historic moment (again a bit of eye-rolling from me as they spoke about how we weren’t just making memories we were making history).

The BBQ then dissolved slowly into drinking at the bar downstairs. Before we got to the alcohol though I was introduced to L&P which I’d spotted on menus and in cocktail recipes but had no clue what it was. It turns out its a drink which is ‘world famous in New Zealand’ that’s sorta lemonade but not, very refreshing stuff and certainly gave me a pretty good alternative to Dr Pepper, which I drink like a fanatic at home but is barely available across in New Zealand. We descended to the bar, which was a different business than the hostel though the buildings were connected…. and the hostel had an alcohol-free policy (not that this was too strictly enforced!) Where the higher-ups of G adventures were mingling and pouring out pitchers of beer. Beer is not something I usually drink (not fond on the taste) but when something is free… So I had a couple of glasses and watched the random banter. The whole thing was made especially funny by the young daughter of a couple of said higher-ups who was running round the bar like a loony and trying to steal her parents’ glasses of beer! I didn’t stay very long as I was starting to feel the effects of the left over jetlag, so I excused myself and Natalia decided it was bed time for her too and we escaped up to our room.

We were up pretty early the next day so we could drive down to Raglan. On the drive Nuc said we had to try and decide on a ‘morning song’ that would get us pumped up and awake before we had our first coffee. We ran through a few suggestions including ‘How Bizarre’ by OMC and ‘Don’t forget your roots’ by Six60. In the end the morning song was chosen as the Six60 song but that wasn’t for several days and we spent most of this trip suggesting and listening to songs. So next stop Raglan….

 

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life?

How do you go on when in your heart you begin to understand , there is no going back?

There are some things that time cannot mend, some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold…”

LOTR- The Return of the King

 

 

Having returned to my home city after graduating from university with a scraped pass in my master’s degree, at the beginning of August I started my job as a trainee pharmacist. The first word that comes to mind when I think about those initial weeks is ‘exhausting’. I know that any young person going from student life into full time work will initially feel a bit of culture shock and have to deal with the adjustment and I knew that I would be no exception to this and with the job/career path I was entering perhaps this adjustment had to be greater still due to the inherent responsibility of the job. So being exhausted at the end of each day did not greatly surprise me…..

 

^

The above I typed sometime around the end of October, and evidentially fell asleep before I could finish… ironic given what I was saying!

I think the point I had been working towards was that this initial exhaustion from starting the new job didn’t fade away as I’d hoped. It got worse, and I battled to keep going and to show the enthusiasm I had initially felt about the position and the new learning opportunity it provided. I started to have nightmares, some I recognised revolving around the time I was caring and responsible for my mum, and other new ones. The worst of these were the strange ones I had that centred on the idea that my mum had ‘gotten better’ and yet I hadn’t seen her for years and so she was angry with me for ‘ignoring’ her, you know the way these things only make sense in dreams!

I was offered help and eventually (after quite a battle through the red tape and bureaucracy of the occupational health department, which was in the middle of moving offices and therefore in a state of some chaos) I started seeing a psychologist.

She was the one who looked at all the symptoms (including the panic attacks I’d been having in the dispensary) I was presenting, and looked at my history and what I’d been through and realised that what I had been suffering with was not simply depression but Post traumatic stress disorder. This made so much sense of a lot of what I have experienced over the past few years, including flashbacks and nightmares so bad I often preferred to go without sleep.

I continued seeing the psychologist once a week, and I should elaborate that by this point I had been signed off work as unfit for a few weeks. I felt such a failure to have gotten through my degree and then to only complete about 2 months of my training year before stopping. Serious discussions with my boss (who was in charge of the training programme) and a member of HR after much time to think and organise, came to a head with 2 options for me. The first of these was to return to work and training from January on a part-time basis, so that I could complete the ‘year’ in time for the next possible exam session. (at the end of the training year there is a registration exam to be passed) The other option was for me to quit, and to take some time to re-evaluate what my next step was and whether I even still wanted to work as a pharmacist.

After an agonising few weeks (that I don’t think I can fully describe) in which my decision ranged from certain on option 1 to certain on option 2 and back again within 24 hours (and sometimes less!) I eventually decided that I should leave the training position, that if I was ‘meant’ to continue with it I would know, and I didn’t.

This was honestly the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make alone, the whole time I just kept wishing someone could make the decision for me (careful what you wish for right!)

I say this is the hardest decision I’ve had to make alone as the hardest (although in a different way) decision I have ever made, was together with my aunt and was regarding my mum’s care. She was in hospital, for supervision more than anything else, could no longer swallow properly and so was not eating and had been losing weight rapidly. We were asked how we wanted to proceed with regards to her nutrition, we could either have her fed by IV or by a PEG tube (which if you don’t know is like a direct line into a person’s stomach) or just leave her to go without. By this time she was very confused and my aunt and I decided that having an IV or PEG tube attached to her would distress her and there was a high likelihood she would try to remove either one, so we decided to leave her be.

