Ah, life in London – it’s been interesting. This is my second year making my way through these busy streets. I landed in this city looking like the stereotypical wide-eyed girl from a small town; in five minutes I figured to squint a bit so my naivety wouldn’t be obvious.
Moving here was accidental; I needed a place that could offer me more and somehow London ticked the boxes. I flipped a coin, prayed to the ancestors and hello London. Before anyone asks, yes I do live here legally; don’t try me. Bunch of Trump Jrs.
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Nobody warned me about the intensity of this city, but then again I never asked. Let me tell you, this place is not easy. I’ve lived in busy cities before and each has its own vibe but London’s is on a whole different level.
Guess what? It’s one of the things I appreciate about my time here. When I think about my last two years in the big smoke I have to break it down to “the good, the bad and the ugly” (that’s a pretty good movie btw).
The good – things I like about life in London
I adore how art and culture are weaved into the fabric of the city. Despite my being an artist I have never lived in a place where encountering the arts is as normal as breathing air.
Everywhere I turn there is an opportunity, a show, a chance to experience. It’s why I enjoy moments like watching ear for eye by Debbie Tucker Green. To encounter something like that so casually on a Wednesday like it was a cup of tea before bed to warm my soul, I felt blessed. Plus that show inspired the heck out of me!
The opportunities for people of color are here waiting for us to take advantage of them. That doesn’t mean it’s easy being black here; if I thought that for one second (I didn’t) books like Slay In Your Lane reversed that thought.
Books like Slay In Your Lane and What a Time To Be Alone, written by young black British women also show there’s a movement happening where black people in this country (and poc) aren’t asking for a seat at the table – they are setting up entirely new tables and the occupants of these seats are looking mighty different from previous days. I am here for this.
I particularly love how diverse this city is; the diversity in London is something else. I know some people don’t find it attractive *cough racists cough* but it works for me. Can I just say, I find it really strange how racists here will gladly order “ethnic food” for a takeaway and will munch on said food while spewing racism. But anyway.
In London, there is always something to do! Don’t mind me saying I don’t go anywhere, I’m on a budget. Even though I might not venture into the actual city itself every day, there is always something going on. Sometimes I just like to walk around my neighborhood and discover something new.
When opportunities arise to explore the city, like a recent chance to enjoy a blogger’s brunch with delicious Jamaican flavors, I try to enjoy those experiences.
The biggest joy about being here is I’ve been forced to grow up. You can be “old” (I’m in my 30s) and still need to grow. I struggle immensely with owning my womanhood and adulthood and my time here is forcing me to tackle those struggles head-on. That’s a whole other blog post lol!
As this city waits for no one, you have to keep pace and I’ve noticed that my usual island girl stroll had gotten quicker recently.
The bad – the hard parts of life in London
Most of the things I don’t like about living in London are silly, first world problem things. Why can’t it be summer all the time, or why can’t Taco Bell have a central location?
Why does rent require you to sell your soul to the devil? They’re not terribly serious complaints.
Perhaps the hardest issue I’ve had to face is the cultural clash; I’ve discovered there’s this air of “let’s sweep it all away, let’s be very polite and always smile and throw passive aggressive shady jabs all the time and it is weird!
I don’t understand passive aggressive – I just do aggressive.
The other thing that has been difficult for me is owning my blackness here. People think all black people and black culture are the same. It’s not.
There are many times when I’m in a black space and it’s hard for me to relate to what’s going on. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a good time but sometimes I can only enjoy so much because whatever I’m experiencing is not a part of my culture. I might not catch all the jokes, I might do something incorrectly or I don’t get a reference to something. Add to it that I’m usually doing things by myself at a function and of course I’ll feel a little left out.
I’m not upset at this fact; it is literally cultural differences. I faced the exact thing when I lived in America.
When it comes to my blackness in the UK, I think the weirdest things I’ve faced from other black people here have been being judged for being from the Caribbean. Apparently there is some big Caribbean vs African vs African American vs the universe beef that no one told me about. I’ve also been judged for not fitting into the stereotypical mold that has been constructed for me (you don’t act like “a Caribbean”) and also I guess for not sounding Caribbean? That last one always gets me.
And obviously because I am just walking to the beat of a different drum I have been judged for not being “black British enough” but I can’t be…there’s nothing wrong with being black British and being down with the black British culture, but I can’t be that 100% because I haven’t grown up here.
So I face a general British culture shock and then a black culture shock.
That feeling of where do I belong here pushes me to seek more from my city. I am not one of those people who live in a country and expect it to bend to their expectations. I know one day I’ll find my sweet spot here and if I never do, I thank this city for allowing me to observe the culture.
The ugly parts of my life in London
One of the things I absolutely I don’t like about my life here, and this is just me, is the difficulty of making friends here. I’ve spoken about this before (click here to read about my issues with loneliness and lack of friends in the city) so I won’t get too dep on that. Lonlineless is a real issue here in London and if you’re thinking about moving here just note, it is hard to make friends here. This shit is real.
