This week I’ve reached a milestone of 100,000 views on my blog! I’m so happy to read everyone’s lovely messages each day and I especially love hearing how useful you all find my site. Seeing how excited other people are about moving to London makes it all worth it and motivates me to keep writing as much as possible.
So, to celebrate 100,000 views on LondonNewGirl.com (noticed the fancy new URL?), I considered writing 100,000 things that I’ve learned since moving to London (there’s probably that many of them), but thought it best just to stick to the top 10…
1) Take some risks
They’ll pay off one way or another. Don’t be scared of failure. This is one of the best opportunities in your life to just really go for it and have no regrets! Just think – what’s the worst that can happen? Having to return home and live with your parents and avoid stepping out socially in fear of being judged as a failure (which you’re not)? There are many worse things in life than that, it’s better to try than to have regrets for the rest of your life. Taking big risks leads to the kind of opportunities you would never even dream of and this is the best time to try!
2) Always choose experience over money
I wish someone had really drilled this thought into my brain before I decided to spend 4 years and a ridiculous amount of HECS money (which I still owe the Australian government – hello if you’re reading this tax man) on a Commerce course where I majored in finance, financial planning and international business. Because all that every kid ever dreams of becoming is a financial planner, right? I completely understand why my mum got the idea in my head, she wanted me to be successful and have lots of money, but I just sometimes wish it didn’t take 4 years of study and 3 years in the workforce for me to figure out that it wasn’t what I wanted for myself. Still, no regrets. It has all gotten me to where I am today, and I appreciate my career, creativity and life so much more now, knowing what it could have been had I not taken that massive leap of faith (see point #1) and just gone for it. Do what makes you happy, what you’re amazing at and what you love, then the money will follow (or it won’t, but at least you’ll be happy!).
3) Be prepared to work hard
I’ve always had a good work ethic, working since I was 14 years old (she works haaaard for the money) and saving since I was about 5, which my big sister often took advantage of (hi sis if you’re reading, it’s OK I still love you). But in spite of this, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more motivated and excited to build a career for myself as I have in London. I’m finding inspiration in so many things and I think that moving abroad can really trigger something in our minds that helps us get a better idea of what we want out of our lives. I’ve reprioritised my life and it feels really good to sort of know what I want, for now anyway.
4) Home sickness strikes when you least expect it
This is a particularly tough one to learn, in fact I don’t think there’s ever an easy way to learn about home sickness. Moving abroad to a place where my sister was co-inhabiting and my extended family was a short 2 hour flight away, you would think that I would be completely at ease with life and never get caught up with the home sickness issue. How very wrong I was. My boyfriend, on the other hand, who has no family here and has never spent any significant time in Europe before other than our whirlwind 3 month backpacking trip, feels completely fine. Although I can see how much it’s killing him that he hasn’t seen his family in 2 years, he doesn’t get the crazy mood swings or throw the ‘That’s it, I’ve had enough of this shit,’ tantrums (ahem – for the record, that’s an example and totally never happens to me…)
5) Weekend trips abroad are tiring but worth it
They’re actually really tiring. It’s one of those dreams that you have when you move to London that Europe will be your oyster. You can pop into Spain for a night or two in the winter to get some sun, or have a hiking weekend in Switzerland. These are still awesome ideas, but firstly, Friday night and Saturday morning flights are normally so expensive that it’s almost-never worth the trip just for one or two nights. Secondly, airports are reaaaaally tiring and take up a lot of time – travelling to and from, waiting, security scans, more waiting… Thirdly, coming home on a Sunday night after what is most probably a delayed flight and an expensive cab ride or exhausting public transport adventure home, you’ll be like a zombie at work for the whole next week, counting down the hours until the weekend when you will undoubtedly want to do nothing more than lie on the couch and catch up on lost sleep. Not quite as glamorous as I always imagined, but I still wouldn’t trade it in for the world! In 10 years time I won’t look back and think of how tired I was at work that one week in June or how broke I was for the two weeks following, I’ll remember the amazing weekend that I spent exploring Italy, drinking delicious wine and filling my belly with amazing local cuisine!
6) The worry of never truly belonging in any one place again
There are too many things that I love here. Too many things I love back home. Too many things I love in Poland. When I think about moving back to Australia, I stress out at the thought of all the London things that I just can’t live without anymore. When I think about staying in London forever, I can’t imagine living without the things I miss about Australia. I just need to embrace the fact that I feel like a child of the world and try to incorporate all my favourite factors from every place I love into my everyday living, no matter where I end up.
7) Settling in takes time
It’s not easy to feel happy and comfortable when you first move to the other side of the world. After the initial craziness and emotional high wears off, you feel a bit lost for a while. It took me around 9 months to really settle in, make some great friends, build a support network around me, build stronger relationships at work (those Brits can be tough nuts to crack), learn my way around the city and make some real headway in my career. If there’s one piece of advice I can give you it’s to give yourself time and don’t be hard on yourself if everything doesn’t fall into place right away. Enjoy the process and it will all happen when it’s meant to.
8) Learn to say yes
When you first arrive you’ll be a little like a deer in the headlights. There’s so much new information to take in and digest that it can get a little overwhelming at times. No matter how uncomfortable or awkward you may feel, just learn to say yes to things! Whether it be meeting an old acquaintance that you barely know for a drink, applying for a job you think is out of your norm, or looking at a flat to rent in an area that you haven’t considered before. When you’re in a new, strange city where you don’t know anyone, there’s nothing else you can do but embrace the fact that you’re completely outside of your comfort zone and go with it. After all, that’s where all the magic happens.
9) Making new friends is like dating
I’ve been (happily) out of the dating game for quite a while now and trying to create a new network of friends can be a never-ending struggle. Much in the same way that you look for a suitable partner, finding suitable friends can be just as tough. Do you have things in common? Do you enjoy the same things? Then someone has to make the first move – should you text them? Is it too early to suggest a one-on-one friend date? Should you introduce them to your other friends? It’s easy to make friends in general – you know, the ones you meet every now and then for a catch up, but taking friendships to that next level where you can really let go and be yourself is not easy. Real friendships are hard to come by but priceless when you find them. The only way to do it is to put it all out there. We’re all living in the same city for a reason and most of us are in the same boat – that’s already a great starting point.
10) You only get out what you put in
Yes, I’m aware that I’ve just completely ripped off the Nutri-Grain slogan. Who knew that such a delicious, sugary cereal trying to pass itself off as healthy could be so wise? So many people move to London only to realise that they’re not happy and leave again. That’s completely OK. The main point is that they gave it a shot in the first place. The key thing to learn is that you can move anywhere in the world and be unhappy if you don’t make the effort. You need to be committed to making a life change, put yourself out there, immerse yourself in your new city, make every effort to go out and try new things and meet new people – if you sit around and moan about all the negative aspects of your new life then you’ll never be happy anywhere you go, it’s as simple as that. You don’t need expensive clothes, a beautiful flat or a perfect partner to be happy – you have to start with yourself and do what makes you happy before you focus on anything or anyone else. Change can be the best thing that’s ever happened to you, don’t be afraid of it, welcome it!