Ten Things I’ve Learned from Living in London
I’m sitting in a café in Heathrow, I’ve been at the airport since one this morning, flying standby and unable to get a seat on plane so far the next flight is at noon. And I’m left wondering why. Why did I move halfway around the world? The answer to that question can be answered quite simply by examining the 10 most important things I have learned in the two years that I have been living in London.
1.) “It’s a small world after all”
It is crazy how small the world seems when living abroad. I have run into people randomly in London that I grew up, I even ran into a friend I met in Japan and we happened to cross paths in the west end. And even though the world is small, it is very dense, filled with a plethora of different experiences that one life time could never be enough to capture them all.
I was never a patient person growing up, and after living abroad I can see just how important patience is. I would however like to point out that there is a difference between patient and being passive. The first time I was meant to move to London it all fell through last minute and I felt as if my life long goal had just been taken from me. I could’ve jumped the gun and applied to a business program, but instead I decided to stick with Graphic Design. The most recent attempt to move here was a success, I did not sit and twittle my thumbs hoping it would happen, after a few days of sulking I started to plan out what to do again. Patience paid off in the end, Had I jumped the gun on things I would not have met the people I know in London, and I would not be working with and incredible comic publishing team.
3.) Blood is thicker than water, but water is more refreshing
I love my family to death, they I was brought up gave me the determination and stubbornness to make my dream of living in London a reality. However once in London, I had no blood relatives here. Who would I depend on in an emergency? Where would I go if my life went tits up and I was falling down the rabbit hole? My only option would be to go to my friends, people I trust, people that have truly made London my home. Granted I could still count on my family but a six hour time difference and being four thousand miles apart could make it difficult at times when I really need someone to help pull back on to my feet.
4.) Be spontaneous
I spent most of my life planning my future, every moment, up until the point where I got to London. When I finally got here I had to ask my self “What now?” I had just achieved a lifelong dream that I thought would never actually happen. There is so much to do in London, It’s as if London is made up of hundreds of small, unique cities each with a different vibe. I found the best thing is to just wander and see what comes my way, so many different things popped up. Art shows, concerts, festivals, markets, and much more. It’s good to have a plan, but it’s also good to shake it up once in a while.
5.) There is so much to learn
Living abroad in a different culture other than my own has been incredible. I thought London would be similar to the USA in a lot of ways. I could not have been more wrong. The first thing I noticed was at uni, the students were very reserved. I am the only American on the course and I was very outspoken, questioning the tutors to try and probe for more information on things. I ended up having a discussion with one of my tutors about how any of the American students he has met have been much more outspoken when compared to british students. I could talk about this for ages, but the bottom line is, London is one of the most diverse cities in the world. I would have to be an idiot to not want to take in as much from all of these cultures as I can cram into my brain.
6.) The food is fucking great
There seems to be this stigma in America that British food is overall pretty gross, slop on a plate. That stigma is dead. Fucking. Wrong. I remember the first British Sunday roast I had, it was at a pub on Regent’s Canal between Hoxton and Angel. When I took my first bite it was like an orgy in my mouth. Yorkshire pudding…America you need to get on this. The lack of preservatives in food from the grocery store just makes everything taste so fresh. And with London being so diverse I could try so many different types of food, and it’s all good. My favourite Fish’n’Chip shop…Poppy’s near Spitalfields and Brick Lane.
7.) There is more than one right way to do things
This one, was more me finally utilizing how stubborn I could be in a constructive manner. I have worked with several different teams, for many different projects in London. A lot of times we had to figure out solutions with limited resources. It was interesting to see that working in a culturally diverse group how we could all yield the same results, but each with a very different process.
Adapting to different situations is something I have always considered one of my strong points, but moving abroad really puts this to the test. How to adapt to a new culture, a new social life, new school, new job, new everything. It’s tough, not at first though. In the beginning it’s easy, like a honeymoon phase. Once that wears off home sickness sets in and I started questioning if I had made the right decision moving to London. It took a while to find an answer to that, but it is yes.
9.) Life doesn’t stop
When I moved away I somehow always had this idea in my head that my life in America would just stay where it was, if I ever went back I could pick up where I left off. I was wrong, very wrong. Everyone from back in the USA keeps moving forward, the more of a life I have in London, the less of one I have in the USA. If I were to go back I wouldn’t really be going, it would be a new start all over again. The people I knew, aren’t the people I know. We could reminisce, but most of the people form my life before moving to London, well, we are all at very different places in life. I can’t go back and although it’s a tough lesson to learn, its an important one.
I have learned so much about myself. Moving abroad has made me grow up in a different way, see the world through a different lens than if I would not have moved away. I have gained an insane amount of confidence, realized that I am not as stupid as I used to believe I was. But most importantly I learned just how much I can accomplish. I achieved a lifelong goal of moving to London. I took my dream and made it happen. I now so many people that have big dreams and don’t do anything about it. At the risk of sounding cocky I think I have achieved something incredible. I am beyond ecstatic to see what happens next. In all honesty I never thought I would make it this far. I spent a lifetime waiting for a lifetime I thought I’d never have, yet here it is and I could not be happier.