Attempt to Identify Culture Shock, Round II

3/4 of my classes seem very manageable, but the fourth, which is a third-year class (only three years of uni, versus our stretched-out four) is very challenging. When reading two of the articles required for class, I stumbled on literally every sentence. I’m not used to that at all, even at Wes! That may be because I steer clear of classes that suggest complicated internal dialects. To illustrate: Biology has an entire vocabulary of its own and I’m able to understand it much better than Economics vernacular, for instance. Epistemologies and ontologies and Hollywoodism (an actual word from a paper I just read) make me stumble. Here’s hoping that with enough reading and office hours, I’ll make it through. Ugh.

It’s also hard to stay patient while making friends. Especially when you have introvert tendencies.

Luckily it’s getting easier to buy food each week. I also found a groupon that delivers veggies to my door weekly for a month (half price!), making it a lot easier to get elusive English vitamins I crave. England has a very carbohydrate and protein-rich diet (fish and chips, steak and kidney pie, tea cakes, bangers and mash, Ploughman’s lunch, Sunday roast, Yorkshire pudding, Welsh Rarebit… see a pattern?)

It’s hard to see all of the students here congregate after class, laughing and playing football (UK version) with each other, when I’m still at the phase where I see friends on the weekend and during class. I’m glad that I’m independent enough so that this doesn’t force me to explore the city with people I’m not very into, but it may be working against me by letting me be so free so often… Or did that last clause make no sense?

Here’s Wesleyan’s page on culture shock. Honestly, the symptoms sound like a day in the life of a teenager, which I’m only a year past, so it’s difficult to ascribe my present loneliness, for example, to CS or just my life as a twenty-year-old. Have a look for yourself.


In other news, I changed the layout of this blog for a freshening-up. You can better notice the links that I embed in text and although you have to click the three parallel bars in the upper right hand corner to see some of the widgets (such as “Today I learned…”), I think this layout is cooler. Easier to comment, too 😉


I’ll finish with a black pudding experience montage.

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Nah, I’ll finish instead with a really wonderful-looking plate of food. In short, I am going back. Again, and again. LOVE YOU HUMMUS BROS!

you are my sunshine, you make me happy when London skies are grey

you are my sunshine, you make me happy when London skies are grey

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so this is culture shock?

I dunno. My mind has sort of unconsciously made me hyperaware of when I might be experiencing anything like it, since I was lectured many times before I left about the cycle of culture shock and how to deal with it. Also, I don’t completely identify with the preliminary “euphoric” stage- indeed, mine was lovely, but I wasn’t naively in love with everything I saw. However, I suppose that I was educated on the matter for a reason. So there you have it- I’ve been

CULTURE SHOCKED!

20 Funny Shocked Cat Memes 3

So I guess I’m in the anxiety phase. Without reading much about it, I can already attribute my current money worries to this stage. Although I don’t have to pay for all my food myself, it’s still jarring to be shelling out about 60 pounds per week for food I cook for myself. It’s also surprising to me because I love to cook, but living without the comfort of a meal plan that lets me prepare food only part of the time forces me to do a lot more work up front. As I like to say, my passion for cooking is enhanced when I am in a relaxed mood- rare when I’m working/studying all the time. So this makes cooking (and the creativity it requires) difficult, for now.

In addition, I understand that I’m paying for what will amount to discounts later on, but I feel like money is jumping out of my pockets when I buy a student rail card (26 pounds) and an ISIC card (~40 pounds incl. shipping and ID photo) and student oyster card (25 pounds not including fares) and textbooks (56 pounds) and a phone plan (38 pounds + monthly bill, but I’ll get reimbursed) in the same week. Whew! Keep in mind that, although the dollar is getting stronger, it takes about 1.52 dollars per pound (currently. Was 1.65 a month ago.)

I can only go onto the free and cheap and frugal London websites for so long until I burst. It’s hard for me to spend money as swiftly as I am currently. Hopefully I’ll get used to it by the time I’m taking worldwide tours and eating gold-covered truffles when I become a billionaire evolutionary biologist.

Obama’s reaction at my scheme to get rich quick.

I know this will pass in time. But for now, I’ll let my pictorial pun do the work:

Culture Shuck (get it?!)

Culture Shuck (get it?!)

Update later that day: I know that this stress will pass! It’s unnerving to be spending a lot up front, but I know it will be worth it in not too long. Like any student studying abroad, there are the joys and challenges of adjusting to a new environment, and I knew I’d have some trouble (as everyone does) when I signed up for this.

Not all my posts will be wonderful and happy, as not all my experiences here will be. And that’s okay- good, even. It’s what life is all about: learning how to grow from tough circumstances. After all, one of my new mantras is “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It’s how I’ll grow as a person, and that’s good news to me!

School is starting

I don’t think, up til now, I’ve experienced much culture shock. Instead, I’ve been more inundated with the details of school beginning again, and what it means to have to be a freshman once more. Maybe the culture shock will show its beastly head later on. But man, it’s difficult to start school a weekend and a day after a two day orientation: finding buildings, experiencing my first frustration with the school’s infamous class scheduler, not knowing who to email and ask questions to. Although I’m very happy with my decision to be away from Wes for a semester, I do miss the ease of knowing how to navigate class selection, even if WesMaps had not been so kind to me.

Also, eating is difficult without a meal plan and a full-sized fridge! It’s cool that each student gets their own mini fridge, and that the kitchen is cleaned daily by staff. But that means that I have to bring downstairs each ingredient I’ll be using for a meal, and if I’m not freezing it (we have a big freezer, which is nice), I’ll have to find room in my tiny fridge to stow it away. This put a hamper in my plans to make a big lot of food on Sunday, or possibly Wednesdays (no class!) and eat it for the rest of the week. Not sure if that’ll work out or not. Maybe I’ll have to freeze instead of refrigerate?

Also, I was searching on 8tracks for a playlist with the goods: CSNY, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, etc. and one that popped up was called “Breakfast at Perk”, which playlistifies a coffee house located in Durham, CT! It was a beautiful playlist and felt like a long-distance blanket.

After going to my first class (European Society and Culture; 4-level (freshman); met 3 new kids; seems interesting/easy), I can confidently say that Queen Mary is way more diverse than Wes could ever hope to be. I’ve realized that, as much as a white middle-class American can demand, I need diversity to thrive. Life’s too short to surround oneself with a homogeneous, close-to-home outlooks. It thrills me when I feel like I’m part of the minority in the room or on the tube. Growing up in a 93% white town does this to you.

Somehow I’ve managed to befriend all the English and Drama majors. It feels like the biology kids are hiding. I know I’ll meet some in my Mammals and Evolution class tomorrow. But for now, in my science friend-devoid stupor, when I meet anyone vaguely interested in science- biochemistry, math, even pre-dental– I exclaim “that’s so cool!. My companion is often taken aback, but that’s okay. They say no one ever says majoring in math is cool. I’m glad to deviate from that sad, sad norm. (Shoutout to Sarah, my fabulous math/dance double major pal!)

Also, I feel a little burnout coming on. It’s strange, since without Facebook and a phone, you’d think this wouldn’t happen as quickly. Maybe it’s not burnout so much as it is lack of energy to keep in touch with everyone I want to (I’m lucky to care about so many people) and understand my schedule. Making friends hasn’t been very hard so far. I guess I understand that it takes time and I’ll meet a lot through all the clubs and activities and classes I intend to participate in.

Long post wrap up: Now! What are your favorite freezer-friendly recipes? I’m dying to know!