“It’s been the best decision of my life and the best last 5 years.”
Moving abroad to look for new horizons and leave everything behind – what an exciting and scary thing to do. I believe that a fast beating heart makes a happy soul. Well, deciding to leave your comfort zone and go towards the unknown gets your heart rate up quite a bit. Trust me.
The whole point of this post is to share with you what’s been happening and how it feels to live abroad after nearly 5 years here in London.
I always thought that I would live outside of my home country some day. Perhaps I needed a little push in my life or to prove something to myself. At the age of 24, I felt it was the right time to make the move. One day, I decided to officially tell my family and friends what my plan was, then, I went to work and asked for a transfer. Two months later, I was asked when I wanted to move to London – I said 1 month. That is a short time frame to leave everything behind and only take the essentials with me.
April 13th, 2014
5am wake up call. I’m heading towards the train station holding 2 guitars, 2 bags and a backpack with the help of my girlfriend at that time, Marion and our most amazing little dog ever, Ivy. So, I jumped on the train, sat down, and cried pretty much all the way to London! To much to take in. I managed to arrive in London at around 3pm, completely lost in Kings Cross St Pancras Station with all my heavy belongings and no english. I waved at the taxi driver in his typical english black cab, and asked him to drive me to a place I found on SpareRoom located in Hoxton (East London), an area I have never been before. At around 4pm, I rang the bell and my first housemate ever, Darryl, came down and kindly helped me carrying my guitars and the rest. After few chats with my new housemates, I sat down on my new bed and thought – “This is it. It starts now.”
To successfully live abroad, I would highly suggest you to really immerse yourself within the culture you’ve chosen to live. Be curious, eat local food, stay with the locals as much as possible and stop speaking your mother language as much as you can. I have met so many french people who only sticks with other french, nothing wrong with that but I feel it’s a bit of a shame. To avoid the “home sick” feeling, you have to find a balance.
My home town is about 400,000 inhabitants. London is 10 Million. You can imagine how crazy this is everyday. So you have to look for things that work best for you. The right home, in the right area, the right friends, the right cultural events you go to and so on.
I learnt english at school and I wasn’t the best. I also took some courses in a private school before leaving. It helped but if you really want to learn a new language, there is only one way. Go live in the country and practice all day.
During the first year, my biggest challenge was the language. Being able to do and say things, and express myself with full confidence. Everyday, I have been facing problems which could have been easily solved back in France. But to me, those were more an opportunity to look for solutions and end up stronger. Living abroad really does reveal some personality traits about yourself you might not even suspect. Pushing yourself to the unknown everyday really keeps you “awake”.
Once you’ve passed that step, the rest is pure joy. You can really start enjoying work drinks, parties, events, making lifetime friends and adjusting your lifestyle to find what works best for you.
How many times I’ve landed on my bed thinking – “Wait.. I haven’t said a word in french today… Amazing”.
I am not going to give you all the details but when you arrive, with no english and you have to open a bank account, get your National Insurance Number, ask things to your employer, get your first phone plan and buying new furnitures, everything goes so fast and you have to be switched on. I remember when I had to call for my NIN, the person on the phone had a very strong Scottish accent (which I love today). I let you imagine the conversation… When all is coming along, you simply feel proud.
The London life
London never sleeps. There’s always people everywhere and sometimes you can feel very lonely. It’s a known fact. The night life is simply amazing, there’s plenty to do. Food wise, you can find anything you want pretty much at any time. There are all sorts of activities and events throughout the year to keep your heart rate up and put a smile on your face. I find the public transport system really efficient, day and night. CityMapper will sort you out when lost. Best app downloaded ever. London is massive. When you are considering visiting a friend who lives in Clapham Junction (South London) from East London, plan a trip of up to 1h30 as you’ll probably get lost on the way.
Friends. Yes, it is delicate to make friends when you don’t speak the language that well. But I found everyone welcoming, understanding and inspired by my story.
The benefits of living abroad
This decision definitely made me grow. Daring is something that you learn and have to do. It opens many doors. You’ll be surprising yourself pretty much everyday. You’ll always be facing some challenges and that makes you stronger. You will become more interesting to others. Your friends and family back home will ask you tones of questions and sometimes they will admit that they wish they would have done the same thing. In some ways, it makes you different with plenty of stories to tell. It opens your mind. You will be seeing lots of things that don’t happen in your home country and makes you realise how awesome and entertaining this new life is. One feeling I like the most is that it makes me feel pretty much “invincible”. I can speak two languages, switch back and forth between them, which means I can live anywhere in the world, everything will be fine. It’s priceless!
I thought I would finish by that…
Good things about London
- The People
- The diversity
- The artistic scene
- The food
- The public transport
- It never sleeps
- Everything is recorded on CCTV cameras, it feels safe and it really is
- It is full of great parks
Bad things about London
- The rush hours
- It’s getting too crowded
- The cost
- The pollution
If you are looking to move to London and reading this post, well I hope it was informative and inspired you to go ahead. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or drop me an email here.
Some great Instagram accounts to follow here:
A great blog [French] about living in London for a month. It’s a friend of mine, go check it out!