So, you’re taking the leap and going to London. Whether you’re making the move to the UK or planning on staying temporarily, traveling to one of the world’s largest cities is a big deal.
The culture, language, and style is unlike anything you will ever see. Even though it’s known for being the ‘loneliest city in the world’, you’ll find yourself constantly surrounded by people.
When I arrived at Heathrow Airport four weeks ago, I had never experienced culture shock like I did the moment I stepped off of the plane. Having lived in America my entire life, nothing could have prepared me for this experience.
I wish someone could have given me a heads up about how Londoners feel about escalators, but learning new things on your own is a part of the traveling experience. Naturally, my knowledge of this new lifestyle has vastly grown within these last few weeks.
With that being said, I’d like to pass my new wisdom along to those who are about to begin their London adventure.
Here are some things that will be helpful to you upon your arrival in London:
- When a local asks you, “You alright?” they’re not implying that you look sad. It’s just their way of asking, “How are you?”
- I meant what I said earlier about escalators. Londoners are very particular about which side to stand on when they’re riding one. Always stand on the right side of the escalator, but if you’re in a rush and don’t want to wait until the end, walk to the left side. Keep it moving, though, if you choose the left side, because that lane is reserved for those who are in the same hurry as you.
- Saying “Cheers” at the end of a sentence might seem odd if you’re not toasting with champagne, but it’s common to hear that from the locals. It’s their way of saying, “Thank you”.
- “Train” is “tube”.
- If you’re going to rely on public transportation, be prepared to get very close with strangers on the the tube. Between the hours of 6:00 AM and 9:00 AM, and in between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM, personal space doesn’t exist. Everyone is going in the same direction and it can get quite crushed.
- Memorize your postcode like the back of your hand, because Londoners don’t pay attention to addresses. There can be two of the exact same addresses, but different postcodes.
- By the way, “zipcodes” are called “postcodes”.
- If someone doesn’t say hello to you, that’s okay. In America, I feel like we’re accustomed to always greeting people. However, in London, greeting isn’t really a thing. It’s not them being rude, so don’t take it personally. It’s a very busy city and everyone is simply focused on what they’re doing.
- “Cents” is “pence”.
- London Bridge isn’t the one you imagine it to be. The heavily advertised one that you think is London Bridge (you know the one) is actually named Tower Bridge.
There you have it! My top ten guidelines for surviving your first few weeks in London.
Needless to say, there are many other cultural differences between America and the UK; I still have so much more to learn. Hopefully this list gives you some idea of what to expect, but you’ll figure it out as you go. Have fun and enjoy the ride, because it will be over before you know it.