This is a slight deviation from our usual reviews and historical articles about the city, but as the semester is drawing to a close (are you panicking? I’m not panicking…) I think it is a good opportunity to reflect on the past year and what this city might have done to us. (Sounds a bit sinister I know, but that’s not what I intend).
One of the reasons I and many other people chose to move to London for university was because it is a city which houses the big ‘O’ word. Opportunities. Doesn’t that word just send shivers down your spine? Whether you want to make it big in business, the arts, banking, or medicine – you name it, London is the place to be.
It is the city where everything is happening at once, everyone is moving and rushing, just two minutes away from a tube which can take you anywhere in the city. To the famous landmarks you saw on television as a child, to quirky coffee shops and art galleries. A whole host of well-known people have walked these very streets. Everyone you have studied or watched or aspired to be, seems to have lived here.
And now you do, too.
It is all a bit of a whirlwind at first. The rushing, the strange rules of etiquette, trying not to look like a tourist. After a while, you get used to it, with tubes and Boris Bikes have become part of your daily routine. Everything has slowed down – fast is now just your average pace. You have succeeded in fitting in. Well, for the most part.
Yet with this routine also comes complacency. The rush no longer fills you with adrenaline. You no longer feel alive. Instead, it annoys you. You stop visiting galleries and instead spend hours in bed watching the next series of whichever show is in vogue right now. You begin to feel as if you are stuck in the London Eye: a small part of a giant structure, constantly going in circles. Whatever happened to the opportunities that you thought would come knocking at your door (or ringing your flat buzzer which probably doesn’t work)? Where is the fancy job? Where is the exhibition opening?
Opportunities do not jump out at you from nowhere just because you are in a big city – for unexpected jumps head to a haunted house! Of course, living in London gives you more opportunities, but they do not appear like magic. You still have to work hard to find them. If anything, you have to work harder than you would in a small town. Because here in London you are anonymous, another figure under the gaze of Big Ben, another wave in the sea of people bobbing along trying to catch the last tube home.
Was this demotivating?
Whatever you might think, I like to think of it as a reality check. There is so much out there. You just have to grab it – it is the suspense and surprise which makes city life so exciting. You just don’t know what is around the corner, or how long it will be for, but you do know that whatever it is, it will make the move here all the more worthwhile in the end…
Shia LeBeouf out.