Happy New Year!

Or, as we say in my neck of the woods, blwyddyn newydd dda!

Long time no speak, eh?

It’s been a whirlwind couple of months, after I applied to work as a Christmas temp in retail in mid-October. I’ve been running around pulling 30+ hour weeks, sometimes with only one day off a week – where all I’ve then wanted to do is lie down in bed and move as little as possible. Last week I worked 50 hours of nights, starting at 7 at night and finishing most nights between 5.30 and 7. I’m still very much feeling the effects this week, especially after not having had a day off apart from Christmas Day since. And today I’ve been sent home after reaching my 40 hour a week limit! I’m exhausted.

The hectic pace of the last few months has only added to the hard graft that has been this year. This time last year, on New Year’s Eve 2015, I was just starting to consider leaving Italy and moving back to my hometown of Carmarthen in south-west Wales. About two and a half months later, after much thinking and weighing up my various options, I made the decision to return, and started the long (and being Italy, very bureaucratic. I’ll never forget what I had to go through just to give notice to my work.) process of tying up all the loose ends. On July 15th I was on a plane back to Cardiff, after sending most of my worldly possessions by courier back to my mam’s house (one box then decided to have a stay at the Amazon warehouse in Swansea for a few weeks!). So, needless to say, where I am right now, physically and metaphorically, is a completely different place to where I was one year ago.

I’m looking forward to a slightly less turbulent year, even though I’ll probably have to go through a lot of changes before I can get settled into a new life. I’ve turned down a permanent contract with the company I’ve been working at as a temp, partly because I would like to find something where I could use my degree and language skills; and partly because I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of as a temp, and I don’t want to carry on with a job where I’m going to be constantly exhausted, have to work night shifts without time to recover, and have to go three weeks without a day off.

But who knows what the next year will bring? Now that I know I’ll be (voluntarily) unemployed a couple of weeks into the new year, a whole series of possibilities seem open to me. I don’t have to stay in my small hometown, even though it’s been lovely being closer to my family (and being able to see my now 10 month old nephew at least once a week!), the opportunities it provides for someone with my background and skills is extremely limited. It’s a whole 12 months to be able to put down roots, possibly somewhere new. I hope for more happiness that this year has brought, more stability, and – one of the main reasons why I left Italy – a chance to grow.

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