Well whoever said London and De Pere are very different lied………ok not really. I have been here for three days now and I have been exposed to so much that my brain is having a tough time taking in all of the new things around me. Much of what I have experienced since coming here has been great, but some has been difficult for me to adapt to. But there is a stark contrast between the United States and Great Britain.
Our flat in London is located in a part of town called South Kensington in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. That may not mean much to people back in the states but this part of London is one of the most expensive places to live in all of Great Britain. This was the first thing I noticed about our short time here in London. Everything around us is so beautiful, so well kept, and expensive. On a sort of off-topic note the cars here are incredible, I can’t describe how nice of cars people drive here. London has to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. As I walked around in my first few hours in South Kensington I couldn’t believe the prices for food, drinks, and all sorts of other goods. We had to be very smart about where to spend our money without going broke. We had to go and explore to find deals or else get ripped off, but that was part of the fun because it forced us to learn about the city.
The other thing that stood out to me is how prim and proper things are here. Everything from the cleanliness of the surroundings, the cars that drove by, to people’s attire it seems that the culture here is to be concise of appearance more-so than in America. Things are more clean and well kept, and this has lead to a noticeable difference in fashion here. In the states you see many walking around in sweatpants, athletic shorts, and their favorite Green Bay Packers t-shirt. Here you would stand out quite a bit, I was being looked at as I walked by in my white shorts and Oregon t-shirt when I got to Heathrow Airport. Even sport here is prim and proper, respectful focusing on preserving your “honor” and image.
This week has been a bit of culture shock, but I am having a great time. This is a great country, and I will have more tales to tell in the coming weeks.
Joe Hansen is studying abroad in London, England, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).