This isn’t going to be a “Top 10 things to know about living in London” type post because I think there are already loads of helpful resources out there for that purpose. This one is more of a heart to heart. It has been just over a year since Boy and I arrived in London. During that time, we’ve been to lots of different cities in the UK; a few different cities around Europe; seen a West End show (and have another one booked in!); checked out the markets and museums, and have met my extended UK family on my Dad’s side. Boy and I think that we have successfully managed to make this city a home.
People often ask Boy and I whether we love life here in the UK and the short answer is yes, of course we do! You see historic landmarks every day, get to experience lots of different cultures in one place, and it’s far easier to travel here because the transport is fantastic. There are also some days where we can’t understand why we’ve decided to do this to ourselves. The cost of living here is very high (and we take our metaphorical hats off to anybody who is or will be raising a family here because we find it hard enough to get to work on time and feed ourselves adequately each day - and I only work four days a week at the moment) and London isn’t a particularly friendly place.
Boy thinks, and I agree, that it almost seems to be a taboo topic to suggest that you mightn’t be enjoying every single moment of expat life, or travelling in general. You don’t want to seem ungrateful because there are countless other people that would love to trade places with us and experience life in a different country, but you don’t want to sugar coat it either because that isn’t helpful. My friend, Alicia, and I would often struggle with this during our lunch breaks or on weekend trips: “How must people without any kind of support network survive here? I’ve never felt so destitute! Why have we done this? Aaaahhhh!” and so on and so forth…
Alicia and I also think that we may have come up with possible answers to these questions. The reason we’ve done this is to experience something different, gain a new perspective on what life back home is like (NZ for Boy and I, Australia for Alicia), and ultimately grow as a person. Before I left my job at City Council in Christchurch, my team leader said to me [travelling is a] “good way to find out your place in the world.” I’m still in the process of doing that, but so far, Boy and I have realised that we value experiences over objects more now than we used to, and that having money doesn’t equate to how happy you will be. Alicia and I have realised where we want our careers to take us and what we need to do to get there. All three of us have figured out what we value as part of a meaningful life. Only after stepping out of comfort zones and doing something scary were we able to realise this.
I’m grateful to be able to live overseas and see what life is like in a different place, but I’m also grateful that NZ is home. Am I moaning too much? Have I described what every expat goes through? A bit of both? If you’re an expat, or have been at some point, it would be great to hear what your experiences are or were as it’s always nice to know that you’re not alone with the struggle.
After all of that, I thought I would balance this post out by writing the next one about my five favourite things about London, just to show that I’m not all doom and gloom!
Bye for now,