On the 28th of November, I’ll have lived in the City of Angels for a year. So much time has passed and I thought now would be a fitting time to share some more of this English lass’s thoughts on her Emerican relocation.
When my husband and I arrived in LA, we planned that I’d be driving by Christmas, we’d probably move to Abbott Kinney and I’d have a job by February. None of those of things happened. As cliché as it sounds, the best part about making plans is breaking plans.
Learning to drive on the other side of the road was hard! I had a UK driver’s license, but hadn’t driven in five years and therefore arrived in LA a rather rusty driver. You don’t realise how your body is oriented to one side of the road until you make the switch. I failed my first test on Christmas Eve – in retrospect I drove like Cruella de Vil then. I gave up for a while after failing a second time in the Spring (less Cruella-like, but not enough) and eventually passed in the Summer.
You might be wondering how I managed to live in LA for so long without being able to drive. The car is an LA icon! Thankfully we decided to live in Santa Monica (not Abbott Kinney as it’s an expensive tsunami zone) and this made it possible for me to live a very walkable lifestyle. In Santa Monica, you can walk to the supermarket (grocery store), the gym, the beach, a bunch of shops, the metro station and live in a little bubble. As I was walking past my local Starbucks I once heard someone say they never leave Santa Monica.
Not being able to drive has also given me the opportunity to get very lost and experiment with LA’s public transport. The consensus is that if you’re in LA, you need a car. As an ex-Londoner, I’m used to delayed trains and, particularly on the Tube, a lack of personal space. I mentioned in a previous post that, before moving, I was told a fable about some visitors exploring LA on foot. As they went about their day, drivers would pull over and ask if their car had broken down and if they needed help. As someone who takes the bus every week, I can confirm that the system has its blips, but overall, the transport here’s pretty good. Unlike in the UK, my trains haven’t been delayed by “leaves on the line” yet.
Getting a job in LA was difficult because American companies generally require you to have a degree. Unlike in the UK where I could work my way up, no one wanted to give me a job unless I started at the bottom again. Eventually, after much procrastination, a dalliance in the social media world and many yoga classes to “find” myself, I decided that maybe now would be a good time to change careers. In August, I enrolled at community college. I have been out of education for nine years so it’s been an adjustment; I intend to dedicate a whole post to that in the future.
I’ve experienced many other surprises in moving here – good and bad. I’ve made unexpected friends via Instagram, become a fitness addict and fallen in love with the region’s diverse flora in a very geeky way. There have of course been frustrations. The Social Security Administration thinks my name is Jessic, the IRS is wrongly insisting I pay taxes on my UK earnings from last year and the US Citizen and Immigration Service sat on my green card for most of the year. Moving to a new country is an adjustment, but third time lucky, you will pass that driving test!
Pictures were taken by Jonathan Ramsey at Union Station
Balloon Dress by Dezzal