London: the first week

A lot of things can happen in one week, especially if you planned to move to another country.

Day 01, Friday.

My journey began on May 02, 2014 when I left from Naples International Airport. My dad and his partner took me by car, having a Nutella croissant for breakfast trying to avoid talking about me leaving.

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British airways took me from Naples to London Gatwick (and I deeply love British airways: seats are always comfortable, my flight has been very quite and the food was good).

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First: baggages reclaim

Second: information point (where they gave me the smartest subway map I have ever seen. It’s so small that I can carry it in my wallet!)

Third: First capital train ticket to Queens Road Peckam. I was supposed to change at Londron Bridge, but then someone of the stuff suggested me to change at Clapham junction (for £11,50 instead of £14,00!!!).

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Almost two hours later, I was home.

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Well, “home” is a very big word. The landlord never came and I’ve been standing out of the door for 2 hours, under the rain with my suitcases. At lease the wifi was working, so even if I was out of the house I had the possibility to text and call my family and friends (but I will tell you about the house in another post).

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At 5:30 PM one of the other renters came home and let me in. I spent the rest of the evening looking for another place on spareroom.co.uk and other websites.

 Day 02, Saturday.

Lucky me, the second day was sunny, so I was ready to get out and starting to discover London (one piece at the time).

First: English coins. I mean, it’s easy to recognize English bills (just like in any other Country you can read the big number printed on it), but with coins it can be a little bit more complicated.

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Second: Oyster Card. The first time you get an Oyster card they will ask you £5,00 (but will also give you a folder for your card!). Then it’s up to you, you can chose to add 7 Day, monthly or longer period Travelcards to your Oyster card.

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Third: UK phone number. I had done some researches in Italy so I had already decided to buy an O2 SIM card. I took the “pay as you go” (the option with no contract). For £15,00/month I have 75minutes, 500 texts and 1G of data. Not bad.

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Four: Still look for another room. I took an appointment in the post code area W5, near to the Hanger Lane Station.

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Day 03, Sunday.

Saturday I went to see a room that, in the end, I decided to take. At 8 in the morning of Sunday I sent a text to the agent: “Hi Misha. I take the room, 100% sure. Please text me back to confirm you received my message“. At 2PM I was in front of the house waiting for Misha, the real estate agent, ready to sign the contract and pay the deposit and one month rent advance.

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So, room taken: I had a new home address in a clean, safe, nice house!

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Sometimes it’s karma, sometimes it’s from the Universe or from God… anyway I always enjoy good signs and after I signed the contract I saw a ladybird!!!

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Ok then, I had a new naked room and needed to buy a few things before moving to the new place. Besides I still had a week to spend in Peckham, so the least that I could do was to discover the area.

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Day 04, Monday.

Monday was May 5th and one of the roommates was a Mexican girl who decided to give an easy party to celebrate the “Cinco de Mayo”, a Mexican celebration that this year coincided with bank holiday, so everyone was at home. She cooked for us and we ate and drank and chatted.

Day 05, Tuesday.

I was still making some shopping for the new room (for example I needed a pillow. Lucky me, pillows where on sale for £6,90 instead of £8) and I was getting ready for the next step: looking for a job. So I went to the JobCentre Plus of Peckham where they told me to take an appointment to request a National Insurance Number.

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In the afternoon my friend (an Italian girl that has lived in London for almost three or four years, and that I met in New York) proposed me to have dinner together. Of course I was (and still am) penniless so I texted her back proposing a coffee, but in the end dinner was on her (“I have two coupons for some free chicken!”). My first night out!

We met at Oxford Circus (my first time ever in this area of London!)…

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… and walked around going to Nando’s (where we had dinner)

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In the evening we walked from Nando’s to SoHo and then I finally saw the Big (not so big) Ben!

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It was a quite, nice night!

Day 07, Wednesday.

Boring day, printing several copies of my CV and cleaning the new place.

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Day 08, Thursday.

At 3PM I had an appointment at the JobCentre Plus in Camden to request the NI number. I was looking for the centre and I was sure I had the correct address, so I went in the office at Camden High Street, number 96. It wasn’t the JobCentre, but a bank! Apologizing for the mistake, I asked them directions to get to the JobCentre (it was just across the street!!), but then a person of the staff asked me “do you have a bank account?” and I: “No, I tried to open one in several different banks, but they didn’t allow me because I don’t have a job yet”. So the woman told me “ok, no problem. You can buy one here, even if you don’t have a job yet. It’s free”.

I didn’t want to be late for the appointment at the job centre and I wanted time to collect some information about the bank, so I left saying that I was going to come back in an hour.

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Passport, where are you from, what do you, have you studied, what do you want to do in UK, where do you live etc… After few typical questions and a nice chat with the Pakistan employee (who kept smiling to me telling that I was so polite, wishing me the best of luck), I had finally applied to request a NI number.

Ok, let’s go back to the bank. I asked about May (this was the name of the woman who proposed me to open a bank account in the first place). I asked all the questions I had (fees? Debit card? ATM fees? Internet banking? etc…). After half an hour I had opened a bank account (and now I have £20 pounds on it, not much but it’s a start!!!!).

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Week number one: a busy one. Flight, UK phone number, Oyster card, new accommodation haunting, new relationships with strangers, get used to a new currency, understand how the London public transportation works, request a National Insurance Number, Open a bank account, One night out! All these things could seem easy and fast to do, but I’m actually proud of my self and very grateful to God!

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