Well now that I have almost been in London a year, I thought a little post about all the differences I have had to adapt to in that time, would be fun. Note, I say London instead of the UK as I firmly believe London lives by its own rules and is not a representation of all things UK.
There are a lot of things that are different here. Mostly little changes or adaptaions that I would never have expected, and ones you don’t realize how much you valued until its gone. Like tumble dryers…anyway here is a little list in no particular order.
Grocery shopping: Every country I visit I love visiting local supermarkets, just to see how different it is and the different things they offer. The U.K did not not disappoint. I feel like I rock my weekly shop now, but the first few weeks proved to be a challenge and a ques tit seemed. Items are just placed different here, like eggs are on the shelf not in the older. I can buy my wine with my dinner. There is a big focus on “ready meals” and pre spared things, such as mash potatoes or roasted vegetables. Anything to save time really. I purchase these items quite a bit, as I find myself without my typical kitchen gadgets to its convienient it to just be able to pop some spices and prepared veg into the oven, and so far everything has tasted good and fresh. The big name stores, like Sainsburys and Asda seem to be in constant competition with eachother, so if you buy at one and it was cheaper at the other, they will give you a voucher for the difference.
Dining Out: The biggest point here is knowing the difference between being in a pub and a restaurant. If you are in a pub, go to the bar to order your food. Restaurants are where you will get table service. Tipping is not pushed here as much as it is in North America. You have to ask for the bill, even if it’s been an hour since your table was cleared, you still have to ask. A server will not assume you want it. Ever. (Well at least in my experiences in the past year) Lastly, it’s not take out, it’s take away.
Wrong Side of the Road: Ofcourse probably the biggest well known difference is that they drive on the wrong or should I say, right side of the road 😛 This took about a month to get used to, and many embrassing moments. However now it is just part of my normal life and I get very confused when I travel to Europe. On the topic of roads, another difference is that drivers rule the road here. Pedestrian ions really have no rights, even when it comes to the green man walking sign. We all just hope to cross to the other side without being pancaked. I am still learning on that one – sometimes I forget where I am, and I cross the street assuming that the car will stop for me, until it almost clips me that is.
Fashion: Everyone is coordinated and dressed nice. I think Londoners are born with a certain fashionista gene. I constantly feel like the black sheep when walking around. I hardly ever see anyone dressed down or in lounging clothes. I just do not have what it takes to get that London look. But that is ok, I love admiring all the fashion and how even when they are working out, Londoners look their best. Maybe I will be able to take some of it with me when I go home.
Hard Water Quality: I have been told this is very much a London thing, and I consider it a treat for my hair when I shower abroad in Europe and such. To explain a bit better, within a few weeks of being here I noticed my hair was losing is ouster, shine and silky feeling. I asked around and the answer seemed to be the London water quality is quite hard, and to get used to it basically. But not to fear, I was recommended a revitalizing and moisturizing shampoo and conditioner brand, Aussie Rules which fixes my hair almost right up!
Transportation: Mostly about The TUBE. As a tourist, you think it is the best invention ever. However when it becomes apart of your daily commute, it becomes your own little personal hell. Despite the convenience, I dread every second spent underground, smushed into people’s backs with another persons elbow in my face while you are sweating, and breathing stale air. Then comes summer, with no air conditioning on the Northern Line, and it brings hell to a whole new level.And yet, it is just a part of your life here. Coming from a country where driving is a must in some cases, to one where the city runs on public transit, was an adjustment. In this case, a good one. As much as I complain about it, I love knowing that the tube or a bus will take me anywhere in the city, at anytime.
Daily Schedule: Things happen later here. Work starts 9-10, instead of 8-9. Lunch time? 2 instead of 12. Dinner? 7-8 Instead of 5-6. Going out dancing? Don’t even think about showing up at the club until half past 11. I still have not adapted to this one, my stomach rules my time so if it says I must eat at 12, then eat at 12 I must.
Language: Despite the language being English, there is still enough of a difference in slang and pronouciation between Canadian English and British English, enough to cause communication issues on some days. Like that time I referred to a “period” in the context of pronouciation, and caused an outcry in my office. No, it is a full stop here, full stop. What is even up with that phrase? Or that time I ordered a pizza with courgetes on it, thinking I was going to get some exotic topping and it was zucchini – who decided to change the name when they came over to North America? Anyway, the is difference is a cause of constant amusement for me. I love the new words I have picked up like : jumper, keen, knackered. Jut to name a few. I also love befuddling my co workers when they ask me to get something or do something and I respond with a blank strea or vice versa. Needless to slay, this is one difference I enjoy!
Online Shopping : Literally everything is available to be purchased online, and can even be delivered within a couple hours in some cases. You can shop online everywhere and for everything, even Christmas trees! While online shopping is available back home, I had never seen anything to this extent. Many of my friends and colleagues never step into a store, from their groceries,household items to clothes, all of it is done with click and deliver or click and collect. I found this very convenient but not nearly as much fun as going shopping for some of these things, like clothes . However I will admit that on days I want to avoid the crowds, click and collect becomes my friend.
It has been a non stop roller coaster adapting to all these differences. Some of them are great and I will miss in Canada, like being able to buy everything online and for the most part, the differences are a source of amusement. We spend so much time in our little bubbles that we do not even fathom how another country could be so fastly difference. But it is. However at times, it has been tough when you just want the comfort of something being the same and even just a simple thing as not being able to find crackers in a store has brought me to a breaking point but ultimately it has been worth every second. All apart of that #LondonLife that I would not trade experiencing for anything.
– xoxo Veronica