There are currently 880’000 jobs supported by the UK fashion industry and we can only expect more in the coming years.
Is leaving home and living in London one of your New Year’s resolution for 2018? Read on for a little insight into what it takes to make the move.
I’m French and moved to London two years ago but I’ve been living outside of France for eight years. First I moved to Italy to study, then arrived in Germany for an internship and advanced from intern to young fashion professional with a brand new job at the Topshop London HQ.
At this rate, you’d think I mastered the art of moving but not the slightest bit!
The reality is that moving can be a daunting experience, especially when changing countries. If I had to describe moving abroad, I would say it feels like building everything from scratch. This includes boring paperwork, spending hours looking for a new home, seeking friends and above all, adapting to your new life.
I always wanted to come to London and even when my wish came true, the idea of living in such a big city scared me. Despite thorough research before moving to the British fashion capital, I learned a thing or two about London (the hard way), that I wish I knew before coming.
Office Communication 101
When I arrived in London, I couldn’t get my head around the way people office communication.
French office etiquette: “Hey, you’re alright? Can you do this for me, please?”
German office etiquette: “Hey! I need you to do this for me please.”
British office etiquette: “Hey, you’re alright? How was your weekend? Oh, by the way, I am so sorry to annoy you with this but can I ask you to do something for me, please?”
In France, we are pretty direct about everything and I became even more straightforward after living in Germany, where communication always goes straight to the point. So, arriving in London, I sometimes had a hard time grasping the essential part of a conversation or what action I needed to take after a meeting. I spent a good month or two observing how people interacted with each other or at meetings.
And finally, I understood that when someone tells me I can take my time to do something, it is actually quite urgent. That’s my warning.
Don’t mess with the exchange rate
One of the first things that come to mind when moving abroad is the money you’ll need to do it. I knew London cost an awful lot, so I prepared for this and moved over feeling relieved that I’d saved enough money. But it can take up to 5 weeks to get a UK bank account and during that that I used my foreign account for all transactions. I didn’t spend much yet I constantly lost money due to poor bank exchange rates. This was the sharpest reminder that I was no longer in a euro-zone.
Moral of this story? Withdraw enough euros in cash to exchange for pounds BEFORE you arrive in London. Whilst you wait for your UK bank account to be approved, this will be your smart fund to keep you afloat. Smart right?
Top Tip: Seek out the best places to exchange your euros for pounds, as this also affects how much money you’ll receive. In Central London (Victoria), there’s a forex bureau known for its excellent rate called ‘Thomas Exchange Global’.
Moving for a job can be lonely
People move for a new experience, a change, a lover etc. but relocating for a job demands passion. Not to say that people simply changing jobs aren’t passionate, but the investment is certainly different. Coming to London meant I was leaving my comfort zone. I immediately started cultivated a can-do attitude at work and willingness to learn. Yet I also noticed building friendly relationships at work was quite difficult. Not because people aren’t pleasant, but being in their comfort zone, they sometimes forget to put themselves in your shoes and understand that absolutely EVERYTHING is new for you. I think that is a dilemma many expats encounter when they are the only foreign newbies in the office. I didn’t feel the same loneliness during my period in Munich, where I was surrounded by other expats.
Whilst trying to build connections at work, I looked outside of the office for friendships too. But if you’re determined to stop feeling lonely, you need to get out and find things to do. This is what I did. I paid for memberships to clubs where I met like-minded people and organised little hangouts around culture and career.
Top Tip: Be proactive and find your personal and professional ‘tribe’ by using the ‘Meetup’ app or website.
I’m a provincial girl at heart, so it took me a whole year to start loving my new home. London is such a huge city and it takes some time to find where you fit in. When things get tough just remember, coming here was a choice – a good choice! I came to London to boost my creativity, to make a dream come true and it’s working. I am doing things I wouldn’t have imagined I would do in my life!