When I first came to London, I thought that I had planned everything out as thoroughly as I possibly could have. Once you get here, you realise there are certain things that seemed important that actually aren’t, and vice versa. You come here thinking you have everything pegged, and London laughs at your plans! Here are a few of the lessons I learnt when I got here.
1. I thought that stocking up on Winter clothes was the most important thing I could do. Until I came here and realised that all of my Winter clothes are for SA winters. The only way my winter coats were going to work was if I wore them all at once. Don’t get me wrong, you can definitely plan ahead, but it is easier to bring sweaters/jumpers for layers and buy the heavy duty coats in London. Even with the exchange rate being the way it is, you will still save a bit of money buying your coats in London. Largely, you will save the extra luggage space for more important things.
2. I wish I had saved more money. I came here, thinking that it would take me a month to find a job and that the amount I was coming over with would definitely suffice. Maybe it would even be a healthy savings pocket. Alas, plans change. This is neither a good thing or a bad thing, but pinch your pockets as much as possible leading to your trip. You will appreciate the extra funds when you get here.
3. I wish I had stocked up on my prescription medication. I knew that my meds were running low. I was so busy leading up to my departure that I didn’t think about gooing to the doctor before I left. Don’t make the same mistake I did! It is so much easier to get an appointment in SA and get all of our chronic meds for 6 months so that you can settle in London and not have to worry about finding a doctor and getting an appointment. The process has a slightly longer waiting period over here, it is just not worth it. On that note, if there are some brands of flu medication that you love, stock up! You will inevitably get sick in a new climate and you will want that taste of home when you do get sick.
4. I wish I had stocked up on my facial products. In my head, I saw my products running out and I thought “New city, new start”. I was dumb. I should have stocked up on at least another month’s worth of products. Not just to save money, but it also saves you the hassle of trying to find replacements while you adjust. The less you have to buy in that first month, the better! The same goes for makeup and hair products. If you are not sure they are stocked in London then it is good to stock up. You can deal with the stress of changing your routine when the stress of a new city has faded.
5. It takes you some time to build a new wardrobe. It is hard to move to a new city with only the proverbial bags on your back. You need to take into account that you will need to buy a few essentials when you get here that will sap your bank balance. Preparing for this ahead of time will save you a bit of a stress in the long run. I created accounts on the major clothes stores online and created a basket of all the things I thought I would need when I got here. This helped me guage how much I would need to save to start off my wardrobe. As I said, plans can change and things can come up but if you can plan to get at least one new item a month, you will be better for it.
These are the things I learnt when I touched down in London. I am still learning some new things, I am still cursing past Courtneigh for not being more prepared. The good news is that even if you don’t have everything planned down to a tee, it is relatively easy to get yourself settled and back on track in no time!