It’s moving time, come with me?

Travel, Writing

Hey folks just a quick update to let you know that I have moved sites and I would love it if you moved with me! My wonderfully, talented beau has helped me create a glorious new site that I am so excited to share!

It has all my previous posts as well as me posting new ramblings on the regular. I’m amping this thing up this year with a bunch of new features for you to enjoy so stay tuned. Please come check the new site out and sign up via e-mail or RSS to stay in the loop!

Thanks for your continued reading and support!

http://www.stephaniefayemitchell.com
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Arthur’s Seat

Edinburgh, Scotland, Travel

Some of you may have seen the photos I posted on Facebook and Instagram of the hike Willem and I made up to Arthur’s Seat this week. A little something you should know about me is when I was young I was extremely lazy. Physical activity and the outdoors did not interest me in the slightest. There was no way you would get me climbing any kind of hill. Willem can testify that I am an extremely stubborn woman – the poor guy. So for me to be out and about loving nature as much as I do now, it’s kind of a miracle.

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Arthur’s Seat happens to be in the park that we live so close to now, it’s perfect. However, the day we chose to go up was not perfect. I got it in my head that we were going up on this particular day and as I said I’m stubborn so there was no changing my mind. My weather app told me the wind was at about 45km. Well let me tell you it was a SHITLOAD stronger than that. As we climbed to the top the wind tried to push us back to bottom. We persevered and kept clambering up. Three quarters of the way up a huge gust of wind came along forcing me to grab hold of a rock to stay upright and not be thrown off the edge. With every blast of wind that came to test us I let out an involuntary scream. Each more ridiculous sounding than the last.

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Finally we were at Arthur’s Seat and it was time to sit down and marvel at Edinburgh in all it’s glory. Except the winds were like 100km winds I swear to god so it was terrifying. My face looked like I was on the back of a motorbike without a helmet. Snot flying, again involuntary, in all directions. Thankfully, the winds did not effect the view. Edinburgh is a gorgeous city, especially from up high.

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The trek back down was a little less traumatic. Although on the walk back down I started running and because of the wind couldn’t stop. The walk home also including me slipping in a huge pile of mud. It was a hilarious day.

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Until next time friends..
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Edinburgh Week One

Edinburgh, Scotland, Travel

I have been in Edinburgh for just over a week now and already my time has been filled with ups and downs. We trained from Banbury two days after Christmas. Yes, we are idiots. We didn’t have seats for a good three hours, we spent that time cramped with other disgruntled travelers in the small section between carriages. It could of been worse though and we got to Edinburgh eventually. As soon as I exited Waverley Train Station and was in the middle of the Christmas Market I was in love. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city. The bright lights, carnival rides and the sound of bag pipes filling the air. But you know the way the universe works, every high is followed with a low. So we hopped in a black taxi, feeling good and filled with hopes, dreams and all that jazz. As it happens we chose the stupidest possible time to move to Edinburgh. We moved the week of a little thing called New Years Eve – ever heard of it? Well Edinburgh does New Years big time with a festival called Hogmanay. This means that accommodation prices are ridiculous and all reasonably priced places are booked out months in advance so the only place we could find was a wee way out of the city. We told the taxi driver where we were staying which was Sighthill to which she replied “why are you staying out there?” As soon as we got to our accommodation I knew that it was the low I had been waiting for. The house was down a quiet, dark street, well away from the city. I had booked it through Air BNB but for the place we were staying it was the first time they had ever used Air BNB so didn’t really know what they needed to provide for two people to stay. I’ll give you a little hint – you need to provide two pillows. We got inside and were shown to our room which looked fine until I noticed the one single pillow. I asked if there were any others and the host got confused and said no. The place was also filthy and smelt like burning Chinese food but that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get back to Edinburgh itself shall we!

