WOW!!! What a start to my time in London! It has been nothing short of incredible and I have only been here 72 hours. Hanging out with friends on Wednesday night in Vancouver seems like an eternity ago, as so much has happened and my whole life has essentially been flipped upside down.
Having lived in England previously has helped me through these first few days. Despite the fact I was barely a teenager at the time of my first experience in England, I did learn a significant amount about the English culture and in particular the sense of humour. As I got off the 9 hour flight across the pond I was able to adapt quite quickly to the British attitude and wasn’t totally like a deer in the headlights as I got off the aircraft. As I found my way to the London Underground (affectionately known as “the tube”) I heard the familiar sounds of “mind the gap” and “beware the closing doors” and felt as though I was arriving back into a 2nd (or 3rd as I cant forget New Zealand) home.
After settling into my temporary new digs, a quaint little youth hostel in West London, off Baron’s Court, I decided to take a quick tube ride into Central London just to reintroduce myself to some of the sites, and quite honestly, to avoid falling asleep at 2PM and being jet lagged for a week. It was on this tube ride into town that I began to notice a lot more of the cultural changes I am going to have to adjust to while living over here. Despite the familiarity things have changed since I was here last, and it is always an adjustment coming from the laid back west coast of Canada to the busy, hectic streets that make up London.
The first thing that was extremely noticable to me was the fashion in London. Now, it was recently pointed out that Vancouver is the 3rd worst dressed city in the world, so it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that I observed this. What really stuck out was the lack of regular t-shirts throughout the city. Every male seems to be wearing a collared shirt of some kind, or at the very least a V-neck. It became clear that I will have to improve my wardrobe as quickly as I can!
A second cultural difference that I noticed was the patience, or lack there of, of the Londoners. Whether you are crossing the street or queueing up at the bank for service, people do not have much time or patience for anything and it is go go go all the time. Occasionally this mentality combines with the British wit and sense of humour to provide a moment that can only occurr in London. I observed one of these as I was walking down the road, away from visiting the Queen at Buckingham Palace. There were two ladies having their picture taken by a third and despite holding everyone who had stopped to wait for them up, they seemed in absolutely no rush. Eventually, one of the few locals in London yells from the back of the hold up “come on luv, give us a smile”. Not something you would see in Vancouver, but a funny way to make a point.
The first weekend in London was a busy one and I hope that this trend continues. There is a lot to see and do, and as I settle in I am finding that I have quite a few connections in this city. A nice feeling! On Saturday, after a day of running errands, I was able to meet up with an old friend from Vancouver, Guy, and we went out for a bit of a pub crawl around Oxford Circus, Leicester Square and Covent Garden, not a bad evening experiencing the pub culture that is Britain. The next morning, after sneaking down to Piccadilly to watch Canada come within minutes of beating the French at the Rugby World Cup, I met up with a friend from my New Zealand days. Chris and his wife Emily were very gracious in inviting me to climb the monument to the fire of London and take a tour of Tower Bridge, overlooking the Thames. It was nice to do some sightseeing with other people, and a few of Emily’s friends came along as well so I was able to meet some new people.
It was an excellent weekend, but with the new week came responsibility and I still have to find work and an apartment over here. This is what I started working on today, and it will not be an easy process. There is work, and there are apartments, but I just have to work to make sure I am the one getting what I need to! The week ahead will bring some struggles, as I already had to overcome at the bank. Setting up a bank account in England is just about the most complicated thing I have ever done. I got it sorted eventually however and feel as though I am well on my way to having a successful time over in London. Things are slowly falling into place, I am viewing a flat on Wednesday and I feel like work is just on the horizon.
I will update this blog as regularly as I can, hopefully with positive news about flats and jobs as I proceed.