“I love my hometown of Stockton but I think I love exploring more”
“WHERE are you from? London?”
“No, the North-East. Stockton. Do you know it?”
“Ok, it’s near Newcastle, you know like Newcastle United, Alan Shearer, Geordie Shore?”
“Hmmmm, yes. Maybe. I think I might have seen an episode once.”
“Yes, well Stockton like about 40 miles south. The north of England, let’s just says it’s near the Scottish border, nearly Scotland but not quite.”
Despite this repetitive conversation, I still like to let people know where I’m from – after all it’s made me who I am today! Being from Stockton means my childhood was great, the perfect location – just a short car journey to the beach, the North York Moors or up to Newcastle.
I love my hometown but I think I love exploring more. I’ve always been independent, went against the grain and did things that perhaps were a little too adventurous for the age I was at the time.
I’ve had the travel bug as long as I can remember. When I was younger my family loved going abroad for holidays so we could experience other cultures, people and languages. We went to France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Luxembourg amongst others, and I remember those holidays being an exploration from beginning to end! I really do think that this exposure at a young age fuelled my passion for languages and travel.
My first trip without my parents was at the age of 15 when I went to Rome with my Girl Guide group. I think if my parents realised what that trip was the start of, then maybe my life would have been different. After that I was hooked, I wanted to seize every opportunity and go everywhere. One week in Iceland age 17, three weeks competing in the Tall Ships race the same year and one week in Latvia aged 18… You get the picture.
After my first year at university, two friends and I backpacked around Europe for four weeks trying new foods, doing city walking tours and visiting enough churches to last us a lifetime (they are everywhere). We visited nine countries – my favourites were Croatia and Hungary- spent countless hours on trains and met people from all over the world. I absolutely loved every minute of the trip, but seriously missed a good cuppa, Dairy Milk and my own bed.
READ MORE: Liliana’s expat blog http://expressnorth.co.uk/letter-from-spain/
In the summer of 2013 I moved to Berlin to teach English for 12 months, travelling most of Germany with a few trips to Poland. There I found the same problem – no one knew the North-East, never mind little old Stockton! I ended up just saying I was from Newcastle (where I studied at university) so to make conversations easier.
The summer of 2014 I moved to Santander to Au Pair and was surprised to find the family knew where Newcastle was!! Yipeeee! Finally someone knew where the North-East was!!
After I graduated university with a BA in Modern Languages I decided to spend five years living around Europe to try and get improve the five languages I speak. I’m currently in Santander, Spain, in February will move to Chiari, Italy for four months to teach English and in October will move to Austria for a year plus also to teach English.
I’m also planning another backpacking trip next summer! I know I have a serious case of wanderlust, but will always (eventually!) end up back in Stockton with my family. It’s the kind of place you don’t realise you miss until you go back – the familiarity, the people and the parmos all make going home worth it.
Lillian can be found blogging at theenglishnomad.wordpress.com