Same Language, Different Culture, Lifestyle, and Sustainability Approaches

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Hello to everyone reading this! This is my second FEA blog and I have been to England for a full month now. It’s crazy to see how quickly have adapted to the culture and grown as an individual in the past month.

I can genuinely say that although America and the UK share the same language, people here live life quite differently from us. Something I have noticed is that people over here value the quality of their life and live more sustainably.

When I was visiting my aunt (mom’s cousin) from Newcastle Under Lyme, we had multiple discussions about the differences between the US and UK. The thing that made me notice how British people value the quality of their life by how my aunt would have enough time to cook a meal and spend quality time with her family on a daily basis. I find it fascinating and respectful how while my aunt cooks food, my uncle would play with his daughter and help with washing dishes after the meal. My British relatives abroad care so much about their quality of life and one another that my aunt would work while my uncle would be a stay-at-home dad to take care of his daughter until she grows up. While being a stay-at-home dad, he studies daily about medical terminology to become one of the few Vietnamese doctors here in the UK.

Whereas how I grew up, I have always not spent enough time with my parents after work as I have grown up with my dad working a blue-collar job and my mom in a pink-collar job. These types of jobs required long hours and physical labor, for example, my dad had to wake up at 5 AM for work and not get back home until 4 PM 5 days a week and my mom went to work at 10 AM and would not get home until 9 PM 6 days a week. My parent’s long work shifts would require them to take me to a Vietnamese babysitter and they were generally too exhausted to spend quality time with me as a child after work. One thing my parents ensured they did was to make sure I was fed daily, specifically amazing Vietnamese food (which I miss right now!!!), and provide me enough essential items to live. This allowed me to learn how to appreciate any moment I get to spend time with my parents and them generally.

When I first arrived here, I immediately noticed a lot of sustainability items and actions implemented in the UK. The first thing I observed is how takeaway products are entirely made out of paper or just degradable such as bamboo utensils. Whereas takeaway food in the US is mostly plastic or unrecyclable items (ex: styrofoam takeaway box) and a small portion of the items you receive from takeaway is recyclable or degradable. Another thing I observed is no matter what city you are in, there’s always a trashcan to dispose of waste and recyclables. Since I have been visiting my relative’s and friends’ homes in the UK, every household has two separate bins for recyclables like cans and glass, and general waste. Whereas back at home, one of my university’s campuses doesn’t have any recycling bins because there is no recycling center around that area. Being in a country with so many progressive sustainable actions has made me reflect on my carbon footprint. It almost feels effortless to be sustainable here in the UK as there’s accessibility to public transportation, the products you purchase and use are guaranteed degradable or recyclable, and how you’re required to pay for plastic bags. When I come back to the states, I would like to implement my sustainable actions in my daily life and make a change in my community from my experiences abroad.

Thanks so much for reading my blog! Here’s a picture of me and my relatives and a sustainable Starbucks cup I got in Manchester before I went on the train.