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Does Liverpool Live Up to Its Reputation?

Jordan Tranter

My first impressions of England's notorious northern city.

Though geographically it’s hard to define, England is divided by its north and south. The story goes that historically, the North has suffered more, existing in working-class grit and grime. The South, on the other hand, is more posh, traditional and academic.

Liverpool—where I'm studying—is famously Northern and, hence, is the victim of many stereotypes.

Words like "dull," "thieves" or "scammers" are thrown from the South to the North. Often, Liverpudlians are accused of relying on government benefits due to their poort work ethic. Northerners blame the South for their woes, citing lower life expectancy, poor public transport and reduced access to social welfare as the result of chronic underfunding.

This debate is divisive and continues to bubble away. Yet, while Northerners fight this class struggle together, they also play into stereotypes about each other. Take, for example, my very first interaction upon touching down in the United Kingdom.

“You’ve come here to learn English, then, have you?" joked the elderly border security officer.

“Well, I’m Australian, so I speak English, but I’ve come here to learn geography in Liverpool,” I replied, still not entirely grasping the joke. It’s hard to be jolly when the person talking to you has the ability to wave their hand and send you out of the country.

"Oh, no bother; you won’t learn any English there,” he chuckled.

This quip at Liverpool intelligence and the hard-to-understand Scouse accent went down at Manchester airport. It’s only a 40-minute drive from the centre of Liverpool. Where I’m from, you have to travel about 40 hours in a car before the accent changes to the point where it's hard to understand. You’d also need a boat, and you’d be in Indonesia.

Most impressive is that, despite being a small pocket in the North, Liverpool's stereotypes even extend globally. Its football fans are considered some of the most passionate; the Scouse accent has provided many viral videos; and sporting and arts legends like the Beatles and Paddy Pimblett hail from here.

So rather simply, I had a lot of preconceived ideas tumble-drying around in my head even before I had arrived.

As I type this piece, I’ve been here for three weeks. Here's my take on some of the aforementioned stereotypes: The Scouse accent is hard to understand when I'm not listening properly. The area is working-class; it is also residential, commercial, recreational and historical. The transport is unreliable; they are busy striking for a living wage. Lastly, some people are thieves; I took some extra napkins from a restaurant for my share house.

It’s easy to spot stereotypes when you have been taught them. It’s like when you look at buying a car and suddenly you start seeing that make and model everywhere. But if you take a moment to get out of your head and see what's taking place, Liverpool is a city full of life, characters and history.

So many locals have made me feel welcome. Whether it be chats when buying groceries, in cabs or with fellow exchange students, almost everyone is genuinely interested in your story. Everyone is distinct and has their own interesting story too.

I think this is why Liverpool's reputation precedes it. There are so many different walks of life here, and what comes out of Liverpool is unique and diverse people. To the rest of the world, they see this as fun, entertaining and bold characters, which they try to define the city by. But ultimately, they cannot, as, really, Liverpool is too diverse.

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Jordan Tranter

Jordan Tranter, is a 21-year-old student and freelance writer from Melbourne, Australia. He is a passionate traveller who believes it is a great equalizer and educator. He loves writing as a form of storytelling, sharing lessons and experiences that he uncovers on the road. He is presently studying abroad in Liverpool, England.

Website: https://jorjortravels.wordpress.com/

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