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We’ve spent our days exploring the streets and different areas of Edinburgh – Old Town, New Town, Tollcross, Bruntsfield, Grassmarket and Leith. Each are so different and so lively except for Leith but that’s another story. A lot of our time has also been consumed with trying to find a permanent living place to escape the aforementioned hell hole. I’m going to be honest guys it was slim pickings out there for houses. I thought New York had some weirdos looking for room mates but Edinburgh gives it a run for it’s money. Each place was stranger than the last. We had almost given up hope until the angel that is Maureen called. Maureen is our lovely new land lady who found a room wanted ad I had posted online. We came to view the place and took it straight away. It’s a two bedroom house close to Holyrood Park which is beautiful and filled with swans which kind of terrify me – also a different story for another time. So there’s another high for you and soon enough the universe tapped me on the shoulder to serve me that next low.

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First dinner at our new house

First dinner at our new house

A few days after arriving in Edinburgh I had a telephone interview for a job as a Travel Consultant which would be an ideal job for me. I thought the interview went really well but turns out I didn’t get it. Ouch. Onwards and upwards though and back on the job hunting grind. I am so happy we chose Edinburgh as our next adventure though. I think we’ll have fun here. It’s beautiful, the people are friendly and I get to hang out with Abi whenever the hell I want. I lived with Abi back in New Zealand and it’s pretty damn cool to be living in the same city again.

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Until next times friends
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Oxfordshire

Europe, Travel

Ahh Oxfordshire. Back in my old stomping ground. For those of you who don’t know, I was born in Oxfordshire, England and lived there until I was 12 before moving to New Zealand. I loved my time in Oxfordshire – the little villages, going to school here and being able to travel around Europe easily. I hold England fondly in my heart and always dreamt of coming back. It has been 11 years since I left and it’s better than I imagined to be back. To see my old friends, my old house and most of all my older brother and his family again after 7 years. It has been amazing staying with them. Will and I have had a great time hanging out with (being exhausted by) my nieces. For the first time in a while I am excited for Christmas, it’s gon’ be fuuuun.

With my childhood friends after 11 years

With my childhood friends after 11 years

Outside my childhood house with my childhood best friend

Outside my childhood house with my childhood best friend

A morning with Lisa and Amelie

A morning with Lisa and Amelie

Oxfordshire is somewhere that if I was to live permanently I would absolutely need a car because public transport is timely and expensive. However have you seen the price of car insurance in England?!?! Ludicrous. Oxford is the big city in Oxfordshire (obviously) and you will probably be familiar with it because of the University. Will and I have spent a lot of time exploring Oxford and surrounding areas. Oxford is a beautiful city with a gorgeous canal running right through it and filled with old buildings. My favourite part of Oxford is that Alice in Wonderland was written here which is my favourite childhood book. In Oxford they have an Alice in Wonderland shop and the pub that Lewis Carroll used to frequent is still standing and open for business.

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Oxfordshire is filled with gorgeous countryside, which is something I missed greatly while living in New York. I craved greenery and envisioned trudging through muddy fields.

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I’m loving being back in England and being around the culture. I am no longer the one with ‘weird’ music taste or a hoarder of the 90’s. I am among my people.

Until next time friends..
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Italy

Europe, Travel

Italy is somewhere I never really expected to travel to, but wow I am so glad I got to. Each town and city surprised me more than the last. By the end of our 10 days in Italy, I was head over heels. The little alley ways, the food and the people are all part of Italy’s charm. Genoa was our first little taste of Italy, a gorgeous coastal town up the top of Italy with a population of close to 600,000. It set a high standard for the rest of the trip. Old buildings, passionate people, phenomenal architecture and Fiat Bambina’s everywhere.

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Our accommodation throughout Italy was through Air BNB which I have raved about before and cannot recommend highly enough. Willem’s Mum booked each apartment for the cities we visited and she NAILED it. Our apartment in Genoa was up in the hills, with a balcony overlooking the city. It was perfect for drinking wine and eating all the Italian food you can possibly think of – olives, cheese, prosciutto, salami and bread.

