I’ve always had a funny relationship with journaling. I’ve heard about the power that it has and the changes it can bring to a person from some of the most successful people around. Oprah, Jen Sincero, Brene Brown, all of these successful women that I look up to consistently talk about writing things down and getting our thoughts down on the paper. In fact, if you pick up any kind of self-help book or listen to any kind of motivational talk then writing down your thoughts or ‘journaling’ will come up in there somewhere. I’ve visited the concept a few times but never really felt like it had much value or brought much change into my life.
Until I really thought about the concept of journaling and what it was. It was then that it had the ability to change my life. Let me explain…
I feel like journaling has developed into quite the buzz-word over the last few years. As more and more people begin to work on themselves and take to the internet for the advice of others, journaling is almost always amongst some of the answers. But it wasn’t until I really sat down and thought about ‘journaling’ for what it really was that I realised it’s been around forever and I’d been practising it way before it became what it is today.
How many of you reading this used to write a little something called ‘Dear Diary’ in your teenage years? I know I did! I religiously kept a diary of my thoughts and albeit my latest crush usually took up the majority of the pages (oh to be 14 again)! But what I realised is that I used to use this method of writing down my thoughts every day when I had merely reached adolescence yet as an adult I seem to have a damn hard time doing so.
It was after this realisation that I understood just how easy this concept of ‘journaling’ really is and decided to give it a real go. I’ve dabbled in it over the years but never really stuck to it. I found myself following blog post after blog post writing answers to prompts that other people had found helpful. Whilst I now use some prompts I find the power of writing down my thoughts freely as they come so much more empowering and insightful. I’ve actually started addressing my journal as ‘Dear Diary’ once again.
Sometimes as adults we think way too much. Less thinking more action was exactly what I needed to implement in this case.
After a few weeks, I found myself writing down whatever came to mind every morning and honestly it’s had such a positive impact on my mindset and mental health. For me getting my thoughts out on paper is like a physical release for those thoughts and letting them all go. It’s like I’ve extracted them from my brain, dealt with them and either moved on or left them on the paper for another day. It really helps.
When I started to struggle in my nursing career with my mindset I started to write down my thoughts and feelings more and more but at first, it didn’t go so well…
Journaling as a Nurse – How Not to Do It!
When I first started writing down my thoughts about work my journal ended up looking a little bit like this:
Today another nurse was rude to me
Today I made a drug error
Today I felt like I knew nothing
Today I didn’t manage my time well
Today I didn’t stand up for myself
Today I didn’t have time to change my patient’s bedding
Today I didn’t have enough time to talk to my patients
Today a doctor made me feel like shit
Do you see the pattern?
My journal, or whatever you want to call it, became a complete self-loathing playground. And let’s face it, in any work environment, it’s so often our downfalls that are addressed more than our achievements.
How many of you get that sinking feeling when you see that work is calling your phone after you’ve left? Or when you get called into the office or when you get that dreaded email from your manager asking to make an appointment? As humans and because of how society has conditioned us to think about ourselves we are constantly thinking the worse more often than not.
This is when I decided to completely change the way I was journaling in order to help alter my thinking and create a more positive mindset and life for myself. Because let’s face it, no-one was about to come up to and tell me all the things I did well that day, people are far too busy for that, but I can tell myself. I have the power to acknowledge all of the things I did well instead of all the things I didn’t do well.
In just a matter of days my journal went from being the negative space you see above to something a little more like this:
Today I did the best that I could
Today I gave my patients 110%
Today I made my patient smile
Today I completed every necessary task
Today I sited my first catheter without supervision
Today I challenged the rude nurse
Today I made sure I took my break to recharge
Today I asked questions when I was unsure
Do you see the difference now?
By focusing on what went well in the day makes such a difference to how I end my shift as a nurse. Of course, doing this isn’t easy so I created some prompts to get me really thinking about the positive things that happened during my 12 hours at work.
If you’re a nurse and feel anxious, feel under-confident or lack self-esteem at work then I highly recommend giving this a go. Here are some prompts you can start off with to get you going.
End of Shift Journal Prompts
What went well today?
What did you do today that you are proud of?
What did you learn today? (in nursing there is something new to learn every single shift)
What didn’t go so well today?
What can you learn from it?
These five questions are super simple and easy to ask yourself and write down after a long shift. The first three are the most important questions to focus on but note that I do think it’s important to reflect on what didn’t go well too.
It’s important to recognise what could’ve gone better but it’s even more important to acknowledge what you learnt from that situation so you can do it better next time!
Now It’s Your Turn
I challenge you to make a little bit of time when you get home to reflect on your shift. It only has to be 10 minutes but if you make this a habit after every shift you’ll find yourself noticing the things you do well during your shift.
I can almost guarantee that this practice will help you become a more positive nurse and human being in the long run! And if you’re not a nurse then this simple practice applies in any career!
