My stay here in London has been amazing thus far. Calling South Kensington home for this short while has made me feel a whirlwind of emotions. I have gone from feeling completely foreign in an area that I quite possibly may never have the chance to call home again, to feeling like I can conquer it all.
The shops that line the streets on the way to the Foundation House are decorated with some of London’s finest. They sit and drink their tea and coffee, with the newspaper spread in front of their faces. I like to imagine the lives they might lead. A woman’s lips painted red and shades big enough to consume her entire face— Such an elegance that lines the neighborhood’s streets. The aroma of sweet pastries and pretty little balconies overseeing the people passing by. On the corner a delicious Italian restaurant stands, one that was fancied by the late Princess Diana herself. This area is incredibly vast in its offerings. We walk amongst the elites, at times without knowing. To have this experience is something I could have only dreamt of.
The people here are much different from those in Dublin, where I previously studied, a city that I was easily adapted into. They are much like the society that resides in New York City; South Kensington comparable to the Upper East Side, Oxford Street comparable to 7th Ave. Londoners, some goal oriented, walking with their blinders on, others innately cool. The London attitude, as Susan so brilliantly describes it, is witty. The ‘Brit Wit’ attitude translates from the way people walk, to the way they dress and communicate. There is a distinctiveness that is undeniably British- similar to the New Yorker mentality. Although these similarities do exist, London is vastly different from the City. Londoners are ‘posh’- they are outgoing and fresh. As Susan said, they wear and do whatever it is they want. There is a certain coolness and courageousness in how it is executed. This translates over to not only the way people dress but into their business ventures as well.
The phenomenon of Primark is a wonderful starting point. In the states, fashion is not as prominent or seen as a necessity, as it is here. It is looked upon as excess, which makes complete sense in the grand scheme of life to the average American. Yet beauty has been idolized since the beginning of time. It is coded into our DNA by the mere fact that we all have eyes. To see is to understand, to appreciate, without a vision and understanding of the world we live in- there is little room to dream, to fantasize. Americans come across as lazy people, which more or less, is true. Like our clothing taste, we generally speaking, have a bland palette. A majority of people are satisfied with never leaving the country, never moving out of their own comfort zone, thus never truly seasoning themselves with what is needed to look beyond what is put in front of them. The fact that Primark is the lowest end of mass produced goods price point wise, gives the UK no reason to be poorly dressed. Primark caters to the needs of the general public, thus there is an obvious need to be on trend and look good. Without this want- there is no way that the store would be such a huge success.
From the outside looking in, it seems Londoners strive for more. They are more culturally diverse, not necessarily in ethnicity but in knowledge of a range of various cultures. For example, everyone I have met thus far has traveled outside of his or her home country. In the states if you were to compare the numbers, I have a feeling they would be vastly different. Our states are multicultural, yes, but by no means represent minute countries. As a population I would say we are much more introverted which is reflective in our news, our gossip columns, and even in our politics (to an extent).