I've divided this entry into a couple sections. The First, a couple really boring rants about culture and such that I felt necessary to include in this, and the last, my real bloggy feelings.
THANK YOU NOTICE
A lot of you followed this blog besides my seven official "followers". Some of you commented directly on this site which I loved, I loved flipping down to see comments after I posted something new. Some of you wrote me e-mails explaining how you were moved about something I said or felt good about something...often times I was really unaware that these people were even reading it, and I was humbled and surprised. Some of you looked forward to my next post, some of you read the whole thing at once, all you know a lot about me now don't you? I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks to everyone that read this and made me feel good for writing it, or kept me motivated writing it.
Thank you for reading my stupid blog, many were just rants about drinking or pent up frustrations about idle life stuff without even really detailing much about England, but it gave me a way to cope with homesickness while I was away. For the first time I was connecting with home on such an intimate level both internally in my mind and externally on the pages of this blog that you would later read. So thank you, really, thanks for reading. You guys made me feel like I was onto something for the first time in my life, which is a feeling I can't thank you enough for. Something as small as a blog about my twelve weeks in London wound up being very very important to me, and all I want from life is to be onto small things that affect me largely. Thank you, really, I can't even tell you how much I appreciate your honesty, commentary, and maturity in reading things about me that I wouldn't have shared with anyone otherwise. I'm grateful for everything.
I really enjoy "blogging". I used to think it was pretty stupid before I started doing this, but I really feel clear and reflective and good these days. It helps me work things out. Its self therapy for me, and I like people reading it because I get to know readers better. Its a way of sharing ideas. Although those ideas are solely mine, I don't write this stuff so people can tell me it's good or they like it, it's not an ego thing, I write it so people might see where I'm coming from and make an assessment in their own life about whether they agree or not, and then think about their own life juxtaposed to what I'm saying, and move forward or backwards. I want to help, both myself and anyone that can read this. We should always be thinking and moving forward. We should always be sharing ideas. That is the only way to be living. Sharing ideas. I read everyone's blog who has one. It's a conversation between two people that we never have to talk about.
So, if you're reading this, I want to continue our relationship. Starting next week I'll be blogging at
That will be my permanent blog. I don't know when I'm going to start updating it, but it's there. I moved to wordpress because everyone else's blog looks cooler than mine and there are more features (sorry blogspot).
BORING RANT ABOUT LONDON
Just some general notes-( the boring part)
Nobody I've met in America knows anything about English culture including my former self. Over lame jokes about tea and crumpets, brainwashed by bad education about the glory of our Revolutionary war we think of the English as some kind of loser country, filled with people who talk properly and fight each other at the pub. When I told people I was going to study in London they would literally say, "Why?". Why not Italy or France or Prague?
After 1776, when the English gave up control of their colonies, huge things were still happening in England with regard to art, music, and politics. England changed and evolved also over time, they completely restructured their government, their transport, their suburbs. England is a community. London itself is a community of people dedicated to education and art.
It's a community of learning and education that we should be FIGHTING for in America. We should WANT this.
London has subsidized theater. For the same price of going to see a crap movie, you can go see live performance. The government sponsors shows to be put on every night of the week at really interesting places just so people can enlighten themselves to art and culture they would have previously been unable to see. Places like the Barbican have International theater and music weekly, for cheap even sometimes free. It keeps art moving. It keeps your mind stimulated.
If you see somebody playing music in the underground station in London, they aren't bums, they have permits from the government and they are allowed that space to share their music and make money. This stuff is encouraged, not frowned upon.
Every mused in London is free, paid for by the government. I have seen Picasso works because I had nothing better to do on my way home from somewhere. I just stopped by museums and looked at things. I've been to the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain, The British Museum (where I saw the Rosetta stone for free) , National Portrait Gallery, and the Museum of London. For free.
It costs USA students 15,000 dollars to go to Goldsmiths University of London for one semester. It costs British students about 3,000 pounds a semester, and they have some of the best schools in the world. At home, if you go to a non state school you're looking at 35,000 dollars a year. In England, college totals about 6,000 pounds a year. Education is accessible, it's flexible. It's realistic.
English students graduate High School and take a year off to work and think about what they want to do. Freshers are usually 19. Think about that. Think about that mentality on education. It's not a rush, it's not a dash to the finish line, its a process of self improvement that should be going on every single day...so yeah I'll admit it the British kids are way more mature then people our age in the states, smarter I don't know, but more mature. They've been exposed to more culture, they're less ignorant.
And after they get all this education all day, they go to the pub and drink. Yeah that's true. Ut-Oh American government, drinking is a HUGE part of English culture. It's a place for people to meet each other and be happy. The Pub. Short for, Public House, meaning a house for everyone. I love drinking with British people. It's ALWAYS cheerful and ALWAYS happy and it doesn't have to be excessive. They drink, they drink all the time, but its good drinking. Its not self destructive, and it's fun...like really, just fun.
OK enough of that.
BORING RANT ABOUT CULTURE.
