Who are you?
I’m Jordan White, I am 26 and originally from Northern Ireland.I work freelance in political commentary and writing.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to London in November 2016, I did it for a combination of reasons – I’ve always loved London, it is one of my favourite cities with its diversity and pace of life. Previously I’d been living in Belfast, Northern Ireland for around 6 years and I just felt that I had done all I could there and needed to change my life. An opportunity came up to move to London and I had no reason not to take it.
What challenges did you face during the move?
My biggest challenge was moving to a city where I knew around three people, in Belfast I had a good network of friends and I had family living very close by and I’ve had to give that up. But it was a good challenge at the same time to make new friends and give myself new opportunities.
Are there many other expats in your area?
I’ve met a few Irish people through my travels in London, it’s always nice to have a conversation to hear the accent and compare experiences. Ireland is a very warm and welcoming country whilst London can be a very cold city, people don’t really talk here. Since I’ve moved I’ve welcomed some friends from home and it’s been really great to share this city with them.
What do you like about life where you are?
My favourite thing to do in my down time is getting on the tube or a bus and getting off at a random stop and just exploring, trying to find something new to do. London is so vast and diverse you can always find something. And if you spend enough time on the Internet you’ll find out about an event taking place that you wouldn’t have an opportunity to do anywhere else.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I dislike the cost; it is so expensive living here. You really have to plan and budget, I miss my Belfast rental costs and not having council tax or water charges. I miss my family and friends a lot too, it’s hard not being able to just go to my best friend’s house for a drink on the weekends.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
One of the biggest shocks was how little English people are aware of Northern Ireland, I get asked about what am I going to do after Brexit because I’ve only been here for a year but I’m a British citizen. I knew there was a big ignorance to the conflict in the North but the scale is just shocking. It was very frustrating after the General Election in June when the Conservatives made a supply deal with the DUP. I knew all about them from growing up there but there was such a shock in London at this party and the scale of their views.
What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
I miss Irish food a lot, it’s not all potatoes as the stereotype would suggest but I miss the bread, Irish stew and the Guinness here is awful. I’ve had Guinness handed to me 5 seconds after I ordered it, tastes like someone took water from the Thames and put it in my glass, to quote a good friend of mine, ‘James Connolly did not die for this’. But all these things make me appreciate home more.
London is wonderful for exploring, Brixton and Borough markets are some of my favourite places to grab a Sunday brunch. The food here isn’t just English per se, you can literally travel the world in an afternoon through food.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
If you want to move to London, do it. Don’t sit and hope for it to happen, be proactive and make it happen. But prepare yourself for it, if you have a friend here that is even from your outer circle reach out to them, London can be very hard and lonely at times, it is important to have people to talk to when that undoubtedly happens.
What are your plans for the future?
I have no plans to leave any time soon, I can’t see myself here forever and I’d like to move back to Ireland but not until later in my life. I have a lot more of the city to see before then and I fully intend on seeing it.
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