#HoyasAbroad Snapshots – UK
London, UK – Fall 2019
Legend (or, you know, the internet) says that Chuck Norris never does a push-up; rather, he pushes the world down. This is the story of how I, Taha Bilirgen – former Junior Varsity B benchwarmer in High School – would make $2,160,000 an hour (give or take $100k). Tensions were high. I had just come to the UK about a week ago and hadn’t set up a new bank account yet. Meanwhile, I was starting to run low on cash, and that night I had plans to go out with friends.
That day, I was walking to the LSE library with friends when two representatives from a gym chain came up to us and asked us if we’d like to sign up for a free day at the gym. While they were pitching to us, a man walked up to the two representatives, and told them he’d give them 200 pounds if they could do 15 push-ups in 30 seconds. They declined. That’s when I asked if I could take him up on the challenge; he said sure. I thought, “Hey, if this guy is paying me this ungodly amount of money for so few push-ups, might as well throw my heart into it.” I took off my left boot – it’s a habit of mine, since I do push-ups on just one foot instead of two – and got into position. Far from perfect form, I threw myself at the ground, and from zero, launched myself all the way back up. This was the fall of 2019, long before COVID, when I didn’t have the impressive belly I have right now, so those push-ups came easy. The most surprising part of the entire experience for me was that this man actually paid me – I’d thought it was a prank! I could not believe that anyone would pay 200 pounds for 15 pushups. If you calculate that in terms of hourly wages, that comes to a whopping $2,160,000 an hour. This number was significant, as it was somewhat higher than my previous hourly wage when I worked as a student guard. The fun fact here that no one knows about was that the wad of cash I was given was actually over 300 pounds, not 200 – something I only learned after I counted the sum in the library.
Later I’d learn that the man was actually a YouTuber in London named KSI. I was surprised to learn that the video today has over 14 million views (my feature begins at 8:48). From that day on, I could legitimately call myself a professional athlete – I have yet to put that on my resume, but I guess it means I’ll always have something up my sleeves.
At the end of the day, that experience obviously stood out. Overall, London was a really great and unique experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better dorm – shout-out to Nutford House – or classmates, or TAs. The experience opened my eyes to new career opportunities, while offering plenty of real-world experience despite my short stay in the city. If I could do it again, I know for certain I would. We often say that England is really similar to the US. I don’t believe that’s true. But it is similar enough for U.S. students to really appreciate the differences, and gain meaningful new perspectives. The moral of this story? Consider studying in England! You might just make $2,160,000 an hour. Still waiting on a Nike sponsorship, but I’ll keep you all posted if it comes in.