A week ago on my Insta stories I was wishing all a great week and actually said out loud “Whatever happens, even if it’s a bad week, we are humans, we got this, we can do it”.
Some weeks as a dear friend said, the best thing you can do is just survive and that was one of those weeks.
It wasn’t all bad, but the horrible news of my friend’s dad passing away just before her 30th and the effect of it on me cast a shadow of sadness to the rest of the week.
I celebrated one of my favourite non Christian orthodox religious days, Shrove Tuesday or as most famously known Pancake day with my new favourite ladies, Charlie and Di and Charlie’s lovely friends who I got to meet on the day. Delicious Nutella pancakes, interesting conversations and lots of laughter, a great great evening. Thank you Charlie for the invite!
Meeting the cadets
On Wednesday morning I found out about my friend’s dad’s death, more on that later, and I was emotional throughout the whole day. I spend every Wednesday with the Student Achievement team, the highlight of my work week and they distracted me from my sorrow for most of the day. At lunchtime little Miss Sunshine, Miss Holiday, my lovely Linda invited me to join her on a campaign raising awareness and supporting students with a little quiz and snacks, at the Warsash Campus in St Marys, the home of our cadet students.
It’s a whole different world down there and I loved every minute of it. What took me by surprise was the maturity of the students, compared to any other students I’ve met. They have to learn to be responsible from a very young age and most of them spend time at sea, often in dangerous areas like Somalia by the time they are 19, they are forced to grow up fast. I wish I was that mature when I was their age.
Some of the conversations I had with these 20 year olds were more mature, deeper and more meaningful than ones I had with 35 year olds. I can’t wait for my next visit.
Happy Girls Are The Prettiest
In our effort to bring back the magic back on Valentine’s day, we decided to set a love box in our department and send each other kind messages anonymously, as it used to happen back in the day. Thank you to whoever sent me the sweet message below. It was just what I needed on Wednesday. Our work may not be exciting sometimes, so a little bit of fun is necessary to keep us going. I may not be happy all the time, but I promise you, we’ll always have a laugh, even at the toughest of times, and you can always always rely on me.
Let there be light
On Thursday I finally made it to the Festival of Light at Westquay and the lovely Chloe and Taylor joined me. I’ve been meaning to visit from the moment I first heard about it, it sounded magical, like a fairy tale, and it really was. No need to say more, just look!
The Stand Together exhibition
On Friday lunchtime, I popped to the Solent Showcase Gallery in the hope to catch the dancers rehearsing a dance portraying Brexit, something that really affected me especially on the day of the referendum and I really wanted to see how they channelled this through dancing but unfortunately they were on their lunch break. Instead I had a wander around the rest of the Stand Together exhibition and I had the pleasure to meet the artist himself Kev Munday.
Kev is a Solent graduate and now a famous artist! I was shocked when the first thing he told me was that he recognised me because he just drew me!
I saw an ad on Portal, our internal Solent page a while ago, asking for a selfie and a little blurb about me, so I sent a photo of me and a short message on me living in Southampton for 8 years now and how it’s not always easy living on my own in another country, but I wouldn’t change it. I thought I was too late sending my photo in, but it seems not!
I didn’t want to disturb him but he kindly let me film him whilst drawing and had a chat about his inspiration behind the exhibition.
After work I was meeting Charlie and Di for a drink and then off to watch the opening of the brand new Arts Complex (The New Nuffield Theatre, City Eye and the John Hansard Gallery) in the heart of the city!
On my way there I was unexpectedly joined by Chris and Helen, what a lovely surprise. I love it when my old friends meet my new friends and get along and have a laugh from the first moment. That’s something we often do back home but rarely happens here.
After a couple of drinks it was time! After a beautiful, fun and sweet dance performance, fireworks went off from the roof of the new Nuffield Theatre. I can’t tell you how excited I am there is now a new theatre, gallery and studio, just opposite work, in the heart of Southampton. I can’t wait to check them all out and indulge myself in more art and culture. I may be going to my first ever event there tomorrow. Excited much!
My little duckling’s birthday
On Saturday my little sister, my mini-me turned 20 years old and we spent most of the night before and the day face-timing. I am incredibly proud of the amazing, ridiculously talented, humble and caring human being she turned out to be. For me it will always be my little one. It’s hard living abroad but it’s even harder when I can’t be there for special family moments like this one. I love you to the moon and back.
Chinese New Year celebrations
On Sunday, co-incidentally after posting about my recent visit to Shanghai 1814 restaurant I heard drums noise coming from the same very restaurant on my way into town, I walked in and for the first time witnessed Chinese New Year celebrations. Whilst the drums went on, a dragon danced across the restaurant and then welcomed by a man with a traditional Chinese face mask on who offered it clementines and lettuce. The dragon then threw the fruits and the lettuce (after shredding it) in the crowd whilst confetti flew around. On my way to the bookshop there were more celebrations at West Quay with children and students singing Chinese songs.
The harsh reality
On Tuesday night, whilst I was at Charlie’s I got a message from my friend’s other half. I didn’t read it until the following day, in the morning.
As you may know by now, that’s when I found out one of my favourite friend’s (who her birthday was on that day) dad died earlier in the week.
I burst into tears and I cried most of the day. I felt incredibly sad for my friend but I also for the first time I empathised with someone to a point I could feel her pain in every cell of my body and mind. As if it was my dad who died. The fact that she is an expat like myself and her family lives back home, like mine, made it extremely easy for me to put myself in her place.
The first thing I did was to message my friend and then Sheba. I cried. She messaged back crying. We are always in sync.
As soon as I walked to work I told Donna so she knew why I was upset and then went to meet the Student Achievement Team. Thank you Lou for the warm hug and Sarah, Lee and Ashley for all the laughs.
I’m still sad about my friend but I’m OK. It was a harsh reminder that life is too damn short and being sad, angry and dwelling on things it’s a complete waste of time.
It’s funny isn’t it? Every time death hits close to home we get upset and devastated, we remember how vulnerable we are, that we are mortals and then after a while we completely forget. I’ll try my best not to forget this time.
After two weeks with ups and downs, laughter, fireworks, lights, eating out, drinks, meeting incredible people, old friends, new friends but also sadness, disappointment, anger and frustration, I need some me-time to find my feet again and get out there.