If you really want to dig a little deeper then there are plenty of resources out there to help you on your journaling journey. Morning Pages is a great concept where you write freely about your thoughts each morning, exactly like I was talking about above but I didn’t come across Morning Pages by The Artists Way until recently – take a look here!
I hope you found this post insightful! If you did I would love it if you could share it with someone who might need it! Do you journal? Let me know in the comments below as I would love to hear your thoughts!
Nurses are usually the kind of people that put others before themselves. Of course, we nurses know that there are some exceptions to the rule. But for the most part, we are guilty of putting ourselves last in our long list of priorities especially at work. I’ve learnt a lot over the years as a nurse and after multiple bouts of burnout and break downs I finally realised how important saying no really is for our mental health as nurses!
Before I go on I just want to say that by saying no I do not mean turning into a lazy ass nurse who declines to do an extra task because it’s way above your pay grade. What I’m talking about here is saying no to anything that puts our own health or happiness at risk.
I’m talking about:
Staying on an extra three hours because the next nurse is late for the following shift
Not going to the bathroom because one more person needs your help with something that could literally wait 2 minutes while you go pee (nurses are quick)!
Swapping a shift with a colleague after feeling guilt-tripped into it
Picking up extra shifts on your unit because you feel guilty if you don’t
Going back into work after a sickness bout earlier than you should have because you feel guilty
Can you see the repetitive pattern here?
I don’t know about you but I used to be an all-round people pleaser. As a brand new nurse fresh out of university 4 years ago I wanted to please everyone. I wanted to please management and my colleagues because as a brand new baby nurse I wanted everyone to like me. So of course, I said yes anytime management wanted to change my shifts and picked up extra to help out the units I worked on.
This was all well and good but this carried on for the next four years of my career. I never wanted to let anyone down which in turn left to me feeling frustrated and exhausted mentally and physically. Even in Australia where I worked casually for an agency I would give in to their streams of texts or calls begging for me to go in.
Put your hand up if you’ve ever said yes to any of these things begrudgingly because you’ve felt like you had to, I know I have! Well, guess what sister, you really don’t have to and this is where the importance of saying no comes in.
The truth is though by not letting anyone else down I was constantly letting myself down.
How You’re Letting Yourself Down by Saying Yes to Everything!
By saying yes to taking on more work and swapping shifts which in turn would take my roster awful at times I was putting myself last. I was letting my physical health down by not getting enough rest in-between shifts. I often ate crappy meals because I hadn’t had enough time off in-between shifts to actually go to the shops and prepare some meals for my shifts ahead and there was definitely no time to get to the gym or yoga studio!
It’s not just our physical health that gets put on the back burner so often it’s our mental health too. To be a good nurse at work I now know that I need to take plenty of time for myself and other things that bring me joy in my life in-between my shifts. This is a huge reason why I no longer work full time as a nurse but that’s for a whole other post!
What I’m saying here is that by trying to please everyone else we so often let ourselves down in one way or another. AND if you’re one of those badass humans who can keep their-self in check whilst picking up all the extra slack then please tell me your secret – or don’t actually because I am so much happier and feel so much more empowered as nurse now I’ve realised I can speak up and say no to things that aren’t right for me that is okay.
I think learning to say no to things that I don’t want to do has empowered me the most this year which is why I’m starting off with this post. And, if you’re not a nurse and still find yourself reading this post then don’t worry you can apply I’m about to share to just about any workplace!
How to Say Start Saying No and Setting Boundaries at Work
For a people pleaser and highly anxious nurse at times it was so difficult for me to start saying no to things I didn’t want to do but I knew deep down I had to start setting some boundaries in my career. Below are my top three situations which I now say no to more times than I don’t that have changed my life as a nurse.
Saying No to Extra Shifts
All over the world, we are under the immense pressures that come with working in healthcare. The front-liners like doctors and nurses are busier than ever, whilst the waiting times for services like clinics and GP appointments soar. I’ve worked in the NHS in England which, as we all know, is massively under-budgeted and understaffed. But I’ve also worked in Australia and New Zealand and guess what? They suffer from the same problems.
Being understaffed and underfunded health care is a worldwide phenomenon.
With budget cuts stronger than ever it’s often left to the nurses and doctors already in jobs to pick up the slack. AKA do the job that about five nurses should be doing! Cue the need for extra shifts. The thing with extra shifts is that they can be a blessing. Perhaps you’re saving up for that big holiday or wedding? Picking up an extra shift at work can be worth it when your paycheck arrives that month. BUT extra shifts can also be dangerous physically and mentally.
As I mentioned, and will probably continue to, I spent most of my career thus far as a people pleaser. Management only had to look at me with wide eyes and I found myself agreeing to yet again another extra shift on top of my already 4 12-hour shifts I was doing that week. As great as the extra money was, it started to take a toll on my physical and mental health. My body was literally exhausted and because I was exhausted cooking when I got home turned into a chore and it was beans on toast for tea for often than not.
