My introductions have become routine by now. It always begins with the long shot – “I’m from Wales.” When that inevitably fails, “I’m from the UK,” usually follows. If the person standing before me still has a puzzled look on their face, I let out a frustrated sigh and accept defeat…”London.”
If someone’s French, they must be from Paris. If someone’s Japanese, “Oh wow, I’d love to go to Tokyo!”
It’s a ridiculous assumption we all make and something that’s very laborious to correct. For us Brits, it’s even worse. Not only do most people wrongly assume which city you’re from, but they’ll name an entirely different country!
Having made the decision to move away from Asia and return to my British homeland, many people have been asking why I would move back to a place I’m so familiar with. Won’t it be just like your hometown?
Well, let me show you how different London and my hometown truly are.
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Table of Contents
“Where Are You Actually From?
I come from a little-known island in a town with an unpronounceable name (Llangefni, have fun with that one) in the forgotten corner of a little-known country called Wales.
A town of around 5,000 and an island of 50,000, it wasn’t exactly booming. In fact, it was one 1 of 5 towns on the entire island. The rest is made up of pristine Welsh farmland home to one too many sheep and a scattering of smaller villages in between.
In the morning we would listen to the baying of sheep and in the evenings the less civilized individuals would congregate in one of the handfuls of pubs before entering an all-out brawl or consuming an unhealthy amount of class-A drugs.
Needless to say, I come from the bumfuck middle of nowhere, and different to London in every conceivable way. And what are those ways exactly?
London Is a City
Wales only has 7 cities in total. To put that in perspective, China has over 700!
Even then, they don’t exactly feel like cities. If you walk through the streets of Tokyo or New York, you feel lost in a sea of concrete and truly feel the extent of the city’s magnitude. The Welsh capital of Cardiff on the other hand feels like a decent-sized town.
Being in a big international city is a whole new world compared to what my country arse is used to. There is a whole new excitement with city life – the chase for the big city.
For UK residents, London is the city, the centre of all. To have the next chapter of my adventure be at the tippy-top of UK life, that’s not bad.
“But You’re Going Back To Your Country”
Oh, the ever-loving hatred I have toward that all-too-familiar misconception.
Yes, the United Kingdom is considered a country in its own right, YET people tend to forget that it’s made up of 4 separate countries – England, Scotland, Northern Island and WALES!!
Though of course, there is an immense overlap of culture that has created a generic similarity between all nations, it divides culturally just like any other region. Each separate country has their charming, subtle differences between them.
After 6 years in Asia, I finally bought my one-way ticket headed for the UK!
But why would I choose to move to London? Let’s find out!
“London Is Like Everywhere Else In The UK?”
Admittedly, many of the towns and cities in the UK blended into a dull, lifeless, overcast misery no matter where you are. But not London baby, not in the big city!
There’s life amongst the streets, energy and excitement you’re not going to find anywhere else. It’s a place where the rich and successful walk amongst the influences of the masses that live amongst its many boroughs.
“But You Must Only Live Down The Road?”
You’d think so wouldn’t you? Relatively speaking, the UK isn’t that big. You could easily travel from one end to the other in half a day by road. It does take the better half of 3 hours to get to my island by train, and closer to 5 for driving.
It’s not as if I can pop home every other week and would have no reason to. It’s just finally a much-needed relief to have my family so close to home.
The last few years have been pretty rough for my family in a number of ways, and being away doing that time was pretty tough at times. Hence, being a simple day trip away certainly is a nice feeling.
A Matter of Diversity
The brutal truth of it is that where I’m from, diversity isn’t really commonplace outside of the cities. As any other country has corners that don’t find themselves with a vast spectrum of society, they would consider being different.
A foreigner in rural China, being gay in Afghanistan, or in the case of my home island, anyone other than a white person born and raised in the area for generations. Diversity wasn’t a word you heard often.
Put it this way, of the 800 students in our high school, only about 5 weren’t white.
Hence, going to a city such as London, a place where I have never seen such a number of nationalities represented grandly and proudly beside more traditional British fare is an incredible experience.
Not only Do I get the comforts of home, but I have a whole new national experience.
“But You Know London Already?”
No more than a random Italian know about Rome or an Indian about New Delhi. I had actually been to London twice in my life.
Once was at the mature age of 7 when my extended family and I decided to rent a family-sized mini-bus to visit our distant cousins in London. At that time, ADHD was not yet at its current craze for diagnosis. Yet my mother had a revolutionary breakthrough in the field of psychological treatment before its time.
She had the astonishing insight to give my hyperactive self a lead which connected to my wrist. A child coming of age meeting distant family members for the first time being led around the Natural History looking like a god damn yapping jack russel.
The second visit ended in just as much misery. It was a failed attempt at a job interview as a bar manager in a ski resort – one of the many dreams I wished to chase. I applied for the position as the bar manager yet, when I ended up at the interview after a £60 train ticket and £55 room for the night, I was informed that the position didn’t actually exist. Yet rather than come all this way for nothing, I ended up interviewing for the position of hotel manager instead. There’s a reason I’m a teacher today…
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