Travel / UK

Two South Africans and Two Weeks of Living in London

London

It’s been just over two weeks since we arrived in London and time seems to have stopped and sped up simultaneously. It’s been a few months coming but for most of that time it was all about getting everything ready and I didn’t want to conjure up some fancy idea of what life in London would be like before coming here as I did when going to Oxford – sometimes no expectation is better than a shattered expectation.

London

 

The Start

The first time I really realised that we were moving to another country was the Sunday before flying when I finally sat down to pack my bags. I literally left the packing to the last possible day. This can be smart, I mean I was literally living out of my bags for the last 2 weeks and it was a mess, but it can also mean leaving behind clothes by accident and cause a huge amount of anxiety…

I must have had 4 cups of camomile tea and anxiety relief tablets on that day and there were a few moments where I was very close to tears, but more about that in my next blog post.

Monday came too quickly and before I knew it, it was time to go to the airport and get on the plane.

It was easier this time, compared to moving to Oxford 3 years ago. Then I cried, a lot, and most of the first few days slipped away in a haze of missing my people and trying to stay alive in a brand new country. This time I had my person with me and we had a plan. We both had jobs lined up and we already knew we would be going back home in September for my best friend’s wedding.

London

 

So Far…

Overall, it’s been easier, but it’s also been very different, and I’ve been approaching it differently…

Coming to Oxford 3 years ago I was barely more than a student. I’d been working for a year, but I still wanted the life of no commitment and no real responsibilities. Three years on I am almost 27, I’m married, I now actually have a career, not just a job, and I love the responsibility of having our own home.

One of the hardest parts of this whole experience so far has been the feeling of starting over. We had it all, all the pots and pans and spices you need. We had a nicely decorated house, I had more than enough clothes (definitely too much!). Now we don’t even have our own bedding or cutlery. We’ve been looking at new accommodation which is supposed to be furnished, but furnished means a different thing to someone moving around in a country and to someone moving from another country. We are literally starting over.

On the one hand this has been a great opportunity to scale down and declutter. We really do hoard way too much as human beings. In just 2 years we collected so much crap that we couldn’t believe it. I had so much clothes that I had a boot sale at work and still filled up 3 black bags of clothes to donate! Looking at my closet now I’m shocked at how little I have, but I’m also happy that I was strong enough to let go of the things I don’t need, and that other people can now get value from them.

London

The anxiety this move has brought on has been tough as well. I’m planning on writing a whole post on it and how I’m working through the anxiety, but in short, it’s caused me to be extremely tired. The lack of routine of the first few days didn’t help either and I’d never been that excited to go back to work.

But I’ve also realised this time around that I don’t need to do everything right away. When I went to Oxford I had this sense of urgency. I had to make friends right away and I wanted to travel and explore every available moment. It was great and maybe I did it to prove to other people, and to myself, that I was having fun, but it also caused me to burn out.

This time around I’m taking it slow. London is so beautiful and big there is something new to see and explore around every corner, even just outside our own front door! We will be here for the next 18 months and that means we have time. The first weekend here we walked and looked for the Whole Foods and we went to watch the London Marathon. This past weekend we discovered the Camden Market and the beautiful Regent’s Park. These are not only the normal, touristy things to do in London, but we aren’t here as tourists, we are here as new Londoners and we are getting to know this city as a new home, not a holiday destination.

London

 

The Inspiration of London

My first two weeks in London has however inspired me. I’m fascinated by the Londoners’ love for sun and their wonderful way of turning any sunny day into a mini holiday. Whether that means sunbathing, literally in costumes, in the parks or lazing around on any piece of grass they can find during lunch, in their work clothes, taking a nap or having a glass of wine! I’ve experienced the grey England weather, but I am very happy that we arrived to beautiful sunny weather.

The flowers in bloom, birds chirping and smiles on every face.

My mind is still boggled at the number of people in this city and how everyone is so different. So many different people also mean lots of different fashions! I’m completely in love with the fashion of the women in London. No two people dress the same but 99% of them look amazing. Over the knee A-line skirts and running shoes (I’ve taken to this trend as well because honestly nothing beats the comfort of a running shoe after walking all day), coats and when it’s sunny, sundresses, tailored pants and beautiful accessories.

London Tube

Where I’d been working for the last 2 years people preferred to go to work in their jeans and t-shirts and maybe some All Stars if they wanted to make an effort. Here people make an evert every single day. I don’t feel overdressed at all when I decide to wear lipstick to work on a Tuesday. It does something to the soul to see people making an effort to look put together and it makes me excited to get dressed every morning.

 

What We’ve Discovered in London So Far

So far we’ve discovered:

  • Holland & Barret, which is my new go-to health shop
  • John Lewis, which is our go-to shop for any home or electronic appliances (or actually just anything, the husband loves it)
  • Whole Foods is nice but really pricey. They do have great eco-friendly cleaning products
  • Lilly Whites, which is the biggest sports apparel store I’ve ever been to and is amazing (I finally got a yoga mat)
  • Twinnings, the tea shop, which is cute and small and smells amazing
  • Burgess Park parkun, which was a huge amount of fun and we ran a really great time, but joh people in London are really fit
  • City Mapper app, which has been a lifesaver when it comes to travelling and knowing which busses or trains to take
  • The tube and to keep right on the escalators

London

 

The Future

Last week I started my new job at my dream publisher, Penguin Random House, and working in digital. It might sound corny to say it, but I know I am extremely blessed to have this job. I know what it feels like looking for a job for months and not finding anything, especially in a new country. I am going to earn my own money and can contribute, and this will allow us to get a nicer place to stay and travel more. I’m also going to be able to meet new people and work in the book industry that I love.

I know that I am blessed beyond words! It’s been 2 very long years of waiting for me. Keeping quiet, standing back, feeling worthless and stuck. I knew that the right change would come at the right time, and sometimes I wished it would come earlier. But now I know that it all lined up for this moment.

The beautiful adventure that is a new unknown country has its anxiety filled days of too large crowds and missing my family, but it also holds so many new memories waiting to be made. If this was my first two weeks I can’t wait to see what the next couple a hundred hold!

Hi, I'm Andri. A 20-something creative, content creator, writer, reader, traveler, healthy living enthusiast and eco warrior! My day job is in digital publishing, but just like The Loud Library, I am full of contradictions. I love my bunny rabbit Olive, cows and sharing my journey to rediscover my spark.

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