Surprisingly, a little more than two weeks into this journey I am still adjusting to the time difference. The shortened London days do not help, apparently London statistically has shorter days than other places around the world during the Fall and Winter months. It becomes quite apparent during the times where I am out in the city and suddenly I look up and see a nighttime sky at 5:00 P.M. However I have still been able to take advantage of all that this city has to offer and do some exploring. It is so cool to see that every different part of London has its own unique style and look. Whenever we exit the tube or a bus station the scenery and aura is completely different. In the same way that traveling from street to street in DC gives you the sense that you are visiting a new place, each pocket of London has its own essence.
Fortunately I have been able to visit some amazing places. This week we visited the Tate Modern Museum, a well known Museum in London. They hosted a traveling exhibit called, “The Soul of a Nation”. This exhibit explored African American art from the early 1900’s onward. I was fascinated that his exhibit only displayed artwork from America. The artwork was amazing, the pieces told the grim stories of a dark time in America’s history. The pieces in the exhibit reflected on the race riots, the Black Panther movement, police brutality and the inequality that African Americans faced.
The art really spoke for itself; it was thought provoking, intriguing and beautifully crafted with precision. Interestingly the groups of people who paid to see this exhibit was very diverse. I have noticed that Londoners do not have the same stigma associated with race that many Americans have. It is almost strange since that is how we are socialized in America.
Although London is quite unique it is surprising to see how strongly the people are influenced by American culture. I have noticed that every store that I’ve been in has played American music, I have yet to hear any music from UK artists. The British are abreast of current events and trends that are happening in America; including politics, TV Shows, Pop-Culture, Hip-Hop Culture, fashion trends, movies and artists of all genres and mediums. These observations have given me insight as to just how influential Western Society is in other parts of the world despite our lack of attention to what is happening in outside our own walls.
With all the similarities that I have noticed since my arrival in London I have also taken mental note of the various differences. One thing that caught my eye was a large sign for a gender neutral bathroom in the Library on Queen Mary’s campus. This has been an ongoing topic in the United States, as to whether or not gender neutral bathrooms should be installed in public places. This really demonstrates the United Kingdom’s awareness of the diversity in their community and the needs of their people. It is quite a progressive outlook that America has not fully succumb to yet. It has been refreshing to find small token reminders of home, but I am also excited to continue stumbling upon the unique aspects of their culture.
Until next time, Pip Pip Cheerio!
P.S. Nobody actually says that here, just a little American humor