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Am I In The Right Place: The Post-Trip Doubt

Trips to Paris and Brussels make me question my move to London, but I am hoping that it is just post-trip blues and not a symptom of a real doubt.

rain 15 °C

I have had a rough week. I have felt frustrated and angry all week, and have been filled with some doubt that I made the right move in coming here to London.

It’s not that I am thinking that I shouldn’t have moved, but rather that I should have moved somewhere else.

The weather has been bad and job hunting has been really frustrating me. I’ve been in London for a little over 3 months now, and if you include the month and a half that I was looking for work before I came over, that’s almost 5 months of looking. I have been getting interviews, and at one point almost had a job, but it was snatched away at the last moment due to a hiring freeze implemented because of the downturn in the world-wide economy and the credit-crunch.

Part of the reason for my foul mood though, I think is my recent trip to Brussels and returning to London. I experienced something similar on my return from Paris after seeing the Bastille Day celebrations.

As I wrote about in that entry, Paris is one of the prime reasons I moved to Europe, and when I was there in July, I couldn’t help but keep asking myself the question, “should I have moved here instead of London?”

I spent 45 days in Paris back in 2005, which added with three days in July means I have spent a total of 48 days in Paris. Coincidentally on July 19th, 2008, just after my return from Paris, I celebrated my 48th day in London. There’s nothing really special about the number 48, other than the fact that I had spent 48 days in both places. So I sat down and wrote about it, though never published it as a blog. Here's what I wrote at the time:

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On Saturday, July 19th, 2008, I have spent 48 days in both Paris and London. 48 days. An equal dose of both cities. After my trip to Paris, I have been wondering if I made the right choice or the wrong choice in moving to London. If Paris is what made me want to move to Europe, why London? Because it was easier hardly seems like a great reason.

As I wrote in my little notebook in bold letter when in Paris

Q: Did I move to the wrong city?

It’s a good question. Every time I wander around in Paris, I feel a sense of awe. Any sense of awe quickly faded about London.

I remind myself that I have never “lived” in Paris, never had to do the things I’ve had to do in London, like banking, job, place to live. As well, my experience with Paris has always been at the heart of it, within the city limits. If I lived in Paris, would I live in the city, or would you find me out in the suburbs.

Perhaps the charm I feel in Paris would not be so strong if I had to do these things?

Perhaps not, though. I have always been enchanted by Paris. I’ve never really been grabbed by London, even during my vacation time here in 2007.

London seems like a “functional” place to me. It is laid out to function as a city, a place of commerce, a place to meet. It is clinical, though not soulless. It is designed to be an efficient machine.

Paris, despite Haussman’s massive renewal and the creation of wide boulevards, strikes me as “ornate,” a city designed to be a work of art itself. A place to be admired and awed.

Paris is art to London’s machine.

2005 04 09..tecture.JPG

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Eventually that feeling faded as more realistic thoughts settled in, and the new adventure of moving to the Docklands and living near Canary Wharf came along.

Then I headed to Brussels, and was enchanted by a new city, especially an experience on Saturday night at my hotel’s bar.

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It was Saturday night, and after returning from Bruges, I decided to have drink. As I was tired, I decided to have one close to my hotel, and nothing is closer to a hotel room than the lobby of that hotel.

I was sitting in the Schengen bar at the Renaissance Hotel. The hotel is a Marriott brand just a block from the European Parliament, so it gets a lot of folks from around the world who are doing business with EU. The bar was pretty busy, full of people speaking in different languages and accents. The TV played the Euronews channel, covering news from around the world with a European perspective.

It made me very happy to be part of something so international, even if it was just from the outskirts of the action, sitting alone at a bar while Europe’s and the world’s politics and business went on around me.

I will admit that one of the reasons I moved out of Canada was to be part of something larger. I wanted to be part of the international community, be part of something that was happening. Europe seemed to be that place.

As I left North America, Canada and the USA seem to be closing themselves off, fortifying themselves against the outside world and even dividing themselves into smaller bits internally - red vs. blue states, north vs. south, Quebec vs. the rest of Canada, east vs. west, Northern Ontario vs. Southern Ontario.

