So I’ve been in London for about three weeks now, and the entire time has felt unreal. I feel like I’ve been exploring a whole new world, even London is a bit similar to the United States. I’ve been having an amazing time and then all of a sudden, boom, culture shock. It hit me hard and out of no where. I’ve never been the type of person to be homesick or miss things too bad, but out of nowhere I realized that I am 3,000 miles from home and all my friends and family. It was a weird sensation to say the least, because here I am, in an incredible city that I want to make the most of, while at the same time yearning for those creature comforts of home I’m so used to. The hardest part about this little bout of culture shock is the fact that I don’t want to feel bad about being away, but it’s easy to do. I started thinking about all of my responsibilities at home, really working on my degree, applying to co-ops more easily, continuing to explore Philadelphia and wandering the streets I know so well. I was really surprised that I was feeling this way especially with technology making it so easy to stay in touch. But since I have realized that culture shock really can have a bit of effect on me, I have collected myself and come up with ways to make the best of London, without feeling like I’m too far away from what I know.
The first thing I did was join clubs at my school here that are similar to my activities at home. While it is really great to branch out try something new, sometimes a familiar activity helps you feel more at home at your new university. I joined the Orchestra Society at my school, violin being something that I play every week at Drexel, I really couldn’t bare not playing while I was in London. The atmosphere was similar to orchestra at home, and I was welcomed with open arms, people in the group coming up to me and introducing themselves and asking more about me. That really made me feel like I had found a little home away from home.
The next thing I realized I needed to do was exercise. Not the most fun thing in the world, but even though I’ve been walking a lot, there was a lot of extra energy that I just needed to get rid of, and running down the canal near campus really helped with that.
I also realized that I need to take time for myself and stay in sometimes. Night life in London never stops, and I would have friends doing things every night here in London, and trying to keep up with the constant socializing was a lot more exhausting than I realized. Taking time for myself and staying home just watching Netflix and talking to friends from home helped me to reset and begin to start balancing socializing with personal time.
If you are thinking of going abroad and are nervous about being far away, my biggest tip is don’t be too worried. You may have moments like I have had, experiencing culture shock even when you thought you could avoid it, but don’t let that stop you. You can have an amazing time doing activities you are used to among all the new things that you are going to experience. Culture shock really is all part of the experience, and I think it put into perspective the aspects of my life that are really important to me, and helped me figure out how to continue holding on to those important things even when I’m so far away from home. Just taking the time to slow down in a new country is important, and helps put into perspective just how special this experience is.