by Malaika Allen
I’m back home now, but this study abroad was my first real experience outside of the country. I’ve been to Canada a couple times, but that’s so much like the United States I don’t even have to switch my currency over.
Over the past five weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to experience multiple cultures, cuisines, and learned a lot of history. Each of the cities we visited had a rich history that spanned over thousands of years. There were government buildings, castles, natural wonders, and so many more wonderful adventures.
I never knew exactly what to expect when traveling to the United Kingdom and Ireland. I expected there to be a bit of a language barrier, which there was. A lot of the accents I ran into, especially in Ireland were very thick and they pronounced some words differently. I also learned that in Ireland, instead of using jail they use the word gaol, which means the same thing.
Overall the United Kingdom was not much different from the United States. You could tell that they have been around a lot longer and actually care about their citizens and the overall well being of their country. They have had a lot longer to make their mistakes and learn from them than the United States has though. I don’t think anyone would have imagined how many executions would become apart of tours later in history. Notoriously those who spoke for the people and stood up for what was right, were killed in public spectacles. The United States has a someone similar history with slavery and the blatant disrespect of minorities over the last few hundred years. The biggest difference is that it is not acknowledge here as a piece of history and how this country was built. So, I guess they have had a lot longer to see their mistakes and eventually learned to build from them.
The public transportation here in the United States needs to take a lot of notes from United Kingdom’s. There are a ton of trains and busses going throughout the city at all times. You would have never thought their system would be so helpful when they have such a large number of public transportation. It truly is the best way to get around town without breaking the bank with cars or having to walk everywhere. One thing I greatly appreciated was that they would notify customers in all stations of any issues, delays, and alternative routes if they were necessary. Here the train or bus just might not come and it makes people less able to rely on public transportation. It makes it a lot harder for the people here to do the things they want to do when they can’t get anywhere reliably. Another big difference is that the trains go outside of the city where things are a bit more spaced out. Once you get out of Detroit there is barely any buses that people can get around on, so people have a higher need for cars. You can see how this large use of trains and buses could help with the pollution in the area, since most people have no need for cars, which is a lot of ecofriendly than the model we have here.
The food also had some differences that were fairly noticeable. For one, the food was much fresher than what I typically have in the United States. I went to McDonald’s a couple times and the burgers tasted much better than what I am used to. The portions were also larger than what I can get back home, which in most places meant your money went a lot further. When you went to expensive restaurants it was just like going to one here like, the food tasted okay but was hardly seasoned, smaller portion sizes, and the dishes were unreasonably priced (I made visiting those kinds of restaurants a rarity). Also, in London especially, the bread was sweet. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but I loved it!
The schooling and opportunities there in the past have been beneficial to those seeking higher educations, because the costs are either free or less than half of the cost attending a single year at Michigan State. With Brexit there is no telling how the education system is going to change, since the United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union. There are a lot of things that still have to be figured out. For one, it will probably much harder to travel into and out of the rest of Europe for the UK. I did notice that many businesses had help wanted signs in windows and I learned that its because the workers have gone back home. With the United Kingdom no longer in the European Union they no longer have the same resources and have no idea what is going to happen in the coming months and years. There are a lot of decisions to be made, but it is clear that the people want out of the Union. Outside of large businesses and travelers, there is little advantage that the people gain from staying apart of the EU, so they are trying something different. They are in a somewhat similar spot America was in when Trump was elected as president (not saying he was at all qualified or has done a good job at all), but they want a change. Since the old way has not worked they are going to go the drastic route and do something out of the ordinary to see if that can change things for the better.
This trip has been eye opening in a lot of ways. Our visit to the BBC in Glasglow has me thinking about different apprenticeships and internship opportunities I could look for here in the states. I got the chance to travel, get my passport stamped twice in the course of five weeks, and learn along the way. I made fourteen new friends and even learned some things about myself along the way. I can also say that I walked an average of about five and a half miles a day for five weeks. This was a great experience and I think everyone should take the time to study abroad.
I can’t wait to see where I’ll head to next!