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.