My New Home in LondonBy Jessica Long
bout five months ago, my fiancé was offered a twelve-month contract for a job in London. With a year spent together in New Zealand shortly after my college graduation, and a planned wedding for a year and a half from now, the proposition seemed perfect. It took some finagling; proper wording and fingerprint documenting, but things finally worked out for us both in late September. After close to four months of wishing and hoping and trying to figure out how to pack up our lives without officially packing them up, we quit our jobs after our visas arrived in mid October. We boarded a plane just one month later to begin Mike’s new career and take on another year long adventure.
Mike works in network security, one of the few expanding industries during this international credit crunch and sloping economic crisis. As for me, just two years out of college, one of those essentially spent living out of my car traveling the South Pacific, I have only one-year experience in marketing. It’s interesting applying for jobs online while BBC broadcasts in the background, “1.6 million jobs cut in England, expected to reach 2 million by Christmas”. It is now mid-November.
I’m still not entirely sure how we ended up here, as the past month was a total and complete whirlwind. It seems like just yesterday I was staring at all our belongings, sprawled across the basement floor of my parent’s house, boggling my mind as to how all that stuff was going to fit into a bag. Lucky to be relocating to a city filled with furnished apartments, we were fortunate to have only had to bring our clothes for work and play. Not to mention some of Mike’s beloved electronics, my horseback riding equipment, and some pictures and knickknacks to remind us of home.
As Mike goes off to work each day, I occupy my time applying for jobs and taking advantage of my free time to explore. I’ve walked all over the city, figuring out my way around and getting a feel for all the different neighborhoods. It’s interesting being a daytime solo traveler and walking new streets alone. Rarely have I experienced such a thing, as I have always traveled with friends or family. The most noticeable difference is my awareness of my constant curious eyes looking up in every direction.
Sometimes stuck in our fast paced lives, where we pass by leisurely walkers and fail to notice the street signs we’ve passed hundreds of times prior; in a new city we take it all in. I could tell you more about the advertisements, coffee shops and people I pass by on the streets of London, than I ever could have at home. My comfort drinking coffees and glasses of wine by myself at cafes and bars has surprised me; not the least bit self conscience or lonely, I quite enjoy my time observing and adapting.
In the short two weeks that I’ve been here, I’m slowly learning how to call London home. I’ve made efforts to use the British vernacular and to familiarize myself with the Tube, but I’ve also allowed myself to stay true to the things I find familiar; like popping into Starbucks for a cup of coffee. And although I still cannot work the all-in-one washer/dryer and I struggle to find my staple cooking spices, I don’t think it will take me long to adjust to this life and fall in love with my new home of London. The smells of fresh bread upon passing bakeries, the inexpensive wine and cheese shops, the music and theater available at all times, the British humor, the incredible presence of horses throughout the city….. I’m truly looking forward to all the daily adventures, small and large, that lay before us during this exciting opportunity abroad.