Experiencing London on a 2 year visa is one of the most popular ways for expats to land themselves in the UK. That’s exactly what today’s guest blogger did. In this Guest Post, we are handing over the reigns to Therese – an Aussie expat teacher coming to the end of her 2 year visa in London.
My time in London on a 2 year visa
After two great years, my London experience is sadly coming to an end. I’ve had a lot of opportunity to reflect on my time and experience (thanks, COVID) and I can say that every minute has been worth it! Even the gloomiest of days!
2 years ago I came over with my partner from Sydney, ready to embark on a new journey in our life. Feeling slightly anxious and overwhelmed with the uncertainties as anyone would, but following that little voice in your head. Well, in my case, my partner’s voice saying ‘If not now….when?’ over and over again.
You hear a lot of stories where Aussie teachers go to London to travel and take on Europe. I am one of them! It came in handy since only 4 days in, I was already being sent out to various schools to do casual teaching. It was a great chance to explore and get to know the city.
I soon realised that everywhere you went was like a new city each with its own quirks and uniqueness. One of my favourite things has been not knowing which food market to choose after a big night out. From artisan pastries, cheese and meats at Borough Market, to multicultural comfort food at Portobello and deep fried greasy goodness at Camden Markets.
Move to the right area for you
A handy piece of advice I got before I moved to London was to move to an area that’s close to your friends. Luckily, two of our closest friends were living in London so we went in search of flats nearby. I realise now how important this was and what a huge difference it made. London is so big, you can feel lost at times but knowing that you have friends around the corner has been such a comfort. Not to mention a big time saver for travelling across London.
Embrace the flat hunting
The hunt for a flat is a rollercoaster but take it as it comes and stay positive. Coming from Sydney, my partner and I lived on our own. The exorbitant rental prices of London meant we had to share a flat with other people which made me feel nervous. At first I thought it was so strange how potential flat mates wanted to meet up for coffee or go grab a drink. Now I realise it’s a great way to meet new people and to see if you actually get along before committing to live with complete strangers – at first, anyway.
Rejoice in that sunshine
I learnt that Londoners celebrate every little sun that peeps out. When I first arrived, I wondered why people were tanning in parks in 20 degree weather. In Sydney this would be weather approaching winter! Now I totally understand because I feel like I’ve worn a coat for most of the last 2 years. But when the sun does come out – it’s total bliss! From picnics in Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath, to rooftop drinks while watching the sun go down at 10pm. Make the most of it!
Get Cosy Over Christmas
There’s something ridiculously comforting about having a chilly, winter Christmas. Despite being used to a summer Christmas back home, the cosiness somehow makes you feel right at home. Walking around Carnaby and Oxford Circus is complete mayhem but the decorations and shop displays always put a smile on my face.
And yes – of course I had an English Christmas dinner party where Christmas jumpers were mandatory.
Travel, Travel, Travel!
Most importantly make the most of every opportunity to travel!
Being a full time teacher I couldn’t be as spontaneous as I would have liked to, so my travels needed a bit of planning. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up and always pick the holiday destinations where there’s beach, sun and party, and of course who could say no to that?! But being in London on a 2 year visa put a time limit on my experience. So it’s nice to be able to look back and say that I experienced different types of holidays with new adventures.
During my 2 years in London, I can happily tick off…
- Going on relaxing weekend breaks and roaming around cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Budapest – only 2 hrs away!!
- Summer trips to Portugal enjoying the crystal blue waters of Lagos.
- Hiring a campervan for a road trip around Iceland, exploring breathtaking waterfalls, mountains, glacier lagoons and black sand beaches.
- Learning to ski for the first time in the French Alps.
- Celebrating Christmas in another city. Ljubljana in Slovenia was quite unique and somewhere I didn’t expect to go.
- Finally, exploring different parts of England. I loved the English countryside and visiting picturesque, fairy tale-like villages such as Castle Combes in the Cotswolds.
If you’re a planner, make a list of all the places you want to see and work your way through them. I’d love to hear in the comments what you’ve ticked off your list.
When your time in London on a 2 year visa is up…
Growing up I always thought living in another city was a dream and something you always wish upon. The experiences I’ve had in London on a 2 year visa have made me discover so many new things about myself. I’ve always thought that change was something I found difficult to overcome. But this move has shown me that it takes a certain type of person to pack up their life and start again.
I feel more confident than ever and happy to look back and be proud of my accomplishments. Although I’ve really missed my family and friends in Sydney, I didn’t let it take over my London experience. I’m going to miss the wonderful opportunities London has to offer. Not to mention the joys of exploring a new country – or five – just 2 hrs away! After 2 years in London I’m sad to say goodbye, but ready to take on new thrilling adventures!
About the author: Therese is a teacher from Sydney, making the most of her 2-year stint in London. She loves spending time outdoors, bottomless brunching with friends, and exploring new cities around the world. Find out more on her blog Travel With Therese, or her Instagram accounts @theresequinon and @our360planet