Going forward, I’m hoping to post about once a week on my life here in London – so stay tuned and I hope you enjoy reading!
It’s been a whirlwind since I got to London about a week ago. My first few days I stayed somewhere temporarily as I set up the basics for my flat (which came furnished, but lacked kitchen supplies and bedding). I was able to meet up with two friends who I met when I was here interviewing so that was nice as well.
As with any move, the first week – especially in a new housing situation and a new job can feel overwhelming, and that has definitely been the case in some areas.
I’m so far loving my new job. While my first few days were non-stop getting my computer set up and having a lot of introductory meetings, things have slowed down a little (or I’ve just gotten used to it?) and I am relaxing a bit more. I’m working for Sytel Reply, which is a company that does consulting for IT/telecoms/media industries. One of the main clients, whom we have several projects with, is Vodafone, so I will likely be engaging with them the most in the future. My colleagues have all been very friendly and welcoming, and since a fair portion of the company’s employees are from other countries as well (mostly France and Italy), I don’t feel like as much like an outsider. They also have social networking/career advancement activities like Toastmasters, and happy hours here and there, which I’m looking forward to participating in where I can.
I moved to an area of North London called Stoke Newington, with the closest train stop to me being Canonbury. I absolutely love the area so far. There’s not many chain stores; instead its filled with cute cafes, various ethic cuisines, pubs, parks, small supermarkets, and thrift stores. I can walk to a variety of places, and so far I’ve only scratched the surface of what is around me! The area feels very safe, even walking around at night, and there’s a great mix of families, singles, and everything in between. I’m also about a mile from Arsenal stadium which is exciting, although it’s incredibly hard to get a ticket! It’s about 35 minutes to work (about 15 minutes walking, and 15-20 minutes on the tube). The commute itself is not too bad especially now that I’ve gotten in a routine, but rush hour here is real and it basically means that there’s a lot of people on the train with you during those times.
While I love the flat I rented itself, getting it set up has been more difficult than expected. My gas runs on a meter, which is in the grocery store below my flat, and to fill it up I needed a gas card, which I didn’t have (think of like a Metro smart card, but for gas). I had to order one from British Gas which is now on the way, but it basically has meant either cold showers, or showers at work this week and no use of my stove or oven. I also am in the process of opening a bank account here (an adventure of its own; very specific documentation is required), but until that is opened, I also can’t get Wifi in the flat. It’s been a bit frustrating and stressful because I was hoping I could get these things settled earlier, but it’s all just part of the transition I suppose.
It’s also definitely been an adjustment to not have my family close by; my parents and I decided for the time being that it would be better for Markie to stay in the US to finish his school year. He is coming to visit in two weeks with my mom, and I’m so excited to have their company (I’ll also be visiting the US in May). It can be a bit lonely to go from having a large, amazing group of close friends to only knowing a few people in a large city. I’m so thankful for the technologies available that allow me to keep in touch with friends and family at home.
Lastly, I have some exciting adventures coming up in the next two weekends. This Sunday I signed up to do Meetup hiking trip in the Sussex countryside of England; I think the countryside should be beautiful and hopefully I can meet some new people while getting in a workout. I also booked a weekend trip, Friday night to Sunday afternoon, to Wales next weekend, so I’m looking forward to adding another country to the list.