Many of my British friends or people we meet out and about ask me how do I like it in London? They may instead ask what’s the biggest difference between England and America? I feel the answer to both of those questions are kind of related. They are also not really answerable in sentence or two unless I want to wildly generalize. As I start to write this entry a British friend of mine who I’ve known for years asked me how I was liking the country while we were at a pub the other night after work. That question turned into a 15 to 30 minute conversation about it. It also inspired me to want to write and address the question. It may be a complex answer however it’s a great question to address.
At the time of this being published we have officially been living in England for 221 days. I’ve said it a few times to multiple people that either we are still in our honeymoon phase of adjustment or we are already adjusted to life here. The reason is I haven’t really felt a huge amount of stress over adjusting. It feels like it is a short amount of time to be adjusted already after everything I’ve read. That is why I sometimes think were still stuck in the honeymoon phase however there were rough patches early on so maybe we are adjusted already. I bring all this up since my answer to this question may obviously change over time especially if we aren’t fully adjusted.
The short answer to the question how do we like it is we’re loving it (so far). The longer answer is that we are generally loving it, however it’s different. It is hard not to compare everything you experience with your prior experiences. That means everything I do I end up comparing it to New York. In reading about adjusting to a new country they tell you not to do that. I am not saying that’s a good thing to do however it’s what generally happens. When I do that comparison some things are better here. Some things are not. Most are just different.
A good example of what is better is our house. We have a garden with lots of space for the kid. We are on a good tube line very close to the station. My commute is about the same from New York. We loved our neighborhood in NY. Were we are in London is much more suburban feel yet it is basically the same type of area. The house and neighborhood wins out in London over NY. In general the work life balance in London seems much more relaxed.
There are things that were better in New York. For us we had a lot of family and friends that we just can’t see anymore. My mom saw the kids twice a week. We spent a weekend or so a month with M’s parents, etc. We will always have more family in the states however over time we are making friends here.
Then there are things that are just simply different. Maybe marginally better or worse. They are really just different. Those are the hard ones to explain since my mind immediately tries to rate if it’s better or not to New York or the United States. The reality is it’s all about personal preference. I might love something that someone else might not. For example I’m a relatively fast-paced person. When I lived in Louisiana and I would get behind someone who is writing a check to pay for their groceries I would have no patience when they stood there for five minutes writing it. London is definitely much more laid-back than New York. It’s still a global city however things are not as fast-paced. Younger version of me who had to deal with the slow of Louisiana likely would be very frustrated by London. Me today however is enjoying that slowdown.
When I think about that abstract that things are slower and more relaxed it is hard to describe. What pop’s into my head is sitting in a café in a museum. The kids eating scones while drinking coffee on real China. In New York everything would be so rushed and everything would be disposable paper. In London over the winter we went to the museums a bunch of times and relived that scene I described. M more than I. Everything is all about the context. The subtle differences would have annoyed me in the past and I actually enjoy them today. That doesn’t mean there better or worse. It’s the differences that were trying to experience and enjoy. Thankfully for now those differences are favorable to us. In a year, or 5 years in the context of the example I gave will I return to my old impatient self? Who knows. I hope not but you never know.
I can write so much more on this topic. It is likely best to pick up at another point in time. I will say for all of our friends in the States curious about how we are doing we are having a great experience. It is harder than it looks however the rewards are totally worth it. It boils down to a Simpsons quote I like to use. If you ask me am I enjoying life in England. The yes or no answer is “Yes with an if, no with a but. Leaning towards yes…