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Saturday, 3 May 2014

London changes a person so that you can never really leave even if you do

YOU may live in another city in UK where you are always that bit more excited to come to London to visit, only to leave wishing the city was not so expensive to live in.

Or you may have outgrown the town you grew up in and craved to be in a city that you may find opportunities, fun or perhaps, a chance of meeting a worldly partner.

London is where you come to get all that, and in this city, you can disperse yourself into anonymity in order to find a personality you would like to assume.

Over time though, being this person becomes tiring and you yearn to reconnect with your old self again.

You go back to your homeland and reconnect with your roots.

Even as you do so, you miss London — or rather, you miss the person you are when you live in the city — the Londoner who power-walks like someone on a mission, wears multi-coloured solar system tights without inviting as much as a bat of an eyelid, develops a new accent and dates many but loves few.

London is the gateway to anywhere in Europe. More importantly, it allows you to be whomever you wish to be away from the prying eyes of society’s expectations, free to assume your own unique identity.

When I first came to London, I started off solo. With my support system thousands of miles away, I built one from the ground up.

In time, some of my friends and mentors moved away and I was left with a shortage of old friends, you know, the ones you have a history with?

I began to plot my own departure from London by applying for jobs abroad and planning as many travels as my wallet could support.

The latter resulted in me becoming a travel writer for Huffington Post, while the former landed me a job offer in Hong Kong.

With this exciting offer came the unwelcome possibility of reverting back to the career-driven person I used to be, and to become someone whose daily concerns are to find ways to stay on top in a materialist society.

This goes against everything that London has made me.

I wish to live through the mind of an aged person who knows that the important things in life are family, friends, health and quality of life, rather than things.

That is when I realised that the London that I came to in my youth allows me to be both old in the mind and young at heart. This explains why I am still here.

There are only a handful of places in the world which allow me to do so right now.

And the friends who have left?

They found their way back — whether they have now moved back to their home country or have found love on a romantic European island.

My point is, no matter where you are and how long you have left, you will always find a way to return to London and get acquainted with the person that the city made you.

As I go through phases of gaining, losing and regaining my love for the city that I now call my home, I know that the words of Samuel Johnson are true, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

Ten years on in this city, I can testify to his words.

For there really is in London all that you wish for — from the smaller things such as entertainment, fashion and food to the bigger things such as career, love, peace and friends — if you know where to look.

And if you ever get tired of London, leave if you must.

But do come back, for there is no place like it.

 

> Samantha Hiew has been in the UK for the last decade. Follow her stories on http://samanthahiew.com

Tags / Keywords: Central Region , Tale of Two Cities , London , Samantha Hiew

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