Studying Abroad in London: Pre-conceived Notions

Everyone and everything seems to be classified into one stereotype or another. My image and knowledge of British people and culture as well as London and city life were no different. I like to think that I wasn’t as clouded with these thoughts, given that I had researched and visited London before, but some did remain.

For one, the last time I was in London, even when I first got here, the food wasn’t great. Apparently, listening to hotel concierge advice and going the places that look more “normal” isn’t always the best bet. I’ve found that “shake shack” has the best mushroom burger I have ever had and that “Green Kings” pubs are amazing. I’ve also found that, although Starbucks has different selections and the grocery stores are super small, it is still a nice atmosphere and activity. Also, what you buy is so much fresher than in the US. Oh, and though I haven’t had it here yet, Indian food is extra amazing. I’ll have to keep you updated on that front. Also, drinking a pint at lunch and spending lots of time in pubs is, understandably, a thing.

Another thing: People are incredibly nice. Even though I haven’t had that much interaction, I went to the book store and ended up in a long conversation about the horror genre. I asked a girl where their horror section was only to find out that it didn’t exist. Instead everything was mixed with their sci-fi section. She showed me some of their selection, mostly things like Stephen King and Lovecraft, and proceeded to tell me about some of her favourite books. That was the first time I have had any such encounter. To me, that was amazing because Barns and Noble was a monthly thing for me back home. Similarly, when I left Othello’s stage area to use the restroom, I was tired and looked it. Three people asked me if I was ok on the way there. It was the one of the weirdest things I have every experience. The people who worked there cared, for no reason at all.

There are still people who are grumpy or simply ignore you, but I haven’t met anyone mean or rude yet. The biggest problem comes with cyclists who will try to run you over whenever possible. So far, I have not fallen prey, but I know a few who have. The people here are more reserved and quieter, talking to only their companions or looking at their phones while in public places. However, it’s more from common courtesy than malice. You simply mind your own business in most cases.

Now, onto something that is true: Style. You will be walking down the street and see men in suits or at least nice snacks and button ups. Or a woman in heels, a cocktail dress and panty hose, with or without a wool coat, walking determinedly down the street. In those moments, which happen quite often, whether I am walking by, behind, or across from these people, the atmosphere is different. Like magnets, they draw attention to themselves, portray a person to strive for, yet is attainable in the sheer number of them. It makes me weep that I haven’t taken the chance to truly people watch yet because they must have a story.

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