England, Europe, Expat, Travel Tips

Cheerio from across the pond

So I just finished unpacking five minutes ago. I think that qualifies me to officially be living in London now. Yay!

I arrived at Gatwick shortly after 6 a.m. yesterday and then had to wait over an hour and a half for them to unload the luggage. There was some problem with the conveyor belts at the baggage claim roundabouts. Then when I arrived at my youth residence, the office wasn’t open yet, so I had to bang on the door for 20 minutes until someone finally let me in as they left for work. I have a key now, so hopefully that won’t happen again.

The bad news about my room is that I’ve been stuck in the basement. The good news is that I don’t have to share a room with anyone (at least for now.) I’m at a Commonwealth student house in Bayswater, and I really shouldn’t complain when you consider I’m only paying £100 per week (that’s extremely cheap for London).

I’ve actually started working right away, or volunteering I should say, as I’m not actually getting paid at the moment. There’s a good possibility that it’s going to turn into a paying job in the next few weeks and I’m really hoping it works out.

The big news of today was that I managed to set up not only one but two bank accounts. Well, kind of, I got a chequing and a savings account at the same bank. Though here, chequing accounts are known as current accounts. I had heard terrible things about how hard it is to get a bank account in the UK, especially in London and I must say I found it dead easy.

I had done some research online and I found that Lloyds TSB allows newcomers to the UK to open an account with only their passport and work visa as long as they’re from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa or the U.S. They didn’t even require me to put money in the account to open it. (Though I did, in fact, deposit a cheque of practically all my life’s savings.) The whole process took about half an hour and I just did it over my lunch hour. I should warn you that you do need to have an address before you can open an account because they send your debit card, and access information by mail.

Alright well, I’m exhausted, so I’m going to end here. My goal for tomorrow is to apply for a National Insurance number (or at least start the process).


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