What thoughts do you have when you think of going to a new country far from yours? You may think of its attractions, the big cities and the different people and food you will get to try. If you’re a student you can relate to this more.
Every year thousands and thousands of students come to the UK for studies and better opportunities and this number is increasing annually. I am no different. I came to the UK last year for my studies with dreams, determined to write my new chapter.
I still remember how strange I felt when I 1st experienced the culture shock. Back home, I would watch videos coming to Heathrow airport and to the city. I was excited to go on my journey, a bit of sadness had been hanging since I was leaving my family.
The thought of me arriving here in London, I thought of its fast-paced environment, its vibrancy, how I would see people with different styles of fashion and, maybe some people vlogging down the street, some skaters and some just busy on their phones, everyone moving in and out of trains and buses, the hustle and bustle of daily lives.
A bit of my perception
Well, I came a bit later than when my classes started due to the restriction placed. Coming here late limited me in where I can go as a student, limiting what I was able to see and experience.
Talking of my bit naive expectations, I did see some people roller skating and skateboarding but not much to see when it came to various trends, and interesting activities, they almost look similar.
With the gloomy weather, tall buildings, and darker and subtle colors for people to see around every day in almost everything, wearing something different than that catches more attention in the crowd. It makes them an outsider. So to fit in the outsiders too wear whatever is more acceptable, more available, and more appreciated. The quality of these inanimate objects is pretty high though they look too mundane.
Some people have just arrived, some are struggling and some are well-raised in this culture but one thing is for sure everyone is too busy with life. Most maybe even too busy to think about the present moment but rather think in advance planning for tomorrow or the week. Yes, they are helpful if you need help but everyone simply go about their day without thinking apart from what needs to be done next. I could see, they have it all planned mostly and perform accordingly. Every now and then I try to find something lively and appealing and something that catches my eye. Perhaps, the bright red buses and the all-decorated taxis look more interesting and varied than the people in the street.
I had seen a set of common color patterns that are either religiously worn by all or accepted by all. Here, the weather is mostly gloomy and people mostly choose cool spectrum of colors for almost anything be it their laptop bags, wallets/purses, or clothes.
Reasonably people wear black more often as it absorbs heat and grey is just to blend in with the black. However, uniforms can be white which breaks the illusion of having to wear dark colors to stay warm.
It’s hard to find people wearing a different color than black, navy blue, grey, beige, army green, and white. When my people around me bring darker shades of another object again, I just throw my little joke about them buying another thing with a ‘Londoner Colour’
Yes, they are more neutral colors and you may say that those give a sense of calmness, and elegance, it’s classy and looks decent but does a bit of color degrade quality? I think wearing and seeing more colors around you keeps the environment interesting, vibrant, and energetic than all those lifeless shades of mundanity.
Color influences us
Though these colors are light and easy on the eyes they are oddly disturbing to me at how fiercely they are used. These are more neutral colors except for black which stands for power, sophistication, death, sorrow, mourning, etc. The neutral colors mostly have an effect on the mind and feelings to be calm, stable, feel elegant, represent growth, trust, and so on. They are more subtle in the background and not attention-seeking or dramatic on their own like the red or yellow and other prominent ones.
The article, Causes and Effects -Exploring Color Psychology, explores how colors influence mood, emotions, focus, and perception. These colors are suitable for the work environment and productivity. People not being able to break their color chain by being at work for many hours and coming home to a similar environment makes them feel like they are still in a work-like mindset being more automatic, mechanical, and monotonous. Hence, feeling relaxed, homely, cozy, or refreshed after work diminishes.
Another article on verywell mind talks about color influencing emotions, moods and how people make decisions, and how we may perceive them. The color black reflects sophistication, authority, and power; the cooler shades of blue and green give a sense of stability, reliability, trust, and growth respectively while the grey colors mean just being subtle and trying not to stand out in the crowd. This however may not always be the case as its subjective to how a person experiences color in their culture, environment, and upbringing.
In the majority, such arrangement may help them focus but lead their thinking to one way, leaving them less space for experimentation, creativity, and reflection. As if people are being made to work continuously in a big plant in a factory and they are being conditioned to be exploited. Imagine people being part of a big clock with them being the elements fitting exactly where they need to be to function.
Back to Storytime
It almost felt like people here may just be either serving and surviving or engrossed in an atmosphere filled with capitalism, obsession over power, control, and commercial & corporate culture.
In another conversation with my girls back home, I had been looking forward to sending pictures in clubs and lights fading in the background, and in the back of my mind, those times slipping into my writing but the only lights you can see here are the ones on building tops and of vehicles passing by. (Well, it’s obvious that if you want to attend parties and enjoy dancing in the lights, you should be in your own country and not come abroad) Here, people get a few hours of sleep so the mornings are too quiet and it is the norm to not talk loudly or make loud noises as some are still half sleepy.
Although your eyes look for and appreciate something different you still pick up your black jacket and blend in to be invisible in the crowd that looks like an army of mechanical minds with their uniforms.
In the end, I still think a little splash of vibrancy will not hurt anyone, especially in a city that looks more lifeless as it pushes people into its monochromatic robotic lifestyle.
Now that winter is arriving again I look back on how it is relatable or how I may find other ways to view this. How do you see the winter here in London? Comment your experience down below so we can have a chat.
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