It took me a while to figure out but money really isn’t everything. Sure, it helps but what’s that extra $100 compared to feeling happy, healthy and doing more of the things I love with those days out of work? To me that’s priceless. So now, in a bid for my own happiness, I only ever take an extra shift IF I want too! Maybe I’m on annual leave and want some extra cash? I might pick up something extra then but it will always be on my terms.
It is NOT your responsibility to staff the hospital or your workplace
It is so important for us as healthcare professionals to understand that it is not our responsibility to staff the hospital!
For so long I didn’t want to let my units down and I didn’t want my colleagues to suffer because trust me I know how hard it is! But unfortunately the lack of staff in the hospital is not my responsibility and it isn’t yours either! I show up and give 110% to all of my rostered shifts and if I want to take on extra work it will be on my terms and that is okay!
If you struggle with saying no then I’m laving some scripts at the end of this post that you can take a look at if you need a little guidance!
Staying Late (when you don’t have to)!
This one’s a biggie! Sometimes in healthcare staying late seems unavoidable. It’s ten to seven and you’re in a full-blown crash call situation. Now I am not saying to drop your airway responsibilities and run when it’s time to clock off time because those situations really are unavoidable. We all know that shit usually hits the fan just before hand over time.
What I’m saying here is not staying late when it’s avoidable which is usually 99% of the time. Now some of you may roll your eyes and be thinking ‘where the hell does she work’ (a very busy neonatal intensive care unit) but it really is true. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given as a nurse is this:
‘It’s a 24-hour service’
Now seriously just take a moment and really think about that phrase. It’s a 24-hour service. This honestly changed my whole perspective on my nursing career. We can all guarantee that on those shifts when you’ve literally not stopped giving IV after IV or admitting patient after patient, that will be the shift that you hand over to everyone’s favourite pain in the ass. You know the one who complains that you haven’t changed a pillowcase or replaced the nasogastric tube. It really is a 24-hour service so seriously if you know you’ve given that shift your all and there are a few minor things you haven’t got round to, don’t sweat it.
I’ll be no longer missing out on precious time with my family to do something that can be done by someone else who is actually getting paid at that time! It’s time to work on your time management so you can get all of the tasks you must do done for home time and anything else can wait.
Another is staying on for hours if someone on the next shift is going to be late. If you’re in at 7 am the next day do you really think it’s a good idea? Just think about what you’re agreeing to before doing it out of the goodness of your heart!
Here’s another one that luckily for my colleagues I would’ve to give into so easily previously! People in life, even our beloved nursing colleagues, can be very persuasive or good at pulling the guilt trip card.
It’s the usual story, right? Someone needs a shift swap and has hunted you down on the roaster as the only viable person that could possibly swap. Before you know it you’re agreeing to swap your Sunday day shift for a miserable Monday or swapping a day for a night even though you HATE working nights!
Now, I love helping my fellow nursing clang out but only if it’s beneficial for ME. You do not have to swap shifts if you don’t want to and no-one is going to hate you if you say no! Before agreeing to make swaps make sure that swap fits well into your life before saying yes! Take a look at your schedule maybe your partners of whoever you’d maybe spend time with on that particular day. Think about what you’ll be sacrificing by swapping the shift, if nothing then great go for it, but if not then don’t agree!
How to Say No – a Few Prompts
I know I make it sound so easy in this blog post but I know how hard it really can be to say no so here are the two sentences I always use!
“I’m not sure, I’ll have to check my schedule and get back to you” – This one is really easy so you literally can go check what you need to and get back the person.
“I’m afraid I’ve already got plans that day” I often come straight out with this one unless I really want to check my schedule. The first sentence can be a great starting point to use so you start to feel more empowered in your quest to say no more often! You can throw a ‘sorry’ into the mix if you’d like but I’m also trying not to say sorry as much too because really there is nothing to apologise for here – again this is another topic which will be getting a whole post of its own!
I hope after reading this post you feel a little more empowered to start saying no at work! Saying no to all of the above ties in with what I was talking about in my previous post. We have to take some responsibility as nurses. It’s no good saying yes to two extra shifts every week and then complaining you’re tired or that the government is overworking you. Yes they are and staffing levels around the world are at an all-time low but it’s up to us to stand up for ourselves too.
I hope you enjoyed this post and even if you’re not a nurse and have read thus far then you can apply all of these tips to any workplace. If employees know they can take us for granted and take advantage then they will. It’s also really important to start learning how to say out of work too but I think I’ll write a different post on that too so stick around! If you did enjoy this post or know someone who could find it useful then please share it 🙂
Welcome, welcome, welcome! You have no idea how pleased I am that you’re reading this post right now. It’s a little different than the rest of my posts and a little taster of what’s to come. Most of you know that aside from blogging, travelling and all the rest of it, I’m a Registered Children’s Nurse. I followed my desire to help sick children and their families through the hardest times of their lives.
Now I want to help the nurses taking care of them.
