Oh, man. Where do I begin? It’s taken me quite awhile to write this because compiling three months of my life into one blog post doesn’t really feel super accurate or even do London justice.
This may sound a bit dramatic (and maybe it is), but for me…my three months in London were life-changing.
I kept joking that it was my take on Eat/Pray/Love but with a full-time job and instead of delicious Italian pizza, I was eating copious amounts of England’s local favorite – Piri Piri from Nando’s.
Regardless, my time in Europe was a mixture of emotions: Exhilarating, nerve-wracking, exhausting, lonely, rewarding. For some background, I’ve never lived by myself. In fact, I don’t really remember a time where I’ve done things “on my own.”
I blame it on being an only child (and a true Cancer at heart), but I love to be in places where I feel comfortable, surrounded by loved ones. But when the opportunity to work out of Pinterest’s London office for a few months came knocking on my door, well, I had to answer.
I mean, when would this kind of thing ever happen again? So, after a lot of thinking (and conversations with my partner) I jumped at the chance to have my “Winning London” moment (bonus points for everyone who understands the reference).
After packing only a few bags (two to be clear!), I got myself ready for finding comfort in the uncomfortable.
I have a feeling this post could be PRETTY long, but over the several months I wanted to share a few observations:
The English accent (while similar to us here in the States) is ridiculously confusing and hard to understand. Maybe that’s just me (probably is), but I usually had three ways of dealing with this. 1) Asking “what??” 2) Nodding and smiling like you understood 3) Completely ignore.
But the British phrases are so fun! Say goodbye to fanny pack and say hello to bum bag! Don’t say pants because those are your grannie’s knickers! Trousers are where it’s at. Oh, and if you don’t add “quite” and “lovely” in a sentence while you’re there, are you really even in London anyway?
Doing laundry is a bit challenging. Why, you say? Well, the Brits love their washer-dryer combo and I gotta say, it ain’t great. The first time I tried, laundry took me (no joke) EIGHT HOURS. Why? Before everything was sopping wet and then I had to hang dry. Lessons learned.
Contactless, y’all! Everything in London encouraged contactless payments. Small thing, I know. BUT, it sure saves a lot of time.
Transportation in London is for real a breeze. The Tube (aka: The Underground) is ridiculously easy to navigate (download Citymapper if you do visit) and goes everywhere. In the three months I was there, I only took an Uber 3 TIMES (and saved a hell of a lot of money).
Food was delicious (but also hit or miss). Yeah, yeah…I know. London is full of good food but I also had some chance encounters. Things were pretty expensive and while I had a tiny kitchen, I rarely wanted to cook (OOPS). In the middle of my trip, I had a pretty gnarly case of food poisoning (I blame a turkey burger gone wrong), but some of my favorites include Ducksoup, Chiltern Firehouse, Dishoom (YESS!!), Tapas Brindisa, Netil 360, Disrepute, Cahoot’s and more. Oh, and while Sketch is beautiful (and V Instagrammy!) it’s overpriced and the food, well…it’s okay.
Doing long distance anything is hard. Whether it’s communicating with colleagues, friends, family or your partner – the time difference does make a difference. I had super supportive friends, family and a partner who encouraged me to do the trip and to enjoy the moment, but seeing their lives on social media gave me a bit of FOMO. A good solve for this was to take time to find other ways to connect whether it was FaceTime, text, call, or sending emails.
Being alone can be cool (and hard!) all at the same time. I’ve said this before, but being alone was a totally new concept to me. Eating a meal by yourself? NEVER. Spending an entire day only communicating with the barista or museum staff? WOOF. However, I did both and the more I “practiced” this, the more comfortable it became. Now, this doesn’t mean I was a hermit. In fact, I said “yes” far more than I said “no.” I even had some friends I met and saw! But, it did help me realize that even when I went out by myself, no one was looking at me saying “oh, I feel sorry for her.” In fact, no one gave a shit about what I was doing. And more often than not, I talked to people more! I also started to really enjoy my company – and a good book (I read 8 while I was there).
London is beautiful. The people are kind (sarcastic at times) and very good humored. It’s full of history and even more than London, it’s so easy to get everywhere in Europe. In the time I was there I traveled to Edinburgh, Paris, Dublin and the north of London. And overall, it literally took around 2 hours to get anywhere by train (or an hour or so flight!). So needless to say, traveling isn’t just encouraged – it’s a way of life.
Overall, I absolutely loved my time. Whether it was owning less stuff (even for a short period of time), going out to see a show by myself or meeting new people, by the end… I was comfortable being uncomfortable. And for me, that means the world.