It has been a whole week that we’ve been here now, so it is time I give some of my impressions of culture in this place called London. I have let myself mull it over trying not to jump to conclusions because I know I am already biased by a notion UK culture that has filtered into my life through books, TV, and film. Even though people here speak a language I can understand, I know it would be naive to take anything for granted. In fact, just the other day I asked for a split check at the end of our meal and greatly confused our waitress, since we should have asked to have our bills be separate at the very beginning.
People are friendly is very true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. These are city people is important to remember, because the friendliness isn’t exactly the small town kind. In fact, people are a bit antisocial at least on the Tube. I also really need to do better in seek out more conversations with locals here, so I’m just saying that my ideas about culture may continue to change as I become bolder. But right now, I would say that after speaking to Londoners I feel that there is a sense of a universal matter-of-factness that is almost existential that is much stronger than it is in the US.
One of my fellow study-abroaders made a joke that if he made eye contact with people on the Tube that the people would sustain it. I wonder if that was part of it? When I asked a women in a supermarket why she liked her persimmons firmer (calling it a persimmon here but it was actually a related species I forgot the word for), the way she answered me it was like we were already on a metaphysical chum level.