I’ve always thrived from helping others, it’s what I love doing. Even by writing my travel blog I’m offering advice about travelling, it’s through and through in my nature.
But what I’ve realised over the last twelve months is that I’m very good at looking after everyone else but not so much myself. I’m not embarrassed to say that at 25 I still had little knowledge of how to take care of myself until not so long ago.
Now I’m not talking about putting on a face mask and having a hot bath (although those are great things too) what I’m talking about here is getting to know myself, what lights up my life and sets my soul on fire. I came to realise that I wasn’t sure that I knew myself very well at all.
Since starting my training to become a nurse somewhat seven years ago it’s been anything but a walk in the park. There have been some rocky roads taken and I almost completely gave up nursing on more than one occasion. I even jetted off to the other side of the world (read more about that here) in order to try and fall back in love with the career I worked my ass off to achieve!
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘running away from your problems is a race you’ll never win’ and whilst I wasn’t particularly running away from anything my nursing woes certainly followed me to Australia. I remember the very moment that I knew something had to give. I was due to go to work and found myself uncontrollably crying at the sheer thought of going in. Like shoulder shuddering, squealing noises kind of crying. I honestly had no idea how it got to this point.
It still took me a little while after that to do something about how I was feeling about nursing at that time but I knew that I couldn’t look after others well whilst I was feeling like this.
Shortly after this moment, I made the momentous decision to go down the road of self-discovery and really try and focus on the root of the problem. I dove into all of the self-help books, listened to all of the podcasts, Ted Talks and even sought out help from a professional.
It was during this quest that someone said something to me that really stuck and honestly changed my mindset forever and it’s this:
“Blaming puts other people in charge of your happiness.
Accepting responsibility empowers you to create your own”
I don’t know what it was about these words but they changed my outlook on my life completely. I’d spent the last almost four years blaming so many external factors on my unhappiness at work instead of looking inside.
Some things we nurses tend to blame for our unhappiness?
Working twelve-hour shifts, being underpaid, being overworked and understaffed, working in unsafe conditions, being exhausted from picking up extra shifts, being exhausted from switching from days to nights, being fed up of working around nurses who don’t pull their weight, feeling unhealthy due to lack of exercise which of course was due to bad shift patterns, not getting time off with my partner, being too exhausted to enjoy my days off, oh the list could seriously go on.
These are just some of the reasons that I was blaming for my unhappiness as a nurse. But after a lot of hard work and home truths that, at first, left me feeling embarrassed and honestly feeling like an unworthy person I realised that to alter the external factors we first have to work on the internal.
As a result of working on myself and my outlook on life, I’ve kind of come full circle. I’ve gone from being a pretty negative person to a much more positive one. Right now, I feel the most confident that I’ve ever felt, I feel the happiest at work I’ve ever felt and feel truly empowered to make any changes in my life that I feel are right and you know what? It feels absolutely fantastic! In fact, I’ve become a little bit obsessed with the power of positive thinking and the power of really getting to know myself.
This is why I really want to channel everything that I’ve learnt and am still learning on this journey to help other unfulfilled nurses! I’m going to be busy creating brand new content and I’m so excited about this opportunity I have to help other nurses just like me! If you can’t wait to get started on changing your life then I highly recommend reading ‘You Are A Badass’ by Jen Sincero – it’s one of the many books that has seriously altered my thinking during this journey!
Nursing is a hard gig, there are challenges constantly from sickness to staffing. We care with huge hearts but it’s vital that we nurture our own if we’ve got any chance of sticking around in this profession.
I’m going to be channelling so much of what I’ve learnt to reshape my own life to hopefully help you with yours!
Wish Me Luck!
PS. If you usually follow me for all of my travel content then don’t worry it’s not going anywhere I’ll still be writing about my musings on the road. After all, I might be a nurse by career but I’m so much more than that and travel is a huge part of my life. I wouldn’t be here writing this if it wasn’t for travelling! If you know a nurse who might benefit from some tips in taking better care of themselves then be sure to send them this post!
Today I wanted to chat a little bit about travel nursing. I feel like the definition of a travel nurse has very different meanings to different people. When I personally talk about travel nursing I’m talking about travelling whilst working as a nurse, something I’ve been doing for the past two years.
If you’ve been following my adventure for a while then you’ll know that I’ve been a nurse in the United Kingdom, Australia and I’m now nursing in New Zealand – what an adventure it has been so far. I thought I’d take this time to chat specifically about travel nursing, what to expect and a few tips on how to start looking into becoming a travel nurse (but honestly, that’s for a whole other post in itself so stay tuned)!
So, perhaps you’ve heard the term travel nurse thrown around but you actually have no idea what it means? Well, as I said before to me travel nursing is someone who travels whilst nursing at the same time. There are so many different ways of doing this from moving to a whole new country to travelling around your own country whilst taking on different nursing assignments/jobs.
Travel Nursing VS Agency Nursing – What’s the Difference?
