More often than to locals, I find myself giving an elevator pitch to a lot of UCL students as well as affiliate UCL students. I feel as if the most common questions that I get asked are where I am from, where I go to school, and what I study. So here goes my elevator pitch! “Hey! My name is Heidi, and I am an affiliate student from New Jersey in the United States, originally studying at Boston College in Massachusetts. I am majoring in Sociology and minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies, and I am on the pre-law track.”
Regarding American culture, I love talking with all the new people I met abroad about how different I consider the British and American education systems, as well as how I typically spend my time as an undergraduate student at Boston College. Additionally, when I am having these conversations, we love talking about the different lingo that is unique to each country. I have also found it interesting how we have different pronunciations for words such as “antibiotics” and “herbs.”
I live in a flat with four other students who attend University College London. They are from China, Taiwan, Botswana, and Australia, and I am so blessed to always be in the company of individuals who have such unique and lived experiences. One time, my flatmate from Perth and I were having a conversation about what made us study abroad in London. She discussed how her family was originally from England and moved to Australia, so it always intrigued her to study here. She told me that there were many schools in the United States that were also viable options for her to study abroad in America. However, she said that was never something that she was even considering because of how dangerous the States are without effective reforms on, for example, gun control.
I have almost become numb and immune to the political climate in the United States and the lack of initiative to protect, for example, students of all ages from all the school shootings that have occurred on a nationwide level. While my flatmate’s concerns about living and studying abroad in America were so valid and true, I became defensive at how America was being “villainized.” I don’t know if it was my loyalty to being a citizen and lifelong resident of the States kicking in, but I was almost disappointed in how there are so many things to celebrate about the States, but oftentimes it is overshadowed by their inability to deal with issues that are at the forefront of the livelihood and safety of those residing in the States. This honestly gave me more time to introspect, thinking about how American culture is perceived from a global perspective. Recently, during one of these times of reflection, I began to think about the current court case on TikTok involving CEO Shou Zi Chew. As both a user of TikTok and a citizen of America, I am astonished at the priorities of the US government. I cannot seem to rationalize how data security and privacy practices, which have not proven to be dangerous thus far, take precedence over gun control, with school shootings still being an uncontrolled issue, as shown by the 2023 Covenant School shooting. I am choosing to see the silver lining in having these candid conversations with friends I have met from all over the world because I am now more encouraged to return to the United States as a more globally aware citizen who understands how America is perceived by others.