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After boarding the train for Barnes, I had a moment to stop and think about what I had seen thus far. London is, by far, the most diverse city I’ve ever visited. There are so many people from so many places, cultures butting up against one another, and everyone exploring the best way to live their life in this big mosaic of a city. It’s intimidating in a way, but incredibly beautiful as well.
We all have preconceived notions, misconceptions really, of what we expect a place to be like. I think that’s especially true of London for many Americans. We’re informed from movies or television shows, and that simply doesn’t paint the full picture.
The disconnect between the expectation and the reality is jarring to some people. A friendly woman, working with Clarissa told us that when American students had this experience, she would tell them, “London isn’t going to change for you. You have to accept it for what it is, not what you wanted it to be.”
This is true of all places; you can’t arrive and argue when things aren’t what you expected. You must be open to the experiences as they are, not as you wish them to be.
The magic of all this is that London is magnificently diverse. People from different places, with different languages, different cultures, different subcultures, different music, and different food have all come together to make this city home or to see what it has to offer.
In the midst of all this diversity, nobody is out of place. No outfit too unusual, no hairstyle too strange, no tattoo too odd; no one seems out of place on the streets and public transportation of London.
Sitting on the train people-watching, I found myself chuckling, turning to Clarissa, and saying, “Ain’t nobody weird in London.”
And it’s absolutely liberating.
For more post about our visit to London and Paris, check out I See London, I See France.