When you start to think about travel nursing don’t get too hung up on different terms/titles.
As well as ‘travel nurse’ you’ll also hear other terms thrown around like agency nurse. From my experience over the last few years ‘travel nursing’ is a pretty American term. ‘Agency nurse’ seems to be more of an English term but both are used in Australia and New Zealand. They are basically the exact same thing.
When deciding to become a travel nurse it usually means joining some form of nursing agency. A nursing agency is a business that employs nurses and sends them on assignments to places that require the specific skill set that the nurse has. Essentially a travel/agency nurse is usually someone who is part of an agency rather than someone who is employed by a hospital/part of a unit or team.
Example: An ICU nurse with 4 years experience will most likely be sent on assignments involving, but not limited, to ICU.
There’s a whole catalogue of different ways you can work for an agency but the most popular routes are:
I worked for the agency Health Care Australia in Australia (funnily enough) and had some of the best moments of my career to date.
Different Types of Travel Nursing
One aspect of travel that I’d like to make clear is that agency or travel nursing doesn’t always mean freedom. It all depends on what type of work you take on with the agency you join.
Casual Nursing with an Agency
This is the type of work where you will get the most freedom whilst travelling and working as a nurse. This is exactly what I did for a year in Australia. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the flexibility to live in two different states and take over 3 months off to travel. I got to choose my shifts and choose when I wanted time off which was perfect.
The agency took into account my skill set and experience and then placed me in hospital settings that matched those. I was sent a shift and then I could decide whether or not to accept that shift. There were no set hours that I was required to work and I could take time off whenever I wanted too. It was honestly the perfect way to keep nursing whilst living in Australia. I was able to take my life back into my own hands and keep myself well balanced.
Being able to maintain a healthier ‘work-life balance’ is one of the main reasons I’m a huge fan of casual nursing.
However, as wonderful as that sounds there are some things to take into consideration when you decide to work on a casual basis.
Hours are not guaranteed. Some weeks I’d have plenty of shifts and others not so many. There’s often no sick, maternity or holiday pay. If these things are important to you it’s a good idea to keep them in mind before taking casual nursing full time. Of course, it all depends on the agency you work for as some do offer sick pay/holiday pay/maternity pay incentives so just do the research beforehand.
Full-Time Nursing with An Agency
Some agencies also take on nurses full time meaning they have to give you full-time hours. This essentially means that you get first dibs on the shifts that are available before the casual nurses. Every agency is different but some may require that you must accept the shifts they offer without question if you’re working on a full-time basis. If you do work for an agency full-time they often will send you where the work. This means you can be at a different hospital on a different ward every shift which can be challenging mentally – again another story for a whole new post so make sure you’re following along.
Short or Long Term Contracts via An Agency
Sometimes agencies will offer short or long term contracts within a certain hospital or care setting. For example, a children’s ward in Sydney may be looking for a nurse for a block of 14 weeks. If they are having trouble hiring someone they often reach out to agencies to see if they have any nurses who would be interested in filling in this assignment.
I’ve never taken such an assignment so I can’t comment too much but I would think you have to see out the assignment until the end once a contract is signed. You can definitely take these if you usually work casually too.
In the United States, some nurses become travel nurses full time and are sent all over the country on assignments. I’ve met nurses online who literally move from state to state in the US as a travel nurse. I think this is a brilliant way to see a country and keep your nursing career firmly intact.
You don’t have to join a nursing agency to travel and nurse it’s just a very popular route especially casually because of the freedom. But, in some countries agency nursing just isn’t very popular.
Take New Zealand for example, they do have nursing agencies but the hospitals don’t use unless they really have to. This means work could be a little sparse which is a big risk in a new country.
Always do your research first, phone the agencies and ask them how the work is where you want to go. Due to the lack of agency nursing in New Zealand, I worked a permanent contract again whilst living in Wellington.
Once you’re a registered nurse in the country you want to travel to you can apply for any job you want as long as you meet the criteria they’re asking for.
Most hospitals around the world have their own ‘pool’ or ‘bank’ of staff. This is similar to agency nursing but you’re employed by the hospital or care setting. When a unit in the hospital it short-staffed they send you there. This is a great way to still work casually if a hospital doesn’t really use an agency. Hospitals will often prefer to use their own pool or bank because agency nurses come at a higher rate!
Agency nursing or casual nursing really isn’t for some people and that’s okay. But that doesn’t mean you can’t travel and nurse!
Reach out to hospitals you think you’d like to work at and chat with the manager about what options you may have. Most big hospitals will have someone who dedicates their time to helping and giving information to overseas nurses.
I’m a huge advocate for both travelling and nursing, I think it’s pretty amazing if you can do both! I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to travel to both New Zealand and Australia whilst keeping my career firmly intact. I might not be as far along in my career in terms of ‘progression’ as some of my peers that I went to school with but nursing around the world has added so much value to my career!
