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2011 – a year in review (part 2)

December 31, 2011

Happy New Year’s Eve from England! I had hoped to publish this post yesterday before we left since I had it mostly written. However, I decided that I wanted to savor every last minute with my family before we left, and I am really glad I did. I miss them already! It also seems fitting to be writing about the end of 2011 on the last day of the year rather than the second to the last day of the year. In England, it is approximately 6:00pm, so there are about 6 hours left in the year…and I think it is probably fair enough to complete a summary of the year at this point. Thank you very much to everyone for your kind comments about the first half of my year, which you can read about here if you would like.

Ben and I are now back near Manchester after a couple of long flights. However, this was our best journey yet in terms of feeling relatively good…and I will tell you all about why in another post soon. In addition to following my favorite travel tips (Part 1 and Part 2 in earlier posts), we added one more seemingly key ingredient. However, for now, I will just tell you about the rest of 2011.


After a wonderful trip to the East Coast, we got back to my parents’ house a few days into July, and we celebrated the Fourth of July with friends at their cabin. My sister, her boyfriend, and my niece were also in town, and it was great to see them and have some time with them.

We had a really nice weekend at my parents’ the weekend after the Fourth of July, and my older brother and sister-in-law came up for a visit. We played sports in the yard and hung out, and we also went to our friends’ cabin on a gorgeous lake nearby and spent most of a day playing in the water, trying to catch things in the air jumping off the dock, trying out ‘planking’ mid-air, and visiting with our friends.

Throughout July (and starting in mid-June actually), I was consumed most days with checking for new assistant clinical psychologist positions, as I found that there were quite a few advertised, but many of the positions closed the same day they appeared due to the high number of applicants. I worked hard on my applications and never liked to be too far from a computer in case a new job came up. Ben was also hard at work looking for a job in a field he would enjoy.

We were also very lucky to have some time in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) with my brother, sister-in-law, and some of my dearest friends. And while we were there, I tried a hamburger for the first time since I was four years old – this is something my friend Val has wanted me to do ever since we met during our first year studying in Madison. And I have to admit, it was quite tasty. I haven’t had another burger since July…but I can say I tried them and I could eat another one if I needed to!

In July, we spent a lot of time on the lakes. We went up to Lake Superior for a day (my mom, my younger brother, Ben, and me – Dad had to work). It is such a gorgeous spot, and the water was freezing, as it usually is, but we all had to brave running in once. Mom ran in too, but kindly served as our photographer first.

My parents and Ben and I also went to Copper Falls for a day. It was a beautiful day, a gorgeous spot, and another fun day out with my parents.

Toward the end of July, I had a mole removed from my forehead (I’m posting this as a reminder to everyone to check your moles regularly because I am careful about the sun and I am 26 – so it can happen to anyone). This meant no more swimming for me, but we still enjoyed some wonderful boat rides and time with family and friends.

And another boat ride with friends…


August was very fun initially thanks to more time with family and friends and a visit from a friend from Poland!

However, it was also a sad month because we had to leave the US. It had been so nice to have more time to spend with my family and friends, and I was really really sad to leave them. However, I was also kind of looking forward to getting back so that we could find jobs again. I had two interviews for assistant psychologist positions lined up before we left the US, and I was hoping that I might be offered one of the jobs. I was already fed up with searching every single day for new vacancies and sending out applications constantly.

Unfortunately, my first interview was just a few days after we returned to the England, and I was really having a hard time settling back in. I was missing my family and having trouble remembering which words to use in order to communicate easily (e.g., trainers rather than sneakers, or boot rather than trunk of a car) and I was feeling quite out of place and like it was difficult to communicate. I went into the interview thinking that I had prepared well and it that the job should be a good fit for my background, but I had no idea how competitive the job would be or how out of place I would feel. I thought that I had done fairly well considering the circumstances, but I wasn’t shocked when I got a call to let me know I hadn’t been offered the position. Even before hearing that I didn’t get the job, I was a total mess, feeling ten times more out of place and homesick than before I went in for the interview.

My second interview (for a different position) was supposed to be just two days later in a part of the country far from anyone we knew and in another rural area. Although I kicked myself for this later, I was actually so disheartened that I cancelled that interview, as I didn’t think that we would be willing to move to the location of the hospital, and I didn’t want to go through another horrible interview when I was feeling particularly vulnerable if I wasn’t even going to take the job.

The rest of the month was spent lining up volunteer opportunities to gain experience and engage with my interests, and applying for jobs.

We also managed to fit in a few nice walks in the countryside near Ben’s parents’ house.


September was a blur of volunteering and job applications, with a few interviews sprinkled throughout the month. The job hunt started to get very frustrating, as I wasn’t sure what else I could do to improve my application. Everyone who I was able to get feedback from just said that other applicants had more directly relevant experience, many of the applicants had previously worked as assistant psychologists, and I found out that some hospitals were discarding my application because I wasn’t from the UK (and they failed to notice that I had an independent VISA). For several positions, my application was discarded because I had a PhD and was therefore considered over-qualified. I remained determined but I often felt disheartened. I felt incredibly lucky to have Ben to bounce ideas off of and talk to about my frustrations. He managed to remain positive even when I was ready to give up, and constantly reminded me that we would get there, and it would be worth it.

At the end of the month, I was offered a job! But we all know that wasn’t the end of the story because you know that I just got another job offer recently. After initially accepting the first position (near London) and starting to look into housing options and get excited about the job and the move, the offer was taken away. The job offer had always been conditional on me getting my full UK driving licence before I could start, and the interviewers were even willing to give me extra time to get my licence because they wanted me to take the position. However, when the paperwork was being done by the HR department, the HR staff determined that I wasn’t eligible because a full UK driving licence was an essential requirement for the position, and many (probably hundreds) other applicants met all of the essential requirements. This was a big disappointment and left me feeling like getting a job was going to be an impossible task.

