Reagan Villet 5/31/16
Having been in London since Friday, I have already had quite a bit of time to explore (but have barely seen anything, as the city is so big!). I have always dreamed of visiting London, not only for the accents(!!!) and the culture, but for the things that I had seen portrayed in the media. Of course, I had to visit the so called “tourist traps“, including Big Ben, the London Eye, and (my future home) Buckingham Palace! It was amazing to see with my very own eyes things that I had only before known from pictures and movies.
We were also able to visit the British Museum, which was probably the most phenomenal museum I have ever been to. I had previously talked about my amazement at the Titanic Belfast museum, but the British Museum is definitely my new favorite. The building is absolutely massive, and the architecture added to the feeling of the exhibits, as each room was styled based off of the style of the time period and location being displayed. I was able to see things I had only heard about before in media, such as Cleopatra’s mummy, an Easter Island statue, pieces of the Parthenon, and the Rosetta Stone.
One thing I noticed while touring these spectacular attractions was the amount of diversity in the other visitors. Every single place we went, there was a plethora of languages being spoken, a wide variety of skin and hair colors, people of many different religions, and almost every culture you could think of was present. While I have traveled to many big cities (including New York City, which I find very comparable to London), I have never been somewhere where I have been so surrounded by people so vastly different from me. In fact, I think that teenage American girls seemed to be a minority here, which is understandable because we are on a completely different continent, but it is still a strange concept for me to be a minority anywhere I go.
Today, we visited the ACCENT headquarters (our study abroad coordinators for London) to hear a lecture by Dan Wheatley, a history teacher and philanthropist. He talked to us about the diversity of London, including the wide variety of people who live and travel here, and how this diversity is growing and changing every single day. I found in very interesting to hear that (based on the last census) there are approximately three hundred different languages spoken in London, and that less than half of the population is defined as “white British” (although there are many problems with this definition), and that non-white British people increasing the most within the London population (up almost 3 million!). In terms of religion, London is also a big melting pot, with the Muslim population growing, Christianity shrinking, and people more highly identifying as non-religious than ever before. Interestingly enough, London beat out the more well-suited Paris to host the 2012 Olympics because of it’s wide range of diverse peoples.
I have loved the short time that I have already spent here, as London is such a mixing pot of different people. I come from a very small town, so meeting people with different backgrounds and cultures is really exciting and interesting for me. I can only hope that the next week and a half only expand these amazing opportunities and I can’t wait to see more of what the beautiful city of London has in store for me!