It’s been nearly 10 years..

Since I decided to write about Native representations in the mainstream media. It’s an article I’m extremely proud of. Although the academic in me now cringes at my clumsy citations and my 19 year old naivety. The article means as much now as it did then. It is one of the reasons I decided to study archaeology to understand more about my ancestry and how I can positively influence the depictions of Natives in history and in the media. Don’t get me wrong, I do not claim to be Native American, I am not part of any tribe. I was not raised on a reservation, hell I’m not even American, I was raised in London to a Colombian mother. Everything I have learnt about North American Indian culture is from books and friends. However, my life and interests have led me down a path of studying Indigenous history and culture. As an English girl, some might be a little confused about why I’m so keen on Native issues. But these core problems, are not just Native problems as they say ‘white silence is white violence’. Selfishly as an academic I want real representations of Indians from North to the South to be based in realism and not steeped in Western fantasy of ‘cowboys and Indians’ in order to educate and inform.

Lancaster in the movie, Apache in 1954.

I want Native Americans to have the opportunities that were given to me. Whilst in Japan, my article had caught the eye of a film producer currently working on a film with Native people and cultures, he wanted to know the right way to portray without offence. Although his intentions were pure, I politely responded to his email with a little sarcasm. Stating that he should perhaps ask the Natives themselves and not some undergrad student living in Tokyo. These issues are not mine, but I will strive to make them more visible. Since that article was published ten years ago, I have took a step back. I realised people believed I was an expert on the subject instead of a teenager with an interest. Nothing has changed though, I want people to view Natives as real people not caricatures, not Tonto, not Disney’s Pocahontas or werewolf Jacob. I will make my voice heard not over Natives but along side them.

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When the world is telling you to be alone

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I was sitting on my bed per usual stroking my cat Lily when she decided enough was enough and swiftly jumped off my lap. The rejection stung for a mere 20 seconds and I got on reading my book. That’s something I’ve always respected about cats, when they want to be alone, they make it happen. No worrying about people’s feelings, no second guessing.  I used to be like that, when I wanted some alone time from the bustle of my life I took some time away from it. I would travel alone, climb a mountain, read a book, anything that allowed for those precious moments on my own.

Don’t confuse being alone for loneliness. I enjoy one but not the other.  Breaking up with friends, even if you haven’t fought, or splitting up with a boyfriend can leave you feeling lonely. I was rebounding from both. The problem wasn’t necessarily either, but this overwhelming obligation to go finding new friends and a partner almost immediately. You see being in my late 20s I’ve heard the phrase ‘you’re not getting any younger’ a lot. Despite my reluctance to ever be tied down by a husband or children, those words start to wear on you. The worst part is you start to believe that you should be following what society is ordering you to do.

However society and the world are not the same thing. As I aimlessly went from date to date, the world was giving me strong hints that I wasn’t ready to settle. Job offers from abroad started to appear in my inbox.  Friends living in different parts of world extending invites, my father at almost 82 reminding me it’s my life and telling me diligently on his hospital bed about his regrets for not experiencing more from life. I kept ignoring the signs, until one day lying in Bloomsbury Square appreciating the London sun while listening to The Cure’s Just Like Heaven, a final attempt to elevate my spirits, a student from South America asked me for directions. He was meeting friends at The Museum Tavern, I directed him the best I could with my broken Spanish. He thanked me back in English, not before saying ‘everyday is an adventure in London’. That’s when it hit me, I had lost the adventure in my life. My depression, lack of self esteem and excitement was down to my routine, the shear boredom of repeated days. When I got into that routine, I felt the time slip through my hands and it frightened me. No. It terrified me.

Then I went back to the library, opened a tab up and started searching for interns abroad, cheap plane tickets, field schools, anything- just adventure. And when I do find it, I’ll make sure to make the most of it.

Rule no.1 don’t fuck up

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So I’m sitting in A&E with a bag of ice on my head wondering where have I played out this scenario before? Was it that time in Tokyo I got so battered that I fell to the ground head first on the subway? Or was it that time when I was playing a game of rounders in secondary school and got distracted by that weirdly attractive IT teacher? Whenever it was, I had clearly fucked up many times before now.

I’m used to being the one that accidentally spills their morning coffee on their new Zara blouse or CCing in that person I had called a wanker in the email. Reply all is not your friend. Actually I think they should delete that feature immediately it would save so many careers. I’m so used to ‘fucking up’ that I’m constantly aware of my next big mistake and I don’t even need to drink four or five G&Ts to do it.

