Let’s do a quick catch up because I’ve been slacking with personal updates:
- Summer in Toronto was amazing! Found some places to dance bachata, made time for new friendships while catching up with old ones, and soaked in all the sun I could.
- I completed my internship at the coolest magazine, sold my award-winning and soon the be published thesis, and I am now officially a master! Sorry, I don’t mean to toot my own horn but honestly, if you don’t celebrate yourself, who will?
- I’m sort of living in the UK for a bit… no biggie.
Remember when I completed my undergrad and moved to Egypt? I thought why not pack up and do it all over again somewhere else after grad school.
It’s hard to imagine that only a year ago I was starting my masters in London, Ontario. I had no idea that I could be interning for the CBC News bureau in London, England soon after. This internship is only for a few weeks but I booked a one-way ticket here, something I’ve never done before. There has always been an exit strategy with prior adventures but this one was gutsy, even for me.
I thought a lot about life after school and though I love Toronto, we’re in an open relationship. I wanted something spunky to define this rite of passage. I’m not sure if this is a Sagittarius occurrence or an immigrant one, but nothing quite feels like home anymore.
Here’s the lowdown on London so far.
‘A fucking Indian’ in the Brexit era
My second day shadowing a CBC journalist at the Brtish Parliament midst of Brexit, and I hear these sweet words: A fucking Indian. I don’t make eye contact and pace faster, being sure to give no recognition of the racist sentiment. But I’m still a ball of mush so I find a corner to cry in a block over. These slurs are probably nothing new in England but their outward projection with Brexit’s nationalistic aura caught me off guard. This is where travelling while coloured shows its side effects.
After recovering from the initial shock, I explained to myself that I already knew this. Targetting of non-white folks is systematic and British leaders with Trump-esque rhetoric optimize on the violent notions of othering. Here is a really cool speech by Labour MP Tan Dhesi that’s worth listening to.
It’s weird that after living in two British commonwealth nations, I’ve finally reached the motherland. Exploring London feels a little like retribution – colonizing the colonizer-ish vibes.
However, most people have been warmer, unlike the expected London gloom. I haven’t made too many friends but the ones I have, have been great. Despite living in such an expensive and bustling city, people manage to balance work with post-work pub patio huddles.
Unpaid interning with two degrees and debt the size of Mars
Is it too soon to whine about unpaid internships and student life again? I vowed to not do unpaid work again but I’d always dreamt about reporting for a reputable news institution and eventually doing foreign relations. It’s unreal to be helping report on international political and cultural events that shape our history. I saved up in the summer to budget these weeks and even after anticipating and preparing so much for this trip, calling myself a “journalist” carries a heavy dose of imposter syndrome. I mean, I answer calls and chase potential interviewees as an intern, so I’m not really a “journalist.” But I do get to witness and learn from veteran reporters who’ve filed pivotal world events.
But I have to say that it feels refreshing to finally introduce myself as anything other than a “student” after 20 years. It just needs some getting used to.
I have some family in London but I wanted this experience to be something I did on my own, even financially. I booked a hostel that serves two decent meals a day and has a gym with weights in kgs instead of lbs which forces me to exercise my brain alongside my body. I have three really cool roommates and a community of international folks to eat with. The hostel also happens to be in Notting Hill which is right out of your typical British rom-com. I pack myself into the overcrowded underground during rush hours and thrive on my excitement of trying to live like a local.
I often stay in hostels during travels but this is the first time I’ve done it long term. I thought I’d miss having my own space but bunk beds are growing in on me.
The centre of the world
I’ve never been good with math so it was news to me to find out that Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is a physical point on our planet which is at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.
But London feels like the centre in other ways too. Yes, the British colonized pretty much the entire world and placed themselves in the middle of an eurocentric map, but this country’s ability to house so many cultures into it’s metropolitan can’t be overlooked. Every artist plans a stop in London, every country plants their embassy here, it’s the midpoint for the east and west, and my personal favourite: most flights have layovers here. In the two weeks I’ve been here, I’ve already met two friends stopping by London before heading to their destinations.
I’m not sure how long I’m planning to stay here but I’m trying to not freak out about the next step. Regardless, if you’re planning on stopping by London town, let’s spill some tea together.