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What I don’t like about London

1:18 pm Fri, 11th May 2007

This is an addendum to my “Two Years In London” anniversary vlog, in which I talk about the pro’s and con’s of living in London that I’ve observed thus far over the past two years. This post will be about what I dislike about London – there are so many things I can talk about on this topic. I forgot to mention a few things in my vlog so I’ve decided to blog about these extra things. (I still find it much easier to blog about my thoughts than talk about them.) So here are some extra thoughts on things I dislike about living in London (I’ll also write up an expanded post on what I LIKE about London too later):

  • Bad coffee – even compared with Sydney, the coffee in London sucks. Its become the home of coffee house chains like Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero (whose claim is “The best espresso this side of Milan” – which says a lot about the quality of coffee here in London seeing as their coffee is only just bearable). London is sadly missing the individual little cafes that serve great coffee, which are pretty much everywhere in Italy, and are quite prevalent in Sydney too. There isn’t really much of a “cafe culture” in London – which is something I quite miss about Sydney. I loved going to cafes to meet up with friends over a nice coffee or hot choccy. There ARE some cafes in London, but finding decent coffee that doesn’t taste burnt is like finding a needle in a haystack – a haystack that is full of commercialised coffee chains ala Starbucks. Ugh.
  • Culture – It’s strange this one. Seeing as both Sydney and London are in english speaking westernised countries, and in fact Australia was born from UK settlers.. one would have thought the culture would be fairly similar. But I’ve struggled over the past two years with a noticeable difference between the culture that I grew up with in Sydney, and the culture here in London and have felt quite a bit alienated sometimes. Londoners seem to be more into the pub/bar lifestyle.. going out drinking appears the highlight of the average Londoners lifestyle. They are less into the outdoors, being active and just less focused on personal wellness and healthy lifestyles. The wellness thing is something I’ve noticed is a priority in continental european lifestyles. They seem to be quite big on this. There’s a similar concept in Australia – but with more focus on the outdoors, being in tune with nature, being active, sporty and healthy. For example juice and fruit smoothie bars have been HUGE in Australia for a number of years, and is only JUST starting to pick up now in London. Smoking has been banned for years in Australia, and is only coming into force this July here. There’s a huge difference that is plainly obvious in the percentage of people who smoke in London compared to Sydney. Also the culture in London has created quite a lonely lifestyle. An article I read in the paper highlighted a survey conducted in the UK about the number of close friends of people in different areas. Unsuprisingly, London came bottom with people having an average of only 5 close friends, compared with Yorkshire, who came top with 15. It is kinda sad, that in London the most densely populated by far, surrounded by the most ppl, people are the most lonely. And I have definitely felt that whilst here. It has been very difficult for me to form close friendships in this sort of culture.
  • Quality of life – Closely related to the previous point, I find the quality of life in london is much worse than the quality of life in Sydney and other european cities like Frankfurt, cities in Italy etc. There is a distinct lack of peace in London. Life here is so busy and stressful, compounded by the strong partying, drinking and long working hours culture here. And there is a very strong focus on career, money, fashion and consumerism. I’ve found it hard to find peace as I find myself very often stressed, worried and highly strung. Which I’m well aware is not good for my health long term. And I think Londoners are aware of it too but nobody seems to be able to do anything about it, with the long hours work culture getting increasingly worse.
  • Ignorant yobs – I’m often utterly astounded by the amount of people here that have NEVER been outside this country. With so many EU countries on the doorstep, literally a couple hours away (in some parts of england you can actually tune into french radio stations!!!!) it is SO easy to travel to completely different countries and cultures. I think people here don’t realise how lucky they are. Coming from a fairly isolated country that Australia is, London is like a dream-come-true in terms of travelling opportunities. Yet so many here are so ignorant of this and as a result are so close-minded. Or if people do “travel”, for many it is to go to places like Ibiza where they can do exactly the same thing that they do in London – drink and party. They party all night and sleep all day, not knowing nor caring about exploring and experiencing this new country and culture that they are in.
Posted in Uncategorized (Old Blog) | 4 Comments »

  1. 4 Comments on “What I don’t like about London”

  2. Vron
    May 13, 2007

    I’ll have to watch your vlog…. :-)

  3. hocuspocus
    May 13, 2007

    Hmm..interesting post,being a Londoner all my life I have to say I agreed with you on several points.
    Culture:Sydney (where I’ve never been so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) is architectually different to London,beaches aren’t miles and miles away.The weather is also better which I think plays a big part in people look and be healthier.It’s hard to focus on the outdoors when the weathers crap and there aren’t that many open spaces in the innercity area,and work hours are so long.But,I do agree London can be a very Lonely place,but arguably,that’s where personality and people skills come in…I don’t think Londoners are so cold that one couldn’t make quite a few strong attachments.

    Quality of life:agreed!

    ignorant yobs:Well,those sorts of peiople are everywhere (even in Australia,i bet),and despite being part of the EU,not everyone can afford to travel,London is insanely expensive,as I’m sure you know.And I do agree that there are a certain contingent who just go certain parts of spain and greece etc,to do exactly what they do here-just with more sunshine.But those people in my opinion are a minority.However,despite my opinion that it is a waste to go abroad and not discover the culture ,i do think that since London is so ‘stressful’ people should be able to dance and drink (in moderation) their worries away (if they so choose),it doesn’t have to be an awful thing.

    Just my ‘two cents’.

  4. Maria
    May 15, 2007

    Hey there,
    Came here after you mentioned you elaborated over here! My sister who lives in Sydney (I’m an hour south of Melbourne) – she lived in the USA for 5 years and says the exact same thing about Australia being more health conscious…with healthy food being more readily available and affordable. A lot more people exercising too. I remember being in London.. Hampstead Heath is it? A big park? If that place was in Melbourne you’d have Mums with prams overtaking it with their power walking buddies… cyclists..runners/joggers.. senior citizens in their leisure suits keeping illness at bay with their daily walk..etc. We have a local river (the Barwon river)..it’s an exercise Mecca.. if you’re not exercising.. watch out you’ll be bowled over by someone running/cycling/power walking or whatever! During *any* kind of weather actually. London does have parks and even a river. I went to quite a few parks.. big one’s too..and I often saw people on their way to somewhere (like in business suits)..or in groups on picnic blankets chatting. Anyway.. off this subject..and onto Gordon Ramsay (seeing as I loved your ‘Maze’ pictures). Tonight ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ is being screened on free to air TV (it’s been exclusively pay tv until now). I know the bugger says too many F words and I don’t like his methods..but I’m a foodie..I’m still looking forward to the show! 😛 You need to go to Italy soon to unwind from that stress. Please have some local salami’s, pasta, pizza and anything with mozarella FOR ME!

  5. Mike Tatsugawa
    May 19, 2007

    Aww, well, then I guess you definitely wouldn’t like Los Angeles. I would, however, strongly recommend visiting San Francisco. I think you’ll love it.

    Mike

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