The odd thing about being an adult (not even young adult I’m just adult adult, which I’m sure  because of some sexist societal expectation is mildly terrifying) is that these fuck-ups are being racked up against you by self-righteous friends, exes, family (the list is endless). For those people it shows your lack of responsibility,  maturity and this is one is only for the ladies -elegance.

Now I’m not saying we should allow ourselves to be complete messes, inept of taking ownership of our lives or careers, but what I am saying is that we should be allowed to fuck up (occasionally) and for it not to held against us at every corner. We are human after all (or most us I assume).  I’ve made my inner peace with a lot of my past mistakes, for overspending (investing as I used to call it), overdrinking,  for being too honest, for not being honest enough. I refuse for those mistakes to keep hanging over me, like a credit card bill I haven’t paid yet. Forgive and forget is a cliche, not because it’s true but because people sometimes need it.

Hot Feminist

 

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Image: pexels.com

I’ve been reading a book, I know! Somehow miraculously through all the editing, dog sitting, university assignments, and you know generally fucking around I’ve had time to pick up a book and read. Don’t worry I’m already patting my head in self-gratification, I also get brownie points for completing it in a week. The book, Hot Feminist delves into the identity of the self-labelled, Hot Feminist. A woman who takes pride in the way she looks but still holds onto feminist values, such as gender equality, ending sexual assault and closing the gender pay gap. Although these are important issues, many modern feminists see the obsession of vanity equally as horrifying. Wanting to shave your armpits or wanting to wear those three-inch heels are seen as tantamount to succumbing to the patriarchy.

Reviews for Hot Feminist varied considerably,  many reviewers seemingly not understanding what the book was trying to convey. She’s not saying, I’m so much better than you because I buy MAC and shop at Karen Millen, she’s saying it’s ok to be hot. For years, I always wondered if somehow by wearing a dress made me less of a feminist, merely fodder for male fantasy.  The problem it seems and I wholeheartedly agree with Miss Polly Vernon on this is that Feminism is so disjointed, everyone’s idea of feminism is paramount and if you somehow don’t agree with theirs then it somehow makes you a lesser person. It wasn’t until university that I started identifying as a feminist, I don’t know what it was about the Creative Arts, but it makes one ultra aware of their privilege and others as well. You can’t help but compare how much easier certain groups of people have it over you. And of course how much easier you have it over others.

And for many years, I wore jeans, baggy jumpers, and converse to tell the world: I’m not here to be objectified. I won’t ever be blamed for unwanted attention because of the length of my skirt. My validation will not come through meaningless comments from people on the street (or Tinder matches).  But as I look back at that period (Ah Facebook, a constant reminder of how shit one’s life was and or still is) I shudder, I don’t look happy, I look mildly amused at the very best. The truth was I felt hollow. Even though I had started on my quest to be an archaeologist I was deeply unsettled, displeased with my shitty part time job, worried that potential dates would judge me about still living with my folks, and last but not least scared that this whole caring about not caring facade would eventually break. Everyday, I dressed like I had some adventure waiting for me as soon I left university, and this was all due to my belief that people would take me more seriously. But did it?

The short answer is: no. I was constantly belittled by others, reminded that ‘I was only a student’ and that I dressed like a 13 year prepubescent boy (slight exaggeration). The criticism I received not only knocked my confidence in my academic work, but also in my relationship with others. I had intentionally made myself unhappy. And I was so unhappy. Because I wanted people to think I didn’t care about my appearance, but I did and probably always will. This is not to say I have an unhealthy obsession with my outward appearance, I like to think that I have a ‘normal level’ interest. Shopping, scrolling through  H&M’s website in the office (while that foreboding deadline comes closer), caring about your appearance doesn’t necessarily make you a bad feminist. It’s just one of those feminist non-arguments that routinely gets thrown around. It’s amusing that columnists or just people in general don’t dish out criticisms on decorating one’s home or office spaces or keeping the garden hedges nicely trimmed. Yet somehow, caring about make up, hair, and clothes is criticised as as being vain or a victimization of the patriarchy. This what I call Negative feminism, mostly seen through Twitter and endless Tumblr posts, creeping into women’s psyche making them question every decision in fear of being judged. Let’s face it, Twitter/ Tumblr feminism has become extremely self-righteous. Isn’t feminism suppose to be about allowing women to make their own choices? That’s the feminism I signed up for and that’s the one I’ll keep marching for even in heels.

Can you fall in love after a day?

