My top 5 shocks in London after one month
Since the headline is self explanatory, let’s go for it.
1) The English are not cold people.
At least my classmates are not. Many people told me they had no local friends despite living here for years and years. It is true none of them had to sit in class being the only one who doesn’t have English as first language. But I still feel very fortunate to share common ground with so many people from a different culture. A few classmates were also in shock when I told them most foreigners think of them being as cold as the Germans. “That’s exactly why we make fun of the Germans, we are not like them!”, one of them said. They are sometimes rude, disgusting, loud and offensive. Just like us.
2) People take their masters at a very young age
At almost 31, I am the oldest in class. Many people here take their MAs (Master of Arts) right after graduation. In Brazil there are people who do that, but they are surely not the majority. There are 21-year-olds in my class! Boy, do I feel aging. Maybe that is why my great classmates are not cold people. Life hasn’t let them down enough just yet.
3) British is not necessarily English
I have only one friend who has nothing to do with journalism. We met during the Olympics. She is a businesswoman and community organizer. Some time ago I asked if she was English. She said she was British. I asked where she was born. She answered London. Why not English? She said her father is from England, but her mother is from India. That makes her mixed-race. If anyone with the same roots gave such an answer in Brazil we would laugh. But in the UK many people care more deeply about their origins than we do. To us Brazilians that’s the thrill and the threat of being a modern nation.
4) Some services really suck
I bought a laptop here two months ago. It broke down. Took it to the repair shop. They promised to fix it in 10 days. Three weeks after that, after my insistence, they told me they had LOST it. They gave me another one, though. After I paid 50 pounds more. On the first weekend I was supposed to use the internet for free at my accommodation, they changed the entire system and left us without any access. Some things might have worked perfectly in London a few years ago or during the Olympics. So far that wasn’t the case for me.
5) Someone was raped in the building I live
I could almost see Ricky Gervais coming in and shouting “there has been a rape up there” (just like in an episode of the British series The Office). Unfortunately this had nothing to do with comedy. A guy on the 5th floor was taken into custody and released under bail TO COME BACK to the place I live after he allegedly raped a girl in his room a week ago. Police were here for hours after the incident. We don’t know whether the girl lives here or not. I heard many of the victims of this abominable crime usually know their attackers. That sounds different from what happens in Brazil.
Most people would never link these things to London. Not all is great, not all is terrible. It is just what it is. In the end these shocks are there to say people, no matter where they come from, might have some particularities, but they are not that different after all.