-> Did you feel welcome when you arrived in the UK?
I think anyone's experiences widely depend on their own character and attitude towards other people, and where they travel to. I try to keep a friendly attitude with everyone, occasionally I'll speak my mind, but I try to do it in a peaceful manner that would allow me to communicate my thoughts in a way that doesn't intentionally aggravate others. I try to be respectful towards everyone, and hope for the same in return.
So here is my personal account of living in London.
I moved to London, just before the whole "Polish people boom" happened, for school and work. It way before any high-street shop owners thought of selling Eastern-Europeans products.
I lived in North London for a few years, and while I was very welcome in the area I lived in, I felt that the people who were genuinely nice and welcoming were not of English descent (from London). (Sorry)
I generally don't have a problem making friends, but it was very difficult to befriend a "true Londoner". I met many very nice people form other parts of England, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Scotland and Ireland. Maybe I was just unlucky.
One big minus for guys from London.
Many English guys were quite disrespectful towards me if/when they knew that I was Polish. It was an assumption, I guess, that if a girl was from an eastern country she would be super glad to talk to them. Most of the Polish girls I was friends with had the same experience. Whenever I indicated that I am not interested I'd be told off for being a "Yankee". Yay for going from one bias to another. As for my Polish friends, they'd be told something rude as well when they didn't show any intrest.
I often like to experiment in my social reactions when I notice a pattern in people's behaviour, so I used a few different ways of declining a drink or a chat with someone. It really didn't matter if I was super pleasant, polite, or unpleasant and direct. The general response was, "How dare you decline my offer, you should feel lucky that an English guy wants to talk to you!". *Again, I'm not saying that's how all the men in England are, but it was disappointing*
I kind of gave up on "Londoners" in that area of the city after this guy followed me and a friend of mine to a bus stop, and demanded we tell him where we live. He pretty much indicated that we are obligated to answer him because he was superior to us as an English person. No comments.
As for girls, well, it was tricky... few were super nice but most were not really up for making friends with a foreigner.
This does not apply to everyone of course, I met many nice people, girls and guys, from Manchester, Newcastle, and Cornwall so overall I had a good experience.
When I travelled around England I noticed that people from very small towns were a little more cautious when warming up to 'strangers' - but it wasn't difficult to turn them around with a few pleasant words and a smile.
-> Do you still feel welcome now?
- Sure, though I don't think I'd count on the attitude of certain groups to change.
->How has the recession affected you?
- I left England before we fully went into recession in Europe and North America. Other than paying more for gas and groceries currently, no.
I never moved to England just to work and make money. Architecture and history were of much greater interest to me at the time. :-P
I would appreciate any personal experiences you have of living in the UK- good and bad.
I hope this is of any use. It's also quite late here, so I hope whatever I wrote makes sense. *crosses fingers* I'll check tomorrow morning. :-P