Before I made the big move to the UK, I told myself I wouldn’t live like most of the Aussie expats in London.
I knew people who had been living there for almost two years and didn’t have any close English friends. I didn’t get it. How could someone spend two years in Britain and only seem to associate with others from south of the Equator?
I was determined not to spend my stint in London in one of those little Aussie/Kiwi bubbles. I would keep away from the Antipodean (for the uninitiated, in London that means ‘Aussies and Kiwis’, by the way) bars for as long as possible.
I landed in the UK, fresh-faced and tanned, ready to immerse myself fully in the English life — and that meant making friends with as many different nationalities as I could, as well as the locals.
I’d been dossing in West Hampstead and decided to stay on that side of town. I found a nice flatshare with three friendly guys — a Brazilian, an Irish and a French — in Willesden Green. I managed to keep away from the boisterous Antipodean hangouts in She Bu, Clapham and Fulham (except on Australia Day) for a good few months.
But after a few months of living in my international house and working in a very multicultural Liverpool Street office, I began to feel lonely.
All of my mates lived with other Aussies and Kiwis, who they had heaps in common with. They were all here for a good time, not a long time, frequenting those pubs I’d foresaken, and travelling as much as their small incomes would allow.
I longed to live with people who I could relate to; people who understood my need to spend almost four quid on a packet of Tim Tams and who weren’t afraid to strike up a convo with strangers on the Tube.
So I moved to Acton to live with a bunch of Antipodeans. It was awesome! I felt right at home.
Sure, the bathroom was often dirty and my liver hadn’t experienced that sort of abuse since first-year at uni, but I was having a blast, creating the kind of memories and friendships that last a lifetime.
So, despite my best intentions upon coming to Britain, six months after stepping off that plane at Heathrow I found myself living with and hanging out with Aussies and Kiwis. I was as typically Antipodean expat as they came… but with a few English friends to boot.