I had a whirlwind year, in 2014. It's a long one - with pictures, so make yourself a cup of tea and read on.
January. Ok, so the year started and I'm in Manhattan, in Websters Hall to be precise. As the dong goes I'm pressed up against the bodies of New York strangers and two of my bestest friends. I'm wearing a gorgeous Alexander McQueen dress (which is already in the process of being totally ruined) and I'm having the time of my life. Balloons fall all over the dance floor and there's a lot of kissing and hugging, and I'm so, so happy to be with my girls stateside.
I go back to London a week later, having totally forgotten (desperately trying to ignore) the fact that I'm now in full fling, a fifth year student at the Bartlett and this means serious business. And more ageing. I'm so nervous and at this point, when term starts, I've done no work - almost, because I want to give up. I don't want to do it anymore. The pressure I feel is so immense and heavy (of course all brought on by myself) that I've managed to freeze myself into a permanent state of panic. I stare a lot at my screen, at my sketchbook, freaking out. Thinking that I can't do it, I can't make a project that will be remembered. I can't make a project worth making.
February comes and things haven't improved in my mental state of decline, in fact, they are getting worse. The fears, the panic, the stress. I want someone to help me, I want to pay someone in all of my clothes to help me, show me how, make my project amazing. No one helps me because I can't ask anyone, because I know I have to do it all by myself. I think about quitting 5th year. I think about doing fashion stuff because I like it and love clothes and want to be happy and live life like in Sex and the City.
March is thesis month. This I can handle. I know what I want to write about and I think it's interesting enough. I've actually been looking forward to writing my thesis, half because I love writing, the other half is the pure joy of using indesign to format it. Lame? No way Jose! Have you ever even used InDesign? It's amazing. So I'm writing away and enjoying myself, having a break from the pressures of design work (5th year is a design project and the thesis). My thesis tutor is a wonderful lady that is encouraging and stimulating. I love having tutorials with her because she gets me excited about architecture and reminds how important it is to be culturally relevant. I'm in love with architecture again. A few of us from the Bartlett go to Paris for a few nights for a self initiated 'study trip'. We go to the Frac centre to see my tutors' Marcos and Marjan's' work. This is a good month for loving architecture.
April, birthday! Architecture school is getting worse. I didn't know it could be like this. I haven't seen my non-architecture friends for weeks on end. I get messages like "Thanks for asking how I am" and "Had a party last week, but I didn't ask you because I knew you'd say you were busy. Love you!" Great. Feeling lonely, stressed and without social life or even friends at this point. So I organise a big birthday party for myself at a really lush restaurant in London - Bob bob Ricard. My nearest and dearest come, and we have so much fun. Drinking like it's going out of fashion, having champagne with food (ew?) and 2 birthday cakes! We all go back to my place after and party all night long and arm wrestle - don't ask. I'm happy.
May. Forget it. May is awful, a blip on the radar of life. Nothing happened here apart from bad hygiene, facial hair, weight loss and architectural torture. I think I'm doing a really good job of mentally blocking this month.
June is a time where I can't comprehend anything. If it's not related to my project, I don't care. To be honest, at this point if it isn't done or drawn, it's not going to get done. These few weeks are for polishing, refining, making models and making drawings pretty. I feel OK about my project. I've come a long way since the end of April. The days before I hand in my portfolio, I'm crazy. I've been wearing a dressing gown with the hood up since mid-May and I'm drinking everything with a straw. The night before I hand in, I don't sleep, which isn't surprising. I'm not really sleeping ever. I'm just accepting that I've done what I've done. Until 6am. 9am is deadline submission. 6:01, I'm looking at a drawing coming out of the printer and I start shaking. I can't do it. It's all wrong. I can't submit this work, it's awful. I'm sitting on the end of my bed watching more work shoot out of my A0 plotter. I have a laptop on my lap and I look down because I realise the mouse pad isn't working, it's soaking. I've been crying so intensely it wont read my finger now. Head in hands, feeling very unconfident, I go and declare to my love who is also working with me this final night, that I'm not going to submit my portfolio. My flatmate wakes up and tries to console me. I bite her head off and tell her to get out of my room. She comes back in 5 minutes, with a coffee made with coconut milk and a dusting of cinnamon - pink straw. I love her. Sam gets some clothes for me and lays them on my bed. I wash my face and he helps me pull it together. I wouldn't have been able to hand it in without him. I wouldn't have done it without his support.
