Adjusting to Life in London – Jade’s Favorite Post

Earth to Jade

Today I have Jade sharing a favorite post of hers about moving to London. I love reading all about Jade’s adventures on her blog Earth to Jade, she has such a knack for photographing places that I cannot believe she is not a professional and she has the cutest little dachshund that I just might want to steal!

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I had already visited London in 2003 with The Husband as we had originally planned our big move for January 2003 but had put it off after The Husband was accepted to study Engineering at University in Australia. So we changed our one-way tickets to return and took a two-week holiday instead. I knew the city was big & busy but until I actually had to do everyday things, I really had no clue of the extent of it.

The first thing I realized is that life in London moves fast. When we arrived in June 2007, we really did hit the ground running. I had a week to acclimatize and I was starting a new job. Within a day of arriving, I had already gotten my bank account set up, had managed to navigate National Rail & the tube on my own (in rush hour, no less) and was looking for a flat to rent. To live comfortably in London, you have to be prepared to move at a moment’s notice & for a laid back Aussie girl, that certainly was a major adjustment to make & a difficult one to make so quickly.

Within my first two weeks of life in London, I realized how sheltered & uncultured I was as a young Australian. Australians can be known as pretty insular and dare I say it, racist – it was proved right in my own mind when I was shocked to discover that my new manager was Afro-Caribbean. I had never met a black person before, as I hadn’t really travelled before I moved to London. I have since discovered my own tolerance to things that might seem different to me has grown exponentially since then but I am still embarrassed to think that I was so sheltered back in 2007.

My three tips for new expats, especially those moving over to London are:

  • Be organized & do your research. Hit up expat blogs for the country you’re going to before you leave and make some online friends. Read stories about their life in their new home country and learn how life there is lived. It’s always going to be different. I thought I lived in a big city and was a city girl in Sydney but I didn’t know a true city life until I lived in London
  • Don’t be scared to do things on your own. If you’ve moved with a partner or a friend, it might seem easier to spend your first few weeks together, navigating the storm and by all means, don’t spend all your time alone but make sure to achieve big expat goals on your own. Mine was getting on the tube and navigating a journey on my own – I felt so great knowing I achieved that without having to rely on my husband (who had already lived several years previously in London) to get to where I needed to go
  • Don’t forget the people back home. The first few weeks of an expat’s journey is going to be full of ups and downs and at first, you might feel like you don’t miss home or your family but after a few weeks, it will hit you hard. Remember to call your Mum or Dad or friends back home and share what you’ve achieved, even if it’s just something silly like ordering a coffee in a foreign language or managing a cross-country flight on your own. I remember I didn’t speak to my Mum for a whole month (except when I rang to tell her I had arrived safely) and when homesickness hit me big time a month later; I was in such emotional agony that my Mum was almost booking flights to come over and rescue me!

Being an expat is an amazing opportunity and I will recommend it to anyone but it is hard work. I hope by sharing my experiences, I can help expats, new and old to navigate the waters smoothly and make the most of their time away from home.

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5 Lessons Expat Life Has Taught Me – Amy’s Favorite Post

Amy The Tide That Left

 

Today I have Amy sharing a wonderful post on expat life. I love reading her blog The Tide That Left because she is always full of practical advice, like this post, and takes on so many different adventures that would leave me quivering in my boots!

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1. Nothing stays the same – This is probably my favourite life lesson in that it applies to everything, not just expattery (that might not be a word, but it should be). Do you remember that guy you never thought you’d get over? Or that friend you were going to grow old with? How about that year you wanted to train to be a nurse? All those things that you were so sure of have come and gone, and it turned out not to be such a bad thing. Being an expat has made that even more clear to me. Nothing stays the same – even if you stay where you are, your friends come and go. Or you might get assigned to a new position, in a new country or city, and before you know it, your life is completely different. This is especially good when you’re not happy with something. As hard as it might feel at the time, there is absolute truth in the saying ‘This too shall pass’.

2. Flexibility is key – This is related to the above lesson. A lot of people ask me how I cope with so many moves, but the truth is I’ve learned to adapt and now it feels pretty easy. At first each move felt massive, but now I realise I sometimes barely get excited by it. Learning to be flexible, to expect the unexpected, makes this journey a lot easier.

3. There is not one way to do things – I never knew quite how British I was until I left the UK and spent so much time with people who aren’t British. I’m very proud of what makes me British (for the most part), but one of the biggest lessons (and perhaps hardest) was understanding that just because we ‘do this at home’ doesn’t mean it is the best way. In addition to that, I’ve had to get to grips with the fact that even if ‘my’ way does appear to be better, it isn’t the ONLY way to do things. Sometimes you just need to let others lead the way.

