Tagged: USA

Just Touched Down in Londontown: My Expat Olympic Experience

By Margaret Waterman, Staff Writer
@mh_waterman

BU Londoners with their eyes glued to the screen while watching the 2014 Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics in the basement of their apartment building./ PHOTO VIA Margaret Waterman

BU Londoners with their eyes glued to the screen while watching the 2014 Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics in the basement of their apartment building./ PHOTO VIA Margaret Waterman

If you know me at all, you know I am crazy about the Winter Olympics. From ski jumping to curling to skeleton, there isn’t one event I don’t enjoy watching.

As an avid skier and general athletic enthusiast, I grew up on snow (I was a competitive alpine ski racer for 13 years). My parents have always joked that I can ski better than I can walk, which, according to the many scars on my knees, might be true.

So, as you can imagine, realizing that I was going to be in a foreign country for the entirety of the 2014 Sochi Olympics sort of stressed me out. How was I going to be able to ensure I could watch Ted Ligety fight to win his second Olympic giant slalom gold medal?

It turned out to be easier than I had imagined.

Luckily, the British Broadcasting Corporation, also known as BBC, allows no advertisements and thus has no incentive to embargo events until prime time.

Unlike NBC back in the U.S., BBC is paid for directly by citizens of the countries in which it is broadcast. Everyone who buys a television in the U.K. has to pay a “license fee,” which funds BBC and its many channels. For a color television, this fee is £145.50 per year, according to BBC’s website, which is equivalent to approximately $238.60.

So, this morning, even before I got out of bed, I was able to live-stream the men’s downhill medal heat right to my phone via BBC. And I haven’t had to miss many events. I got to catch Hannah Kearney, my favorite Olympian  – who, before her US Ski Team days, skied for the Waterville Valley BBTS just like I did – capture the bronze medal in women’s freestyle skiing as it happened.

My friends and I also got to see the opening ceremony in real-time, unlike all our friends back in Boston and all over the U.S. (it was also interesting to see Americans tweet about the show later on, and to see them react to what we had seen hours before).

BBC also does a good job broadcasting all performances for each event. So, regardless of how well the U.S. does, we over in the U.K. can watch our hometown heroes compete, which has made watching the Olympics a much more patriotic, social event for us expatriates. We’ve spent the last few afternoons and nights crowded around the basement television, dinner plates in our laps.

Speaking of which, I’ve got to run and catch the re-airing of the downhill competition. There’s no way I’m going to miss an opportunity to watch Bode Miller’s (kind of disappointing) run again. Go team USA!

Advertisements

Lauren in London: Countdown to Home

By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
@LaurenDezenski

St. Paul’s Cathedral was never very far./PHOTO VIA Lauren Dezenski

I’ll be home in less than a month.

Just as this city has started to really get in under my skin in the best ways, it’s going to be over. It’s made even worse by the realization that I’ve only got one weekend left in London.

I suppose it’s for the best that I’m falling in love with the city as I prepare to leave it.

This all just feels like I’ve had two pints of cider at the pub and upon standing I realize I’m a little more drunk than anticipated…but not too far gone for another pint.

One of my favorite buildings in all of London is St. Paul’s Cathedral. Look back on most of my Instagrams of any sort of London skyline, if it’s not featuring Big Ben or the London Eye (or some combination of me trying to break into a palace or join the Royal Family). St. Paul’s Cathedral is there, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background, sometimes featured in a glass of wine.

I’ve never actually been inside of St.Paul’s, mind you. It’s on my (dwindling) list of places to go, and my friend convinced me to wait to go until next weekend. Ending my London tourist-ings on a high note, right?

It’s hard to explain my infatuation with this building. William and Kate weren’t even married there (though William’s mother and father were). In a city filled to the brim with old buildings, it’s one of the most noteworthy, sure, but there’s just something about the way it rises above most of the other buildings in that majestic way tall things are tall. It’s a crude description but bear with me.

