This is the next post in my series on Chicagoan experiences in England.
Alisa Jordan, the blogger of No Bags to Check guest blogs and shares her experiences of living in London. She has also lived in Baltimore and Boston, and currently resides in Chicago.
On her move to London
I moved to London on a well-planned whim. I didn't really have any specific reason why I wanted to live abroad, but I just knew I wanted to try something different. So when I was finishing up grad school, I applied to get my license to be an occupational therapist in the UK. While getting the license wasn't terribly difficult, applying for jobs while still in the US was. I was striking out left and right, so I made one of the arguably boldest decisions of my life.
On my 25th birthday, I got on a plane to London with no job, no apartment, no friends or family there, and just my savings to support me. I gave myself 3 months to get a job. If I couldn't get it done, I’d head back to the States. I spent about a month job hunting, living in a bed-sit in Holborn, and trying not to spend too much of my money. It was an exciting time, but also lonely at many times.
Luckily I was able to get a great job through some contacts at my alma mater, which meant I could ditch my little run-down room for a real flat. London is not known for its affordable living, but I was able to find a two bedroom place in Earls Court with a fellow American I had recently met that didn't take up my entire paycheck. Earls Court was an ideal neighborhood for us- near the tube and less expensive than the nearby South Kensington and Chelsea. It also has a long history of being an ex-pat community, especially for Australians, so we figured we’d be in good company.
On supporting a soccer team
I realized quickly after settling into living and working in London how important football can be to social life. Even if you don’t follow it closely, people expect you to have a team to support and it’s all over the TV and daily free newspapers you read on the train to and from work. The players and their WAGS are celebrities with their lives closely followed in magazines and gossip shows.
But how do you choose a team? The closest team to me was Chelsea FC, but I felt like supporting Chelsea would be like supporting the Yankees (a no-go for this girl from Baltimore). Chelsea was flashy and expensive, and I needed more of an underdog- a team I could get behind. Luckily, just a bit further west was Fulham FC.
Fulham is a perennial mid-table team in the Premier League. Consistently average with a few highlights and lowlights thrown in there. Fulham has a large community of Americans and back then, there was a good number of American players on the team too- Kasey Keller, Carlos Bocanegra, and my favorite Clint Dempsey. All the pieces fit together nicely and I became a Cottager fan.
I was lucky enough to attend some games while living in London and have some good memories at Craven Cottage, situated right on the edge of the Thames River. Premier League games are one of those distinct UK experiences, from the chanting and singing to the devoted away fans in their separate section. Everyone running in during halftime to drink a beer because you can’t drink in the stands or getting Bovril, a meaty broth thing, on especially cold days.
I still follow Fulham today, often catching games at some of Chicago’s soccer bars, and try to pretend I’m sitting in a great pub enjoying a Kronenberg and packet of crisps.
For more on Alisa, check out her blog, No Bags To Check by clicking here. Its an awesome travel blog, which chronicles her travels around the country and the world. She also shares her thoughts on travel related shows, books and music.
For similar posts, check out Yimian's experience as a student in London by clicking here.
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