I’m your average college student. I try to avoid 8a.m.’s at all costs, drink too much coffee, and sleep every chance I can get. I’m comfortable enough with myself to not care about how others think I look when I go to class. After all, who am I impressing? (If you said no one, you’re damn right.) I function by rolling out of bed 15 minutes before my 11a.m., throwing on sweatpants and whatever shirt I can grab first, and showing up 5 minutes late with a cup of Starbucks. About two years i’ve been going through these motions, arriving comfortably to class and not making my bed in the morning so I can crawl back into it once I return to my dorm. With all this in mind, you can just imagine the shock and disappointment on my face when I learned that this is a huge no abroad. No sweatpants to class? What?
I’m 100%, with every fiber of my being, a leggings/joggers/sweatpants enthusiast. Jeans? I don’t know her (unless i’m going out, then it’s jeans or nothing). I think I wear jeans to class once every semester, twice maybe. They’re just so uncomfortable, how do people concentrate wearing them? It’s a mystery i’ll never solve. Which leads me to the fashion culture here in London. Ladies (or gents, whatever floats your boat), tights are your best friend. There are atleast 20 different kinds at your local Primark from basic to patterned, extra small to extra large, all at a reasonably low price. Tights are paired with a skirt or a dress despite the freezing bitter weather and biting winds. Or, you know, just wear jeans instead. Guys dress relatively similar to those back home, but the one thing i’ve noticed is everyone has fashionable jackets. Whether it’s a bomber, a utility jacket, or some fluffy wool-looking coat – if they’re not wearing North Face they’re wearing something that looks really cool. Maybe it’s the fact i’m in a city school and everyone in cities tends to be more fashion forward, or maybe it’s a British thing.
Either way, my class outfits are nothing like the British norm. Making the switch from sweatpants and leggings to jeans every day was more than a little rough. I’m sure for most people this isn’t a problem at all, but everyone has their days – maybe even week – where they need to throw on comfy clothes for their lecture. I haven’t seen anyone here experience that. I swear, they don’t even own sweatpants. There is not a single time I can recall in the past 3 months that I saw someone in class or in the hallway dressed like they were ready to climb back into bed once their lecture was done. Further, I can’t recall not seeing a girl who didn’t take the time to do her makeup for class. Almost everyone looks like they’re ready for a night at Towers, like, 90% of the day. I’m not judging these people or criticizing them for wanting to put effort into their everyday appearance – it’s just crazy how different it is. I’m aware there are people at New Paltz who put effort into their everyday appearance as well, but that’s only a fraction of students. New Paltz also has people who don’t shower and walk around in 30 degree weather without a shirt, so. It’s not difficult to understand why literally every person around me dressed with such effort every single day is different, even a bit intimidating.
Honestly, I have respect for these students for putting so much effort in. They probably don’t even realize it, it’s become a social norm for them, the way sweatpants are a social norm for us. If you plan on coming here to study, just make sure you pack more jeans than leggings so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb.