People ask me every moment of every day what I find different about England, my glorious homeland,
and America. The thing I noticed instantly was the weather. It was quite the shock to see a blue sky for more than one day. I’d almost forgotten that the sky is in fact blue, not grey. The second, more lasting thing was how polite people seem to be. It’s not that people don’t have manners in England, we’re famous for our unwillingness to be rude, but it’s a different kind of politeness. We won’t offend you when talking to you, but a conversation on the street won’t last more than ten seconds. That’s a generous estimate.
The people here at this lovely little college are much more polite than most people I’ve ever met in England. Walking down Van Meter by myself, everyone I come in a 10 foot radius of smiles and says hello. The majority of these people are strangers who I’m unlikely to ever learn the name of. This interaction would just not happen at all at home, in any city. If I were to say hello to a stranger on the street in England, they would think I’m laughing at them and I’d probably get a kick or two for my troubles. It wasn’t terrible though, don’t get me wrong. It meant if you had somewhere to be you could get there without anyone slowing you down.
I’ve heard it’s not like this everywhere though. Things heard through the grapevine tell me New York is an exceptionally unfriendly city. I imagine it’s like every city in England. London is an especially terrible place for this. People there have no sympathy for tourists. Here’s a tip if you ever do have a jaunt over to London, or just England in general: stand on the right of the escalators. There’s no easier way to spot a tourist. Thankfully I’m not from there, I come from the much better northeast city of Newcastle. Seriously, Google it, it’s great. I’m not saying we’re an unfriendly group in the jolly old north, we just wouldn’t say hello on the street. Well, not unless you’re getting on a bit or see someone you know. Even in the second case it’s touch and go, depending on how well you know them. You might just get a casual head nod.
Which is the polar opposite of what it’s like to walk down Van Meter. People I’ve met for half an hour have stopped me to have a full on conversation about our days, how I’m settling in, amongst many other things. The friendliness and politeness of everyone has helped me slip right into the Goucher atmosphere. It’s a nice change to be able to walk without keeping my eyes fixed firmly on the ground.