4. Patience, patience, patience – I might not be the best with this one. Sometimes I get very frustrated with expat related issues (see above and not having things done MY way). It can be tough trying to work through communication problems, getting to grips with processes I consider to be bureaucratic, or learning to work with people who have a more laid back approach than I do. When I remember to be patient, life is a whole lot easier.

5. Live small – I used to be the girl with ALL the shoes and ALL the handbags. I loved shopping for new clothes, and I loved buying books and bits and pieces. In almost every country we move from I end up leaving behind some of my much loved belongings and it isn’t easy. Most of all though, it’s taught me about waste. Waste of money and waste of goods; neither of which are acceptable, especially when we live in countries with so much poverty. I travel with two suitcases as a maximum now. It’s not always easy, but for the most part I prefer it that way and I hope that when we finally settle somewhere we’ll be much more careful about collecting material possession.

Bonus lesson (whoot, because everyone loves a bonus!) There’s no place like home – I’ve been to some amazing places, and met some wonderful people. I love life as an expat, and I’m not ready to give it up, but it has taught me how important home is, especially our loved ones. We’re very lucky!

What lessons have you learned from expat life or life abroad? Is there anything here you find/found hard to deal with? 

 

Emirates Air line and the O2 Arena – Amanda’s Favorite Post

Amanda Rhyme and Ribbons

Today I have Amanda sharing a favorite post from her blog Rhyme and Ribbons, I love reading her blog because she posts the most amazing recipes that have me questioning my diet and also you can see  how she really embraces life. Her and her boyfriend are always visiting fun places around London and doing on of my favorite things which is taking silly pictures!

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I think it’s usually important (and super fun) to take time to be a tourist in your own city occasionally. There’s a reason that certain attractions become famous and you should check them out at least once before writing them off. I’ve been wanting to ride the Emirates Air Line over the Thames since it opened in summer 2012. Unfortunately, many people in my life in England seem to have a paralysing fear of heights. That left this girl with no ride companion for the longest time.

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View from a cable car going across the Thames towards the O2 (Greenwich) side.

The Emirates Air Line is a cable car (or gondola, if you prefer) system that go across the Thames from Greenwich to the Royal Docks. Not only is it great for experiencing the Thames from a unique angle, you can see the Thames Barrier and have great views of the city all at the same time.

If you have an Oyster card (a London metro card) then you get discounted prices on the trip tickets, a fact I love!

The western boarding area in Greenwich is just a short walk away from the O2 houses a massive arena (the 2nd largest arena in Europe), a movie theatre and loads of restaurants and bars. You can also climb the O2 dome but that will have to be another trip.

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One of the staircases to climb the O2 dome.

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The O2 is some of it’s glory.

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Shoes: Joules c/o

Outside the O2 there are loads of facts about the Greenwich observatory, time and space because Greenwich is most famous worldwide for……you guessed Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian.

We wandered around the O2 before circling back to the Emirates Air Line to give Sam time to conquer his fear of heights. I’m mentioned before that I have knack for always wanting to do things that involve heights. Like the Eiffel Tour and the Sagrada Familia. But Sam once again pushed his fear aside so that we could experience something that I wanted to do. (Secretly, he likes that I insist on doing these things because he loves saying he’s done them, even if the first few minutes are a bit unsettling for him.)

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Just after boarding the Emirates Air Line.

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View from the cable car of sailboats moored on the Thames. The Thames Barrier is in the background.

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Sam enjoying (or tolerating) his flight.

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You could see into other cars when they passed you. Which I thought was both really neat and existentially hilarious. Obviously I took a picture then.

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Approaching one of the towers.

Once on the Royal Dock side we walked along the river for a bit until we reached the Royal Victoria Dock Bridge, which is a footbridge in the Docklands. The bridge is very, very close to London City Airport so planes taking off pass right above your head!

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Sam looking handsome on the Royal Victoria Dock Bridge

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Amanda: Trying to catch planes since 1988.

After our walk around we headed back to take a cable car back across the Thames at sunset.

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Ascending out of the Docklands.

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This was the first outing for our new and first camera.

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This is something I really wanted to do while we were in London but sadly I could not convince anyone to do it with me! Would you brave enough?

 

 

3 Things That Other People Like That I Do Not – Amanda’s Favorite Post

The Lady Okie

Are you ready to laugh, well you should be as today Amanda is sharing us one of her favorite posts which is hilarious! If you are looking for a blogger with a fresh and cheerful perspective with posts that will crack you up then I highly suggest you check out The Lady Okie!

