Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why I Moved to London (The First Time)

Okay, it's time to start publishing the epic series of posts about how to move to the UK to/for work.  I figured that what I'd do is start off with my history of moving the the UK, both to study and to work, so you know that I do sort of have some experience with this, and then schedule the informative posts for next week as follows:

Tuesday: overview of visa options
Wednesday: ways to look for (and hopefully find) work in the UK
Thursday: applying to jobs in the UK.

I've gotten a bunch of questions from you all, but please do keep sending them through if you think of anything between now and the above days or while you're reading.

I first moved to London in September 2008 to pursue a Master's in Medieval Studies.  Wait, no, we need to back up.  You need to hear about how I came to be a graduate student - this story is too good not to tell.

The spring and summer of my junior year in college were spent in Paris; while there, I met an English boy named Harry who was taking a year off from university.  We dated for four months and broke up only because I was heading back to NYC to finish college and he was returning to London to start medical school.

Harry and me at a party in Paris in 2007

Even though our relationship was brief, I was head over heels for Harry, and I'd like to believe that, as he said at the time, he was for me as well.  I spent until the following spring with a broken heart, pining for him, while he started dating another girl a few months after we left Paris.  (He turned out to be a master manipulator, though I do have to take responsibility too because it was obvious to everyone around me what was going on but I only saw what I wanted to see.)

After visiting Harry and his family in Yorkshire that Christmas - I have no idea what his girlfriend thought was going on, but I'm pretty sure he didn't tell her the truth - I decided that I simply had to move to England, probably mostly to be with him though I have since blocked this phase of my life from memory.  One day in mid-January, the morning after a night of heavy drinking, I opened my .edu inbox and found an email from UCL that read:

Thank you for beginning the online application for a postgraduate degree at University College London.

Excuse me?  What?  It turns out that, in my pitiful and inebriated state, I had, indeed, started the online application process to be admitted to a Master's program in the UK.

This is crazy, I told myself, and closed the browser.  But the email stewed in my brain for a week until, finally, curiosity got the better of me.  I logged on to research the MA in Medieval Studies at UCL and, after a few hours investigating the professors, the course modules, and the dissertation requirements, I realized that it was an incredible opportunity for scholarship and adventure that I could not pass up.

I can't remember if I told my parents I had applied before or after I submitted the application, but they supported my decision and, in September 2008, I hopped a plane to London to begin my studies.  For the record, I had been over Harry for months at this point and actually we didn't keep in touch much during the spring and summer of that year - none of which stopped him from trying again each time we hung out in London even well into my relationship with Jon.  I haven't seen him for a least a year now, though we do send occasional "hey, we should meet up sometime" texts.  (By the way, Jon is aware of this sordid story and has approved the publishing of this post.  He also knows Harry, vaguely, because they have some mutual friends and wants me to point out that I can't hate Harry too much because it is through one of these mutual friends, who I had met originally via Harry, that I came to be introduced to Jon.)

So that's why I moved to London (the first time).  I think the lessons of the story are:

Okay, I think that's enough storytelling for one day, don't you?  Tomorrow we'll talk about my failed attempt to actually enter the UK to begin my studies in September 2008.  Hint: it involves 10 hours of detention at Heathrow and another lesson or two...


  1. Brilliant story. Love your lessons learned.

    1. I'm with Michelle! I will savor each installment of your tale!

  2. Wow! I'm officially a fan of your blog. Can't wait for the next posts!


  3. How funny we were in London at the same time doing different things!


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