Thursday, May 26, 2011

Study the US from Abroad

One of the neat things about the Study Abroad opportunities at St. Mikes is the chance to see the US through a different lens. The British newspapers today are full of accounts of President Obama's address to the British Parliament yesterday. To say that he has made a great impression on the British media would be an understatement. Eloquent, stylish, elegant, and sincere are words used by writers in The Times newspaper where not a single word of dissent or criticism could be found. Michelle Obama also won the hearts of the Brits when she took a group of girls from a north London school to Oxford University for the day to show them what they could achieve if they believed in themselves.

Daily conversations with people also reveal what the average person thinks about the US. Gone are the days when most people think about Americans as loud tourists with cameras hanging round their necks in loud checked shirts and pants. There seems to be a much more realistic view of the average American although myths do still persist. A fellow passenger on a train last weekend, while lamenting the difficulties of train travel, said to me "Of course, your trains in America must be so much better than ours". Sadly, I assured her that the British trains were infinitely better than their American counterparts. If only we had public transport in the US that was in any way as good as it is in the UK life would be so much easier.

There is also much more news about the US in the UK papers than vice versa; the recent tornado disaster in Joplin getting major coverage in the Times. On the other hand significant American influence exists in the form of Subways, KFCs, Burger Kings and McDs on almost every High St. where latterly one would have found the ubiquitous fish and chip shop.

But, thankfully, there are still fish and chip shops one of which I will be visiting for supper this evening.

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