1. Take a new way home when you have time to experiment: For me, home is familiar; it’s where I feel comfortable and know my way around. When I’m not in a rush to get home or to class I try to take a new route – whether it’s walking a different way to the tube or swapping the tube for the bus. That way, if one option isn’t available one day, I’ll know plenty of other ways around. I often surprise myself and find that the route I’ve been taking isn’t always the quickest or easiest.
2. Take detours and explore a new area: Similar to taking a new way home, I sometimes find myself curious and eager to explore whichever neighborhood I find myself in on a given day. This is the best way to get to know London and stumble upon a cool bar, restaurant, park, or fun places to shop. On my way back to my flat I usually choose to walk along Regent’s Canal instead of the direct road that leads to my flat because I enjoy the walk a lot more and get to walk through Granary Square – that is, if it’s not raining.
3. Decorate your room with pictures and objects from your home-home: Just because London is where you’re living now doesn’t mean you can’t combine your love for London and where you come from! I love having pictures of my family, friends, and dogs on the wall above my desk – and it’s so easy to do! Some Boot’s stores offer photo services and you can upload your pictures via their website, and they’ll print them in store for you. (And it’s affordable – only 19p for a 7×5” matte photo).
4. Do the “tourist” things you’ve secretly been wanting to do: When trying to become a “local”, it often feels cliché to get tickets for the London Eye or sit on top of the Big Red Buses for tours. It doesn’t matter if you’re here for the first time or have been here ten times before, if you want to fully experience London, you may have to do the “tourist” things, but that’s totally fine! My personal favorites were the Churchill War Rooms and of course the views from the London Eye.
5. Get to know your neighbors: Whether that means your flat mates, classmates, or work colleagues. Like most of the best things in life, where you live is best when shared with others!
6. Buy an umbrella: And of course, no one is truly a prepared resident of London unless they have a reliable, durable, giant umbrella. (Or two).