A Thursday night finds me sitting in a dorm I’ve somewhat turned into home in the last few weeks as cars, buses, and people rush past outside. I didn’t exactly have the classic honeymoon phase followed by culture shock many students face starting life in a new place. Instead, it was just steadily reminding myself I am in London. LONDON. I often joke about choosing England for studying abroad because hey, they speak English and that’s one less barrier to conquer. Little did I know how many of these differences I would stumble upon during the first two weeks.
In England, public transportation is fantastic and used to get everywhere. One difference between here and home is allowing at least an hour to get anywhere because of traveling by bus or the tube (subway). Londoners are punctual people, so being late isn’t the way to go.
I didn’t realize how much I take my car for granted until I had to strategically grocery shop. It’s a thirty-minute bus ride and I can only buy what I can carry. Also, I have to remind myself to look right first when crossing the street. Speaking of which, pedestrians don’t have the right-of-way and drivers will remind you of that often.
2. Time Management and Budgeting- Everyone’s Favorite
I have to manage my time on a whole new level here. Classes meet only once a week with one test or assignment due at the end of the semester. When it comes to money, I’m an avid saver. That’s a daily difference I’m reminding myself: to not rob myself of travels, outings, and meals because of stressing over money.
3. Conversations with Locals
These typically consist of a lapse in understanding what the other is saying, adjusting to the accent, stumbling over conversations culturally out-of-sync, only to laugh at the fact we speak the same language but also don’t at the same time. Furthermore, I’m from a “Hey y’all, how’s it goin’?” kind of culture. Here, small talk to passersby isn’t banned, but it’s not a norm.
4. Paying Attention to Myself
I’ve heard it countless times: studying abroad brings about personal growth like no other. Every day, I check in to how these events impact me. The introvert in my mostly extroverted self encourages me to take time away from people every so often. While studying abroad urges constant pursuit of adventure, it’s important to rest.
5. Connecting with Friends
I know these three months will pass just as quickly as London rushes by outside my window. I’m telling myself: lose some sleep. Spend some money. Be transparent and vulnerable with these people. Because it’s running with friends and 3 a.m. talks that encourage deeper, more authentic relationships with flatmates. It’s dancing around the kitchen to jazz music while making pizza. It’s the exhilaration of wandering around a vast city consisting of daring fashion, countless languages, and a mix of old and new architecture. As this Thursday night winds down and the city’s sounds lull this small-town girl to sleep, I reflect on these daily differences, realizing they are only minor obstacles.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.