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‘Six months from now, we’ll meet here,’ those are the parting words Jesse tells Celine after spending an incredibly intense day with her in Vienna. They promise each other to meet at the same spot in six months. Instead of dismissing it as simply a holiday fling, they recognise their love after just a day. During their time together they had connected, chatted about the existence of a god, reincarnation, death, and their failed romantic relationships then consummated their love in a public park. The first time I had watched the film (almost 10 years ago) I was left wondering: is it possible to fall in love after just a day? Is it totally plausible to meet someone,  connect on a deeper level and then realise that they’re your soul mate, love of your life, possibly even  life partner? The 19 year old me was a total sceptic but nevertheless kept returning to that movie and its sequel Before Sunset.

The truth was my 19 year old self loved the concept of Jesse and Celine in Before Sunrise, but as the years went by I realised I was more like Tom from 500 Days a Summer. But how do you define love or being in love? Does it matter if someone feels the same way? Does the depth of that love change when it takes longer for romantic feelings to develop? I’ve always wanted the sort of love that Celine had for Jesse.  Then it miraculously happened,  we met in an unconventional way but after the first exceedingly awkward ten minutes, we delved into social identity, travel, and archaeology. We would sit in the pub and talk for hours while slowly getting more and more drunk, we ‘d discuss the universe, parallel dimensions, photography, anything going. The next few days were invigorating, almost like I had only started living at 28. And like Celine, I can pinpoint the very moment I had fallen in love, he was standing in the kitchen talking on his phone and he looked up at me. I’d known him the grand sum of three days. Like Celine and Jesse I knew we would eventually part ways, I was too neurotic, while he was too laid back. Remember, the saying is not staying balanced in love, it is falling, losing your self to love.

Duration doesn’t matter,  it was surprising to me that I could have such intense feelings after three days despite being in long-term relationships that had lasted more than a year. Often it is that simple because being “in love” has so many variables including longevity. Being in love is such a beautiful thing and while it can be all-consuming and most definitely destructive, not everyone gets to experience that raw and deep connection. The experience is dramatic, intense and overwhelming. There are a lot of crazy choices you’ll make in life. If you get the chance, you should definitely allow yourself to be open to falling in love like Celine and Jesse… Even if it only lasts a day.

Tinder: Ego-boosting one-night-stands

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After a tough break up, I wanted to discover what it was like to go on a few casual dates. Casual being the key word. As a trailblazer for optimism I decided that I would try Tinder, after getting a bit of a repetitive strain injury in my thumb from swiping right and left all the time I decided on three guys I would go on dates with. It’s quite amazing, we are in the age of fast-food dates.  Who cares about getting to know a person, right?

Tinder is a basically ‘would you fuck or not?’ app. I got bored with messaging them; avatars don’t feel like real people and  I’m from a generation where sex is similarly instinctive along with appetite for immediacy. My narcissistic curiosity and appetite for constant validation were fuelled by Tinder’s addictive swipe function.  And I can only assume feeds that caveman part of a male brain that places women in hot or not  categories, viewing them as a piece of meat a la Sports Illustrated.

So you’re asking what about the dates? First there was Dan, member of a band, bartender in the evenings. He was the nicest and  I can safely say (in hindsight) authentic. He was the kind of guy who liked to hold your hand under the table.  He let me watch him play in his band a couple of times, and gave cute kisses on the cheek before he went on stage.  He was a keeper, and not the poster boy for Tinder. Why the hell was he on Tinder?

Then there was Oliver, exactly the sort of 20-something that Tinder or OkCupid would welcome: trendy, active on social media, possibly polygamous (a cheat), but honest about it. We went on a couple of dates, it was easy to talk to him, nothing was off the cards.  That made everything almost too comfortable. I felt my 16 year old self come out again when a cute but undeniably self-involved hack shows interest, but at 28, why let myself be deluded?

Last but not least there was Dean, Shoreditch, 29, who I never even managed to meet up with. As he thought it would be a good idea on his first phone call to ask if I liked big gentalia. But unfortunately that’s the typical male message on Tinder. Dean gives me the impression he has Tinder-banged so many women in London that three in 10 children born in the next generation will be his.

Unlike some of my male friends, I was going on dates and receiving messages – but I felt ugly. I thought being validated through compliments and matches would give me a sense of confidence. I mean after 24 hours I felt a little uglier as a person. You put a picture of yourself up, and after 48 hours, you get men messaging you. But the experience just left me feeling hollow. I lost all my looks. I no longer had it. The world might not have  decided I was ugly but I did.

