1. Always carry an umbrella…
It amazes me how Londoners always seem surprised when it starts to rain, especially given it happens almost every day. Sure, it doesn’t rain all day every day, but it’s a regular enough occurrence not to have to exclaim ‘wow, it’s raining’ every time a drop of water falls from the sky. Invest in a lightweight umbrella and carry it always.
2. … and a pair of sunglasses
Despite the regularity of rain, it is sunny more often than I expected. Unfortunately, this usually sees me shielding my eyes in pain and screaming ‘make it stop‘ in a startlingly accurate portrayal of a vampire. You probably already own sunglasses. Carry them with you and take advantage of these rare moments to wear them.
3. Stand on the right on the escalator
I know, I know, it doesn’t make sense. Brits drive on the left side of the road, yet they stand on the right on escalators. Make sure you get it right, or you’ll live to regret it. (And you will live, because most of your fellow commuters will just passive-aggressively bore holes into the back of your head with their death stares wishing you would die, before politely saying ‘excuse me’).
4. Jaywalking is not illegal
This one blows the minds of American and Australians, but you will not be fined/arrested/crash-tackled to the ground by cops for walking across the street anywhere other than a designated crossing. In fact, a friend of mine in town planning told me that if people didn’t jaywalk at Oxford Circus, there wouldn’t be enough room for all the pedestrians on the footpath! (Although in the interests of safety, I encourage you to use a designated crossing wherever possible *legal disclaimer*).
5. Embrace the queue
Yes, I know it’s annoying that you’re starving and the restaurant you want to go to doesn’t take reservations but you’ve just got to learn to deal with it. If it did take reservations, you would’ve had to put your name down months ago, so this is really the better option. (Just remember to get in line before you’re hungry enough to bite off your dining companion’s arm.) If you can, grab a drink at the bar and whet your appetite. If you’re stuck waiting outside, just put up your umbrella and get cozy while you catch up on pre-dinner conversation.
6. Accept that the pub is your new social venue
The drinking culture in this city is insane. I don’t think I’ve been invited to a single event that didn’t involve drinking and I’m still shocked by just how drunk so many people get on a regular basis. For a girl that tries to stay dry on school nights, I found that not drinking was starting to impact on my social life. But, you know what? I know this is completely obviously but… you can go to the pub and not drink! Alternatively, you can always propose some events of your own. (I don’t mean to cast judgement on your own drinking habits – I just can’t hold my liquor so this one has been tough for me!)
7. Love London for what it is
London is an amazing city, but it can also be a hard one. Be prepared for this. In particular, it can be difficult to adjust to the passive-aggressive London style (read this article from Stylist for more). If you’re not here for a post-school or uni gap year pulling pints in a pub, it can also be quite hard to make friends. Give it time and just enjoy being in one of the most interesting, diverse, historic and exciting cities in the world!