This week has been incredibly difficult because I have to say goodbye to some of the most important people in my Penang family. We all know that part of the international lifestyle is that you have to say goodbye a lot of times and your stability is very temporary. However it doesn’t get any easier, especially when those that are leaving are the people you see every day and haven’t ever experienced life on the island without them. Before I go into a gushy, intense rant about my friends I’ll recap on my second year in Penang.
My second year in Penang has been about rebuilding and moving forward. August to December were not good months for me. There have been some tough relationship changes, some very testing situations and my own mental wellbeing has been up and down a lot. I am lucky to be able to say that I am doing okay. Second year in Penang is without a doubt an improvement on first year in Penang, which was not OK.
So, to get to the important things… I’m lucky to have been on some amazing holidays this year:
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Koh Lipe, Thailand
Ipoh part 1
Ipoh part 2
Holidays are a priority and the holidays are the main reason why anyone has a job. Living abroad means travel and see as much as you can. However I’ve also enjoyed Penang and explored so many places in the surrounding area. Even when you think you’ve done it all there are always new places popping up or recommendations close by to enjoy.
Penang is a pretty great place to live. One great thing about Penang is the fact that the lifestyle is so relaxed, it’s mostly sunny and people actually have time to do things. People here do things every evening. Life here is easy. We joke about expat life being very similar to university life but it really is. It’s a 3 year contract like a degree where you live in a small community with your friends and you just pretend to be an adult most of the time.
What is not easy or fun is change and life on Penang is about to change dramatically. I’ve been the luckiest person to have landed the group of friends that I have here. Times have been rough for me here and these amazing humans have stuck by me throughout it. When something tragic happens it brings people closer together and that is exactly what happened. It’s going to be very lonely without lots of my closest friends living here. I also have a brand new work team to adapt to. It’s not an easy situation to return to after the holidays but I am grateful for the past two years and all the experiences I’ve shared with this group of people. I really mean it when I say these friends have changed my life. It’s not the same as any other friendships I’ve known because we live in each other’s pockets. We work together, live close by and hang out together but somehow still love one another.
Alice and I wrote a surprise speech for Beth at our leaving dinner and spent 3 months keeping it a secret. Here are three short videos of her reaction. I was having a nervy b because I don’t like public speaking or secrets but I think we did a good job.
Bethy, you’re one the most loving and caring people I’ve ever met. I can’t imagine my life without you and I struggle to understand how we went to the same university for the same three years and never met. You’re my cat lady for life.
Tomo, you’re very much one of Mandy’s children and one of the people I love the most in my life. Please don’t replace me in Hong Kong I’ll be fumes.
Jess, you’re the most thoughtful and generous person. I don’t know who is going to organise anything now. We will probably never go anywhere again. I’ll certainly never eat brunch without thinking about you. You’re welcome.
Ashley, I couldn’t ask for a better person to have worked with for two years, or a better friend. You’ve entertained me every single day and I will be very sad without you around. You’re the person I see every single day, most of the day and I will miss you so much.
Leading on from this I also have to hand out a lot of love for Alicia and Roseanne who make up our amazing Year 3 team. I feel abandoned (Roseanne I realise this wasn’t your fault).
I also have to say goodbye to another island friend (sorry this is getting boring I know) Becky. Becky, some day I promise we will go on all the hikes we said we would do and never managed to achieve. Mostly we were just eating brunch instead. I’d be lost without daily Love Island chats at the moment. Scotland is the best so please let me come and visit.
So it’s the end of an amazing second year in Penang filled with fun, adventures, old friends, new friends and varying degrees of drama. There’s been a lot of laughing, a lot of crying and some falling out. That’s a family. Ballers for life. 💛 I’ve also been lucky to make new friends this year who I’m excited to have more island adventures with.
Here’s my second year in Penang in some photos. It’s been the best adventure.