“I look like a Tourist:” Adventures in London!

Big Ben!

On one of our free weekends I decided to go visit some family in London. Now as a student who has never been out of the country prior to this study abroad experience, I was extremely fearful of traveling by myself but decided to take a chance. I decided to take the bus to my destination in London, and was surprisingly pleased by the beautiful landscape of England. The sudden change of landscape to busy streets and what seemed like a million people woke me up to the fact that I was not in the quiet city of Leeds anymore. Arriving at the bus station it was my job to make it to the “tube” (train) station by myself. From my first encounter with someone who actually did not speak English, I learned quickly to read signs until I found my way. When I finally found my cousin in the mist of the herds of people, our adventures in London began!

Camera ready, jacket handy, umbrella secured in my backpack, and sunglasses on, we embarked on our journey. ” Make sure you follow close,” my cousin said to me as we entered into the underground tube station. I had no idea how seriously he meant this statement until i was jammed between strangers on the train. The quick movement of people and the fast pace of London reaffirmed my notion that  I was not in Leeds anymore!

Underground Train Station

Both cities differed so much in their cultural dynamics. While Leeds is more of a working class post-industrial town, London had a upper class feel about it. Most of the areas we entered, from the beautiful homes to the expensive cars lining the streets, showed the class differences between the two cities.

I really enjoyed my time in London! The “New York City” of England, as one the London natives  said, I grew to like the fast pace of the city. Soon I grew from a lost tourist to an expert tourist. From our adventures at Buckingham palace to photo shoots around Big Ben, I had a hard time saying goodbye to the fun city!

 

The "Queen"

Cheers,

Lola :)

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England Withdrawals

I MISS ENGLAND! I never expected England to have such an impact on my life! Coming back to the states I assumed I could go back into my normal daily routine, but I was mistaken. England has really taught me how to appreciate other cultures.  Originally I believed the English culture would be very similar to the culture of the United States. I had to step out of my own ethnocentric viewpoint to understand the English culture for what it is. Though everything seemed “backwards” to me at first, such as driving on the opposite side of the street, I grew accustomed to the culture and was able to embrace it.

I will truly miss the environment of England, especially Leeds. The feel of a small post-industrial city moving toward a more urban feel. I will never forget our adventures on the double-decker buses ( missing our stop a few times) and learning our way around town.

I will NEVER forget the infamous delicious fish and chips and my memories in the hospital later.

Bryan's Fish and Chips

I will miss our field trips to sporting complexes such as Manchester United’s football stadium.

Manchester United

Most of all I will miss the wonderful group I got to share this experience with.

Leeds, England Maymester Group 2011

Our professor always encouraged us to “try new things” and from this study abroad experience I can definitely say I have no regrets. From adventures in pubs to the infamous fish and chips fiasco to adventures in London Town, I can say I enjoyed every part of m y trip. I have every intention of visiting England again in the near future.

Cheers!
Lola :)

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Coming Home

Now that I’m over my jet lag and acquainting myself back with the infamous Texas heat I reflect back on my time abroad and think “How in the heck did I cram all that into 4 weeks!”

Fond memories/moments/things I wish could fit in my luggage include:

  • Riding on the top level of double decker buses
  • Primark (the only store that could make me empty my bank account instantly)
  • Hamleys Toy Store (6 floors of awesome!)
  • The food! (meat pies, curry, and lamb oh my)
  • Sweets
  • The beaches of Olhao, Portugal
  • All the friendly people I met
  • Touring stadiums such as Man U and Lords Cricket Grounds
  • OYE! My new way of getting somebody’s attention :)

 

My time spent was one for the books and it was full of adventure and appreciation of other cultures. Thanks to my new best friend RyanAir I also got to experience Dublin and Portugal in addition to some of the prime spots in the UK.

Check out some of my adventures featured in my vlog in the links below (with more videos to come).

Jen in England

Leeds Young Authors

Tea Time!

I must admit I had a slight case of the blues on my way to the airport, then on the plane, and they followed me for a few days after I touched down in Dallas. However, Dorothy had it right “There’s no place like home.”

Cheers!

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Farewell England!

