I like to think I’ve done a pretty good amount of research on British culture before coming to London. I mean, I knew to look left before crossing the street, and I knew to compliment people on their “trousers” instead of their “pants” and all the important stuff. But despite my homework, I’ve assembled a collection of discoveries that still took me by surprise over the past few weeks. Here’s a small sample.
- London is a huge melting pot. Walking down the street or riding the tube on an average day, I catch more “foreign” accents than I do British accents. While the rural parts of England may have a denser British population, that is definitely not the case in London. The same could be said about the cuisine! You’d have scour the US to find a Pakistani, Turkish, or African restaurant. Here? Just walk around the corner!
- Telephone booths have a seedy underbelly. They’re iconic symbols of London and perfect for photo ops. But if you want to step inside one of these booths, just be prepared to see a wallpaper of … umm… buxom escort advertisements.
- The smoking ban – pros and cons. Every single establishment in London is 100% non-smoking. Every theatre, restaurant, hotel; basically if it has four walls and a door, cigarettes are out. But what that also means is that all the smokers are moved out onto the streets. And that’s a lot. I mean if London’s smoggy, it’s not from factory smokestacks anymore, so asthmatics, come prepared.
- Shandies are tasty. Never having been a drinker, I only realized how much I liked this drink when a bartender got cranky at me for not ordering something while I was sitting 40 minutes in pub waiting on my friends, and I picked a drink at random. Fortune smiled on me that night.
- Chips aren’t just finger food. We Americans aren’t all that creative when it comes to eating fries. I mean, we’ll dip them in ketchup or the condiment of our choice, and sometimes we’ll pour said condiment onto a pile of fries if we’re feeling wild and don’t mind the odd looks we get from the person sitting next to us. But the creative Londoners here take it a step further and often enjoy ketchup-glazed chips with a fork. I can’t say I’ve ever thought of fries and forks ever meeting, but then again I’ve never thought of putting tuna and sweetcorn in a potato either.
- Americans aren’t the only ones who love fried food.I mean, we get creative with fried foods, like deep fried pizza and Oreos and cheeseburgers, but what the fried food here lacks in variety, it makes up for in just being everywhere. My first English breakfast included a fried egg, fried potatoes, and even fried bread. And where Americans usually just have fries with burgers or wings or other bar foods, chips never seem to be out of place in any meal (same for baked beans actually, come to think of it…).
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Chase Wheaton-Werle. I'm a musical theatre major from the University of Tulsa. Outside of my major, I enjoy creative writing and poetry. In the fall of 2013 I'm attending Mountview Academy for the Theatre Arts. This will be my first experience out of the country, and as someone with a passion for theatre and British culture, I couldn't ask for a better destination. I hope this blog can provide not only some insight to the intensive curriculum of an actor in the theatre center of the world, but also some good chuckles.</span></p>