Living in London was always a pipe dream of mine. How would I ever land a sponsorship in the city, especially right after university? It was on my solo backpacking trip in 2016 that I was informed about the Working Holiday Visa, where Canadians under 30-something can simply apply and pay to live/work in the UK for two years. I got home from my trip and started the application. No job, no flat, no friends, no connections, just a dream that could actually be made into a reality.
Now those two years are sadly coming to an end. Since I’m only at the beginning of my post-university career and I failed to find my 20-something Hugh Grant husband, I can’t stay through a work sponsorship nor a marriage visa.
The countdown is less than two months and to cope with the inevitable, I am reflecting on the things I wont miss about the incomparable London.
*For those concerned like my father, it’s glitter under my right eye not a bug ✨
Things I Won’t Miss About London
1. The Destruction of my Skin (from Pollution)
When I moved to London I used to always get compliments on my skin. With a love for skincare, I had achieved a clear and even complexion. If you have this, do not take it for granted! A few months into living in the centre of this bustling city of pollution, the acne broke through the barrier of what I thought was good genes. Since then I have not gone one day without a pimple – typically three. Spotting newly formed whiteheads as you walk out the door for a date really makes you miss the fresh Canadian air.
2. The Crowded Streets
For a girl who claims to belong in a big city, I really do need to get over my foot rage. This is a term I use to describe the road rage I get on sidewalks when there are crowds and SLOW WALKERS. I am usually described as a really sweet polite gal, but I’m sure my face screams otherwise on a crowded sidewalk.
3. The Dating Scene (Shockingly)
I discovered the way to cure my obsession with finding my own Hugh Grant is dating in London. It didn’t take too long to find out the British men that make girls’ fannies flutter (thank you Jacob for this wonderful term) are either stuck on the screens of movies and television OR they are already taken. Of course there are gems out there, but they surely aren’t a dime a dozen.
4. The Lack of Mingling
A big reason I am over the men here is because of this! In Canada it is completely normal for men and women to go up to one another and strike up conversations, especially at bars. When I moved here, I continued with my ways. Though people conversed with me, there was clearly a sense that I may be crazy for doing so. It makes no sense! Guys don’t have the balls to go up to girls, but think it’s far too forward when girls go up to them. Hence why dating apps are so popular here.
5. No Air Conditioning
I crave London summers until I start to feel like a swamp woman. Wonder why I get more dates in winter?
6. Bottomless Brunches
This may be a controversial one! For those of you who don’t know, bottomless brunches are brunches where you get UNLIMITED alcohol for 2 hours (typically prosecco). This was always my suggestion for a weekend activity in the beginning, but then I came to terms with the fact that I cannot control myself at these gatherings. It becomes a race to get the most bang for your buck; basically the table chugs and ensures the restaurant needs to restock their prosecco supply by the end of your meal. The hangovers I get, mere hours later, are atrocious; like an animal is trying to crawl out of my forehead. I was invited to one tomorrow (a Sunday) but politely declined. Maybe I should just learn to have control?
7. The Goodbyes
As an expat, most of the friends I’ve made have also been expats. It’s only natural, since we are all looking for new friends in a new place, and the people who live here already have a support system. Though I’ve made wonderful friends who have left me with amazing memories, they also left me! Everyone’s visa runs up at some point and then it’s time to go home. Out of all the friends I made in my first year here, only one remains and even she leaves before I do. It comes with the territory! I’ll be leaving the friends I made behind too.
Things I Will Miss About London
To avoid going on too much of a tangent of all the great things about London, I’ve made a short and sweet list.
- The endless choice for food and drinks
- The cool pop-ups
- The supportive expat community
- The day drinking culture (and public drinking ability)
- The expansive and 24hr transportation system (aka drunk tube)
- The cheap groceries and booze (compared to Canada)
- The illustrious history
- The hustle and bustle
- The proximity to Europe (quick trip to France anyone?)
- Never running out of people to swipe through on Bumble or Tinder ;)
Though London is no longer rainbows and unicorns in my mind, it’s still a dream city to me and I will defend it to anyone who thinks otherwise.
So what’s next?
Make the most of my remaining weeks here and let it be!