What I’ve Learnt Living in London for One Whole Year

One Year in London

Today, the 24th of June, marks the one year anniversary of my move to London. I’ve been here 12 whole months. 365 days. To say a lot has happened in those 12 months would be an understatement. I can most definitely say that it’s been the best year of my life and it was everything I dreamed my life would be like when I was young – only I never expected it to be a reality, especially at 20 years of age.

I’ll be doing a post about the highlights of my placement year next month when it’s all over, but in this post I’m going to talk about everything I’ve learnt about London in the past year that I’ve been living here.

London is HUGE

I knew this before I moved here and it’s something everyone says about London but I don’t think you realise the actual size until you live here. It’s been 12 months and I haven’t seen all of London yet.

If I was to travel from Wimbledon to Greenwich, it would take me well over an hour yet the two are still classed as areas of London. But you don’t think twice about going because you hop on a tube and away you go.

I’ve tried to see as many places as I can and I have seen and been in quite a lot of boroughs. There’s 32 by the way, just like the number of counties in Ireland – only this is only one city we’re talking about… From Croydon to Shoreditch and Merton to Camden, I’ve been there and most places in-between.

Probably my favourite areas of London to visit would be Brixton, Clapham, Notting Hill, Chelsea, Greenwich and Southbank. I may do a post on my favourite areas of London at a later date, and what makes them so great.

You’ll never see and do EVERYTHING

There’s so much to do in London that it can get quite overwhelming. There’s also this silent pressure that you feel like you should always be doing something. God forbid you want to lay in bed all day on a Sunday – you’ll constantly have this nagging voice saying ‘Do you know where you live?!’ ‘There is so much to see and do and you’re lying in bed?!’ But some days you need time to chill and do nothing – right? Why should I feel so guilty for it?

I like to think that I’ve seen and experienced a lot during my time in London and I’ve done as man touristy things as possible; Borough Market, Portobello Road Market, The Shard, Sky Garden, a boat cruise along the Thames, ten West End shows, the Piccadilly Lights (a favourite) and so many more cliché things like cycling through Hyde Park and around Buckingham Palace and seeing the coloured houses in Notting Hill.

Obviously there are still many things that I would like to see and do in London but I still have one more month left and I’m pretty sure this will not be my last time visiting or living in London. So there is still plenty of time to finish my London Bucket List.

London

It can be a lonely place sometimes

No matter where you are, when you live away from home, from your family and friends, there are times when it can get really lonely. I was quite apprehensive about writing this part as I’m quite a proud person and would hate for anyone to think I was having a bad time or feel any kind of pity for me.

You would never think from any of my Instagram posts or stories that I’m feeling homesick or down, but that’s the thing about Instagram; it shows all of our best bits and our best moments. You assume that everyone’s having the best time, living their best lives but that’s never the case behind someone’s profile. This is something you always need to remember the next time you’re scrolling through your feed and it seems like everyone has their life together, the best social life, the best body, the best wardrobe, the perfect life – none of this exists. Everyone has their bad days and it’s ok to talk about them.

I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I wrote this post and said London was the best thing ever and I was living my best life and I had nothing negative to say – that wouldn’t be real.

I would be lying if I said I never missed home. Of course I do. I came to London not knowing a single person and it was probably the most daunting thing I’ve ever done (full post about that here). I made friends, but nothing on par to the social circle I had in Liverpool. But this wasn’t uni, I was here to work and be a full-time adult.

I’ve lost count of the number of times my mum has visited or friends from home and uni. But there’s really nothing that beats seeing a familiar face. I don’t go home that often, maybe three or four times a year because the good times I have here in London and Liverpool always outweigh the bad and lonely times.

When you do get that rare time that you question why you’re living away from home, if you’ll ever settle or fit in, just think of the reasons why you’re there and why you’re not at home. Remember your purpose and end goal. You can do this and you’re never truly alone.

It really is ‘Celebrity City’

Years ago on Twitter, people used to say, ‘If I want to meet a celebrity I’ll just go to London,’ and they got scoffed at with replies like, ‘Do you know how big London is?’ and ‘There aren’t just celebrities walking about all the time!’ – which I also agreed with as I had only visited once and didn’t see a single celebrity anywhere.

But my word… I have never in my life seen as many celebrities than I have in the past 12 months. I take back what I said. If you want to see a celebrity, go to London. And they really are just walking the streets.

For example, Noel Fielding walked past me when I was having breakfast in Soho, Nick Clegg said ‘hello’ to me in Somerset House, Myleene Klass was stood across the street from me waiting for an Uber and Ed Westwick turned up to the opening of a pop-up Nasty Gal store that I was also at – one of the best moments of my life.

