Posts tagged "British culture"

A bunting obsession

Bunting: Most commonly seen as strings of triangular pieces of fabric, plastic, paper, etc. with patriotic colors and flags. It was originally made to serve as signal flags for the British Royal Navy.

When I first got to England I didn’t know what it was or even paid much attention to it. Every English town we’ve visited, large or small, is decorated with it. From houses in the countryside to London streets, you can’t escape it.  Walking around Worcester, it’s everywhere. Strung across buildings, hung over streets and wound around lampposts. At first, I thought it was to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee but the event passed and it stayed up. Then I assumed it was the Queen’s visit to Worcester to open the library or in honor of the Olympic Games, but the decorations haven’t moved.

Now I never want them too. I’m in love.

I don’t know if it’s the unique British history or the cheerful colors and designs, but bunting makes me wish I hadn’t spent a penny on anything else since I’ve been here. Doesn’t matter if it’s waving proudly in the wind or hanging limply on a rainy day, it never fails to brighten my mood.

At first I only wanted to buy it. I saw some in Bath made of fabric with embroidered union jacks and crowns, but I couldn’t afford it. Shops in Worcester have it zigzagging across their ceilings and it slowly breaks down my willpower to resist every time I look in.

Then I realized I could make my own and the possibilities were endless.  It can be sewn, knitted, or crocheted out of anything imaginable. I don’t think I’ll even make it home from the airport without a stop at Hobby Lobby to buy supplies.

Sarah Ellis | Designer

Chasm between sports cultures

Sports culture differs vastly depending on the sport, team or region, but watching abroad seems like a paradigm shift. Fanaticism in America amounts to Red Sox and Yankees fans hating each other, painting faces, decorating rooms for college football game days and tailgating in parking lots. The media and venues drive much of the fanaticism in the United States, with ESPN constantly reporting on the Miami Heat and stadiums’ P.A. systems encouraging the crowds to collectively chant specific phrases.

I’ve noticed things are radically different in England. Attending the USA women’s soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester drastically changed my outlook on British sports. The venue offered nostalgia for old stadiums like Wrigley Field and Fenway. Temporary video boards light up the corners of the stadium for spectators to watch the game unfold. As soon as the match started I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

The only P.A. announcements after the national anthems were for the four substitutions in the match. Not a single promotion. Not a single pump-up chant. No music. No organist. No fun.

The communal atmosphere of collective cheers and chants disappeared, in their place sporadic and short USA chants. The British arena didn’t accommodate the American crowd.

When English Premier League’s Manchester United plays, Old Trafford is a different atmosphere, with constant chants and songs from the crowd. Football requires some form of audience entertainment during slow periods of play. The American crowd hadn’t been together years and years to learn team songs or chants. As a member of the crowd, I wanted an organist, similar to baseball games, to play “Charge,” “Defense” or even “Olé Olé” to build a better atmosphere in the crowd.

A silent baseball game best describes the atmosphere. Every fan remained seated except when a team attacked the net. Most of the crowd noise consisted of murmurs from conversation.

Maybe if the venue allowed alcohol into the stands the atmosphere would have changed the feeling. Alcohol is only permitted on the concourse. There are no beer-men or carts around the stadium. What fan wants to go drink hidden from the action during a match? This caused a mass exodus during halftime of the crowd disappearing into the bowels of the stadium for a drink or two.

The game was fun, don’t get me wrong, but the chasm between crowd and players widened more than I have ever witnessed as a sports fan. Without audience participation, the match wasn’t worth the extorted prices LOCOG and the IOC charge. I love England’s culture and atmosphere, but the presentation of sport is deeply disappointing for a nation so rich in sports heritage. Or I should be sure to come back when United plays.

Alex Kartman  |  Adviser

@ajkartman

Just another normal summer on the streets of London

By Charlotte Dunlap  |  BSU at the Games

Swiftly walking down the strip of South Bank, it didn’t matter if you didn’t have a clue where to go or what to do, because the immense crowds of spirited people were the decision holders. The rush of traffic left people standing in line for the London Eye or down the path of the notorious street entertainers.

The variety of acts seemed to make park goers very intrigued on what was on display. There is someone—or something—to watch for any age. Words of reactions weren’t needed; the facial expressions of people said it all. Some screamed excitement, others content, a few disgust but most were energetic and eager to see more.

The beats from blaring music carried down the path of entertainers until crowds began to deplete from the one-man-band acts. It was the last act on the block, and they call themselves One Motion.

