Trying to get back on track here. Finally caught up on my RSS this week.
I’m flying home to Chicago tomorrow for a friend’s wedding! I’m RULL excited to see my friends and family, but I don’t want to leave London. Good sign.
I also have to start over with jet lag. Shanks through my eyes.
But I’m excited to sit still for 9 hours and read a book.
When I return to London Wednesday morning, we get to make our third and FINAL (!!!) move to our real apartment! Everything will come out of the suitcases! Everything will have a place! We can clean our space beyond what any other person would consider healthy/necessary! Words cannot express.
As annoying as the nomad life has been, I’m also really glad things worked out this way. I’ve made three great friends in my roommates and Matt has had sounding boards to go through the first (intense) weeks of school with.
My little sister left for Rome on Tuesday and will stay there for fall semester. I’m so excited for her to have this experience; what a life changer. Also pumped to have someone in (almost) the same time zone as me.
I got my first freelance offer on Wednesday! Unfortunately it’s for the days I’ll be back in the US, but it’s another step in the right direction.
I have a UK phone number! I activated my SIM card and bought a phone plan; now I just need the phone. (See you this weekend, Apple store.) (Nothing but side eye for you, AT&T.)
Matt loves school and is taking it so seriously and my heart is just so happy seeing how happy he is with this decision.
Last night I did something I can’t ever remember doing. I went to a social function where I knew one person but had no close friends.
There was to be a group dinner at a Persian restaurant in Notting Hill for LBS students. Matt and I signed up to go. On Tuesday night Matt realized there was a meeting at the same time for a club he wants to join. He backed out of dinner.
I thought about backing out too, but then realized I had no plans and felt pretty lame not going just because I wouldn’t know anyone and wasn’t the spirit of this whole moving abroad thing about doing things that make us uncomfortable and being ready to meet new people and make new friends at any given moment?
So I went. I sat next to my one semi-friend (through Matt) and had a ton of fun. When I told semi-friend, now friend, that I’m an introvert he brushed it off and said no way. From the nights we’ve gone out together, he refused to believe I am anything other than outgoing. That makes me feel like I’ve done a good job pushing myself.
I would rather already have the close friends that I can go to dinner with in small groups or sit on the couch with and talk about a book. But I need to meet a lot of people to find my people. And truthfully, when you’re surrounded by people with interesting backgrounds and life stories, it makes small talk a lot less excruciating. I met a guy from Bahrain last night, for Christ’s sake.
Anyway, I’m proud of myself. I’ve been saying yes to everything, going to things I feel intimidated by and I’ve had a great time almost every time.
Also, wine helps.
The American TV machine is alive and well.
@scuppertime said: it sounds like you’re tackling London and the international move the best way - full on & head on! i’m excited to see what future adventures you get up to in London and the UK!
I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have been so encouraging through this whole process. Maybe by now, some readers are thinking, “All right, we get it, you live in London, move on.” Sorry to say that won’t be happening. This is the single greatest and biggest adventure I’ve embarked on and I will be documenting all of it.
I write this blog for my parents, my sisters, Matt’s sister, his parents and my grandma. I write it for my friends. I try to keep everyone up to speed and informed, but it’s hard to do that individually with a dozen or so people. So I write here, knowing whatever I forgot on Skype they can read up on.
And I like to keep my tumblr friends posted too. This sounds silly, but tumblr has been a constant through this period of change. I love scrolling through my dash and seeing what you guys are up to. And I know some of you feel the same way. So thanks for being great. :)
This is the first properly rainy gray day in London since we moved. Every other day has been a mix - an hour of sun, two hours of clouds, the sun comes back out - but this one is gray all the way.
The move has kept me on my toes. One day I think I’ve mastered it, I’m settled, I get it. The next I feel completely overwhelmed, like this list of things to do will never end. The longer I’m here, the more I feel the first and less the latter.
