Adjusting to the London Expat Lifestyle
As I sit here in my dorm room, sipping on my favorite drink, Rekorderlig Cider (definitely try it out if you're in Europe), I am finally settling into my new home. I've finally accepted that London is where I live. It's no longer a dream. Every day, seeing Big Ben or walking past thousands of tourists, is finally becoming just a common occurrence in my life. And this is what I wanted. Imagining myself living in London is what I spent most of my time thinking about.
Actually living here is another story. I've romanticized a lot about the United Kingdom, and upon arrival a few years ago, the little things that aren't necessarily so perfect about this country definitely became apparent. I could start to understand why so many of the English people I spoke to wanted to move away and to America. I told them that America has its problems too. But that's what everyone wants; the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But even seeing some imperfections in my imagined England, I didn't get enough time to get scared away completely. And now I'm back (possibly permanently), and I'm starting to figure out my expatriate life here in London.
All the, "Hiyah's," "Cheers," "You alright's," and "%@*~ off's" I've heard constantly, paired with accents everywhere, shopping at Tesco and taking the Tube, I know that I'm starting to be fully immersed in what makes London, London. I'm settled into my home for the next 8 months, finally registered with a local doctor, wandered around my neighborhood, enjoyed some local entertainment, and got my student Oyster card. I'm feeling more and more like a real Londoner every day. I think the only thing that would make me feel even more like true resident would be living in an actual flat, rather than something owned by my university, as well as having a full-time job.
I'm starting to memorize which bus I take to get where, if it's faster to walk or take the Underground, realizing that going out for a drink will be a rare occasion (due to the expense), and how I need to stop converting pounds to dollars in my head (or else start to freak out about how much money I'm spending). It's strange to think that in less than a month, I'm starting to feel at home in this gigantic city. Homesickness has not kicked in yet, so I haven't had to deal with that yet, so in the meantime, I am going to enjoy myself.
As a bonus to this post, I've decided to post three (plus 1) apps every American expat in London needs:
Hola is an extension for the Google Chrome browser, and is a lifesaver for when you just have to watch your American shows on Netflix or Hulu. While Netflix does work abroad, the selections are different, and sometimes you just want to watch something familiar. Download this lifesaving app, and you'll be watching everything you love again, and you can easily switch back to UK websites if you want to watch the BBC iPlayer again.
London is a complicated city to get around when you're a newbie (and even if you've lived here for awhile). Citymapper will get you out of a tight jam, especially when you're too nervous to ask for directions. Just plug in where you want to go, and it will give you the quickest routes, how much it costs, how many calories you'll burn if you walk there, and transfers you need to take. I currently owe my life to this app.
3. BBC News
London is a major capitol of the world, and it's really good to know whats going on, especially in such an international city. The BBC news app not only covers national news, but news from all over the world. If you turn on notifications, it will let you know when huge events take place, and that way you'll always be in the know when something big occurs.
4. Couple (bonus)
I am currently in a long-distance relationship, and this app has been wonderful. You connect with your partner, and only you and them can chat. It shows you what time it is where they are, you can send photos in a Snapchat-like fashion, thumbkiss, draw with each other and send messages. It's a really great one to use, especially if you're in different countries and don't want to use Facebook messenger to keep in touch.