Friday, May 16, 2014

Different Ways of Living

It didn’t take long to realize how different it is here in the UK than it is in the US. Granted, I grew up in a small town and I am not familiar with large cities in the states, but it is such a busy lifestyle over here. It seems to me that everyone is rushing around like they are late. Constable Watson said that there are more than 6 million inhabitants in London. He guessed that that number is easily doubled from people commuting into London for work. And most all of these people use the Underground for transportation so you can imagine what it is like. The Underground is similar to the Subway in the US. It is really busy and hectic on the Underground whenever we use it. Most of the time you try and get on the train before it fills up and you sit or stand shoulder to shoulder with everyone. Not only is the Underground like this but the streets and sidewalks are the same way. It is very difficult to cross the streets because of all the traffic and the fact that they drive on the wrong side of the road than we do. The streets are very small and everything is compacted but it does not slow the traffic down.  Since the sidewalks are full of pedestrians, the cyclists are required to ride on the streets. The motorcycle and scooter drivers are just plain crazy. When traffic is slow or even at a stop, they proceed to speed down the streets in between the car lanes. I am not sure if this is legal or not but it happens all the time. So needless to say, we are all cautious when crossing any streets.

Another difference is the culture. In the states we do have a wide variety of cultures and many different languages are spoken. Just in London alone, it is estimated that there is roughly 300 different languages used. That is a very large amount in a geographically small area. I do not know of an area in the US that speaks that many languages. I have noticed that it is very difficult to communicate with anyone here in London. When I speak to people here, I swear everyone I talk to has a different English accent.  
Another huge difference in the way of living in the London v. the US is the use of cameras or, closed circuit TV, (CCTV) in London. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. Anything you do, anywhere you go, you are being recorded. When we took our tour of the Special Operations Room of the Metropolitan Police Department, we got to see the video screens where they monitor all of the 20,000+ cameras. When talking to the officers about it, they are accustomed to it and it does not bother them one bit. All of us thought it was very different and crazy. In order for us to understand their reasoning and feelings about all the cameras, Constable Watson and Sergeant Andrews compared it to the officers in the states caring guns. We think nothing about officers and their guns and the people of London think nothing about the use of cameras. Here are some pictures below of the Special Operations Room.       

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