An American in London

Hailey Hunter, Global Business Institute: London Summer 2022

Studying abroad taught me a million and one lessons, ones I didn’t even know I needed to know. From traveling on planes, trains, and automobiles, to celebrating home country’s holidays, to breaking down language barriers in non-english-speaking countries, I believe there is no better way to catalyze one’s global competency than studying abroad. However, because there is so much to learn and explore, no one can ever be fully prepared for what they’re getting into. And I am no exception. 
One piece of background I wish I would have developed before going abroad was the history and politics of the United Kingdom, especially during such an historic time for the country. I was lucky enough to be in London during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, a celebration of her 70 years on the throne. The city was filled Union Jack’s, beautiful pictures of the queen, and events to commemorate her time as the nation’s monarch. The monarchy and royal family is something I learned fascinates Americans specifically, as well as the world, but in Britain are just kind of a presence. While my friends and I went to every event the Jubilee offered, we would run into Brits who were surprised by our engagement, and we even were told we likely went to more events than locals.  
This is because there are varying viewpoints in the position of the royal family. Which we love to observe from the U.S as fanfare, but as a British citizen is all too real. While some citizens are devoted to the majorly beloved Queen, others believe it is time for a change in governmental structure, even if their position is more diplomatic. This was a fascinating political debate to witness. It also emphasized to me how we in the U.S can get so caught up in our own national affairs, we sometimes overlook the events and challenges nations are facing around the world. 
London for instance, is an international political hub. We learned about the significance of Trafalgar Square and its significance for peaceful protest space. As once the height of imperialism, Britain also still has remnants of territories it represents in its court systems. In the United States, our break from Britain is the birth of our nation, one of our most notable points in our history. From that American perspective, I don’t think I fully understood how much land Britain has occupied throughout history, how much power it developed, and how that has affected the course of world history to this day. 
That historic and political element are aspects I wish I would have known before studying abroad, so that I could have discovered more details while abroad rather than learning from the beginning.