So if you're still following this after basically no posts for the last 1.5 years, thank you (I think). It took me longer to get to London than I would have wished, and I'll delve into that another time. But, I moved two months ago! And here's what I've learned so far:
British "politeness" is really passive aggressiveness. You can either adapt or embrace your Americanness or be somewhere in the middle. At first, I tried to adapt and then thought...why did I put so much work into being more direct the past 7 years of my career just to go backwards? I think I'll stick with my directness - you can be direct and nice at the same time and I'm still working on being more direct in personal relationships. I fear if I start embracing the British passive aggressiveness, I'll regress on the personal progress I have made (which to some, may not be a lot. But to me, it is everything. You have no idea how uncomfortable it is for me to ask for things I need and want and also maintain boundaries that serve me).
You MUST know Rugby or "football" and join a team here. So thankful for Adam teaching me to play rugby at INSEAD, because there's nothing more fun than a rugby-filled Sunday with actually being able to be competitive with people you've never met and yet have a Sunday Funday filled with pints and karaoke. 10/10 recommend.
If you think London will be better than Paris in terms of how quickly things get done, think again. For being Europe's (depending on how you define Europe now, thanks Brexit) finance capital, things pretty slow...like I wouldn't want my financier during these rocky public market times slow. It might take 5x as long to make a trade and all of a sudden you'll be on the wrong end of Gamestop slow. The French may have attitude (honestly I think it's just directness, which I have a high appreciation for now), but they get things DONE. Vive la France!
However, maybe these Brits have learned a thing or two about slowing down? It's something I'm slowly learning but am trying to embrace with my newfound 25 days of vacation. I wondered how to spend it all and then realized very quickly going to Oktoberfest, a wedding in Mexico (that will also be a reunion I cannot wait for), and Christmas in the US will absorb most of it and I cannot be more excited. Get to see my best friends, favorite nieces, and caring family all in 6 months? Lucky, lucky.
No matter where you're going to or coming from, it will take you 30 minutes, defeating all physics theories you might know. Going to Heathrow? Takes 30 minutes via the Heathrow Express. Going from West London to Tower Bridge? Somehow also takes 30 minutes. Going from a suburb to Central London? ALSO 30 minutes. How this exists, I still have no clue. But I now have insight as to why things are a little slower here - you get an extra hour taken out of your day, no matter how efficient you try to be.
Take every ounce of sunshine you can get. I sat in the park for 3 hours last weekend when it was finally sunny and got a sunburn for the first time when not wearing a swimsuit for 8+ hours in a day. It's not that the British sun is that powerful, it's that the British gloomy weather is real and you will turn pale, fast. I also consider this my karmic reaction to silently chuckling at a very pale man next to me in the park reapplying sunscreen dutifully every 30 minutes when his recurring iPhone timer went off.
If you already struggle with feeling valued as a human being, try moving to London and dealing with property management. Leak causing your ceiling to fall in? Too bad, it's the tenant's responsibility above you. Did we tell you your move-in contractually was April 22? Too bad, we just found out we won't be able to make that happen at 9AM on move-in day. You thought your flat would be professionally cleaned when you move in? HA think again, we're charging you 3 months rent upfront and going on holiday. Moral of the story: do not rent with Foxtons. They will have you questioning your sanity and your value as a human.
Truly, the best Indian food (outside of India, obviously). My mom came to visit and be her little mom-self, helping me move in and go to IKEA and take the tube with 4 huge, heavy bags and organize everything. She was here for one week, and we had Indian food 4 times, going back to one place twice and ordering the exact same thing. If you ever go to Tamarind, make sure you get the crispy lobster. The only thing you'll regret is not ordering one per person.
London dating scene is not as great as one would hope. Everyone swears by dating apps as people are too "polite" to bother you at a bar and talk to you. Please bother me. Dating apps feel like homework and somehow I only get shown blonde men when I know London is more diverse than that.
I don't know why thinking moving to a new country, even though they speak (theoretically) the same language would be easy. But let me tell you, it's not. You never know exactly what to do in social situations, you fear you'll come off as too American and then learn to not care, you'll look the wrong way before crossing the street and almost get hit by a car, you'll be too direct with people and deemed as aggressive, and you'll wonder if people back home care if they haven't checked in on you as you're processing all of this. The old saying about, if it's not easy hopefully it's worth it? Not sure it's worth it yet honestly. But how would I ever find out if I never tried? Time will tell.
P.S. If you haven't noticed, I mixed in the good with the bad. Because expat life is always glamorized, but honestly? It's just life. And I'm learning that it won't always be the dream you envisioned and there will be days you question why you put so much effort in and people from your previous life still care if you're the one always messaging and not vice versa and if taxes are going to be worse (spoiler: taxes are always worse - two governments instead of one? Ooooof). But, living your life is so much better than living with the "what if".
P.P.S. Foxtons, if you're reading this, please fix my 15 outstanding maintenance issues so I can start enjoying London.