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Sunday, March 20, 2011

The United Kingdom, and why I like it.

So I hopped off the plane at Gatwick, and immediately felt oddly at home. Even in the airport, there was a vibe of "this is where I'm meant to be." At home, my friends poke fun at me for liking the United Kingdom, most likely for the reason that they don't understand my reasoning behind it.

With the exception of public transportation, Spain is a logistical nightmare. England is the opposite. Everything make perfect sense, and everything I think very logically, and England is conducive to this.
Example: All of the signs have reasons on them, instead of simple "no not do this" messages.
Example: Instead of "do not climb," there was a sign that said "Warning: Anti-climb paint." The former would make me think about climbing such a fence, and the latter would make me think "okay, not worth it." It just makes sense.

In Boston, I feel like most everyone from the policemen, to the professors, to the postmen, to the high level office bros has a personality. It kind of comes off as that "No shit sonny, how ah ya?" vibe, and it's anything but bland. Even if these Boston guys don't do anything but work, watch sports, and drink beer, it seems like they're always passionate about something, even if that something is just being from Massachusetts, or just not giving a damn (which are not mutually inclusive).

In the UK, there was definitely a similar vibe. Absolutely everyone I talked to, from the Underground workers whom I asked for directions to the students at LSE, spoke clearly and articulately. There were very few "likes," "ums," and other fluid yet unnecessary conversational fillers. A lot of Americans speak's as if there's an obstruction between our brains and our mouths that scrambles what we want to say. In my Lit class last spring, I tallied the daily number of "likes." One class, it came out to well of 200. One girl had more than 75. At one point she had a triple "like." On the train to Luton airport, I talked with a construction worker/student about England, and it was like talking to a book. I'll call it "efficient conversation." I then spoke for a while to a girl from the U.S., and it was back to the word vomit.

In Spain, house and techno music are common. I hate house and techno music. Right up there with country, it lacks personality. In the U.S., we like party music. Lil Wayne, Ke$ha & Co. rap about getting plastered and being the best, when in fact they're really not saying anything interesting. Friday night, with Laura's friends, we went to the student center/bar at ULU. I heard Eminem, The Killers, Blink, and the Chili Peppers, and yet the best part was that everyone danced and sang to it all, so much more so than when the DJ (who was the man) played house music.

In Madrid, people are very concerned with their appearance. I've talked about this ad nauseam, but here's another extension on it: because there is a "way to dress," people are afraid to go outside the Spanish fashion bubble, and hence, every looks the same. Everyone also acts the same, because fitting in is paramount. I don't know how people deal with it.

For many of the UK youth, sticking out a bit is fitting in. Everyone dresses normally to an extent, or just do so when they want to play it safe, but there's so often something special about which wavelength everyone's individual vibe is broadcasting. I saw a girl with bright purple hair, a guy in a ninja turtle suit, and another girl with one side of her head shaved. The most striking thing is not what these people are wearing, or what they look like, but it's rather than they're pulling it off, and no one seems to care. This is what we call individuality, and if you know anything about me, you know I'm all about that. As Dr. Seuss said, "
Those who mind don't matter, and those to matter don't mind."

Tying this all into the real world, and not just rambling on with my social commentary, I'd go as far as to say that English and American Individuality breeds innovation, and the desire to challenge the norms, particularly if they don't make sense. We live in an ever-changing world (deep, I know), and if we don't keep up, we fall behind. Spain is super far behind on the social, logistical, and political fronts, and their economy demonstrates that.

For choosing to study abroad in Spain, it must seem like I put it down a lot. This is true, I do frequently complain about Spain, but in all sincerity, I love it a lot more than I dislike it. If you read all of my posts, you'll definitely find that I'm having an amazing time, and soaking in the rich Spanish culture. Green energy is huge here, the food is unreal, transport is almost German, the people are good hearted.

British wit is also a great's outspoken, yet tactful social commentary. I feel like Mick Jagger or the like could tell you that you have three weeks to live, and make you laugh at the same time. Again if you've spent time with me, you know I'm big on wit. Sometimes it gets the better of me when I continuously fire out entertaining remarks, and forget that I'm having a serious conversation, but in the end I'm okay with it.

I bought Union Jack Chuck Taylors this past weekend. Very little consumer surplus in regard to price, but nonetheless I'm pleased. More to come on London.

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