By Jake Levine
As we slowly (and unwillingly) begin to accept that our time in London is coming to an end, I have found myself grown quite attached to the culture. I now look to the left to view oncoming traffic, I find myself occasionally responding with “cheers” rather than “thank you,” and my default meal is now fish and chips. My drink of choice? The cheapest pint – usually Guinness or Fosters. Living in London for almost three months now, if there is one thing I have noticed about the British, it is that they drink beer like it’s going out of style. Beer for breakfast (Guinness), beer for lunch (Fosters), beer for dinner (Peroni), and so on. As Ron Burgundy says in the masterpiece Anchorman, “when in Rome…”
Things like the drinking culture, food options, or even the side that they drive on (yes I am plugging my own article “They’re All Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road: An Acorn Goes Abroad Account” – I have no shame) are demonstrative of the eye-opening experience that I have been lucky enough to be a part of. From political systems to colloquial phrases, there are both subtle and substantial differences between various cultures, whether or not they share a language or shared history, such as the U.K. and U.S. It is through these differences, that I think one can come to be more open-minded, but also more appreciative of their own country.
While it is self-evident to state that “England is a separate country with its own customs, attitudes, and history,” it really is not apparent until one spends time there. Online videos, memes and articles seem to articulate shared cultural attitudes and nuances that are present in British society, but are not constitutive of its entirety. Subtle and enormous differences are articulated in various manifestations, but is mainly seen in the attitude of Londoners. There is a sense of “stuck-up” attitude that is emblematic of a British stereotype that holds true.
It is in this regard that differences between the U.S. and U.K. (and I could on about that for a long, banal manner) are also demonstrative of similarities between the two. The manner in which US culture is shared also fails to truly represent the entirety of U.S. society. For example, when talking to 2 guys from Stoke, their impression of Americans boiled down to “guns,” “shitty beer,” and “flags.” One of the guys, who had been to Florida labelled I-Hop as the best thing that America had to offer. I mean, it is open 24/7 and its pancakes are heavenly fluff cushions for your mouth.
But pancakes and stereotypes aside (I miss pancakes so much), I have truly enjoyed living in the U.K. and will miss it. That being said, it has made me appreciative of the U.S., flaws and all. Britain has a lot to offer, from pies, to ales, beers, and mashes, but it is also missing a lot; hot wings, Mexican food, etc. I will miss eating fish and chips – one of the cheapest and tastier options available in most pubs – and I will miss drinking European beers (no ‘Naty Light here folks). More importantly, I will miss the London pigeons. They are so much better than New York pigeons, and I think they are pretty cool. I’ve seen them eating fish and chips out the trash, so they definitely know what’s up. From the Acorn Abroad team, I’m Jake Levine. See you back in the Drewniverse.