Yesterday marked one year since I arrived in London. Who would have thought? In a way it feels like I have been here forever, but then I cannot believe it actually is one year (especially when I think about the work I need to do :P). But what do I think about living here now?
Getting Accustomed to Living in London
In general I find living OK…not heaven on earth, but neither hell. It is a middle of the road deal for me…Positives include that you are in a big city which is the centre of a lot of things. Especially in terms of my research this means that I am surrounded by people who have a good level of say in what goes on. Getting this sort of contact and exposure early on can only mean good things (unless they hate you ;)). Another positive is the number of flights going in and one of the city (though all the airports take more than one hour to get to…so not exactly close, and most not even actually in London!).
Negatives? Coming back from Prague public transport is definitely high up on that list! I find it so crazy that it takes ages to get anywhere mainly because of traffic and crappy connections. In Prague everything is so much smoother and interconnected…having one ticket for all transport systems where you pay by time not by mode of transport means that there are much less overlapping services, putting less vehicles on the road, and getting you from A to B faster. Another negative for me is the vast size of the city making it difficult to meet other people living in the same city unless they live in the same area (consider that my friend takes 1.5hrs to get from where she lives in London to where I live, while another friend living in Kent (not London) takes 1hr to get into London (and from much further away)…that must say something about the efficiency of transport. To meet people you need to make plans ages in advance…not at all how I am used to things.
Attitude to Malta
I’ve always been a teeny weeny bit happy that I was Maltese, and loved our tiny little island (with all its problems…and of course there are loads ;)). However, since moving to London (and also in other travels) I am coming to realise that people tend to complain wherever they are. Coming here I feel I have become maybe a bit more patriotic than I was. People who complain about every teeny weeny little thing in Malta tend to get on my nerves a bit. I often find that people in Malta tend to think that everything abroad is perfect, and only Malta has problems. But being in London? I am not too chuffed about customer service here, OR the public transport (going down in the underground makes my ears hurt for days after…and that’s the least of my complaints!). And let’s not get started about the weather (I’m becoming a real Brit now :P, though I don’t think it is as bad as they say). Also, at least in Malta people acknowledge your presence most of the time. Here you walk straight and don’t speak unless you really have to if it is a stranger…When I try to do my ‘let’s smile at people on the way to work experiment’ I often get puzzled looks…Come on…lighten up…is it so strange if someone smiles…and can’t you smile back? Please? Pretty pretty please? It will make my day ;).
Well, these are some of the things I have been thinking about in the past year. It hasn’t always been easy living in London alone. However, now I realise it is not only me who feels these things. Hearing my supervisors discuss about how long it took them for London to start feeling like home to them some weeks ago immediately hit a chord with me and made me feel so much better about living here. A year here has gone, but the next year brings with it more changes…Michael will be coming to London! How will we deal with that? Hopefully I will tell you more about that in next year’s installment 😉