I really learned about human beings in the world during my experience here. That is what I learned the most about...people. From small differences like my personal oath never to use the word "faggot" again, call something "gay", or say "nigga" in conversation ( we shouldn't use words that come with years and years of hate and baggage for fun, we've elevated ourselves to a more educated vernacular I would hope). To my ideas about how women are perceived and perceive themselves in America, how it differs from England, and even sadly what constitutes a good night out for me now. I don't need to be entertained all the time. I just need to feel that click in my brain. I am really truly interested in where people are from now. I want to talk to the Indian guy at 7/11 and see what he makes of America, ask if they are happy. The guy working behind the counter at the supermarket the other day asked me if I was American. After saying"yes" he told me how New York is the most fantastic place he's ever been too, everybody is so friendly, the service is amazing, its incredible to look at". I want to meet a French person in the States one day and say, "Paris is beautiful, the Seine is beautiful to look at and I love the way the city moves". I want to talk to people now, not avoid them. Nobody here has avoided me, every time I open my mouth people truly want to know my story.
Cultures are so interesting. The world is fascinating place.
There is this universal thing that brings us all together. No, that thing is not the English language (that was my study abroad joke), it's a desire to want to know about each other. We asked our Italian waiter in Amsterdam how he wound up in Amsterdam, and the kid named Andrew from Philly who worked in the Heineken factory what his deal was. Whats your story? The world could be a lot better of a place if people try to share ideas and understand, rather than force ideas or judge ideas. Irish people in Dublin wanted to know all about America....people are interested. Have you ever asked the old Italian guy in the back of Old Bridge Pizza why he really moved here? I cooked eggs one night and I put turkey in them, and this British kid just stared at me and said "Is that what you do with eggs in America" completely fascinated. I said "yeah, everyone does this" even though I was lying... its just a weird thing I do.
There is no proper way to end this blog. There is no proper way to end my experience here. It has indeed left me standing here today twelve weeks later as a different human being and what I sought out to do here...worked. I have changed, and I will be bringing that change back to the United States with me. Coming here for twelve weeks was like boot camp for every idea I've ever had. It was an intense work out of my mind,a realization that the world exists (and is not scary), and an acceptance of the fact that I am a product of a mother culture and I expect things from everybody I meet. From now on I'm going to try and live without expectations, but rather wonder what people expect from me in terms of how they should be talked to or treated. Me and Chip used to make fun of the Mexicans at Krispy and ask them offensive questions like "Are you going to start an encomieda and take over the restaurant?" and I never considered that these people moved to America, from a totally foreign environment, and they are trying assimilate, that's all you can do when you assimilate into another culture. I am foreign here. Think about that. I think that is difficult for some people to grasp.
Have you ever met a foreign kid in school and you just think he's the nicest and friendliest? That is what you have to do, you don't want to step on the toes of your host culture, but you want to put on a smile and try to understand, respect, and become apart of it before you judge or criticize it.Four times during my course in England I would mess up and get on the wrong train or bump into somebody and someone would call me a "fuckin yank" or something like that. I've never been noticed because of my nationality before. When you stand out, you feel exposed, so you have to dive in and that can be difficult.
So I learned my culture. I really did. I say "cheers' when someone holds the door, sometimes my voice may inflect upwards, I have a really cool jacket, my shirts might seem funny, I only competitively chugged a beer twice since being in England, we say fags instead of cigarettes, we know how to shop at Sainsburys and we don't ask for pancake batter and we bring bookbags to put the groceries in, we call the bathroom the toilet, the elevator is the lift, garbage pales are rubbish bins, our friends are our mates, we say "yeah?" a lot after conversation, we say "Nice day today In't it?", we don't tip our bartenders but we buy them a drink and they drink with us, we pay for our food BEFORE we eat...separately, we ride the tube and we don't look at the map for too long, we move right on the elevator, we stand in a "que" instead of a line, we know that if you buy a hotdog you're going to get a brat, eggs are not refrigerated, cider is on tap and you must drink Strongbow, Carling is the Busch beer of England, Fuller's London Pride is my favourite, you sit at a table in a pub with other people, it doesn't have to just be you and your mates, British people love King's of Leon, teachers are tutors, mandatory is cumpulsory, aluminum is pronounced owloominyum,the pubs in central close at ten but are packed at five, everyone drinks after work everyday and they don't generally sit at the pub, they stand around and shout at each other like in a house party, everyone wears whatever they want and nobody judges them and you can feel comfortable being anybody here including yourself, The best seat on the double decker are the four seats in the front row on the second level, you "top up" your Oyster Card, 10p coins are useless, money is notes, you don't have to pay for the 453 towards Marlebone, Tesco is open 24 hours, ASDA is the wal-mart of England, gas stations are petrol stations and you pay by the litre (103.2), cigarettes have pictures of people dying on them, lamb and mint meat pies are the best, pasty's are always a good choice, Coke Cola is made with pure cane sugar and tastes better, you talk to strangers at a pub, you say Hi to them the next day on the street and stop and ask how they are instead of avoiding eye contact, everyone rides the tube, you eat breakfast with tomato and beans, scones are not triangular or hard, clotted cream is not the same as butter, Marmite is for losers, nobody drinks tea at 3 in the afternoon but tea is more popular than coffee, I don't even know what the fuck a crumpet is, King Henry the 8th was my favorite King because he was a badass and had cool portraits, if someone asks you if you are red or blue they don't mean north or south states, they're asking if you support Liverpool Football or Manchester United, sports are called SPORT, you can't wear a Manchester United hat around Arsenal, sandwiches are called baguettes, there are lots of sheep in the english countryside, ..I could go on but I won't.
