Traveling abroad has been always a dream for me. I was born in a very small city in Bahia where traveling inside the borders was not so easy, even worse offshore. January 17th, 2014 was the day when I arrived in London for the first time. It was also my first international experience, so you can imagine how excited I was. In this article, I will summarize to you what this experience meant to me.
My life before London
I used to live with my mum and my sister in São Paulo. We did not have our own house and I had just finished college. Even though I had a job, it was not well-paid and besides, I worked 10 hours a day. It does not go without saying that I was not very happy with it.
Everything changed when my mum was working for a family who had just decided to move to London and offered her this opportunity to go along. She would only accept in the case they agree to take us along. For our surprise, they agreed on it, so my mom and I went.
With her salary, my mum was able to afford my six-months English exchange. She paid my school as well as my expenses there. This opportunity certainly changed my life. To be honest, I was not sure I deserved that great gift, but I took it.
The most beautiful city I have ever seen
When I arrived at Heathrow Airport, I did not know what to do as I knew virtually nothing about London. Uninformed I took a taxi towards the city. Later, I realized the big mistake and waste of money (a train journey costing 8 euros would have done the job). I felt like being part of a set film or on a history book. I had never seen a city like London, that it was so different from all that I knew at that time. I was certainly achieving a dream. For me, it is by far the most beautiful city I have even been in the world.
London is not only the capital city of England but the whole UK. With a population of 8.9 million people originated from everywhere, it is nowadays a multicultural and welcoming city. Not surprisingly, it was known for a long time in history as the Workshop of the world, where its pioneers in technology and industrial revolution took place to change the course of the world.
London is famous for its great architectures, buildings like the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. From the London Eye, is possible to see the entire city. Besides these traditional places, there is also Camden, Trafalgar Square, Nothing Hill and parks like Greenwich, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St. James’s and others. London has history, culture, nature, parties, pubs and all modern things. There are activities for all tastes and preferences, you can l never get bored.
The capital of England has very good restaurants with local and international brands. You can eat food from all over the world at affordable prices. Pubs can be found in every corner. From the most traditional to the most moderns and fancy one (once again for all tastes). Another good thing about London is the Londoners, who are in overall very polite and kind. You can’t forget the Monarchy, which adds an extra charm to the city.
How was my life there and what I learned from it?
Personal archive: walking around London
I used to live in Central London, near Victoria Station where my English School was located, then I could basically do everything on foot, which I enjoyed a lot. Holding an English student visa, I could not work which left me with plenty of free time to take on activities that I love (most of them free), such as visit museums, art galleries, go to parks or simply walk around.
Despite being a dream coming true, living in London is not that easy. The city is one of the most expensive and it has become even hard to work there for non-residents. You need to be very rich to afford a house and renting is also expensive. On the other hand, transport and goods are cheaper than other countries. When I was there, I used to pay £600,00 per month for a bedroom in a host family. Other expenses were around £300,00. It is still cheaper than New York, for example, where a room rent is around $1.000,00. Therefore, in London it is possible to live well if you have a good job.
Those six months I lived in London opened my mind and made me stronger in many ways. Although my mum was also living there, we did not see each other every day. I used to be most of the time by myself. It wasn’t so easy and we had some problems there, but it was a great experience.
In fact, this provided me with a lot of useful knowledge about life, different cultures, people, history and, mainly, about myself. From that time on I felt confident enough to go around the world, to fight for my goals and, the most important, never forget who I am, where I come from, respect and honor my history. It showed me that everything in life is possible. The world is huge, and we can go further.