How to get a job in London

1. There are quite a few books with the title, 'Living and Working in London.' What makes yours different?

I lived and worked in London, as a foreigner, for seven years. I also had the opportunity to come into contact with many others who were foreigners in London: for two years I taught English to refugees and asylum seekers newly arrived there. This gave me a broad and deep perspective on what it's like to be a foreigner living (and hopefully working!) in London.

2. About how many distinctive neighborhoods are there in London?

Gosh! Hundreds probably. Large areas have general characteristics, but variations are infinite within small areas: like the block-long section of Drummond Street that seems to consist entirely of vegetarian Indian restaurants, or the bourgeoise-hippie atmosphere of a few streets in Stoke-Newington.

3. Can you name one or two areas that are less 'discovered' than some of the others, but are still great places to live?

Less discovered in London means less expensive, and less fashionable. Let the price of real estate be your guide. To my mind, what makes anywhere in London a great place to live is easy access to a number of transportation alternatives -- buses, trains, and tubes -- so that you can avoid the horror and expense of driving there.

4. What creates the most culture shock for people who move to London?

Sad to say, I think for most people it is the insularity of Londoners and their ability to be completely oblivious to others around them. This is partly a self-defense mechanism -- a way of being an island to yourself in an unfriendly sea -- but it is actually one of the things that creates that unfriendly sea!

5. Can you suggest one or two things that you can do right off the bat that help make a better transition?

Waste no time at all in finding activities that will enable you to meet like-minded people. This can be taking a class, joining a club or organization, volunteering somewhere, or simply going to social places. London is not survivable (or not a very happy place to be, anyway), without a circle of friends.

6. For yourself personally, what do you love the most about London?

Believe it or not, I really like the weather: no extremes. I love that I feel so at home there, that when I am in any part of London I pretty much know the quickest way to get to any other part. I love that it is so civilized and so polite. I love that it is so cosmopolitan. Brits are fair-minded and considerate people; this goes a long way towards making London the delightful place that it is.

7. Describe a typical morning for Londoners working in the city?

The working day normally starts a bit later than in the US. Once you've gotten to work (which can be an ordeal, depending on what transportation crises emerge), people settle in with coffee or tea and get down to it. I found the office atmosphere in London quite a lot more easygoing than in the US. There is a lot less anger and defensiveness; everyone makes a point of being polite, avoiding awkwardness, and working out difficulties in a civilized way. People often have a snack around 11 because lunch doesn't usually happen until 1.

8. Is there a set of characteristics that fits the most successful Londoners?

Flexibility; good sense of humor; willingness to work hard, but knowing when to stop; an ability to reach out to people and penetrate that shell they carry around with them.

9. What's the job situation in London?

I think it's pretty good now, because the UK economy is in good shape. People flock there from everywhere. London is one of the biggest capital engines in the world.

10. Is there anything else you want to add for the readers of this website?

If your dream is to live in London, then put your energies into making it happen till you succeed. It was something I wanted to do starting when I was a child, and when I finally got there, at age 33, it was a great feeling. I will always remember my years in London as some of the happiest in my life.