It’s now 10 weeks since I started my new job at Deliveroo in London. Our plan remains to move to the U.K. when we can find a house. For now though I am travelling to London each week and spending the rest of my time back home in Amsterdam.
Living in two countries simultaneously is an odd existence. Although the flight takes only 45 minutes on a good day, moving across international borders with such frequency creates a different kind of jet lag, a sense of not ever being anywhere fully.
I feel like rather than learning how to live in England, I’m just unlearning how to live in the Netherlands. Being obviously English (though I am occasionally accused of being Australian), I don’t have any perceptible excuse for being so useless at so many mundane things. I never remember that contactless payments works differently (worse) in the U.K. and so look like an idiot whenever I try and wave a bank card over a payment terminal, I never remember which way to look at crossings, or on which side to stand on escalators - an offence punishable by hanging in London.
I am ill-prepared for everyone asking me how my day is going, and always stutter a half answer out and forget that all I need to say is ‘good thanks, how about you’, irrespective of how ‘good’ my day is, or how little I am interested in knowing the same of anyone else.
This sense of being lost between two countries is probably worsened by the very stark differences between the English and the Dutch - see Small Talk, Queueing & Direct vs Indirect Communication.
Having never lived in London or the South of England, I am also having to get used to being in the bit of England which all domestic media is focussed on, and from which all international stereotypes of the English are drawn. It’s lovely on the one hand to see the Tower of London, and to wander down the Thames in the rain - but it’s less great being surrounded by so many bankers and such a huge middle-class populace. We didn’t ’ave many of them types round my way growing up.
So every time I see someone reading the Daily Mail or I take the DLR and am the only person not wearing the same low quality (PANTONE 19-3832 TCX) Navy Blue suit I am reminded that this isn’t my bit of England.
Next week I’ll take my 50th flight of the year, and by now I am able to recognise bits of the North Sea and several members of the KLM CityHopper crew, a sign that at some point I should probably find a house and actually move, though maybe not until certain ongoing political matters have been resolved.