Moving to London from Eastern Europe – What to Get Ready For
Fresher’s week won’t give you much more than a headache
Your first week of university – or ‘Fresher’s week’ – is meant to consist of partying every night until you don’t have any money or brain cells left. Since most UK first years are freshly 18 and are away from their parents for the first time, they use this occasion to go absolutely wild. But for us Eastern Europeans, alcohol becomes a regular part of life much sooner, and so the obsession with binge drinking and regretful mornings is difficult to understand. Don’t worry – they will all calm down and get into a normal routine when lectures begin and the money starts disappearing. Fresher’s week is not why you came to university after all.
Converting prices to you currency is dangerous
This may be something you would do on holiday, but unless you want to starve yourself or fall into depression, never convert Sterling prices to your homeland currency. The results will always be shocking. London is expensive, and especially so if you compare it to the petite prices of the East. Once you’ve accepted this fact, buying food and eating out will not be as heart breaking. Just remember to keep your budget in mind…
People are much friendlier
I come from the Czech Republic where people are generally unfriendly and rarely cheerful. The average waitress or shop keeper won’t give you a smile even if you crack a joke. So when I moved to London and was greeted and called ‘darling’ or ‘love’ by happy sales assistants, I wasn’t sure if they were being serious. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or directions, people here are usually very polite and friendly.
Prepare for a freezing bedroom
If you are staying at university halls, prepare for some cold, cold nights in your tiny bedroom. Apparently heating is not a thing in the UK, so make sure you have warm pyjamas and a hot water bottle at hand.
5- a- day obsession
I am sure that the concept of the ‘5 pieces of fruit and vegetable a day’ is a strictly UK thing. To the rest of Europe, it seems obvious that one should try and eat as healthy as possible every day. When my English friends eat carrot cake, they often debate about ‘how many a day’ a big slice is worth!
The Tube is hot
Whether there is a heat wave or a snow storm, it is always going to be boiling hot on the London underground. During winter, the constant transitions from street to tube will almost inevitably make you ill; you just have to get used to it and build up your immunity. In the summer, make sure you have enough water on you, and don’t be shy to whip out a fan - everyone will be jealous.
Former USSR does not mean I’m a heavy drinking communist
Once you mention you are from Easter Europe, prepare for a wave of comments based on historical stereotypes. People assume I am used to cold winters and they have asked me what life in the USSR is like or how much vodka I can drink a night. Use this opportunity to teach your fellow comrades about where you come from, and that things are very different to what they were almost a hundred years ago.
Have a blast
Last but not least, get ready for constant events and sources of entertainment – art shows, concerts, food festivals, fashion shows and so much more: London has it all. Make sure you take it all in and try all the things that have yet to come to the East. The tube might be stressful and the prices discouraging, but London is one of the best cities in the world, and you are making the right choice if you move here to study.
by Josefine Cook