Meet the English

How I Moved to London – My First and Difficult Year

How I moved to London

Who am I?

You might’ve guessed that the reason why I know so much about Russia and Russian people is that I grew up in Russia. My parents are both Russian and I have a Tatar grandmother. When I say ‘Tatar’ in Britain no one really knows who they are unless I am talking to a history buff. And so I hope that my ancestors are, on one side, counts and viscounts (Russian elite circle) and on the other side – one of the two thousand children of Genghis Khan. However, after the era of USSR, with most aristocrats being stripped of their surnames and titles, I’ve lost hope of finding out who my ancestors are.

Now the reason why I know so much about England and British people is that I’ve lived in England for the past 3 years. My husband is English and contributes to my learning about British culture. Read on and I will tell you how I moved to London permanently and survived my first difficult year.

My journey to London

The first time I ever visited London was as a student in 2013. I did a short-term course in Bournemouth and I went on an excursion to London. The city looked so enormous and grand to my 19-year-old self. I began to imagine fulfilling my ambitions here. And here I am working and living in London now. The city still looks big but familiar at the same time.

Three years later – as a university graduate – I intentionally went to London to study another course where I familiarised myself a bit more with a life of a true Londoner. I managed to get more friends and get better acquainted with British people and British culture. This was also the time when I knew for certain I’d do well in London. I loved the idea of living in a megalopolis since most of my life I spent, not in Moscow or Saint-Petersburg, but in a small town in Central Siberia.

In 2017 I stepped onto British soil as a wife of a sweet and handsome Englishman. Now as an official resident of the United Kingdom I could freely live and work here. I couldn’t wait to fulfil my grand plans and succeed in my future career. In hindsight, I was a bit too naive. I didn’t realise that finding my feet in London would be harder than expected. My English was really good and I was used to working hard. Hence why I was so confident I would land my first job in no time.

I landed my first job in London

In my first month I felt really confused and was trying to adjust to my new life. Although I’d travelled abroad quite a lot, every time I was in another country I felt disoriented. When finally I gained my confidence back, I put together a CV and started bombarding companies with emails. I was going big. I was applying to fashion magazines, production and television companies. In all honesty, I didn’t have a very distinct picture of who I wanted to be so I was applying for jobs that just sounded interesting. What I didn’t realise was that having not had any UK work experience made the job seeking even harder. Companies were very unwilling to take on board someone who never had any exposure to work life in an English-speaking country. They probably thought my English wasn’t very good and I didn’t have the right to work in the UK.

After a month or so I decided to rethink my goals and apply for a few admin and customer service roles. Being able to speak Russian as well as English opened up quite a few doors for me. At last, I received a positive response from a company I’d always admired. They offered me a job as a customer service advisor for English and Russian customers. I successfully passed three remote interview stages and went to their offices for an in-person interview. A couple of days later they sent me a congratulatory email. This was the best news – I was no longer unemployed.

In the first month I went to work feeling very positive and in high spirits. However, the reality of the call centre, which I’d never known before, hit me very hard. It was tough and a high-pressure environment. I had to work weekends and bank holidays while my husband was relaxing at home or meeting friends. The fact that I was part of a very large company selling luxury clothing internationally meant customers had high expectations and demands. I enjoyed the challenge but realised my interest lay in buying and merchandising. Three months into the role I took a week off and enrolled on a Buying and Merchandising course. Having used my holidays well I said goodbye to the call centre and embarked on a new journey as a merchandising assistant (MAA) in a menswear company. Working at the head office allowed me to get to know my colleagues better, learn about office politics and enjoy my day to day.

If you really want to achieve something in London, let’s be honest, it’s hard but it’s possible. As long as you make the effort and constantly improve yourself, you will get what you want. London offers a lot of work opportunities. London also offers a lot of very good courses that can really help succeed in your career. A five-day course coupled with my enthusiasm helped me to completely change my life. All in all, I am very confident that you can do it too if you really want.

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