previously posted on my blog Abroad in London
as a weekly update for family and friends
Expectations and Virgoism
Everything fell into place within several weeks of finding our flat. I purchased my one way plane ticket at a discount and had chosen to fly over with one of my two flatmates- the second would arrive later after recovering from a surgery. Through a friend I was given a European cell phone already in tact with minutes and a number. And I had created my website and blog to detail the experience.
With everything seemingly in place for the move I was growing antsy to be across the Atlantic already- but I still had nearly a month to go. To occupy myself during that final month I immersed myself in planning, creating lists and continuing to read up on my future travels.
Exactly how do you prepare to live in a city as great as London, as diverse as London, and as culturally refined and rich as London? All the travel guides could tell me were the places to see- as a tourist. Everything I came upon was geared towards anywhere from a day’s stay to several weeks but nothing seemed to touch on a stay as long as six months.
I decided that I would treat London like a fine wine rather than a cheap shot- savoured instead of ingested.
Automatically you want to rush and see all the sights in the first week. That was my first reaction. I knew that I had five days between landing in London and starting my job to settle in and become acquainted with my new home. Predictably I wanted to plan those five days to allow me to see everything and anything I could. I forced myself to adopt patience when it came to my travels in London and it helped knowing that at the end of August I would be visited by my best friend. Such a visit would present me with the opportunity to travel around London like a tourist and visit the major sites.
Naturally as a Virgo I started compulsively making lists to prepare for this move and the travels I would undertake. I created lists of the London sights I wanted to visit from museums to landmarks and all in between. I created lists of the day trips I wanted to take from London including such places as Brighton, Stonehenge, Oxford and York. I created lists of the cities and countries I desperately wanted to travel to outside of the United Kingdom.
I dedicated an entire notebook to the sights, places and travels I intended to partake in. That was how I coped with the month’s wait between finalizing my living arrangements and until the departure date.
In retrospect those lists were the foundation for a completely ambitious undertaking. I’m not ashamed to say that I only made it through 3/5s of my original list.
In fact I am proud to say I even came close to tackling those lists.
My expectations for those six months were enormously ambitious. I knew from the start that I had 11.5 days of vacation to spend and my every intention was to use them travelling. I knew from the start that I wanted an extensive tour of the United Kingdom and that I would visit friends and family as I was able. Scotland was open to me through my cousin Elizabeth, Paris through my cousin Betsy, and Greece through any number of family members.
I actually believed that I could cram those pages in my notebook into six months. Now I can acknowledge how ridiculous those plans were but when you’re staring down six months in a foreign country that you’ve never before visited I think it’s easy to become short sighted about your own restrictions.