Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Transatlantic Move: From New York to London

In case you've wondering where I've been, I sort of fell off the continent and moved countries. I live in London now and the process to get here has been a bit of a whirlwind. I packed up my life and sending the boxes in two different directions. I labelled everything with post-its and it was either red for my parents basement in Canada, yellow to give away or blue for England. After everything was color coded it just became a matter of putting the wheels in motion and saying goodbye.

It was good for me to go through all my belongings because I accumulated a lot over the years and I purged like I've never purged before. I have some sort of weird attachment to things that I own that leads me to be a bit of a hoarder. Every time I tried to purge my closet, I'd end up going to a clothing swap and bringing home just as much as I gave away. Even still, every item I've purchased is associated with memories of things that have happened while wearing an item, the story of how I came to own it or some other sentimental nonsense. I knew I wasn't strong enough to do it alone so I called in reinforcements and had a friend ask me simple questions like, "Erin, do you really need 14 pairs of jeans?" or "How many coats do you think that you can fit in a shared closet?" and I cut back big time. The things that I kept with me are the things I need or love best. The things that I put into storage, I was hopeful l would still love one day when I'm ready to stop exploring.

In the end, I sent a third of my belongings to London since we didn't have any idea where we were going to live or how much space we would have. We just knew that we wouldn't have the beautiful Victorian floor through that we found in Ditmas Park and would have to downsize. I carried a couple suitcases that I lived out of for the first month armed with my best monochromatic casual wear, a few of my more precious clothing items (uh hello, Proenza Schouler skirt), basic toiletries and a few of my favourite spices for cooking. It's funny the things you find important enough to hand carry at the end of the day.


I suppose eight years ago, I went through the same motions of starting again in a new city when I moved to New York City, thankfully this time around I am not alone. Thankfully I now can make this leap holding my husband's hand and know that we face all of the adventures, hardships and learning together. I miss my friends, my apartment and life in Brooklyn, but I am ready to build a new life here. I hit the ground running hard and we found a flat in West London and quickly ran to Ikea to build the obnoxious but affordable furniture to make our home feel like a home.

There are a lot of similarities between England and America, and at times things are so similar that I forget I am in another country. At times, I find myself getting frustrated that things are not the same. I guess it is naive of me to think they would be. Yes, they speak English here in London but it is a different sort of animal. I emphasise all of the wrong syllables, I pronounce letters that shouldn't be pronounced and I feel helpless when it comes to the terminology used to describe even the simplest things. Sometimes I just have to admit that I'm not sure how to do or say certain things and try to explain my way around it.

Things that I did so easily in the past are not done in the same manner so everything takes me a little bit longer to figure out. The first challenge we faced was opening a bank account, where bank after bank they asked for a utility bill or bank statement. Well, you can't exactly provide one when you are new to a country and living in corporate housing can you? When we pointed that out, we were politely told to come back when we have a utility bill. The circles of conversation were slightly maddening. We tried another bank that told us they had such an influx of students, they could meet with us only after another week. Finally in desperation when we went to HSBC, they obliged and used our US mailing address as a workaround to set up our accounts.

I ran into the same situation when I was trying to get a doctor's appointment, where without proof of address, it became impossible. When I finally used a couple pieces of mail to see the doctor, I had to have a nurses appointment to see the doctor and finally a letter in the mail to see the specialist I was hoping to see. By the time the letter from the doctor was due to arrive, I had moved homes and had to try to collect it from the corporate housing office.

Now that I have a bank account and an address, I know life will only get easier, but I only recently started looking in the right direction when crossing the road without having a fear of death. I listen attentively to the subway announcements trying to learn the correct pronunciations of stations. Some of the stations induce giggles (uhmm...Cockfosters?). I laugh a little when I see signs for a "striped zebra crossing", which is a speed bump that people can walk across. I hate to admit it, but I started saying "quite" a little too often for my liking. I've learned that Foxtons (a real estate broker) is the devil, but in the end we used them too. Perhaps I will get better at living life abroad but for now every day is a still a new challenge. 

3 comments:

Amanda said...

Good luck to you in London! :)

Lina said...

I face that same type of sentimental feelings for my clothing! And pretty much everything that I own actually haha..

Good luck in London! I hope that you'll continue updating this blog from London =)

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