Girl in London’s first guest post comes courtesy of Caity O’Shaughnessy of Adventures Abroad. Caity’s an American girl who studied abroad in London and fell in love with the city. Now a graduate, she’s making the big leap from America back to the UK and has some great tips for others looking to take their lives across the pond
I began my blog when I was 20 – it was 2011 and I was a junior in college, about to embark on a trip across the world for a study abroad semester in London, England. What did I know about London? The West End theatre district is like New York’s Broadway, and everyone there speaks English – seemed like enough of a reason for me to choose that place to live. I kept the blog basically to ramble and document the adventures I’d be going along in the city and around Europe. What I didn’t seem to realize was that by the time I was packing up to head back to America, I wanted nothing more than to stay there forever. I remember sitting on the plane taking off out of Heathrow as I was trying to choke back the tears, realizing how truly amazing my life had become in those past five months.
Studying abroad showed me what absolute happiness feels like. Living in London showed me how amazing life can really be. There was not a single day there that I could describe as a bad day – In the entire half-year I was there; I never had a bad day. How was that possible? I knew that it wasn’t something I just experienced for the memories and then went back to life – I knew that this was supposed to become my life.
So here I am, 23 years old, a University graduate, and booking my one way ticket to London. I’ve learned through the world of blogging that I’m not the only one who’s been swept up in this crazy London loving life, and wanted to keep my blog up as my adventures in the real world seem to be just beginning. Right now, I’ve been in the mix of the pre-London preparations, and if anyone is going through this, or even planning a visit, here some advice on the first few things you’ll be looking at:
Booking your flight
This is something that you need to get done earlier than the others on this list. Securing your flight is needed, but finding something affordable is essential. For anyone who has flown international, you know these flights are pricey. There are plenty of websites that offer deals for youth and students, as well as airlines that offer discount flights (without the normal added amenities, but also without the addition $500 we are all trying to save). Doing a little added research can go a long way when it comes to saving.
Flat hunting is one of the most stressful things I have been through, and am still currently going through. Especially when you are hunting from another continent. Whether you are searching for a long-term stay, or even just for a few weeks, there are plenty of forums and websites that give great area guides, full of opinions and tidbits. Personally, I love blogs to go to for my advice – Girl in London has an entire section of neighborhood guides in her blog right here. She’s one of my go-to’s for this, and also one of the reasons I’ve grown such an interest in living in the northeast.
Knowing your way around
London, like New York, is an enormous city with an enormous transportation system. Unlike New York, which looks like a perfect easy to navigate grid, London is packed with curves and circles, and at first glance it may seem like a foreign maze you’ll never understand. Within my first week in the city though, I already found myself pretty confident in finding my way around. The Tube is not at all as scary as it seems, and I prefer it to other transportation systems, or even driving! And if you’re not a fan of underground transportation, the streets of London are also easy to manage, and absolutely lovely to walk on. And if you find yourself lost, there are maps on almost every street corner that show you where you are and what’s around.
Once you get into this research, you’ll fall into looking up things to do, places to see, etc. etc. etc. London is a playground, and you won’t find a single person who has gotten bored with the city.
I may be a beginner in this new life, but in my first few years experiencing the London, I’ve been able to live as a neighbor to Westminster Abbey, I’ve been inside of the most famous recording studio known – Abbey Road Studios, I’ve accidentally walked into being able to see the Queen, I’ve slept on the sidewalk of Oxford street, and I’ve met one of the greatest living musicians in the world, Paul McCartney – and these crazy adventures were all before I even made my big move! Every time I have to leave London I feel like I lose a bit of my heart. Finally getting back with the plans of staying – this crazy dream finally come true – is one of the greatest feelings, and I can’t wait to share what’s to come next!