The UK imagined

22 Oct

For some Asian students, the UK is not as what they first expected. 

I’d always wanted to visit and understand the UK. The country has centuries of impressive history in science, arts and modern civilization. Science invention grew here. Industrial revolution started here. Enid Blyton’s caravan family ‘lived’ here. Democracy grew here. I expected modern country with open-minded people because the country already has a long period of learning. With those notions, I came to UK.

Heathrow airport made my heart sank. The airport is neither new and modern nor old and elegant, it simply looked old and unfriendly. After half-an-hour queue, I was greeted by a friendly officer. I was happy again, at least before he sneered at me and said,”Wales? They talk funny.”

During the orientation week at the university, I got to know a Chinese and an Irish. One afternoon we walked down the streets of Cardiff to familiarized ourselves with the city. The Irish was looking for a post office.  The Chinese asked her ,”Why do you look for a post office?” She replied,”I want to send letters.” The Chinese was genuinely surprised,”You mean you still send letter? That’s the traditional way.”

“Why their separate the taps for hot and cold water? The hot water is too hot, the cold is too cold. They should use one tap to control the temperature,” a Singaporean girl complained. “Even the new buildings use that.” Well, she does not have hot water supply in Singapore home, but it’s a simple rational that there should be a good mix of hot and cold water. So one day we asked some Welsh friends about it. The reply was because that was how it was done. Isn’t it a too-comfortable answer?

The discussion on veil surprised me too. In BBC’s your say, there are so many people who supported Jack Straw; some gave intolerating comment such as the idea that minority must follow the lifestyle of majority. It’s suppression in gentler way, just like what happened in developing world countries. I knew what it is to be minority – I was one in my home country. I know what it is to be suppressed.

Well, despites the unexpected, I still like the country especially its freedom of speech. The buildings are beautiful, even though not as nice as what pictured in the glossy magazines. My one month experience is not enough to make a good judgement. There are still many faces of the UK (more exactly Wales) I am yet to find out. It’s exciting to know UK better, inside out.  

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One Response to “The UK imagined”

  1. rachel January 2, 2007 at 6:53 pm #

    the cost of a degree is unreal these days, i agree.

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