The point I'm making is you have to dive in, I dove in. Everything is different here in such a similar way. Life moves differently here. London vibrates and hums, it breathes. People are interested in people here. Everyone I've met has sincerely been interested in my life, in my accent, my story. British people have a tremendous sense of humour, they love to "have a laugh", but they are intense when it's time to speak of real human things, and for that I am thankful I got to meet them. They are witty and clever and worth talking to.
Tonight I took the train to Southwark and walked to the Thames, right under the millennium bridge by the sign that says "I eat Rubbish" across from the Globe in front of St. Paul's Cathedral. How many times have I wrote that description? How many times have I went there and gazed into the Thames, surrounded by the world?
And I was tired.
I watched double decker busses go by but they were too far to hear their engines, so all you could hear was the hum of the river like an old movie where somebody has to play the piano along with the images.
The River was musical.
Quiet in London, tonight.
Big Ben is ticking five hours too fast. It's time to go home.
I looked up at St. Paul's Cathedral and thought about how I'd never gone inside, and that is OK. Sometimes things are so beautiful on the outside you can't really ever know what it's like inside...but its nice to have something we hope or come back to and find it's new, but it's not so sad leaving something up to the imagination...is it? Symbolism.
I sat on the bench that I sat on the first day I explored by myself and declared it "my bench" because I knew it and it is mine. I felt it in my hand and it felt like wet wood on a deck in New Jersey after the rain. I looked at the river and it looked good enough to build a city around. I felt life in that river, I felt like the rain that falls in it.
Couples making out all over the bridge. Makes me smile. People find each other some how in this weird, weird world.
I thought about standing in the middle of the bridge with all those perfectly dim lights, looking at tower bridge ,basking in the shadow of St. Paul's and just kissing somebody. I mean really kissing them, public display of affection in front of the whole city. I couldn't put a face to her, or an eye color or hair color or smile, maybe I never will, but I hope one day I'll find my own bridge to kiss her on, really kiss her, and that'll be a start.
You can travel everywhere and shake hands with everybody in the world and still feel like you've never met anybody.
I remembered things of course, I thought about my friends here in London, I thought about how lucky I am for them, to have them. I know they read this now so I'm not writing unaware like I used to, but if you're reading this Kelly, Jo, Daria, Kate, Emily, Chris...I love you and the greatest thing I did in England was get to know you all. I don't want to repeat Thanksgiving but I mean it. Things have changed so much since I first met you all. Kelly I'm glad we lived together, it made being in E1A seem less far away from home, Jo you make me feel good about myself and proud of myself because you feel good and proud about yourself, Daria the last thing I've ever felt for you was h8, Kate I'm glad you proved to be just as interesting as your facebook statuses foreshadowed when I read them in August, Emily your the only thing about London I'm truly losing and tomorrow my main sadness about saying goodbye is reserved for you, and Chris we may have gotten along like Felix Unger and Jack Klugman but we still stole the show.
Love you guys. I could blog about it all day but I won't, you know how it is.
I sat on that bench with Becca, I sat on the bench with Nick. I thought about how places are just places when you're alone.
And look at my friends facebook statuses from home
John Edmund-George Murphy IVGINSSSSSSSSSSBBBBBBBBBBBEEEEEEEEEERRRRRR Gerard Corless needs andrew ginsberg back in my life TO(morrow)NIGHT!!!!
RRRRGGGGGGGGGGGG http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGuhZvO1D Kg
George Gillard Andrew Ginsberg comes back to America
Lori GiordanoANDREWS COMING HOME ANDREWS COMING HOME ANDREWS COMING HOME! AMERICA>ENGLAND!
Bryan Nelson Fucking Andrew Ginsberg is coming home bitches
Bryan Nelson Fucking Andrew Ginsberg is coming home bitches
I mean I feel so much love from the people at home. I feel so much closer to them now that I've been so far away. I really know what its like to miss people. I really missed them.
I've written about all this before, I don't want to repeat myself. I am happy. I've changed.
Tomorrow I get on a plane and leave a country I love for another country I love. I've lived in England for twelve weeks. I've traveled across Europe. I almost went to Spain. I will sleep in my full size bed with my parents in the room next door.
My spot on the Thames will still be there waiting for me when life pushes me back to it.
You learn a big secret when you study abroad, you can't tell anyone what it is, and you think about it everyday.
I hope you are a little closer to understanding that secret.
Thanks for reading.