Whether I’m 50 feet or 5,000 meters away, something about that white dome just catches my eye and holds my attention. A friend and I walked around the cathedral on Saturday evening and I couldn’t help but just stare skyward at the beautifully carved exterior, marveling.

Something about St. Paul’s makes me feel centered. I’m by no means a religious person, but the curve of the dome and the beauty that was wrought by Christopher Wren just makes things feel right.

I feel small, but not in a bad way. You get close to the building and look up, until you remember to look where you’re going because another tourist almost bumped into you. You remember your feet are still on the ground and you’ve got another place to go.

Maybe it’s strange to have a semi-religious experience thanks to a building’s exterior architecture and maybe I’m just mostly typing nonsense, but I think it all goes hand in hand with my time in London.

No matter what, I’ll always look toward London. It’ll have a place in my heart, for better or for worse, and now I’ll understand a little better what this city actually is.

Just like getting close to the cathedral, I’ve felt small in London. I’ve felt really small. Never before have I felt so outside my comfort zone in so many situations—but it’s also a beautiful reminder of what life brings.

In no way shape or form should I remain in my comfort zone at all times, and I think I best grow when put outside of my native environment.

I think because of all of this, it’s given me a greater understanding of myself. Sure I’ve bumped into a number of tourists (both physically and allegorically), but it’s all made me realize what’s going on around me—and just how awesome it’s been to be here.

Lauren in London: “You can’t sit with us!”

By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
@LaurenDezenski

What happens when you smell different./PHOTO VIA Lauren Dezenski

This past week was my first full week of classes (four days of four hours of classes, which for the record is more than I was doing back in Boston so that’s an adjustment in and of itself). After my four hours of morning classes on Monday, I decided to be a good student and head over to neighboring Imperial College for a study session. They also have a pub on campus so I figured I’d get a pint as I worked my way through my Government and Politics of the European Union textbook. Aren’t I such a good student?

The union pub thing (it’s still not really clear what the place is called) is basically a big room with a couple of tables, big windows and high ceilings that apparently gets pretty wild on Wednesdays when classes are in session. Oh, and of course, a bar that stretches the length of the room.

Walking into the union (we’ll call it that), there had to be no more than five people in the place (probably because it was 2 p.m.), including the one bartender woman that gave me a pretty glare-y once-over as I walked over to the bar. Actually, it felt like all five people in the establishment turned and stared as I walked into the place. Like they could smell it on me that I wasn’t from here (or even a real Imperial student). Finding a spot to sit felt like that scene in Mean Girls where Cady tries to navigate the lunchroom only I didn’t have a posse like Janice and that guy who’s too gay to function telling me where the awkward foreigners sit. Because that’s apparently now my clique du jour. At least no one growled at me.

But alas, faking it until I make it is among my primary skills so I plunked down in the corner of the union with my pint and textbook and did my best not to be distracted by the freakishly good music being played. Seriously, they played “Hey Ya,” “99 Problems” and “Milkshake.” I kept kind of laughing at the music because it was great (I was drinking a pint, after all), and the bartender and other patrons just kept looking over at me with these weird judge-y stares. In hindsight, this might be because I ordered a pint at 2 in the afternoon.

People trickled in and out of the union during my three hours of studying (that music was really distracting) and I couldn’t help but feel like I was just this weird magnet with my funky and arguably fresh American scent.

Once I finished my work, I resisted the urge to slam down my glass and yell “FOR AMERICA” or drop the mic or something (because that would be rude). I have no proof or real knowledge that anyone in the place actually even noticed I was there, but it was strange to feel like I was sticking out like a sore thumb.

One of my friends on the program is originally from England and has been acting as my cultural ambassador. I told her about my experience (“IT’S LIKE THEY COULD SMELL THAT I’M AN AMERICAN!!!”) and she said it’s probably true. She also said that no one really cares. If you’re from America, you look like an American and people can observe that the same way you know a German when you see one and that’s that. But really, no one cares.

I still haven’t decided whether or not I’ll be going back this week. If I do make it back, I’ll just have to resist the urge to sing the national anthem or start a “USA” chant.