Day 6, aka Monday, was the first day of real life for Hillary in London. At CAPA International, students are given the option to complete study-to-work internships for semesters at a time. I chose to go for it, and was assigned to Venture Business Research. The company is an innovative one, founded to provide industry statistics to members of the Clean Energy and Global Security industries.
My task for Monday morning: interview at VBR and convince them I’m awesome. My game plan: wear my classy suit, check my sassy attitude, and be cool.
So I woke up Monday morning, got my suit on, got on the tube, and started doing some reading about the company. There was a hot Englishman next to me, reading a Bible, and a professor-looking chap across the way, grading papers of some sort. Everything was swell and splendid on the journey until, to my shock and dismay, someone farted. Someone farted on the tube. I could have organized a revolt right then and there. COME ON! There are hundreds of people packed into this ridiculously small space, trying to wake up calmly and slowly as they make their ways to work, and you FART?! Dear American comrades, if you are ever to travel to London, please do us all a favor and pass your gas on the platforms.
After I got away from the Tube Farter, the day took an upswing. My “interview” was more of a conversation about what I’d be doing and the hours I had available and, as a bonus, the man who did the “interviewing” was quite a dashing lad. I probably shouldn’t write this on a national news site, should I? But I’ve already told you about my first legal drinking experience and the snot I had all over my face after the Run of Doom, so why stop there? He was hot.
Side note: people do not wear undershirts over here. In America, I know some of my friends would rather go out with old T-shirts with writing on them under their dress shirts than to go without. Here, not one man I’ve seen thus far has worn one.
I got back to the Kensington area in time to eat my peanut butter and jam sandwich and slide into my afternoon class. Though both my CAPA classes are three hours and twenty minutes long, we spent the afternoon of “Britain in the Twentieth Century” talking about the weakling girls who demanded morphine for their period pains in 1900 and the fact that Americans refuse to admit they are anything but middle class. In the UK, it’s an honor to be a member of the working class. In the US, I’m willing to bet the hobos living in the New York underground stations would call themselves middle class. As would Bill Gates. Stellar life decisions, America!
I came home to find Sandra had made my vegetarian self a delectable pile of cheese and vegetables. She thinks I eat like a fly (which, judging by the size of my butt, is completely untrue), so I sat down to the biggest plate of food I think I’ve ever seen and I ate every single bite of it. I don’t know what was there. Zucchini? Eggplant? Maybe some tomatoes? Cheese? English concoction? I have no idea but it was wonderful. To top off the dining experience, Sandra had heard me make mention of my preference for frozen yogurt. It’s actually not so much a preference as an obsession. I am in a relationship with frozen yogurt. Guess what Sandra had gone out and gotten me!
Homestays are actually quite rare for the Americans coming here to study for semesters at a time, you know. Six of over 200 CAPA students opted for homestays this semester, while the rest are assigned to student housing flats throughout the city. Though I can see the upside of living in a flat here, being with other kids who can make sure you find your way home every night and meeting new people in our program, I honestly think they are all missing out. I think the six of us are the luckiest kids in the world. Sandra has quickly become very much my London mommy and I’d be absolutely lost without her.
I spent the evening at the kitchen table with Sandra, drinking tea and talking about this and that. I will say here that Monday morning I woke to a reply note from her regarding my escapades Sunday night (Run of Doom and such) and my losing her flat keys. She insisted I not worry about a thing and was only relieved Barry had been there to save me. She said the same thing again when we talked that night over tea, and I have never felt more at-home. I’d lost her keys, and she sat there comforting me and telling me how awful she felt for my having lost them and been locked out.
We talked also of American politics. The people of this country are perpetually amazing me with their knowledge of our political world in the US. While I barely know of the Prime Minister and the coalition government situation here, they know exactly what is going on across the Atlantic and even have their own opinions to express over it.
I feel like English people are generally just smarter and better-informed than Americans. Take, for example, their tube habits. There are two free newspaper publications in London, the Metro in the mornings and the London Evening Standard every evening, that Londoners grab and take with them for their tube rides to work and home. In the pages of these publications is local, national, and global news, sports, comics, and crosswords. In just the time it takes them to get to and from work, they have updated themselves on current events around the world and can then go on to have intelligent conversations. As silly as it sounds, I can already spot Americans in London based on what they’re discussing. Remember, accents will not always tell you where someone lives. Americans who have relocated to London can absolutely be called Londoners if they talk the talk, even without the accent. Two Londoners are the ones moaning about the rain and talking about the Euro Crisis. Two Americans are the ones whining about how cold it is and discussing their weekend plans.
I’m not calling people who discuss weekend plans uncivilized in any way, but I am pointing out that we, as Americans, myself included, could probably shift gears a bit in our routines. Maybe we could find a better balance between the guy you met on Friday and the German courts’ decision this week? My mom, who is an incredibly wonderful and smart woman, told me a few days ago that I needed to soak in the London culture. She told me to figure out all its points, good and bad, and to take what I want and leave what I don’t. I will probably leave the jam and soup obsessions behind, but I hope to bring this intelligent part of the London culture home with me.