Today is a big day for me. I’m celebrating 11 years of living in London. It’s hard to believe so much time has gone by since I first moved to the UK and how much has happened since then. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, and today I want to share some thoughts with you.
11 Years of Living in London
Being an expat is a strange thing. When I first moved, London felt a bit odd culturally. But things changed around my seventh or eighth year. Going back to California was a bizarre experience, where everything seemed more foreign than familiar.
Now I know I’ll never feel completely British, but I don’t feel Californian anymore either. It’s bittersweet, but it makes me grateful to have a good group of expat friends in London who feel the same way.
Over the last few years I’ve come to realize they’re probably the people I’ll have the most in common with going forward. I’m glad I have a community that commiserates when I make my millionth cultural faux pas in Britain or get made fun of for my increasingly transatlantic accent in San Francisco.
Speaking of which, I’ll be traveling back to California soon for the first time in two-and-a-half years. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away (my previous record was 9 months), and I’m both nervous and excited to go home.
I fear that San Francisco will have changed more than I want it to (and have been told by local friends to brace myself for it), but I’m looking forward to seeing familiar places, catching up with loved ones, and eating all the food I miss (not to mention drinking California wine).
Maybe it’s the long absence from the US that makes me feel estranged from the culture I grew up in (I’ve only spent a few days in the States since my last trip to California). Or maybe it’s that 11 years of living in London really has made a (partial) Brit of me. In any case, I’m grateful to have two cultures I can relate to even if I’m not fully at home in either.
Living in London has been an incredible experience, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t quit my hedge fund job and thrown caution and career to the wind to move here.
I love this city and I still can’t quite believe how things have turned out—who’d have thought the blog I started as a hobby all that time ago would be both a job and an identity now?
But life has always turned out differently than I expect, and that’s what keeps me excited about the future. I have no idea what the next 11 years will bring, but I hope they’re full of more London and more adventures abroad. And maybe a few extra trips to California so I don’t entirely lose my accent. Or my ability to spell color without a “u”. Or my love of peanut butter…
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