As I dwell in my Texas living room thinking about the last month, I am reminded of my many misconceptions of English culture before I arrived.  I assumed that terms British and English could be intertwined; however, just because you are British that does not make you entirely English. You could also be from Scotland or Wales since those inhabit Great Britain as well.  I also thought that most people in England generally had the same kind of accent. It’s interesting how “mates” who are south of Leeds, such as London, have a whole different dialect.

Tea at the famous Harvey Nichols

Scones, a type of quick bread normally served with tea, can also be pronounced two different ways depending on your location and what type of class you are. Tea is also made a certain way just like scones are said in a certain way. If milk is poured first into a cup of tea before the water, then that means you are upper class. If you pour the water first before the milk you are probably lower class.  I also had no idea that there was a method on how to apply butter, cream and jam to a scone. First you place the butter, jam, then cream (according to Professor Carrington). Who knew there was a particular technique to eating it either? (For the reference do not pick it up like a big mac from McDonalds).

Lola with a scone! With a demonstration on the incorrect way to cut it...

On my way home, surprisingly I did not have any mishaps such as losing bags, running to terminals winded, or missing flights. Although I did fall out of the train when I arrived to Manchester and I slept through my meal on the seven-hour flight back to America.  For the most part, I had an enjoyable trip that challenged my ethnocentric mindset and for now I’m glad to be back in the “slow” paced scene in the good old Lone Star State.

Flying over England

My last set of English words to leave you with:

-Biscuits: in the UK this refers to what Americans call crackers or cookies.

-People in the North normally say “love” at the end of a phrase to show friendly emotion. They might say something like “here ya go love” when handing you your groceries (this example happened to me haha).

-Also everyone says the word “cheers” at all times possible. It means thanks but its used way too often-a bunch of thank you circulate around England through the word “cheers.”

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London and the Beginning to the End

London is an exciting, thriving, and modernized city that continues to be the center location for many tourists in England. With this in mind the Lord’s Cricket Ground is an exceptional way to justify London’s growth and social statuses of its people. First of all, of the cricket grounds in the British Isles used today for first-class cricket, Lord’s ground is the oldest (Arnold and Wynn-Thomas, 1997; p.170). Lord’s Cricket Ground is located in St. John’s Wood in the city of Westminster, London. As discussed in the lecture, St. John’s Wood is an extremely affluent area of Westminster. The Lord’s cricket ground is used by the Marylone Cricket Club and for set piece matches as had traditionally been staged there.

Since Lord’s Cricket Ground holds many strings of history and economic capital, the matches that are played there are usually for county cricket clubs, private schools, or international games such as- Eton v. Harrow, Oxford v. Cambridge, Gentlemen v. Players and North v. South. I was grateful for the trip we took to London. It was a great way to end the program.

However, this cannot be the end but the beginning of something new. The lessons I learned about sports and English society will forever be a part of my life. This experience did allow me to understand the UT motto  “what starts here changes the world” because if I didn’t study abroad, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to see or immerse myself in another’s culture.

Thank you to all who have taken the time to read my blogs. I really appreciate it.

Old Trafford, Manchester United

Arnold, P. and Wynee-Thomas, P. (1997) The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Cricket. London, Hodder & Stoughton.

 

 

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Manchester, Leeds and London

Last week I visited Manchester, which is located southwest of Leeds, to see some very important areas of sport such as the National Cycling Center and the English Institute of Sport, which are both used for the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

Velodrome, The National Cycling Center

In comparison to Leeds’ rugby league and cricket popularity, football seemed to be more heavily influenced as the dominant sport in the area.  I also went on a tour to Old Trafford, the home stadium to the popular worldwide known team Manchester United.

Old Trafford, Manchester United

When we went on our tour to Old Trafford, it was evident that football would bring in huge amounts of money to Manchester United, yet the area surrounding the stadium seemed very urban and working class.  According to Griffiths, “it is deeply odd that a city with serious problems of unemployment and social disadvantage, and facing a continuing deterioration of its core public services, should be embarking on the expense, razzmatazz, and sheer civic effort of bidding for the most prestigious sporting event [the Olympics] of the decade” (Griffiths 1993: 3).

