Since leaving my home in Australia last year and moving to London, I have felt a spectrum of emotions. I prepared myself for all the standard homesick symptoms, but on reflection I have been surprised by how contradictory my feelings are. I am settled yet restless, connected but lonely. In many ways I feel I have conquered this big and boundless city, but a sense of insignificance also filters through. Where do I fit in this puzzle of a place?
The process of establishing myself in London has led me to review how I value and understand community. I transitioned from the leafy suburbs of Melbourne to the bustling borough of Hackney. The landscape and dynamic of the city was more intense than I had expected. All I can say to sum it up is a sensory overload – this is both exhilarating and exhausting!
It has been a relief to establish a number of different friendships, most recently with the incredible people of Matryoshka Haus. My kind housemate extended an invitation to me to attend their weekly community meals held at a home in East London. I’d heard great things about what Shannon and the team were doing here and abroad, and couldn’t wait to spend the evening with others who had a passion for community service and social innovation. I was not disappointed by any means! The night was filled with lots of laughter and genuine conversations.
These dinners have helped me make sense of the wonderful chaos in London. It is really refreshing to hear about how others are living life in such a positive and pioneering manner. For me they are very much a source of encouragement and motivation. It is a safe space for strangers to become friends, and for people from all corners of the world to share their ideas. Most importantly, all who visit the Matryoshka Haus dinners are warmly welcomed and get to experience true hospitality. I always leave feeling relaxed, cheerful, and inspired. During the routine and mayhem of the working week, it is so reassuring to know that there is always a spot for me, and anyone, to sit at their table.