By Sofiya Shekhavtsova
The population of London constitutes 9,176,530 people. Speaking of our city, after Birmingham, Leeds is the most populated city in the UK. It holds a population of over 800,000 people.
Both cities are full of internationals: tourists, visitors, workers, students. The University of Leeds, in particular, invites more than 9,000 international students from all over the world every year. But why do so many people choose the UK and these cities as a place of living and future life? So many people, coming from so many different backgrounds, with completely different mindsets and ideas, find the UK to be their home.
As an international student myself, it was weird to me when I noticed that I did not have that usual 'period of adaptation' when moving to a new culture, new rhythm of life and traditions. I have met a lot of international students, who are studying in the UoL on their exchange or doing their bachelors here and everyone was telling me the same thing — You know... it just feels like home. Russians, Americans, Australians, South African, Chinese - all these people are completely different in every part of their mind, but all of them told me the very same thing. Interesting, isn’t it? People from over 170 countries come to study in UoL every year with fear of being unaccepted by the new culture. However, they quickly find out that there is no way of being excluded from this society because you are becoming a part of it the very second your leg steps on the ground of Heathrow airport.
Does it mean that Brits are just a very welcoming nation? Hm.. remembering my previous experiences of living in a British family for a month, I would not necessarily say that all English people are very nice and open. Mrs McGee, who was looking after me and my sister, while we were abroad, was quite a conservative English woman in the worst meaning of it. So, even accepting the fact that the majority of the UK’s elderly population is quite weird and strict, people still return and enjoy this country.
So then, maybe it means that Brits just do not have a culture, you can say. Au contraire, I disagree with you. The British nation is a great nation of conquerors, creators and inventors. Without Brits, we would never have had things that fill our ordinary lives. For instance, the telephone, that was invented by Alexander Graham Bell. Without this invention, we would probably never get to smartphones and other devices. Or how about the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin? This theory turned the whole world upside down. Or even speaking of hooligans and punks! Who is not aware that you should be careful in sketchy parts of England not to get involved with some bad stuff, as it was shown in Snatch by Guy Ritchie? Or how about one of the most influential punk rock bands The Sex Pistols? They are also turretless children of this land. These people are great thinkers and great hooligans at the same time, so they are not 'cultureless' for sure.
But how then they can assimilate so many different minds while being such a strong nation?
Even in my case, I have always wanted to return to the UK, because, for some reason, I have always felt like I belong here. I am originally Russian, thus a backbone of mine is the Eastern-European cultural tradition, but at the same time I come from the Netherlands, which is the place of origin of Northern-European thinkers, like Erasmus of Rotterdam, and so I also absorbed the ways of living of straightforward Northern-Europeans. Collecting most of the contrasting views on life in myself I can still feel very comfortable while simply walking down the street in the heart of London, even if it’s crowded. I can still feel like I am here, in Leeds, for 10 years already, though I have barely been here for a month.
This is a great secret of the British nation and British culture. Maybe they are being so amazing towards others to collect the best minds of the world in one place? Who knows...
There is only one fact: we, internationals, feel like home here. Hence, thank you the United Kingdom, for having us here.
Image credit: Smartertravel.com