Since moving to the United Kingdom about a year ago, I have found myself slowly adjusting to the fast pace of living in the Western world. This was something I wasn’t accustomed to, but I had to learn fast if I stood any chance at surviving in Europe’s concrete jungle. The first couple of months, were a cold blur as I was so preoccupied with staying warm that I wore layers upon layers of clothing to shield me from the bitter icy cold weather. Not long after that summer came, bringing with it something I was more familiar with- warm rays of sunshine. The months between were spent searching for a job, which I eventually found in London. This took me out of my comfort zone but also taught me a thing or two about life in London.
Since moving to the United Kingdom, I found London to be one of the most multicultural places on planet earth. I mean there are people from all over the world; from Yemen to Fuji, to the Gambia and the Philippines, every day you meet someone new. Each person you meet has a different, fascinating life story to tell. Working in London taught me something new each day. And one of the most important lessons I have learnt to date is that there are no right or wrong ways of doing things, just different ways of doing things.
Stand to the right, please
Commuting to London every day, you soon learn the rule of standing to your right while on the escalator. At first I, did not understand what the big deal was, and why everyone had to stand to the right, but I soon has a eureka moment when I was running late for my train one day and had to run up the escalators at the speed of lightning, only to be obstructed by someone standing to the left of the escalator. Believe me, the split second you stop to say excuse me, can make all the difference between you missing your train or arriving just in time for work.
When I first visited London in 2013, I remember telling my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) that I don’t think I could ever use the tube (London’s underground train network system) by myself. Honestly speaking, I was intimidated by all the criss-cross lines on the tube map. Even though it was colour-coded I couldn’t make out anything. It all seemed like algebra to me. However, fast-forward 2 years and 7 months later, I absolutely love the tube. I think it is an ingenious transport system, dating over 150 years, and I can’t imagine what London would be like without it. I even consider myself quite the “pro” at using the tube. It is not like I know London in and out (or like the back of my hand), but I can safely say that I can travel to most parts of London (with the tube) without having to stop to ask for directions.
One of my best places’ in London is Oxford circus (a famous street in central London which is home to many flagship stores). Oxford circus is a shopaholic’s dream. Yes, it is crawling with loads of tourists and yes you do risk bumping and falling over onto the pavement due to the sheer volume of people, but I still think it is one of the best places to go shopping in London. This is for the simple reason that you have your pick of stores to choose from. From Zara to forever 21, most high street brand names have a store on oxford street. Some brands even have up to three stores (like Zara) on the famous street. It is also the only place in London where you can find the department store Selfridges – home to designer labels such as; Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Mulberry etc. It is a place I would highly recommend for anyone visiting London.
Black girls are magic
One thing I love about working in London is seeing black girls “werk it”. Working in London has given me a new-found appreciation for my skin colour and what it means to be black. Every day on the trains I see beautiful, educated and powerful black women who know their place in society. Women who despite what society tells them, know they are beautiful in their own skin. These women embrace their identity and choose to love their skin colour, be it dark, medium or light, they know that they are beautiful and they rock it.