Living across the pond
Letters from London
After spending only one short week in the city of London, two questions keep running through my head — why have I not come here sooner, and how in God’s name do these people still manage to look so fabulous in the pouring rain?
My process of falling in love with this beautiful city was not a slow one, and I believe that, like any great romance, my love will only continue to grow deeper. The big red double-decker buses, clean subway stations, trendy fashion, free museums, architectural brilliance and British accents — what isn’t to love about this city? And however ignorant it may sound, I honestly think that a British accent can even make shouting obscenities sound lovely.
What I find to be most mind-blowing is that a city so old, cultured and sturdy can simultaneously be so new, changing and edgy. For instance, while walking around the center of the city surrounded by buildings that are older than our country, there was a Socialist Worker Party protesting sexism. There were hundreds of people holding signs that said, “Whatever we wear, where ever we go, yes means yes and no means NO.” It was crazy to think about how far the country has come since it’s been in existence. To me, that was just so cool.
After spending one evening getting to know a particularly smart and witty young English man, regretfully I admit, we began talking about politics. Now this is a subject that most friends and family members would agree should be left unspoken, but as they say curiosity killed the cat, and so we chatted. Now I’m no political buff but, with the upcoming election only weeks away I’ve been trying to keep up with the political news. Upon talking, I came to learn that he knew vastly more about American politics than I believe most people who live in the United States would know. He gave me a fully informed and passionate opinion about which candidate he wanted to win the election. It was crazy to me that someone from a foreign country even cared to think about America and its affairs. This struck me because if the tables were turned and we were talking about the political state of England, I think I would have little to say.
Another one of my favorite stories is this: When I initially heard that Global Language Monitor crowned London as “The Most Fashionable City in the World” for the second year in a row, I’m not going to lie, I got slightly defensive. I couldn’t understand how any city could beat out our own New York City at being fashionable. I mean it is, after all, the “center of the universe.” Well, I can now say that Londoners — they can dress. Generally speaking, people are dressed to the nines at all hours of the day in a very fashion-forward, but not over-the-top manner. Even the children walk around looking like little Suri Cruises. I wore sweatpants to run to the store for some milk yesterday and honestly I felt like I was committing a sin. Regardless, I am already picking up some new fashions to bring back to the states with me in January.
Despite the fact that England is technically a foreign country, I feel like London is just as much a melting pot as the east coast is in the United States. I am already meeting so many people from places I’ve never dreamed of going to and I can’t wait to continue my exploration. As I write this I am sitting in Grasburner, Germany at a hotel where only one person speaks English and I really couldn’t be happier. It is safe to say that I have caught the wanderlust bug. Next stop, Oktoberfest.
Katie Bryck is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies, studying abroad in London. Her column, “Letters from London, runs on alternate Fridays.