Chiyo: We’re not in America any more

September 7, 2011

Today was my first day of class, and the first time I’ve ever had to commute “off campus” to get to my classes. I’ve been in London for exactly a week now, and I thought I would blog a little bit about the cultural differences between the UK and the U.S. Sure, we both speak English, but there are a lot of differences in the workplace, school, food, etc. 

During my interview for my internship with Esprit, the first thing I noticed was how laid-back everyone was compared to companies in the states. They’re not used to our American “peppy-ness” but still know how to have a good time at their jobs. There was music playing, and in my showroom they have a constant flow of coffee, water, tea (a British staple), cakes, biscuits, and crisps. Transportation is like any other big city in the states, where they mainly rely on the tube, or the bus system. Yes, everyone is in a rush to get to their workplace like they would be in say, New York City, but they all queue up whereas we would be pushing our way through the gates. Also, they’re very structured in their transportation systems. For example, there are signs on the steps that will say, “keep to the left” so you know which way to walk up, and which way to walk down. The escalators are the same way. If you’re in a hurry, you walk up on the right hand side, and if you have time, you stand to the left in a single file line. There are signs on every road as well on the ground that say, “look right” or “look left” so you know which way to look for oncoming traffic (which is VERY helpful for us tourists) since they drive on the opposite side of the road. 

At my school, I stayed in the same room for the whole day, and normally we would call them “Professor” or some other formal way of saying that they’re a teacher. However here they won’t accept anything but being called by their first name. I’m not sure if that is with all institutions here, but at least at ours that’s how we are supposed to address them. The kids all go to cute little prep schools, and this morning while we were on the bus we saw them queue up to go into their school. They all wear these adorable blazers in colors like royal blue, and emerald green with their woolen shorts and stockings and matching backpacks with the schools crest on it. All of us girls ate it up of course thinking it was the cutest thing we’d ever seen. Because I’m sorry, but a child with a British accent is just too damn cute. 

Oh how I miss American food. I’m longing for Kraft Mac and Cheese, and Noodle’s and Company, and of course Jimmy Johns. The food here is just…different. The pizza doesn’t taste the same, they don’t have mac and cheese that comes in a blue box that we’re all so familiar with, and a lot of the food sold in groceries is in much smaller portions. Even the soda bottles are skinnier! Food here is also VERY pricey, as is everything in London. So due to the high price in food, purchasing groceries has become quite the challenge to overcome because you don’t want to spend a lot on food, yet you’ve got to eat! I’ve literally been eating sandwiches, crackers, and cereal. Besides the occasional going out with friends, it’s been those few staple items. I can’t wait for when I get back to the states and just gobble up everything in sight (or the amount that will fit in my stomach). Alcohol is also way too expensive here, so we rarely go out as often I would back at the U. A mixed drink here is almost 8 U.S. dollars at a lower end pub, and a pint of beer is close to 6 U.S. dollars. You definitely have to budget living in a city like London. 

I can’t wait for what’s to come, and I’ve already had the time of my life in week one. However, I’m so busy this month with side trips, events, internship, classes, and trying to slip in some “fun times” that I can’t wait for the best month of all, when in exactly one month from today it is my 21 “Part B” birthday extravaganza!

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