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1. Coffee

I do not like coffee. I know. I’m a freak. Sometimes wish I did because then when I said “let’s meet for coffee” I could actually drink coffee. Plus it usually smells good and it’s a really easy gift.

I hear it’s an acquired taste, which leads me to believe I could like it if I tried it and/or loaded it down with enough sugar and cream, but that honestly just sounds like too much work, so I’ll stick with my tea, thankyouverymuch.

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2. Wine

You guys, I want to like wine SO BAD. You all look so mysterious and fashionable, swirling your wine and drinking out of one of those long-stemmed glasses. I hear people mention the luxuriousness of going home to a glass of wine and a bubble bath, but I just don’t get it. I use white wine for cooking, and that’s about it. Occasionally I’ll drink half a glass of sweet wine, but the dry stuff? No thank you.

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Speaking of bubble baths…

3. Bubble Baths

I cannot describe with human words how much I hate baths. Hate is a strong word, and yet it’s true. I hate everything about them.

First of all, you spend an hour filling up the bathtub, by which time the water is cold. And if it’s not cold yet, it will be five minutes after you get in. And then even IF it says hot and you manage to not get soap in your eye, what are you doing?

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You’re lying in a tub filled with rapidly-cooling water.

Eye level with the toilet, which, by the way, probably needs to be cleaned.

Someone explain the desire to take a bath, because I don’t get it.

The Reasons of Why – Mariah’s Favorite Post

Food Booze and Baggage

Mariah blogs over at Food, Booze, & Baggage which are three three things I sure love! Her posts are full of those plus thoughts on living a healthy and cleaner life as well as a great weekly link up called The School of Life!

I also love the post she is sharing with us as I think so many woman can relate to it!

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I think once you say you are choosing “child-free”, people want the why, or how do you know. The thing is, that is really hard for me to answer because there are a million and one reasons. Simple answer is having children is not something that I feel is needed in my life. I never grew-up thinking I would be a mom and I don’t feel that “urge” people describe. I’ve thought about it a lot and it’s not something I feel like I’m going to feel I’ve “missed out” on. It’s something P and I discussed long before marriage, and something we were and are on the same page about.

Having a kid is a life changing experience, it is something you better be sure of and it is something you better embrace 110%. While I think you can certainly raise a child making only minor changes to your life…I also feel like if you are taking that step with that as the plan then you are selfish. Your life should not be the same as it was before having a child, nor should you try to make it that way.

For me it’s the other parts of life that I would feel I’m missing out on, they have the stronger pull. I never want to feel like a child is holding me back from experiencing life to the fullest, because it is not fair to the child.

I would rather:

Explore the earth than set down roots
Learn than teach
Create than procreate
Have dinners for two than Mother’s Days
Travel on a whim than read bedtime stories

Can you do these things if you have kids? Absolutely, and you can do them without neglecting your children…that is not what I’m saying. To me, writing out the reasoning point by point feels false and arguable, like defending a standpoint and for me I don’t need to defend anything. It’s complex and simple, it’s selfish and selfless, it’s a belief and a choice.

Both having a child or not having a child is a leap of faith, it’s not a debate.

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For more on being childfree see this and this. Also make sure to check out the “Childfree Are We”page for more bloggers and websites on the topic.

Some of the Best Posts are Oldies

While I am enjoying family time I am very lucky to have some wonderful guest posts. I have asked them to share one of their favorite posts. I know that some posts we have a special place for and it is great to get them out in the open again for a new audience.

With that I am sharing an old favorite of mine!

The Hemborg Wife

But What About the Granite Countertops?

May 2011

Each week it seems like I am having a little mini breakdown in regards to moving. Since we sent in my application the breakdowns have been as varied as a girl going through puberty.

Last week it was because when we move I will not be able to just get in my car and drive to Target. Yes, it was ridiculous but it felt like losing a little part of my independence. In Sweden I will be able to walk or take the bus to an equivalent style store but it did not seem the same to me in the moment.

When I calmed down and talked it out with Mr. Hemborg he gave me a major confidence boost with how moving to a foreign country is showing how much independence I have on the grander scale.

This week it was when we were talking about the logistics of shipping our stuff. (Side note anyone that has moved their personal belongings via cargo ship please let me know) It is a scary process since neither of us has ever done it. Then it brought up all these emotions of now that we are just getting established what are we doing packing everything up and shipping it away.

Part of us just wants to say screw it we can always get new things but mostly what I want to come with us is wedding presents and my great grandmothers china. Those are not just go to the store and replace type of items.

The other thing getting to us I think is the American ideal of what should happen now that we are married. It seems like ok now it is time to buy a house with granite counter tops in a nice neighborhood, then once we have personalized the house we can start trying to get pregnant.

