Red, White, and Blue: A Unity of Strangers

11 Jun

What exactly does “reading” London entail? On the surface level, reading London means reading literature about London. However, “reading” London goes much deeper than simply reading. I’ve been in London for over two weeks now, and I have read London in a way I never thought possible. I have read the expression of my classmate/flatmate, Taylor, as she experienced her very first church service that just happened to be in Westminster Abbey, I have read the way Londoners glorify their Queen, and I have read how strangers come together to form one unity.

“Reading”, as I’ve learned throughout my English Education studies, includes figuring out what you’re seeing, hearing, feeling, etc, about a certain “thing” (text, pictures, faces, music…). While I can read various things back in The States and in a classroom at Purdue, studying in London provides a much richer experience. I have been close with Taylor since our paths crossed in Heavilon on Purdue’s campus. That’s why it was incredibly special to be with her during her first church service, and did I mention it was at Westminster Abbey, the Royal Church of London?! Through her expression and conversations with her afterwards, I know that she experienced something that she could never experience in a classroom. Westminster Abbey is full of memorials, and even some graves, of famous poets, authors, Kings, and Queens. Walking among them allowed us to feel the significance they had on people. Reading the way people reacted to the different memorials or burials helped put the significance of Westminster Abbey into perspective for me. The Royal Church of London is not only important for her people, but also strangers.

The past few days have been devoted to Queen Elizabeth II in honor of her 60 year reign. Never have I seen patriotism like I have in London. There are Union Jack’s everywhere, from flags flying to clothing for dogs. There have been cut-outs of the Queen in various places around the city, and some people even “wear her face.” Sounds creepy, but it’s really not: it’s a sign of love and devotion to Queen Elizabeth. Me and a couple of my classmates went to the Diamond Jubilee Concert last night. That was one of the most incredible experiences I have had in my life. Talk about red, white, and blue; those colors were everywhere! People from all different walks of life came together for one purpose: to celebrate their Queen. The dynamic of people’s expressions were an enjoyable read as well. Throughout the celebration, I witnessed and partook in dancing in the streets, laughter and tears of joy with hundreds of thousands of people. At one point, they announced that there were one million people flooding the streets to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event. It didn’t matter that not everyone were British citizens, what matter was everyone came together to celebrate the Queen. I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of a unity of strangers.

Studying abroad allows me to immerse myself in a different culture. People often give me a second look when I say I’m studying in England because “they speak the same language as you.” While that may be true, to an extent, London is still a completely different culture than I am familiar with. There is more diversity in this wonderful city than I have ever seen and there is the whole monarchy thing. I studied in London last summer, and I’m still learning new things every single day. My professor has come here for many years now, and she still explores new areas of the city. Getting out of the classroom setting enables me to read London in an entirely different light than by just reading texts about the city.

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One Response to “Red, White, and Blue: A Unity of Strangers”

  1. rcsjubilee June 12, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    We would love to see your photos and read about your experiences on the Jubilee Time Capsule as your thoughts on experiencing different cultures are very interesting! Share your memories and photos at jubileetimecapsule.org!

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