While today’s post delves into some of the specific challenges and fantastic surprises that await Americans moving to London, it’s not just for US expats: Anyone who makes the move to London from anywhere in the world can suffer from homesickness (yes, it’s a thing even if you’re all grown up!) and culture shock.
One of the things that you’ll struggle to overcome is the feeling of homesickness that will sweep over you occasionally. It’s not enough to just will yourself to adapt or to focus on your work so that the aching feeling of being away from home will go away. Sometimes you’re just going to miss home and all that comes with it, like pancakes, BBQ, the 4th of July or having your family and friends over for the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl in London – Not the Same Thing!
It doesn’t matter either that you can make your own pancakes or buy them. That you could try getting a grill and some marinade and giving the BBQ a shot (weather withstanding). That London also has a 4th of July on its calendar (albeit, not with quite the same fanfare) or that the Super Bowl can be broadcast over in England as well (internet streaming helps in a big way in this case), it’s just not home…
An adage that I really have taken to heart on my travels around the world, is that it’s not just where you go and what you do, what matters above all is who you’re with. For our US cousins – You’re not alone while you’re living in London. Turns out that there are over forty four thousand Americans living in the city at any one time. Not only that, but they get together pretty regularly and also have websites dedicated to that effect. It won’t be quite the same as walking in your mom’s front door for Thanksgiving Dinner, but spending an evening with people from back home can really help to ease the transition that comes with moving from one country to the next.
You can meet with groups as diverse as students studying in London, families that have pulled up roots to move here, an American TV Nights group (no, seriously) and all other sorts. So even if you are struggling with the big move, it helps to understand that there are others that have been there before and may even be experiencing what you’re experiencing at the same time. You can tear your hair out about the problems of moving to a new country, or you can laugh about it with someone who shares your pain.
Give it a shot. It’s like America, but in London.
In the same way that the English struggle to adapt abroad, many Americans moving to London think that the city will somehow be an extension of America, especially because English is the national language. Your perception of ‘how London is’ may be very different from the reality of life in the city after your relocation to London.
While hanging out with people from home can be a blessing at first, it is a debate on the degree to which they should become involved in the expat community. It can be a welcome and helpful experience to get advice from and meet up with other Americans living in London, but it could be to the exclusion of meeting new people and making friends with the locals. You’re moving to London for the experience of living in a foreign city, for the chance to live in one of the most famous and fascinating cities in the world. Do you really want to lessen your experience by sticking to your countrymen?
Your Relocation to London is Entirely Personal
Your experience overseas will be made up and determined by your personal expectations and your attitude. If you continually compare London to home and make references about the way you do things “back at home”, you’re not likely to gain much sympathy at work or with new friends. Be prepared to try new things, and do things slightly differently. If you’re dealing with homesickness and don’t particularly want to try and decipher what the English are saying while they are speaking English, it might be a great idea to get in contact with one of the groups that hold regular meetings for Americans moving to London. Just don’t it to the exclusion of everything else.
Try as much as you can to get involved in your neighborhood and your local community. If you have a family and children that will be attending a local school, get involved with school activities and you’ll soon have hordes of British kids trooping through your new home to teach you what life in London is all about. You don’t have to throw off your roots and your culture when you cross the border, but for the first few months at least, set yourself the goal of learning one thing about life in London or experiencing one new aspect of life abroad each day.
It’s not so much about being able to make a success of your relocation but about being open to a new lifestyle, new friends and new experiences.
No we’re not talking about cricket; we’re talking about bowling with skittles. This is a popular sport in England, and if you’re starting to feel pangs of homesickness for some all-American entertainment then you’ll be in for a blast when you spend and evening at the All Star Lanes found at the Whiteleys Shopping Centre in Bayswater, London – also have venues in Brick Lane and Holborn.
The All Star Lanes offer a complete experience and you can do more than just bowling. The entire experience is themed as an old style American bowling alley, and they host themed events and parties throughout the year. There is a diner attached to the alley and it’s as American as can be, with real catsup to boot! You can book a meal or even a private party through the venue and hold a karaoke evening as part of the fun. One of the great special offers is the ‘Eat, Drink, Bowl’ evenings where you get a two course meal, and fabulous cocktail and a game of bowling for £29 per person.
You’d be surprised at the amount of hidden treasures that London has on offer to guarantee you a good time when you’re here. You don’t have to spend every day traipsing round the historical monuments when you have centres like Whiteleys and the All Star Lanes to give you a unique and entertaining experience while you are living in London.
Hey Batter, Batter…
One thing that is as American as can be, is baseball, and while you might not immediately associate it with London, rest assured that the you’ll be able to enjoy a ballgame, even in the UK.
While you’re more likely to look at cricket as England’s bat and ball game of choice (and you’re probably right), you’ll be surprised to find that the UK has a long history of baseball. The game was brought to England in 1890 by an Englishman, one Francis Ley, who had found out about ‘the baseball’ while on a trip to America. While obviously not as popular here as it is in the States, it has still managed to pick up a following. England even holds the distinction of beating the United States and winning the first World Cup of Baseball in 1938.
Today, you’ll be still be able to grab your mitt, ball and bat and head down to the pitch for a game. Right now, there are more than 40 baseball teams based all over the UK (that’s inside and outside of London). While it might not be as easy to find as a cricket game, ask around and you’ll probably be pointed in the right direction. Ask one if they know about where you’re likely to find a ball game. Or go online and pay a visit to the website for the British Baseball Federation to find a club near your area. (The London Mets in Finsbury Park are a very popular team.) Even though you’re moving to London, there’s no reason for you to leave everything back in America.