I am now over halfway done with the London program and cannot believe how fast it has gone. I have traveled to Paris and Dublin as well. I have dreamed of going to Paris ever since I was a little girl, and it honestly felt surreal when I saw the Eiffel Tower. I also did not anticipate the language barrier at all; everyone says that everyone in Europe speaks English, and they are lying. French is most definitely the primary language. As for Dublin, they do speak English! I went to the cliffs of Howth, and I had never seen anything like it in my entire life. The greenery and ocean looked absolutely amazing when I was at the top of the cliff; I had never seen such beauty before.
Going back to London, I have adjusted to the culture, classes, and internship, for the most part. I never have any down time and am constantly going. That is not necessarily a bad thing though – I am trying to take in as much as possible before I leave. I have had my struggles fitting in though. I most definitely feel like a foreigner. The work culture is quite different from America: it is very quiet, serious, structured, and unfriendly. At my internship last summer, it was truly like “The Office,” so this has been quite the transition. Londoners tend to be vague about the task you need to perform and then get easily frustrated when you ask questions because they feel like they have already explained it. I am inherently a very curious individual, so this has been quite the challenge. I have made a friend at work though, who also is not from London, and explains things to me – he has taken me under his wing and taught me the working culture of Britain. There is a huge emphasis on conformity and togetherness as opposed to the individual and independent ways of America. People are always checking up on you in the office too; someone is constantly peering over your shoulder. I appreciate the culture and its differences, but I do miss the friendly, loud aspects of America.
People have asked on multiple accounts how I am treated as an American in London. I can honestly say, in general, people are quite accepting. London is a huge melting pot. However, I cannot say the same when I was in Paris – I was yelled at for being American, and the waiters ignored me half the time. As I have mentioned before, I am a huge fan of music, and there is a song by Sting, called “Englishman in New York.” He talks about a lot of the differences between Americans and Brits, and I now completely understand how he felt.
Until next time, much love from London!