Posts tagged "London Culture"

I’ve seen a lot of places, but London trumps them all

This is not my first time being out of the country. In fact, this is about the fifth country I have been to in the past year and a half.

But London is the best so far, and all due to the Olympic atmosphere.

I thought my three months living on the beach in Australia was the best vacation I would ever have, but the best part is that I am only 21, leaving so much time to see more. I’ve dived the Great Barrier Reef, island-hopped on jet skis in Fiji, driven across the countryside in New Zealand and spear fished in the Bahamas, but so far, London is my favorite.

This is actually my second time being in London. The first time, I came on a whim in the middle of my third semester at Ball State. I traveled here with my two best friends and it was a blast, but much of that time was spent pub-crawling and not actually seeing the sites and taking in the culture.

Seeing that the Olympic Games are being held here, I can’t think of a better time to come back. I’ve seen so much that I missed the first time I was here, such as Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge.

Another thing that I have found entertaining was randomly finding the very first pub I went to when I was here before with my friends. I was walking down the street and started to recognize the area. Then three minutes later, I ran straight into the George. I immediately took a picture and shared it with my friends back at home.

I have traveled many places, but I have never been back to them. There is something different about London, though. It’s a city that, in the end, I can’t seem to get away from.

Michael Kerkhoff  |  Sports Reporter

My work break at the Tower of London

Since the start of the Olympic Games, BSU at the Games has been working relentlessly. Don’t get me wrong—every long day and all-nighter has been more than worth it. But every now and then, our advisors tell us to take a day off just to be tourists in London.

Last Sunday, I did just that. Although I already had spent a weekend in London before the Games started as part of a study-abroad program, it was not nearly enough time to see everything I want to see. So I made my way over to the Tower of London with a few other students.

I wouldn’t usually consider myself a history buff, but since I’ve been in England, I’ve really come to appreciate history. Because America is such a young country, it’s hard for me to fathom how a castle that was founded in 1066 can still be standing.

Emily Thompson enjoys a break with one of the “locals” at the Tower of London

We literally could’ve spent the entire day at the Tower of London because there’s so much to see. Every building has a different exhibit, and some even have places to eat. Complete with a reenactment of thieves who once tried to steal the Crown Jewels, we had endless entertainment.

I think my favorite exhibit, aside from the Crown Jewels of course, was “Royal Beasts” because I learned so much. I had no idea that before London had a zoo, the royals kept exotic animals in the Tower of London. Between monkeys, elephants, lions and more, they had a full house.

There were also multiple exhibits about medieval torture that one of my friends really enjoyed. It was a bit morbid for me, but interesting nonetheless. I did enjoy the murder mysteries, though.

After leaving the Tower, I enjoyed a Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream cone, which was the perfect end to my day as a tourist. Even without the Olympic Games, there’s so much to do and see in London. It’s a truly beautiful city, and I’m thankful to be able to spend so much time in it—even if it does rain nearly everyday here.

Emily Thompson  |  Features Reporter

@ekthompson2410

Feeling at home in London

As I stepped onto the tube for the first time in months at Chancery Lane in Central London I felt a familiar tingle of excitement. After studying abroad in London this past spring semester, anything I could possibly want was in reach again.

During that time, I learned where to go to find the things that make me happy in this city. Whether it’s a pint at the Scottish brewer, Brewdog in Camden Town, a gourmet burger from the Lucky Chip in Hackney or a place to sit and think at the top of Primrose Hill, I know how to make myself comfortable.

Returning to London for the Olympics after living here for the first three months of the year has been such a treat and put me ahead of the game[s]—literally. For this reason, I don’t think I could pick a city I’d rather report from. The tube is simple, the pace of life is quick and the friendliness of Londoners and foreigners sharing the city is endless.

During my time studying at the City of Westminster College, I began to feel like I was coming home after returning from trips across Europe, and it didn’t feel any different as I made my way into London earlier this week.

After my experience here, there was no doubt in my mind that London would display itself in a grand way for this year’s Olympic Games. This was proven to me Saturday evening when a group of BSU at the Games journalists and I watched the fireworks blast off from Olympic stadium in Stratford, signaling the start of this celebration of togetherness, diversity and sport.

After this year’s Games, the world will recognize London as the beautiful, vibrant and relevant city I know it is.

Jack Meyer  |  Features Reporter

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

What happens when reverie becomes reality?

Here’s the deal—I wouldn’t consider myself a world traveler. My mind does drift abroad on a regular basis, but that doesn’t require luggage and travel arrangements.

What I’m getting at is that reverie, my friends, can be a wonderful instigator of travel. It always wins. So, I did what any avid daydreamer would do and signed up for my first trip to Budapest, Hungary.

I’d be lying if I said I had any idea where Budapest was when I signed up. It wasn’t until after the initial meeting I finally decided to Google the place. Call it impulse or whatever you want, but it really didn’t matter where I was going, what mattered was that I was going. It was the thrill of a new adventure—and that feeling took over.

A few months later, I packed my things, boarded a plane and jetsetted across the Atlantic with five strangers. Aside from a few roadblocks (namely, food poisoning and ringworm) the trip was phenomenal and fueled my inner traveler more than daydreaming ever could.

A lot changed for me during the trip. I suddenly felt undereducated. You can only learn so much without experiencing something first hand. All of the sudden I was consumed by the depths of a culture outside my own. I was thrown into a part of the world so different than mine. It was scary, yet inspiring. It was my ignorance of foreign land that ignited something in me: I should always yearn for international perspective, if for nothing else than personal enlightenment.

That’s why when Ryan Sparrow first talked to me about joining the group going to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, I couldn’t say no. (I would be CRAZY to say no!) It didn’t take much to convince me. Actually, 10 minutes after he brought it up, I called my parents. Their response: “You’d be crazy not to go.” I think you know how the rest of the chapter goes.

So now I sit here, awaiting the next chapter of my journey. We have a few more weeks to go until we leave for London, and I can hardly contain my excitement. Not only does this trip mean I get to visit Europe again, it means I get to attend a gathering of the world’s finest athletes. It’s surreal.

My expectations, you ask?

The truth is, I don’t have any plans or expectations. Plans will find me and my expectations will be met.

I am excited to travel with a group of talented and extraordinary students. I am excited to immerse myself in yet another European culture. But most importantly, I am excited to see the world come together for no other reason than a soccer game, a triathlon or badminton match.

The way I see it, there is really only one question to ask: Are we there yet?

Jena Levy | Public Relations

@jenalevy