Laura, Marcel and Ya-Chi: Day 4 – Things are Getting Serious

Song of the day – “Wannabe” The Spice Girls

Day four of the London Field School was our group’s first introduction to the differences between British and Canadian culture in a business setting. After two days of sightseeing, we were all eager to begin the official visits to places like Canada House and Lloyd’s of London. We left the Ibis Greenwich at 8am all dressed to the nines in our business attire. When we got to the tube station we all were shocked at how packed it was as the previous days it had been about as busy as the transit lines in Vancouver. Monday morning rush hour was a rude awakening.   

After switching lines the first time that morning, we realized our Canadian politeness had no place in London. Robin assured us that pushing and elbowing our way onto the tube was acceptable behaviour across the pond. Laura took on the role of the communicator, helping to let everyone know which stop we were at and when to exit the train. Ya-Chi took on an organizational role to keep us all together and to make sure nobody got lost in the big city. Marcel helped with morale and took turns helping Laura or Ya-Chi when we needed an extra hand.  We found that by dividing the group into three we could ensure that we all got onto the same tube. However, at one stop, the train was packed full of people on their way to work.  Before we all could squeeze on, the doors shut and the tube left the station. Instead of panicking we all got off at the next stop and waited for the rest of our friends to meet up with us.  Even in this situation we were able to stay calm we all recognize that throughout the day we let our stress hamper our ability to lead the group and that by staying more present and calm it would have made our jobs a little easier. 

Our visit with High Commissioner Gordon Campbell opened our eyes to the socio-cultural differences between the United Kingdom and Canada. He explained to us that in Britain especially, the class divisions are still very noticeable. When introducing yourself to someone in Britain, it is important to mention what elementary, high school and university you attended and what part of the United Kingdom your family is from.  This will determine the type of interaction and conversation you will have with any individual. Additionally, gender roles are not nearly as progressive in Britain as they are in Canada. Women’s role outside of the home is still quite traditional, and certain professions are male dominated. Overall, there is a depth of wealth, culture and money in Britain that is vastly different in comparison to Canada.

At the end of the day, we reflected upon the differences we had experienced. For example, it is impolite to talk on the tube, the lack of personal space and no Canadian pleasantries (please and thank you!). The London tube system is extremely quick and efficient though and is an easy way to travel when compared to the transit system in British Columbia. In the words of Gordon Campbell, Britain is Canada’s best friend despite their socio-cultural differences.

Laura Patterson is a third year Bachelor of Communication Studies student.   Marcel Nystrom is a fourth year Bachelor of Business Administration student. Ya-chi Yang is a second year Tourism Management for International Student diploma student.


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