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Osgerby: London, a retrospective look

BY PAUL OSGERBY | DECEMBER 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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One of the first things I heard upon arriving to London was more than 300 different languages are commonly spoken each day in Britain’s capital. New York City is the only other city in the world that has such a cosmopolitan feel.

However, unlike the city that never sleeps, London does prefer to catch a little shuteye.

Within a block, one can walk off of a bustling high street into a peaceful residential square, where the hums of car tires or honking horns fade away nearly into nonexistence. Instead, pigeons coo, and wind rustles fallen leaves.

The noisy neighborhoods, such as Shoreditch or Soho or Dalston, though, always remain packed with tourists and citizens alike past the early morning hours. In those areas, street food, such as kebabs or chips (which means “fries” for Americans), are as frequent as off-license alcohol shops.

It feels like a city for the young people (or those who still try to live so). Yet, oddly, London, the tourism capital of the world, is not particularly affordable for young people live in.

There are larger issues at hand in the United Kingdom as well.

As politicians such as Prime Minister David Cameron keep threatening with ultra-conservative rhetoric to leave the European Union almost entirely based on immigration reform, my faith in open-minded governmental institutions continues to dwindle.

Case in point: The Republican backlash against President Obama’s new immigration rules, repeatedly calling it a destruction of the United States Constitution — as they have for just about every new piece of legislation, including the Affordable Health Care Act, brought forward by the president in the past six years.

Media discourses about Michael Brown and Eric Garner are sickening enough, attempting to diminish it to “playing the race card.” Britain is not much different — black people are 29 times more likely to stopped and searched in some areas by police.

On those hot-button topics, the politics of discourse seem to supersede the actual issues at hand. If some people describe themselves as world-weary, then I would say I’ve grown Western-world-weary.

I thought in London I would be able to at least briefly escape the rhetorical whirlwind of U.S. politics. Nevertheless, it occurs here just as frequently.

The United Kingdom feels it’s more entitled than the rest of the Europe. The Brits have kept the British pound instead of the euro and say that in order to remain in the European Union, they must have special immigration laws. It all feels so similar to how the United States pegs itself in the world.

London has a special cosmopolitan composition, and it’s under threat by pseudo-self-preservation political tactics. The United Kingdom and United States are trying to cut themselves off from the rest of the world, placing the two onto a new elitist pedestal. It’s unsettling to witness imperialism continue to thrive.

After living in a “world-leading city” for three months, I don’t expect myself to stick around in a Western country for much longer.


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