I had spent years training for my job, and finally my dream was a reality. I was working professionally as a goldsmith in my hometown of Birmingham in the UK. The hours were long and the work was tedious but the results were worth it, I could make perfect tiny replicas of tree frogs and butterflies carved out of sterling silver and my work was also my creative output. I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing but I still felt that something was missing. I’d left my long term boyfriend a few months earlier and was now living alone, my rent was high and wages low (goldsmithing doesn’t pay what it once did) and I felt trapped in my city. I hadn’t been abroad in years and I knew that I couldn’t afford to anytime soon, besides, I needed to work overtime to keep up with my bills! I was working over 65 hours a week to just make ends meet. Despite all of this I constantly checked a holiday app on my phone, dreaming of far away destinations and new cultures to discover.
While I was at my workbench a new deal pinged onto my screen, it read ‘A chance to see the Northern Lights in the Land of Fire and Ice’. I was intrigued. Opening the link I saw that it was for a 3 night stay in Iceland. I’d never really considered travelling there, I didn’t know anything about the country and I wasn’t really interested in learning about it either but I felt a sudden impulse that I had to go. I wasn’t thinking clearly and before I knew it £500 had been charged to my credit card!
Panicking, I text my mom asking if she’d like to join me, it was a trip for 2 after all and I didn’t have anyone else to go with. She was excited for the trip, unlike me who felt like I’d made an incredibly irresponsible choice!
That same week Iceland beat England in the Euros (I don’t follow football but I found out through my work colleagues), it felt like a sign.
A few months later we were boarding a plane from London Luton, but I still couldn’t get excited about this trip.
We landed in Keflavik, a town just 45 minutes from Reykjavik with nothing much except lava fields for miles. We took the bus into Reykjavik and something completely unexpected happened – I fell in love with the city! The language was beautiful, the food was different, the views breathtaking and the locals were so friendly. And in a stark contrast from home, no one seemed stressed in the slightest. It was mid-winter and the days were short but that just made the town even more beautiful, fairy lights hung from every building and every photo I took looked like a perfect Nordic Christmas card scene.
On the third day I booked a flight back to spend New Year alone in Reykjavik. I’ve always said ‘start the New Year the way you intend to end it’ and that’s just what I did. In May I quit my job to move to South Iceland for 3 months, volunteering for a family while I learned more about the culture. Within 3 weeks I met my current boyfriend, so I decided to stay permanently! I got a job as a hotel housekeeper in Reykjavik and moved into an apartment just outside of the city.
In a month I will move back to South Iceland to live with my incredibly supportive Viking boyfriend. So much has changed in my life since I moved here a year ago, and all for the better! I earn a lot more money than I used to, and work considerably less! I’ve learnt (and am still learning) how to communicate in another language and the traditions of another country. I’ve made new international friends and learned about lots of new cultures whilst living here. I like hearing the stories of why people emigrated and what brought them to Iceland, for most it is work or love.
Since booking that trip I’ve finally started travelling! I crossed a few countries off my bucket list and intend to visit a lot more. My priorities in life have rearranged now; I know that having my dream job was a privilege, but living my dream life is so much better. My job doesn’t define me anymore, the way that I choose to live does.
Taking the risk on a spontaneous holiday turned out to be the best thing I could have ever done. I’m 1000 miles away from home and 1000 times happier too! I’ve discovered things about myself that I never knew before and pushed my comfort zone way beyond it’s limits. And my Saga has only just begun…
About the Author: Lauren Edie Walton
Lauren Edie (known to friends as Loppy) is a British expat living in Reykjavik, Iceland. She’s an aspiring blogger, experienced goldsmith, full-time barista, keen linguist and curious explorer. On her blog loppyloves.blogspot.co.uk she tells stories about life in Iceland, life back home and the struggles of expat life. She was encouraged to travel from a young age by her mother who is also a risk-taking adventurer.