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2 nights later it was arrivederci Genoa and hello Florence. We caught the train to Florence and on our way popped in to Monterosso al Mare planning to do the Cinque Terre coastal walk but unfortunately the weather decided it didn’t want to cooperate. Instead we found shelter in the form of a beach side cafe and ate our weight in Lasagne.

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Time to emerge ourselves in Florence! Our apartment was right in the city centre so everything was within walking distance. It wasn’t love at first sight with Florence. Because it was a bigger city it didn’t have the same charm that Genoa and Monterosso had. It wasn’t until we got to the Florence Cathedral that my breath was taken away. The outside of the cathedral is insane. Such intricate detailing on every inch – inside and out. Willem, Brendan and Julie climbed to the top of the dome where they got incredible views over the city.

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After 2 nights in Florence it was time to say goodbye and make our way to Rome! We spent 4 nights in Rome and we definitely didn’t run out of things to do. Vatican City and The Colosseum were my favourites, obvious I know. Standing inside The Colosseum was such a strange feeling. The history of that place is so bizarre so to be where it all took place gave me goosebumps as soon as I walked in.

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Again, our apartment was in an amazing location, less than 100m away from The Spanish Steps. So each night we would stand at the top of the steps looking out to the city and each night people would hassle us, trying to sell us stuff. People had approached us in every city to try and sell us stuff but Rome was the worst. At the top of the steps guys would come up to girls and force bunches of fake roses in their hands and then follow them asking for money. It got so bad I just had to yell NO to get them to go away. I have very little patience with people trying to sell me crap. Our last day was spent walking across the Bridge of Angels and exploring Castel Sant’Angelo. We had lunch at the castle with a view straight across to Vatican City. A perfect way to end our time there.

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Our time in Italy was drawing to a close and we finished in style – Venice! Julie outdid herself booking our apartment in Venice. It was located down the cutest wee alleyway overlooking a canal – bellissimo! Venice was the perfect way to end our time in Italy and it was my favourite place by far. Each day we would get lost, turning down different alleyways. Venice was far more shopping orientated than I had expected but it didn’t feel too touristy. Our last night was fantastic. We got dinner and decided to eat it by the water. Willem was leading us and it seemed like we were getting lost and further away from the water but ended up in a perfect spot by ourselves on the waters edge watching boats and gondolas go past.

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Well Italy, well done. I wasn’t sure what to expect but you blew me away and I can’t wait to get back.

Thank you and Farewell New York

New York, Travel

Well New York, it’s time for us to say goodbye. This post has taken me days to write as every time I start I just can’t come up with the words to correctly explain just how incredible this year has been and how devastated I am that it is over. I cry every time I think about it.

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I hope it’s not for good, but it will never be the same. I arrived a na├»ve, shy girl who had always dreamt of some version of New York. I leave a strong, confident, broad minded woman who has experienced every aspect of the multiple versions of New York.

Thank You New York

– For making me laugh and for making me cry, usually in the same day.
– For challenging me but allowing me to thrive in new opportunities
– For making every night out the craziest and greatest ever
– For showing me things I would not see anywhere else in the world.
– For introducing me to life long friends
– For showing me a side of myself I didn’t know was there
– For teaching/forcing me to speak up for myself
– For your unique beauty that will live inside of me
– For all the times you tested my character, my patience, my well being, my spirit all to forge a stronger, more capable version of me.

New York you truly are the greatest city in the world and I cannot thank you enough for the experiences I have had which have changed me for the better.

Until we meet again,
I Love You.

