1. Being aware of people around me when I talk.
In Romania I was always aware of what I was saying. We didn’t have conversations in public about family problems or boyfriend drama. In London, I have no problem speaking to my friend in public about relationships, medical problems, or her flatmate’s night with that tattooed guy. Especially while speaking in our home language, there is only a very small chance that someone will understand what my friends and I are talking about. Freedom of speech is something I definitely take advantage of.
2. Keeping all the plastic bags, bottles, and jars.
Recycling is alive and well in London, so there’s no need to keep a bag full of hundreds of plastic bags in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Every shop gives you a free bag, so I don’t need to remind myself to carry a plastic bag with me when I leave the house, just in case I might “need it” for something.
3. On my birthday, the drinks are on me!
Now it’s more like: on my birthday I will hire the venue, choose a DJ, and whoever comes pays for their own drink. On top of this, my friends in London will also buy me a drink. Gone are the days when I had to think about who I should invite to my birthday party because the budget is tight, and how I was going to pay for my closest friends’ drinks.
4. Sunday’s are for a three-course lunch with the family.
In Romania, almost no one works on Sundays. If it’s sunny we will have a barbecue, if it’s not sunny we will have a soup, a main dish, and dessert; all homemade and cooked early in the morning. An English Sunday is more like sleeping in, then grabbing some eggs Benedict in a nice coffee shop while reading the Sunday Times. Some English families uphold the tradition of a Sunday roast, but I haven’t gotten ‘in’ with one of those families yet, so my weekends are a lot less involved.
5. Eating at restaurants is only for special occasions.
I used to only dine out when it was someone else’s birthday (especially because they were paying), or when someone from abroad came to visit. London gives me no time to cook on a daily basis though, so eating in restaurants is almost an every day habit. Food is more affordable here. I save posh restaurants for special occasions, and find less expensive venues located in posh areas are for when someone is coming to visit.
6. When I order a coffee, I just get coffee.
And in Romania, it’s usually just one type: regular coffee, nothing special. But Starbucks-style coffees are found in every coffeehouse in London, and in every person’s house as well. There are plenty to choose from: latte, cappuccino, espresso, espresso macchiato, double espresso, milky coffee, americano with hot milk, americano with cold milk, black americano, etc. Not to mention the variety of milk choices: full fat, skimmed, or soya milk. Oh! It comes in different sizes as well.
7. If a guest says ‘no’ when you ask to serve them some food or drinks, you take it as a yes.
Back home, this exchange results in the table being filled up with tasty food and beverages in a matter of seconds. But having guests in London happens rarely. And when it happens, you know that they’re coming and you prepare something. They expect that, and that is the whole reason they’re coming. It’s very simple here. No guests come unannounced, and if someone says that they don’t want anything to eat, you get happy that your lunch for tomorrow is secured.
8. Partying until the sun comes up.
Nightlife in London is drinking from 9 pm until 2 am, in a local pub or a club somewhere central. There is a maximum of three people involved, and when the time comes to end the night, everyone takes a different route home either by bus or UBER. Romanians on the other hand like to party until 6 am, then gather their group of friends (at least 6) and walk all the way home. The one who lives closest to the night club is the luckiest because everyone gets to see him go inside safely.
9. Wearing lots of layers in winter.
In Romania, I used to wear a T-shirt, a jumper, a cardigan, and then a jacket. I never wore anything other than boots. If Romanians are seen without a hat or a scarf, they’re automatically labelled as a crazy person. But last week in London, it was 9 degrees Celcius and I saw few women wearing ballerina shoes without any socks. Here, no one cares about how you dress. You can go to the corner shop in your pyjamas and no one will say a word. No need to wear many clothes even if it’s freezing cold; the thought that people dress lightly in winter warms you up enough anyway.
10. When leaving for a trip, at least 3 people are going with you to the bus, train, or airport to say goodbye.
Sometimes tears flow as well, and the process feels like you’re leaving forever. London knows that you’ll always be back, so it doesn’t require any tears. No one has time for a farewell trip to King’s Cross or Paddington anyway, or even a wave outside the house when you get on a cab. You’re big enough to know the way yourself, you have a smartphone for God’s sake!