Europe is coming together. The European Union is growing, the coming together of nations to form a larger community, an international meeting place. Despite setback with the recent Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty to give the EU more powers, proponents of the EU want to continue to build the union, stronger and larger.

Sitting in that bar, I felt like I was somehow part of building that union, that I was taking part in the building of that international community.

Euro_Parliament.jpg

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I left Brussels on Monday on the Eurostar. About an hour and 15 minutes into the journey, we passed into the tunnel under the English Channel, heading back to the island that is England.

“Here I am, trying to be part of a more international community, and I do it by moving to an island?” I thought to myself, and a funk settled in.

So that’s why have been feeling frustrated with my slow job hunt all week. I don’t think it is the job hunting. I think it is the fact that I am suffering from post-trip blues. Even a short stint away makes the place you live seem a little duller by comparison.

After all, this week I have cleaned my bathroom, called my landlord about a leaky kitchen sink, did a load of laundry, shopped for groceries, talked to 5 different recruiters about 5 different positions and dressed up and went on an interview for a job that I realized two minutes into the interview I didn’t want.

Suit_and_Tie.jpg

How can that compare to sitting in a bar, listening to the world’s politicos discuss important things in many different languages and being awash with the feeling that you are part of Europe, that you are an international citizen?

If instead of the Isle of Dogs, I had found myself cleaning my bathroom, worrying about my leaky tap and doing loads of laundry while looking through the want ads in a Brussels flat, I wonder if I would have felt very much like an international citizen, or would have just felt like somebody without a job who had all day to do his chores?

Posted by GregW 16.09.2008 09:17 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged living_abroad migration_experiences migration_philosophy

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Comments

I feel for you Greg! I know what you mean too. Sometimes after trips to Holland/Australia/any other country, I'll wonder what I'm doing in Norway. It's not that I don't love this place, because I do, but sometimes trips just make you long for something else. Even though you know when you get there it won't necessarily be better!

What you need is a job that takes you between Brussels and London every week!!

12.09.2008 by Sam I Am

That wouldn't be bad, except for the fires shutting down the chunnel. Maybe they need to build another chunnel - CHUNNEL 2!!!

12.09.2008 by GregW

For those that are worried 'bout me, no need for concern. Today (Friday) is much better. I actually wrote and published the above entry last night (Thursday), but had it so it didn't show up until mid-day (London time) on Friday. As soon as I hit the PUBLISH button, I felt a lot better. I think that blog writing is therapy.

Plus, it's sunny out today. Occasionally, London does see some sun.

Greg

12.09.2008 by GregW

No worries mate! (as i hear around here all the time..). Im sure the job hunt thing will eventually come through, if not, heck we can share a few more pints at another pub. Thats not too bad EH?? lol.

12.09.2008 by dnaman

Sometimes it's good to remember that wherever you go, there will be bathrooms to be cleaned, leaky faucets to be fixed, and laundry to be done. That being said, are any of your recruiters affiliated with companies on the continent? Maybe your job search should be expanded to include France and Belgium. I'm sure you've already thought of all of this. I'll go back to work now =-)

12.09.2008 by Bwaybaby10

Greg, some time that's all life is. Rain today, sun tomorrow. Keep marching!!

12.09.2008 by bonhomie

London blues. It a town to do that. But I think it happens in many places you try to settle. The best thing I read in your blog is that you knew you didn't want a particular job after a few mins in the interview. It shows you are still fighting strong for what you believe in.

Wine in France, Pints in Brussels, or Cocktails on a paradise beach, they all sound better than the rain in london. But then again, without a job all three can get dull. Hold tight Greg man, and it will come. When it does, you'll feel top of the world.

Orsen Wells Down and Out in Paris and London (audio book) did wonders for me.

15.09.2008 by TLWH

I really liked your though on Europe coming together and North America becoming more divided. You hit the nail on the head! I never thought about it that way, but it's so true.

21.09.2008 by TanyaB

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