From New Zealand to the UK: Expat Interview
Real moves: New Zealand to London
Meet Emma: She is a Kiwi that has been sharing her experiences in London on her blog, Adventures of a London Kiwi, since 2012. She only intended to travel around Europe a decade ago, but found herself settling into English life.
When did you move to London from New Zealand and why?
I moved to London nearly a decade ago to travel around the UK and Europe for 2 years as a gap year mid-Architecture degree, but accidentally got married to my lovely British husband. I find that most people tend to do something similar – not get married by accident – but come for a short period, look back and 15 years have passed.
It’s a special gift that London has of capturing expats – it seems that people either hate it within the first six months or never leave. Personally, the minute I walked onto Heathrow airport tarmac something just felt like I was home, despite being 20,000km away from my first home.
What are some of the differences you adjusted to in London?
Everyone says that in England it rains non-stop, but to my pleasant surprise it doesn’t – to the point that I don’t actually carry an umbrella. It rains fairly often, but the British obsession with the weather doesn’t make allowances for the recent summers of sunny, wonderful days.
I did have to adjust to the more reserved way of expressing emotion (in New Zealand we tend to call a spade a spade rather than the non-offensive ‘gardening-implement’), the obsession with tea (to the point that if worldwide supplies of tea dried up I’m fairly sure that British business would go into meltdown) and I had to learn English-English rather than the more colloquial Kiwi-English. You would think they are the same languages but there are notable differences…
What are some things that the UK does better than New Zealand?
Cosy fireside pub afternoons, pomp and circumstance, historical buildings with amazing back stories, travel links to other countries (we even went to Paris for lunch one day!), career opportunities, the ease of gluten-free dining and much more.
What are some items you miss that you want people in New Zealand to send to you in bulk?
It’s mostly biscuits to be honest. Whenever we trip back to New Zealand, we go with a half empty suitcase so we can re-stock our London cupboards with our favourite treats.
For me it’s TimTams – a biscuit reminiscent of Penguins (arguably better and we’ve proved it with global worldwide taste-testings) and for my husband it’s delicious Jaffas – spherical chocolate orange flavoured M&Ms. Whenever I get homesick (it’s much less now than in the early years) a pack of TimTams would magically make their way to my post box and act as a temporary bandaid.
How did you make London feel like home when you first moved here?
One of the biggest differences was making new friends. As an adult in your home country, you have established relationships, networks and connections with people made over years and years of laughter, but making friends in a busy, crazy city was something that I found rather difficult.
Blogging and social media proved to be utterly fantastic in this respect – it helps you to make connections with other like-minded expats who have similar interests; brunch, travel, confusion at the British way of life, fascination for history and an insatiable curiosity.
Where are three or your favourite spots in London?
This is a tough call; possibly brunching in the village-feel streets of Marylebone, rowing cross the boating lake in Regents Street and watching the sun set over the Thames with a glass of bubbly in hand.
London is a magical, evolving city – what is your current reason to love living in London?
The buzz, sheer variety of activities, the ability to adventure domestically, the ease of travelling to Europe and most of all the fantastic flavour of Flat Whites!
You originally intended on a short stay, what made you want to stay in the UK?
With a British cat and husband to keep happy, we’re so settled here that moving anywhere else for the moment seems wrong.
There are so many opportunities here if you’re brave enough to put yourself forward; I’ve herded sheep over London Bridge (an ancient right of London Freemen & guild members – I’m neither), promenaded at a Queen’s garden party in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, began publicly documenting our travels via the medium of a blog and ziplined across Wembley Stadium Pitch.
What is one thing you wish you’d known before moving to the UK?
Sweets/lollies and trousers/pants are very different things compared to back home, and can cause some rather embarrassing lost in translation moments…
Would you consider moving back to New Zealand?
Maybe one day, but it would only be once we’ve finished discovering every nook and cranny of London – which I’m not sure is even possible.
I do miss family hugs and the easy, easy access to wonderful beaches, but video calls and train trips to the English seaside go a long way to soothing my expat soul.
In the meantime we’re loving exploring New Zealand more each time we go home – it makes for wonderful holidays combining those hugs and trips around my wonderful home country.