Today is the 10-year anniversary of the day I moved to London. I know I say this every year, but it’s hard to believe how fast the time has gone. When I first arrived, I never expected to stay long enough to settle in, get British citizenship, and make a living writing a travel blog, but I’m so glad all those things have happened. And after 10 years of living in London, I’m finally starting to feel British. Well, kind of. And kind of not. Here’s why I’m torn…

10 Years of Living in London

10 Years of Living in London

In light of this big expat milestone, I’ve gotten introspective. I’ve realized there are a lot of things I’ve gotten used to about British culture without even being conscious of it. I’ve also found there are a lot of things I can’t quite adjust to. So in honor of my 10-year anniversary, here are 10 things from each category.

I’m British…

10 things that make me feel like I’ve become British:

1. I’ve started thinking 100 years isn’t a very long time, and that 100 miles is kind of far.
2. I get irritated when people don’t stand on the right on escalators, even outside the UK.
3. I once caught myself spelling color with a ‘u’.
4. I think it’s normal to eat fish for breakfast. Like really fishy fish.
5. I believe drinking 5 cups of tea a day is pretty standard. I think I’ve even done it once.
6. I get confused and uncomfortable when strangers talk to me, even when I’m back in California where it’s socially acceptable (and even polite).
7. I think it’s normal that hotels list electric kettles as amenities. I even look for it when booking. I haven’t brought my own tea bags with me…yet.
8. I get the whole royal thing now. If the Queen had a fan club, I would join it.
9. I once ate a hamburger with a knife and fork.
10. I like Marmite.

Mini Cooper in London

Or not…

10 things that make me think I will never actually feel British:

1. I weigh 8 stone (it sounds so light!) and the metric system still baffles me.
2. I’m sad I will probably never see a tumble dryer again (my poor towels).
3. I can’t believe gout is still a common affliction here. My doctor even thought I had it once (turns out it was just a stubbed toe).
4. I still can’t fake an English accent (any of them) to save my life.
5. It continues to strike me as strange that collective nouns are pluralized.
6. I would take waffles over fish for breakfast any day. There. I said it.
7. I still feel guilty when I drink alcohol at lunch on a Tuesday, even when it’s only 1 glass.
8. I get giddy and feel like tap dancing whenever I catch a glimpse of Big Ben.
9. I photograph every red phone box I see. Every time. All of them.
10. I’m still in awe that I live in such an amazing city. How does London manage to keep surprising me after 10 years?

Following all my self-examination, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will never feel fully British, but neither will I ever feel completely American again. That’s okay, though, because one of the best things about London is that there are people here from all over the world, and a lot of us experience this. So maybe that means I’m fully a Londoner now, at least in an expat sense. And I couldn’t be happier.

How about you? If you’re an expat, what have you gotten used to in your new country (and what haven’t you)?

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10 Years of Living in London

28 Comments on Lady Celebrates 10 Years of Living in London

  1. “I get the whole royal thing now.” Haha this made me want to laugh!
    I’ve heard a lot about Marmite but I’ve never actually tasted it. I’ve always, always wanted to live in a place like London. You are indeed very lucky to experience the past 10 years! <3
    A really lovely post, have a nice weekend!


  2. I started following your blog when we planned a trip to England this past summer and have loved it. Of course I need to go back too! I love this post because we’re in Germany and it’s only been a year but it’s changing me and sometimes I feel German and sometimes definitely not!!! Keep up the wonderful writing!

  3. I loved this article! I, too, would love to see Britain (England, Ireland). I like things British. I want to see your articles, but don’t have my own computer. I don’t want to lose your post, so I’ll be able to see them. When I pin this to my Travel board, it will be saved. I’m curious: how do you dry your laundry then (my Mom whose family was from England, hung the laundry outside in the summertime). I’m guessing, that they may use one of those folding things? Just curious. I like that it seems rural there: the country look, yet they like all things modern. Take care.

  4. Love your lists. Happy 10th anniversary! But you need to step up your tea-drinking – I drink tea about 8 times a day – a habit I inherited from the English side (mother’s) of my family. 🙂

  5. As a northerner reading this especially the 10 reasons why you are British, I read this as more that you’re a Londoner rather than British. Up north people talk to each other all the time! Hope you enjoyed your recent adventure to Northumberland, and I really enjoyed your talk at WTM yesterday 🙂

  6. Love your insight into your own expat journey! Even at 10 years, its good to know that there may always be a bit discomfort at times – it makes anyone who has been a expat for less time feel a bit more normal! London really is such a fabulous city, and so cultured and diverse that anyone can feel at home if they give it a chance. Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. As an English guy from birth but now living in Australia permanently, reading things like this makes me miss the place. Marmite will always hold a special place in my heart which vegemite cannot fill (thankfully we can get it here, it’s called ‘Our Mate’ and is $5 for a tiny jar!).

    Your tumble dryer comment confuses me though, I always owned one when I lived there. In fact I brought it with me when I moved to Australia (because it was a brand new replacement, not because we don’t have them here!). Despite the weather here, I could live without the dryer, especially for towels, as you say!

  8. Living in any large city has its pros and cons and of course London is no exception. If you are on a low income it’s not a nice place not just for the obvious reasons but also because it can be very gray and bleak for many months of the year – sunshine always makes us feel better. I lived in London for 30 years and now I’m no longer there permanently I have to go back every year because what you take for granted in such an amazing city is suddenly not there and I miss a lot about the place. I will always consider London to be my true home!

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