An American In London — An Appreciation of Cultural Diversity

Photo by Jaanus Jagomägi on Unsplash

As an American, it is irrefutable that when you introduce yourself and where you are from to someone in a foreign country, there is a certain stigma that comes with your citizenship. Positive or negative, there are certain assumptions made immediately upon stating where you’re from.

This is intensely true in this day and age of a polarizing political climate for America. When my wife and I were in London in October 2018, we met a couple from Belgium who were also visiting and staying at our same small, boutique hotel. We did the usual introductions and upon revealing we were Americans, the conversation switched to politics quickly.

It was not a conversation that was filled political strife, but one of honest curiosity. The couple really wanted to know what it was like to live in America with Donald Trump as president. We ended up drinking wine and discussing our lives for nearly three hours. This amazing couple was remarkably informed about American politics and news — far more than most Americans tend to be. We learned about Belgium, they learned about America.

Not long into our conversation we had other couples and guests join our conversation for segments as well. The hostess from Armenia, a couple from France, a Mancunian as well. All informed, all interested in our perspective as young, 30-something, Americans.

My wife and I were surprised and awed to develop a connection with so many people so quickly with such a genuine interest in each other. It certainly helped that current American history is so unpredictable that it provides easy topics of conversation, but more so that everyone was simply eager and engaged to share stories about their life, their homes, their countries and news.

The natural transition to local perspective was the inevitable conversation of Brexit. The conversation was particularly interesting because it was a European perspective of what would happen, with England especially, if Brexit was implemented.

This enlightening conversation was not the last time we’d speak of Brexit on our trip. Just two days later we met a family from outside London, visiting a friend at a pub near the financial district. This friend voted for Brexit. It was his perspective that opened our eyes further than American news had.

He explained why he voted for Brexit, why he thought it was important to be well educated as to the ramifications, and why after so much deliberation in Parliament — that he would have changed his vote if he could. Not because he regretted the vote, but because he felt that the elected representatives were incapable of fulfilling their duties and delivering a solid approach to the actual exit from the European Union.

The conversation was civil, respectable, calm and educational. He bought us a bottle of champagne (my wife and I were celebrating our 10th anniversary). We all drank together, snacked on pub food, and stayed well past our initial plans.

It was all worth it for this opportunity to connect with an international community on a local level, be able to speak openly and create a sincere and true bond with someone who had been a stranger just a few hours before.

I don’t know that there are too many cities in the world that are such a true amalgamation of international cultures and people like London. It is the most diverse city we have ever visited. You could hear a different language being spoken as you’d turn down another street. And never once did we feel like outsiders our tourists. We felt like we were welcome, like we belonged.

We had approached our trip with a sense of adventure of no expectations other than adventure. We returned with a sense of hope that despite borders, cultural differences, politics or anything else — a true human civil conversation is enough to create a bond and memory to last a lifetime.

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Michael Robert

Michael Robert

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Publisher of The Pop Culture Guide, Choosing Eco, and Tales of a Solopreneur. Editor for Climate Conscious. Writer and communications consultant.