Posts tagged "British"

London through a local’s eyes

By Charlotte Dunlap  |  BSU at the Games

Jolting his hands up in the air simultaneously to the beats of the song, 21-year-old Fred Smiley was noticeably enjoying the concert at Hyde Park.

His trendy mohawk haircut matched the rest of his get-up—light gray straight-leg jeans with a snap-back hat attached to a belt loop, a blue zip-up and a neon-blue Adidas backpack.

In my eyes, Fred seemed to be a typical 21-year-old guy from London taking advantage of what the Olympic Games has brought to his hometown.

As much as Americans are intrigued with the British accent, I have come to find out that our American accent is just as if not more intriguing to people in Europe. Like any tourist would do, I asked the name of the band and after that one question, the routine “Are you from the States?” question started up a conversation that I found myself excited to be in.

Fred was down-to-earth, humble and outgoing. He seemed to be “in the know” about everything going on in London. So I took advantage of making a new friend and invited myself along to see London through his eyes for an afternoon.

12:20 p.m.

Fred rushed from the Oxford tube station to the nearest corner café, weaving his way in and out between the mash-up of people.  Fred had mastered the art of turning the body 90 degrees to slide in between oblivious passers-by on the street. Now living in Essex, Oxford Circus is a place he visits only when need be.

12:35 p.m.

Deciding on where the day’s meal would take place, Caribbean Bay was his decision. One would think the chosen spot would be Café Fred, located nearby, but Caribbean food was on the menu for lunch.

1 p.m.

Silverware = cutlery, Fred said.

1:05 p.m.

Precisely explaining the components of the jerk chicken meal, Fred opened his grape soda and started into his meal. “London is a much more lively place to live,” he said. “I moved to Essex a few years ago and I like being able to come to London whenever I want. It’s a short trip”.

1:20 p.m.

“O.M.G.” Fred said. He paused for what felt like an hour. “I swallowed the bone,” he said. Coughing repeatedly, Fred guzzled his grape soda, anxiously trying to get the chicken bone that he swallowed to slide down his throat.

1:26 p.m.

Fred sighed with relief that the chicken bone finally passed through his throat. “You know, American girls have a glow about them,” Fred said. “You can kind of tell who’s from America and who’s not.”

1:40 p.m.

Strapping on his neon-blue Adidas backpack, Fred made his way to the door and took a left down the street. “See, I only go shopping when I need something. … I am in and I am out,” he said.

2 p.m.

Strutting into Niketown, Fred was shocked at the amount of people shopping. “Honestly I have never seen this place so full … The Olympics have done so much good for all these places. It has brought in so much money,” Fred said.

2:30 p.m.

Fred was patient with the hectic sidewalks slammed with people as he went in and out of different shops, mostly shoe stores. “It is nice to come to this area when I want and not live here. The Tube is only a short distance from Essex,” he said.

2:45 p.m.

Kindly taking a bottle of water that was being passed out on the sidewalks, Fred remembered he had obligations outside of town. “I have to go pick up a car that I am using for a week,” he said. “Most of us don’t have cars around here, its pointless. Insurance is outrageous for us at this age to drive.”

3 p.m.

Sharing a few last words, it was obvious Fred’s personality not only blasted through his style, his gestures and his laugh, but also through his genuine aura. “I am traveling to L.A. for a month here in a few weeks. I know it’s where I have to go to make something of my passion for acting,” Fred said.

3:10 p.m.

Without seconding-guessing himself, Fred smiled and was on his way, blending right in with the rest of the rushing crowd toward the Tube station. “Good luck in London!” he yelled.

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.

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

For oldest pub in London, head over to the Cheese

By Jack Meyer  |  BSU at the Games

It might be assumed any establishment across England whose title bears the words “Ye Olde” is a gimmicky trap for tourists looking for a medieval experience, but one pub in Central London is worthy of the name.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, one of London’s oldest pubs, was rebuilt in 1667 after London’s great fire and has survived the reign of 14 English monarchs and welcomed the likes of Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson, Walt Disney and Queen Elizabeth II.

The pub still serves drinkers from across the world with it’s olde-timey feel and is a must see for Olympic-goers this summer. Here are a few things that may interest you enough to come in and have a pint or a plate of fish and chips.

- Great Beer

The pub, referred to by locals as “The Cheese,” is owned today by English brewer Samuel Smith who keeps the pub stocked with a wide selection of its stouts, ciders, taddy casters and organically brewed lager and wheat beers. The pub’s three bars on two floors offer beers and ciders on tap and many more in bottles ranging in price from £4-6. Wine is also offered for those who don’t care for the taste of beer.

