From Culture Shock to Feeling at Home
When I first arrived in London I was stunned and overwhelmed. Culture shock is what they call it. And then, slowly but surely I began to find my place and settle down. Once I found work, called the Borough of Southwark my home, and started cycling about town on Boris Bikes my life here really fell into place.
Suddenly, after rushing to settle and anchor myself in this city I changed pace, eyes wide open, amazed at my new London self:
Wait! I’m standing outside a pub every evening after work?
Wait I’m wearing fluorescent yellow jackets and straps around my legs when cycling?
Wait! Colleagues address me with Oz instead of calling me by my full name Osman?
That might not sound like huge news but I feel like a changed man, embracing the rituals of the city:
I walk fast, I drink take away coffee in paper cups, avoiding dairy milk, experimenting with coconut and spelt substitutes my barista advises me to try. I spend so much money on coffees… Believe it or not, I have recently become a vegan, well an aspiring vegan at least. No, I’m not quite there yet, but ask me in a few years time.
London makes you embrace global trends:
In fact, London is at the forefront of trend making, or shall we say trend amplification? Londoners will have experimented with consumption patterns that are yet to trickle down. I am not saying the deep-fried Mars bar is going global, a delicacy here, but, a bowl of quinoa in almond milk might. As a Londoner you become prime consumer and can make up your mind about trends that are yet to conquer the world.
As you see, London excites me, which proves that I am not a true Londoner:
Longtime Londoners don’t let the trends and culture stir them too much. You ‘stay calm and carry on’, with a ‘stiff upper lip’, pretty much the opposite of what I’m doing here by writing this Blog. The English don’t speak about how they’ve changed, they simply change and get on with it!
Have you noticed that London is both the most colourful and the dullest?
I learned to appreciate visual uniformity here. Get off at Bank Station or Liverpool Street round 5pm and look around you. A city worker’s dress code is the ultimate metropolitan costume. Ever heard of the famous Seville Row tailors? They’ve been sewing bespoke suits for men and women since the 17th Century. That’s tradition for you. OK, yes, their style has changed over the years, a little… and there is a timelessness to it that stands in huge contrast to the evening dresses of theatre goers flowering Soho’s landscape. There is glamour in this contrast.
And come Halloween, London goes crazy:
You might think it’s just a matter of colour code blood-red, pantomime white and crow black, but it’s more than that. It’s wild! The same colleagues I drink my Pale Ale with show their horns on Halloween. It’s an elaborate masquerade that is enthusiastically embraced in this city. There is plenty of opportunities to experiment in shape shifting, finding new facettes of oneself.
Observing the responses of this daily festival I also learn about tolerance:
Even if unphased by the craze around them, Londoners will not give you a single bad looks no matter whether you are cross-dressing for a stag do or in general.London is just like its weather. It can be grey and gloomy and cold, but there’s always a warm spot to hide in and when the sun comes out, the colours appear in all there glory. Prepare to see the sun after torrential rain, that’s life here.