What I Learned Studying Abroad in London

My research project while in London was about the effect of World War 2 on London and it's people. After being in the city for 3 weeks and seeing the actual effect on the city itself I was struck with a whole new level of understanding. The way the citizens of London suffered throughout this war is hard for an American like me to understand. The food rationing, clothing coupons, endless bombing... it was horrific. We were so separated from these conditions thanks to the Atlantic Ocean and just never experienced the same level of hardship on the homefront. The city bears its scars proudly and lets some of the damage stand as a testament to what they endured and rose above.

The people who lived in London during World War 2 sent their sons, brothers and husbands overseas to fight, sent their young children to the countryside for protection and lived in constant fear of being bombed, invaded, losing their house, running out of food on top of the stress of war overseas. Every part of the city was affected: even the Tube became bomb shelters and thousands literally lived there throughout the war due to the bombing and housing shortages. Even the royals were affected: Princess Elizabeth had to use clothing coupons to purchase her wedding dress. The strength of the Londoners was shown throughout these years. They "kept calm and carried on" no matter what. When food rations grew scarce, they got even more creative with their recipes and grew gardens on every spare green space including the moat of the Tower of London.  When fabric and clothes ran out, they learned to sew and mend what they had to last. Men's trousers became skirts and women's dresses became children's shirts. The ingenuity and ability to adapt was integral to the people making it out of the war as positively as they did. It could have been so much worse....

I must say that I enjoyed researching this topic exponentially. It was so interesting and completely intertwined with most everything in London. I was lucky enough to be there for the 70th anniversary of VE Day, the end of the war in Europe and a day of huge celebration in London especially. I am proud to be an American and I am proud of the role we played in World War 2 but I have a huge amount of respect for the British people and London for how they survived the war and rose above it as strong as ever. They truly embody the idea of "Keep Calm and Carry On" .


  1. Brandy, I really enjoyed following your trip. What an awesome experience! And you seemed to dress the part well! :)

    It was nice to see that you chose WWII as a topic of interest for this trip. The men and women of that era truly are "The Greatest Generation".

    I'd bet you would have liked to talk to my mom and dad about the war from an even different perspective.

    Have a great Summer!

    1. Thank you! It was the experience of a lifetime. I am so glad I chose WW2 as a project because it was so interesting and so intertwined in everything about London. My only regret is I wish I could have spoken with a WW2 veteran and gotten their insight and thanked them for their part. But still a great experience and I learned so much.