Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Six weeks in London

I have lived in London for approximately six weeks now and I love it.

Coming from a town with a population of about 100,000 to a city of 7 million didn’t scare me. I was looking forward to being just another face in the crowd. I’m far from popular but whenever I walked through high row in Darlington there was the inevitability that I’d run into someone who I knew so I was looking forward to being amongst complete strangers. 

Also, as far as cities go, I think London is quite town like. There aren’t an overwhelming number of skyscrapers like what you see in New York or Tokyo. And although there are large buildings, they are the size of what you would expect to see in any town centre.

Here are my other main observations from living in London:

Eye eye: the London Eye
The Tube is one of the best things about London. No matter how far I run/walk, Tube stations are never more than 10 minutes away so I can always get home easily. Also, the TFL staff are excellent. They are approachable, friendly, helpful, and have a good sense of humour.

Therefore, Londoners my age don’t drive. In Darlington, most my friends at least start lessons once they turn 17 but all the Londoners my age I’ve spoken to have no desire to learn (at this moment in time anyway). Public transport is so good, they have no need to drive.

The cost of living
Rent charges are a joke. I am fortunate enough to live on a university campus (the only university campus in London) and even the accommodation price here is as bad as everyone makes out. I have a bathroom, kitchen and dining area that I share with another five people, no lounge area, and a decent sized bedroom. But, for the same amount of money anywhere else outside of London I’d have a much larger bedroom, a shared lounge area, and an en suite.

I have deeper concerns about next year when I am kicked out of the university accommodation and need to find private accommodation which I know will not be as good value for money as where I am living now.

Me: out of my depth at
London Fashion Weekend
Stuff to do
Even though my room isn’t as big as the rooms of my friends who live on campuses outside of London, the amount of time I spend in there is minimal. There are hundreds of parks in London, scores of sites to see, dozens of free galleries and museums, as well as daily one off events such as London Fashion Week, the Chocolate Show, and various craft markets. No plans for the weekend? I just need to open an app such as Doji, Hype, or Fever and they suggest tons of things for me to do.

Despite the fact I live in London, I would still very much consider myself a tourist - it’s hard not to be.

Londoners (and southerners in general) are stereotyped as being unsociable sorts who keep to themselves but I’ve found people are just as friendly here as anywhere else in the country.

Last month, I walked six miles to Camden town and was leaning against a wall as I caught my breath when a guy in his late 20s noticed that I’d been stood in the same spot for about 10 minutes. He approached me and cheerily exclaimed “I’m sorry mate, I don’t think she is coming” before ardently walking off again. This is the sort of random banter I thought was exclusive to the north.

Furthermore, when I was in the cinema earlier this week, the stranger sat next to me struck up a conversation about the ridiculous number of trailers that are shown before the film.

So, from my experience, Londoners are lovely.

I am looking forward to the next three years living in London. I hope in that time I can find reasonably priced accommodation and get a part-time job to help cover the costs of the vast amount of dark chocolate and Innocent smoothies I survive off. For today though, I’m just loving the fact that I can wake up on a morning and run along miles of canals without the fear of ever running out of city, being able to record a video of myself doing press-ups without others even battering an eyelid (because London is full of strange people doing odd things every day), and then being able to sit in lectures and be constantly reminded by the rumble of the Central line in the distance that I am in - what many consider to be - the best city in the world.