Today I have Jade sharing a favorite post of hers about moving to London. I love reading all about Jade’s adventures on her blog Earth to Jade, she has such a knack for photographing places that I cannot believe she is not a professional and she has the cutest little dachshund that I just might want to steal!
I had already visited London in 2003 with The Husband as we had originally planned our big move for January 2003 but had put it off after The Husband was accepted to study Engineering at University in Australia. So we changed our one-way tickets to return and took a two-week holiday instead. I knew the city was big & busy but until I actually had to do everyday things, I really had no clue of the extent of it.
The first thing I realized is that life in London moves fast. When we arrived in June 2007, we really did hit the ground running. I had a week to acclimatize and I was starting a new job. Within a day of arriving, I had already gotten my bank account set up, had managed to navigate National Rail & the tube on my own (in rush hour, no less) and was looking for a flat to rent. To live comfortably in London, you have to be prepared to move at a moment’s notice & for a laid back Aussie girl, that certainly was a major adjustment to make & a difficult one to make so quickly.
Within my first two weeks of life in London, I realized how sheltered & uncultured I was as a young Australian. Australians can be known as pretty insular and dare I say it, racist – it was proved right in my own mind when I was shocked to discover that my new manager was Afro-Caribbean. I had never met a black person before, as I hadn’t really travelled before I moved to London. I have since discovered my own tolerance to things that might seem different to me has grown exponentially since then but I am still embarrassed to think that I was so sheltered back in 2007.
My three tips for new expats, especially those moving over to London are:
- Be organized & do your research. Hit up expat blogs for the country you’re going to before you leave and make some online friends. Read stories about their life in their new home country and learn how life there is lived. It’s always going to be different. I thought I lived in a big city and was a city girl in Sydney but I didn’t know a true city life until I lived in London
- Don’t be scared to do things on your own. If you’ve moved with a partner or a friend, it might seem easier to spend your first few weeks together, navigating the storm and by all means, don’t spend all your time alone but make sure to achieve big expat goals on your own. Mine was getting on the tube and navigating a journey on my own – I felt so great knowing I achieved that without having to rely on my husband (who had already lived several years previously in London) to get to where I needed to go
- Don’t forget the people back home. The first few weeks of an expat’s journey is going to be full of ups and downs and at first, you might feel like you don’t miss home or your family but after a few weeks, it will hit you hard. Remember to call your Mum or Dad or friends back home and share what you’ve achieved, even if it’s just something silly like ordering a coffee in a foreign language or managing a cross-country flight on your own. I remember I didn’t speak to my Mum for a whole month (except when I rang to tell her I had arrived safely) and when homesickness hit me big time a month later; I was in such emotional agony that my Mum was almost booking flights to come over and rescue me!
Being an expat is an amazing opportunity and I will recommend it to anyone but it is hard work. I hope by sharing my experiences, I can help expats, new and old to navigate the waters smoothly and make the most of their time away from home.