An Aussie expat’s first impressions of London

If expat life feels like home then you’re doing it wrong.

London seems similar at first – they drive on the same side of the road and speak the same language – until you realise there’s 30+ dialects, they’re football mad (⚽ not πŸ‰) and fish’n’chips are eaten away from the beach.

Here’s my list of things that immediately stood out to me in my first months in the UK, but this might just be the tip of the iceberg!

The good

πŸ“± Citymapper is the only way to navigate – it combines Google and TfL data
πŸ’“ Mobile data plans are much more generous (but with mixed reliability)
βš•οΈ NHS upfront for expats is expensive but the care you receive is unrivalled
🚍 Sitting at the front on the top level of a double decker is the best way to take it all in
🎭 A visit to The Globe Theatre makes studying Shakespeare for years worth it
🧣 Wall-mounted heaters, such genius!
🍷 Mulled wine, where have you been all my life?
πŸ• Squash is a thing – even Franco Manca’s signature pizza base
🌈 It doesn’t rain all that much, it just drizzles
πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί Clapham is overrun by Australians and New Zealanders
🦊🐿️ Foxes and squirrels scurry around like Pokemon!

The bad

πŸ“ž Telephone boxes are run down and smell like pee
πŸ€” Brits use ‘You all right?’ as a legitimate greeting
πŸ“Ί You pay for a TV licence you never use
πŸ₯¦ Most supermarkets close early on Sundays
🌬️ Air-conditioning is virtually non-existent, even on public transport
🍫 Chocolate tastes strange, but Galaxy bars make up for it
πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ There are no power points in bathrooms
🏠 SpareRoom.co.uk is a necessary evil – watch out for scammers
🍌 Fresh produce isn’t that fresh at all
πŸ’© The Thames has got nothing on Sydney Harbour and is always brown
πŸ™ Making friends is hard work and you may feel lonely at times.

The ugly

Big Ben will be covered in scaffolding until 2021!

🍦 You won’t find a Weis Bar anywhere but you can try an online recipe?
πŸ‘’ People actually wear UGG boots outside
🚰 Hard water is liquid hell, and don’t even get me started on limescale
πŸš† Trains outside of London are privately operated and hella expensive
🍽️ Eating out is double the cost and half the quality of what we get back home
πŸƒ Everyone’s in a rush – be prepared to be bumped, knocked and shoved daily
πŸ›‹οΈ Some apartments don’t have a living room
🚽 Sharing one bathroom and toilet between five rooms is normal
🚨 You become desensitised to news of violence or moped thieves in your area
🀧 Sometimes there’s black stuff in your tissue after sneezing.

The amusing

Get used to uncomfortable eye and body contact on the Tube

πŸ—£οΈ Try dropping some true blue Aussie vernacular mid-conversation, it’s an experience
⛱️ ‘Beaches’ in the UK
🌳 People sun bake in parks in summer
πŸ§₯ Australia Day in winter is more brunch than BBQ
πŸš‡ Tube, Underground, Overground, Rail, DLR … can’t we just call it a train?
🍻 Brits who are equally rowdy after a couple of pints
πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ Standing on the right on the escalator but having no clue where to on the pavement
πŸ˜• Brits who pick up on your accent but are too polite to ask where you’re from
🀣 Cockfosters is a legitimate name of a Tube station on the Piccadilly line
❄️ 10min of snow is enough to interrupt the whole transport system
🌏 You learn what ‘Antipodean’ means for the first time
πŸ₯§ Christmas mince pies do not contain mince meat – don’t be fooled.

I’ve got a niggling feeling I might have missed a few things … If you’ve experienced culture shock since moving to London or the UK, do tell!

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