- Great Atmosphere

One step into The Cheese is a step into the past. Dark dusty wood and stone floors leave no questions as to the legitimacy of the pub’s age. Its dimly lit halls upstairs wind through two standing and sitting areas and wooden doorways leading into the pub’s cavernous cellar, which offers another full bar and an arching brick celling. Although tourists frequent the pub, its nooks and location down a dark Fleet St. alley make it feel intimate.

- Escape the Olympics

Although travelers won’t find The Cheese tourist free very often, it’s an oasis away from Olympic drama. Samuel Smith, according to the bar staff, doesn’t allow televisions or music in the pub according to company policy. “The company is just old fashioned—we like the old kind of chatty pub atmosphere,” Dominic Moss said, a Cheshire Cheese bar staff supervisor.

Jack Meyer is a senior news journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jack and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Actually, the Brits think we Americans are quite nice

By Jessica Pettengill  |  BSU at the Games

American tourists are often portrayed in pop culture as being fat, inattentive and loud. But among the reported 500,000 extra tourists visiting London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, many Londoners haven’t found these stereotypes to be true.

While American tourists may stick out in some instances, the Brits differ on what exactly an American tourist looks like.

Matthew Gowan and Anneka Blake, both of whom work in a ticket office for some of the major London attractions, say the shirts are the first thing to give away Americans. Neon colors or sports logos and fanny-paks are the big perpetrators.

However, some Brits think Americans try to blend in too much.

“You’re not as brash or uncommon as most countries are,” Pat Lines said, a cashier at County Hall Souvenir Shop, located right by the London Eye.

Connor Byrnt, a bartender at the County Hall Arms pub, said he doesn’t really notice one American trait that stands out, except for their generosity in pubs.

“All Americans leave me great tips.”

Part of this is due to American pubs being a service industry, but it might have another reason as well. One common theme of Americans in the minds of Britons is our congeniality.

“They’re all just so friendly,” Shelby Toussaint said, a supervisor at the CBS arcade along the River Thames. “If you’re on the train, British people just like to sit in cocoons, whereas Americans will just strike up a conversation.”

Gowan, Blake, Lines, and Byrnt all agree that there’s a certain approachability to American tourists that they don’t find in any other nationality.

“I love America mainly because of how friendly they are. I always have great conversations with my American customers,” Blake said.

Byrnt described a time at the pub when a group of young American guys on their “stag night” came through.

“The pub was fairly empty so when they came up to order they just started chatting with me for three hours. They were great,” he said.

Maybe the lack of a language barrier and a shared history is what makes Britons and Americans so chummy. Regardless of the reason, American tourists should start using their talkative charms to their advantage.

Jessica Pettengill is a junior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jessica and the BSU team at @jmpetty10@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

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

10 features to scope out on london.bsuatthegames.com

I’ve been spending long days working on the BSU at the Games website (and sometimes punching my computer screen). Here’s some of the features you can look forward to.

1. Behind the Scenes: Weekly Blogs

Good job! One down because you’re reading this post. Each week on Monday/Wednesday, we’ll have a member of our team write a post to tell you what we’re up to. During our trip to London July 23-August 15, we’ll kick it up a notch and blog daily!

2. Stories

The reason we do what we do. Check out our stories section to see our inside perspective of the people, places and events of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Don’t like to read? It’s OK, we have graphics and photos too.

3. Multimedia Section

Again, our unique coverage. Only this time you can watch it, hear it, see it.

4. Social Media Links

Get all of our updates in real-time via @bsuatthegames, #BSUOlympics, and facebook.com/bsuatthegames. Follow us on Instagram (bsuatthegames) and YouTube.

5. British Dictionary

Think you know what a hole-in-the-wall is? What about a lorry or a uni? Rubbish! Check out our British Dictionary to find out. It’s spot on!

6. Photo of the Week

Our best photo featured weekly on the homepage. Tell us what you think.

7. Interactive Map

Confused about all of the event venues for London 2012? This will help.

8. Official Video

Hear from our outstanding advisers about the trip, the class and immersive learning at Ball State.

9. Our Team

Meet our FABULOUS team of journalists, designers, photographers, advisers and public-relations students.

10. London 2012 Countdown

We’re counting down the minutes until London 2012 is here! Follow it on our homepage.

Kait Buck  |  Public Relations Team

@Keightbuck