My arrival in London, after many years of longing to go, felt like a personal victory.
Before I made it to London, I dealt with several years of serious illness in which I was unable to work, study or travel. I spent most of my time at home during those years, and there were two big goals that kept me positive and hopeful for the future.
I looked forward to finally being well enough and strong enough to go to university. After four long years of illness I was able to go, and I graduated four years later.
My second goal was to get well enough to travel. I wanted to live in London, and travel in Europe and beyond. I had always wanted to do this, but my adventure-starved convalescence amplified my ambition ten-fold.
Finally, after successfully completing my studies, and getting back on the road to good health, I saved, I planned, and I made it.
I waited much longer to get to the UK than I had ever imagined I would have to.
The wait was so very, very worth it.
The arrival was the beginning of a wonderful and slightly turbulent adventure. The OE and journey to London is so commonplace for young Kiwis that it may seem unremarkable, but for me it was everything. Getting to the point where I could have that kind of freedom, and to experience all the thrilling uncertainty that came with it, felt like an enormous achievement to me.
The picture above is taken from outside the National Gallery, looking across at Trafalgar Square. I made my first visit to the National Gallery that day. It felt glorious. It was my first trip to a major art gallery, my first time being able to see up close the masterpieces I had studied as an Art History student and admired as a lifelong art lover.
I fell instantly in love with the gallery and visited many times while I lived in London.
When I look at these pictures I remember the giddy sense of triumph I felt on that day and on many subsequent days.
I still have other goals. More travel. More adventure. I just have to make it happen, and I will.