"Americanism" Abroad Part 1
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Student Life

"Americanism" Abroad Part 1

What it's like to be an American studying abroad in London.

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"Americanism" Abroad Part 1
Imperial College London

"Oh...you're from America," they say.

"I've never been to Boston," they say, "But I've been to New York and California. What's in Boston?"

"American portions are so large," they say.

"Donald Trump is crazy," they say, "you aren't a supporter are you?"


While I am not a supporter of Donald Trump, the association of being American in another country can be felt as strongly as the rest of the world's opposition to Trump. Whether I open my mouth to speak, I feel awkward, foreign. Even though I'm calling London home for the next couple months, I feel like I would if I went to a friends house for the first time and don't know whether I should take my shoes off at the front door or where them to the back-hall and take them off there.


Of course, I have only been here a few weeks. By the end of the December, I hope to know this city like a best friend. But right now I'm still in the awkward phase of getting the basics. And it is these basics that make me feel like an outsider. So, to save all of those who might end up in London at some point, I've complied a list of basic information everyone should know.

Transportation

1. You never talk on the Tube. Especially in the mornings during rush hour since you are squeezed between many other adults all on their way to work. It is an invasion of personal space and everyone would rather just ignore the fact that your butt may or may not be in someone else's face.

2. If you take the escalator instead of the lift (British for elevator), always stand on the right. For those who still want a nice workout, the left is clear so they can walk up and get to their next destination in double time.

3. Some buses are 24 hours. Find those buses.

Basic Info to Avoid Looking Like A Tourist

4. Want to go to a fancy afternoon tea? You might as well tattoo tourist across your forehead. Of course, if you're going to be in London you might as well try it and be a tourist for a couple days.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, wear patterned clothes. Or extremely bright colors. So that neon pink shirt you want to wear because it could be cute to go clubbing in? No. Those zebra print pants you got? Return them. In the three weeks I've been here the brightest article of clothing I have seen others wearing are Nike sneakers.

6. Whenever you cross a street look RIGHT, then LEFT. And then check again for bikers. The amount of times I have almost been hit by a bike is too many.

7. Pants means underwear here. So don't say "I need new pants" or "Ugh I just spilled all over my pants" too loudly or else some creepy guy will look at you and you'll wonder what you did and then you'll hit yourself for sounding gross and American.

8. Most importantly, bathroom is loo.


In the coming months, I am sure there will be more, but so far these are the bare basics. Along with your other big city common knowledge like don't talk to strangers, try not to be by yourself late at night, etc. London is a lot similar to Boston in many ways, but I also have to remind myself that even if I was back in Boston, I would not leave the club with some guy. It's just common sense.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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