I'm safe and sound back in the UK!
I arrived into London Gatwick early in the morning, to have a belated meeting with the typical frosty December morning that I had been missing out on.
It wasn't as bitterly cold as I thought it would be, so thank god for that.
Me and Florencia collected our bags, bid our farewells to our colleagues, and headed to Kings Cross Station. It was time to journey back up north, to home - Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
We slept throughout the entire journey, apart from when we needed our tickets inspecting, and we were violently awoken by the conductor, dribbling and awkwardly restrained by our scarves.
We arrived back into a frosty Newcastle. Me and Florencia parted ways, and I was finally reunited with my family after 3 eventful months.
We laughed, exchanged stories, drank lots of Yorkshire tea, and I presented my hundreds of photos from my South American adventure. It was nice to be back! My suitcase was unpacked, my clothes returned to their old cupboard where they belong (along with a couple of new pieces I picked up of course!) and my suitcase was tucked under my bed. Hopefully it won't be under there for too long.
I got into my favourite pyjamas and I didn't leave the house for 4 wonderful days. Like, not one foot outside the door. It was sweet.
I had a pretty modest Christmas with my family - we're all pretty broke - but it was still very nice! After spending Christmas completely alone and depressed last year, it was wonderful to be around my family for this one. I didn't get a selfie-stick or a MK watch or a huge haul of high street clichés that I didn't need - rather, a really cute knitted jumper and a tin of Roses. I was perfectly satisfied with those, until I misplaced the glossary card for the Roses and ruined Christmas for everybody. We ate a nice Christmas dinner, had some cake and had a lie-down afterwards. The day was over and done with.
And that was it. Settled back in. Done and dusted.
Now, I'm a bit lost.
This situation is eerily reminding me of when I returned from Kenya last year. I returned penniless, jobless and with a huge, foggy vista of opportunities to explore. It was really quite a mess then. I spent months looking for a job - any job. I was in an unhappy relationship, on benefits and was trying to support my family on the other side of the country, who had lost their jobs around then. We nearly lost our home around that time. It was hard. Actually, who am I kidding? I'm pretty foolish for thinking this situation is similar. This situation thankfully seems a lot tidier! I really hope it stays that way.
However, I feel like I'm in a different place now: a stronger, better place. After having such an intense experience, working hard and stretching myself, I feel that it's time I start calculating things. To be really honest, I don't want to go back into a ground-level retail job. I don't want to go back to my old setup. Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed my old retail job - it was a nice, social job and I had a lot of fun with it! I'm just scared that, by going back into my old situation, I'll lose the momentum that I picked up from my work in Bolivia. I don't want to sink back into old thinking habits and end up feeling like this whole experience never happened at all. It's already beginning to feel like that even!
I spent too long in my old situation, and while it wasn't that dire really - it paid the rent, the bills, let me help my family and save a little for travelling - it's time I moved onwards and upwards - start going somewhere. It's about time I think.
As a bonus, I now feel more confident that I can do so much more with myself. I feel ready to manage greater responsibility for things and be responsible for other people. I feel more comfortable with asserting myself and making risky decisions. Therefore, I reckon it's time to move forward, find new territory and break into new ground.
I do have one lil' thing to look forward to on the horizon though!
While I was in Bolivia, I was put forward to be a project leader in my organisation's office in Palestine. The role involves leading volunteers in delivering projects, liaising with humanitarian partners and suppliers, and fine-tuning the project's humanitarian objectives.
It's a totally new area for me; previously I've worked under a health/medical context, but the projects in Palestine are all about human rights, inspiring people and encouraging solidarity. It sounds like hard work, but I feel totally ready now! I have a final interview in January 2015 at their HQ, along with a spoken Arabic exam, and if successful, I fly out to Jerusalem this summer!
When I applied to work for the organisation back in June this year, I originally wanted to work in Palestine, but due to the conflict, it was deemed unsafe and I was allocated to Bolivia instead. So to me, this feels like I'm getting a second chance to go there! I'm going to give it my best shot. I'm sure it would be truly amazing!
So fingers crossed for that.
In the meantime, however, I gotta find myself a job!
So I'm not going to focus too much on this Palestine opportunity - 'pie in the sky' as my mam would say. It might happen; it might not. For now, I'm going to try and find something that will get me on track and put my brain to some use. I'm quite broad with this - I've applied for jobs in healthcare, the charity sector, public services - all kinds. As long as it's helping people and doing good, I'll leap out of bed for anybody!
I just have to wait, persevere, and hope.
At least until I lose my mind and take anything I can find just to get me out of the house!
But we'll see!
Thanks for reading!