WorldPeople is our weekly series to introduce you to the amazing people we meet on our journey – and share the life lessons we’ve learned from spending time with fellow WorldTowners, as well as locals.
Birth country: Australia
What makes Colleen a wonderful human: Colleen is one of the most open-minded people I have ever met. She has a kind soul that can always see the good in people.
Colleen has a very special place in my heart, we have a history and I truly believe she played a part in the person I am today.
26 years ago, on the encouragement of my parents I spent a semester studying abroad in London, England. I was 19 years old and at the time I had never left North America, this was a big deal. After an eye-opening summer living in NYC for an internship I took off for London, wide eyed and naive. Upon arrival I was determined to live amongst locals or at least expats from other countries, rather than shacking up with my friends, as much fun as it would have been. I wanted to enrich myself deeply in the culture. As you can see not much has changed over the years in this respect.
I scoured the ads in the local paper (yes, I did say paper) for people looking for roommates. I visited several sketchy situations (mom, I took a friend) before I landed in paradise. Colleen was housesitting a friends flat and had several rooms to rent. One went to a New Zealand couple and the other to me. The flat was bright, cheerful and I knew I would be living with the coolest lady.
During my time living with Colleen I learned a lot about travel and how to make a travel life possible. I had never before seen people working to travel, rinse and repeat. I marveled at the travelers who came through the doors and I adored hearing their stories. It was an exciting five months full of learning and growing for me. When I returned to university in January in New York I realized I should have stayed in London for a full year. I was depressed, but knew I needed to complete my degree and then find that travel path again. It took a while, but I did find it eventually.
Colleen took a chance on me moving into her flat. I am grateful for my time at 48 Westbourne Terrace and for all the stories and experiences Colleen shared with me. She opened my mind and showed me that travel, work and life was all possible.
I was fortunate enough to meet up with her for the first time since I lived in London while we were in England last week. She has not changed a bit. We both might be a bit grey and a little slower, but we picked up right where we left off. Colleen is still just as amazing. In a time when many people are closing themselves off to adventure and living in fear she is still as free spirited as ever. She volunteers, she travels, she keeps fit and she engages in interesting conversation as much now as she did 26 years ago. She is a model example of a retiree who keeps life exciting and giving.
Thank you Colleen for welcoming an enthusiastic 19 year old into your flat all those years ago. I hope you know you had a profound impact on the way I live my life today.