Cultural Adjustment


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Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Islington
July 21st 2012
Published: July 21st 2012
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Upon arriving in the UK, my nerves were shattered by cultural euphoria. I had trouble transporting myself from the airport to Nido and was forced to take the underground. I spoke to an elderly gentleman dressed in a pink tie and shirt who reinforced some of the stereotypes I had of the Brits. He was quick to comment on the amount of luggage I had and promptly suggested I should have taken a different underground line. I was completely taken back by his confrontation and felt like a sore thumb sticking out. He came off as very rude; however, despite the man’s comments, I was eager to try new things, meet new people, and adapt to the culture.

The second stage, cultural confrontation, was one in which I lost the cultural euphoria and felt frustrated with daily tasks. For example, two girls and I purchased tickets to see the making of Harry Potter. We bought the tickets during our cultural euphoria upon arriving and had failed to look up directions with all the excitement floating around. The first Friday morning in London turned into a panic day. We had not budgeted our time to get from London to Watford, had no idea how to get there, and did not know who to ask. I was ready to throw up my hands and say forget it, given that I had no hope of making it on time. One of the other girls found the courage to ask someone at an information desk and he directed us to the right train station. However, we were still feeling discomfort about which train to take and how far to take it. This particular experience gave me some doubts about living in the city given that transportation and looking for help seemed out of my comfort zone. Coincidentally, everything was resolved once we spoke to some Americans and made it to Harry Potter on time.

As time progressed I felt less frustrated with the culture and more comfortable, especially on my own. Since I do not work on Fridays, I started to jump on the underground and get off at stops that sounded cool to me. I did not plan anything, but rather let the culture shape my day. For example, one Friday I got off at Covent Garden and just walked and ended up at Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, and the River Thames. I had no idea I was capable of venturing around London on my own! The lay of the land was crystal clear to me as I moved around the city. If I had any regrets, they vanished at this stage with my newfound confidence.

Overall, I don’t think I am quite immersed in the final stage. I feel more confident each week, but at the same time I learn new things every day and still feel more adjustment. It scares me that even after six weeks I still do not feel entirely comfortable that there’s more to learn.

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