A Year in London 2016/17

Guy Cheatham
February 2017: Barcelona, Brexit, and more

My first four entries have consisted of my experiences both within and outside of London. I have discussed in depth my initial thoughts when first moving to the UK five months ago, the following weeks in which I was acclimating myself to a new way of life, and the unforgettable experiences in which I have had in other locations throughout Europe. The constant theme throughout the past few months has pertained to how my experience in Europe has changed me, yet a missing piece I have yet to touch on has been the things I began to notice during my time here, and how my experience here changed my outlook on the world.

The first few weeks of term for me has consisted of essays, stacks of reading, preparing for internship interviews, and preparing for the LSE Emerging Markets Forum in March, the largest of its kind. The academic climate at LSE has begun to pick up pace. Students are flooding in greater numbers into the library, and the thought of exams inching closer by the day worries some, while motivating others to spend the following weeks devoting even more time to academics. Preparing for exams is a race against the clock; you must be prepared when an assignment in which could determine your entire class mark arrives. A relief amidst the stress came in a trip to Barcelona this week, where Adrian and I visited Aaron Dawley, who is currently studying there. It was great being able to have an H-SC reunion (even though PSG shutout Barca 4-0 while we were there), and I wanted to give a shoutout to Aaron for showing us around some. He certainly picked a wonderful city to study at.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

In the midst of being buried in books, other changes have contributed to the change in the LSE climate, in addition to overall climate of London. As substantial political developments continue to unravel worldwide, I can hear people along the streets discussing these developments, some with praise, and some with concern. I never truly understood the global implications of the change in the US presidency until moving to London, especially when witnessing large protests on every bridge during Inauguration Day. Following the election in November, students at school (some who are good friends, and some of whom I have never met) would pull me to the side to ask me, the American, about my thoughts on the election. My response would be something along the lines of how I cannot rationalize the decisions made by the ~125-150 million individuals who decided to vote, and that if the individuals who talked to me would let a few days, maybe a week pass, maybe some new developments would provide the proper explanation for Trump’s victory. It will be interesting coming back to the states following a year of being away from these developments, but for now I can interpret them through the words of others.

I have been keeping a closer eye on Brexit ever since moving to London, since the PM’s push to trigger Article 50 is occurring 15 minutes west of my residence. Despite my opinion on this debate, I think that being in London allows me to access this political development (most important one in 21st century Europe) in a way in which I can not elsewhere. When Theresa May was forced to publish an actual “Brexit bill” following the government’s defeat in a landmark case against London-based business owner Gina Miller, Miller began to receive threats all over social media and throughout the streets, as Brexit supporters flocked in droves to Westminster to protest the prevention of the immediate triggering of Article 50. I walked by these protests, and seeing the reactions to a landmark case in one of the most important political developments in recent history in person is indescribable. Most, well just about all of the people I have talked to in London, whether they be in finance, government, or academia, are against the decision to leave the EU, and with good reason. Firms throughout London are at risk of losing their passporting rights, which in turn would prevent them from being able to conduct business efficiently with other states in the EU. As Article 50 is triggered in March (maybe later), it will be interesting to observe how the actual process of leaving the EU will affect the climate around here, something I will continue to discuss in my next entries.

The following weeks, academic-wise, will be the most difficult at the LSE thus far, yet following my trip to Barcelona I hope to continue to explore new parts of London, as I realize that I do not have much more time here before I go home.

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