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 very...charming...place 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 shopping...at 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.