As a lad from small town New Zealand, nothing could quite prepare me for the beast that is London.
I’ve been preparing to live here for the better part of a year, but despite all the planning, all the detail I went through, I’ve still been hugely surprised by what a behemoth this city is. And it is not just its size – culture shock well and truly hit me when “trips on the tube” and visits to “Argos” and “Tescos” became part of my vernacular.
Still, even with all the differences of lifestyle that London will now surely provide, it is still an incredible place. All the iconic landmarks – Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben, the London Eye – are all far more spectacular in person than in the many photos and videos you would have no doubt seen. Some things are, of course, the same; the housing here looks exactly how you’d expect – Compact, brick and tile. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Coronation Street, then you will be well versed in London’s residential architecture.
Of course, a city is not alive unless it has people to live in it. Coming from a country where people are friendly and outgoing, London hasn’t quite measured up.
“People don’t talk to each other on the tube or trains here” said one man, who was heading into the city with his wife. They had come from out of the main center, so perhaps had different sensibilities to your average Londoner. He was right though – the folks in this city don’t even look at each other on public transport, let alone smile or make small talk. The reality of living in such a big city I suppose. Of course, there are still plenty of ex-pat Aussies and Kiwis who are more than happy to have a chat with you. Must be something to do with our relaxed upbringing that makes us more responsive to casual conversation.
And on that note, I have to recommend Britbound. It’s a service I signed up to prior to coming over to the UK, and gives you a bit of a helping hand for things like your National Insurance Number, Bank Accounts and general knowledge of life living in one of worlds biggest metropolitan areas. Plus, you meet some awesome people, and perhaps even make a couple of friends. Well worth the 70 quid asking price.
I will be sure to follow up this post sometime in the next few days with another detailing some of the lessons I have learning already, but for now, enjoy a few choice shots from my time so far.