Another close friend of mine asked me, how I spent the first days in London. Beside the fact, that it seems, that I still don’t master the English language good enough, maybe friend means already close, anyone else should be a buddy…? Suggestions are accepted, but please, only from natives!
So, how were these first days?
The day of my move is already documented. It was an easy-going disaster, which at least was adjusted by Giorgio’s arrival. He gave me money, we bought a mattress together and he told me, how wonderful it is, how I live, that not many people can be proud of having lived in four different countries. Like, really lived there, I don’t count the USA-s two months’ experience, I don’t even count Spain, where I only studied and stayed for less than a half year…Maybe I should?
Anyway, I want to know better the UK, want to do everything I can, talk to anyone on the streets, in the shops, ask everything, not to accept things, I don’t know, or let me intimidate by strange happenings. It is like going back to be a child. Everything I do, I do it for the first time.
Sure. Globalization helps a lot. Yes. Movie theatres are the same, shopping is basically the same, the food in the grocery shops, the offer of the mobile companies…so it is not difficult to adapt quickly. Just few things, I couldn’t manage at the beginning, what is worth a post:
Opening a bank account: I clearly remember, when I arrived to Italy – back to 2005 -, Giorgio told me about a bank, which gives huge interests, gives a debit and a credit card, and there are no costs of closing and opening the account, and if one is not permanently resident in Italy – which was my case that time – also the administrative costs are zero. It was the IWBank, that time it was maybe the only real online bank. I opened an account online in literally five minutes and in two days I had my debit card. I was set in less than a week.
Here…I made my research already in Italy. Obviously the first choices were having an account at IWBank or Ing Direct, where I bank now – which beat IWbank only because of the Orange Saving Account – but the first doesn’t operate in the UK – homepage exists, but it is not possible to open an account online – while the second doesn’t have the bank account option, only the savings account.
So, on the oldschool mode, I went to the biggest bank I saw on the streets of Kingston and tried to open a bank account personally. As I arrived here like a week ago, I had two choices at HSBC. Opening a “passport account” for 8 £ a month, or asking my employer for a letter, that proves that I work at their company, and waiting for a Thames Water/Southern Electricity bill, that proves, that I live here.
This second point made me crazy. Thames Water registered me with the wrong name – not Kis, but Jis – so their bill is not accepted by the bank, while Southern Electricity can send me my first bill only in six weeks. So what? First the bank said, the employer’s letter is enough, than they wanted the actual address proof, than they simply rejected the apply. I asked for the reason, the employee said, he can’t tell me the reason. WHAT????? Yes…So I still don’t have a bank account, drives me crazy and makes me think, how I not only depend on money – I have enough to live a year without working – but also on a card, a cheap plactic card…My debit card still didn’t work at that time, while the credit card is charged with the monthly rental, what is high enough to pull it almost in red. After all tis frustrating rejection, I tried my debit card again, just…you know, like wonders happen, AND IT WORKS!!! First thing I’ve done, was withdrawing 200 £ forr no reason, just to have it. Second, I kissed the card (hopefully it will not lose its magneticity).
What can I tell about the rest in London?
I saw people walking on the streets in shorts, girls without socks, people in T-Shirts, I mean….yes, the weather is really good, it is 10 °C, but it is still no reason for getting pneumonia. During the New Year’s Eve the girls heading to a party were dressed in mini skirts, without stockings, with open backs, without obviously a coat or anything. Actually a good idea, if you take the public transport, probably you don’t have to stay around more than 5 minutes in the cold, but I was so surprised. How could their mothers let them go outside, clothed in NO-THING? I am still perplexed by people not wearing proper winter cloths.
I buy my food at the Lidl, which is basically the same, like in every country. Cheap things, some of them good, some less good. I need a lot of time to find the good quality food and something is even not possible to find in a good quality. The second option is the Tesco Express, which offers very good quality food, with self-service checkout for an affordable price.
I bought a new television, as the old one hadn’t got freeview built-in, and in the UK we have digital TV. I also bought a TV licence, now the only thing I miss are the channels, since the plug in the wall is probably too loose to keep the cable firm. I have to call the estate agency to send me someone. I miss CSI and NCIS and the news in the morning, of course.
I applied for council tax – maybe its bill arrives next week, what could speed up the bank account situation.
Work is fine, lot to do, nice colleagues. As far as I know, in the office we only have one British guy, the rest is from outside. This British guy has Sri-Lankian origins and a beautiful British native accent. He’s very nice, my superior, the project manager of MORMED. Work is 10 minutes from home by foot and is 15 minutes walk from Kingston centre.
Ach, today I was in the movie theatre. The movie is fine, it costs for an adult almost 10 £, small popcorn is for 4 £, I mean…it is not the cheapest relaxation, but I read, that this Odeon theatre is one of the biggest theatres in London and if I always go at 1 PM on Sundays like this, it becomes my lunch and a good digital or 3D movie. I saw the Iron Lady, full immersion into the British culture. Yes, obviously I cried. Margaret Thatcher was my childhood’s idol, the iron lady, the lady, who could change actually something in the world’s tread. Will I change something sometimes?
Ach, a very interesting thing, I haven’t found a bookstore yet…I would need a good guide to London, as I suppose to spend next Sunday downtown. Am eager to go to the Tate Britain and eat in one of the city centre’s pubs afterwards.
So, basically I have to state, there is no Kulturschock at all, I enjoy the city, the walk to work, staying at home, the winter sale – J – and the British life. Can’t wait, that Giorgio comes to visit – or any other guest, so you, dear reader are very welcome – to go to a Sunday lunch into one of the pubs.