“We’re all from London, been dancing here for a while. But we do have some guys who are from other places … Korea, Japan, some French guys, but basically London is our central place,” Ude said, leader of One Motion Dance Crew.

As the sonorous beats continued, space to spectate became limited. The amorphous break-dance moves fed loose change to the bins imperfectly placed around the checkered dance mat.

“I like the fact that the work that you do here is up to you. Whether you want to work or not, you’re your own boss, you get to work with friends, you get to meet a lot of interesting people, it’s a nice lively place to work, its really good fun,” Ude said.

Children gazed as the team’s routine seemed like nothing they had witnessed before.

“The dream of the crew is to just keep dancing. To get young people to join in, to train other people up to do the things that we do, and to do better … to do more,” Ude said.

The flashing of camera lights, the in-sync clapping and the roaring of the crowds gently faded as the crew called it a day.

Sometimes words aren’t needed to deliver a feeling, and for One Motion Dance Crew, their ineffable dancing does all the talking.

Charlotte Dunlap is a senior telecommunications major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Emily and the BSU team at@charr_mariee@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

I’m not a Brit, but I’m proud too

After discovering what some bars in London really think of journalists after they kicked me out, trekking around London for two hours, and getting locked shoeless out of my room, I decided to take London Evening Standard writer Nick Curtis’ advice that the Opening Ceremony may better be viewed from home.

Coming in late, I caught the end of the opening performance and watched enthralled as performers portrayed the early stages of technology and development of the industrial revolution. As five golden rings rose above the crowd and joined to form the universal Olympic symbol, chills ran up my spine and covered my arms with goose bumps, making the hairs stand on end. As the camera zoomed into the crowd of performers, the grin spread across one man’s face showed he felt the same chills and more. Pride for his country was painted all over his face.

But Brits aren’t the only ones who should be proud of their culture. England gave us the stories of our childhood in “Peter Pan,” “Harry Potter,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Mary Poppins.” It gave us iconic musicians known to every generation in the Beatles and Queen. England gave us the man who invented the World Wide Web (something I didn’t know before the ceremony).

A man in a pub asked me last night if Americans were glad the Olympic Games were in London this year, if we felt a special connection because it’s an English-speaking country.  To me, it didn’t make a difference, I told him. But now I am proud the Games are in London and proud of everything England has given to the world.

Lindsey Gelwicks  |  Features Reporter

@lbgelwicks

Watching the Ceremony from the Midlands

By Pat Boylan and Michael Nauman  |  BSU at the Games

As the world gathered to watch the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, all of the attention was understandably on London. A two-and-a-half-hour drive northwest, in Worcester, England, the excitement wasn’t quite like the host city, but it still had Olympic pep in its step.

Bushwacker Pub general manager Mark Humpage said the European soccer tournament just a month ago helped him judge expected attendance.

“We have had about double the attendance today for the Opening Ceremony. I think we will also have large crowds for track and soccer events,” Humpage said.

The crowded pub was focused on the television as the Ceremony played. Even the bartenders stopped to look at the big-screen as they poured customers’ drinks. And as the Queen made her appearance the city came to a halt. Unlike in the U.S., where President Obama may receive mixed reviews, the Queen had nothing but respect and cheers.

“The Opening Ceremony did a good job of representing our culture. They incorporated a great mix of history, music and the present,” Matt Penn of Worcester said.

Penn also believed the local flavor of the Olympic Games sparked his interest.

“Normally I pay very little attention to the Olympics, but I’ll definitely be watching.  I think the Opening Ceremony has done England proud.”

Despite a nearly unanimously positive reception, there was one disappointment expressed by many but summarized best by Penn.

“I can’t believe that we haven’t heard Adele. We’ve seen Mr. Bean, but not Adele.”

Pat Boylan is a senior telecommunications major and Michael Nauman is a junior sport administration major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Michael, Pat and the BSU team at@patboylanbsu@itsmichaelbrah@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

The U.K. has my love of preservatives growing stale

Artificial preservatives have gone from being a triumph of modern science to, in many people’s opinions, a poison that is affecting us all from the inside out. When I first came to England, I had no idea the British limit the amount of preservatives in their food.  After a few meals, I started to notice a common logo on all the packages announcing a lack of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

My first bite of a candy bar had me instantly falling in love with the light chocolate taste and thinking this is the best chocolate I have ever tasted. Although the loaf of bread I bought only lasted about four days, why is it as Americans we have to have our food preserved for such a long time? Are preservatives actually necessary? I am now very fond of the idea of ONLY buying what I will eat in the next few days, and don’t waste as much food as I would back home.