I came to London with the hopes of catching a glimpse of maybe one celebrity but with all the work events I’ve been to (the time I sat at a table opposite Dan Edgar and locked eyes while we were eating so was basically our first date even though we were in a room full of 100 people) and after-parties (when I fist-bumped Craig David and said ‘Hey’ to Labyrinth – big mates) and movie premieres (the entire cast of Black Panther, not to mention sitting among the celebrities in attendance) and just in everyday life (in the same tube carriage as Tom Daley and Chloe Meadows from TOWIE – on separate occasions), I’ve lost count.

Although this may sound shallow, being around so many celebrities is definitely one of the things I’ll miss most about living in London.

Black Panther Premiere

The anonymity is hard to get used to

One thing I have spoken about a lot when it comes to telling people about living in London, is how anonymous the city is. It’s one of the things I dislike but can sometimes be a good thing.

Because there are so many residents, tourists, nationalities, languages and areas of London, it’s constantly busy. At times it can be overwhelming. The anonymity also enhances how lonely it can be as there are so many people going about their daily lives, you feel like a ghost walking among them because no one knows you at all. I tend to avoid central London on weekends and especially during rush hour, as I hate how busy it can get. Plus when it comes to the tube, forget your manners – it’s every man (or woman) for themselves. As we learnt when Tara got left behind on the platform and we watched the tube doors close in her face. Not something we’ll forget in a hurry.

Another thing about London is that it never feels homely. No matter how long I live in London, whether right now or in the future, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to call it ‘home’. It feels like everyone is either here for their career or visiting on holiday. There’s no sense of community, or calling somewhere ‘local’. I don’t know any of my neighbours, and I moved into a house with four strangers – all of whom only live here because of their jobs. As I said above about constantly feeling like you need to have plans on weekends and in the evenings, it makes me feel like a tourist in the place I’m meant to be living. It doesn’t feel right. I assume you would probably get the same feeling if you lived somewhere like New York or Barcelona, but it’s hard to get used to.

The good thing about London being so anonymous is that you can dress how you like, not wear any makeup when leaving the house and get up to anything and everything – no one knows you here. I used to not be able to take the bins out at home without putting makeup on. Now I go most weekends without a trace of it. Would I do the same at home or in Liverpool? Absolutely not.

For work – I need to be in London

I’ve realised for the job I want, the industry I want to work in and the lifestyle surrounding the job I want, I need to be in London. For what I want to do, I need to be here. Unless I land a job in New York or another big city. We can all dream.

PR wise, there’s nowhere better. For media, journalism, creative work – the big companies are all in London. I would love to try working and living somewhere else before coming back to London, but I know that inevitably, I will be back in London for work. There are so many major PR agencies in London that would be a dream to work for, as well as brands and companies that have PR in-house that would also be amazing to work for. When it comes to PR, you’re spoiled for choice in London. Whether there are lots of job opportunities, I just don’t know.

If I want to keep attending things like the BRIT Awards, movie premieres, London Fashion Week or the GQ Men of the Year Awards, I need to be in London. You won’t find things as glamorous as this in Liverpool or Manchester (as much as I wish there was) and things like these are what excites me most about a career in PR. The entertainment/beauty/music/tv route is definitely the one I want to follow, and this year has proven that someone like me can work in an industry like this.

gq awards

So London, will I back?

As most of you know, my time in London is up next month. My placement year will be over and it’ll be back to Liverpool to commence final year and complete my university degree.

I get bored very easily and I’m excited that I’m moving on to another city, even if it is back to Liverpool. Once I finish in Liverpool and get my degree, what’s next? Will it be straight back down to London to start my career in PR? Well, from my blog you’d think that, wouldn’t you? You’d expect me to be extremely career focused and ready to get my foot on that career ladder as early as possible. But at present, that’s not the case.

I’ve had a bit of an epiphany recently about career and quality of life and the future. I’ve realised that when I come out of uni with my degree I’ll be 22 years old. I’ll already have basically three years of experience in the PR world under my belt. If I was to start working straight away, giving that the retirement age will probably increase during my lifetime, I’m looking at working for the next 48 years of my life.

Given that I have 48 years of work ahead of me, would it be wrong to put it off for a while? I’m starting to think it wouldn’t. I want to see the world, go travelling, even if I am to work, I want to be somewhere other than the UK just to experience living in another country. I want to see what it’s like to live and work in America, in Australia, maybe the Middle East and the rest of Europe. I have my whole life ahead of me to work in London and see the same thing day in and day out. I want to see new places, eat new cuisines, experience other cultures and do as much as I can when I’m young and before I make a start on my career or settle down with a family. If I want to do any of these things, now is the time to do them.

So yes, I probably will be back in London, it’s been one hell of a year so far, but I don’t think I’ll be back in the near future. Unless someone wants to hire me as Niall Horan’s Press Officer then I’ll be on a train back as quick as I can.

orlaghclaire

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