Assimilation and deamericanization

 

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Culture Shock.

Now that is a phrase I was not expecting to be using during my time studying abroad in London. I had a preconcieved notion that I was not heading into a different area that would provide me insight to a different culture. Was I ever wrong. I feel like every minute I have been yelled at for using a wrong phrase. I think one of the sentances I used most was “yeah, I don’t know what that means.” or “So… what is this?” Trying new foods, celebrating new holiday traditions, it has all been a bit overwhelming.

Having forced myself to befriend real British people in order to submerge myself into a bigger cultural awareness I feel as if I have become a professional at translating this skewed language, whilst ( key term there) laughing at myself for being such an idiot.
So if you are planning on studying, visiting, or living across the pond here are a few things you should probably know.

Phrases:

Proper: not very, just proper. ie: this is a proper blog post, not procrastination at its finest.

cheeky: I don’t even know what it means I just use it. ie: This might be a bit cheeky of me but can I steal your chips?

I guess it kinda sassy/snarky. Actually that is probably a lie. I still don’t really understand what this word means. But I really like it.

A top up: you can top up a drink, a cell phone pay as you go, a travel card. Anything and everything gets topped up.

Right, so I decided to research this a bit… because I am not even sure of all them. There are to many times I messed up I think I just got ignored after awhile. So Here are some of my favorites ( favourites) from http://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/british-american.htm

A Flat is an apartment.. well that is pretty obvious isn’t it?

Autumn is fall… well we definitely use them interchangeably over here.

biscuit is a cookie…. Let me just tell you. If you EVER want KFC. Don’t even think about going. You will not get biscuits as we know it. You will get fries, maybe. A cookie, is a biscuit. Still annoyed about this.

Bonnet of a car, hood of a car… that just makes no sense.

High street… main street… I mean, that is obvious. Clearly there aren’t streets in every neighborhood where people get high. Although Camden High Street that might be true.

They had some others on there.. I guess if you really want the culture shock of learning a new language you will have to go visit for yourself!

 

Food:

Surprisingly enough, it is not that bad. Actually I think I am eating too much :/.  I guess the stereotypes lie. The most upsetting part of the food, is the globalized fast-food chains that have altered what they serve over the pond. For example: KFC. I was pretty excited to go to KFC get some popcorn chicken and a biscuit. (Yum) See, I wrote about this twice. I was really angry.

When I had the awful realization about this terrorizing fault of British Kentucky Fried Chicken, I decided to share the gift of biscuits. Ok.. I wanted to attempt to share them. In reality I learned that they aren’t the easiest food to make. So I ended up making Thanksgiving dinner for a few of the friends that I made. This was my first time properly ( see proper in context) cooking the meal. We had a  spinach and artichoke dip ( not traditional just very american) turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes ( I did not make this.) gravy, and of course both pumpkin and pecan pies.  And we cannot forget my sad attempt at making biscuits. Sadly there was no football to watch on the tv, or macy’s thanksgiving day parades. We tried to find live feeds of them! But there was a day of cooking, being merry with friends and skying with family back home.

 

Walking:

Thank goodness for the signs that told me which way to look, because I am pretty sure I would be dead by now if I didn’t. Haha! It hasn’t been that bad and caught on pretty quickly. 🙂

Over all assimilation:

Well, I may have assimilated on some levels, but it has come the time to focus on forgetting all the silly words. Soon, in a little over a week I will be back at home and no one will understand me! Too much Brit in one American.

 

Stay tuned, I will be updating this over my break now that I am not spending all my time writing papers!

 

At a cultural event , Winter Wonderland

At a cultural event , Winter Wonderland

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Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire

Southwark Park fireworks display!

The Fifth of November

    Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

Katie and I at Blackheath Fireworks (friend from SOAS)

Fireworks night (times 2)

Layer up, grab some hot coc0 and mittens! Its time to go watch fireworks! I had the privilege of going to see the fireworks shows twice, the Saturday before Guy Fawkes day and on Guy Fawkes day. If you read the poem above is the night when Guy Fawkes planned on blowing up Parliament, so every year the people of Britain celebrate by showing fireworks, making bonfires and enjoying the cold air.

I went with some of my friends from my housing accommodation, Dinwiddy House ( all of which go to SOAS) on Saturday to see the Blackheath Fireworks. We had a bit of a travel to get out there, but when we did there was a massive field with loads of people. We sipped our hot coco, and found a good spot to watch the fireworks. London does fireworks well. This was an amazing sight.I have recently become very intrigued in how fireworks reflect off the black sky and bounce into color, especially in photographs when they are either out of focus or the shutter speed is slowed down.

example of slowed shutter speed fireworks photo

 

On Monday night, I accompanied my friend Miro from canoe polo to the Southwark Park fireworks, which took us quite a long time to get there although it really shouldn’t have. ( Whoops!) Southwark allowed us to use sparklers so we played with them quite a bit! We laughed, and we watched an amazing fireworks show accompanied by music. If you haven’t seen a firework go BOOM! to gangnam style, you haven’t lived.

Southwark Fireworks Show, sparklers!

 

 

Temple Church

Two Sunday’s ago… wow time does really pass quickly, I ended up searching to attend a service and visit Temple Church which is seen in the DaVinici Code. If you want to watch here is a  Video about temple church.  I probably should have watched this before my attempt to find it, because I ended up never arriving at Temple Church. I am getting ahead of myself though, lets go back to the start of my morning.
As all mornings commence, I left Dinwiddy House, found the bus I was supposed to take, hopped on and made my way towards Temple Church. The stop I was told to get off at, is quite close to St. Paul’s as well.

The route I was supposed to take.

Yet somehow, I did not follow these directions and they made no sense to me. I ended up getting off the bus around St. Paul’s, and then started walking hoping to find the Temple Church at this point I had about twenty minutes before the service started. I first started walking towards St. Paul’s and turned at this construction sight hoping that it was the right place to go, It wasn’t. I was actually walking away from the river which you can see I really was not supposed to be doing.

The 2nd route I should have taken

I ended up walking down Fleet Street, and ended up walking towards the river. At this point it was past 11:15 and I decided to take a photographic journey instead, enjoying some me time and taking a lovely walk. I didn’t end it with anything that I love, but I still was able to walk about and enjoy my time. So I walked down some creaky streets

a little pub in an alley way that was on an incline. I realized on this walk that I am really interested in store fronts and windows from around the world.

At this point I had not given up on trying to find Temple Church, I walked towards the embankment to continue my escapade. I was determined to get to this location.  I finally saw this:

I must have been close.

I know that I must have been quite close, so I tried to follow the signs towards Temple Church, walked down another little alley way, and this is what I ended up seeing:

Coming out of the Alley way

View from on top of the staircase looking out onto the river. I don’t think I walked past it ( although I must have)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I never did end up finding the Temple Church, I did find the Twinnings Factory, some lovely sights, have an amazing walk and actually ended up for the first time in Covent Garden, Seven Dials and a bit of Soho. I ended up in areas of Central London I hadn’t ever ventured out to, which is what these trips are for- to make myself get out of the Kings Cross area and try to learn about an area that I don’t know much about. The Sunday ended up at this lovely arts festival in Bloomsbury that was filled with cute food pop-ups, little art booths and actually there were activities going around all over the neighborhood, we just ran out of time to participate in them. Time goes by quickly.

Covent Garden

Have a beautiful Sunday, remember every single day is an adventure and to enjoy it.

London

My Courses at SOAS

Since this is the only the second time that Clark has sent students to SOAS as a specifically Clark study abroad program, and not having to go outside of study abroad to study here, I wanted to explain more about the courses and what is involved in Studying Abroad, if you are considerding studying abroad at SOAS please post a comment and I will get you my email address and we can talk more about the program!

SOAS Study Abroad is a unique study abroad program, because it is incredibly academic. Not to say that other study abroad courses aren’t, but you have to choose a program that you enjoy and there are no understanding the culture courses, required language courses or anything of that sort. All classes are taught in English unless it is one of the major language courses. For study abroad, we were allowed to choose courses from a special approved Study Abroad Course List. All classes are either a 1 or 2 hour lecture, and a 1 hour tutorial or discussion group. There is also a one week long reading week midway though the semester.

I am enrolled in four courses, which all happen to land on Tuesday and Wednesday, and this is really nice since for each course you have to write a 3,000 page paper but except for some presentations in tutorial groups these are really our only assignments.
On Tuesday I have 20th Century Society and Culture of Asia and Africa, this is a history course. This term we will be covering colonial societies, religion and belief and social and cultural change. I am doing my presentation this week on Work and Mobility, and my final paper will be on “To what extent did spirit possession reveal social tensions in African Societies.” I am planning on looking closely into to what extent did gender and spirits intertwine to affect African societies and their liberation from colonialism as well as other themes such as settler influence.. this is quite in the works but I really enjoying learning facts about African Spirits.

My second course on Tuesday is Nationalism, Ethnicity and State in Asia and Africa. I really enjoy this course. We have forty minutes of lecture followed by an hour or so of discussion. The discussions are always very enlightening and more like debates. We have been focusing on what does nationalism mean, what is identity and is it a made up concept or can it actually describe who you are. I just got my essay questions for this course and I think it will be quite enjoyable yet challenging. This course really makes me question everything I thought about before. What I always find interesting is how in the States, we often describe ourselves as a place where you come from but in most other places in the world you describe yourself based on where you identity yourself from.  This course will continue along these lines this term, I won’t ever be around to learn much about the ethnicity part of the course because that is in term 2.

On Wednesday, I have three hours or so of lecture, so two other courses of my four courses.

I start out my morning in what I think is my favorite class, State & Politics in Africa. We focus on sub-Saharan Africa starting with colonialism and nationalism continuing through the themes to understand more about the politics of Africa as a continent. The tutorial for this class is also quite engaging and mind rattling. Every week we have to bring in a piece of news, and that helps start off a good conversation. Then we discuss the readings and lectures and get into a debate. The lecturer is also very engaging. He doesn’t use any aides for his lectures but it is so easy to follow that he doesn’t need to. I think that makes for one of the best classroom environments, especially when this is really the first time I have ever had a large lecture class.

Finally, I am taking Politics of Development. I joined this class quite late because I was in EU Law beforehand. ( Law classes at SOAS and most uni’s in England, is like Law school, not pre-law classes. I was way over my head) Luckily this course is focusing on African development this term. I could not get enough Africa at SOAS. 🙂 What I enjoy about this course is it is taking what I learn at Clark’s Urban Development and Social Change concentration, which is a series of 9 or so courses taken from a several different departments to make a well rounded understanding of what is needed in urban development. But this is about Politics of Development, so this course takes my love of politics, love of developing and mixing them up. Its also nice because I feel slightly ahead in the course when we are talking about how geography affects development etc. 🙂 So thank you Clark.

So there we go a mildly boring, with no photos, but lots of words explanation of the courses I am taking at SOAS. If you are considering studying abroad at SOAS, really look into the courses because you will have the option to take the classes on what you want to specialize in and it will make you so happy to attend lectures :). Maybe you will be lucky like me and never have class too! Haha!

Westminster Abbey

Church Challenge, Part 2 Westminster Abbey
Sunday October 7th, I went to a service at Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey, front view

My morning started by taking the bus towards Westminster Abbey. Little did I know that there was a special race going on so I was not able to take the bus as far as I would like, but I had the pleasant surprise of running into the London Eye for the first time. It was really fun and exciting to make my way into central London.

London Eye, I was going to edit this more and probably should have but I’m impressed London ever has enough sunlight to produce that much light in an image.
🙂

I strolled along the River Thames with leisure watching the movements along the river bank. I am a firm believer that a river makes a city ten times prettier, and in London’s case it provides a history and account of the city. As I marched along I could see Big Ben in the distance, and strolled towards it knowing that would be my ultimate destination.

(Side note: I did get a look at the bridge that Voldemort and the death eaters took out, surprisingly it is still standing, “The Other Minister” must have taken care of that quickly.)

Big Ben

Anyway, my walk took me towards a series of statues including Nelson Mandela and my heart did a little flipflop. We took a mental picture together. There are several other statues in the area I just can’t remember what of exactly.

Finally upon reaching Westminster Abbey, I was overwhelmed by the size of the place. It was huge. I have seen some big churches in my day but this is massive. I didn’t take many photos while I was there because I was so overwhelmed but I had an interesting service that I will never forget. First of all, I was sitting on top of a crypt, looking at another and surrounded by five more. Its like dead royal central. I understand its a very impressive piece of architecture and full of tradition, but it was really creepy. The sermon didn’t make me feel much better it was far too traditional mixed with new age than my taste could handle. What I did love was the music, the organ and choir was amazing. Easy to follow and sing along with and incredibly heart warming. The gift shop was pretty awesome too.

Last week I meant to go to St. Mary LeBow which is known for its famous bells, but they didn’t have a Sunday service and my days are pretty hectic for going during the week. Tomorrow I am going to Temple Church which was featured in the Da Vinici Code.

 

My Outdoor Education

Life at SOAS is a fantastic whirlwind of engaging conversation, stimulating lectures and overall exciting atmosphere. I am constantly feeling challenged even if it is mostly about different aspects of imperialism at this point, I am sure our African discussions … Continue reading

St. Pauls Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral

The lovely cathedral built after the Great Fire of 1666 sending all of London’s churches to be rebuilt. Wren was commissioned to build 51 new buildings mostly including Churches, including this one.

My first visit was to see the incredibly beautiful Cathedral called S Paul’s. It is one of the biggest in its class along with St. Peter’s. Having been to several European Cathedrals such as Notre Dame and others I am ashamed to say I cannot remember the name of, I was looking forward to comparing.

Upon entry, I was baffled. The sites, sounds and images depicted on the Cathedral walls are astounding. They did not allow photography on the inside or else I would have made several images because it was such a photographically beautiful place. It took my breath away.

I did not do myself justice though because I did not look around the church and taken time to understand what I am amidst. Therefore I have to go back to St. Paul’s. I have seen purchased a book on the Cathedral.