I’m very concerned about recent research showing health problems associated with certain artificial preservatives. I may have to go to the grocery store more then once every two weeks, but I am falling madly in love with idea of only eating natural preservatives and living a healthier life. I mean, do we really need more studies to prove to us that natural is always more beneficial then man-made alternatives?

Katelynn Thys | Features Reporter

@skyismylimit_kt


10 things I wish I knew before coming to the UK

So, I’m starting a new series. I’m going to post a “10 Things” post. Everything from 10 things I wish I knew (like today) to 10 things I’m wishing for to 10 really great books I’ve read. The possibilities are endless!

For now, I’m kicking it off with (in no particular order)….

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming to the UK

1. Everyone smokes and apparently it’s no big deal.

I mean everyone. Cute mothers pushing babies in strollers (also called “buggies” or “prams”), 12-year-old girls sitting outside stores and everyone walking down the street. I guess I hadn’t realized due to all the smoking bans and laws in place at home that smoking has become a bit of a taboo thing. Not the case here.

2. Drink sizes are WAY different.

As in, the “veinte” at Starbucks (hello, 20 ounces!) is smaller. There is no such thing as a fountain drink or free refills. Bottles are teeny. Cups are teeny. How do these people stay hydrated, or over-caffeinated?!

3. Everyone dresses to impress. All. The. Time.

I am not kidding and wish I was. For this girl, who loves to rock a t-shirt and jeans every day, it has been tough to keep up with the super trendy British chicks. I have yet to see a British girl wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt, a hoodie or even sneakers. It’s always skinny jeans, shorts with leggings, cute dresses, oversize sweaters that look perfectly thrown together, flawless makeup and perfectly mussed hair. Boys aren’t even allowed into bars if they’re wearing Converse. It’s crazy.

4. The coins are confusing.

At home, I’d be pretty embarrassed to pay for a $5 item in coins. But here, it’s no big deal. That’s because there is a £2 coin, a £1 coin, 50 pence coin, 20 pence coin, 10 pence coin, five pence coin and the one pence coin, called the penny. So if something cost £5, you can pay for it with three coins. Even though I’ve been here for almost a month, I still find myself holding up the line at the checkout counting out all the coins. I think it’s because their five pence coin is the size of our dime, so I always get tripped up thinking I’m counting tens when I’m counting fives. What a bother.

5. People think we are Canadian.

Apparently the only people who sound like Americans are Canadians. And apparently Canadian visitors are more common than American ones, at least in Worcester. Everywhere we go we get asked, “Oh my gosh, are you Canadian?” When we respond, “No, American,” they say, “Oh yeah, that makes sense. Canadians are way louder.” Whatever that means.

6. They have never heard of Modern Family.

There are no words for this one.

7. Even though they speak English, we can only understand them half the time.

I thought it wouldn’t be any trouble to get used to the slang terms they use. Um, wrong. Even though our languages are technically the same, it’s really hard to follow along when people are speaking here. There are so many slang words and terms that I am unfamiliar with. And the reverse is true as well. When a cashier asks if I need a receipt and I say, “I’m good,” they stare at me blankly.

8. They have very different ideas on travel.

For example, when we said we were going to Edinburgh, a 4 1/2 hour train trip, people were amazed. “You’re going ALL the way to Edinburgh for the weekend?” was the response. To us, four hours is no big deal. You can drive four hours and not even get from the north end of Indiana to the south end. I thought in a country this small people would be way more apt to travel more frequently. Not true at all.

9. They really love their queen.

That’s fine with me, I’m obsessed with their royal family as well.

10. They have good design everywhere.

I mean REALLY good. And it’s EVERYWHERE. It’s going to be hard to go home to Indiana where we have town names in comic sans on the water towers ;)

Valerie Carnevale | Graphic Designer, Photographer

@vmcarnevale

Wish you were here–greetings from England!

Hello from England! I’m part of the University of Worcester group, so I’m already over here and have a full week of classes under my belt. It’s weird that I’ve only been in this country for three weeks because honestly, it feels like a LOT longer! It’s cool how quickly you can settle into your surroundings. My surroundings right now are beautiful–old brick buildings and winding cobblestone streets, some dating back to the Tudor times! The town of Worcester sits in the shadow of the massive Worcester Cathedral, which began construction in 1080. SO OLD.

