MIA: Where I have been the past month

It’s been a while since I lasted posted anything here and thankfully it’s not because I haven’t done anything interesting.  I have been to Inverness in Scotland, caught up with one of my friends Jamie and did some touristy stuff around Edinburgh and visited Germany! Oh and not to brag but I did visit some very important Harry Potter (and Skyfall but who cares about that when Harry Potter is an option!) filming locations  As well as some other boring stuff such as working.

Inverness

We stayed in part of a castle booked on Airbnb.  If you haven’t used Airbnb I would definitely recommend using it.  Click here and you should receive some credit to use on your first booking (full discloser – I also receive credit to use on my next trip if you book something).  There’s some really cool places to stay, such as castles or if you want something cheaper you can always stay in someones spare bedroom.

In Inverness we took a bus tour with Jacobite Tours from the city to Loch Ness where we got on a boat to Urquhart Castle.  Did we see Nessie?! Well, I’m not suddenly super rich from getting a photo of the illusive monster, so the answer is no.  I did however convince Jamie that we could see Nessie driving past Loch Ness a few days later.  I would definitely recommend seeing Urquhart Castle and doing a bus tour with these guys. It was only 2.5 hour
s but we got heaps of information from the driver and saw some other things that we wouldn’t have done on our own.

The other exciting thing we did in Inverness was a whiskytour of the Glenmorangie Distillery.  Now neither Ryan nor I like whiskey but it is extremely interesting learning how its made and if you like whiskey you get a free sample at the end!
Road trip through the Great Glen

Road trip via The Great Glen

Harry Potter filming Location, Scotland
Glenfinnan Viaduct

So on our way home from Inverness we picked up Jamie from the train station and decided to take the scenic route home via the Great Glen.  I thought Loch Ness was incredible but this was even better!

Glenfinnan Viaduct
Dumbledores final resting place

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited the Glenfinnan viaduct which was made famous in the Harry Potter films and some other locations seen in the films such as Dumbledore’s final resting spot.

This route includes driving past Scotland’s highest mountain – Ben Nevis and some other breathtaking scenes such as Glen Coe.  Definitely the best road trip I’ve ever been on in terms of scenery.

Germany

So Jamie and I flew to Munich and Spent 3 nights there and then we parted ways and I took a extremely early train to Hamburg and Jamie went to meet another friend in Stuttgart.

Concentration camp
Dachau

In both cities we did a free walking tour.  These are really good for getting your bearings in a city and finding out what places you want to have a closer look at later.  The guide does not get paid a salary – only what they earn in tips – which means they put a lot of effort into making the tours both interesting and informative.  Jamie and I enjoyed our free tour so we decided to do a paid tour of the concentration camp Dachau the following day.

Now concentration camps happy places to visit but they are very eye opening. It is hard to understand what people went through from reading books but seeing it is completely different.  I wouldn’t say I enjoy visiting these places but from an educational perspective, it is something everyone should visit at some point in their lives.

Other places worth visiting in Munich include Marienplatz and the glockenspiel and the English Gardens.

Hamburg

I only spent 24 hours in Hamburg but I have a to do list for when I go back.  The port of Hamburg is the largest in Germany and the city has been built around shipping and trade which is probably why I have fallen in love with this city.  You  can see old hooks on buildings next to the canals that were used to get cargo off the boats.  I went on a ferry and got to see a lot of the city this way without paying ridiculous amounts for a boat tour.

I didn’t get a chance to discover Hamburgs music history/culture and I didn’t have enough time to visit the chocolate factory so I am definitely making Ryan come back and visit the city with me.

 

Guide to moving to and living in the UK

Edinburgh, tourist, girl, photo

I’m sure everyone at some point or another has wished they could quit their job and move to some tropical island (or some other really cool place) and never work another day in their life. To be honest the idea of working 9 -5 Thailand, ocean, silhouette, beach, palm treemakes me cringe!!  But the idea of never working bores me just as much – what do you do with all that spare time?! Yea there are things called hobbies (ofwhich I have plenty) and reading a book or watching Netflix all day is especially tempting on days like today (snowing yesterday, cold and raining today), I would still find myself either being super lazy or bored for longer than I would like.

