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Kamila: The London New Girl

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in London makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to London, etc.

I’m a twenty-something year old girl who now considers herself as a citizen of the world. Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, I spent a lot of my childhood playing in the fields of Warsaw suburbia, Poland, where my parents are from and where my mum would take me back to every other year to holiday. My parents and sister are scattered around the globe – from Perth and Brisbane, to New York, Poland and now London. I’ve always wanted to spend some significant time in Europe, this much I knew from when I was a young teenager. My first solo journey to Europe in 2008 lasted 3 months, the next one in 2009-10 was 4 months, then I decided to bite the bullet and make the move to London in August of 2012 (AKA Olympic mayhem).

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I had decided to move to London early on and I set the date two years in advance (I’m an organiser), however it wasn’t until the last 8 months or so that I really started to crave more information. I tried endless searches for blogs, guidebooks and websites on the hunt for someone who had collated the masses of information out there and narrowed it down to the basics for me. After not finding anything online that ticked all the boxes, I saw it as a great opportunity to start my own blog – both to help collect all the information I was quickly gathering, and also to help the thousands of Aussies (and all others) who move to London each year.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

I’ve always been a little scared of posting anything too personal, as I don’t know who is reading and how much I should disclose. I decided to give it a shot and put it out there a few months ago, and the response to the blog post was awesome with so many new followers and great feedback. Going forward I want to share as much as possible, as this is how I can truly connect with readers and I find that people can definitely relate better to this style.

Tell us about the ways your new life in London differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

Culturally, I think London is very similar to Melbourne, just on a much larger scale. This gave me a false sense of security and to be honest, I was completely not prepared to experience such homesickness in my first 6 -12 months in London. The first winter was the biggest shock, it didn’t help that it was the longest winter that the UK and Europe had experienced in decades. However, the snow cleared, the sun came out and London became this amazing, lively and exciting city once more, and so all my doubts disappeared. My second winter has been much easier and I haven’t felt home sick once, so you just need to push through and persevere, everything takes adjusting to and it may not be easy but it’s definitely worth it. In saying that, I still miss the beach every day.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in London? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I think I was as prepared as I possibly could be. All the hours spent planning and researching really paid off as the move went really smoothly and I settled in very easily. If I could change one thing, it would be to not have spent so much money when I first arrived – but the shopping and restaurants got the better of me!

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

I will never forget the horrifying look that a change room shop assistant gave me when I had to carefully explain that I stained the pants that I’m wearing and I need a new pair, not realising that pants actually refers to one’s underwear, and ‘trousers’ would have been the more appropriate term. There’s a lot of embarrassing language quirks like that and unfortunately the quickest way to learn is the hard way. I put together some of my favourites in this blog post.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in London?

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare - there’s no such thing as too much preparation. Life will be crazy and uncertain enough when you get here, so make sure you at least have everything planned that’s within your control so you can concentrate on enjoying yourself when you arrive
  • Travel, but don’t over-do it. I see it happen so often, Aussies come to experience life in London but are away travelling every weekend. I’m a firm believe that you’ll never really experience the true culture of a new city if you’re only around Monday-Friday and you spend most of that time working. London is amazing – make time for it!
  • Don’t make the decision to leave too early, and definitely don’t make the decision in winter. You will only live to regret it. It really does take 8-12 months to feel really settled here so be patient and work through it. Winters can be tough too but keep busy and make the most of it – plan a skiing holiday or a sunny getaway to Marrakesh. Once you push through the barrier of the first 12 months, you’ll find it really hard to ever leave!

How is the expat community in London? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

London is so diverse when it comes to cultures that it’s incredibly easy to meet like-minded people from around the world. It’s the best chance to make a great international network of friends. Generally, I have found British people a lot harder to connect with as they are quite guarded, but I have made so many amazing friends from around the world who are so similar to me – sharing my love of travel, culture, arts, fashion, and most importantly London :)

How would you summarize your expat life in London in a single, catchy sentence?

“I've been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day” – Walter Besant.

Jan-Peter van Tijk

"I wish I'd found InterNations sooner: It would have made my first few month as an expat in London much less overwhelming."

Therese Yeboah

"For me, the InterNations events are the best part. I attend almost every get-together and always get to know lots of friendly fellow expats."

Global Expat Guide