During September, I managed to get my provisional UK driving licence and pass the written driving test, and I was also approved for Chartered British Psychological Society (BPS) status. I was really hoping these things would help since a driving licence and BPS membership were both required for many of the positions I was applying for, but I was still feeling very sceptical.

In spite of everything involved in the job search, we did still go for a few nice walks in September as well.


I had really been hoping that if I got a job in time, I could join some of my good girl friends who I met in New Zealand (who live in various parts of Europe) for our yearly reunion. However, with money so tight, I knew it wasn’t going to be possible right away. They were nice enough to postpone the reunion until this spring, and I am really hoping I will be able to go. However, we were very lucky to find some incredibly cheap Ryanair flights to Norway to visit friends there. The trip wasn’t until November, though…so I will talk about the trip below.

The rest of October was spent doing more volunteering and filling out more applications. Ben and I were persistent, and although we certainly had a few days where we slept in or got distracted, we have mostly been searching for jobs at least every weekday from approximately 9 to 5, and we have also worked on applications on weekends and many evenings. So life has been busy making a job out of finding a job.

We had fun celebrating Ben’s birthday – or I had fun at least. Hopefully Ben did too! Ben requested a sponge cake, so I found a dairy-free recipe and made Ben a cake when he went for an interview the day before his birthday. However, I had no idea how much work making a sponge cake without an electric mixer would be! Ben’s mom and I worked on the cake for most of the day, and our arms were sore for days after from whisking the eggs for hours on end. However, the cake was beautiful and delicious. I just won’t be making one again anytime soon!


My blog was born! I think I bought the name on the first of November and set it up, and wrote my first post on the 2nd. I had no idea how much I would enjoy blogging, but it has been such a fantastic project  for me. The only problem has been that I now want to blog all the time! I have loved the writing, making more use of some of my pictures, and working on adapting and sharing recipes. In addition to all of this, it has been so much fun to get some feedback after all of the months spent sending job applications off with very little response. It has been wonderful hearing from friends and family more, and ‘meeting’ some other people in the blog world.

Other than blogging, most of November was once again spent searching for jobs and applying. And we finally seemed to be getting some more interviews which was a major boost.

Around the middle of the month, we went to visit friends in Norway, which you can read about and see pictures from here. We had such a fantastic weekend and it was a much-needed break for both of us. I was so happy to be able to catch up with my friends and it was a perfect mix of relaxing and sight-seeing. One of my friends in Norway also has a great food blog (currently in Norwegian), which you can check out here if you want. 🙂

During November, we also booked our flights to the US for Christmas. We were very lucky to be given money toward our tickets for Christmas.

Toward the end of November, it seemed like Ben’s hard work had paid off. He went for an interview at a firm he was very interested in working with, and although they didn’t have any positions available before they met him, they created a position and offered it to him! It was really exciting and very much deserved. However, we realised quite quickly that the position could have involved Ben being required to go to parts of the world which neither of us are very comfortable with. The job was in international economic development, and we both knew that developing countries are not all quite what we’re used to, but this firm worked in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc….and after a lot of consideration, Ben turned the job down. 😦 Again, finding jobs started to feel kind of far away to me.

Thanksgiving was a low-key affair this year, and although I have so incredibly much to be thankful for, I have to admit that on Thanksgiving itself, I wasn’t really in the mood to celebrate, as you can tell from my post that day. I felt much better and we had a wonderful weekend after Thanksgiving, which was when we celebrated this year.


We only had a couple of weeks before our Christmas trip to the US, but I had a few interviews lined up. In addition to searching and applying for jobs, I was busy preparing for interviews and Ben was busy driving me to lots of them as well as working on applications, searching for jobs, and volunteering himself. Finally, on the 6th of December I was offered a job! I quickly accepted the position, and the next few days were busy with paperwork and packing up, and finishing up Christmas shopping, and then we headed to the US!

We were greeted at the airport by my parents, who had very kindly driven two cars to Minneapolis to pick us up and leave us with a car, and we spent a few days with my brother and his wife, we got to see my friend Jenna, and we got together with several of my old roommates. It was soooooooo nice to see everyone, and I wish we all lived closer.

Then we headed up to Hayward to spend some time with my parents, and my uncle and his partner came up for a visit which was very nice of them. It is a long drive, but we always love seeing them!

We had a wonderful weekend with them, and we managed to catch up with some friends in my hometown, and soon after, we drove to Green Bay to see my sister, her boyfriend, and my niece. We had a really nice night with them, and then we headed back to my parents’ house. We did a lot of relaxing, eating, cooking, and visiting, and we had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by family and friends. I got to catch up with a couple of wonderful friends from high school, and I got to see my friend Anna and her new fiance Bryce, and Anna’s sister and parents (all good friends of ours) on Christmas Day which was a wonderful treat. I was spoiled in terms of gifts, but most of all, I felt so so so lucky to be at home with my family for the holidays.

Now that the year is drawing to a close and we are back in the UK, I am starting to think about my hopes and goals for 2012…I think the year ahead will be another adventure, but I wouldn’t mind if it turned out to be slightly more settled than the past year has been. 🙂

I hope everyone has a very happy (and safe) New Year’s Eve!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2011 9:08 pm

    hope things are going well in England- what an impressive cake! Happy 2012!

  2. Kelly Mayberry permalink
    January 1, 2012 7:53 pm

    Hey Em,

    I enjoyed reading your year in review! It was fun to see how your year has progresses! I look forward to some more fun times with you guys in 2012.



  1. 2011 – A year in review (part 1) | Edible Psychology
  2. 12 thoughts on making the most of my 2012 | Edible Psychology

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