Whenever people talk about going to another country for any period of time, there’s always the warning of culture shock; most of the time, places are so different from an individual’s home country that they can feel out of place, stressed, anxious, and a general feeling of loss or worry. As a person who is already a generally/socially anxious person, I figured “why not?”
I have never been to another country, been on a flight for more than maybe three hours, left home for more than a weekend, and go to school a mere two-hour drive from my home, oh and meeting new people stresses me out – this’ll be great.
I expected to be a lot more stressed but, aside from one small panic when I got lost in the hotel, I’m having the best time. I love the city and the public transportation and living in the flat and walking to classes. I’ve visited two and a half museums and the Kensington Gardens. My flatmates and new friends have dragged me out to try the local pubs and clubs (something I’d never do back home), and I’ve even found a TARDIS right by my flat in Earl’s Court.
I’m still confused by the postal codes: they seem to change from street to street and have numbers and letters and a space in the middle... I’ll just have to stick to my GPS to figure that part out. However, the city is fairly easy to navigate, and most things are just a tube stop or two away. It also doesn’t rain nearly as much as I expected it to (although it is, in fact, raining while I write this), and AC doesn’t exist literally anywhere. Everyone knows cars drive on the left side of the roads here, and while that only takes a second to get used to while walking, it is an entirely different (and slightly nauseating) experience when taking a taxi – I think I’ll stick to the tube and regular old walking if it can be helped.
Overall, orientation week has been great – tea and cakes at the London Center helps us all get to know each other and see the center (which, hot take: is way more beautiful than Ithaca’s home campus). As we get used to classes and our internships, the LC has been there to help us with all of our questions and concerns no matter how small they may seem.
I look forward to getting to know more of the city, to seeing all of the museums and visiting the palace, spending sunny days in Hyde Park, and just generally experiencing everything London can offer me before I have to get back on a plane to the US.