Monday, July 28, 2014

Going into this study abroad experience, I personally had no idea England was culturally as different from the US as it is. I thought Britain would be the perfect first abroad destination because they must be pretty much the same right? Is it even going to feel like I am in a different country? I was very wrong. Culture shock to me was a feeling of confusion; not knowing where to go, what to do, or where to find anything that feels remotely familiar to you, being lost. This is probably the reason for eating McDonalds that one time, by the way, so no need to judge. Although I did get used to England fairly quickly I may say, it was in fact much different than living in the US. I had to relearn which way to look before crossing the street! That is a bit of a shock in itself. The feeling is almost as if you are a small child again, you very often do things wrong, and you equally as often apologize to everyone around you who are just trying to live their daily lives. Not that the British people are mean in anyway, or that I felt unwelcome. I just realized towards the end of my stay in Oxford, that people starting asking us for direction, people began to mistake us as locals, and trust me, the tourists not knowing where to go and stopping in the middle of the sidewalk even started to get to me after being there for three weeks. It’s not as if I never felt at home eventually, the differences between our cultures just caught me by surprise. It’s not just that they drive on the other side of the road, they have different money—with no tax, their stoplights turn to yellow going both to red and to green, or they have different names for things like the coaches, or a scout. The difference is more than that, the British people think differently than we do (well most of us, the more I found out about the English people, the more I questioned whether or not I was actually one of them). They are realist, they keep to themselves, and they are very respectful of others around them. They are much more mellow and do not show their emotions like most Americans do. The children are so much more independent and the parents are much less worried about every little thing. Americans focus on the future, the “American Dream”, while the British people focus on right now. They live and think in a way that I don’t see very often around me back home, and I am fond of it personally. I really enjoyed coming here and being surprised about the differences between these cultures, I am so glad I have experienced another culture fully; been dropped in a foreign country to be completely immersed in another culture and way of life. It has opened my eyes to all the possibilities, and I cannot wait to explore the world and experience all the other cultures out there.                                                             
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