Tales from Starbucks

It’s another day at the office for me as I sit in Starbucks somewhere in the middle of Bayswater. Ever since Cooper started work my ‘full time’ job has been to find a job. Evidently a small room in a dense block of flats is a little uninspiring, so I’ve found myself reveling among other London-based job seekers/students/travellers, all with the same idea – free WiFi, coffee, atmosphere and company at our local Starbucks. The only issue is the daily race to secure one the few power points in the restaurant. Note to the two business people speaking French during yesterday’s endeavour – share! Also, note to the couple who snuck the gorgeous white Labrador in and who sat next to me for half an hour – I don’t think that’s allowed but I’m not going to complain!

I’m going to have to say something about this soundtrack though… it hasn’t changed in over a week.

As I sift through the endless daily job-mail emails I’ve subscribed to and applying for everything and anything that may be vaguely relevant, I am resigned to the fact that of the hundreds of jobs I’ll apply for over the coming week, like the thousands of unemployed here at the moment I won’t hear back from 99% I’ve applied for.

I’m not depressed, but a little bewildered as to what to try next (although I’m not out of ideas, so all good for now). I’ve YouTubed for advice, only to discover many other young hopefuls have posted rants about their plight for work too, and rather than be inspiring, their stories were depressing. Many of them have nothing. Similarly my LinkedIn colleagues aren’t being overly helpful, and I’ve contacted every editor, PR company and network I can think of with not much response at all. Even despite a very sweet Twitter campaign begun by my @UniSex Magazine friends in Sydney who were trying to catch the attention of a certain London-based celebrity asking if he’d hire me (and no Darren, I’m not stalking you), there’s been no further leads on work.

Last week seemed promising, as several recruitment companies took my details, tested my expertise and are now on the lookout for work; but this week, very very quiet. Except for the sound of Frappacinos being mixed in the background, that is.

I’m learning quite a lot through this experience though. Recruitment companies here have been really helpful with tips on how to refine the resume, sell yourself in interviews, create little narratives around past work experience etc. My interview technique and resume will be absolutely perfect following this little adventure, and I’m thinking that it’s a bit like that old phrase – if you can make it in New York or London, you can make it anywhere. The landscape here is vast, competitive and specialised.

The only way forward is to keep at it though, and I’m already working on some pitches and unique angles to get myself noticed. At the moment it really feels like your resume just shoots into cyberspace and floats somewhere out there between Far Away Land and a Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Away. I know I’m not alone though (which is a good and bad thing) and I suppose it means I’ve got to get more creative in my applications.

Still, I have a coffee meeting with an editor of a fab mag on Friday (fingers crossed) and a plan for some further industry related study (while in London might as well brush up with the best of the best). I’ve also managed to score media accred into London Fashion Week (one of my ‘to do’s’ ticked off the UK list!) which begins at the end of this week, so that’s very exciting!

Experience and challenge, that is why I came here – and you never know what tomorrow will bring in the big city.

SB x


Settling into London

Week 2 Finding a flat and preparing for school.

Once the pressure of finding a place to live (a stressful experience where you compete with other foreigners for days, while you wander all over London viewing properties, I had to open a bank account (hint: you need to have a place of residence before you can achieve this), organise a sim card etc only then did I feel less stressed. This anxiety was made all the more easier thanks to the professionalism of Smart Teachers the recruitment agency I consulted to find employment in the UK.

After cleaning (I mean sterilising) my studio flat, I finally had a place to call home, at least for the next six months anyway. I could at last call my principal and organise a meet and greet. So far, all correspondence had been through emails and a 90 minute phone interview several months prior. Now I can meet my principal and check out my new school instead viewing via Google.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little anxious as to what I can expect from my new class of 30 year five students. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to who have worked in the UK all echo the same horror stories of the behaviour they encountered in the classroom. Now I’ve had my fair share of challenging (some naughty) children in the classroom, but some of the stories are quite horrifying.

Much to my relief, my headmaster set my mind at ease, as I was given the guided tour around my school in Dollis Hill overlooking London in the distance. To get to my school, Transport I have to catch the tube from Queensway on the Central line, swap to the Jubilee line (24 minutes) and then jump on a bus from Willesden Green (stop B) to my school (14 minutes), followed by a 150 metre walk. I enjoy catching the red double decker bus as I pass through the suburbs of north west London. My £25 Oyster Card covers all travel expenses.

The following Wednesday, I thought It would be wise to practice heading to work, to allow for any problems. Smart move, I ended up on the wrong bus at a shopping centre in Crickelwood. I arrived at work an hour later to set up my classroom. Note to self don’t catch the 302. After several attempts I had mastered the trip.

One more week before school starts, and that excited feeling of anxiety returns.


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Tips n Tricks living in London

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Along our path of discovery as ‘Londoners’ we’re slowly picking up some tips and tricks to life as an ex-pat. The aim of this blog is to help others crazy enough to follow in our footsteps, so we are learning the lessons and letting readers know what to avoid or what to pursue. Firstly, we’re really warming to the area we live in – Notting Hill/Bayswater is safe and brimming with convenient amenities like shopping, laundries, pubs, internet cafes, transport and Kensington Gardens just down the road. We had a brilliant sunny day here yesterday so I went for a wander around our neighbourhood. Some images HERE. London is so vast, unless you have a suburb aim due to work it’s hard to know where to start looking for a reasonable address, but this area is a good place to start, at least in our experience.

Be wary of so-called Real Estate Agent fees – am still trying to determine whether a random GBP99.00 fee is legitimate, and have been advised to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for information. Same goes for anyone who needs some advice here.

Emergency number is 999!

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There is a popular online directory here called Gumtree. It’s useful for sourcing for all kinds of things from flats to computers and TVs. However, there are quite a few dodgy operators advertising on here, or utilising its services. We were definitely linked up in a too-good-to-be-true accommodation scam which others could have quite easily fallen for if desperate or not overly internet savvy. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid… just be careful and don’t be too naive. A friend warned us the other day of another mate who was selling a computer on this site. Someone registered interest and dropped around to this guy’s place to check it out – turned out the ‘buyer’ was just a psycho who turned up, beat the man senseless then went to the police to let them know he thought he’d killed someone. This person (not made up – known by friends of ours) is still paralyzed. Another friend bought a TV and DVD set and made the mistake of having the goods delivered to her flat – she was jipped out of part of the deal, then threatened because she wouldn’t pay the whole fee. Use these sites but ensure transactions take place in public, and your whereabouts remain unknown.

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On a bright a note, we want to recommend a few fab places we’ve discovered: Bar Soho for half price drinks and food 6 to 8pm! Westbourne House for fabulous tapas – 3 dishes for GBP10.00 Sunday to Wednesday. Kahn’s Indian Restaurant in Bayswater – dine in and take-away yummy, and the delicious Banana Tree Canteen (our nearest outlet is 21 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater W2) which offers a quality array of Asian inspired cuisine and an Express lunchtime menu which runs all afternoon, not just during strict hours of say 12-2pm. Finally, we love love love Loco Mexicano, 107 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater.

For film buffs, a trip to the cinema in London can be quite expensive, if not totally out of the budget. However, if you’re signed up with Orange for a phone deal, look out for their weekly 2 for 1 cinema tickets, issued by text message. Simply present at most box offices around town and enjoy!