“We made the decision to go in August 2022.
“Fitness-wise, I did a lot of cross training/pilates/core work, gym classes as well as
normal dance classes/competitions. It was ramped up closer to leaving overseas, aiming to do a championship dance through a day and practicing in my kilt.”
She would recommend every dancer wear their full kilt when preparing for championships to get accustomed to the look and feel.
Encouraged by her results in Australia and feeling good despite the injury, Solai got to Scotland at the beginning of August. Jetlag didn’t affect her too badly, except a motion feeling when dancing. But she was fine after about a week, doing three highland games and three championships leading up to Cowal. She was the only kiwi competing on the circuit.
“We booked Airbnb quite a wee while before we left NZ; it was a bit tricky to get accommodation which suited us especially apartments with a carpark.
“The accommodation for Cowal in Dunoon MUST be booked as soon as you know you are attending the championships as it is hard to find accommodation there. Stirling is a beautiful place with a lot to see and do, although I was dance focused, I found that sightseeing wasn’t my priority.”
Nerves were a big hurdle to overcome, and she tried different remedies to deal with them; “stress less oils, listening to music, trying not to overthink things etc, etc.”
Other things were more easy to adapt to – the food choices were good, reasonable in price and readily available. School work wasn’t too much of an issue as she’d given her teachers plenty of warning.
“I let my school know I was away for nearly six weeks and worked my Year 13 work around this, and they worked with me with what I wanted to achieve.”
Morgan had contacts in Scotland so Solai was able to attend private lessons and premier dance classes with her good friend, teacher Danielle Law.
“I really enjoyed taking part in the dance lessons and made some friends there. We also hired rooms in local community centres in Leith and the Stirling area which we googled to find and they were great.”
Competing in Scotland was “a life changing experience”.
“I had to be more resilient, adapt to different scenarios quite quickly and I made some really great connections and friendships. I definitely could not have done it all without Morgan.
“I unfortunately travelled with a foot injury and feel proud of myself for pushing through, competing and also achieving amazing placings and judges points at all competitions.
“My greatest achievement was dancing on the Cowal stage which was a life dream – what an experience that was.
“It was a time of personal growth, and very challenging.
“I’d love to go back overseas to dance when I’m ready. It’s a little too soon at the moment.
“I am sorting my foot injury out and looking forward to competing in 2024. Some exciting opportunities have arisen from my travels which will soon be announced.”
Her advice to anyone else hoping to go over and compete:
“Take it all in.”