I’m trying something a bit different here on the blog! Since moving to England, I thought I’d write more of a personal style post each week about settling in and adjusting to life across the pond. I think it’s nice for friends and family (and readers in general!) to know what I’m up to, but also a good way to talk about my thoughts and musings about life in the UK and generally all things British. And to share some of my favorite photos of the week! I’ve now been here for just over a week—I can’t believe how fast time flies!
Organizing a house is hard/time-consuming
Aka, so much money has been spent at Ikea. I am so thankful, again and again, that Adam and I chose to get a furnished place this year. There’s so many little things to sort and organize with moving, and all of it is so goddamn time-consuming. Seriously, how do people manage to move houses every year?! Things are starting to come together though, little by little: bookcases are organized, clothes are getting sorted and put away, and we FINALLY figured out how to turn the heating on—YES!!!
I don’t understand Yorkshire accents and people here seem to have exceptionally bad teeth
I would say the accents are charming, but I can barely understand what anyone is saying so I’m not totally sure. Also, the “all Brits have bad teeth” stereotype is blown out of proportion here. Not sure how people manage to chew. And this is in the city, not even in the countryside…
Casual sexism is alive and well in the UK
No culture shock here! While I know this from living here and previous trips here (hello, sexual harassment), sexism exists in the UK as well as at home. When the Ikea movers came to deliver our furniture, the man asked, “Is there anyone else home who could help?” I said no, but here let me throw some shoes on and I can come grab some things, happy to help. He completely ignored my offer to help, looked around the entryway, and again asked if anyone else was home. Me, stone-faced in an ice cold tone: “my husband is at work. I’ll hold the door open for you then.” I lifted weights for years and am actually quite strong—so being seen as unable to carry bookcases down the street and through the door REALLY bothered me. I didn’t really realize just how much it bothered me until thinking about this post a few days later. It just really irked me. Ugh. I am slightly less annoyed now since I remembered that I paid £35 to get all my Ikea stuff shipped here and into the house. But don’t ask for help if you only mean male help!
I have lots of “settling in” things to do still
I still need to set up a bank account, phone plan, get a job, finish unpacking/organizing all my stuff, get a National Insurance number, etc. I’m trying to just take it one step at a time, one day at a time, and not get stressed out. It’ll all come together eventually.
The UK government is bureaucratic and SO FRUSTRATING
Putting aside all of my the paperwork/bureaucracy (read: stress) associated with my visa, I can honestly say that the UK government is ridiculous and slow and borderline incompetent now that I’m actually in the country. I spent 20 minutes on the phone, waiting on hold and then giving all my personal information in order to apply for a National Insurance number (sort of like a Social Security number), which you can only apply for by phone. The woman then told me that I’d receive an application in 7-10 days by mail and I could then fill it out and send it back in. Like what the fuck did I just spend all this time doing on the phone?! WHY ARE GOVERNMENT THINGS LIKE THIS?!
The pound is ridiculously cheap. AMERICANS, COME VISIT BRITAIN!
Had the exchange rate been this good when I lived in Nottingham, I would have an extra $45 for every £100 I took out. Just. Think. About. That. The pound is wavering between $1.20-$1.25 (as in, £1=$1.22 at the time of writing). In 2013-2014, I think the lowest it ever got was £1=$1.63. And that was on a good day (a day that was so good, that most of my flatmates and I went out and got cash from the ATM after someone spread the word in order to take advantage of the good exchange rate). While this is a clear result of the Brexit fallout (which I am honestly too exhausted from talking about and too stressed from thinking about my future/income/life here in the UK to explain here on the blog now), it means one thing: AMERICANS, YOUR MONEY HAS NEVER BEEN WORTH MORE HERE! Plan a trip to Britain RIGHT NOW. Not only can you come see me (yay!) but your money will go farther than it ever has in the history of the GBP currency. I will be exchanging large sums of dollars into pounds in the next few weeks, and I am elated to have such a good exchange rate (just not elated for the inflation and economic recession that will come with it).
York is such a beautiful city and I’m falling in love
It was a hopeless case to begin with. But I’m falling more and more in love with this city every single day! I love how quaint and charming it is. I love the winding streets, I love the churches and the cute shops, I love how medieval it feels even today. The architecture is amazing, the atmosphere is lively (if a little touristy), and there’s (supposedly) a pub for every day of the year (see below!). I love York’s history: you can see real stuff the Romans built in the middle of the city, like the Multangular Tower built in 300 A.D. Right now, one of my favorite parts of the city is the Museum Gardens, with the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. It was pretty flooded when I visited in December, but looks beautiful in fall.
York Minster is stunning
I knew this already, but York Minster is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in England and I cannot wait to explore every nook and cranny. I’ll be posting lots of pictures and probably a whole blog post on it sometime in the next few weeks, but I am so in love with it. And that’s saying a lot, considering how many cathedrals I’ve been to in England. I am so lucky that I can visit it whenever I want!
Like most small cities in England, I don’t know any of the street names
I am learning the city based on direction and landmarks, since all of the street names change every other block—and there are no blocks to begin with, since it’s an old town in Europe and no one thought of using the grid system a thousand years ago. And York is strange, in that there are only 3 streets in York that are actually called “street.” The rest of the streets are called “gate” (ex. Ousegate, Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, High Petergate, etc.). And the gates to the city walls? Those are called a “bar.” Who knows what actual bars are called here these days.
I’m slowly but surely starting to work my way through my list of pubs to try in York
It’s my duty for the blog (of course) to try out as many of York’s pubs as possible. I’ve got a list a mile long of all the pubs I want to visit! I’ll be keeping you all updated as I drink my way through York 😉
I can’t wait to explore more of Yorkshire
I read a whole guidebook on Yorkshire like a book, and highlighted and Googled everything and anything I might want to see. There is literally SO much to see in this part of England! I can’t wait to visit the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors (both National Parks), I can’t wait to check out the big-city vibe of Leeds, I can’t wait to explore the sea coast towns of Whitby and Scarborough, and I can’t wait to make the pilgrimage to Sheffield when I’m feeling particularly homesick and need to get Taco Bell. There’s lots to do, and I can’t wait!!
That being said, I feel guilty about doing anything fun when I don’t have a job yet
I am working on job applications every day, so it’s not like I’m not looking for a job or being productive. But I just constantly feel guilty for doing anything (that costs money, especially) when I don’t have a job yet. I am doing my best to just enjoy these first few weeks, enjoy living in England, and especially enjoy the freedom to explore York and do whatever I feel like during the day. But I just feel bad, since I feel like I should be spending every waking second on job applications. It’s something I’m working on—trying to find a good (and productive) medium.
I’m still waiting for it to hit me that I’m finally living in England now
For some reason, it still hasn’t hit me that I live here now. There hasn’t been this moment of “holy shit, I live in England.” I was expecting it and I’m still expecting it, and it just hasn’t happened. Like I said in my last blog post, I just feel really comfortable here. I’ve already lived here, traveled here, spent time here. I don’t know if or when it’ll happen, but I just keep telling myself that I really do live in England now!
Have you ever experienced any of these things, in England or another country? Or lived in a different country? I’d love to hear about your experiences!
Catch up on previous posts! Links below: