Journals from England 2008
2008-11-20 Last Week in the UK
Last week the UK and I celebrated our two-month anniversary. The fact that this much time has passed is rather startling, but now at the halfway mark of our adventure I feel like Im in a much better place to evaluate my place at Nottingham University and how Ive been received, not only as an international student, but as an American.
From what I have seen, England and America have many close ties. Aside from the obvious ones (language, heritage, etc.), Ive been surprised to see British students sporting Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister apparel and Ive seen more I Love New York shirts in one place than I ever have at home. Musical tastes are apparently transatlantic as well. Of course this is a two-way street, but it seems odd for English to be singing about summer times in northern Michigan.
Despite the prevalence of American pop culture, however, the United States is still the butt of many jokes. One of the instances from Week One I will most remember involved standing in the middle of a club listening to no less than 1,000 British freshers screaming American Idiot by Green Day at the top of their lungs. Ill be the first to admit that plenty of what we think of as quintessentially American is laughable, but some of the criticism we as a country receive is unfounded if British people, especially university-age students, consume a significant amount of our cultural productions themselves.
It was with great happiness and relief that I woke up November 5th to find out the results of the presidential election, not only because of my personal political beliefs but because I could imagine all too well the scrutiny to be heard from other students, professors, etc., if John McCain had been elected. Indeed, prior to the election, I felt the need to justify myself with almost every introduction; Yes, Im American, but I dont support Bush seemed to be my mantra. And, even though England as a country supports Barack Obama almost unanimously, Ive noticed some of their beliefs, at least socially, would not be deemed liberal in America. Clearly a comment on world views of the United States, the headline of the November 6th issue of Metro (an English newspaper) read, The day America became a little bit cool again.
Of course, Ive only received outright hostility in very few instances, ones where I even admit grumblings about America were justified. My nationality and my accent, for the most part, have been treated as a novelty by students. Lately Ive made an effort to take politics off the table of discussion, and Ive found this to be a positive change. Hopefully by the end of the term Ill have made an impression as an individual more than anything else.