Expats in London: Simona from Slovakia
Welcome to the new expats in London series! If you missed my last post ‘Goodbye 2017, Goodbye London’, my recent move to Paris means that this year, I really want to turn the focus back onto you.
A couple of months ago I put out an open invitation to all expat women on the London New Girl Facebook Group who are living in London. I wanted to hear your stories of life in London and I’ve been taken aback by the positive response from you guys so far! I’ve loved reading about everyone’s journeys, so please keep ’em coming.
If you want to get involved, keep on reading to find out how you can feature on London New Girl’s Expats in London series.
Today I wanted to share the story of 27 year old Simona, who moved to London from Slovakia just over four months ago. Simona isn’t a first time expat and living in China previously meant she knew what to expect from another move abroad.
“I like my country, so leaving was really hard but I love travelling as well and just can’t stay in one place for a long time” says Simona. Aside from her deep love of travel, London and cider, it was finding a university which ticked all the boxes that finally brought this recent graduate to London. After successfully securing herself a loan to study her masters, there was no stopping Simona from living out her Londoner dreams.
This is her story.
Preparing for the move
I moved here together with my boyfriend, as I wanted to study at university, so he decided to move here with me. The mutual agreement we came to was that both of us don’t really plan to go back to our country in upcoming years, so we were selling or throwing away all the things we didn’t want to take with us to London.
He was doing some additional certificates so that he could find a job here more easily. For me the biggest challenge was that one day before leaving I had to pass the final state exam at my university. So the weeks leading up to our move was stressing over exam, packing and had not really time to worry or stress about coming here.
I was excited about moving to London as it has always been my dream. I had to do all the important paperwork for the university, which was sometimes complicated. We prepared a plan – what to buy, what to prepare before leaving, so that everything would be smooth and not stressful. Two years ago I spent one year in China, so it wasn’t for me the first time moving abroad.
London has its challenges
The biggest challenge since I got here is to save at least some money. I love good food and in London there are so many great places where to go – from food markets to restaurants, and I want to try all the food. The only way how to overcome this struggle is to not to go out so often and cook at home 😀
Of course I miss my family and friends too, but luckily London is not as far as Beijing, so some of our friends already came for a visit and others plan to come. We also plan to go back home more often than once a year and time flies so quickly that you just get back here and not long after you pack again for another trip.
“The best thing about living in London is living in London”
I love London and British culture, except for the British weather, but it’s not that bad. In London, whatever you want, it’s here. Whatever you want to eat or drink, you will find a place where they serve it.
There’s an enormous number of museums, parks and places to go, you can never get bored. Some of them are free and if you don’t go there during the weekends when they’re overcrowded, you can spend there hours. You can go for a day trip and not even leave London 😀
We’ve also gone on different walking tours with interesting topics about London, such as Jack the Ripper or Sweeney Todd. With wonderful tour guides we visited places in London we would never go on our own.
And I really love the mixture of people living here, you can meet so many inspiring people with different stories.
And I love cider!
If I could do one thing differently…
Before moving here, I would have saved even more money as it’s true, life in London is expensive. I come from a country where the housing, transport and going out is much cheaper than in London. I worked before coming here, and also with the financial help from my family I came to London with a decent budget.
But the beginnings are costly no matter where in the world you move, and that’s the same about London. On the whole, I would say we managed the preparation before moving here quite well so there are no big regrets.
Do I want to stay in London forever?
This is the question my family and friends asked me before moving here. I am definitely staying until finishing my studies next September. And as my boyfriend is here with me, the only reason for me now moving back would be my family and friends. But we try to go back for at least one weekend every three months, so it is not that bad.
I love London and don’t see myself to be moving from here to any other city in the UK. Both of us are really happy here and if I manage to find a job for me, we are staying.
I would like to live in Asia again, but nothing has been decided yet. So what I’m doing now is that I’m enjoying my life in London and later I will see.
If you want to move to London, you have to go for it!
It will be difficult at the beginning, but it’s difficult everywhere. It’ll take you some time, but hold on and don’t just run away, it will get better after some time and you will be proud of yourself afterwards.
Try to save as much money as possible, it will make your beginnings here more smooth. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, even through London New Girl, we all have been through this 🙂
What I really enjoy is the subscription for Londonist or Timeout London, they regularly send you emails about what’s going on in the city (exhibitions, pop-up food markets, interesting places, etc.) and I suggest to check the deals on Groupon, some of them are really worth it.
If you only have 24 hours in London, you can’t miss…
- Skygarden – Even though this is rather touristy, it has an amazing view and if you walk around the area, you’ll find there the ruins of a church, which is magical in any time of the year.
- London Bridge – the most beautiful bridge ever
- Big Ben – there’s a small coffee place by the river so you can enjoy your cup of coffee or a delicious cake while looking at the Parliament
- Pop into a museum – try the Natural History Museum, National Portrait Gallery or the National Gallery
- Grab some ramen – I am a vegetarian and love Asian cuisine, so I would suggest a great ramen in Shoryu or Wagamama
- Finish with a good pint of beer or cider at a bar in Soho
That wraps our very first expats in London feature. A huge thanks to Simona for sharing her London experience with us all. If you want to stay updated on what’s next for Simona, you can find her on Instagram @cukrova_vata
Finally, if you want to be featured on London New Girl, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll email you back a set of questions and we’ll go from there. The more the merrier so please don’t be shy!
Don’t forget to drop any questions or comments you may have for Simona (or for me) below.