Saturday, March 27, 2010

God save the Queen

So this past week I decided to hop across the pond and spend my spring break in jolly ole England. While most normal functioning Americans spend their spring breaks in warm places like Cancun, Hawaii, or Florida, I did the opposite by leaving my home town of Seattle, which was warm, sunny and rainless for once, and flying over to the colder, rainier, cozy little town of Cheshire, where my aunt lives. She resides in a small two-story house, three bedrooms, one bath, one kitchen, shared by six people. Those six individuals consisted of myself, my parents, my aunt, my other aunt, and my adorable 10 year old cousin who reminds you of Oliver Twist.

I confess, I had several reasons to go on this trip. One was to bask in the glory of what I had perceived as to be British and European fashion -- a.k.a. go shopping. Going off of that, I needed to leave the U.S. for a bit. America can be a to live, but you have to get away once in a while. So, naturally, on the second day of my trip (the first was spent taking naps and playing Wii-sports with my cousin), I went probably one of the most gigantic malls I have ever seen in my entire life. The Trafford Centre in Manchester was, for a striving little fashionista such as myself, mind-boggling. First of all, the exterior of the mall itself looked like a goddamn castle, and I felt like a princess. What wonders await me inside? Clearly high-end brand name stores and the most finely dressed people these American eyes can see, right?

The answer: TO AN EXTENT. Yes, there was Burberry. And Armani. And Marc Jacobs. Vivienne Westwood. D&G. French Connection. YSL. Dior. Finely dressed individuals with the walk, talk, and amazing outfits. However, there were, to my displeasure, things of the other end of the spectrum. I thought, by leaving America, I could escape from the atrocity that is that of Ugg boots and sweats. Leggings as pants. Obnoxious Juicy Couture purses. Fake orange tans. Everything that is wrong with America.

I was wrong. Of all the fashion atrocities listed above, I saw all of them in just that day. I was shocked and appalled. This is Britain, not America! I thought these were just American problems! Apparently not. Left and right, there were lazy university students, Californian wannabes, middle-aged women going through mid-life crises, you name it. There was even a Hollister store at the mall. I could not escape these horrors merely by leaving America!

Perhaps I am going a bit overboard with my description, but I honestly expected...something else. I wanted to visit England to experience a new culture, people, and nation. But instead I had gotten a different version of the U.S. of A. Yes, I enjoyed listening to people "talk funny" over there, but the British very quickly lost their exoticness after a few days. Possibly because I have lived with them instead of staying in a hotel, and was able to understand the language (to an extent...those Cockney accents can be a bit hard to understand at times). I've been to other parts of the world in which I was a downright tourist, lost in the middle of Rome, Tokyo, Bangkok, etc. desperately trying to decode street signs and maps. During this trip, I almost felt like a local. Where's the fun in that?

Perhaps it is location? Manchester, while still a big city, is nowhere as large as the gigantic metropolis that is London. In London, my romanticized perception of England is more fulfilled. In London, there is a giant Burberry store. In Manchester, there be dragons. In Ugg boots.