I wanted to be one of the guys, to think I could have casual flings. I realised I can’t switch it off; the need for real deep connections. Call me old fashioned, but what ever happened to that amazing moment where you bump into each other in the supermarket or meet at a party, and start connecting? I’ll wait for that moment. Tinder deleted.

Why hunting in Africa is a white person’s privilege

Rebecca Francis smiling next to a giraffe she had just killed.  Photo from her website.

Rebecca Francis smiling next to a giraffe she had just killed. Photo from her website.

Let’s be honest how many times do you see the natives of Africa smiling with glee after killing a giraffe, lion or elephant? Not many. Why?  Let me explain the concept of a canned hunt: Canned hunting is a trophy hunt in which an animal is kept in a closed off area, such as in a fenced-in area, increasing the chances of the hunter obtaining a kill.  Africans who indeed hunt for subsistence, do not have the luxury of an enclosed area. The hunt can take days, and requires precision and skill.

There is no such thing as a fair chase during a canned hunt. The animal’s death is an inevitable result.  So who are the people who ultimately pull the trigger?  Statistics (Lindsey et al 2007) show that the majority of the “hunters” going to Africa for a kill are white Americans, with a selection of white Europeans.  Now listen, I’m going to be quite controversial here because I believe this practice is quite racially and classed based. In simple words: It’s a white person privilege.  Don’t get this confused with racial prejudice,  for the same amount of white people who go around hunting, there are people trying so hard to conserve and protect our earth, our home.

“But black people hunt too!” I hear your white privileged self scream. Let’s get down to it then shall we? There is a noticeable difference between black Africans who “kill”, and white foreigners who “hunt”. When the native Africans kill elephants, it’s called illegal poaching. Poaching although wrong, is a way of trying to survive by making a living in the illegal ivory trade business. When the white tourists kill animals, it’s called legal hunting. White tourists are allowed on game reserves where they pay big sums of money to hunt and kill privately owned animals for the sake of sport and trophies.

While Africans are out there risking their lives to stop African poachers being funded by terrorist groups and Asian countries, who believe Rhino horn has some sort of medicinal properties, white Americans and Europeans are happily killing animals a few miles away because they have the dollar to do so.  By using this argument you’re  justifying privileged white people hunting lions, elephants and rhinos.

Ricky Gervais (Yes! A white conservationist!) recently caused some media frenzy when he posted a picture of Rebecca Francis an “experienced” huntress who killed a giraffe and laid next to it in a mockery of nature, land and life.

“What must’ve happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal & then lie next to it smiling?’ a furious Gervais tweeted.  As a conservationist who lives within the means of a restricted budget I attempt to live within the borders of the basic laws of ecology. I’m not here to be liked, I’m not here to make friends, I only want to be reveal the truth, just like Mr. Gervais.

In his book, Tourism and the Consumption of Wildlife, Brent Lovelock states that over 16% of the adult population in America participates in some form of hunting. Canned hunts are strongly concentrated in Texas (Lovelock 2011, p.20),  which includes animals such as coyote, deer, wolves and a number of endangered species.  The majority of people who participated in canned hunts in Africa come from Texas. Hardly surprising.

South Africa has an established hunting tradition but few people express much enthusiasm for its corrupted canned alternative. It is still legal to bring a lion carcass back to US (or anywhere in Europe or North America) as a trophy, and much of the demand comes from overseas.

Kendall Jones posted a photo of herself riding a lion corpse.

Kendall Jones posted a photo of herself riding a lion corpse.

But people like Francis, who epitomise this trade, will not comprehend or even accept responsibility for their actions.  Rebecca Francis has argued that she did it for conservation purposes as well as to “feed a village”. But her out of the salon hair and made up gleeful face says otherwise and that is the problem. Kendall Jones, a teenage cheerleader caused similar outrage last year, when she posted a photo of herself riding a lion she had just killed. This pattern has not gone unnoticed by social media, or the media in general, and there are many calling out the end of this privilege blood sport.

As a proud advocate for the “sport”  Francis has travelled the world in search of the latest ‘trophy’.  But by calling it a ‘sport’ – this gives it some small veneer of respectability when there is none at all.  It goes beyond the one blonde hunter. It represents that canned hunting points at a flawed system of values and corruption, a bunch of incompetent leaderships completely unworthy of their mandates and powers.

It’s not simply about being self righteous, its about showing empathy and compassion towards animals (and humans) helpless against human barbarity and white supremacy.

