In the past eight months, I have been able to indulge in the culture, become familiar with the food, learn about different customs, become habitual to the rainy climate and expand my understanding of British history. The United Kingdom is similar, but at the same time very different from Germany.
Currently, I am preparing for my five exams that I will be writing within a timespan of six days, but as Londoners say – we move!
England's cuisine: British with an Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean influence
Modern British Food – more than fish and chips!
In London, you can indulge yourself in foods from different cultures of the city’s diverse inhabitants. Their influences are clearly to be found today in English cuisine. Nowadays, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Lebanese and Turkish restaurants have become an indispensable part of London’s city image. Food during a day at university in Great Britain ranges from snacks from the Caribbean to desserts from New Zealand.
But my favourite – still fish and chips!
The dish has been around since the late 19th century, where it was particularly popular in London and southeast England. The importance of fish and chips to the English was shown in the Second World War because the dish was one of the few that was not rationed. Due to its island location, English cuisine contains many dishes with fish and seafood. You get the typical English taste with marinades or sauces, which are seasoned with the juice of oranges or even with whiskey.
Personal Recommendation – Chocolate in London
Paul A. Young’s fine chocolate has won numerous prizes and has been awarded to be one of the best chocolates in the world. I recommend the pecan, salt and caramelized white chocolate brownie!
Culture and everyday life in the UK
The Brexit has exemplified that many Britons feel geographically connected to Europe but culturally set themselves apart from other European nations. However, the influence of mainland Europe and its culture is undeniable. The influence of the colonial power is noticeable to this day: from Australia and New Zealand to India and South Africa to Canada and the United States, the British past can still be felt today.
The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. The history of the island was mainly shaped by English supremacy. However, each of the British member states has its own customs and sometimes even its own language. “Hello my name is Manas” would be “Helo fy enw i yw Manas” in Welsh. The world has been shaped by works of British literature, art and music. I remember reading novels and plays by William Shakespeare, Zadie Smith, George Orwell and James Joyce in school.
Supportive, humorous and polite - these are just a few characteristics that distinguish the Britons. Always and everywhere in Great Britain: Polite manners come first. The British are very courteous towards their fellow human beings. Every question or request should therefore contain the word “Please” and the word “Thank you” as a response. The Britons are proficient at “small talk”. In Berlin, my local coffee shop would hand me the coffee after a quick “Guten Morgen”. In the UK, however, I know that Mikael, the Polish Barista at my local Pret, is expecting twins next month.
Overall, I have to say that the Britons are very open and welcoming people. I became very close to some students at the LSE after only one encounter – perhaps, the pandemic has allowed us to talk more about our daily struggles, achievements and ambitions?
Location – an important factor
I live in the heart of London – the City of London. I live two minutes away from the Tate, and three minutes away from the beautiful skyline view. Recently, the Bank of England (BoE) unveiled the new design for the £50 note, featuring Alan Turing on it. In the news, I saw, that on that day, the BoE hissed the Pride flag. Within ten minutes from my accommodation, I was standing in front of the BoE, delighted to see his achievements and values being celebrated.
Looking “forward” to the exams
The last two terms have been rewarding, but also very special at the same time. The vaccination program has been a success in the UK and restrictions have eased. At the same time, unfortunately, cases are soaring in Germany.
I look forward to the next terms and hope that we can combat this virus collectively.
April 2021 | Manas Goyal