So, I’ve been slacking on writing things of substance since my time here in London. Most of it has been my every day occurrences and adventures, but I haven’t had enough time to really sit down and digest something of interest. After spending some time in London (18 days or 2.5 weeks), I’ve spent a good amount of time taking in my surroundings.
When I first arrived in London, I was in heaven. This new environment, new culture, new everything had me in awe of this wondrous country and all that it has to offer. Smitten by a brand new lifestyle, I believed that there was little to nothing bad about this country and that it was basically perfect. After sometime, this premature notion was soon brought to light with the realities of this country and the dark side that is very discreetly covered up. Like every country, London and Great Britain (or England or the UK or whatever you want to call it) has its flaws.
In this post, I will be writing the positive and the negative aspects of London and Londoners. Some discretion, this stuff is based off of my opinion and observations of my short time in London. It can change as time goes on or my views can be completely opposite of others.
1. “Fast Food”
Positive – Their fast food isn’t what we think of fast food in America. Most of it is healthy and quick. There are food chains like Pret a Manger and Eat that mostly specialize in “takeaway” (their version of to-go) sandwiches and soups that you can either take home or eat there. The food is usually healthy and affordable (under 5 pounds). Other fast food chains are Euro-ethnic (not sure what this is called b/c in America we call it Asian American or Americanized) like Wasabi or Abokado that are pretty terrible interpretations of ethnic food. But nevertheless it is pretty cheap and somewhat satisfying.
Negative – These fast food chains create a lot of waste in the environment. Brits here aren’t very environmentally conscious (which by the way is soooo frustrating) and most people get takeaway for their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This amounts to loads of trash which are put out on the sidewalk every day. They do not have many trashcans places, and people do not usually get trash cans for their home or business, so they leave their trash in bags on the sidewalk every night. This takeaway fast food option is very convenient and quick, but at the expense of excess waste and contribution to our never-ending landfills that are continuing to be a problem.
2. Public Transportation
Positive – London’s transportation is the creme de la creme, the cream of the crop, the best of the best. Their public transportation comprises of “the tube/underground” which is their subway, “the bus” which is their quintessential double-decker red bus, the “national rail services/overground” which is their trains that are overground. Like I mentioned in a previous post, their public transportation runs so efficiently, frequently, and with appropriate signage and help. You can get basically anywhere in the city with their underground tubes, and it’s pretty affordable!
Negative – With such good transportation, there has to be some faults. Like in the summer, the underground tubes get ridiculously hot. There is no air conditioning in most of their trains, and in the middle of rush hour you are practically dying of heat exhaustion from the stuffiness of the cabins. Also, since most people use the tubes, during rush hour some lines are packed to the brim with people when trains come by so sometimes you have to wait for the 3rd or 4th train to get on. And, with the trains being so vital for the productivity of London, the head of these public transportation companies know that they can get away with getting more money. So this company LOVES to go on strike. Like today, they went on strike for 24 hours, which means CHAOS for the streets. The streets are filled with bumper to bumper traffic and the sidewalks are crawling with pedestrians. Today I saw at least 2 ambulances not able to get anywhere because they were stuck in traffic (the streets here are so narrow so it’s hard for cars to get out of the way). By the way, these tube strikes happen at least TWICE OR THREE TIMES A YEAR. I read the newspaper saying that this has happened 20 times since the mayor or governor or whoever has been in office. That is a ridiculous amount of time and it costs the city of London millions of pounds lost in productivity and a bloody mess on the streets.
3. “Informed” Brits – Free newspaper twice a day
Positive – Every day you can get a two free copies of the Evening Standard, one in the morning and one in the evening. This is a free newspaper that they print out thousands of copies to give to people usually riding the tube. This is a good way to get people informed about what’s going on in the country and to prompt people to read about news. The best part is that it’s free and that they never run out of copies. If you don’t get one in the front of the tube station, there are always one or two copies laying on the chairs of the tube that you can pick up and read.
Negative – Thousands of copies of newspapers twice a day also lead to more pounds of waste that usually aren’t recycled and thrown into landfills. It’s also a frustrating thing to look at because they give out so many of these papers, but there are also so many that aren’t picked up and also thrown into waste. Also, the content of these newspapers are very questionable. It must be hard to find so many stories twice a day every day to get people to read, so most of the content is either useless gossip and smut or elaborated dramatic stories that are very uneventful. Most of it are also repeat stories like the Greece meltdown or the Tunisia attacks. Some people read it thoroughly but I know most take a glance at it for the little while they’re riding on the train and then dump it once they get to their location.
