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Texas State Voices: Sarah Binion

London 2012: Olympics provided a unique perspective on living abroad

By Sarah Binion ’01, ’04

St. Pancras Station, London, with Olympic rings

St. Pancras Station, London, with Olympic rings
(Photo by Graham Hogg)

As an American living in London, you’re somewhere between tourist and local. Your accent always indicates you’re an outsider but when you wince at the loud Americans on the tube, you know you’re a local. Living abroad makes the ordinary details of day-to-day life seem extraordinary, but it also underscores the differences between your home and host country.

Living in a city that is hosting one of the largest events in the world has been an exercise in awe and frustration. Last summer I stepped off the Eurostar train from Paris and caught my breath as I saw the newly hung Olympic rings in St. Pancras (the international station where trains arrive from Belgium and France). Suddenly the reality began to settle in that I would be living in this city when thousands of the world’s finest athletes would be coming to compete. I watched as London began to put on the finishing touches of years worth of preparation – sprucing up tube stations, posting helpful signs for confused tourists and completing construction projects (among many other things). Continue reading