If you’re thinking about becoming a travel nurse in Australia or New Zealand then don’t hesitate to send me an email with any questions you might have! Even if you have any questions about nursing in the UK feel free to ask me. I obviously trained in the UK so don’t have any experience in applying for registration as an overseas nurse but I can definitely point you in the direction of some people who have!
I hope some of you have found this post useful and possibly even inspired you to take a look into becoming a travel nurse. Either way, make sure you’re following me along on Instagram and subscribe to Alicia Overseas in the side-bar. I have some very exciting posts all-around travel nursing coming up! If you did enjoy this post I would love it if you could share it with your friends!
Holy smokes, I can’t believe it’s been five months since we were packing our bags getting ready to start moving from Australia to New Zealand in search of a new adventure!
Moving from Australia to New Zealand has been a complete whirlwind. Somehow moving to a country just a three-hour plane ride away (we left from Brisbane in case those of you from Perth are reading and screwing your nose up at that one) is so very different.
The last five months have kind of gone by in a blur. I want to be honest with you, it’s taken us a lot longer to get settled here in New Zealand and to think that we’re halfway through this current visa is crackers. So I decided to reflect on our last five months. The good, the bad and the windy!
On Finding Somewhere to Live in New Zealand
The biggest struggle here in New Zealand has been finding somewhere to live! Last year in Australia we moved to 5 different houses pretty easily. We would give ourselves around 10-14 days in an Air BnB and have somewhere snapped up soon before our time was up.
Either it just isn’t as easy in New Zealand or this girl is a lot fussier than she thinks! I think it’s possibly a mixture of both but a lot of the latter!
If you’ve following my blog for a while then you’ll know I’ve been hustling hard at this travel blogging business. In fact, in just one short year I’ve managed to grow an Instagram community of over 3000 and somehow Alicia Overseas is gaining over 4,000 page views every month.
Not so long ago I was dreaming of travelling non-stop full time. Can you think of a better way to live? Turns out I can.
When we first arrived in New Zealand we spent our first 4 months jumping from hostel to hostel spare room to spare room and it drained me. Emotionally, physically I couldn’t have felt more disconnected to everything that I love from travelling.
The past 2 weeks in New Zealand have been the best so far. Dave and I are finally in a lovely house-share with a gorgeous little room. It might sound materialistic but it has honestly done wonders to my mood and relationships.
Here’s what I’ve realised:
Nothing beats being able to cook in a real kitchen
Having a window that floods the room with light is life
I love nothing more than sitting down with my book, a cuppa and candle burning at night
Having an actual desk to work on at home is now non-negotiable
Decor matters – sorry but it really does.
How lucky we are to have a place to call home that we can make our little sanctuary.
So even though it took longer than I would’ve liked to have been settled in a permanent home for the rest of our time in New Zealand, it has made me so much more grateful for it now.
On Finding a Job in New Zealand
Luckily this was a whole lot smoother than finding somewhere to live! Dave snapped up work the first week we got to Wellington! Luckily the hospitality scene is big here and they are always needing extra staff, especially those with experience!
For me, it was pretty easy too! New Zealand like the rest of the world is crying out for nurses and just as we arrived in Wellington a job advert in my area of nursing expertise was put out.
Coincidence or fate? I’m not sure but it was perfect. I was lucky enough to secure the position and found myself working a few weeks after Dave. From securing a nursing position to being on the floor can take a little time as you imagine there are thousands of checks that need to be done! So this meant I got an extra month off to enjoy being in Wellington which was wonderful.
Nursing in New Zealand is similar to Australia and the UK, of course with some cultural and practical differences but very similar which makes me happy.
I’ve also gone back onto a permanent rostered system instead of choosing my shifts as I did in Australia. I must say I have some strong feelings about which I’ll go into a whole other post. I could talk about nursing shifts and roasters and pros and cons until the cows come home!
All in all, finding a job gets a big thumbs up from us! It makes even more grateful that I can take nursing all over the world with me!
On Travelling the North Island
New Zealand is breathtaking.
There are no other words to describe it. It’s the quietest country I’ve ever stepped foot in and in the countryside I can sense how clean the air is.
You don’t have to be far out of the cities to be surrounded by mountainous views and lush green fields. We’ve seen the whole of the North Island so far and have just got the South Island to explore. As I’m writing this we actually go on our first trip to the South Island in 2 weeks time. I can’t wait to explore more of this beautiful country and I honestly don’t think we’ve seen anything yet!
My favourite destinations on the North Island of New Zealand
We still need to see Mount Taranaki and I can’t wait to spend a few days hiking around Egmont National Park!
Moving from Australia to New Zealand – On Feeling Homesick
To my surprise, I’ve felt so much more homesick since moving from Australia to New Zealand. I can’t decide if its because we’ve not been home in over a year and I’m craving some time with my family and girlfriends or if it’s because New Zealand is so similar to the UK.
If I’m honest since my mum left Australia the homesickness didn’t really leave (hi mum, please don’t start crying, I love you)!