It finally feels real that I’m in England, but it still doesn’t quite feel real that I’m covering the Olympics. THE OLYMPICS! I thought it would sink in once I got here, but nope! Maybe it’s because I’m not in London where all the action is going to be, or because I’ve been so busy getting acquainted with Worcester and starting classes, but it’s hard to believe that in just a few short weeks, the rest of the Olympic crew will be here and the whirlwind of interviews, planning graphics and shooting photos is going to begin.

That being said, the excitement of the Olympics being held here in just over a month is palpable. There is bunting everywhere. Bunting, in case you were wondering, are those little flag pennants you see all over Pinterest that have suddenly become very trendy for DIY weddings. And yes, I’ll be using it all over the reception at my own wedding because it’s so cute! And cheap and awesome and cheery. But literally, every store window is draped with it. The streets of Worcester have red, white and blue bunting criss-crossing overhead, and Colleen picked up several strands of it for her and Ryan’s flat. It’s addictive! As if the bunting overload isn’t enough, there are union flags hanging everywhere from house windows to giant ones all along Oxford and Regent streets in London and from every official-looking building.

One of my professors here at the university told our class that this display of patriotism and national pride definitely isn’t the norm, but due to Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, everyone is trying to “beef up the Britishness” and really reclaim what it means to be British and proud. Which is why, even aside from all the amazing things we’re doing with BSU at the Games and all the incredible content we’re going to produce, this trip is so worth it. It’s so fun to be part of the atmosphere and soak up the energy of the country as it prepares to host international athletics’ biggest stage.

My professor says that it’s a very exciting time to be British. I would one-up that and say that regardless of being British or not, it’s a very exciting time to be in Britain period. It’s already been one of the best experiences of my life, and I can’t wait to see and experience everything as the Games draw closer.

Cheers!

Valerie Carnevale | Graphic Designer, Photographer

@vmcarnevale

Covering Games means stepping outside comfort zone

Although it wasn’t quite as far as London, the first story I wrote regarding the Olympic Games involved traveling. It was the first time I really had to travel to interview a source (except for when I commuted for my internship last summer), but the interview was only an hour away and was well worth the drive.

The story is about an Indiana Olympian who is now the mayor of Marion, Ind. Wayne Seybold competed in pair skating with his sister, Kim, in the 1988 Winter Games. I’ll admit that making the drive to meet up with someone I had never  met before in person was a bit intimidating. As a student journalist, most of my reporting experience has been very local. But Sara Schaefer, another student on our team, came with me to videotape the interview, so at least I had some company. We’re also both fairly outgoing, so that worked in our favor too.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Mayor Seybold was more than willing to help with my story. He was patient enough to sit through multiple interviews with me and provide contact information for other sources. He even gave me a CD by a Marion musician!

I’ve just recently finished the final draft of the story. From here, our wonderful public relations team will work to get my story published in local media. Not only will this experience hopefully give me a published clip for my portfolio, but it’s also the beginning of a base of content for my portion of this Olympic Games project.

Most importantly, this story was a great place for me to start. A lot of the personal challenges I will face with this project will be stepping outside of my comfort zone. Reporting in a new place is always a little nerve-wracking—not to mention the fact that I’ll be in a foreign country during the single largest sporting event in the world. But like anything else, I’m trying to approach this with baby steps. Muncie to Marion was a great place to start.

Next stop: London.

Read Emily’s piece on former Olympian Mayor Seybold here.

Emily Thompson  |  Features Reporter

@ekthompson2410

Let us take you behind the scenes

BSU at the Games is a group of 40 students from Ball State University who will be traveling to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Our class is comprised of students majoring in photography, graphic design, public relations, journalism, telecommunications and sport administration. Read our blog as we spend the next few months preparing for the trip. Be sure to check in daily beginning July 23 so we can give you an inside look into our college minds as we take on the city in search of  great media content. As part of the public relations team, I’ve been organizing this blog, helping create media lists, producing website content and developing ideas for our social-media plan. You’ll see my tweets from time to time, and I’ll be sure to have my classmates blogging for you!

I can’t really describe how privileged I feel to be involved with such a prestigious immersive learning project. Last spring, I spent four months studying British culture while living in London. I’m excited to return to a former home and show my classmates around the city!

Double-decker buses, rides on the Underground, brilliant accents and the 2012 Olympic Games—here we come!


Alix Sappington  |  Public Relations Team

@alixsappington