It’s been nearly 3 years since my last post, as the days had been pretty hectic with my previous work in AirAsia and I actually have been living in the United Kingdom for a year now. The main reason of my moving is in order to pursue my dream of obtaining Masters Degree in Air Transport Management.
I will not sharing my student life here, basically living as student is same elsewhere. You have a very tight budget, sleeping in an accommodation, cooking for yourself, managing your own money. However, my living experience in the UK had been quiet memorable, and I have survived for a year getting away from home! This is the longest period I have gone away from home, and nobody had ever thought I would have left my career for a higher education somewhere very far away from Indonesia.
In fact, I never thought that I would move to the UK. Never. My previous trip to London in April last year was aimed at ensuring myself whether UK was the best place for me to continue my Masters, and it turned out that I liked it, hence I decided to move.
Coventry is a city located 1 hour (train journey) and 2 hours (bus journey) from London. The city is one of the metropolitan borough in the West Midlands. The reputation of the city itself was not really prominent for the locals – the old saying often refer Coventry as a place where the elders will send their children if they are naughty or disobey – in fact for Indonesians, the city has become very much popular due to the existence of affordable University. Yes, that is correct, living in UK sounded to be very overpriced to some people, but trust me when you live out of London, everything is 70% cheaper, even cheaper than Australia.
Coventry is a city that is closely related to automotive, yes this place is the birth place of latest invention in UK automotive industry, say Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and where the development of turbo jet engine began by Frank Whittle, this man was known as one of the British RAF Air Commodore. Coventry also has a famous cathedral, one of the famous relics left from the German invasion back in the World War II.
The city now is known to be a University student. Coventry University has contributed significant income for the city as many international (including myself) has chosen to study in the University. My first reason of choosing this University is that because the course I wished to take is a bit niche, means not every University in the UK or even in the world offered the course I am studying now. However, the price is quiet reasonable and not too far from London. Although most of my colleagues in London asking why did you choose Coventry, those three reasons always came up first to explanation. The closest big city is Birmingham which is known to be the second largest city in the UK after London, but strangely I found the city is much more boring than Coventry.
My ‘affair’ with London
Despite the fact I live in Coventry but I spend most of the time in London as the city is reachable for 2 hours by bus, and my house is close from Pool Meadow coach station. Very convenient journey that I can go for one day, or staying for couple nights. London is different than any other city in the UK, we can say it is a metropolitan city and for a boy who used to live in Jakarta, we must love the metropolitan city.
While other students prefer to spend their times in Birmingham or traveling around the United Kingdom, I decided to use my money wisely in London. Why? I think London is the future, I came to London not only to refresh my mind but also to widen my circle of networks, no matter where I work in the future. It’s one of the world’s financial capital of the world!
The diversity which is a combination between modernity and yet historical sites makes this city seems very vibrant and you cannot only explore this city only for one day! I partially lived here as I always come and go, and friends who have taught me a lot of things, including how to commute in London and walking through alleys and hidden gems that the city has to offer.
London is a capital city which serves as the central of politics, business, arts and trade. Just like Jakarta, my hometown which is the capital of Indonesia. The city gets very busy every peak hours which is between 8 – 10 am in the morning and 4 – 6 pm in the afternoon. There are so many interesting places to see and yet there are vast options of attractions you see. Museums, parks, gallery, and shops. London is also known as the capital of creative economy in the UK or probably in the Europe, where you can find many interesting stores selling interesting stuff. To me London, is just different, my favorite landmark, the Big Ben means a lot to me. As whenever I visit the city, I must walk pass the building and hoping to listen the chimes.
After 2 or 3 months of your visit you will find yourself familiar with the tube system which looks complicated on the map. The city map of London is actually not easy to explore. The city situates in a complex design which is not divided by blocks or grid square. And every corner of the area looks similar to each other, especially when you are in the West area. Nottinghill Gate, Paddington, Kensington, Earl’s Court are some of famous posh areas in the city that offer affordable accommodation for tourists compared to the ones in Central London. These areas connected by two busiest tube lines: Piccadilly Line (blue line) that connects London to Heathrow Airport, and Central – District Line (Green and Yellow line).
Going out in London could mean overpriced splurge to some people, including myself. The tube is very much convenient to be used with Oyster Card issued by Transport of London (TFL) in which tourists or Londoners can use to to travel London by tube and bus. The card applies daily cap based on the Zones you travel. For example, the maximum daily cap of the Oyster Card is £6.30 for zone 1-2 and more expensive to cover more zones, as there are 6 zones in the greater London itself.
Bus is less reliable than the tube, due to traffic jam which sometimes are inevitable due to higher car volume during peak hours, or the road construction. As a foreigner who lived in the UK, I notice that many prominent cities have undergone massive road construction, causing traffic diversion. This can be overwhelming especially in the busy motorway that links into London city such as M25 or the M5. M25 is famous for its congestion in the morning.
Nonetheless, the city’s atmosphere doesn’t stop people from visiting London. The city is a great place to eat and drink! The English pubs and local restaurants spread around London for example some of the famous ones that you might be interested to visit: The Albert’s in Westminster, Old Bells in Fleet Street, Wheatsheaf in Borough Market, Ten Bells in Barbican, Admiralty in Trafalgar Square and many others. To all of you who prefer a more fancy atmosphere you can go to Sketch Bar, Social Eating in Soho, The Manor in Clapham, Gong Bar (Shangrila’s The Shards) and any places that you can browse on the Trip Advisor. Some areas such as in Neal’s Yard, Carnaby, Piccadilly Circus also offers numerous interesting restaurants.
In regard to affordable restaurant and if you don’t mind takeaways or at the park, you can always go to Pret-A-Manger, Gregg’s or any takeaway food sold in Tesco Express or Sainsbury. Try their patisseries, affordably delicious.
Living in London has become dream for everyone, including for those Britons outside London who thinks the city is a land of dreams. London’s position as the capital city of United Kingdom conveys significant importance, while in contrast making it as a secluded city where the wealth seems to centralised only in the city.
To all visitors who firstly landed their feet into United Kingdom must think that London represents the country. In fact, it is not. London is a multicultural city which occupied by foreigners and immigrants. The best way to explore the UK is to go to their countryside as this country offers many tourism attractions in the countryside part such as Castle Coombe, Cotswolds, Winchester, or if you fancy to experience locals’ holiday destination you drive southwest to Devon or Cornwall where you can visit a few number of beautiful cities such as Torquay, Paignton, Plymouth, Land’s End.
Well this is just an intermezzo before I end this post, but is it worthwhile to mention the Brexit issue since this became major concerns for Londoners questioning the future of the city’s position as one of the world’s financial capital in the world. I was there when the referendum occurred. The achieved referendum results, suprisingly had led the UK to separate out of the European Union and it does not seem to favor the stability of sterling due to lack of investors’ trust.