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So, I’ve been in London for 5 days now and the most important thing is I already found a place to live for the next 10 months. This was my biggest fear to be honest, because I know how it is to “live” in a big hostel dorm room for weeks, it’s no funny business. But those first three days felt more like holidays, so it was alright, I am not complaining.
Surely, I’ve been to London and England before, so not everything is new to me, but there are obviously still a couple of things I already noticed or rediscovered in my early days in this city. The flight time from Frankfurt to London is ridiculous; the whole thing mainly consists of take-off, eating a mediocre apple pie, and then please fasten your seat belts and return your seats to an upright position, we’re landing in a city that is basically - just like Berlin - a metropolis in the western world and even on the same continent as my former place of residence. So, it shouldn’t be that different, one might assume.
I was talking to a friend of mine about this, who’d lived in Ireland for a year, and she agreed that somehow you think England and Ireland /feel/ familiar (and with this I don’t want to say that it is my wish that it feels as close to /home/ as possible, on the contrary). But that’s not it.
Just go to an ordinary Sainsbury’s. I mean, I’m not naive and I knew my year in this city was going to be bloody expensive, but it’s always different when you’re standing in an aisle and looking at a standard shelf with various mineral water bottles. Because only seeing the ridiculous prices actually written down black on white makes it real. I realised, yes fuck, your diet is going to be a funny thing throughout this year.
Apparently, Londoners’ diets are quite frankly different (and thinking back to the supermarket in a couple of other English towns I visited it’s probably safe to generalise it and say “the English”*). Before you even reach the shelf with the overpriced mineral water, you walk past endless sections with prepared food. A million different sandwiches, salads, pastas - all neatly packed in small portions, all ready to eat. I’m not used to it, but to be honest, I’m a lazy piece of shit, I’ve always been like this when it comes to cooking, and I think I embrace it. Also don’t forget your small bag of crisps, you might get hungry waiting for the tube.
Having chosen the cheapest 2 litre bottle of sparkling water and successfully ignored the chocolate bars, you then walk to the self-checkout and you immediately forget your worries about money. I can pay for my food without human interaction, hell yeah how can you not be happy about this? I’m still having my problems with keeping apart the different coins and at these little stations I can normally rummage around my wallet as long as I want, without being all stressed out because the cashier might be annoyed. This was one of the best inventions ever and so far, I’ve never had John Watson-esque problems with them (ahaha Nina…). You grab your food and try to stuff it all into the bags you brought, because honestly, free plastic bags en masse… that’s still an outrage (I thought everyone must have at least this much eco-friendliness in them, this should just be common sense?!). And then, all done, you can step back into the streets.
I think it was probably yesterday, when I’d just finished the whole procedure explained above and stood in front of the supermarket, checking if I still had all of my belongings (honeeestly I can’t stop doing this, the urge to check it never ends), right next to a woman on the phone. Another woman walked by, and suddenly the woman next to me shouted “excuse me! Excuse me!” to the passer-by. She stopped, looked at her and woman no. 1 just said “You look really nice, I love your outfit!”, turned away and continued her call as if nothing had happened. Woman no. 2 smiled and walked on, no big deal. This was honestly one of my best moments in those last few days, girl love is everything.
But thankfully, that wasn’t the only nice encounter I witnessed. People in the streets generally are very polite and they love to apologise. Even if you just almost got into each others way and didn’t even touch - you’ll nevertheless always hear a small apology. Basically, people here are running around town and muttering “sorry” all the time. Since I first noticed it and started thinking about this phenomenon it’s hard not to laugh when it happens again. And believe me, it happens sooner rather than later. and that’s great, I love this!
*lmao nah ok I’m not doing this, but I hope you basically know what I mean/what I observed the majority of people does
I’m really doing this lmao