If you would like to take a look at my 5th year project, you can see a section of the work here.
July, Holaaaaaa! Say what?! Omg sunshine! Omg alcohol! Omg, life is so good right now. Sam and I drive down to Portofino, read about it here. Then we go to Florence, Rome, the Amalfi Coast and Positano. I come back, go to Sercret Garden Party with my Blondie and co. have a BLAST. Then I go to Portugal, surfing with Sam and his family.
August, I come back to London from Portugal, for 3 nights, have 2 interviews with Foster and Partners and then Make, and head off to New York for two weeks. I love New York. Sitting in my friends Soho apartment, petting her dog, dancing around in the middle of the hot summery day listening to our jams, I'm having so much fun. I feel elated. I'm proud of myself for coming this far, not on the plane - in architecture. I love what I do. I love architecture. It was a hard ride, sometimes I fell out of the cart (metaphorically speaking about a rollercoaster ride) and the fall was scary and endless, and all I had were my tiny fingers holding on, in the dark, feeling so alone and lost...
Not here, not in NYC, in my pants, holding onto a vodka at 4pm, the ride is over and it's glorious, this is when I feel a breeze through the window and remember how far I've come since I started. I can't believe I'm planning to move to Hong Kong in one month. I do a dance for me, my future life and the dog, who is now licking my leg.
September, I head off to Peru to see my brother. He has had a baby angel. My nephew, Benjamin. He is literally prefect. I climb Machu Picchu with my Mom and realise some important things about what I want from life, and that, is happiness.
Oh my good God. Has it really been 2 years since we said we would move to Hong Kong together? I see my friends every night and day in London when I'm back. I can't believe I'm actually moving! It takes 24 hours to pack up my flat in London, and then, in just 2 hours after I'm packed, it's time to go to Heathrow. I'm teary at the airport, but I know, my family is excited for me, and this gives me encouragement.
We arrive in Hong Kong, and wow, it's more amazing than I remember it. I'm so happy to be here and I love life. Our first night we get a little drunk and are kind of that annoying couple. I think it's allowed, I mean, this is actual grown up life! We are grown up! We discuss getting a cat ASAP.
October is great. I'm loving it becasue I love Hong Kong and I love Sam and we can be here in this wonderful place together. I start writing my blog and making this little website, I'm pretty happy, and I'm feeling grateful for everything. We see some 22 flats in 2 days. Oh boy, there are so many places in Hong Kong. It's a toss up between:
modern, two bedrooms, bathtub, oven (they are hard to come by in Hong Kong) and not so modern, one (bed)room, no bath, no oven and a private rooftop overlooking the entire city.
I miss having baths, but at least we can get a roast down the road.
November - by now, I have a few friends here and I've met some people I really like. In fact, everyone I've met here is so lovely, it makes me think that everyone in the world is wonderful, you just have to give it a chance for their wonderfulness to shine through.
I'm getting very tetchy about my visa. I've heard nothing and am getting stressed out that they might not let me work in Hong Kong. Worried, I send an email to Make asking them to push immigration. In the mean time, in a bid to not leave the house - because this means that I keep spending more and more money - I watch friends. All of it. Season one, till the very end. I cry a lot. Boy friends is so good. Watch one later tonight for jokes - watch 2 episodes. WATCH THEM ALL!
December and still no visa. I started to go to spinning classes for the first time in my life. I went to 2 classes in December and I loved it. My body responded really well to the exercise and as a result, I started to eat a little healthier. My body looks the best it has since 2 years ago. I'm so excited because we are going home for christmas! A few nights in London spent with my girls, bingeing on everything - food, drink, partying, laughing, kisses and hugs. Followed by a week in Birmingham with my entire family, coming from Rome, London, Iran and Peru. It's a magical Christmas.
We fly back to Hong Kong for New Years, watching the fireworks from a rooftop and I am happy. Oh, and I got my visa. Life is good and dreams come true.