London, England: home to about 8 million people including 3 million immigrants. Vastly different from its other English cities. Life here is go, go, go. It stops only for its own interests, which are usually centered around family, food, alcohol, and employment.
London is simply awesome. You can never get bored. There’s so much to do within its borders and even more to do in the Greater London area. I’m a little biased though because I was born here, and I have a little soft spot for this crazy town. Crazy good by the way, not crazy bad. Don’t let the media scare you. Don’t let the terrorists scare you. Don’t even let fast paced energy scare you. Londoners are lively, and they have this city at their fingertips. I would love to move back here one day.
If you were to live here though, here’s a few things you should mind and probably start to practice. (Notice how many of these are related to travel and movement. It’s a go, go, go, city.)
If you have able legs and feet, get ready to use them. Americans, listen up. YOU WILL BE WALKING A LOT. Driving isn’t a necessity as it is in many parts of the States. Public transportation substitutes for this and so do your legs. Spend some extra money on comfortable shoes and get going.
Fast Food Isn’t So “Fast”
It’s not uncommon for a highway to be littered with restaurants in the States, but many of these places serve the same kind of food. There are probably more restaurants on a street in London, but there is endless variety. Indian, Chinese, Thai, French, Italian, you name it. And most of these are not chain restaurants. There are bistros and little cafes you can pop into for a quick bite or take the family to for dinner after work. Oh, and drive thrus barely exist here.
More necessities for a Londoner include: an Oyster card, headphones, an umbrella, backpack or small travel suitcase, a jacket, and some sort of reading material (for the bus/train). To put this into perspective, necessities for the average Dentonite include: a car (with a Toll Tag), bicycle, or skateboard, sandals, and rain boots (North Texas weather is sporadic), and a travel bottle/mug (for water or coffee).
The average style in London is a bit more upscale and conservative. You’ll see a lot more people walking around in business attire. For a casual day, jeans and shorts are the norm in Texas, but Londoners have managed to find other forms of pants and patterns to wear when the weather gets warm. Skirts are worn more often here too. Men pay more attention to how they look here with many of them looking quite sharp even on a day off. Oh, and western/cowboy boots don’t exist here either. Bring your own or not at all to blend in.
London is more liberal than Northern English cities due to its big city nature, but compared to NYC or LA, it’s still a lot more conservative. Even still, people generally don’t care what you do or how you behave here. When in public, everyone lives in their own box, only being able to see what’s in and not out. You don’t make eye contact because you can’t “see” them. You walk fast and strategically to get to your destination as quickly as possible without having to talk to anyone. You live in your box. It’s your box, and you love your box, and you never want to leave your box except for emergencies.
It’s quite funny to see what happens when this cultural rule is broken. For example, a little band of street performers came onto the train for their act. A saxophone, a drum, and someone to collect donations. They sounded great. However, no one batted an eye or even seemed to notice.
Another example: a guy came onto the train and proceeded to talk very loudly for the next 4 stops about how we all need to love each other and overcome the bad things happening in the world. Again, another silent robotic crowd. He even pushed his way around the crowded coach so everyone could hear him.
One last example: people handing out flyers to promote their business on the street. More cold-stoned looks, but this time, pedestrians are forced to dodge the flyers to avoid getting one.
Overall, the average life of a Londoner is centered around travel and movement, and they value anything related to it. Because London has so many immigrants, it’s hard to distinguish the locals from foreigners/tourists, but I think that’s what makes it more exciting. Stay tuned for more personal experiences about what I’ve been doing in London. x