But you’re on the other side of the world?! Why don’t you spend your time travelling?!

Trust me, that is definitely what I intend to do! I’m going up to Inverness in Scotland next week, potentially Germany after that (Jamie is coming to Europe and we are not known for being organised with our travel plans).

But I am based in Edinburgh longer term, Ryan has uni commitments a few days a week and well, frankly, traveling makes me tired.  Trying to jam pack as many different places into as few days/hours as possible and let’s not even mention the time spent transiting from A -B!

Unfortunately, while money isn’t everything, you do require some form of it in order to live and keep travelling! So long story short I got a job and here’s some tips from my experience.

Visas

First things first, if you are like me and not part of the EU or have dual citizenship and intend on working in the UK, you will most likely need to obtain some form of VISA.  If you are Australian and between the ages of 18 and 30, this is easy enough as you should be eligible for a tier 5 youth mobility visa.

  • Save up some $$. You need at least the equivalent of £1890 in your bank account to prove that you can support yourself while you are in the UK. Don’t forget about the application fee and the healthcare surcharge as well! When I applied it was $398 AUD for the application and £150 per year for the healthcare surcharge but these things are subject to change!
  • Head to the UK visa website, make sure you meet all of the requirements and then follow the links to apply! There is quite a few questions on the application but it should not take too long to complete.  Side note, what kind of terrorist would be stupid enough to answer yes to the following questions: “Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organisation?”, “have you ever engaged in terrorist activities?”.
  • australian passport travel departureNext you will be asked to book an interview at your nearest visa application centre – mine was in Canberra but for some reason you needed to pay an extra fee to do it here so I decided to use it as an excuse to go to Sydney for the day!  The interview is pretty straightforward – hand in all your application, passport and supporting evidence (all I needed was a bank statement) and have your biometrics taken and that’s it! Takes about 15 minutes!
  • You’re application is then sent away and can take up to 3 weeks to be processed and receive a response.  You are supposed to receive email updates of when your application arrives at the processing centre but I did not receive these.  “Did they lose my passport/application?!” was definitely running through the back of my mind!
  • Book a flight and pack your bags! You’re heading to the UK!

National Insurance Numbers

In order to work in the UK you need a national insurance (NI) number.  These are relatively easy to get and are similar to a Tax File Number (TFN) in Australia.

  • Call the national insurance number application line.  They will ask you a few questions so have your passport and your visa/biometric card at hand.
  • They will send you out an application form.  Fill it in and send it back with some photocopies or your passport/ID etc.
  • You may be contacted and asked to attend an interview.  As far as I can tell its random unless there is something flagged on your application.  You just need to explain why you need the number.

Can I work without a NI?

You can indeed start working without a number as long as you can prove that you have the right to work in the UK.  You can use your visa to do this.  Once you have received your number just inform your employer.

Getting a Bank Account

The great catch 22 that is getting a UK bank account! To get a bank account you need to have proof of address, but in order to rent a room you need to have a bank account.  I have still not yet achieved this great milestone and while I don’t need one (I have somewhere to live and can use Ryan’s account for the money I earn).  Here is what I have discovered so far:

  • All banks are different with what they will accept so check them all out and actually go in and talk to someone! They might be able to help you find a solution.
  • Some banks will accept a letter from your employer stating your address and that you have a job.  Note: if you are a temp worker like me, banks will not accept this.
  • Some banks have said they will accept a letter from the owners of the house I live in stating that I live there, along with a council tax bill to prove that they live  there.  The bank of Scotland said they would not accept this but HSBC said they would! I will be going in next week to find out!
  • I’ve heard of some people changing their address on their non-UK bank account to one in the UK and taking a statement to the bank.  I tried this and was told for them to accept a statement it needs to be from a UK bank.