What The UK Has Taught Me About Life & Money
My final day as a UK resident is around the corner. It will be 6 years, 5 months, and 17 days since I first landed at Gatwick Airport. I’ve flown in and out of the country many, many times, but now it’s different as no return tickets are archived in my inbox to remind me that I am coming back.
One never knows for certain what the feelings will be until the departure approaches. To my surprise, I am having many. A few days of self-isolation gave me time to think, to look back at all these 6 years, and reflect on my experience.
What can I say about it? It feels like a big period of my life is ending as I slowly enter into a new one. A new circle that was not searched or planned but needed.
When I go back on time and look at that younger boy of me I see someone different. Yes, I was bald and had a beard, but I was someone unsecured, lost, trying to find where to go next, trying to find something…, freedom perhaps?
Today I am no longer that boy as lessons I’ve had many.
In this blog post, I want to print on “paper” what my experience living in the UK has taught me about life and money and how it has shaped me into what I am today. My intention is to close this circle the way I want it to be closed — by writing.
A while ago I wrote a similar post in which I narrated the financial lessons I learned thanks to coming to the UK. This one goes a bit beyond that.
During the first few months, everything looked new to me. From finding a place to sleep to opening a bank account. Fulfilling basic needs for surviving became challenging and sometimes quite problematic. For instance, I recall when my ex-landlady, who was a bit mentally unbalanced, decided to get rid of all tenants, giving me two days’ notice to get out!
Somehow, I got by solving most of my problems and gained ability. Thanks to that, today I act better when facing new issues.
Learned a New Language
Learning a language is a great way to keep your brain healthy and sharp. Many pieces of research show that being multilingual can improve a person’s multitasking skills, attention control, problem-solving, and creativity as it promotes outside-the-box thinking.
Many English students move to England or Ireland to study the language. Unfortunately, the majority spend a lot of money on English schools, personal teachers or accommodation. Renting a room can be costly, as students tend to move to cities. Then most pay to take the exams that will get them the certificates they are after. This does not take more than 6 months or 1 year to do, which is a relatively short period to root a new language deeply in your mind. So after all the hustle, the risk of forgetting most learnings is high after returning.
I took the not so posh-efficient way of learning, which is trying to adapt, to become one more “Brit” making a living. Although it came with some pain, I am greatly grateful I chose to learn on this path. Now I got more money invested and a better cultural background which is helpful to “master” the language.
Albeit I had always been good at saving money, the fact of learning English connected me with people with different backgrounds and habits. I learned a ton from those who came here with the sole purpose of earning and saving money. This combined with me joining the FI community (thanks!) has nicely shaped the way I manage, track, and think about my money.
Became an Investor
I barely had any idea what investing meant back then. I thought stocks were a gambling product and that you needed a lot of money and a good understanding before you could make anything out of it. It didn’t look interesting to me. Shame!
But then, as my mindset started to broaden and my interest in reading boomed, I, fortunately, ended up reading books that changed the way I thought about investing.
Generalizing, I became financially savvier, and despite the ups and downs of my portfolio, I managed to write my own investing strategy and plan towards one million euros.
I am now confident about money not taking control of me.
Met the one
I do have a great love story. Thanks for that Great Britain!
Discovered a Lot About Myself
The first year was intense. I was single and hanged out with new people often. This lifestyle became exhausting. I could not find the right balance between socializing and having quiet time for myself. Most of the people I met were extrovert-energetic-predators, and I didn’t know how to escape from them sometimes.
I managed to scape a bit from the noise by renting a small studio for my own, that put me in more control of how I’d spend my time. However, as time passed, my friends would leave the country, and I no longer was in a position to meet new people easily. I found a 9-5 weekdays job, that put distance with some friends, as they worked mostly on weekends. After one year, I spent more and more time alone, I did not feel lonely, but I reached periods that were a bit depressing.
It took me a lot of time to understand why socializing with new people drained so much of my energy. It wasn’t until I read Ray Dalio’s masterpiece book Principles that I opened my eyes to whom I truly was, an INTP: The thinker (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving), hence why meeting with new people too often exhausted me.
As I continue reading, I continue discovering more about myself. Today, I understand things that I didn’t before. But the best of all is not that but the habits I’ve developed, which will allow me to understand things in the future that I don’t understand today.
My thinking today is not near where it was. I am a much more optimistic fella, and although I complain more than I’d like, I’ve become at least more aware of it and try to cap it down.
I learned that being persistent at working hard brings results.
My results are not astonishing, but I am still very proud of my accomplishments. I started from zero as a kitchen porter and progressed to design manager. I know that my ego is not my amigo, but this trajectory has built a great deal of confidence in me, and that is a key life ingredient I lacked 6 years ago.
Before I was more of a conformist, now I focus on striving for more. Some may calls this a growing mindset. I still got a lot to improve and some laziness to battle, but the improvements over these years is noticeable.
These are the main points that I developed the most over these years. A big positive circle ends, but a new one is about to begin. For the better or for the worse it shall be welcomed with optimism and excitement. 😀
The journey towards shaping my future has only just begun.