I want to break free

February, 2011, Seoul, Korea

February 2011, Seoul, Korea

Mind of a traveller

I was 23 in Japan, living a life free of responsibility, every young 20 something dream. Yet there I was, residing in a cramped one-bedroom flat, wishing that I made different choices.

A mild state of depression slowly crept over me, causing me to reevaluate my current situation.  The tsunami hitting northern Japan,  causing a radiation leak at the Fukushima plant. The situation made me feel entirely helpless,  for a while I pondered about how my life had led me here, in this tiny bedsit, watching the walls alone. Wishing the time away; hoping something –anything that would come along and put me on the right path towards contentment.

The anxiety didn’t let up when my brother visited me that year, if anything I saw his freedom to explore the world and I envied it. During most March 2011, we were trapped in my flat too scared by all the fear-mongering of the British media about radiation poisoning to venture outside. A feeling of being imprisoned slowly took over, as trains were cancelled, flights delayed and food scarce.

Some might say that I was ungrateful, and looking back at it, maybe I was. But even after the threat of radiation had died down, I woke up everyday almost in tears. I went to a job I had no passion for only to increase my bank balance and secure my visa.

Flights out of the country became too expensive, the low job prospects back at home, promises made to friends I had to keep;  the chains were tight and every time I resisted it only toughened its grasp.

As an expatriate, friends come and go, and there is never a ‘forever’, only for those who have set up shop here with families and I had no temptation to follow, if anything there attitudes towards Japan only made me want to leave even more.

Two years later still miserable I knew I had overstayed my welcome.  Rather than book a ticket straight out of Japan, I opted to visit Fukuoka, costing me no more than a few hundred pounds.  After a brief romantic encounter with an Australian; I was in the air –literally (and figuratively).

Travelling is a life-changing event that affects people’s way of thinking, but you also find yourself appreciating home-comforts. Once I landed at Heathrow, I inhaled the multiculturalism of London and my first week passed in a blur of museums, long walks, and “good ol’ English pubs”. This was home.

The long job applications started and I was working within the first three weeks of being back home.  The job I had trained for and tried vainly to find in Tokyo. An ideal situation to most but it happened again; the stability had started to cause an unease. I was in a situation where I had total control, which ironically made me scared.

I was becoming an “everyday robot” and I ceased the opportunity to fly off again, this time to New York.

But it wasn’t enough, I was travelling to modern cities, while I had always thrived on the historical sites, nature reserves and mountains a country had to offer.  There was no stopping me from climbing mountains, visiting temples –seeing the world.

A few weeks ago, at my computer I scrolled through volunteer opportunities online. With the savings I had accumulated I booked my first expedition to Peru to help on an archaeological dig at Vilcabamba.  It did the trick, and settled my self-induced anxiety.  Jealousy still gets the best of me when I see tourists wandering through London, exploring the hidden  alley ways, or discovering that quaint little pub behind the promenade of shops in Holborn. But, I know its only a matter of time before I’m on the road (again.)

 

Sweden with Love

What happened to the days when I used to yearn for the bright lights of Tokyo?  Recently, I must confess; there has been a new love entering my thoughts, and it’s a place very different to Japan. Unlike most people who find love in people, I find love in places.  This unfortunately means I’ve been in love at least 5 times. I’m not saying I’m the only one who thinks this way. Finding a city, you feel comfortable in,  building a sense of familiarity and establishing a relationship with it; is much like that of people seeking relationships.

After cheating on London for a while, I found I preferred the intimacy over the flash. Now, all I can think of is Sweden.  Some of my peers have said that it’s just my taste is growing, or at least changing. Possibly, after 4 years maybe it’s about time to break my liaison off, before and I and Tokyo start getting bitter with one another.  The truth is; I can’t think of any place I’d rather be at the moment.  Fortunately, I can now understand why a place like Sweden appeals to me so much more than Tokyo. As much as I love Tokyo, the relentless fast pace of life here is something that I’ve come to despise, and that feeling has become quite unpleasant over time. However, my main woe I have with the city that gave me so much;  is the lack of progression.  The same sentiment goes for London, London with all it’s culture and history still has a lot of distance to cover in terms of equality and environmental issues if it hopes to be in the same league as Sweden. The more I read about Scandinavia and – Sweden in particular, the more I find myself – falling in love.  For example, Sweden’s energy source runs on 44% hydro-power that is a surprisingly large percentage in comparison to other developed countries, while their health and education systems are some of the best in the world.  Stockholm also being awarded one of the cleanest cities of the world numerous times. The list goes on and I think I’m done with the praise.

