Kettering, November 11th, 2015
One October day of 2007 my friend Natalia and I landed at Gatwick on an EasyJet flight. We had our lives compressed in 23 kilos of hold luggage, 15 kilos of cabin luggage and a one-way ticket to Victoria station, London. Same old story that brings together thousands of Europeans every week, not so exotic after all. Four months went by and I found a job with my dream company, although the position was in Rome, so I decided to go back to Italy. After a year and three months, the same company offered me a new position in London. It was 2009 and since then, the British capital has been my second home.
This morning, after an absence of six months – the longest period ever spent away from London, from Rome, from Europe and from my family – another plane took me back on the island, this once just for a short visit. While the plane was making its descent into Heathrow, following the lovely route from east to west, I saw in sequence all the places where I lived: Shadwell, Vauxhall, Battersea, Bayswater, Fulham, Richmond, and I tried to wrap up in one single thought all the things that London taught me in these last 7 years.
My advice to you is: if you fly to London Heathrow, make sure to book a window seat on the right-end side of the plane.
- London taught me that the perfect underground doesn’t exist: even here the train breaks down or is late.
- London taught me what it feels like to live abroad and being labelled with a generalist and restrictive idea that others have of your own people and culture.
- London taught me how important the sun can be.
- London taught me that laughing is important and letting your friends make you laugh is even more.
- London taught me the enrichment that one can get from cultural differences and that such differences should be embraced and not pushed back. Differences exist and always will: pushing them back or pretending they’re not there means avoiding to grow up and become a better person.
The maxim I leave to my fellow countrymen and women who decide to come here (or anywhere else, for that matter) is: espresso is not the only existing coffee, but what does exist is a different way of making coffees. Not before having taken the effort to taste them, appreciate and respect their flavours you can say you’ve travelled. And then you’ll appreciate and respect your espresso even more.