Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Perceptions of the United Kingdom vs. Reality

Before coming to Harlaxton, there were a lot of things that I thought I knew about the UK. After living here for over 3 months, I’ve learned which of these perceptions were true and which were false.

1. It does NOT rain all of the time.

Although the weather has been dreary recently, it does not rain most days. Sure, it has been cloudy for at least half of the semester, but it is only occasionally accompanied with rain. I had heard that it rains or at least mists in England most days. I’m glad that was a misconception.

2. Potatoes ARE an essential part of every meal.

From chips to hash browns, almost every plate I get from the refectory has included potatoes in some form. I’d been warned about this ahead of time, so it didn’t surprise me that I’d had potatoes for dinner most nights the first week at Harlaxton.

3. Mexican food DOES exist in United Kingdom.

The UK and Ireland do offer Mexican food. The food may not be as authentic as local restaurants in the US, but at least they try. Before arriving in England, I thought Mexican food was the type of ethnic food that I would miss most. Fortunately, I can say that I’ve had a burrito in England. Also, if you were wondering, there are a few Taco Bells in England, but none close to Grantham.

4. England IS diverse.

I thought it would be uncommon to hear American accents on the streets in the UK, but I was mistaken. In London, language and accents vary. Although the city is large, it’s not too difficult to feel at home amongst the multicultural crowd.

5. The United Kingdom is made up of distinct groups of people.

Before British Studies, I didn’t fully understand the connections between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom is not as happily joined as I had thought. Some residents argue for breaking away from the European Union to enhance their national identity. Even Scotland may one day break apart the United Kingdom. Unlike the United States, the United Kingdom isn’t committed to staying together.

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