Our latest guest blogger, Andrew Herweg, discusses his experiences of becoming an expat in Italy and the UK.
Image source: Flickr
The first 24 hours in London
Moving abroad is never an easy task for anyone. I have done it twice, moving to Italy and the United Kingdom. Between those two moves, what is vividly implanted in my mind is my experience moving to the UK. So here is my story of the sensations and feelings I felt during my first 24 hours in London.
Important to note is that I had only been in the UK once prior for my sister’s wedding and my week-long stay consisted of me getting drenched on the Kentish coast. This was late June by the way. I figured it was the British cuisine and warm lager that won me over and gave me the motivation to move to London.
For me moving thousands of miles from home wasn’t terribly difficult. I had already done it when I moved to Italy for a year a few years prior. One of the drivers for me to move to the UK was that I had close family living there. Leading up to my move across the Atlantic, my parents were more nervous than me. From my perspective I was able to speak the language fluently (oh how I was wrong) and knew I could brave the wonderful weather the UK had to offer.
I arrived in the UK on a typical cloudy day. From the terminal, I then barely managed to carry my heavy luggage (I’m quite skinny and scrawny) onto the train and made my way to Victoria Station to be greeted by my sister who was kind enough to hail a cab. On my 30 min taxi ride to my student residence, I made the standard call to my parents letting them know I was alright. I was still in much of a travel daze during the taxi cab ride and simply took in the picturesque sights as we crawled past Hyde Park and along the Thames. Reality didn’t settle in for me till I stepped out of the taxi and threw my bags on the curb in from of my new residence.
It is always a learning/social experience moving into a new place, but moving back into the dorms at age 22 living with 17/18 year olds is something that feels oddly strange. Feeling exhausted from the travel and setting up my cell (dorm room), I hit the hay in the early evening. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, strangely stressed. Questions started to pop in my head, asking myself whether moving to the UK was the right choice? Would I make friends? Where is my university? And where exactly was I in London? After what seemed like an eternity, I battled my nerves and fell back to sleep.
The following morning I woke up and reflected on the night’s questions but what helped me answer those night terrors was international student orientation at my university which allowed me to meet people in the same situation as me. The friendships I made during orientation definitely helped me realise that I did in fact make to right choice to move to London.
It is never easy to pick-up everything in your life and move a few thousand miles away. For me, I was quite naïve and laid back. I guess you could call it the arrogance of youth. Looking back I will always remember those feelings I had when I first came here. The biggest lesson I learned was that it is perfectly normal to have doubts and nerves about moving abroad – whether before, during or after the move.
About the author
Andrew is a PR executive working in Central London. He can usually be found in an East London pub or the park (depending on the weather) discussing the finer points of international politics and West Ham Football Club. He tweets @aherweg.