Opinion

Tips For Americans In London - From An American In London

By Alex Edelman Last edited 6 months ago

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Tips For Americans In London - From An American In London
Don't be like Joey.

I've been coming to/living in/dating in/eating in London on and off for almost a decade. Londonist was like, hey, do you want to do some advice-y things for Americans in London? And I actually love Londonist a lot so yes, what the hey. Here are some tips for Americans in London. No particular order.

1. Stop complaining about the food

Every American complains about London's food but it's got some of the best chow in the world, so like, c'mon. There's great stuff if you do even a cursory amount of investigating. I keep a list of places that I really enjoy and I listen to everyone else's recommendations. If you know a good spot, hit me up, please. I will say it's a bit harder to eat good stuff late at night like you can in New York or Paris, but you can't have everything.

I mean this possibly isn't the best image to make the point

2. Don't change the way you talk — you're an American

It doesn't matter how long you've been here — it's still a 'sidewalk' and an 'apartment' to you. Londoners aren't stupid; they can translate what you're saying with almost no difficulty. One of my least favourite things is hearing Britishisms come out of the mouths of Americans who have repatriated here. It's like watching a seal do a trick. Badly. I don't mean you have to be a real penis about it and actually pronounce 'Edinburgh' with a hard 'g', like you were born yesterday. I just mean be yourself.


If you're looking for Alex Edelman, try Sir John Soane's Museum

3. Don't just do museums... DO museums

Londoners love museums. The city is positively lousy without them. Every kind of museum. Surgery museums. Sports museums. I would go when I first started coming to London, but only to the bigger ones. Then, one of my best friends, a historian named Greg, invited me to the Soane Museum. "It's a dead guy's personal collection. You'll love it." And while that's an absolutely terrible pitch, Greg's right, it's great. So many of the best London museums are the small ones. 



BTW, museums are the best dates. You'll find about the other person real quick. What they're curious about, what they're interested in. If they can't handle an hour browsing expertly curated stuff, you don't want to have sex with them. Oh, the museums are free, but not if you do 'em right. Buy something in the gift shop you cheap bastard. Here's a pro-tip as well — it’s not cheating to know something about the artists you're going to see, do a tiny bit of research and impress everyone. 

Some suggestions for off the beaten track stuff: The Viktor Wynd Museum for Curiosities, God's Own Junkyard, the Magic Circle Museum, the Grant Museum of Zoology, the Clink Prison Museum. And the aforementioned Sir John Soane's Museum. You're welcome. 


The author, Alex Edelman, knows how to do exceptional chat

4. Londoners do not want to improve

They are super-happy the way they are. Yes, they don't have dryers that really work on their clothing, and the cold water and hot water come out of different taps — which is insane — but they love it. This is a city filled with people who bankrupted Jamie Oliver's restaurants because he tried to get them to eat marginally healthier. Don't criticise. Just chill out and put on your slightly-damp t-shirts.


5. Know how to hold your own in a chat

Londoners love a conversation in a way that's kind of brilliant. The misconception of Brits as socially awkward is alarming to me because frankly, everyone here seems like they know how to talk and I love it a lot. Nights out here seem to centre around chat and tipsy debate, and if you can't do it then you're lost.


Should have taken the tube, mate. Image: Shutterstock

6. Trains run late

Yeah. The trains above ground kinda suck but not the tube. The tube is freakin' sick. Trains come really frequently, it's the speediest way to travel, and the whole network is old as hell. The Northern line is basically held together with spit and rubber bands. It's so impressive that it works. Also, there's free reading material all the time — even when it's really packed it's not that much of a nightmare. Some stations are better than others and you should know to avoid Oxford Circus at rush hour, but in general, it's all pretty good.

Alex Edelman is currently touring the UK. He's at London's Vaults Festival from 11-16 February.

Last Updated 04 February 2020

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