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My thoughts about the UK before studying in London

Before arriving in London I wrote about any opinions that came to my mind about the UK before my class focused on learning about its cultural history and context:

There are multiple elements that can contribute to an English person’s cultural identity. British culture and what it means to be British/English seems to be everchanging as time moves forward. It’s hard to be able to say what makes up an English person’s cultural identity when so many cultures are intermingled within places like London. There seems to be a divide of patriotism within the U.K. considering the idea of Britishness covers such a broad spectrum of people. The English question: What is the nation’s identity? allowed people in England to question and have split and mixed views on their identities. Some strongly identify as British, and some strongly identify as English. There are many reasons why they feel this way, many suggesting that the British identity is being strangled by rising English nationalism. After reading a lot about London’s cultural makeup it’s come to me that one of the main reasons for this divide is associated with ethnicity.

The Empire has impacted so many different cultures negatively of people who would now consider themselves to be British, it’s hard for them to see themselves in a positive light within British history. Personally, being an African American I can relate in the same way to American History. In countries that have troubled pasts, especially slavery/colonization, I think it is very necessary to allow those minorities and those who were under the rule to be accepted back and represented. The video followed some artists who have goals of building an idea of Britishness that is more reflective and inclusive of what Britain is now and what it strives to be in the future. This I think is a great start to acknowledging, ugly, yet important history. In my British Life and Visual Media class, I learned that many English people didn’t know their country’s significant literature writers or which countries were under British rule. As an American, this aspect of British education and instilling ‘British values’ feels similar to American culture and our education systems. 

Knowing very little information about British culture when first arriving in London, I’m definitely more interested in observing and learning about its ins and outs. To me, British culture in a nutshell is about the food, drinking culture, and obsession with soccer. After visiting Parliament, a couple of days ago I learned about the House of Lords and House of Commons. UK’s government operates in a much different way than the United States. One of the biggest things I noticed is that UK citizens are entitled to free public health care, which in America sounds like a dream. This comparison already created an opinion in my head that the UK government has their citizens’ well-being in mind, more than the US government does. Still not knowing all of what’s happened in the UK government, in the US, the government has a reputation for exploiting its citizens. That being said I hope to learn more about the Parliament and UK citizens’ opinions of how they operate. 

A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:

The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.

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