Ever since I was a kid , I was fascinated with London. Little did I know fast forward 2001 ,I would be living and working in London Town. Every good story starts somewhere and mine started at my first teaching job in Ixopo at an English Styled Boarding school. After 10 months of living and working in this little small town , this city girl became bored and needed an adventure. And London was to be the start of my adventure.
Relocating is not an overnight decision and there is a lot of preparation needed. So today I am sharing my experience along with tips on this process.
Before you leave …
This is so much to do and it is very stressful. Here is a list of some of what you need to do :
- Terminate mobile phone contracts and all other accounts including store cards.
- Sort out visa application, this can take months and costs a lot.
- Travel insurance.
- Write a will.
- Look for a job on the other side.Register with several agencies online most will do a phone or Skype interview.
- Sell what you do not need ,you will need the extra cash for the first few months of setting up in your new home.
- Buy suitable clothing especially if you are going into a country that is currently in winter.
- Get chest x-rays done some countries this is a requirement.
- Get at least 6 months supplies of any medication you take including a note from your Doctor.
- Look for accommodation on the other side or you might be lucky and have a friend there to crash on their couch.
After getting all this I was ready to start my new adventure as an adult. Goodbyes are the hardest. I cried like a baby on the plane for an hour. I was fortunate that I had both a place and job to go to when I got to London. But this was just the start of everything else I needed to know.
The grass is not always greener on the other side…
But I do LOVE London…
I had to learn to find my way to work and back on my own and using Public Transport. Never having used public transport I was nervous and got lost a few times. Navigating the London Underground system can be nerve wrecking with all the different lines. Everyone uses the Tubes and Buses and at peak times it can get very crowded.
1.Always carry an Underground map.
2. Ask for help.
3. Pick up a free newspaper at the station or carry a book to read as everyone reads on the journey.
4. If you miss you station do not panic but instead get off at the next station and go back to the right station.
5. Buy a weekly or monthly travel card saves you a lot of money in the long run.
The first six months are the hardest. Everything is new and different to what you know. Things do become easier as you get busy with work and making friends. I used to do weekly calls home the first few weeks I was all happy and then reality sunken in just how far away from home I was. I realised I needed to make friends and explore my new home.
- Make friends at work. Go to the pub after work and socialize even if you do not drink.
- Explore every weekend your new city.
- Keep in touch with loved ones back home.Technology these days make it so much easier.
- Find out where the places of worship are .These communities have activities happening all the time so get involved.
Sick and need to see a Doctor
In South Africa when one is sick you literally just pitch up at the Doctor’s room and await your turn. The only time you need an appointment is if it is to see a specialist Doctor. But in the UK it is different and one needs to call in advance and sometimes your appointment is only in a week or two’s time. This is rather frustrating and I often said “I might be dead then!”
- If you are really sick go to the hospital walk in centre. You might have to wait for a few hours but you will be seen. Get a friend to go with you.
- Ask a pharmacist for over the counter medication.
- Keep a First Aid kit of basics like lozengers ,pain meds and cough syrup.
- For all your “lady needs” there are clinics in every area which open either in the morning or evening. Appointments are fairly easy to get and a Sister will see to you.
We often take for granted home cooked meals and products we get at home. But when we move we miss things we never even eat.
- Find speciality shops from home. They can be expensive but treat your self now and again.
- Look for online shops these can be cheaper.
- Get friends and family to send you a care package of your favourite treats.
- Ask Mum to compile a recipe book for you with all your favourite dishes that she makes.
- Look for eateries which make food from home.
The Truth about Relocating
- Adulting sucks there is so much you need to do that I found it very hard at first.
- I had to learn to clean and keep house without having any Domestic Help now this is something I never did.
- Shopping for groceries and not only treats. And then having to pack my own groceries and travel on a bus home with it. No need for gym here lol.
- Budgeting ! making sure that each month I have enough money to pay all my bills and save some for travelling.
- When you are sick and there is no mum to look after you!
- Special days like Birthdays and Christmas when you miss home even more.
When you live away for any period of time it gives you a totally different perspective on life and it does infact change you forever.
- You become independent and can look after yourself.
- You enjoy your own company and most importantly you are comfortable been on your own.
- You live life on your terms.
- Travelling and exploring becomes almost second nature.
- You become less fussy about what you eat.
- You become a stronger person emotionally and confident about yourself.
- You find things to keep you busy like keeping fit ,reading and doing community work.
- You value family and friends.
- Appreciate the kindness of strangers.
- You learn to save for a “Rainy Day”
With all things good there are some bad but overall living away from home is an opportunity every person should try atleast once in their lifetime. London for me was where I became an adult and learnt the true meaning of Adulting. Besides all the amazing lessons learnt from relocation the biggest was the opportunity to travel and explore the world something that I would not have done extensively if I stayed home.
Would you ever consider relocating and to where ? Have you relocated ?
Be Inspired !