Highly specialized elite athletic training facilities, such as the National Cycling Center and the English Institute of Sport, are located within Manchester yet industrialization and unemployment seems to exist in the area as well.  Manchester and Leeds seem to share “a history of association with the culture and history of the working-class north: what was identified as northerness” (Spracklen 2009: 156).  To surpass this notion of industrialism, Manchester has used the Olympic and Commonwealth games as a strategy for urban regeneration leaving parts of Manchester with major improvements that include “redefining the city’s image and raising its profile on the international stage” (Griffiths 1993: 3).   Leeds has tried to rebuild its city as well post-World War II with its use of shopping, which can bring in service sector jobs and money as well as renewing the city as an attraction to visitors (Douglas 2009: 43).

This past Friday, we also visited London, which is an extremely different and altered society in comparison to Leeds and Manchester; however, the cities seem to favor on post-industrialism, which is heavily reliant on this consumer service economy. I noticed the fast paced streets surrounding London were covered with nice cars, shopping areas, as well as historical architecture in the middle of an urban society.

Cranes over London as well as Leeds. Shows post-industrialism

Big Ben

Lord’s is associated on the elite part of town involving businesses and government offices in addition to some urban upscale apartments.  This says something about its identity in English society.  On the other hand, Leeds seems to have a very different environment that is slower paced with a strong sense of the working and middle class attitude.

Back to back housing as well as rugby league are popular in the areas surrounding Headingley Stadium, instilling ideas about lower class within Leeds.  The sport of cricket played by the two cities, is reflected upon the classes within them.  According to Polley “different social groups use their sporting and leisure practices as a forum for public display of their status and identity” (Polley 1998: 127).  Throughout the tour of Lord’s, it was made clear that this was a realm for the upper class elites carrying a context of history throughout.  Lord’s cricket ground, considered “the home of cricket,” (MCC Webpage 2011) stresses the importance of a game to be played “not only according to written laws but in harmony with an unwritten code of chivalry and good temper” (MCC 1976: 1).

Lord's Cricket Ground, opened in 1814

According to McDonald and Ugra, growth of organized cricket clubs within black and Asian communities has been seen in communities such as Leeds; moreover, creating a “sense of alienation and exclusion from the official cricket establishment” (McDonald and Ugra 1998: 2).   This can create questions about English identity that “has developed historically in the culture of cricket” and how Black and Asian communities are placed within this society (McDonald and Ugra 1998: 2).

During the Tour of Lord’s, it was interesting how Rodney (our tour guide) failed to mention any remarkable black cricket players within the Lord’s cricket ground or the MCC. According to Cricket and National Identity in the Postcolonial Age, “cricket is still struggling to reach beyond its confines… still the game is mainly Anglo-Saxon” (Wagg 2005: 20).  Some Black people were presented on the walls inside during the first half of the tour, implying that they are represented within this space just not mentioned during our tour of Lord’s.  The tour focused a majority of it time in the Long Room, the historic room at Lord’s cricket ground, expressing more of the history of cricket within it’s past and not so much of its present history.

Now I will end with some English vocabulary:

Same cup of tea- same thing

Expression-“I had a good paper round”: think of children who are paper boys when they were younger. If they had a good route then they didn’t have a difficult time with their job. Therefore, they look young and stay young when they become older. So someone who might be 38 but looks younger could say, “I had a good paper round” meaning that they think they still look young and younger than what they really are.

Give us a butchers: this is an cockney expression used mainly by people who live in South England (London). Think of Butchers-then meat-then hooks-looks. Give us a look….give us a butchers.

Apples and Pears:
“Don’t fall down the apples and pears.” Another cockney expression. Meaning stairs..pears-stairs. Apples and pears.

Take away:  to go box.

