Each year, thousands of students hailing from all differing corners of the globe flock to London searching for an instantaneous life-changing semester studying abroad. They hope the diverse city, and all its wonders, will enrich them with its magnificent diversity, history and multicolored culture and maybe learn a little about themselves in the process.
If that be the case, then consider the 2012 London Olympic games to be the study abroad program to the British's collective student.
This summer, the 2.1 million people who infiltrated the city within the first three days of competition, specifically Olympic Park in Stratford, influenced the economy and contributed to the eternal impact the Olympics had on London and all of Britain in general.
In their late teenage years and early twenties, students studying abroad in London aren't just learning in a foreign setting. By venturing outside a consolidated classroom and entering the global "tossed salad" of a culture that London embodies, students discover more about themselves while surviving and adapting to the diverse and enigmatic society they've become immersed within.
No English accent is truly standard. Sandwich shops on the same street have different definitions of the terms, "filling" and "chips." Each Brit possesses an entirely different definition of what it means to, well, be a Brit.
While thousands of students journey across the pond to London in hopes of a groundbreaking inner-self discovery, the London Olympics provided an avenue for the British people to discover a little more of what Britain truly means to them.
Team Great Britain defines exactly what these Olympics have meant to this city and Britain in general. There's no coincidence that the majority of American study programs existent in London enroll their students in classes that primarily discuss British patriotism, more commonly referred to as "Britishness." The concept of such phrases alone is so unclear and dense. How can British patriotism exist if its most dominant nation, England, which makes up roughly 85 percent of the UK population, is hated by some British citizens.
This phenomenon explains the miracle that was Team GB. Setting the success aside for a moment, Englishman and Welshmen played and practiced on the same rugby team. Irishmen and Englishmen high-fived after scoring goals in handball. It. Forget sportsmanship with the other team, coexisting with fellow British teammates may have very well been the most patriotic act ever committed by the majority of Team GB Olympic athletes. Now, with all that being said, ranking third in medals, only behind global powers in the U.S. and China, in the Olympic Games will today and always be a remarkably impressive feat of sport and national pride.
The Games have also left a lasting impression on every day life of the city as well. "London 2012" is still plastered all over buildings, Undergrounds and restaurant menus. Positive messages of public service and ethnic diversity were broadcasted and highlighted by the Games and the opening ceremony in particular. The Tube innovatively ran until the depths of the night. Most significantly, £300 million were invested into transforming the section of Stratford into Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and the economy has reaped the benefits. Due to the extra spending associated with the London Games, including ticket sales and the sale of TV rights the UK will not suffer a fourth successive quarter of decline over the third quarter of this calendar year.
Moving forward, the Games have also left an enormous footprint on the land and architectural aspects of the east end. The extraordinarily thorough and timely construction plans to morph what structures housed the Olympics into glowing, upcoming and beautiful town centers and residential areas, boasting approximately 2,818 new homes, are simply astounding. Seven facilities were built and organized for the games will be turned into public facilities and venues for future sporting events, certainly making the Green London initiative proud. There are even talks of constructing a new east London airport. Overall, it will be impossible to forget what the 2012 Olympics meant to this city.
The Olympics stood for so many things: patriotism, innovation, sportsmanship and impressionism among many. Similarly, study abroad also can stand for many values and traits. A semester spent studying abroad undoubtedly brings months of incredible memories never to be forgotten along with self-learning and a development of independence and maturity. While thousands of students studying in London experience once-in-a-lifetime moments and events, 17,000 athletes and officials from 200 countries experienced an Olympic Games that's impact may never be matched. With the Olympic stadium to be reopened in 2014 and will host the World Athletics Championship in 2017, the world should be very excited for how prepare city is to embrace yet another global tournament and melting pot of culture.