Morgan Thompson Metke (E&H, Class of 2004) is not in Bluefield anymore. In fact, she has been in London, England, for about a year and half. After an exciting stint in Los Angeles, and then spending time as an account manager for Coca-Cola in Charleston, S.C., she married Patrick Metke and they are living in London while he works on his MBA at London Business School.
We caught up with Morgan on Facebook and couldn’t resist asking some questions about life in metropolitan London after growing up in a small town like Bluefield, VA.
Q: Are you living right in the city? What's that like?
A: I do live in the ‘heart’ of the city. It is wonderful. In 5 minutes I can be in Piccadilly Circus taking in the tourist’s excitement, shopping on Oxford and Regent Street, going to a London play, visiting a museum (all are free and one could spend days in the British Museum) or just discovering parts of the city I was unaware of. My husband and I sold both of our cars before moving here and we rely on public transportation. Mostly the Tube (underground) gets us to where we want to go, but occasionally we take the Red Bus, Black Cab or we walk (Europeans insist on walking or biking everywhere). The city of London has an amazing system and I can say that I haven’t really missed my car all that much. My husband and I are also fortunate enough to have a train station next to our flat that can have us in Paris in two hours. Which makes living right in the city that much sweeter.
Q: Is the food really as unappetizing as the stereotype implies?
A: Everyone has heard the rumor, ‘British food is terrible and has no taste.’ Well, the rumor is most definitely true. At least that is this American gal’s opinion. They have an odd affinity towards mayonnaise, they even go as far as to dip their fries, excuse me, I meant to say chips, in it. While some people may think this is the greatest thing ever, I find it a bit unappetizing. The British people use very little seasonings and prefer to keep things a bit bland for my taste buds. Among the strangest foods, that appear to be British favorites are, Black Pudding (congealed blood) and Marmite (a form of yeast). I have tried both and prefer not to try either ever again. However, that is not to say that there is not some British food that tickles my taste buds. Fish and chips with dark ale to wash it down go perfectly with a Saturday afternoon football (soccer) match. Almost all pubs serve traditional Sunday roasts, which are fantastic. Roast chicken, Yorkshire pudding, and Potatoes with Gravy – the Brits have that down to an art form. In all, the Brits like to keep their food simple but London has a wonderful mix of ethnic restaurants to choose from, so occasionally the simplicity of British food is a welcome sight.
Q: What are some of the communication gaffs you've encountered?
A: Most of the communication gaffs I have encountered while living in England have been extremely minimal (thank goodness!). The majority of gaffs have involved learning British slang and trying not to get too frustrated when they don’t seem to understand my southern American drawl. I have had to adopt words such as, queue (which means line) and have become accustomed to the frequent use of words like ‘bloody’ and ‘cheeky.’ My biggest word issue is the use of ‘football’. I now have to say ‘American football’ if not, it is assumed I am speaking of soccer and that is one sport you don’t want to get wrong in this country. Temperature is another obstacle. While we American’s use Fahrenheit, the rest of the world uses Celsius. I am constantly doing conversions in my head when trying to decide what to wear or whether or not I should go running outside or stick to the treadmill. However learning to adapt and overcome these minor communication gaffs have only made me that much more a part of the English culture.
Q: Is Facebook helping you stay connected to folks back home?
A: Facebook has been very helpful in staying connected to people back home. The time difference makes it difficult to schedule a time on the phone that is convenient for everyone, so email and Facebook have proved to be one of the most efficient and inexpensive ways to share news, photos and just chat.
Q: What's the best thing about this adventure?
A: The accessibility and ease of traveling is the absolute best thing about this adventure. My husband and I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel almost all of Europe, the Middle East (an amazing experience) and have just booked our flights for a twelve-week exchange in Hong Kong, where we hope to travel Southeast Asia. The new friends and people I have met while here are also among the best – some of whom I consider lifelong friends – come from Israel, India and Australia. So far my favorite places have been Egypt and Scotland.
Q: What did you learn at E&H that has been surprisingly helpful in this move?
A: E&H provided me with the tools I needed to reach this point in my life. Outside the E&H classroom I learned what community truly meant and I have brought that lesson with me. With that lesson I have been able to move outside of my comfort zone and reach out to people with diverse backgrounds, thus enriching my life with friends from all cultures and walks of life. Without the influence of the E&H community in my life, I do not think I would have developed the level of confidence and independence to do this life-changing move.