I’ll never forget the day I moved to London. September 21st, 2009. Lazy, procrastinating me — who had always somehow managed to scrape through from sheer last-minute will — tossing clothes out of my two huge suitcases in the middle of my parent’s garage as my mother reversed the car down the driveway. Bathroom scales beside me as I tried to make sure my bags fit the flying weight limit. (It was 70 lbs back then. To put into context. WTF was I even bringing?!).
Needless to say, my year-long move was not really something I had planned as a permanent life in London. My Master’s degree waited — and a 3-day hostel booking — and that’s all. No expectant friends, no waiting abode — nothing, except my drive to live abroad and do something different.
Over the past eight years, I’ve been asked two questions on repeat: “Did you plan on staying in the UK this long? Were you scared, making the move?” To which I always say the same thing: “If I had known that I will still be living in London, 8 years later, I probably never would have gotten on that plane.
These are the first two pictures of me taken after my big move to London in 2009. Thank goodness for Facebook.
It’s a funny thing, making a change. I’ve written before about how — even when it seems so insurmountable, like a faraway dream — change is possible with that first, tiny step. And when you do that step (like booking a space for a Master’s degree and not even thinking about applying for jobs back home), change takes hold, swiftly, without even a conscious thought.
I never intended to stay here for this long. To make a life in London. Frankly, I hadn’t given my future past ‘Master’s Degree 1 year later’ much of a thought. But — as all good stories go — I met a guy, I didn’t know what to do back at home, and I really, really didn’t want to leave. And so I stayed, thanks to visas and finally nailing a ‘career job’ that allowed me to stay.
And now, 8 years, 8 flats, 26-countries-visited and 1 husband later, I’m pinching myself that I get to call London my home. The place where I met Stag, where I discovered my love of travel, of food, of good coffee and of blogging. Where I became the person I had always wanted to be, but didn’t know who that was or how I could get there.
I’ll be forever thankful to my 21-year-old-self for not looking too far ahead, and for getting on that plane.
To celebrate my 8 years in London, this month I’ll be writing posts all about London and the UK. From my favourite bloody marys in the city and hidden gardens, to my recent trip to Wales and some favourite London brands, expect all things oh-so-very British here on Wolf & Stag.
Most of all, I’d love to get your feedback: things I’ve missed, tips and thoughts on not just London, but on living as an expat. Get in touch, and share your story!
My life in London (and in Europe), 8 Years On: Some of my Favourite Memories
Hiking up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh (moments later I was caught in a freak blizzard). c. April 2012
- That time I got stuck in a freak 20-minute blizzard (in April!) on top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh
- Getting to (pretend) row a Viking longboat in Oslo
- Pouring and tasting my very first Guinness in Dublin
- Hosting a Thanksgiving meal for the first time in 2009 (and every year since)
- Donning an actual fascinator, like a proper British lady, at Royal Ascot
- Crying my eyes out upon seeing the Beowulf manuscript at the British Library
- Being covered with colour (and soaked to the bone!) at a Holi Festival
- Getting to spend one glorious month with my older sister, Hale — after not seeing each other for 4 years — and our epic trip to Vienna, Budapest, Copenhagen and Berlin
- My very first trip to Paris and the first time I had ever dined alone — the definitive moment of when I felt comfortable in my own skin
- That time I got to do a proper ‘smize’ with Oscar Wilde in Dublin
- Feasting my eyes on the medieval Mappa Mundi (former Medieval scholar over here!) at Hereford Cathedral
- Finding the famed ‘Fountain of Youth’ from Arthurian legend in Brittany, France, and learning it’s mostly just a cesspool of dysentery
- Marrying the love, heart, soul and food companion of my life at Islington Town Hall
- Seeing the UK and Ireland in the clouds. While in Ireland.
- Moving roughly 8 times in 8 years in London… JK because that was THE WORST.
What are some of your favourite travel memories? Expats: can you relate to this post? How long have you been making your new city home?