That ideal is not us though.

While I am sure that works out great for others we are more of your live in a city with a balcony that has great view sort of couple. It is hard though to see how the move is getting us closer to our dreams when we see our friends working towards their house in the suburbs dreams all around us.

What calmed me and us down from this last breakdown was googling images and things to do in the city we want to move to in Sweden.

At this stage it is all very “eyes on the gold” and “in it to win it”.

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Hope you liked this glimpse into an old post of mine and you will enjoy what the other bloggers have in store!

Review of Life is Swede – The Story of an Expat in Sweden

I love social experiments, it has to do with the three semester I spent as a Sociology major and my subsequent degree in American Studies but taking apart how people respond and react combined with how and why really makes me happy.

With that in mind I was very happy to share with you the blog Life is Swede when I was contacted by its ghost writer Claire Duffy. Here is the synopsis in her own words:

American ex pat Regan King moved to Stockholm this summer to be with her Swedish boyfriend Anders after a whirlwind romance, and has been blogging about her adventures and struggles to settle into Sweden.  

Her regular readers were startled at the beginning of September when the blog took an unexpected turn: one of Anders’ close friends was found murdered, and the police quickly zeroed in on him as the chief suspect.

Regan doesn’t exist.  She never did.

The project is an experiment in inviting an audience completely into a fictional world.  

Regan’s readers have been getting involved her in her life for months, advising her on how to handle her new life, sharing their stories of ex pat challenges and relationship woes – and now they are starting to guide her through a murder investigation in which she will soon find herself under suspicion.

It’s part thriller novel, part interactive game – and complete experiment.  Some readers were intrigued by the new twist, others felt betrayed to discover that Regan doesn’t exist when they had been concerned about her.

Not until recently was it revealed that Regan was not real, which I will say did not totally surprise me but that does not mean you cannot feel the honest and real emotions Claire has infused the story with.

In the post More than Words she wrote:

In fact, I heard them all singing as I lay down on the bed – that’s just come back to me.  It was something Swedish, all raucous and loud and you could imagine Vikings bellowing it as they drink tankards of mead on some far flung beach.  I remember thinking that they were all just waiting for me to leave so they could sing in Swedish, and feeling bitter – drunkenly, irrationally bitter.

The first time I read that part I actually get teary eyed because there was more than once in the two months in 2008 I spent in Sweden where I felt like that. Just so irrationally bitter and angry at people that I was me and they were them, it was not their fault or mine that we were separated by language but so many times I felt that they would be happy to have my just disappear and a new girlfriend for Mr. H to magically appear. In total honesty once we went to a party and I ended up hiding out in the bathroom crying because it was all just too much and all those horrible, hard and very true emotions are what make Life is Swede so great.

I highly recommend you check it out and The Grass is Dancing for the true life expat story of Claire.

Guest Post: Top 5 Fashion Faux-Pas with Patricia

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Today I am feeling very lucky to have a guest post by Patricia from Kisses and Croissants. She did a great introduction about herself but I just want to say her posts are always great to see pop up in your reader since she combines the perfect amount of snark with interesting content we can all relate too!

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Hi there Hemborg Wife fans!

I’m Patricia and Kisses & Croissants is my little corner of the internet. While Bailie is on vacation in the states, she was nice enough to give me the opportunity to guest post! I’m an American girl who studied abroad in college, fell madly in love with a man who barely spoke English my first week there, and moved to France after graduation to marry that hunk. I sound a little corny already, don’t I? 

But today, I won’t be talking about my hunk of a husband, nor my life in France. We’re going to go back in time and make fun of look at a few of the many fashion faux-pas I’ve made over the years. Are you ready for this?

 

This Dress

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 The lack of fashion sense started young friends. I definitely picked that dress out myself, puffy-sleeves and all!  

These Pants

…and everything else

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I went through a period where I would let me mother dress me. This is what happened. I went out in public dressed like an idiot. She tells me that she didn’t want to “stifle my creativity.” I think she just wanted good black mail pictures for later.

This T-Shirt

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I actually saved my babysitting money to buy “cute” t-shirts like this from Wal-mart. I specifically remember thinking this shirt was cute & trendy at the time. So cute & trendy, that I was even willing to wear it for a high school year book picture. Good heavens.

This Striped Turtle Neck/Jumper Combo

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The worst part about this photo? That fact that my friend and I thought it would be cool to do a “photo shoot” in her bathroom…

 This Pink Puffy Vest

p-3.txt This is bad. The only defense I have is that I wasn’t the one did my make-up. A friend did it. (I think…)

Now that you all have photos to black-mail me with later, I’m just going to finish today’s post off with a HUGE thank you to Bailie for letting me guest post!