The other ugly part has more to do with the people who were and are around me. It has nothing to do with the city itself because ugly people are everywhere.
If you’re thinking of moving to a new city make sure you have a secure support system in place or make friends with genuine people.
When I started living here I was depressed which allowed negative people to enter my life. I didn’t knowingly seek them, but being depressed combined with living in a new place meant I was vulnerable.
I’ll make it clear, each person helped me in some way but the amount of negativity that came with that help makes me wonder if it was worth it.
The ugliness of London for me has been my struggle to become independent of these individuals. I’m not complaining, I’ve never had to struggle like this until I moved here. I took a lot of things for granted in my past life and even on my worst days here I still have a lot of good things going on for me.
The ugliness of those people, of certain life situations, have encouraged me to start wanting more for my life.
Previously when I was making bank and was living a carefree, brunching every weekend, buying steaks for my dog kinda life, I was so depressed that I never thought I would live past 35. I never planned, I would get my paycheck and spend everything because there was no point.
Now, I actually make plans. The biggest plan is to never have to lean on toxic as the people again. I know it won’t happen overnight but that’s why I’m using 2019 as the turning point in my story.
The silliest parts of living in London
Just to lighten the mood, here are ten things that make me laugh, make me wonder, make me say a little curse word in London.there are a lot of things about this country that regularly makes me laugh (in a good way).
- The lingo: for the longest, I couldn’t grasp the saying taking the piss. I recently learned what I call pants are considered panties over here, that was embarrassing! It took me a whole 1.5 years to learn what this peng thing is – ya girl ain’t peng. She might be pe.
- The food: I don’t understand hotdogs on pizza. What the…? And hotdogs come in jars???? Also, I get table manners are more on point over here but not every food should be eaten with a fork and knife. We can’t be friends if you’re trying to tuck into a crab boil with utensils. HANDS BABY.
- Flatmates: I think this is the one thing I will never get used to or enjoy in the slightest. I haven’t had the best of luck with flatmates so far. I feel so sad that millions of people here who will never know the joy of living on their own. Plus why don’t the doors here have locks in the house?
- Dating: Looool dating here is different. People expect you to only date one person at a time. Nah, that’s weak. There are two types of dating: dating to get to know a person and dating the person/people you’re committed to. In my opinion, if I’m dating to get a feel for someone I can date as many individuals as I desire. That doesn’t mean you’re sleeping with everyone you date (and if you want to have sex that’s your choice just practice safe sex), it means you’re going out and getting to know a person. And getting free food and drinks (don’t act like that’s not true). What it look like for me to date one person for three months playing “getting to know you” and we’re not compatible? Y’all playing yourself.
- The Underground: I am not a fan of being pressed against strangers for hours in a hot tube (Central Line) so I take the bus. I don’t care if it takes me a day to get somewhere, the bus. There’s a greater chance of you getting a seat and the view is better.
- British celebrities: Why do all the shows here feature the same three people? The first few times I watched tv I was very confused cause it’s the same set of people over and over. Everywhere. Also, I find it amusing that you can go on Love Island and basically have the same pull as any other “celebrity”.
- A warm day: I used to laugh whenever anyone would joke about people wearing “summer clothes” at any hint of sun but it’s true. If it warms up in the slightest, everyone has on shorts and a cute dress. Mind you, it’s still freezing to me but to everyone else it’s summer!
- Dogs: This one might seem weird but I am not a fan of people walking their dog’s without a leash/lead and this is allowed over here. I am a fan of dogs, but some of these dogs are aggressive and people are out here talking bout “Rexy is my baby, wouldn’t hurt a fly”. Rexy just tried to bite me. Bye.
- Accessibility: While I think there is still room for improvement (how many tube stations don’t have elevators/lifts?), I have to make note that this city at least considers accessibility. Some major cities have little consideration for people with mobility issues, disabilities, conditions etc.
- Nando’s: I had to laugh when I went to Nando’s because everyone hyped this place up. And I was so confused about “a cheeky Nando’s”? What does it mean????? Halfway through the meal, I realized life wanted me to eat there as a reminder you can always cook at home. Lol. Nando’s isn’t that bad but it didn’t live up to the hype for me.
Can I see a future in the city of London?
Yes. London is helping me make changes to my life and it’s helping me really put on my big girl panties. Before living here, everything was easy and now I’ve thrust myself into one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced.
I am so excited for this city to be a part of what will hopefully be one of the most transformative years of my life.
With this city challenging me, I can see myself getting healthier mentally, emotionally, financially. I can see myself living life and having adventures.
The only question left to ask is, are you interested in moving to London? Let me know below if you’d like me to share a guide to moving to this interesting city.
The Good, The Bad and Ugly of Life In London
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