24 Things I have Learnt Living in London by Firdos Shaikh

London is that big bad (often grey!) city that people are drawn to, there is something about the English culture that draws us and leaves us wanting to call London home (Maybe it’s all those Bridget Jones movies!).

As a Kiwi who moved to London almost two years ago, I never thought there would be anything about the British culture that would make me go ‘huh?’. Now that I am about to say sayonara to London to start my next adventure, it makes me think about the some the lessons, strange things and wonderous finding I have discovered from living in this magnificent city.

1)      Everyone keeps asking you ‘You alright?’ or ‘You ok?’. Relax they don’t think something is wrong with you, it’s just their way of saying ‘How are you?’ or ‘hey’. It doesn’t always need a response either, just nod and smile.

2)      They eat mushy peas, on purpose… and they find it delicious

3)      Need to switch tube lines at Bank station? Good luck to you! You may make it out, you may not.

4)      If you are going to use the escalators at the tube stations please stand on the right to let those in a rush pass you. This is a sure way to know who is a Londoner and who is a tourist.

5)      People don’t just say they are unwell or sick they say they are ‘poorly’

6)      If you say you were sick, that means you specifically threw up

7)      Pants don’t just mean pants here, they mean underwear. If you say trousers then they will understand what you really mean.

8)      Pudding is a term used not just for puddings but for all desserts

9)      Candy isn’t candy it is sweets – they love their generic terms here

10)   A popsicle is an ice lolly. I know! Whaaaaaat?

11)   The English love to keep you guessing on how to pronounce their place names i.e.:

i)        Leicester square – pronounced Lester square

ii)       Greenwich – pronounced Grenitch

iii)     Southwark – pronounced Suthik

iv)     Reading – Redding

v)       Any of the Shires like Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire – pronounced heartfordcher and bedfordcher

12)   Pub Sundays are magnificent – great roasts, great setting. Almost all the pubs in every corner look like some kind of medieval movie set

13)   I dare you to find another city that is more multicultural

14)   The cafes here are an Instagrammers dream

15)   Tap water is drinkable but disgusting. It can also make you lose your hair in the shower.

16)   Be careful not to make eye contact in the tube. Unless you are riding on the night tubes, those passengers are a lot more friendlier and chatty

17)   They view curry as a classic British meal created in Birmingham. I guess they forgot where India is.

18)   Costa coffee is the best in London

19)   Pret a Manger in your new best friend if you need a place to grab a healthy lunch or snack

20)   There are only two shopping malls in London! Otherwise, they shop on the ‘high street’

21)   Public transport is absolute magic! Like little elves making sure everything runs to time. it super easy to get anywhere

22)   Public transport is absolute rubbish! When there are delays and when it snows

23)   There are five airports in London. Only one of them is actually in London

24)   London is the perfect base to travel Europe

This and so many other things about London will be missed. It is truly a magically frustrating and amazing city. If you ever get a chance to visit or live here, grab it! One of the most exciting cities in the world.


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