If you have been following my entries you might already be aware of my stories as **an expat abroad**. You might also be aware that I was **a penniless 19 y.o.** with big hopes the first time I moved to London and about the same when I moved there a second time, aged 22. It was the latter time when I finally managed to **stay put in the English capital **and let an internship in a global firm to transform a “little girl” with self confidence issues into the self assured woman (I think) I am today. So here’s the lessons I learned in my first year in London.
![Expat Diaries: What I Learned in My First Year in London](https://db82kmzzne7f2.cloudfront.net/ghost-blog/2016/06/image2-1.jpeg)
> ## **I learned about the power of personal transformation.
While I was juggling with my job, a new language, intense home-sickness, a box room in a filthy apartment and my head spinning around the million things London has to offer, I also **made sure to absorb as much as possible and to learn**. Yes, learning, because for a curious kid like me there is nothing more important to do in this lifetime, it is in fact the ultimate goal and purpose of our time here.
That intense, frightening, stressful work experience was the first step into **a transformative journey** that allowed me to expand my small-village brain into **the globally-oriented personality**that I proudly wear today. The internship was only meant to last 3 months but ended up being a permanent job until I left 4 years and two promotions later.
![Expat Diaries: What I Learned in My First Year in London](https://db82kmzzne7f2.cloudfront.net/ghost-blog/2016/06/IMG_4433.jpg)Photo source: Sabrina Andrea Sachs @the_storyteller
In the first 12 months there, I’ve gained a new perspective that I treasure till today, because London, on top of being a huge playground is also the perfect place to explore the world while being placed in just one city.
> ## **I learned is that people are very different, but all the same. **
As dull as it sounds, **we are more similar than we think**. The culture between my home country (Italy) and the UK maybe are not as shockingly different as it would have been between Italy and China or Japan, but still, I was amazed to see people gathering at the pub at 3pm on Fridays as I was gobsmacked to realise that no one spoke or would look at each other on the tube (I still don’t get why; Brits! Chillax, nobody is going to bite you if you say hi!).
[![Expat Diaries: What I Learned in My First Year in London](https://db82kmzzne7f2.cloudfront.net/ghost-blog/2016/06/IMG_4980.jpg)](https://db82kmzzne7f2.cloudfront.net/ghost-blog/2016/06/IMG_4980.jpg)Photo source: Sabrina Andrea Sachs @the_storyteller
London, having played the role of** an immigration magnet** for a few centuries, is a melting pot beyond all the other large cities in the world. Here you have the unique opportunity to experience and encounter people practically everywhere, including your home country, no matter how small it might be. If you explore enough and **keep your eyes open**, you will manage to encounter people from Pakistan, India, Australia, Brazil and more, understand their culture and explore the world all while living in the English city. This article was written before Brexit – I do wonder what will change in the future.
You will be impressed to witness **the similarities that bring people together**, rather than the differences that separate us. You will experience that there is **goodness all around**and that (most) people will always be there to give you a hand if you are in difficulty. Humanity is (generally) good and you have to trust and leave your fears behind.
> ## **On the personal side, I struggled to make new friends. **
The language barrier, but most importantly the cultural differences were an obstacle to truly understand how to enter “their world” and stop being “another passing foreigner”. While it was **extremely easy to connect and hang out with other expats**, I really wanted to create my own Brits circle of friends but, having grown up with upfront, direct, loud Italians, it was hard for me to adapt to the between-the-lines, calm and
freezing cold personalities of the British.
![Expat Diaries: What I Learned in My First Year in London](https://db82kmzzne7f2.cloudfront.net/ghost-blog/2016/06/167156_495768062942_2462724_n.jpg)
I had to mould myself, smooth the edges of my behaviour and **e****nter their world on tiptoes before being accepted**. Was it hard? Oh my gosh, harder than dating! Was it worth it? Hell, ya! Today, some of my best friends are British and despite all the differences, we are still very close even now that we have a couple of oceans between us.
> ## **I also learned that you can do and be whatever you want.
If you really believe in it. When I was hired by this huge American company, I honestly thought I wouldn’t last very long. I was one of the very few **non-native English employees** on top of being the extremely shy, “little one”, still enrolled at uni among much mature colleagues. The pressure was high and the tasks assigned to me complicated, strenuous and confidential. I must confess, after a couple of weeks, **I was ready to give up and go back to the easy life back home**, but it was there when I understood that regardless of my lack of English fluency I did have many other things to offer.
![Expat Diaries: What I Learned in My First Year in London](https://db82kmzzne7f2.cloudfront.net/ghost-blog/2016/06/IMG_6837.jpg)Photo source: Sabrina Andrea Sachs @the_storyteller
> ## **I had to prove I was worthy.
To them, but mainly to myself. I was working long hours and harder than anybody else, while also attending English school in the evenings. I managed to improve my English at the speed of light while I made sure my work was always on time, spotless and beyond expectations.
It was then that I’ve learn that regardless of what people might think of you -most people initially believed I was never going to make it- only you know your own limits and only you can really decide the future you want and deserve. It has to come from within you and you can either let others decide your destiny or you can grab it with both hands. And moving to London was the first step I did towards that – I am now still living abroad and travelling from place to place, telling people my stories. Maybe that’s why they call me** the storyteller****.**
Believe in yourself, but most importantly, work hard, stand up, fail, learn and try again. And again, and again, and again.
“Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves they are going to tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” – Will Smith, Pursuit of Happiness
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[![Expat Diaries: What I Learned in My First Year in London](https://db82kmzzne7f2.cloudfront.net/ghost-blog/2016/06/london.jpg)](https://db82kmzzne7f2.cloudfront.net/ghost-blog/2016/06/london.jpg)