Homesickness is hard and completely normal whilst travelling the world. But as much as I love my home (which I’m only just realising now by the way) the experience of travel is certainly worth being away for a little while. I’ve adopted a few ways of dealing it. I’ve also had my fair share of tantrums and have been certain that I was booking the next plane home!
Time differences suck but it’s easy to keep in touch if you really make the effort.
On the Weather
After living in Brisbane and Sydney we arrived in New Zealand in the middle of winter and boy was it a shock!
Being from Northern England we are used to the cold but just one year Australia has turned us into complete wimps!
I’ve only just taken off my woolly hat five months later (it made for a great accessory). I have no idea if we’ll ever be warm again after living in Australia but we did have our first beach day in New Zealand where I braved my swimsuit at 20 degrees! I’m sure when we one day get back to the UK we’ll be ramping up a huge heating bill even in the summer months but I’m it won’t take long for our bodies to re-acclimatise!
About three months into our New Zealand adventure I experienced my first ever earthquake.
It only lasted about 5 seconds but it isn’t an experience I’m likely to forget. I’m sure most New Zealanders probably slept through it and would be rolling their eyes reading this but coming from somewhere with zero natural disasters (although as I write this in November 2019 our home town of Sheffield is currently experiencing torrential flooding) it was so scary.
We were living in the hostel at the time and the bed was wheels and it shook! Dave was on his way back from work and I honestly had no idea what was going on! Luckily it was fine and stopped but holy moly I had no idea how common earthquakes are in New Zealand! I certainly didn’t do enough research where that’s concerned.
A tip for those looking to spend some time in New Zealand, research all about the earthquakes so you know the processes to follow should you ever need to.
All in All…
So, moving from Australia to New Zealand has certainly been an epic adventure so far. Filled with highs and lows, all the ingredients to make a wonderful adventure.
New Zealand is definitely the definition of ‘Middle Earth’ it’s so far away from anywhere else in the world but boy is it beautiful. If you’re thinking about travelling to New Zealand then I couldn’t recommend it more at this point and we haven’t even locked eyes on the South Island yet which is supposed to be even more beautiful!
If you have any questions about New Zealand, moving here or about life here then let me know but here are a few facts about the country we’ve discovered so far:
Earthquakes happen every day
It’s normal not to see anyone else in the countryside all-day
Wellington is the windiest place on earth (not statically true but I’m rolling with it)
New Zealand has a teeny tiny population of just 5 million!
The worlds first commercial bungee jump was launched in Queenstown
Half the population own a car – literally! It’s hard to navigate without one!
Rugby is HUGE.
We’ve got plenty more of this country to enjoy and I’m excited to experience more of it! Here’s to our next set of adventures down South!
For the last few weeks, I’ve been craving this post. Its been at the tip of my fingertips every time I’ve gone to write something else. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve been doing some real ‘soul searching’ over the last few weeks that I’ve been feeling like really digging in deep and remembering why I started Alicia Overseas.
Writing has always been at the forefront of what I’ve wanted to do. I loved creating short stories at school. Poems, make-believe fairytales even Christmas carols. I actually submitted a Christmas Carol to Amazon for a competition a few years ago but that was the first bit of writing I had done in such a long time!
Coming hand in hand with writing is reading. The Saturday morning library run was always a highlight of the week growing up. My mum is a total bookworm and as a child, I certainly followed suit. Of course, then I became a teenager and cared about velvet tracksuits and hanging out in front of the local takeaway trying to attract local boys from school. Yes, I was that girl along with my friends. It wasn’t until my university days when reading became a part of my life again. You know when I finally got over myself and realised that reading was ‘cool’ and reading a book before bed wouldn’t lose me all my friends!
Add this to the long list of things I wish I could’ve told my teenage self! Perhaps that can be another post at some point even if just to make myself giggle!
Even though I’d rediscovered my love for reading I was still writing nothing. Until launching Alicia Overseas the last time I think I’d ever written anything over 200 words was for my English Lit GCSE’s.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to write it was more to do with the fact that I didn’t feel like I could or should be writing anything.
Always the Dreamer
I’m a notorious daydreamer. I’m always dreaming up the next place I want to visit or what I want my life to look like in 10 years time. I’ve always been the girl with dreams who takes no action to strive for them. It sounds so cliche but my brain always defaults too ‘Well that would be nice but it could never happen’ or ‘Yeah well people like me don’t do things like that’ or ‘that’s great for them but I could never do that’.
I’d spend hours in the local WHSmiths or Waterstones staring at the thousands of names written on the spines of books. I admired them all. For a second my mind would fleet and I’d think about if every single one of these people can write then why can’t I. Then a few seconds later I’d get hit by reality and realise that I could never write a book, blog, magazine article or whatever.
But, why not?
Then in 2017 I sat down with Dave and said next year we are moving to Australia.
