5 Takeaways From An American Living In London

Thursday, October 24, 2013


You know that dream you constantly have? No, not the one where you’re standing in front of your 10th-grade history class in your underwear and the teacher is instructing you to recite the lyrics to “Space Oddity” or risk failing the class. I’m talking about the dream where you’re an expat living in London, complete with afternoons spent sipping cider in cozy pubs, walks through Hyde Park in the fall as the leaves change, and constant weekend getaways to close European capitals via discount airline tickets that cost less than a tank of gas back in the States.

Sarah Lydall, former correspondent for the New York Times actually got to live out that dream, working for the paper before recently returning to New York. In a recent article, Lydall recounts her experience living in the English capital, and discusses the many strange and different experiences she had living there compared to her home country, including the joy of feeling a connection to a neighborhood she had never experienced in the U.S. before, and the odd sensation of becoming hopelessly lost trying to navigate the seemingly random layout of the city.

But like any experience living or visiting somewhere, certain memories and differences are bound to become lodged in one’s brain, symbolizing not just that place but also one’s relation to it in comparison to their home country. Here are five takeaways from Lydall, some serving as helpful tips, others as only-in-London observations, but all quirky and unique to the city.

1) The Tube makes “jolly announcements,” such as to “mind the gap” and to “not leave your personal belongings unattended.” Here in New York the announcements are far from jolly, and usually focus on not molesting the people around you.

2) Many places don’t deliver in London. Well, actually, outside of New York City, that’s actually pretty common in my experience, but I can see how New Yorkers find that odd.

3) As little as an inch of snow causes chaos, shutting down traffic across the city. Although, that can be kind of nice, right?

4) “Stay away from Buckingham Palace when the changing of the guard takes place at midday — it wreaks havoc on the traffic and they won’t let you cross the street.” Not to mention all the tourists . . .

5) The weather changes, a lot. Wear layers to allow quick adjustments, and always bring an umbrella.

And there you have it. Hopefully the dream still lives for you, umbrella in tow.

[Lessons From Living in London via the New York Times]

By Matt Stabile

[Big Ben by Theodore Scott via/Flickr: TheExpeditioner Group]



Matt Stabile Bio PictureMatt Stabile is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheExpeditioner.com. You can read his writings, watch his travel videos, purchase the book he co-edited or contact him via email at any time at TheExpeditioner.com. (@TheExpeditioner)

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