Going into this trip and knowing London was a big city, I was interested as to what patterns I would find out about autos, if any. However, right away we were given some very helpful information from the men at Flamingo International that in retrospect really summarized up the patterns we were going to be seeing in London in regards to autos. Alfie stated plain and simple “London streets are small, they end up being rich people traffic jams,” “almost no one drives in London.” It didn’t come as much of a surprise to me that not many people drive in London seeing that it is a major city, however I thought it was interesting that he described London streets as “rich people traffic jams.”
Even more interesting to me was that unlike much of America where ones car is used as an extension of themself, Alfie stated that in London status cannot be played out using a car. There are just too many people and the public transportation system is widely available and very reliable. Perhaps what stuck in my mind the most about autos in London was how they are viewed by so many as toys. Something about the adverts for autos are now infantilizing. Because of the public transportation, cars are unnecessary in London, so it goes from a need to a want. Many people said that they wished they could drive more because it was fun!
Moving from London to Czech Republic I did not know what to expect, but anticipated that the use of autos and their role in the lives of Czech culture might be a little more prevalent than in the crowded streets of London. However, I was not expecting the roles of cars in the Czech Republic to be so significant.
It was during the lecture at the University of Economics that I started to realize the importance of a car and what it meant to the Czech people. Learning about the history of the Czech Republic, what it was like to live under a socialist government and the 1989 changes, made all the difference in the world to really understanding the roles and meanings attached to autos the Czech Republic.
Unlike London, cars seem to be a big status symbol in Prague. As the men at Ogilvy stated “to Czech people having a car means that you have made it to some higher level of living.” The 1989 changes in Czech greatly affected the attitudes and habits that people currently have with their cars. To have and own a car is very precious seeing not that long ago during communist rule having a car in the Czech Republic was the ultimate luxury.
Overall, I learned a lot more from this trip than just about autos and advertising. It was interesting to realize how much history and how shaped by their heritage the people of London are. Just observing the people we visited such as Alfie at Flamingo International, or Sam, the bartender at Bombay, the way they spoke about advertising and spirits reflected their culture and roots in the arts and romanticism. Often Sam would compare the ingredients in Bombay to members of an orchestra, and squeezing a lemon in a way that was the most “romantic.” Alfie described some of the adverts as “poetic and sophisticated.” Seeing palaces and castles, and old traditions still continued really made me aware of what a young and new country America really is.
The whole experience (particularly in Prague) showed me how lucky we are to grow up under the assumption and optimistic belief that the world is at our feet. We look at life through such a different lens than Czech people do, and perhaps that is because we have not really had to live without freedom of choice and expression. Other countries do not have this sense of entitlement to anything they want that we do. We take for granted our way of life and under appreciate the ability to live the way we choose. I particularly realized this when the man at Remark talked about how we go about with a happy go lucky attitude, (although I think it is crucial to have an optimistic outlook on life and there is value in being even unrealistically optimistic), our attitudes just show how ignorant we are when it comes to the problems that others face and the fact that some people have faced hardships we will never have to and may never understand.
In a way, I also realized how similar people are becoming due to globalization and technology. When out at night or talking to Robbie in London we could talk about the same TV shows, the same musicians, movies, and sports teams. This was not necessarily the case in Prague since many people did not speak English, but there were many times when shopping in the same stores in Prague as I do here at home, listening to Lady Gaga over the speakers, where I almost forgot that I was half way around the world.
After being on this trip, all I want to do is travel. I want to experience other ways of life and the great things that countries outside the US have contributed to the world. I came away from this experience greatly appreciating the lifestyle I have and the amazing things about the US, but also with the realization that America is not the only place that offers a nice life. There are places and people in the world just as amazing as those in America.
– Jamie Murray