Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter in London, United Kingdom:

Having lived in Western Europe for about seven years, it's almost unfathomable that I had never visited the United Kingdom, and thus London, until this past December. Especially considering that it is one of the few places in Europe where the local population natively speaks English. What's even more bewildering is that London is not far from Amsterdam–at all. The flight from Amsterdam to the British Isles, was only about 45 minutes in total. So quick. Yet upon landing, and upon exiting the airport and heading toward London–the landscape seemed surprisingly familiar: trees hang heavy, their branches filled with the weight of so much water, which constantly surrounds their roots–Britain is just soggy as the Netherlands, when it comes to water. And most shrubs and flowers dotting the city and countryside can also be found in the Netherlands. However, London is not Amsterdam. The city's streets were alive with holiday cheer, and tourists and locals alike paraded down the city's sidewalks; some of those sidewalks saw stylish pedestrians passing over their pavements; while other city districts were still on their way to gentrification, and so the inhabitants' style was quite different. I enjoyed strolls through, and actively sought out, areas of the city that were still 'finding their way through the fog'–such as Bethnal Green. London is diverse, fully of energy, an everyone speaks–and all signs are written in–English. Yet the English language spoken in the UK's capital differs drastically from 'Continental English'–let's call it–and that of the English spoken in North America. I was delighted to speak Dutch upon returning to Amsterdam; visiting the British Isles made me realize how integrated into Dutch culture I truly am. I should never forget that I am a Dutch speaker, and that I am bilingual, these days. How fun. London: a confluence of ideas and cultures, and a much welcomed changed from those countries of the continent.