Before you start reading I invite you to play this soundtrack in Spotify, for what you will read has been experienced with this music… ready? Let’s start!…
There I was, map in hand trying to figure out how to get from Russell Square tube station to the student residence, after dragging my suitcase for a few minutes, I was knocking on the red door of the building, so the adventure started…
Next day after a quick visit to register in school, still lost in jet lag I went to the Wembley Stadium. My favorite band was playing that day and I had secured my ticket for the concert even before I secured my visa to the UK (strange as it sounds for some of you, yes I do need a visa to travel to the UK). Once on the train I thought “Damn, I haven’t even seen if it goes in the right direction” never mind.
Being at Coldplay’s concert on the very first day of my life in London was by far one of the greatest memories I have. The energy from everyone there, was something I had not experienced before, a sense of belonging, we singed, we screamed, we jumped, we were happy strangers feeling Viva la vida, as one of Coldplay songs say, and that’s exactly what I did for the next four months, I lived my life.
London can be a challenging city for many, but for me it felt like home, since I come from a city where people from all over the world come to visit. So in London just like home, regardless of where you go there is always someone coming from somewhere else, there are several languages being spoken on the streets. I used to play in my head trying to figure out what language I was hearing: there goes French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, German, Arabic, Chinese… Think of Shazam but for languages, that was me 🙂
I was on a mission to explore, every weekend a different area of the city, getting lost for hours in the big museums and galleries. London was a treasure, my precious! Never able to stop, always on the go, busy itinerary, not enough time, short days, specially in winter. You feel the rush from people approaching or leaving the tube station, oyster card in hand, you can almost hear their thoughts: “walk fast, tap, fast fast fast! to the platform, Mind the Gap, door open, fast, fast, fast!”.
I learnt to live in a fast pace. Once I started using the tube and walking without the need of a map I felt proud of myself, for it had not taken more than two weeks, let’s say I have a good memory.
Walking under the rain was one of my favorite things to do, not that there’s a choice, it always rains in London! I also enjoyed the slow pace at any of my favorite cafes, where life stoped and I could sit by the window, coffee in hand, listening to slow music, watching people outside rushing by, that is still one of my favorite things to do when I travel.
Lucky me, having the chance to live for a few months in such city, meeting people from different countries, and actually getting to know something about their cultures. Through the endless restaurants and shops, every corner of the city offers a little piece of Thailand, India, Spain, Russia, China, Japan, Vietnam, France, Italy, Germany, even Peru, you name the country, there is something from it!
Walking is a great way to discover any place, even when it is raining. If you’re alone do not despair, a good playlist and earphones is what you need. If I close my eyes I feel it again, the joy of walking down the streets of London, heart beat accelerating, there it is Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Bridge, that handsome guy, keep walking, keep smiling, dancing in the rain (in my head), life is good again.
London is one of those cities where change is business as usual, you should not expect to find it exactly as you remember it, keep your eyes open, listen to the world around you (I mean it) and you will learn a thing or two. Update your memory and be ready to be amazed next time you come back.
As I read in an article a few days ago, we should focus on the things we can do instead of the ones we can not do. Live our lives to the fullest one day at a time. If you want to live that way, come to London, then you will know what I mean.
In the next post, my favorite spots in London and the lessons learned about my first time living abroad! Hasta pronto! See you soon! Auf Wiedersehen! A presto! Au revoir!