Grantham, England is a wonderful place. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and made me feel right at home. Studying in an English-speaking country is great – I don’t have to worry about learning a new language! However, there are some drastic differences that I had not anticipated.
In the first stage of culture shock, I noticed:
Toilets. Every time I need to use a toilet, I have to concentrate on not accidentally saying bathroom or restroom. Also, go to the toilet when you can, not when you have to. Seriously. Whenever you really need one, it’s not there. Or it costs money and it won’t accept your 20 pence.
Food. British food is great. If I could eat a meat pie every day, I would. Seriously, why are these not in the states?? There is one downfall, though… mozzarella sticks. Mozzarella sticks (deep fried mozzarella cheese) is amazing pub food in the U.S. and it’s one of my obsessions. However, they’re nonexistent here. While in Edinburgh, my friends and I were desperate for a cheap meal, so we popped into McDonald’s and to my amazement, they sell cheese bits! It was one of the most amazing moments of my life. In the beginning, I was delighted with all of the food options, but then I started really craving American food – Taco Bell, mozzarella sticks, Qdoba. After a while, the cravings dull because you remember that there are new loves – Café Nero, Cadbury, and tea at every meal.
Driving. The other day, I realized how far I had come in my quick progression through culture shock. My friend commented on how it was still weird that people pass on the left. It suddenly hit me that I couldn’t remember which side I pass on while driving back home. It was both frightening and amusing that I couldn’t remember this simple task.
However, the second stage is the worst stage of culture shock. This is when everything about the country frustrates you. Instead of just noticing differences between home and the new culture, these differences can seem negative and problematic. For me, this was when homesickness was the worst.
Remember, everybody gets homesick and is affected by culture shock, but you can work to push through it. Get involved in activities at Harlaxton, meet new people, hang out with friends, Skype your parents, do something you’re passionate about, pick up a new hobby, and one of my favorites – TRAVEL! It’s really hard to get frustrated with a new environment when you have the opportunity every weekend to leave and get to explore a new city.