People ask what I do all day and no one is more surprised than I am that I have kept so busy. I haven’t opened a book or turned on the TV. (Well, there isn’t one here, but still.) There are so many things you don’t think of that need to be done. There’s the flat hunting. There’s the search for a printer to print the tenancy agreement. There’s the search for the post office and waiting in a 40-minute line to buy stamps and envelopes because you didn’t realize you could buy them at the automated machines behind you. There’s the bank account opening, which required three separate visits to actually open the account and three visits to LBS to get one letter printed. There’s the grocery shopping. There’s the half day pursuit of hangers. There’s registering an Oyster card. And registering with NHS. And applying for a National Insurance number. And applying for a library card. We had to buy pillows, as well as a makeshift comforter in the form of a fleece throw blanket. There’s “induction appointments” to attend in order to work out at the school gym. There’s fixing blinds that you broke and doing laundry every few days because the machines are small and you have four roommates who also want to do theirs. There’s endless phone research (hate you, AT&T). There’s trying to make friends and be social as often as possible without going crazy. And, of course, there’s the job search.
Never ever take for granted American efficiency. To open a bank account here, we needed a letter from LBS vouching for us. The letter provides proof of address. Our first letter didn’t have the post code (equivalent of zip code) printed on it, so the bank turned us away. Once we finally opened the account, we were informed it would take 10 business days to activate online banking (?!) We received 6 pieces of mail in regard to one new bank account - one for online banking, one for telephone banking, one with the debit card, etc. The mind boggles.
I was relieved when I realized I would not stand out here. Not because there are so many Americans, but because there are so many cultures. On the walk to the Tube alone, I hear several languages and an array of accents. If you put enough outsiders together, you sort of feel like an insider.
I’m making friends. This is the nerdiest way of verbalizing it, but I could not stop smiling the day I first filed an email in my “friends” folder instead of the more logistical “london” one.
There are the formally organized opportunities to meet students and their partners. But there has also been wine after (everyone else’s) work day. Getting McDonald’s after the pub but BEFORE the club. (I think she is going to be one of my people.) Invites to flats for a couples’ dinner. Matt’s single friends inviting themselves to our wedding and dubbing me their “love manager”. Roommate dinners and Sunday afternoons on the couch.
Last week was hard. I only saw Matt a couple hours each day and by the time he came home from school, he was exhausted. He used to travel Monday through Thursday every week, so normally this wouldn’t bother me. But when you’re trying to navigate a variety of UK systems
that make no sense by yourself, things can get overwhelming quickly. I felt alone, unsupported. We talked about it this weekend, got back on track, back to being on the same team.
Saturday we finally played tourists. Instead of doing those hop on-hop off bus tours, we just rode the #11 bus from Liverpool to Victoria station. We passed the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange and the Mansion House. We saw St. Paul’s Cathedral and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub. We watched as Sweeney Todd’s Barber Shop and the Royal Courts of Justice flew by and marveled at Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. We crouched down toward the bus floor and craned our necks to see Big Ben. We couldn’t believe how many red buses drive these city streets.
I joined a yoga studio. I’m only joining it for 10 days during their cheap introductory period because their prices after that are mind-bogglingly expensive. But still. It feels good to be part of something. My instructor today called me “bendy” and “super strong”.
My job-related meetings have been positive. Nothing approaching a job offer or even a formal interview, but I think I’m heading in the right direction.
We’ve started planning travel. There is no better feeling than having a plane ticket booked and a weekend of possibilities before you.
We tried to walk a lot this weekend and learn more neighborhoods. Get a sense of our bearings. Figure out where we would and wouldn’t take visitors. I keep teasing Matt because every new place we discover he says, “This area is f-ing awesome.” I’ve lost count of the number of times one of us has said, “God, I love London” or “I’m so glad we’re here” or “This is the best thing we’ve ever done”. I think we are in the beginning stages of infatuation.
There’s a lot of unsureness, question marks left to turn into periods (or exclamation marks!) But those things are starting to feel less life-altering, more manageable. Even on mornings like today when I’m sitting on the couch, scrolling through tumblr, and with my only plan for the day being coffee at a new friend’s place this afternoon, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
See you next month, Rome!
Only one really matters.