Small city life

I thought I would miss London a lot.

As I tell anyone who’ll listen, I love London. I love its buzziness and busy-ness. I love how you can find something extraordinary to do on any given day. I love how you know that if anything of any worth is happening it’s happening in London.

So when I decided to move, I thought the hardest part would be giving that up and scaling my world down. Uppsala is a small city and the lack of nightlife (apart from the undergrads partying in their Nations) is palpable. I thought I would be escaping to Stockholm every chance I got.

Actually, so far it hasn’t turned out like that at all. I do miss London sometimes and I’ve had frustrating moments of “why did that have to happen when I’m not living there?”, but there would never have been a good time to leave and it’s not difficult to return. The itinerary for my December visit is already getting deliciously full.

Instead, I’ve found the smallness of Uppsala comforting. Before I left London I hadn’t, perhaps, fully understood how much of an upheaval it would be to move countries. Being a foreigner is exhausting enough. I don’t need the snap and crackle of a bustling big city to keep me on my toes.

Moving to a small city (and one that is laid out in a very sensible, grid-like manner, not like the beautiful hodgepodge of most cities in the UK) meant that it didn’t take me long at all to learn my way around – some kind of miracle for geographically-impaired me.

It means that I can get to anywhere in town that I could reasonably want to go without having to pay for transport. I can walk, or if it’s a little further, cycle.

It means the city is familiar enough for me to start picking favourites among the cafes and bars, familiar enough for me to feel like I could show a tourist around.

And it’s not as if Uppsala is a tiny backwater town. My new city may not have it all, but it has some things. (Perhaps that means it’s mastered the unpindownable Swedish concept of ‘lagom‘?) Although I’m looking forward to a trip to Stockholm – it’ll be my first in 7 years – I’ve been here 6 weeks and haven’t felt the need to pop down to the capital yet.

So while I make space in my December diary for things like the new V&A exhibition and a rooftop woodland-themed wigwam (Queen of Hoxton, never change), I’m not getting sad that they’re not here in Uppsala. I like the city just as it is, and I’m happy knowing that the bigger, wider world is out there when I feel like a visit.


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