When can an Expat call him or herself a Londoner?
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Blog post by Natalie Schoon and Nicolette Wykeman
What’s in a name?
One of Natalie’s friends tends to get a bit upset about comments made by tourists and other visitors that Londoners are a bit rude. She’s adamant this is not the case, but that these observations are generally in relation to people from outside London. She’s quite broad in her definition of ‘outsiders’ though. It includes all foreigners as well as other British people. In her view, a Londoner is defined as someone who is born and bred in London and comes from a line of at least three generations of Londoners. Needless to say, she actually is one. She’s also the only London born person we know.
Does she have a point though? Do you need to come from a line of three generations of London born and bred to qualify as a real Londoner? Judging by the number of times Natalie and I have been stopped in the street by tourists asking for directions to London Bridge (and being very upset when it turns out that it’s not the pretty one) or other locations in London, we would say that in the eyes of many we are locals. On the other hand, we still classify ourselves as being Dutch, but we are not sure whether that is mutually exclusive with being a Londoner. After all, we live, work and socialise in London, and we absolutely love the city. Many people in Natalie’s block only stay in London during the week and go home every Friday and don’t resurface until Monday. Personally, Natalie would not classify them as Londoners, they are only living there because of their job. We, and many of our friends whether they are British or foreign, would say they are Londoners. At least while they live in London and perhaps even beyond that.
It’s a grey area amongst the English and hard to get clarification about in general, let alone when you are coming from abroad. It takes an expat on average two to four years to settle in a city; will you then get automatically classified as being a local? According to Nicolette’s husband – who is a Londoner- you can call yourself a Londoner when you answer without hesitation to the question; ‘where are you from’ with ‘I am from London’. Up till now we have always answered that question with ‘I am from the Netherlands’, from now on we will start saying we are from London and see how people will react.
London is quite something. It gets under your skin like no other city and we both have developed a strong love-hate relationship with it. But mostly, it’s our city and perhaps that’s why we are a Londoner too.
Are you seeing yourself a a real Londoner yet? Are you ready to become a real Londoner? Share your thoughts with us.