Positive – The people of London: melting pot, metropolitan, International city filled with all kinds of different people from different backgrounds and cultures. It is very hard to categorize them in one description or one phrase so this will be about the country as a whole and their view on the world as observed through their different practices and what I’ve observed in the media. Right now I will speak upon the native Briton population, the ones that are caucasian and what we know as Briton (not the immigrant Britons, for a special post that I will write about the immigrants here in London). For the most part, the Britons that I’ve come into contact with are very nice and polite people. They do not have any rage or attitude, like they do in the States. Even the beggars are polite and kind, which is a complete and stark difference from the homeless in San Francisco, who are normally aggressive, rude and ignorant (some). I love that people here mind their manners and (usually) say please or thank you. The guys are usually chivalrous and dress in GQ suits and actually look nice and clean cut. The women are very conservative (which I was sort of scorn for wearing short shorts and a crop top o their hottest day on record in July ever) and also polite and kind. I enjoy people with manners and class, and I sometimes find myself having to match their standard (which is definitely a good thing).
Negative – Now this section will not be a negative on the British people, rather it will be a commentary of the British medias and idealistic society that those of authority wish to have as a perfect England. First off, the British love their nation. But, their island was too tiny so they tried to conquer the whole world and impose their British rule on every society they came in contact with. That is something that will bother me until the day I die, this colonialistic attitude that the British have over societies that they believe are inferior. While those days of colonizing are over, their superiority pride still lingers over their views of the world and themselves. By this, I mean, the British media only seem to care about Britain or the things that effect their country. Their newspapers only report news that is beneficial to their country – for example they made a big deal out of the London bombings as “the biggest terror attack on British soil” that killed 52 people back in 2005. Another attack in Tunisia a few weeks back killed 38 people in total, but they only decided to give memorial and attention to the 30 that were Britons. While I don’t want to criticize what they believe is important, I do want to add that there are bigger things going on in the world that these media outlets can be writing about, and the terror attack in the US killed 3000 people. They can be talking about the bombing of a Nigerian church by Boko Haram or something, but their media is somewhat prideful and patronizing. They only seem to care about things that affect their country and let me tell you not a lot happens here, but they somehow dramatize it to be a big deal. I will go more in-depth about this issue when I write a blog post about the immigrants in this country, and what people have personally told me about their struggle as an immigrant.
5. The Food
Positive – Since London the melting pot mecca of the world in terms of the difference of cultures (maybe not mecca since I think that’s San Francisco or NY), they have a lot of different ethnic food that I’ve never tried. There are a lot more people from the Middle East and Africa here then there are where I live (since SF is on the West Coast and have more people from Asia) so I’ve been trying their food. There is also a lot of ethnic food from around the world and even their French and Italian chains seem to be better than any European food I’ve tasted (but that’s because in SF I mostly eat Asian food since it’s the best and we don’t tend to have that many European restaurants where I live).
Negative – British food, or Euro-ethnic food is very very very BLAND. I have no idea why nothing tastes that good here but it is rare to find a restaurant that serves good food. Maybe it’s because I’m a snob who comes from one of the best food areas around and I have a developed pallet, or it’s because British food really isn’t at all good. I mean, what British food is known here other than their bangers and mash or fish n chips or shepherd’s pies, and even then it sucks. I mean even the McDonald’s here is gross and I don’t even like McDonald’s but the fries are terrible. Someone told me it’s because of all the oils they drench their food in, which makes a lot of sense. If I eat here, I eat ethnic and by ethnic I mean the really really ethnic food from different countries. But it is safe to say the food sucks!
6. The Water
Positive: The tap water here is actually clean!
Negative: No one here actually seems to use the tap water, and most people buy bottles and bottles of water, which contributes to more waste. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone carry a reusable water bottle, and there are barely any water fountains to fill up water here.
There are a lot more things that I can post about but I’ve already spent 2 hours writing this post so I think this is enough for now[: Remember this is my thoughts and opinions of British that may or may not change over time. This is just now how I feel about it and it is just to give you a look of what is happening in my mind as a part-time Brit! Enjoyy
Btw these pictures are all picture I’ve found from Google, I do not own any of these images.