When I look back at the time I spent in London, I realize how much I have grown because of that trip (so sorry not sorry that it's all I talk about). London has taught me so many things when it comes to handling different situations, budgeting, how to be more practical, and just living out on your own in general.

I have always thought of myself to be this independent girl who's ready to embark on this journey of living by herself in a big city, so that trip really put that idea to the test. And honestly for that being my first solo international trip, I can honestly say that I kind of surprised myself with how well I managed everything. I loved everything about it, and I wouldn't change a thing (well, there are maybe a few things I'd change).

Now that I have a better understanding of how "adulting" really works, I want to share some of those major takeaways. Let's just say that London has given me more reality checks in that one month of living there than in my entire 18 years of life. Curious to know what I'm talking about? Below, I share 7 things that London has taught me.

1. You can't afford to Uber everywhere even if your account is hooked up to your parent's credit card. 

You just can't. It adds up quickly, especially if you're traveling multiple times throughout the day and at the busy hours. Try to take the tube whenever you can, it'll save you money (time wise, it's about the same as taking an Uber) and walk everywhere (unless it's over 30 minutes, then it's not worth it). In comparison to the subway (NYC) and the metro (Paris), it's a lot nicer too.

2. Everything is about 30 minutes away, but it's like 45 with traffic. 

And if you're great at being late like I am, then plan for an hour commute. Also, I felt like it took longer to get to Central London than it did to return to Hammersmith. Just me? Okay. 

gif not mine, all rights to the owner
Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada 

3. Estimating whether or not you can afford something in BP is not the same as adding ten extra USD on top of the total cost. 

Don't make your bank account suffer because you think you can do the currency exchange rate in your head. It's practically impossible because all of your rough estimates are just that--rough. I can't tell you the number of times I went shopping thinking that I was paying 60 dollars even though I was paying 60 pounds, which is about a 20 USD currency difference. Budget accordingly and skip out on spontaneous trips into Zara--but not Topshop, because at least in Topshop they tell you how much you're spending in USD. 

gif not mine, all rights to the owner
Rebecca Bloomwood, Confessions of a Shopaholic

4. To be alone in London is a known kind of loneliness--You feel it. 

I've tried to explain this to so many people, but it's something that you have to experience. If you travel to Paris, which you will because it's only a two hour train ride from London, you'll immediately feel the difference in energy between the two cities. In London, it's like you can feel the loneliness because people around you make you aware of it (not intentionally of course; Londoners are really chill). They're most likely walking the streets with their friends or business associates, having a good time, drinking, eating, shopping--whatever, okay? And their conversations aren't loud like in America, but you can tell that they're engaged with whomever they're with. 

Now go to Paris, and it's like people walk the streets, go to cafes, shop, smoke, take the metro all by themselves, and so on, but while you may do those things alone, you don't feel alone. I believe it's because people in Paris are content with being by themselves in a city with millions of other people who are solitary, which kind of feels like you're all alone together. While in London, being alone feels like you should have just stayed home instead of going to that party you thought was going to be fun. 

photo not mine, all rights to the owner
Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

Personally, I love Paris, and it's because naturally I do a lot of things by myself, and there, I never felt self conscious about being by myself. However, in London, it really hit me that I was by myself because people love spending time with other people over there. I will definitely say that I had more fun once I started making friends at Hillsong. I was always doing something with someone or going somewhere. London is full of exciting people, you just have to find them first. 

photo not mine, all rights to the owner
Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City 

5. Be spontaneous in the company of good people. Don't over plan what you want to do, but also plan like crazy, have back up plans and be flexible. 

Trust me, there is a balance to this that you have to find for yourself. Much like the previous point, this one is something that you have to figure out for yourself and what works for you. However, if you aren't spontaneous or open enough, then you're going to miss out on whatever happens next. 

With Hillsong it was easy to make plans because they always had something going on, and what made it even better was that usually going to that one event that someone told me about had me making more plans. Soon my days were filled with things to do. It was like I would meet one person and that person would invite me to another event and then at that event, I would meet someone else, and we would go somewhere the next day, and so on. 

You always want to think ahead and have an idea of what you want to do or where you want to go, but you still want to leave some days open because you never know who might be throwing a Greek Food party the same time you decided to go get drinks with a girlfriend (true story, sorry Irene that I couldn't go)!

6. Take advantage of everything that is around you. 

This city is never ending. It's not like one of those cities with tons of hidden gems, at least I don't think so, but it is one of those cities that allow you to write your own story. And depending on where you stay, there's usually so much to do in walking distance from shops to cafes to museums. You have no excuse to stay inside, even if it's raining. 

7. Lower your guard? Not everyone is out to get you, girl. 

At first, I treated London like I would if I were going to Chicago or Los Angeles, and I'm here to tell you that you don't need to. Men in London don't act like they've lost their minds, and if they have, you won't know it because they aren't crazy about approaching you. Now, I did have one really heart racing situation with three men following me in their car, but when I told my friends, they told me that that was pretty rare and that they just wanted to chat me up for my number (most likely), but I didn't stay locked up in my apartment after that. 

For the most part, it's a really safe city to be in. Even when I was out by myself late at night, I didn't feel threatened like I tend to feel here. There are parts of the city that aren't as safe as others, that's a given, but overall if you are travelling to the city by yourself like I did, you shouldn't worry too much about your safety.

There are obviously more things that I took away from the trip, but these really stuck with me. Hopefully these help you if you're planning a long or solo trip!  x

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