Welcome to London

I’m a Kiwi who lives in London. So does EVERYONE else. Sometimes this makes life interesting.

London is a mad dichotomy of experiences.

I can imagine feeling lonely here in the impersonal rush of the commute, where I’ve had more than one person describe eye-contact on the tube as a mortal sin in danger of a stabbing, and shop assistants haven’t yet mastered the art of speech. Yet I find the possibility of all-manner of chance encounters exhilarating, relish the fact that I never have to run into ex-boyfriends, and the folks at the local sandwich shop know my name and coffee order.

People are horrible and inconsiderate and DON’T KNOW HOW TO WALK PROPERLY, don’t care where you’re from, and won’t apologies for smashing into you. And yet I’ve seen small kindnesses every day – helping up stairs with prams and suitcases, offering up seats, running after someone with a dropped jacket – and somehow made friends with people that I now adore who kindly pretended to be my pals one day to shake an overly-enthusiastic madman.

It is a sprawling mess of city, difficult to comprehend as a whole picture, and it is often astounding how many hours in a day you can manage to spend underground. But the impressive (if temperamental) tube and bus network connects so much of the city relatively directly, so even if it takes some time, everywhere is accessible and so anything is doable. As an added bonus, the commute offers the chance to catch up on listening pleasures, flaunt a pretentious book, pretend to be asleep, or just zone out in the exam-like time warp as stops from the Monopoly board flash past.

In fact, London is a hydra-headed monster – every time something becomes clear and easy, a new weirdness and richness emerges. That’s why I started trying to write things down when they were still new and weird and noticeable, because I realised I was turning into this eclectic concept of a ‘Londoner’, and that meant my eyes were dulled to the extremes and the details.

And so this is here to remind me, as a pseudo journal, a chance to play with words and websites, and as a poor substitute for all the emails I haven’t been writing to New Zealand. I also hope to at least occasionally write or link to things that are helpful for other ex-pats making the massive leap across the world… even if it’s just to show that everything will, very quickly, become normal and London will become home.

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