London’s lessons not learned in textbooks

London's lessons not learned in textbooks

by Drew RiebhoffInternational Correspondant

In my previous article, I mentioned that my academic schedule wasn’t the most rigorous I’ve ever taken, but that isn’t to say I didn’t learn anything.

I could now tell you who Virginia Woolf was and who made up the Bloomsbury group. I could discuss with you the differences between art movements and could even educate you on the current programs the London government has put into effect to help immigrants and refugees.

What I can’t ever fully describe, however, are the things I learned about myself while studying in a country 5,000 miles away. But I’m going to do my best and try.

I learned the best way to deal with drama is to just “drop it like it’s hawt;” don’t let it bog you down. Three months ago, if I thought things were going down the drain with a friend or if I thought someone was mad at me, I would have a minor freak out. I finally realized that the best thing to do is not worry about it.

I’ve come to realize that, while the rest of the world may not hate us, there are some that do- or they at least think we’re stupid Americans.

Example: On Fall Break in Belgium, we arrived at the airport at 11:00 p.m. We’re in our taxi, our driver is gibbering in French to one of his friends. Later, one of my travel companions informed me that the cabbie was talking about dropping us off in the middle of nowhere to see what we would do, because, according to him, we were just “young, stupid Americans.”

My first few weeks, I did my best to hide that I was American for fear of getting tomatoes thrown at me or getting pick-pocketed. I didn’t talk on the tube, dressed nice and never smiled at strangers; but somehow people could still tell I was American.

Soon I gave up trying to fit in; I went back to wearing T-shirts and jeans and said “hi” to strangers. I realized I was proud to be an American. Our influence is everywhere. On the radio in Italy you’d hear “Fergalicious.” We’re a country with influence almost everywhere, and I’ve decided it’s something I should be proud of.

Being aggressive and saying what I want has always been hard for me. But when you live in a city where if you stop for even a second you get run over, you learn to actually say what’s on your mind.

I’ve finally learned that it’s okay to say what you want to do and that people will listen. That isn’t to say I’ve turned into some jerk or pompous git, but I’m just a bit more aggressive in what I want to do.

These are just a few of the things that I’ve learned spending three months in London. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. Still, these things probably wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stepped outside my comfort zone into a whole other culture. London gave me a chance to escape from my normal, cozy little world and see it from a different view.

So no, I didn’t have a rigorous course schedule, but I learned more about myself and life than I ever would have if I stayed in Indianola- and that’s what’s important to me.