How have I experienced culture shock since being abroad?
I have been in London for almost two weeks now and being here has been a wonderful experience. Everything in London has been so beautiful and I am in awe every time I walk around the city. Being in a new country means experiencing culture shock. For awhile, I thought I have never experienced culture shock whenever I left the United States. And the days that I have been in London for, I was trying figure out if I experienced culture shock here. And I realized I have!
I knew that the cars drove on the left hand side of the road but I didn’t realize how long it would have taken me to get used to it. My mom’s side of her family is from Trinidad and they also drive on the left hand side of the road. So, I assumed transitioning to the UK would be easy. And I was completely WRONG! If it wasn’t for the words written on the roads telling me where to look, there would have been more than just two close encounters with cars. I am so accustomed to looking to the right first before I walk across the road that I completely forget that I am looking wrong. Luckily, I did not walk out too far so I did not get hit.
Rule of advice: Look at the words first to see where exactly what way you need to look to cross the road. When there are no words – when in doubt look both ways before crossing.
What I also did not realize was the correlation between driving on the left side of the road would also mean walking on the left side as well. I visited the city of Westminster during class where we explored the city of London through the eyes of the people that live there. We wouldn’t be just visiting the tourists spots but other spots as well to really understand the culture here. When we were walking across the Golden Jubilee Bridge, I noticed we had to follow the path on the left side of the road. I would walk around the city and going up stairs on the right hand side because that’s what I’m used to doing in the States. Not only getting used the cars on the left hand side of the road but also walking on the left hand side as well.
I knew the city of London had a lot of history. So I initial realized the building where going to be old. What I didn’t realize that the cost of having old “historical” building means no air conditioning. Keeping the culture and the history intake is important to the city. Means adding new technology like air conditioning is near impossible to add to the buildings without messing it up. The one thing they will live by is fans. Fans was finally added to my room the other day for the incoming heat. So just know when you do arrive you will feel the humidity everywhere you go.
When you arrive in London, you may experience more or less of the culture shock than I have. But that doesn’t make your experience here any less than important. Explore the city of London, the UK, or even Europe, make the most of the time you have there. Culture shock is a good thing. It shows how much we really took in the culture in the country we lived. If we didn’t experience any culture shock then we truly did not make the most of the time one studied aboard overseas.
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.