The Half-Way Point Reflection
by Adam Goodwin | 2014 | Last Updated: January 4, 2014
January 2014 brings the approximate half-way point of my first academic year (an academic year being September-April) living in the United Kingdom. I have been lucky enough to be able to live and work in England. Since moving to Europe in August 2013, I have learned some things about the English.
Compared to the country I grew up in, Canada, England has a much longer and rich history and heritage. Many are very proud of England’s accomplishments and achievements. One could study the country’s history for years, likely a lifetime, and still not fully grasp how much their history influences the present. This long and storied history is best illustrated in the current debate about whether Scotland should gain indepedence from the United Kingdom (the referendum vote takes place in 2014).
Many English have strong social values (e.g., strong beliefs about social and government financial benefits). They value helping those who may need financial support at times. Many English I spoke to, value an equitable society when it comes to taxes, fees, and incomes (‘wages’ as many English say). A great example is the ‘bedroom tax.’ If you are single and living in community housing, and the house you are given has 2 bedrooms (but you are a party of one), then you will get heavily taxed (same if you are a party of 2 and get placed in a house with 3 bedrooms). Many individuals are calling on the government to reverse this unethical and improper taxation on some of the UK’s poorest citizens. Why? If the government places an individual in a house with 2 bedrooms (something out of the individual’s control), why should this individual have to be heavily taxed because of something completely out of their control.
I suppose, the English also enjoy using their brains and standing up for what is right and wrong.
London, along with arguably New York City and Hong Kong, is one of the world’s financial and culture hubs. Living in Canada, I would hear much about London. Living in the United Kingdom, it is surprising how little those living in the UK but not in London, care about London. They see it as just another city, and one that attracts many tourists.
Speaking with the English, they are very eccentric, and many times, make little sense to me, a Canadian. I met a lad, a very financially rich lad. He was holding a gathering at his home. During the event, people were able to sit in one of his many beautiful vehicles (luxury cars). Then for a meal, cucumber sandwhiches were served. One assumes the rich are ‘above’ this simple meal. Yet, they enjoy their nice cars and their simple life.
While in the UK, I will likely not sit behind a the steering wheel of a car and drive. British drivers rarely look right in front of them as they are too busy trying to get to their destination (process- vs. result-driven). If walking near a road, be on your toes – if a driver thinks they can squeeze by you, they will very likely try.
I think this semester has given me a little bit more insight into where humanity will go next. Watching students from various nations interact on a daily basis, they don’t care where a peer is from. There’s no Japan or America or China or etc. What I see more now, is Japanese and Canadians, Russians and Americans. As we progress over the next few years, there will be a large emphasis on ensuring each member of the human nation is supported and cared for before national interests become important.
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Based on your reading of this blog post, you may also be interested in reading: Photos from Africa.
These are one person’s thoughts and opinions. I welcome and strive to get your feedback and own thoughts. Feel free to comment below or connect with me via social media.
Adam Goodwin is a Canadian working in the United Kingdom, and is a proud shameless idealist. His parents currently work in Cairo, Egypt. He has siblings and distant family in Canada and around the rainbow nation’s only home. Follow his year+ overseas on Twitter (@adam13goodwin) and on this blog.