I have to admit that I’ve never been, so maybe all my commending of Sweden is unfounded. One can only find out by first hand experience and that’s why I have to take my chances. There are a couple of qualities that I look for a city, the main three are;

1. History, I can’t stress how important it is that a city has architecture built before the 70s.
2. Good restaurants, yes I mean ones with authentic cuisines.
3. Bohemia, which I mean places to go market shopping, little cafes, and nice bars with live music.

Unfortunately being in Tokyo and even the thought of returning to London has made me realise that my needs have changed slightly. I was thinking that New York could meet these needs, it has a bohemian side, and in the last ten years, it has become greener, and just last year they began allowing gay marriage. However, like Tokyo, the sheer size of New York is putting me off. I want a city, without the chaos of the 1000s commuters trying to get work, bags slamming into folded arms, fighting to make it to tops of escalators, slips of coats trapped between subway doors, it all gets to one after a certain period of time. A lot of my friends are unconvinced, of course I’ve given them enough reasons to believe that I might not go through with it. Only last year did I apply for NYU, only to stay in Japan for yet another year.  The year before I had prepared myself for the idea of immigrating to Norway. I fear that the reason is that I’m running out of time to continue my studies.  Unfortunately, no matter how good the academia might be in Tokyo, I’m not at all convinced that it suits my independent style of studying.

At first I thought like my friends and acquaintances that it might have been just a far distant crush, but something tells me even if that is so I have to play the field a bit before I decide to settle down.

Oh London Town

Typical Londoner. (Myself)

London with all of its crime, pollution and lack of common courtesy from commuters nevertheless still remains one of my favorite cities in the world. Granted, you may think that’s typical coming from a born and bred Londoner, but that’s just it, don’t many people berate their own place of upbringing?  After two years in Bath studying for my Creative Writing degree I had dreamt of living in Tokyo to get away from the hypocrisy of middle-class life (though I am working-class South Londoner and proud), for those of you reading this on a whim; mission accomplished.

I know many people from the counties of England, detest the smoke and noise of London’s city limits, but honestly living in a place where urban and rural borders are so heavily blurred I admire the fact that it only takes 20 minutes to get some real greenery away from London’s city centre.  During my time traveling around Europe I noticed a real lack of live music and although Paris with all its artisans and poets it possesses actively prohibits busking on the streets (maybe  it’s time for a revisit, just to be sure). I’m not just talking about the common Underground busker either.  London has an array of street artists on every corner, pubs offer open-mic nights for free, every shopping arcade has at least one person playing a violin or guitar.

Of course after being away for so long, one might think that all I’m experiencing is a bout of home-sickness which one has after living almost 4 years abroad, but it’s not just that.  During my time in London, I never once appreciated the fact that I could easily see the remnants of Cleopatra of Thebes in The British Museum, nor did I truly acknowledge the fact that if I wanted authentic Indian, Jamaican, Mexican, Peruvian dining they were all accessible to me at anytime (apart from after 11pm).

I never look up, this bad habit was further instilled in me during my time in Tokyo, now come to think of it I think I know why my neck is always sore. Therefore, I decided during this visit to London that I would always (or at least partially) look up.  You might think that strange, but truthfully I wished I had done it sooner.  Georgian,  Victorian,  Tudor architecture can also be seen so readily if one just takes their eyes away from the chewing gum engrained pavements.  Unlike New York or Tokyo which is shrouded by a concrete jungle, London has a relatively open environment.

Now, what I truly admire about London is its diversity, nationalities from every corner of the world seem to congregate there.  British nationals from immigrant parents or an immigrant parent (much like myself) add variety.  Homogenous societies rather intimidate me, they make me feel slightly alienated, maybe that comes from my own insecurities, but I never felt that way walking the streets of London. Though London does have it’s fair share of racism, I doubt you’ll be ostracized for being the only one of your race in your company or class.

I’m not adverse to criticizing London, for all its culture, diversity and history, it could do with a decent railway system that runs on time and the price of a pint of Guinness could be reduced to at least £3. Also customer service seems to be deteriorating every time I go back (I’m looking at you Gipsy Hill Rail staff), though I’ve experienced much worse in other countries. I’m making comparisons (I know) though I know this is a sentiment I can’t avoid. My time abroad has matured me in ways that London probably could not have, but if maturing and growing a sense of self means falling in love slightly more with history, culture and diversity then bring it on I say.