Coming from the city of Detroit, where it’s most known for the highest crime rate or it’s history in Motown Music and the Automotive Industry, traveling outside the country was a big deal for me. I grew up in the inner city, surrounded by people of the same skin color, same background and some of the same struggles. Once I got the opportunity to travel and explore the world, I went for it. Studying abroad in the United Kingdom and Ireland has shown me the world in a different light. It has encouraged me to experience new things, learn and grow. When I first got here I experienced a little taste of culture shock. Culture shock is defined as a feeling of disoriented experience by someone when they are subjected to an unfamiliar culture or way of life. When I first got to London, United Kingdom I had to put my brave, thick skin on. Compared to Detroit, London was fast-paced, and filled with people on the street. It reminded me of bigger cities in the States such as New York City and Chicago. Like London, Chicago and New York Streets are filled with people walking to work and site seeing. Compared to the cities back home, London’s people are less careless, meaning, if you are in their way, they will move you out without even giving you eye contact. When crossing streets in Europe, the car has the right of way where in the US the pedestrian has it. Plenty of times, I found myself almost causing an accident.
A huge culture shock that I found to be interesting was the quality of the food and the taste of the food here. In America, the food portions are much bigger and fatter. American eating is seen as unhealthy and here in the UK the food portions are smaller, healthier and there is a sugar tax as well implemented on Coke products. United Kingdom food is not processed unlike American food that is processed, containing GMO’s and pesticides. Coke products as well as Sprite contains little to no sugar in hopes to put a cure and end to obesity. The sugar tax was designed to stir people away from drinks that were high in sugars. From speaking with a worker at McDonald’s the county is also looking to add the sugar tax on cakes and dessert. The UK has less fast-food restaurants and instead more whole-food places, natural life eateries and plenty of bars.
The quality of taste in the food here seems to have less sodium and taste more natural. I appreciate the value. Back home in Detroit, the city is trying to incorporate more sustainable foods. In Downtown Detroit, you can find a nice range of foods unprocessed and vegetarian like. New sustainable restaurants mirrored to London’s such as Shack Shake and whole-food markets can be found in the city.
Even more interesting than the food, I found it really. surprising that Irish people like many Americans fought for some of the same rights, including equal pay, women’s right to vote and birth control and even same sex marriage. To learn that we, being two opposite countries faced similars struggles made me feel more connected to Dublin, Ireland. I was able to read and learn about all the pioneers who fought, gave light and even lost their lives for some of the basic human rights. In America, women face the challenge of fighting for equal pay and equal rights. After visiting the EPIC Immigration Museum, I learned how Irish women face sexual violence, discrimination, didn’t even have the right to divorce, jobs after marriage, contraceptives, or voting. Still today all across America, women are facing judgement and dealing with mistreatment.
The night life in the United Kingdom is like no other. From London to Cardiff to Dublin, you can find a strip full of bars. This reminded me more of home than anything. Like most young girls in college, “we like partyyy”! Cardiff and Dublin is filled with the night life and strips of bars. There are people walking the streets, just enjoying life. This reminded me most of Royal Oak, Michigan and again, Downtown Detroit. There you can get out your car on one end of the street and by time you end the strip, you have been filled with a good ole time. Downtown Royal Oak offers plenty of fun things to do like bars and clubs, bowling, movies, endless foods and like Dublin you can find bars with live music.
Last but not least, the scenery in the United Kingdom is amazing. I appreciate their respect for history and well-kept grounds and natural resources for wild-life. Back at home, you can’t find much of this.
Detroit has never been much of a site-seeing city. I wish that we had more parks, waterfalls and creative things to look like. Belle Aisle park is one of Detroit’s biggest park off the Detroit River. When I went to visit Stephan’s Garden in Dublin, I was reminded of my park back home. The tall green trees, the endless amount of grass and all the people laying out. Key differences between the two would be that Belle Aisle is tailored more towards the black culture, barbecues, car shows and picnics. St. Stephan’s Garden was filled with ducks, flowers, scenery, waterfalls and more quiet and peaceful. Things I wish I could experience more back at home.
Overall, after getting a taste of the United Kingdom and Ireland, I have adjusted to the culture and the different ways that they do things here. I appreciate the people, food and places that I am learning about. I feel myself growing and experiencing things I never imagined of doing. Once I return home, I am sure that I will hold some of the cultured elements of this trip close to me. Eating better, seeing more and learning more is the ultimate goal of this trip and so far, so good.
I love the United Kingdom and Ireland!