The London experience – Episode 1 – Tough beginnings

As you probably could interpret from the title of this blog post I will write about London (UK). So, I’m living in London for the next couple of months and it’s going to be legendary. Before, however, several things need to be sorted out.

It was a lovely Thursday evening when I first arrived at Gatwick Airport. There was I and my luggage which was no more than it should be. 20 kilograms of clothes, stuff and more stuff. Basically, enough for anybody, anywhere and for however long. After my arrival I went to a good friend of mine who provided accommodation for the time needed to find a place on my own.

Starting to communicate a.k.a. get a SIM card

If you ever look for a flat in London you will need a cell phone and a SIM card. I only needed a SIM since I already posses a phone. Where do you get a SIM? Let’s say T-Mobile. I went to T-Mobile because it seemed quite a good offer I saw on the internet before I went to London. Unfortunately, I was informed that I needed a UK bank account for that. Thrilled and enthusiastic I approached HSBC Bank to open an account. I waited for a couple of minutes and was then served by an employee. Once more I didn’t succeed since I had no address yet because I was staying with my friend. In fact, I did not even know her address.  So I was fucked. It seemed like a vicious cycle.

No SIM without bank account, no bank account without address and no flat without being able to contact people.

I stepped out of HSBC and just opposite there was a Llyods Bank which charges you 6£ a day for unplanned overdrafts with your VISA debit card. I did not know that and don’t mind about it now but you should consider it if you ever think of opening a bank account in the UK. I went to Llyods Bank and for some reason the lady there told me that she couldn’t open my bank account without my employer’s contract. Again, I had no idea what to do. My first day in London almost ended without a result. I nearly couldn’t check anything in my checklist. Despite all the obstacles that were thrown in my way by destiny I didn’t even for one moment consider giving up. I approached another T-Mobile because I really needed a SIM card to be able to communicate. Such a basic need and those cold-blooded, competitive providers tell their potential customers to go away and open a bank account. And those even more cold-blooded banks telling me to go a get papers and a place to live. Anyways, I was again in a T-Mobile store and this time a much friendlier guy told me that I could not get that special offer I saw on the internet because it needs contract. He offered me a pay as you go SIM with internet booster that kind of stuff for a fistful of pounds. I was good to go. Relief spread through my body when I succeeded getting a SIM card. I was keen to continue my quest and open a bank account. I went to another Llyods Bank and a much friendlier woman was able to help me. She could open an account and needed no contract; even my workplace address was good enough. Simply splendid. I now had a SIM, bank account and was ready to seek for flats.

Where are all the Brits?

Gumtree, easyroommate, spareroom were my source websites to help me find a room. Gumtree in particular is fantastic. It’s well-known and hundreds of ads are posted every day. I don’t have much money that’s why I was looking for a cheap room in a flat share or house share. My budget was about 350£ which is not a lot. I’m talking about 350£ per month, not per week. It’s so exciting to look for flats in London. You’re sometimes scared, wondering, feeling awkward or just like a place. Which place you take depends on your budget and your interests. I wanted to be with at least some British people who I can talk to and improve my English. 7.5 million people live in London but I honestly can’t tell where the English people are in London. I’ve been to 6 flats in 6 days, all in different parts of the city and only 2 were not occupied by Uzbekistanis, Italian, French,  Japanese or Indian people. I’m not xenophobic I was just really wondering where the heck the people were that supposedly live in this country. At long last, I found a flat and it’s a great place. Doesn’t cost me much more than expected, it’s close to work and comfortable.

Silent pilgrims in corporate uniform

My first day at work was interesting. Interesting is neutral. Many impressions shape my first day. I was still at my friend’s place and I used to walk over London Bridge for the first couple of days which is quite cool. It starts at about 8 am when you see people in suits heading towards Bank. Thousands from all sides. Fat, skinny, white, black, small, tall, short, good-looking men and women in their suits march towards those huge, lifeless, concrete building owned by banks and insurance companies. So was I.

It’s fascinating that amongst all those people still almost everyone manages to be alone. No matter how stuck the tube is, no matter how close you site besides someone in the bus, people just wouldn’t talk to you. If you ever want to be alone and not disturbed go to Europe’s largest city, you will get more privacy than in any godforsaken village.

That was the first post of many to come. I already have had loads of other adventures but 1000 words is enough for now. Next time I will start an experiment. Talking to people in the tube.

About semironie

6 thoughts on “The London experience – Episode 1 – Tough beginnings

  1. Hy SEMIRONIE

    Do you ever publish your checklist? I’m very interessted in your checklist. What the heck do you want to do in this big capital city? I like to know!

    By and see you there @ Victoria Road!

    Sue

  2. Dear friend!

    I absolutely adore reading your posts, your manner of writing is inspiring. I think your english skills become better every day! A++, nerdastic! Have a good time, especially during the nights! See you later, aligator.

    Many kisses

    Dau1990

    P.S. I like your spectacles 😉

  3. wachovia is great, they are there for you when you need help with anything. they know there stuff. one time i had a huge cicekhng account problem and they fixed right up and found some extra cash (: check it out. i love it (:

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