I moved from Oldenzaal, Netherlands, to London in 2009. I was working for a serviced apartment company at the time, which involved living and working in Crete, Switzerland and Mallorca. Then the opportunity opened up to work in London and my boyfriend lived here, so it was the perfect time to relocate to a city I’d always wanted to live in.
Not knowing anyone can be hard when moving to a vast city like London. I was working within a company of five people at the time and, with it being so small, it just wasn’t going to be enough socialising for me. I decided to join a ‘Dutch meet up’ group and spent time with people who were in the same situation as me, which soon had me feeling busy. Attending musicals and doing an Italian course also helped me find my feet (I now do salsa too). Socialising in Amsterdam was a lot easier because the people are very honest, whereas Londoners create a barrier of politeness and are more reserved. When people say “let’s meet up”, I find it very rarely happens!
Cycling around London is very chaotic and fast paced compared to Oldenzaal. In Amsterdam, road users have a better awareness of cyclists but London is crazy, so I soon opted for the tube. In an unfamiliar city, London’s transport network is a blessing. It’s comforting to know you can get the tube to anywhere in the capital, and the double decker buses offer a great service too! London’s size scared me initially, but now I value the pockets of interest that are dotted all over the city. Every time I go somewhere, whether it’s on Oxford Street or in Shoreditch, I spot a new restaurant. Whatever you want to do, there will always be something new.
As far as food goes, I’ve missed the Dutch traditional dish of raw herring and onions. Every time I head back home, my mum has a plate of it waiting for me. When I was introduced to the British roast I wasn’t so sure, but now it’s a Sunday must! I’m still not sold on a ‘proper British pie’ and vinegar on chips is still a strange combination. I can try comprehending these local customs, but the biggest shock came on my first visit to the local pub when last orders were called before midnight! This seems to be surprising to most people relocating to the UK.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the capital, but I’ve been to visit Edinburgh, Cornwall, the Lake District and Wales to experience more of Britain. I go home three to four times a year to see my family, but I have no plans to move back. I love it here.
Author: Kristel Horst – Client Account Support