Two Weeks into my London Adventure

I am thankfully writing this from my new room! Almost two weeks ago I landed in London with a suitcase, a backpack, and my purse attempting to take on a new city. It’s had some major ups and downs…many of the downs relating to the wonder that is hostel life. But let’s go back to the beginning…

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I started out in a hostel in Camden. Super cool neighborhood! Loved it even if I was cold and jet lagged.

I didn’t fly into London like a smart person, I flew into Manchester to save $200. I had checked the train fare, wasn’t that expensive, so I figured I was good–what’s two more hours on a train after a five hour flight anyway? I was wrong about the train fare, for what I paid I might as well have just flown to London. Lesson learned, next time don’t try to cheap out. By the time I made to the hostel I was exhausted. I tried to go out and explore a bit, but by the end I was just too cold and tired to go far. Ended the day curled up in my bunk doing a binge watch on Netflix. I don’t think I even had dinner.

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My first day as a tourist. This day I would see Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square.

All the big plans I had for the first day in country had to be done the second day–I picked up my residency permit and my new mobile SIM card. Got to meet the awesome Britbound team when I got my phone card, and felt a lot better once I was connected to the outside world again. Spent the rest of the day playing tourist.

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Trafalgar Square as seen from the National Gallery.

The days that followed were much of the same. I’d sleep in, struggle to order coffee–why can’t I just ask for coffee? What is a flat white anyway?–look for rooms for rent, and then go be a tourist in a different part of the city. Some days I’d pick a museum to go to, or a specific spot. Others I’d just pick a metro stop and get off there and walk until I found something that interested me. I love the freedom of just being able to walk around and explore. With no house to take care of, there is no guilt over not doing something more “productive” with my day.

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Kensington Palace and it’s gardens. I found myself by accident in Hyde Park, and then once I got to the other side of that, I saw the signs for Kensington Palace, so I just decided to keep going.

I don’t mind hostels, but to live in one indefinitely can be a bit of a problem. Some times you end up with really sketchy room mates, or sketchy room mates that are two inch cockroaches, or you have the most uncomfortable bunk you can imagine. When you’re travelling, it doesn’t matter as much. A night or two and then you move on. But when faced with the prospect of being there long term, it can feel very different. Also, if I was just travelling I would never have gone with as much stuff as I did. It was way too much.

Between some sketchy room mates, stress of if I was going to ever find a place that I like and was decently priced, and feeling like I was never going to get all of this sorted out, it really took a toll on my moods. Some days would be great and I’d have a wonderful time exploring the city. Other days I could barely get out of bed and comforted my home sickness with Netflix. Usually I don’t get home sick right away, this time I did.

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Tower Bridge at Sunset

But things do work out alright in the end. I found a really amazing place that is close to work but outside the city enough to be better priced. I have a room to myself and a my own bathroom–which in the short term rental market in London is gold. I’m also not living with eight other people in a run down flat. I’m in a house with an Irish couple and their three year old son. Which ends up meaning that I actually have the place to myself a lot of the time. Also, once I start work, it’ll be a whole other schedule.

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Buckingham Palace. It’s still early in the tourist season, so it wasn’t quite as over run as would be expected. 

It feels so good to unpack! I have clothes that I had totally forgotten that I brought! It’s pretty awesome to know that I don’t have to carry everything with me when I go out. I have a safe place to leave things again. Now I get to be a resident rather than something weirdly in between.

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Whitehall, part of the government complexes along the Thames.

Things that I still don’t understand about living in London:

  • Doors: No seriously, why all the extra buttons to unlock the door? It’s a door, it opens it closes, that’s all you need! I managed to go out through a fire door on my very first day because I was so confused about how the doors worked!
  • Coffee: I mentioned this before, but how do you order a regular cup of coffee in this country? I’m getting tired of ordering lattes because I know what that is. It’s not like I’m walking in and asking for a double double (for non-Canadians, that’s a coffee with two milk and two sugars).
  • Traffic: I am never exactly sure where it is coming from or how people know when it’s safe to cross–because no one waits for the light here. Basically it traffic seems to come from all directions at once and your only hope of crossing the street is to wait until someone who looks like they know what they’re doing goes and follow close behind them.
  • What people are saying: Maybe 30% of what people are saying to me I am able to understand. I know it’s English. It’s supposed to be English at least. I’m pretty sure it isn’t…

Drinks tonight with my Britbound friends, and tomorrow I’ll go shopping for groceries. I never thought I’d be excited by that prospect! Yay for having a home base again!

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