Letters From London: The Terrifying Joy Of Making The Leap

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Ex-pat Kerry Barnes is all-too-familiar with the excitement of moving to the UK. But what happens when the dust settles and the reality of eating porridge for a week hits?

It was Friday evening and I was sitting in the newly opened Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers (you can actually book this amazing place, which is exciting in itself) when it hit me. 7 years in London.

My friend's younger sister, a recent Trinity graduate, was buzzing with the enthusiasm only a newbie to the working world can muster up after a long week. Me, I was struggling with the basic and well-versed movement of lifting my wine to my mouth without spilling it from exhaustion. She chirped excitedly about her new job in 'Big Data' when I thought to myself - well I'm not going to lie, my first thought was 'who gets excited about Big Data'? and my second was to remember to google what Big Data actually means on the tube home...

But she got me thinking about my own arrival in the midst of the financial crisis, and how maybe every Celtic tiger cub simply follows the same path when they land in London. Facebook stalk everyone you know in the hopes someone takes you in (I slept in my best friend's bed with her for six weeks, even when she started dating her now fiancé). Find an overpriced council flat in Clapham because how could you possibly live anywhere else. Finally, secure an underpaid job that forces you to accept porridge week* into your life (*the final week before payday where you eat porridge for every meal and need to decide between topping up your Oyster card for the week or being content to walk an hour each way to work if it means one more night out).

I don't know how I would analyse it in Big Data terms, but I couldn't help but reminisce about the 12 different housemates I've had, two jobs, four phones I've lost, 236 Instagram posts, the near-hundreds of Ryanair flights home to visit mum and dad, the countless nights out that I will never forget and the even better ones I will never remember.


A lot has changed over the years. We've grown up (ish), we have real jobs (ish), we have mortgages (which unfortunately are very real), we drink the wine we like - not just the cheapest option, we live with boys instead of best friends, but the one constant that has remained throughout has been the unbreakable bond with the London Irish that we first landed here with. The ones that egged you on to choose the night out over the Oyster card, that danced beside you until the early hours and then kept you company on the long walk to work in the rain.

People talk about the seven-year itch (although I'm not entirely sure if that's just to do with marriage or is applicable to general life- I shall use it in the latter sense) and friends whisper in muttered tones around me about "moving back". How Dolphin's Barn is the new Dalston and that little place in Blackrock Market got a Michelin star. It terrifies me. Not because I've laid down roots here or that I'm not convinced there are enough Bikram studios per square mile in Dublin, or even the fact I couldn't possibly live somewhere without a branch of my favourite restaurant Bao. It terrifies me because it's an itch that I'm just not ready to scratch yet, and for every one that makes the journey home, our numbers dwindle and my one constant shifts.

But London, fear not, I'm not done with you....your number's not up just yet.

By Kerry Buckley-Barnes

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