How well do Aussie expats integrate into London life?

OK, yes we do tend to hang out together in London, a lot. But there’s a good reason for it and the fact of the matter is most Australian expats are open-minded professionals who give back to their adopted society as much as they take out.

There’s a certain stereotype for Australians living in London. It assumes that most of them live in overcrowded house-shares which brim with loud and obnoxious Antipodeans that are only up for visiting the Slug, getting drunk and slating their hosts. And while this perception is sometimes perpetuated by Aussie travellers visiting the English capital – its roots extend a little bit further.

Foreign communities living abroad face myriad problems when trying to assimilate into a new found home. They’re often hit with cultural differences; a strange new world that isn’t immediately familiar; and the task of integrating into a new and sometimes unwelcoming society. Aussie expats in London face equivalent challenges. While the cultural differences are not too dissimilar to the ones left behind in Oz (there are no language barriers to overcome, the food’s basically the same and the lifestyle comparable), London can still be a menacing place that takes some skill to navigate.

One of the best ways of establishing an immediate foothold in a new city such as London is to seek out compatriots who have paved the way before you. They will have encountered many of the same problems you’re most likely to face, have broken down barriers that you’ll probably still have to overcome yourself and done the initial legwork in finding the good and the bad of your new home.
It’s understandable then, that Aussies will seek the company of fellow Aussies.

And if not for advice, then maybe just to share and compare the trials and tribulations fought, won and lost in London-town. It’s no secret that people of the same nationality will gravitate towards each other due to common likes such as sporting, political or locational allegiances; humour; tastes; and views. But problems begin to arise when people stop integrating and start enshrining themselves in faux communities that do little to interact with the outside world.

And so we return to the initial stereotype of London-based Australians. There will always be those that fit this perceived image but the fact of the matter is that most Aussies living here are open-minded professionals, who give back to their adopted society as much as they take out. Of course many are likely to celebrate a Baggy Green Ashes win rather raucously… in an Antipodean friendly watering hole… maybe a little bit tipsy… just a bit. But these are the same people who will just as soon enjoy a visit to the Tate with an English mate or an ale in a traditional city pub, surrounded by their fellow Londoners.

By Tim Martin



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