Living in London was an educational experience beyond the academic content of my Management Diploma. As one of my friends said to me when I visited Germany not long ago “language is the biggest barrier”, believe it or not the British accent was a barrier at the beginning. Particularly the first week, people speaking to me very fast and excited, and in my head I was trying hard to make sense of the context of the conversation. Once used to it everything was ‘Easy peasy’ and I could hold a conversation without being mentally ‘Knackered’ or ‘so sorry’ to ask ‘say that again?’
I was lucky to have classmates from whom I could learn and satisfy my curiosity about their own languages, how to greet, say thank you or good bye. People appreciate your efforts to say something in their language even if a couple words. The interaction becomes more authentic and the friendship bonds grow stronger. Perfect chance to practice Italian, learn a little French, Arabic, Chinese, and of course teach some Spanish!
Two weeks later, the young lady who arrived to London had already changed a lot. Armed with a newly acquired confidence to go out and about in the city, I constantly searched for places where I could enjoy different views, food and see people. Oyster card always topped up, because I didn’t want to experience that horrifying feeling when the little red cross tells you can’t get in, specially if there is a queue of people permanently in a hurry behind you. You must never disrupt the nearly rehearsed routine at the tube station!
Internet could provide just as much as a tourist could find, the challenge was to find what lies behind the attractions. Asking and talking to friends in school I found out about Edgware Road and Brick Lane, places where I discovered samples of cultures that were until then a mystery to me. Instant gratification with new flavors, looks, colors and languages, transporting me for the time being outside London, expanding to unimagined horizons.
Life became unexpectedly fascinating in every sense of the word, new friends, new discoveries every day, living in a city where the pace never slows down, where the click clack of people’s shoes on the streets is the constant melody. London, where I had no time to be an introvert, surprise! I bet you were not expecting that, but yes curious and chatty as I may be I am an introvert, maybe my love to learn is stronger than my introversion, or maybe London changed me forever, let’s call it the London effect.
Now that you know I am an introvert, you can understand that after a while I needed a “me time”. But how could I have a me time without missing out a day in the city? Easy, favorite music in my phone, earphones on, a 40 minute walk to Primrose Hill, reach to the top, as I sit down I am thinking ‘that was a long way up’, pulse accelerated but suddenly stopped by all the magnificence of London just for me, right there I am not minding people around.
After a few minutes I finally notice the people around, at the bottom of the hill, righthand side people doing a yoga class ‘how long it takes them to achieve such balance?’, lefthand side guys playing with a ball ‘what game is that?’, on the back the lady with the little dog ‘she looks sweet, wonder what’s the dog’s name’, two families with kids coming to play ‘Kids have far too much energy these days’, a couple running uphill ‘are they crazy? I barely walked up here alive!’, not far from me two friends enjoying a picnic ‘hmm is that wine?’
It is like watching a film, so many characters and different stories going on at the same time, and I am there being part of it, headphones on, listening to the soundtrack as the story unfolds. Most of the time we want to be the protagonist and forget how cool it is to be the spectator, to enjoy the simplicity of life, while we fill our memory with treasured moments.
Time came to explore beyond London, someone told me it was easy to travel to Edinburgh…let’s go? (to be continued in the next post). Hasta pronto! See you soon! Auf Wiedersehen! A presto! Au revoir!