Sincerely,
NYLuva4eva
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Being Sick In America As A Foreigner

New York, Travel

Some of you may find this post interesting, some of you may not, some of you may think it is too personal but it is something I need to talk about to keep me sane. I had always heard horror stories about healthcare in America. The cost, the doctors, the mistakes. As part of the visa that I came over on travel insurance is compulsory with your choice of excess between $250, $100 and $0. When deciding which excess I would go with I didn’t think I would get sick and was adamant I wouldn’t get involved in the healthcare system over here because of said horror stories. I chose the $250 excess because it was the cheapest option and thought I would not have to use it. Well, I was an idiot to put it lightly. Always go with the $0 excess when you are going to America and healthcare is extortionate. Always.
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At the beginning of August I started getting a sore throat and thought I must have been getting a cold so treated myself accordingly. After a few days I noticed I had no other cold symptoms and the sore throat was still very present. It was then that I noticed white patches on my tongue which is not normal. I Googled symptoms as everyone these days does and asked my best friend who is a nurse what it might be. Oral thrush was the conclusion. This is caused by a low immune system and an imbalanced pH level. This was the conclusion for 2 months. Even after multiple prescriptions did not work and hundreds of dollars were spent. I was becoming increasingly frustrated and concerned. In New Zealand I would have been able to get on top of this straight away because healthcare is affordable even without health insurance. But over here, i was extremely hesitant because I didn’t have $135 to spare for each doctor’s visit. that’s correct – $135 for every doctors visit and that’s just for the initial visit! Any tests or prescriptions are extra on top of that. So each doctors visit I went to (3 in total) I put off until I really had to go. At my final doctors visit, the doctor told me I should see a throat specialist because there is only so much she can see.

Had to give up coffee for a while

Had to give up coffee for a while


My excess is $250, which until recently I thought was for each doctor’s visit but it is actually for each incident so because all my doctors visits have been for the same issue it is just the one $250 excess. I called the insurance company and explained what was happening. I had to talk to a customer service representative, then a case manager and then a nurse. Explaining my situation each time. They couldn’t guarantee that I would be covered straight away. My heart dropped when I heard that because there is no way I could afford a throat specialist without cover. A doctor had to review my case and another nurse. The first nurse I spoke to was the absolute worse. She was so condescending and was saying she thought it was extreme to send me to a throat specialist especially when I leave the country soon. Like you can just put your health on hold. Unbelievable. When I called them I was expecting them to just be like “Yep, that’s fine you’re covered go to the specialist now!” But instead, it took them 5 days for them to decide if I would be covered or not. Each day someone different would call and I would tell them the exact same thing each time. On the 5th day I called them to follow up and the person on the phone said “Oh yep, you’re covered you can go to the specialist.” So they had approved it without even calling or e-mailing to let me know. Anyways, that doesn’t matter because I had the cover which meant I could go to the specialist and find out what the hell was going on. The specialist I was going to see was at a 24 hour emergency care ear, nose and throat clinic. I had to wait 3 hours to see the doctor. First I saw a nurse who was taking calls while seeing me and I was getting sent around from person to person on a wild goose chase. It was ridiculous. I fell asleep in the waiting room, eventually awoken by the doctor calling my name. The doctor thankfully made up for all the bad service so far because he was lovely. He listened, was very understanding and empathetic of the fact I was in a foreign country which happened to have an awful healthcare system. He sprayed some strange substance up my nose which would numb my airwaves for when he stuck a camera up there to go down into my throat to check it out. I closed my eyes and prayed for the best. As he pulled the camera out, he began to tell me how disappointed he was, how he was expecting to see something really cool but it was really boring for him. “That’s great news for me”, I said. The correct conclusion? A sinus infection. He explained that the other doctors wouldn’t have been able to see that though as they didn’t have the camera. It was my back sinuses (obviously not the technical term but how i think of them) that were the issue rather than my front, usual ones (again not the technical term).
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So with a dosage of antibiotics, 2 nasal sprays and Sudafed in hand I was off home to try and kick this thing. It’s been a torturous 2 months but fingers crossed I am on the mend now and can enjoy the rest of my time in New York. There ain’t no way I am going back to a doctor here!