Courtney Manning is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Convergence Journalism major at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she is studying abroad in London this semester.
In this week's post, Courtney talks about the diversity in the global city of London and the good and bad that comes with it.
London is an extremely diverse city. I visited here very briefly almost three years ago, but I never really understood how many different cultures are in this city until I lived here for two months. When I was a kid and I used to think of (well, dream about) London, I always thought of the things I knew that were popular in American culture - Harry Potter, the royal family, The Beatles, etc. What I didn’t realize is that London is made up of so much more than that - so much more than red telephone booths and Big Ben and fish and chips. Sure, those are very important to London’s history and culture, but it’s really all the diverse people coming together in one beautiful place that make London so incredibly special.
One of my professors, Richard, joked with us that all Americans think that all British people “talk like the Queen.” No one really understood what he meant at first, because we definitely thought that all British people sounded pretty much the same (I still kind of do because I haven’t really learned about different accents). We also learned about how the Queen has changed her accent over time in order to sound less uppity and posh and to be able to connect with the common people more since the royal family used to be very unpopular. Apparently most British people don’t really like the royal family nowadays either, which was shocking to all of us Americans because most people in the States love the royals.
London is what some would call a “global city.” To me, this means that it is a well-known and very crowded/busy place that is important to the rest of the world. I’d consider other places such as New York, Tokyo and Paris global cities as well. Living in a global city has taught me a lot about myself. It has made me much more independent and, in a way, motivated to succeed. So many successful people surround me that it makes me want to be like them.
It has also made me a lot more tolerant of other people who are very different from myself. There are a lot of homeless people here, and I’ve been trying to be very compassionate towards them. I’ve definitely seen my fair share of racist incidents while here, which is very unfortunate. The thing that’s different here is that most of the racism seems to be towards Arab people, while in America (at least from what I’ve seen) it seems to be mostly against black people.
The most upsetting incident I think I’ve seen here was at the beginning of my trip when my friends and I were buying things for our apartment at a store called Argos when a black woman started screaming at all the workers there (all of whom were Muslim women) about how there were no black people working there and how there needed to be more diversity in the workplace. I’ve never seen someone get so heated about something before, and it was actually really scary.
London is definitely a very unique place, and I’m learning to take it all in my stride. It’s a beautiful city with many beautiful people in it, and I feel extremely blessed to be here.
Courtney's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.