The 10 steps someone like me takes when they get to London:
The days that followed my arrival consisted of me wandering around the city aimlessly. I remember trying to walk to Regent Park, all the way from Covent Garden, but then getting to Mornington Crescent instead, because, well, reading google maps fails me. Besides wandering around, my induction to this city went something like this:
First step is the step anyone would have to take: Equipping yourself with an umbrella, and carry it with you at all times, no matter how clear the skies may seem when you walk out of your door that morning/afternoon/night. Ideally, you would buy wellies too, because wet feet are the worst, but if you’re like me, you’ll just spend a whole year without rainboots, skipping from dry spot to dry spot.
Second step consisted of me buying a camera to photograph all the random sights I’d come across. Although I visited London on two occasions previously, I never had to navigate it on my own, and so all sights were entirely novel to me.
Third step in establishing yourself in a new city is finding a café worthy enough to be graced by your regular presence. And so I did just that. I found a café where I would spend some early afternoons writing e-mails to my friends, my old boss and my parents, where I would update this blog from.
Step four is of course opening a bank account at an institution preferably close enough to the café, cos ‘yo’ americanos ain’t gunna pay themselves, sista!’ That will take you two whole months, because…uh, that are the service standards at the bank you chose to open your account with for the people with your visa. You just feel lucky that nobody is driving a van with ‘Go home!’ posters in front of your flat, so you accept the inconvenience without fretting.
Step five is researching the vegetarian options and restaurants. That’s how I discovered certain places in Neal’s Yard (where I just remembered I need to go back very soon!) and Mildreds, a lovely vegetarian/vegan restaurant where I went for my birthday last year. Their puddings are just to die for.
Oh step six is adapting to the lingo. Pudding is in fact not a runny custard-like substance, it is simply ‘cake’. Lemonade is not made out of lemons and ‘Are you alright?’ is not an intervention by a stranger about your visibly morose state of mind. I made a post about that previously.
Step seven is getting an oyster card, and that in itself means understanding the tube maps, and also ensuring you get TFL notifications about weekend closures.
Step 8 is making friends. ”How does one make friends in a new city?” you ask! THE INTERNET, naturally, where else?! So you will go on OkCupid dates with random women and men, telling them ‘I’m open to romance, but have zero expectations.’ You will meet girls who want you to meet their boyfriends, you will meet musicians who pop acid through their eyeballs, and you will meet guys you will need to high five as they lean in to kiss you, simply because they do not get the social cues of ‘not interested’ at the end of a date. You will feel like Michael Cera in Arrested Development, but it will at least fill your days with eventful evenings. You will remain friends with most of those weirdos, because, well, you have a whole lot of weirdness in yourself too, and you find things to bond over!
Step nine: Great! Now that you have deep and meaningful connections established, you must look for a job to be able to pay for beer. Nevermind your education and previous experience in office positions, you didn’t come to London to make money, no, you came here to meet locals, to understand their culture and history, and so naturally, you will get a job in the most cultural establishment that exists: The pub. There, you will meet alcoholics, tourists, locals, and 90% of the Polish population in this city. You will have tons of fun, and you will also feel tons of anger.
Step 10: Now that you have at least three friends in this city, and a job, you can focus on quality hobbies: so you go from pub to pub, killing your liver, and trying things such as ‘Snake Bite’ and experiencing a newfound love for tequila. Mazel tov, you’re now a Londoner!