First year in Penang.

Writing a blog about my first year in Penang is no easy task. It has been the most rollercoaster year of my life, to put it lightly. I’m not sure how to organise my thoughts about it all really so I’ll just try.

International life, for anyone, is highs and lows. You’re far away from everything you knew and loved your whole life. You miss key events in friends’ and family members’ lives and feel anxious and upset about it. You worry that no one cares about you anymore cos you’re really far away. You try really hard to message people regularly and love everyone from afar but it’s hard and sometimes doesn’t happen how you hoped. Whenever anything good happens to someone you have mixed feelings, so happy for them but also stressed that you probably can’t afford the time or money to attend the celebration. If something bad happens to someone you feel a bit helpless and I especially worry that everyone is keeping bad things from me. This year I’ve watched my friends deal with the death of family members, sad news from home, missing hen parties, weddings, their nieces and nephews growing up without them whilst they carry on with life on the other side of the world.

January 3rd has left me a different person. I’ve never been an anxious person and now I get anxiety about almost everything. I’m very aware that people die and I know what that feels like. That’s added a whole new dimension to my life because I now have first hand experience of how fragile everyone’s happiness is. I try really hard to maintain this outward normal version of myself and keep the rest of the “stuff” under the surface. Most of the time I’m pretty good at it. I am now back to leading a happy life, in a routine and enjoying the things that I do. However the scar of grief and trauma is definitely a permanent one. This morning I woke up at 3.30 and stayed awake since then. Two days ago I really missed Jerry and his “fuck that” attitude and when I think about him even a little bit it takes me seconds to feel utterly devastated. It’s really sad. 6 months on Tuesday feels like 6 minutes at times and a different life at others.

So, Penang. We all have a love hate relationship with this small island. Small island life. The friends I have made are absolutely incredible. I couldn’t have lived this year without them and that sounds melodramatic but actually is the truth of the situation.

Ok this photo tribute could go on forever. Thanks guys for being my family.

Another part of island life is that people leave the island and go to live in other countries and then you can’t see them anymore and you have to add them to the list of people you can no longer see regularly. Jen and Andi I will miss you more than I can really express in this sentence. It’s not time to get emotional yet, but I really don’t know how life will be without you in August. I love you both and I’m so grateful to have you as my friends.

What do I love about Penang life? The sun. It’s always warm and as Tom says you can go out in shorts and a t shirt any day and any time and know it’ll be fine.

The above picture can be your weekend.

The jungle. I love nature and I love green.

The beach. Looking at the sea is relaxing.

The sunsets. Amazing sunsets most evenings.

Having guests. Being in a cool place for people to visit is fun. I’ve had a lot of time with guests.

If you wanna come hang out I’d book your time slot now.

My job. I enjoy my job. If it wasn’t 3 days until the end of term I’d go as far as to say I love it.

My apartment. I have loads of space and a pool.

Nova. Finding Nova was at the time kind of hard work but now she’s a fully functional, semi normal cat it’s a party everyday.

Meeting Jerry. Jerry taught me so much about myself and relationships. Jerry was a blessing. Jerry is a blessing.

The food. Penang food is so good it’s very hard not to get fat. My stomach is rumbling thinking about Penang food. It really is great.

Lots of amazing nearby holiday destinations. Here are my holidays from this year:

And finally, the best thing the universe gave to me is Asraf. Asraf listened to the absolute devastation that was my life and helped me put it back together. We both needed someone like one another at this time in our lives and we are doing pretty well at muddling through. He’s loved by all my friends and he made me happy when I thought that was impossible. At Christmas, Asraf will visit the UK and Yorkshire for the first time. He will be cold.

Happy summer holidays to all teachers whenever it comes around for you. For anyone who is thinking of moving abroad to teach, DO IT AND DO IT NOW. It’s the best decision I ever made and that is proven by the fact I’m still here even though I had a horrendous time this year. DO IT YOU COULD SEE PLACES AND ENJOY YOUR JOB. For me, holidays begin Wednesday, then a week in Lombok before heading home for a few very important reasons.

One- bridesmaid duties for this one:

Two- to spend time with these guys:

And you Mike and Rob but there are like no photos of us so soz.

Three: to meet the baby of one of my favourite people:

Four: to catch up with as many friends as I can including The Fellowship who I really miss.

And obviously to see Maya, Albs, Rubes, Loogs and Mabel. We should probably stop getting pets.

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