London - Making the Choice

​From someone who has recently experienced what you may consider embarking on, grab some tea (or a beverage of your choice) and join me while I share my story – and maybe some useful tips.

Let me introduce myself: my name is Olivia and I am from Canada. To begin, what brought me to the UK in the first place?

I came across the opportunity to live/travel/work in the UK from being curious and Googling the idea. It sounded fun in theory, but I had no immediate plans to do it. I questioned if I could really be someone who would up and leave my well-established home to chase “adventure” like the people we see in those travel photos? I was also at a crossroads in my life.

As a conversation starter, I mentioned the program to my friends. They were ecstatic: “This is an opportunity most people say they want to do but never follow through!” I shrugged it off, but over a few weeks they kept asking, “When are you applying? When are you going?”

The reason I looked at the UK over other destinations was because I have always been drawn to British culture and history, and much of my media consumption is based on everything from British characters in books to films with British actors from the 1930s. My father was also born in England and moved to Canada a few years after WWII when he was a toddler. (Oh, and I really like sticky toffee pudding – a traditional British dessert! Ha.)

I decided I would take one step go from there. After all, nothing was guaranteed. Plus if I thought about it too much, I could get overwhelmed. The best way is truly one step at a time.

I first signed up with SWAP (in Canada) who assist with the paperwork and visa. Then I was passed to BritBound where they help with every other detail, from arranging a bank appointment and National Insurance Number, to getting sent a SIM card (phone number) and Oyster card (transit) in the mail so you hit the ground running when you arrive.

My visa application was approved and all of a sudden, I was faced with booking a flight. Does

not mean I have to get on the plane, I joked to myself. I do not think the full weight of the situation hit me until I was halfway to London. What am I doing!? Turns out, this is a common thought many of us had!

So there you have it. No initial plan to commit but I find myself here in London!

I have traveled to large cities before so there was not much apprehension on that part. However, the first time I briefly lived in a big city (Toronto) for school, I was definitely nervous. What helped was knowing that there would be people around to assist and answer my questions, plus opportunities to meet other people and make connections.

Through BritBound, I not only received immense support – but I made friends so quickly in the first few days through meetings and events. Everyone is in the same boat, and it makes exploring and navigating London much more enjoyable with company. From someone who was a bit of a loner, I say never underestimate having people you can touch base with.

My advice? Get as much done as possible before you leave home. You may have time when you arrive, but why deal with errands and adding more to your to-do list instead of seeing the city and settling in? It takes energy to move from one country to another so make it easier for yourself! (Bonus tip: consider booking an Airbnb if you do not want a lengthy stay in a hostel. The owner I am staying with is fantastic and I feel much more comfortable.)

And do not forget that BritBound has you covered so stress not! Take advantage of their guidance. Their team is second to none, and I can not express how grateful I am for their warmth and support.

So what would be YOUR reason for coming to the UK? No matter what it is, if you are reading this, you are most certainly more interested than not! One day you will be wondering why you had not done it earlier.

Know that when you make the decision, you will not have to do it alone (what a headache)! Take that step, embark on this journey and carpe diem!

P.S. Want to know my first impression of London? Check out London: The First Weeks 

By Olivia Worobec