ISH – It’s better than it sounds
One of the great things about the London program is the housing; we’re staying in the International Student House (ISH) in Central London, literally bordering Regent’s Park (the equivalent of Central Park in New York). It’s interesting, this is an area of wealth like few of us have ever experienced. I walk outside and there will be about five Porches, BMWs, Jaguars to every one Volvo or Toyota. It’s kind of intimidating though; I first got here and was like, “I’ve gotta get some suits and blazers.” (Which I actually did, from the used shop, of course). Even better, though, is the living situation inside the house, where we stay with students from all over the world.
I’m rooming with Jake Szeligowski from Stevens Point, a few mice (but that’s a story for another time), and an Indian chef named Aditya Bhakta. He’s a really interesting guy; he has a degree from Cordon Bleu and has worked in one of Chef Ramsey’s kitchens. Apparently it was just as intense as it seems on television. Unfortunately, our conflicting hours of operation limit our relationship to waking each other up at inopportune times (is there ever an opportune time to be woken up?) but hopefully on one of his days off we can hang out a little bit. There are a great deal of other interesting people as well; I met one guy who is an undercover reporter from Pakistan, and he’s absolutely thrilled to tell his stories, because in Pakistan he’s sworn to silence. Man, the things he’s seen … I really should not post it here though, for his safety. Sorry for the teaser.
Ultimately, the major appeal of studying abroad has to be the interactions with foreign individuals. People who come from such diverse backgrounds inevitably have a great deal of variance in worldview and opinion. There’s much to be learned if a person can just listen, which it’s hard for Americans to do (myself included). However, as we stress in Ecology of Foods, diversity is important–it is every bit as important in worldview as in agriculture. For this reason, we need to listen; we need to get the viewpoints from every corner of the world if we’re going to be sustainable as a species. Besides, it’s fun to meet people who are fundamentally different from you in so many ways; it makes you rethink our way of life. I even started up a relationship with a true-to-life English girl! It was my knowledge of Acetyl-CoA and the Pyruvate Cycle that really locked it in. Thanks Dr. Lawrence. So far it’s been a great deal of fun, and something that never would have happened if I was not here listening to everybody.
Anyway, enough about me–stay posted for next time. I’m going to delve into London food and markets.
Lee Bartnik, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in dietetics, is blogging about his study abroad experience in London.