 

 

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Rugby & American Football

Leeds Rhinos v. Hull Kingston Rovers

Last week I experienced a rugby game (Leeds Rhinos v. Hull Kingston Rovers) for the first time in my life and instantly fell in love with the sport. I found the history of rugby to be very intriguing. According to the Encyclopedia of Rugby Union, William Webb Ellis, “with fine disregard for the rules of football (American soccer) as played in his time at rugby school,” first took the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the rugby game in 1823. With this in mind, many people believe this is how the game of rugby started, but no one actually knows if the traditional story of how rugby began is true. It does make sense if you think about it, but I still continue to wonder like many others.Rugby ball

Considering that rugby is so much like American football, I began to wonder when the National Football League (NFL) was formed. American football has a historical link with rugby, and at first glance, it  looks vaguely like it. American football is played with a precision and skill not often seen, for instance, on a rugby field.

According to Viney and Grant, authors of “An Illustrated History of Ball Games,” the NFL was founded in 1920 and formed in 1922. Like rugby, it had two codes before 1970. And in 1895, rugby had split into two codes over the issue of payment and continued to maintain throughout most of the twentieth century that players should not make a profit from their play, according to Martha Polley, author of “Moving the Goalposts: A History of Sport and Society.”

Similarly, the NFL two codes consisted of the National Football League and the American Football League. In the 1960s, rising costs and competition from the increasingly popular pro American game caused problems, which led to the 1970 merger, according to Viney and Grant. The two codes merged to make the National Football League separate into two conferences: the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC), with eight divisions, as we know it today. This blew my mind and I thought maybe I should be a history major. This was something I never thought about before I came to England, but “what starts here changes the world,” right?

Western Terrance Fan SectionNevertheless, it was GREAT to discover this correlation and be able to compare it to the game of rugby. In fact, since the nineteenth century rugby has thrived and spread so that the game is now played in at least 100 countries worldwide. And new competitions and developments continue to take place. In the past 170 or so years, rugby has changed from the pastime of a few English schoolboys to a sophisticated internal sport played and followed by millions, according to Sommerville.

 

 

 

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Cricket!

Headingley Carnegie Cricket Field

Until the beginning of the 18th century, cricket was played, for the most part, only by boys and by the lower classes (1). Cricket is still a male-dominated sport played across the world today. As a matter of fact, Professor Carrington taught some of my classmates and I the basics of cricket before attending the first cricket league game last weekend.

Playing Cricket w/ Professor Carrington

Bowling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition, cricket can be closely related to American baseball in several ways because of the terminology used to describe the game. Cricket has two batsmen, ten outfielders, one bowler (someone similar to a pitcher), and a wicker (i.e. the catcher behind the plate in baseball).

 

 

 

 

WOW! What an experience! Hopefully those words explained my excitement about this “new” sport, especially when playing earlier with my classmates.  Also, it was interesting to see that baseball may have originated from the game of cricket. Cricket began in the early part of the 18th century, as I stated earlier, while baseball came from the English game called “rounders,” which ties it strongly back to cricket (2).

Even though I’m not the biggest baseball fan and just experienced cricket, I still enjoyed myself. As for the crowd behavior during the game, it was a bit challenging and obnoxious. Men cheered on women as they walked up and down the stands, which would have caused a disturbance here in America. Let’s just say that even though we speak the same English language that does not mean our cultures and norms are similar. Nevertheless, it was a great experience and I loved every minute of it. Look out for my next blog about rugby that should be fun. I am so pumped!

 

(1) Ford, John. Cricket: A Social History. Great Britain: David & Charles Limited,

1972. Print.

(2) http://homepages.rpi.edu/~fiscap/history_files/history1.htm

 

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Cricket, Rugby, and People Watching

During my explorations throughout Leeds I discovered people watching can be the best past time. We attended a twenty-20* cricket match between Yorkshire and Warwickshire and a rugby league match between Leeds Rhinos and Hull Kingston Rovers, where people watching was the best part of the assignment. Before I get into my interpretations of the English culture I must first point out the queen of people watching, if you will, Kate Fox.  Fox is an exceptional poet, comedian, and writer whose book “Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior” does exactly what the title infers and critiques the isms and quirks that make up the English society. In her chapter titled “Rules of Play,” Fox elaborates on the dos and don’ts of sporting events.