Guest Post: Top 5 Things About Being Pregnant According to Zeta

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Today I have an awesome post from the smart, she passed her Danish proficiency exam with flying colors, and funny Zeta. Make sure to check out her blog An American Hermit Crab in Denmark  for pictures of drool worthy cakes and great stories about immigrant life.

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Top 5: Things about being pregnant

As I coast into my final weeks of pregnancy, I find it difficult to think about basically anything else.  Since The Hemborg Wife always seems to be so cheery and uplifting, I thought that instead of dwelling on the not-so-positive aspects of pregnancy (like my legs feel like they’re about to fall off when I’m sleeping, the heartburn, and the being as big as a garage bit) I’d look back over the last nine months and tell everyone what I have LOVED about being an incubator!

1. I’m allowed to pee as much as I want.

I’ve always seemed to have a miniature bladder.  (Although in college, my roommate and I kept track of how many times a day we peed for a whole week, and she definitely won with an average of 12 times a day compared to my piddly (pun intended) eight times a day.)  I have to pee all the time.  I make a poor road trip companion, and I learned very, very quickly to take notice and advantage of all the free bathroom places in Denmark (as they are much fewer and farther between than in the US!)  However, since I’ve been pregnant, I’m totally allowed to run to the bathroom.  If I pee before we leave, when we get wherever we’re going, and again 15 minutes later, no one says a word.

2. Something to do

I’m a fidgeter.  I’m a fidgeter in general, but put me out in public, and my anxiety makes me a super fidgeter.  I twirl my hair, play with my rings, nibble on my nails, etc.  But since I’ve been showing, and especially since the baby’s become a monster, and more than occasionally juts an elbow or a butt out to the side, it’s become a reflex to pat, rub, and just rest my hands on my belly.  Unfortunately, it’s so effective that I rarely take out my knitting which means that the baby sweater I started months ago still isn’t finished.

3. Automatic Conversation Starter

I’m not very good at talking to people, and living in Denmark, a land of introverts and mind-their-own-businessers, doesn’t make it any easier.  Now, when I’m in any sort of situation where I feel like I’m supposed to be talking to the people in my proximity, someone inevitably asks me how far along I am and *voila!* we’re having a conversation!  (This has, however, led me to think that’s pretty much what strangers are asking me when they start talking to me, which caused me to answer “seven months” when an elderly man on the bus asked me how far I was travelling…)

4. Hair

So they say that your hair stops falling out when you’re pregnant, and it gets all luscious and thick and shiny.  This doesn’t prove true for everyone, but it has for me!  However, since I’ve always had relatively thick hair, the best part about this is not having to clean out the drain!  And not having to scrape hair out of the sink.  Or vacuum it off the bathroom rug.  Or…

*Bonus* — something I’ve never heard of, but that happened to me is that the hair on my legs pretty much just…stopped growing, or at least grows really slowly.  I shave max once a week, even now when I wear shorts and dresses every day, and I probably don’t even need to do it that often!

5. Variety

I’ve found that people take extra care to ask how I’m doing when they see the round belly, and the best part about this question when you’re expecting is how different it is every time!  This may just be me, but I find myself feeling differently every day of the week thanks to hormones, how much sleep I got, and how many of the things I’ve wanted to eat have been around the house.  Some days, I feel great, am active, and nearly forget about the globe attached to me (these are the days when I tend to accidentally shut the refrigerator (and bathroom) door on it…)  Other days, I sit on the couch wondering how I’m going to get up before my husband comes home from work.

If I Won the Lotto: With Mr. H

Mr. H is back to show us what he would do if he won the the lotto!

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What would I do if I actually won the lotto?! I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about this and I will try to tell you all what I would do with the money that I won, and we’re not talking about a small win like $1000. Most people state that they are going to give money to charity but how much money are they contributing to charities before they won the lotto? Exactly, so you can hate me all you want but I probably wouldn’t  give anything to charity, because why should I? I’m not doing it today, even though I probably could spare some change for a good purpose.

1. Buy a kick ass apartment in London and a house in southern California.

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2. I can get a new tattoo whenever I feel like it. So I would probably go crazy and get hand tattoos, knuckle tattoos, maybe even a neck tattoo. Because why not? I’m rich bitch!

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3. Clear my parents mortgage and give them a little bit extra – No this is not charity, they are your parents after all. They’ve earned some pay back.

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4. Finally travel first class – now I can look like a snooty tight-ass on the plane that everyone in coach absolutely hates. And I will fuckin’ love every single minute of it…..I hope

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