“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” said Samuel Johnson in 1777, and I think this is in part true.
After my graduation in Italy in 2016, I decided to move to London and apply for a Masters at City, University of London. I had it all planned in my head: this would be the time of my life, my chance to shine and prove to myself that I was strong enough.
I had never been to London before, so I’m not sure why I decided that London was a good choice. Before moving, I came here with my dad for an “inspection” and to find a suitable place to stay.
However, the last night of that trip, I had a panic attack. I was excited, but I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would have been. I wasn’t sure that I liked London, there was a weird smell everywhere, there was traffic and noise 24/7 and I didn’t particularly like Buckingham Palace.
Was I making a mistake?
Well, I found my answer a little later that night, while we were walking back to the hotel. My dad and I stopped on the Millennium Bridge for a few minutes and the view was just breathtaking. In that moment, I realised that I would be okay and that London deserved a chance.
I moved to London one month after that trip, in February 2017.
As you may know, London is not the cheapest place to live. So, although I had some financial support from my family, I had to find a job. For new arrivals in London, one of the easiest industries to get into is hospitality, so I started sending out CVs and applying for all the bartending and waitressing jobs I could find.
A couple of weeks after my arrival, I managed to find a job in a pub, walking distance from my house. Working in a pub has a lot of pros. It really helped me to improve my English and if, like me, you move to London alone, pubs are one of the best places to make friends and meet a lot of interesting people.
In March, I decided to submit my application for university. This was incredibly scary because, at that point, I was wondering how I would manage my job alongside my full-time MA course. The university was in central London and I worked in West London, with an hour long tube journey between the two.
In August, I finally had the response about my application and I was to start this exciting but daunting new chapter of my London life in September. I decided to move closer to university and leave the pub I was working at to find another job in central London. London is a big city, so the distance between places, such as your home/work/university, is something you really have to consider.
Adjusting to this new situation was not easy. I had class Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm and I worked in a nearby restaurant over the weekend and one or two nights during the week.
I won’t lie, it was difficult. I had to miss a lot of my university life, such as after class drinks with my university peers and some networking events. This meant I just didn’t get the chance to bond with the rest of the class as I would have liked to.
However, it has been an incredible experience. I became a master in time management. I had a strict timetable but every two weeks I managed to keep a Friday or Saturday night free to go out with my friends. It’s all about organisation and having your priorities straight.
In the end, I graduated with a Merit and I paid most of the bills and rent by myself.
If you ask me, no, it didn’t go exactly how I planned. It was probably better. In London, I have met people from all around the world and it has given me the chance to experience things that I would have never tried before. It changed me.
Even after 3 years, London is still a place I’m not tired of, probably because I’m not tired of life.