It’s been nearly three years since my entire life changed forever. After updating the design of my blog, I came across this post and I couldn’t help but laugh and cry at it. I’m not at all that person anymore. And I don’t know if it’s because I’ve found myself in London… or if it’s because I’ve lost myself completely to a city that I have a love/hate relationship with. Either way, I wanted to document the distinct changes I’ve noticed from when I first moved here, to now, by picking excerpts from my first week in London.
London is one of those cities, where every second street is a busy high traffic street. Businesses close around nine or ten in the evening, sometimes even at midnight.
For a South African, this was a wild concept. Because in Cape Town all businesses close at 5pm, and only 1 or 2 shopping malls stayed open until 9pm. Now, I have come to expect this of not only London but anywhere I go in the world. I become incredibly pissy if I need something after 7pm and I can’t get it right that minute. Same-day delivery, instant cabs (Uber) and trains at every minute, instant groceries (Amazon PrimeNow) and general first world country things are now what I expect as standard. Anything less will have me in a tantrum about poor service. I’ve grown into the comforts that comes with this lifestyle, and I sort of hate myself a little for it.
I can’t really process exactly where I am in the city and which parts are okay to walk in at night.
I now know that everywhere in London is generally okay to walk in. It’s safe. There is crime, like anywhere in the world, crime is not non-existent. But it doesn’t consume you. It doesn’t dictate your life. It’s a small part of life, and I’m very lucky to be able to live without fear of crime… the way you’re supposed to live. I also now know the city like the back of my hand.
I checked in to the airbnb place and it was lovely. At this point, I had still not experienced proper London, the way most locals experience it.
I was so wrong about lots of things, including the definition of “proper London”. When I wrote that above I used to think that red telephone booths, the London Eye and Oxford Circus was proper London… the way the locals experience it. It’s not. That, my friends, is exactly what the locals try to avoid. Those places and things are packed with only tourists. Most Londoners don’t live in central London, they live further out, because it’s quieter, cheaper and has better restaurants/pubs/rooftop gardens/vibes that are not packed with selfie-stick holding tourists. I was so naive and positive when I wrote that line…. now I’m such an arsehole about going to those places. London definitely makes you meaner. I don’t like it.
On the way to the pink line I passed Hasty Tasty pizza, and even though I couldn’t even afford a bottle of water this week, I knew that one day I would need to try that amazing smelling pizza.
Oh you poor little peasant. Hasty Tasty pizza is grosse. Who even buys pizza at a fucking tube station? Piss off. Also, also.. can we have a minute to laugh at me for saying “the pink line”? What an idiot. (Do you see what I mean? Who the fuck am I?)
Everyone who’s been to London has told me about the stand on the right, walk on the left rule on escalators. What is so amazing is that everyone actually follows this rule. And people get really pissed off with you if you don’t follow it.
This is actually something I really admire. Coming from a country that’s basically wild west and no one follows the rules, it took me a while to grasp the concept that in order for a city (for anything) to work at its peak, the people have to follow the rules. It’s not a hard concept. I am incredibly embarrassed that where I’m from, we act like animals when we use the public transport.. and that’s partially the reason why it’s fucked. London is a public transportation dream – and it works because the people make it work. I’m not one of those idiots who’ve moved and will go on and say “Oh everything is just better here,” because that’s not true. But I want to say one thing, wherever you go in the world, please respect the system.
So I have no money, and no standards when it comes to food.
I still eat processed cheese on toast, that hasn’t changed. That weird map though, I don’t remember when was the last time I actually looked at it..because I’m now a pro at that underground thing.
Whut are you saying?
My accent has definitely changed. As a Capetonian I didn’t realise I had an accent. But when you cross borders, and everyone around you speaks differently because everyone has sort of come from somewhere to make it big in London, you start to hone in on your own accent. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS THE SOUTH AFRICAN ACCENT. They get the Kiwi accent; they get the Aussie accent… but the Saffa accent is just so hard to understand. At least my version of it. So when you’re around people every single day, and you want to connect to them, you start to use the same slang words they use and slowly you start to pronounce things the same way they do…. so that there’s no disconnect. So that you don’t stand out so obviously. So that no one repeats what you’ve just said, trying to mock your accent. I just wanted to blend in. All my life I wanted to be different, only to come here and want to be like everyone else.
The moment you step foot across the border – not for a holiday, not for a weekend break, for life – is the moment your whole world is turned upside down. And when you’re there picking up the pieces, that’s the moment when you realise how massive the world is.. and how tiny you and your problems are in perspective. I don’t know what my life will look like in the next few years, or where in the world I’d be.. but isn’t the prospect of knowing that you could pick any dot on the map so refreshingly exciting?
Life is not meant to be lived in one place. – Unknown Author