I remember the conversation so vividly and my heart was pounding as I started my speech. Like writing, travelling, in particular to Australia, was somewhere I constantly visited in my dreams. I went on and on and on about making it to the land down under and then another year would pass.
And another and another and another.
In the end, even I wondered if I would ever make it. But as I write this, Australia has been and gone and now I’m on a whole new adventure in New Zealand! I never believed I’d get to Australia until I made it happen which just goes to show that anything is possible if you really want it!
So, Australia plans started coming in thick and fast. I think I read every single travel blog post about Australia in that year prior to our departure. Which is when I discovered the world of blogging, completely by accident. Obviously I’d been reading blogs for years but never really thought of them as anything other than a website.
But as I started planning our trip to Australia I started noticing the people behind the blogs, their story and became a little obsessed!
Each time I read a travel blog I noticed the same reoccurring feeling. Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could do something like that? Then quickly shook my head and laughed knowing that I could never run a successful travel blog. But I honestly couldn’t shake the notion.
I love writing and what better way to write than document the travels I was about to have for all my friends and family to follow! How insane would it be to write about my travels to inspire others to visit places I’d visited? Then the ideas just kept on coming. I could write about how I’m going to nurse whilst travelling to inspire other nurses to travel.
As I write this now I notice a theme. Inspire. But I’ll come back to that later on.
Taking the Plunge into the Unknown
It took me a bloody long time to decide that I was, in fact, going to follow my curiosity and start my own travel blog. Even after I did I told no-one but my family and close friends. I was terrified about putting myself out into the world and I still was over a year into Alicia Overseas.
Though I appeared confident I suffered from self-doubt pretty badly. Like I probably filled myself with self-loathing at least ten times a day. I’d constantly dampen down my achievements and my comparison game was STRONG.
All of the above are reasons why I decided to do some ‘soul searching’ as I mentioned earlier.
Yes, I may have taken the leap into starting Alicia Overseas but that was the easy bit.
Want to talk about the hard bit? The Blogging Rat Race
Yes, the blogging rat race well and truly exists. Blogging is quite a solo endeavour to take on or at least that’s how it seems. From an outsider looking in bloggers write about their travels, lifestyle, photography anything you could think of and people read what they write. Bloggers answer to only themselves because they are the people writing the content right? Again wrong.
Like anything in life, there are so many people who want to put their ore in. So many people trying to make a living and so many people tell you which way is best. It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game as a travel blogger and forget why the hell you came in the first place. Quite frankly I fell in the deep end when it came to comparing Alicia Overseas to other blogs and making sure I was doing what those ‘big shots’ were doing like trying to curate my Instagram to look a certain way etc.
Well, quite frankly I realised lately that it sure wasn’t making me happy. I love my blog but It wasn’t making me happy and I was not loving how I was running it. In fact, it started to feel like a chore and a job, not a hobby. It hit home hard.
It felt like I was trying to do everything to outrun others in the rat race instead of staying in my own lane and figuring out what works for me and what I want from my life!
So during my quest to make some serious changes, I asked myself:
Why did I start Alicia Overseas in the first place?
I started Alicia Overseas to inspire people to take a leap into travel.
I started Alicia Overseas to show people that even though they may not see it, creating your own reality is possible.
These are the reasons I started this blog though I note I’ve hardly written anything that I intended to. Why? because I was too busy in the rat race of trying to make sure I was nailing my travel content. When all the while I was often getting stressed and confused trying to be like everyone else.
‘Niching’ down like everyone else. Why do I need to niche down on my space of the internet? I’m a person with many likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, not everything I do is with travel in mind and neither should my blog but still, I followed on.
I’ve been doing a lot of work recently on myself and making subtle changes in my life which have led to big shifts. And when I’ve slowly been integrating these into my blogging, content creating, social media etc all I’ve seen is growth. The last few months have been my most epic months in terms of growth of Alicia Overseas and I honestly put that down to staying in my own lane and doing whatever I want to with my own platforms!
So here’s to GoPro Selfies because they bring such a fun side into my photography, here’s to more posts rambling about life (a little like this)! And here’s to a new part of my blogging journey that involves chatting a lot more about positivity, wellness and living a more fulfilled life.
As I’ve been making some changes to myself/life it’s led to a big vision for my next passion project!
I’ve kept it under my belt thus far but I honestly think I’ve found a new angle in living my life. And I want to share it and talk about it!
Life is all about creating a journey we are proud of. Not one that was inspired by what we think we should be doing, not one that revolves around everybody else but one that we love living.
It starts and ends with ourselves.
I mean, how could I possibly run an inspiring blog if I don’t feel inspired by myself?
Since making these changes in my life I’m so much happier, filled with so much more happiness and loving everyday life so much more. I’m growing in all areas including my little space on the internet which I couldn’t be prouder of! I’ll be posting more on what exactlynew little project . is going to be about over the next few weeks/months so stay tuned on Instagram and if you’re not subscribed to my newsletter then make sure you do so below!