DOs:

  • Buy rounds of beer for your mates
  • Cheer for the underdog granted they have earned recognition
  • Focus on the details of the game

DONT’s:

  • Engage in any emotions besides surprise, anger, and triumph (males)
  • Try to strike up casual conversation (all conversing must be strictly about the game itself)
  • While playing a sport, conduct in anything seen as ‘unfair play’ (this is highly frowned upon)

By going to these cricket and rugby matches and actually submerging myself into this culture it becomes quite amusing how dead-on Fox’s observations were.  At the t20 game we sat in the Western Terrace, aka the rowdy section. Most of the students who needed something to do before hitting up the local pubs sat in the top section, but even they abide by the “rules” of being a spectator. The rugby game was a completely different atmosphere. The rules were still in play but the game itself has way more action, causing the crowd to react and interact more with the game.

I am having fun people watching in everyday life scenes as well. For instance, dogs are a big deal here. The breeds of dogs all represent a different class of person. For instance the upper classes will have Labs and King Charles Spaniels, while the lower classes are more likely to have rottweilers and cocker spaniels. From what I have noticed, this observation is granted. The English are known for being reserved gritted-teeth types, and by having a dog they can somehow live vicariously through their dog.

I added a few pics of my cricket experience. Cameras are sort of not welcome at rugby matches so you will just have to believe me when I say it was extremely wet, rainy, and cold – but still awesome!

The Cricket field was beautiful and really green. This picture is significant because it is one of the few sunny days

 

The food! I had a hog baguette and it changed my life for the better.

The life changing moment

Many students came dressed in costume "fancy dress" This guy was a whoopie cushion

What to do with all the beer cups now?!

*twenty-20:  (t20 cricket) was initiated in England and Wales in 2003 as an attempt to bring more attention and fan base to the sport. It is a condensed version of traditional cricket consisting of each team pitching 20 overs.

 

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Stepping into the Adventure of a Lifetime

Leeds Town Hall

“What starts here changes the world.” These are powerful words bestowed upon me as I set foot into an adventure of a lifetime – beginning  at the University of Texas at Austin.

As I was sitting in the plane in Dallas ready to fly to Philadelphia, the pilot announced we would be delayed for  a few hours. While waiting for the flight to take off, I began to think of the quote above. Never before have I had a flight be delayed, but luckily we were only delayed for 30 minutes. Due to the delay, I missed my next flight. That was the first of many new experiences I encountered on this journey!

During the flight, I realized I would be traveling for the next 11 hours by myself. What an adventure! The feeling of cultural loneliness and misunderstanding was something I feared, but it was now in my path and I had to deal with it head on. Nevertheless, I made it to Leeds that evening, but without any clothes, since my luggage did not get the memo that I had changed airlines. Not as successful as I had planned, but things happen.

The next day I listened to the local professor, Max Farrar, speak about the historical and cultural background of Leeds. Even after the lecture and reading Professor Carrington’s essay titled “Leeds and the Topographies of Race: In Six Scenes,” I was amazed by how much history could be told about Leeds and began to wonder how I cold find answers to the questions I always had about this place before arriving here. According to most social scientists, this is called debunking, something I was able to take from the lecture this past week.

Thirdly, I was able to go to a pub here and immerse myself in the English futbol culture, which in America we call soccer. In the pub, the English were so excited about the Barcelona vs. Manchester United futbol game. The English spoke with different accents, and I was fascinated by the conversations I had with them during my first few hours in Leeds.  I know that in America we most likely would not have had the same type of attendance or excitement as they did for a game of soccer.

Since the futbol game happened before meeting with Professor Farrar, I did not understand why the majority of people at the pub were not into mingling or getting to know the people around them. Well come to find out, after reading Kate Fox’s article “Rules of Play,” the English like to socialize in small groups and stay to themselves, which helped me understand why we didn’t get to talk to many people. I understand that was an enthocentric way of thinking since I perceived other cultures to be just like the American culture, yet that is not always the case.

Leeds Metropolitan University

 

Thus, as my experience continues and I further enlighten you about the English sports and culture, please understand that my views are different from others. This has been a challenging week, but I am proud to say I am here and sharing this wonderful experience with you. Stay tuned for more of this great experience.

 

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