“Oh, you’re from America!” is typically the first comment I get. Before leaving for the semester abroad, we were coached on how to “blend in” to the local area and culture. But it’s useless; as soon as they hear us speak, we’re exposed. And you know what? It’s not the worst thing. I have found that the Brits have been quite welcoming of the Americans.
For the first couple months of my stay the next question was inevitably “Who are you voting for?” Seeing the interest invested in our own nation was eye-opening. It’s clear that the world is interconnected, but it’s hard to see from our own shores.
I watched the presidential election in a Planet Hollywood in downtown London. The experience was truly incredible. Americans, British, and other nationalities gathered for the live results. The crowd quieted down as time went on, but the energy was revived when the election was called at 4 a.m. Experiencing something so epic from the outside was remarkable. It gave real insight into the views of other nations, and was amazing to feel their support during our time of change and uncertainty.
The day after the election was no ordinary day. It was a holiday celebrated across Britain: the fifth of November. Guy Fawkes Day celebrations include bonfires and fireworks. I was able to attend a fireworks show on the outskirts of London to celebrate with the locals. I felt like I was able to partake in a cultural experience that just isn’t the same back at home. They celebrated our historic victory with us on the 4th, and then we celebrated their history with them on the 5th.
All in all, studying abroad has been an amazing experience. I have traveled some, met some unbelievable people, and made life long friends. Sure, I go to class and I attend my internship, but those are only small parts of the experience. It’s all about immersing yourself in a culture different from your own.
Taking the opportunity to learn about the British culture has not only exposed me to their way of life, but it has also helped me see our nation through their eyes. It has given an entirely new perspective on people, and how the world sees us. I’ll be coming home with a different view of the world, and an extraordinary experience.