Two years in to my college run at W&L, and there is one thing I know all generals have learned. Our school has mastered the work hard, play hard mentality. Washington and Lee is full of incredibly intelligent students and professors, but they are all more than just book-smart. We are a social lot that, when our work is finished, love to have a good time. This culture we all live at school does a great job of preparing us for the adult world, where both brains and social skills are vital for success. What I didn’t think we would find in London, however, is a culture that embraces drinking even more than Lexington.
Here, drinking is not a means for an end. It’s a social norm. Even more, it’s not strictly an evening and night activity. Beers after work is not only common; it’s a staple event in the work environment. One of the biggest culture shocks I have enjoyed learning is the merging of drinking and work. After a long day of work (or even a short one), the entire staff moves on from the office towards the corner pub for a pint or two before heading home. Relationships with your coworkers don’t end at the office door. The culture here is so much more relaxed. Even in stressful workplaces like the Parliament, the work day is rarely finished without a trip to the pub to blow off some steam with a round of beer.
During futbol season, all bets are off. When England is playing a 2 o’clock game, the streets of London will suddenly go mysteriously quiet around quarter ‘til, and the pubs will be at capacity. My internship in the House of Commons was no exception. At kickoff, it seemed like the entire Parliamentary Estate was slammed into the local pub and drinking like the weekend had started. And when the final whistle blew, everybody finished their drinks and headed back in to finish the work day. It is an exciting mix of work and play, and unlike anything I anticipated. I still proudly claim W&L as the epitome of the work hard, play hard mentality, but as we’re all coming to learn, the Brits enjoy a drink after work just as much as us Gennies.