When I look at these pictures taken during yesterday’s walk, I smile. They remind me how beautiful the city is. They remind me why I’m here. And I desperately need such reminders as so far what we’ve been going through is nothing short of a nightmare. Stuck in a tiny and not as clean as you’d expect hotel room I try to stay optimistic but each day makes it harder.
Have you ever felt like the luckiest person in the world, running up the hill to reach the stars and then when you were at the highest speed, a thick brick wall hit you crashing you completely, breaking you into pieces? That’s how I feel. I am the luckiest person in the world, finally moving to my beloved city. The thick brick wall is bureaucracy, all the unbelievable laws, documents, ridiculous requirements and conditions you’re not able to meet.
To make it clear, I didn’t expect a design- furnished house in Belgravia (well, that would be nice), Michelin- star dinners and the Queen waiting at the airport with champagne but… I still though London would be slightly more welcoming.
It all started with banking… I’d never thought opening an account would be such a big deal. And I’m not talking about some top banking, it’s just the good old expat-friendly Lloyds. Not anymore I guess. It’s all going wrong:
- Queuing far too long just to hear you should first apply for the account online.
- Filling in the form to get stuck on the ‘postcode’ section (which only accepted UK postcodes as your previous address).
- Going to the bank again and queuing again to get some instructions.
- Applying for the account online again only to find out that they are sorry but your application has been declined (without any explanation).
- Going back to the bank to be told that you should make an appointment but they’re unable to see you until next month.
- Calling expat services to hear, after 25 minutes of giving out all your personal details that you’re not able to open an account anyway without a proof of address. They understand that you only moved over 2 days ago and you’re not able to provide any bills to proof your address (which you don’t have) but it can also be a posted bank statement (!!!). Trying hard to get calm you kindly remind them that a bank statement is something you’d love to get but it may be difficult without having a bank account which you’re just trying to get. Then, they finally agree to meet you next Wednesday to talk about international account options. And yes, they understand you start your job on Monday and you need an account before that but there’s very little they can do.
I became very aware of the fact that there’s no chance I could win them over so I thought perhaps getting a nice, modern flat should be easier. Few hours later I edited that thought to getting any flat.
So yeah, imagine you’d be delighted to rent a flat but… of course, nobody wants to rent it to you without a proof of address. When after 2 days you finally find the agency (not the cheapest one but at least they understand your situation) who’s willing to cooperate, you feel on top of the world. You find a nice little flat and then it turns out… you need a bank account to pay for it! It’s more expensive than you’re prepared for, however your future company’s willing to participate in costs but… guess what? They need your bank account to transfer the money! You finally find a way to transfer the booking fee and then the agency tells you that actually your job contract is not enough and you’re expected to pay the rent 6 months upfront. Oh, you’re unable to do it? Well, there’s a 1000 quid resignation fee so you may want to try harder. Do I need to continue?
After 5 days of the same old stories I’m about to freak out. I’m just super stressed and exhausted. I want this all to end. I want a tiny place to call home and a cup of tea under the blanket. Instead, I have two more nights in the hotel which smells more like a nursing home, running out of money and ideas. I want to cry, shout and slam the door. But then when I look at these pictures I’m absolutely certain London is magical. So I’m waiting for a miracle to happen. It will be alright. It has to be alright.