Moving To London At 18

When I turned 18 and finished my studies in my home country, I packed my bags and moved to London to embark on my dream to study music in the big city. This is my journey and how I learned to survive the many challenges of “adulting” in a foreign country.

I’ve always had a fascination with the UK. From the funny accents to the old rich history, I knew I wanted to move here. I come from a mixed background and have never felt particular obligation to stay in the same country as I grew up in. Of course, once I got here, I realised that I had gotten myself into something bigger and scarier than I could imagine. London was loud, huge and chaotic in comparison to the medium sized Swedish city I was raised in. I didn’t understand the strange bureaucracy, getting accommodation or finding a bank. I felt people were very polite, but I was often unsure of people’s intentions or genuine feelings. I couldn’t connect to people and felt even more distant when people made jokes I found too controversial. I noticed how one must have banter to fit in, a particular sense of humour the British have developed to tease each other.

My patience was fading and I was starting to despise the place I had dreamt to live in. There were many moments I wanted to give up. After 6 months of hardship I was able to go home for the Holidays. When I came back to I greeted my fellow students and slowly realised, I didn’t have close friends. I realised then that I had been too busy criticising my new environment to make close connections. Once I made proper efforts to accept the differences of the people around me I was able to embrace several important friendships.

Once adopting friendships with people from the UK and elsewhere, I started to slowly understanding the quirks and sense of humour that were commonly used in almost all kinds of conversations. So-called “banter” was used to take the piss out people, but it wasn’t quite as black and white as insulting someone. Being emotionally intimate with people seemed to be something the brits sometimes struggled with. It’s almost like banter was a tool to show friends how close you considered them. Like someone taking the piss out of you but really, they meant “look how close we are, only a close friend could say that”. There are of course always some people who take advantage of this social behaviour and use it to undermine and abuse people. That was also something I learned to distinguish between.

I also stopped comparing, and accepted it was impossible to hold the same standards to two completely different countries. I started appreciating London for what it had, and not what it lacked. I started treating the places I would go to regularly like my own small town inside of the big city. This really helped my peace of mind, and made London feel less intimidating.

I’ve now lived in London for 5 years, and I know moving here was the best decision I have ever made. Nothing makes you grow more than challenging yourself. London is still a challenge and inspires me daily to keep pushing, creating and living to the fullest.

My survival guide to moving to London:

  1. Find a community
  2. Embrace the culture clash
  3. Make London your little village
  4. Start creating opportunities

By Liv Barath

Time Flies, While Being Abroad

From my personal involvement in studying/ interning abroad, it’s definitely an unforgettable few months that you will continuously have in the back of your head. But since London is such a large city, sometimes it gave me anxiety and made me feel too overwhelmed to the point that I didn’t explore and manage my time enough. With the crowds of people, public transportation, and the large variety of boroughs within the city, there is an abundance of things to do. I think the main reason I didn’t utilise my time as wisely here is because of not being used to this style of living; I’m used to living in a relaxed and uneventful city in the states which is a huge difference compared to London.  

Now that my internship is coming to an end and my flight leaves in less than a week, I feel like I’m starting to scramble around to see as much as possible before I depart. Now that it’s too late, I realized that I truly should have planned out my time better while being here in London. Even though I have been here for 7 weeks already, there have just been countless amounts of opportunities and exploration that I didn’t take advantage of. On the positive side, I did tour Parliament, The Tower of London, The Globe Theatre, Banqueting House, Wimbledon and multiple museums throughout my time in London.

The point that I’m trying to get across is do not waste time abroad, because before you know it you will be taking off at Heathrow Airport! Take every positive opportunity that you can, and if you don’t, I’m confident that you will regret it when you are gone! Rather than staying inside or sleeping in late, start your day early, and you will realise how much more you can get out of a day. In addition, try to take a few minutes to plan out your day and time manage so that when you have the chance to go explore, you will be prepared and not waste any precious time. Traveling abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so take full advantage of experiencing the different cultures and environment that you are temporarily apart of.

If you ever plan to study/intern abroad, I hope you take my suggestions into full consideration. The clock is always ticking, and with the blink of an eye your experience will come to an end. By all means, I’m not saying that I didn’t do anything adventurous while in London; I just didn’t do as much as I potentially could have done. Don’t make the same exact mistake that I made, or you will be disappointed. There are plenty of other things that I want to see and do in London but won’t get the chance at the moment. London is a fantastic place and I hope to come back with a different mentality so that I can get the most out of the trip as humanly possible! Overall, I still truly enjoyed my time here in London and traveling abroad truly helped me grow as a person. To conclude, don’t forget about always time managing and planning to make the most out of a trip because it will quickly be over before you even realize!

Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

By Drew Parker Nahmias