After my joyful but tiring week in Paris, it was time to head back to England and start working. All I needed was one final appointment with the British nursing council in London to complete my nursing registration and I could start working. Of course it didn’t end up being as easy as that.
I had dramas leaving Paris that final morning. I had booked my return via Megabus with a super cheap €18 ticket. However for some silly reason the Paris branch of the Megabus company have no signs or helpful directions to make it obvious where the bus stop is located once you hop off the metro. So essentially I ended up running around the block with my heavy backpacks feeling very convinced I was going to miss my bus. I must have looked like a crazy person asking every person on the street if they knew where the stop was. They were all French-speaking and had no idea what I was talking about. I found the bus stop eventually with a not even one minute to spare before departure.
Then later that day after travelling under the English Channel in a big shipping container on this weird conveyor belt thing, I was back in London!
The night before I had realised I had completely forgotten to book a London hostel. But at least I did remember in the end. I ended up going to a different one as my usual preferred hostel was already booked out. But I ended up quite liking the one I chose in the end called London Backpackers. A super cheap hostel but reasonably cozy with little touches like curtains on each bed and funky orange walls with cartoon jokes paintings. Triple bunks yes – but the best ones I’ve ever seen with a lights, power points, and a lockable backpack-sized cage for each bed.
The next few days that followed had to be some of worst I’ve had in forever. On ringing the council on Thursday morning to find out when my appointment would be, I was informed that they couldn’t tell me, I just simply had to wait my turn. I wasn’t allowed to know how long I might be waiting or even how much notice I would get before an appointment. After that first phone call I was so upset that I burst into tears.
My nursing agency had arranged for me start working on Monday in Brighton Hospital but I couldn’t start the job contract until I was actually registered as a nurse. While in France I had been hoping to hear some news of when my appointment would actually happen, and in fact extended my stay in Paris after hearing nothing. Originally the hospital had been told I was starting at the beginning of September, but because of the nursing council, I’d already had to postpone three times just waiting.
Finding out that possibly I could be waiting indefinitely for a silly appointment watching my savings dwindle away living in a cheap orange London dorm room with over a dozen other people.. Life felt awful. I also wondered how much longer Brighton Hospital would continue to have patience with my continually postponed starting date. I felt very stressed over the next few days which caused me to feel constantly nauseous, and ate hardly anything. My mood dipped lower and lower as I waited and waited to hear from the council. I did find out that at least I wasn’t the only one dangling on a string. My two American friends that had completed the overseas nursing programme with me down in Bournemouth were also waiting indefinitely for their appointments too. That did make me feel a little better that I wasn’t the only one getting angry at the council.
I couldn’t even move into my Brighton accommodation that my agency provides as the rent is only subsidised once I start working. The full rent cost I would have paid to move in early was NZ$500 a week, which was definitely out of my price range. I would think that’s out of any normal person’s price range to be honest. I was utterly exhausted after over three months of travelling and poor sleeps in hostel dorm rooms, but at least it was cheap in my current hostel at £10-15 a night. There were quite a few other interesting people living in the hostel too which helped to keep me entertained, as it was almost like a big friendly family living there with how we hung out watching television in the evenings.
This Kensington Park swan also felt my pain
On Monday I was miserably wandering through the Tate Modern trying to enjoy some free modern art, but really more using it as a distraction to pass time, when my phone started ringing. It was the council who had finally decided graciously to allow me to book an appointment on Wednesday. Within a few seconds of the phone call being over I felt amazing. The nausea and feelings of being homeless disappeared. I ate my first decent meal that night and my mood was back up to normal.
Distracting view of St Paul’s Cathedral from Tate Modern
Within 48 hours I had my appointment, became a UK registered nurse, and was happily checking out of the hostel and on an express train down to Brighton to move into my apartment. Unpacking was the best feeling ever. Putting away my trusty backpack into a cupboard where it could gather dust for a few months, I felt on top of the world. Even though the appointment itself was a joke with how tediously stupid it was, I was just thrilled to be finally registered and ready to start work Thursday.
Celebrations!! Wherever and whoever you are, have a drink for me.
An old photo I took on my last visit to Brighton