London Calling

Article written by Adrian Hepfer, a graduate student at Indiana University. Adrian works with the International Programs and Student Services office at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). This summer, she was an assistant instructor for the SPEA in Barcelona study abroad program and is currently working at the London School of Economics. 

There is something curiously delightful about listening to people speak to each other on the train.

I left Edinburgh, one of Scotland’s most charming cities, this evening on the last train to London. The journey takes more than five hours and runs through a bit of Scotland and nearly all of England before finally arriving in London’s cherished King’s Cross Station. I wish I could have spent some time in England proper instead of just training through it, but between time constraints and a dire need to cut back on spending money, I needed to arrive at my accommodations in London no later than Saturday night.


Victoria Street in Edinburgh, from which JK Rowling drew inspiration for Diagon Alley

Five hours is a long time to spend on a train. Considering it turned nightfall halfway through the trip, I was left with not much to do but listen to some tunes while being rocked back and forth by the uneven gait of the locomotive. When I finally got sick of the songs on my iPod, I decided to take out my headphones and listen to the fascinating music that is the British version of the English language.

Inverness, a small city in Scotland’s Highlands

Inverness, a small city in Scotland’s Highlands

After spending about two months in countries where English is not the primary language, it was an interesting feeling to be able to understand what my fellow train passengers were saying without having to translate these overheard words in my head. In some ways it was overwhelming because I could not as easily tune out the conversations, and I found myself wondering if Rachel would ever finish her story about Erik and Kate or if we would arrive at Kings Cross without having learned if they found their lost pomerdoodle or not.

The scenery on the ride through Scotland and England was breathtakingly gorgeous

The scenery on the ride through Scotland and England was breathtakingly gorgeous

On the other hand, hearing these British youths chatting away to each other afforded me the opportunity to listen for the differences in vocabulary, syntax, and phonetics between British and American English. There are several dead give-aways, such as spelling the chemical element Al as “aluminium” and pronouncing it [a-loo-MI-nee-yum] instead of the American way of “aluminum” and [a-loo-mi-num]. Another common difference is that the British use the words “loo” or toilets” instead of “restroom” or bathroom.” Paying attention to these soft peculiarities between our two versions of the English language made for a very pleasant train ride all the way to King’s Cross.

The London Eye from the north side of the Thames, when I was in London last summer

The London Eye from the north side of the Thames, when I was in London last summer

I am ecstatic to be working and living in London for two months this summer. I will be doing research at the London School of Economics, which is ranked the #1 university in London for 2015. My research will consist of tracking entrepreneurship, institutions and economic development in the global economy. My primary goal is to learn how to effectively research the quantitative and qualitative changes in the economy as they pertain to entrepreneurial initiatives worldwide. I am very interested in studying how both start-up and established arts organizations contribute to economic development.

Britain’s Houses of Parliament are beautifully lit at night

Britain’s Houses of Parliament are beautifully lit at night

While I will aim to include comments about my internship on this blogsite, I am planning to write mostly on the life and culture in London, as I am sure that visitors to this site would much rather read about one of the world’s most fascinating and diverse cities than about the work that I am doing at the university. You’ll get my take on Great Britain’s capital city during its summer months; how the city feels and breathes, the aspects of it that I think you will find most intriguing. London really is a fabulous place, and I’m looking forward to getting to know it better during these two short months in which I will be working here.

See Adrian’s second post about interning in London here.

One response to “London Calling

  1. Pingback: Cheers from Sunny England | IU Arts Administration Program Blog·

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