Lifestyle 11.05.18

5 things I’ve learned as a northerner in London

Taking the plunge to move down to London is always a big change, especially if you're jumping ship from up north...
Avantika Vaishnav
Avantika Vaishnav

This post was written by an external contributor. Connor Gotto shares the top things anyone from the north will experience when they move to London. 

Leaving your hometown – whether for work, university, or just a change of scene – is always a big deal. Your new home will be different in many ways to the place you’ve lived for the majority of your life.

You’ll spend your first few weeks finding your way around, meeting new people and trying to make friends…. and it’s all very exciting! But, aside from emigrating, one of the biggest culture shocks comes from moving just a couple of hundred miles to the other side of the country.

Yes – I’m talking North to South.

north game of thrones

Two years ago, I moved to London from a small town in the north-west, and little did I know just how different things could be. Being thrown into university life, I met a plethora of people from across the country, and soon saw just how differently the other side lives.

From being corrected on pronunciation to constantly having to repeat myself, I soon noticed just how thick a northern accent I have and how it instantly identified my roots.

So, here are just some of the things I’ve learned from my two years in London as a northerner – not least of all the extent of the struggle to find a decent chippy! (God, I’m starting to sound like a Victoria Wood character…).

“It’s near Manchester”

Time after time, you’ll get asked, “Where are you from?” only to be met with a sea of blank expressions when you answer, like you just said “Mars”. Even in my case, people would recognise the name Blackpool, but have no clue where it is. It became a constant carousel, before I reverted to the go-to ‘northerner abroad’ answer – “it’s… near Manchester.”

In London, the north is worlds away, and no one is going to have a clue where on earth you’re exactly from. Take my advice, choose from either Manchester or Yorkshire – it makes life so much easier.

“I’m from the North!”

You know how exciting it is when you’re abroad and you meet someone who lives 5 miles away back home (why do we get so excited about that?!) – well, it’s exactly the same when one northern accent meets another in London.

During my first week at uni, I was driven to distraction trying to locate the Blackpool twang I heard during my school’s induction drinks, even though I didn’t recognise the voice at all. But there’s something comforting about hearing the oh-so-familiar accent, if only to remind you how much more easygoing life is back home…

“Oh, hello…”

Sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, and the cheek-kiss greeting thing with strangers mostly happens down south. Every week, I’d watch Made in Chelsea and think ‘surely not’… but it’s true, it happens.

As someone who doesn’t show too much emotion, it was something of a learning curve to actively make the effort not to pull away when anyone would lean in. I mean, we don’t do that up north! And, for the record, its right then left – otherwise you end up with a nasty head-butt and a whole lot of awkwardness.

“There’s no central line? Oh, right…”

Yes, it’s stuffy. Yes, it’s overcrowded. And yes, no one speaks. But, we love the tube, and really couldn’t live without it (well, we could, but our Uber bill would be massive)! However, don’t expect to figure out the whole thing any time soon. And if anyone tells you that they have – they haven’t!

It took me long enough to get to grips with the central and district lines but, still, after two years, I am completely baffled by 75% of TFL’s services. I mean, I don’t get lost everywhere I go (well, not anymore), but put me on the northern line and who knows where I’ll end up!

Maybe I’ve just not grasped the whole northbound/southbound thing – east and west took long enough – or maybe I’m just a bit useless. Either way, take my advice: download CityMapper.

“What are you doing this weekend?”

north relaxing at weekend

The one thing I learned quickly about weekends in London is to stay in. No, really, because whatever you’re trying to do will take ten times longer than usual and you’ll end up barging your way down Oxford Street like a mad person.

Weekends in central London are for tourists. Period.

For anyone else, listen up; go to the pub, invite friends over, walk the dog, order takeout and most importantly, avoid zone one!

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