I have carried a lot of guilt associated with this decision ever since, and it comes back to me so clearly when describing it, but I mention it as it was one of the very good points that was put to me by the psychiatrist. I had explained to her this decision I had made and how I had felt especially bad since a lecturer on my course had expressed his personal opinion that he believed that depriving a dying person of food/nutrition was cruel, unnecessary and tantamount to killing the person (when he said this I got up and bolted from the room!) . The psychologist pointed out to me that to feel guilty suggested that I felt I had done the wrong thing, and asked me what I believed ‘the right thing’ would’ve been. I realised that I had been in a situation where there was no ‘correct’ answer and (as I imagine is often the case in choices around care of terminal patients) there wasn’t a ‘good’ choice really. So my guilt was in fact based on the idea that I could have done anything better than I had when in fact I had made the best choice available.

I still can’t say I’m 100% comfortable with the memory of making that choice, but it certainly sits easier with me now than it did before.

And since I decided to leave the training job, I decided that a complete break and a chance to mentally regroup was the best plan, so I booked myself (very last minute) on a trip to New Zealand. I will be posting my travel journal as a separate blog on this account if anyone is interested.

As I think back to the quote at the beginning, I suppose I must say I strongly identified with it when I first typed it out, now however I’m not so sure. Although time can’t change what has gone before that does not mean new experiences can’t affect your perception and interpretation of both your past and your present.

Some hard choices behind and a few more to come, but I am feeling much better equipped for them than I was before,

PhPh

 

6/7/12 (this is when I originally wrote this post, but I did not publish it at the time, given recent events I thought it was worth posting)

“Pay me for my work but I don’t do it for the money.”

The thought of soon getting a regular, very reasonable (for one so fresh from uni) pay cheque is a little daunting but it is something of a relief too. Many of my fellows who are graduating this Summer are returning to the shelter of their parents’ house as they fight to find gainful employment. To an extent I’m jealous of this security that they have, to know they have a place to go even if they are broke and unemployed. In saying that I think I would feel a bit suffocated if I returned home after 4 years at uni. Although it does occur to me that perhaps the maturity and the freedom I would risk losing if I went home (supposing I could) were born of caring for and then losing my mum.

In all honesty simply returning to my home city is strange enough, so much is the same but so much has changed, its really quite surreal!

And this thought brings me to my main concern about pay cheques, I have to earn it! Seems a strange idea perhaps, but ever since my mum fell ill I have suffered with depression and anxiety, so I experience moments of doubt in my ability to be a reliable, responsible employee. This idea was not helped massively by the phone call I had from the occupational health rep at my new job who called me up and said ‘ so I see here you wrote you have depression, would you like to tell me a bit about that?’ … the response that was on the tip of my tongue was ‘well not really!’

It doesn’t help that my biggest supporter was always my mum, so often when I didn’t believe in myself, she believed enough for both of us.

I hope these are simply the fears and misgivings that everyone has before starting their first proper job. I guess there’s only one way to find out if I can do it, and believing I can will get me at least half way there. On that note here’s another cheesy line to finish with : ‘Success is found in ‘can’s’ not in ‘cannot’s’

Over the past few weeks I have mused a lot on the expression about being a ‘big fish in a small pond’ or a ‘small fish in a big pond’. I’ve often found some pearls of wisdom in expressions like this and although I know the meaning of this one it still won’t leave my thoughts.

I’ll be leaving university soon, leaving the city I’ve studied in and called home for 4 years, leaving behind the  community in which I am known and safe, where I am a big fish in a small pond.

When I leave I’ll be returning to the city of my birth, my hometown, but I haven’t lived there since my mum died (in the second year of my degree). The choice to go back was a tricky one, but I was offered a training position (the essential next step to becoming a pharmacist) there and more for fear of not getting any other offers, I accepted. Since I made that decision over 6 months ago I have ranged through just about every emotion possible.

It’s all so complicated, what in life isn’t I suppose, but the strange mixture of longing to return and anxiety about doing so is making my head spin! The thought most prominent in my mind is that the city isn’t the same place I left 4 years ago, time has moved on, and most importantly my mum will not be there waiting for me (a reality that hasn’t quite sunk in on some level yet). But I suppose what I am more concerned about is whether I am the same person who left there. Silly concern really, as of course I will have changed, I have spent 4 years away ‘fending for myself’ and learning so much (both academically and about life) that even without the unfortunate painful events that happened alongside my studies I would have expected to return more mature etc…. I guess my concern is that with all that has happened and any changes it has had on me may have made me less than the girl that left there 4 years back. Another expression to muse on, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. Not sure if I believe that one! I have certainly learnt and gained things from caring for my mum, dealing with social services, but if it has made me stronger, well I’ve yet to see any evidence of that.

I wonder how I’m going to handle this move home, so much so familiar and so much so different. It all remains to be seen I guess.

Hello world!

Hi all!

I thought I would start this blog as a way to record my adventures as I transition from the extended adolescence that is being an undergrad student into the adult, professional world of pharmacy.

That is what I have spent the last 4 years studying, and in a few weeks my course will finish and (hopefully) in July I will graduate! So my current existence is a strange combination of stress-filled final assessments, frantic arrangements in order to secure a place to live from July, and dealing with the frankly boring minutiae that comes with starting a new job (yes I was born in the UK…. you want me to prove it…. erm well I was a bit young at the time maybe you should ask someone else!)

I’m finding the feeling of moving back to my hometown (after graduation) and leaving my comfortable university community quite daunting, and the thought that keeps occurring to me is that I am not the same person that left there 4 years ago. A lot has happened, not all of it good, and so do I really belong back there?

I’ll leave my musing there for now and get back to some study work, but perhaps writing this out on here will help me figure it out.

PhPh