Cultural Learning Curves in the U.K.

Though the skies aren’t as sunny as San Diego, the U.K. is certainly a beautiful place. There’s a lot I can say about my first couple weeks abroad, but I thought I’d share a few of my first impressions.

Diversity
The U.K. is a lot more diverse than I expected. Particularly in Leeds, the city I’m currently studying in, there are heaps (a term often used by European folks) of food places serving various cuisines from across the world.

While my first actual meal out was from Wagamama, an Asian-inspired Japanese restaurant, the first food joint I ended up going to was KFC. My flat mates were absolutely thrilled to find out there was a KFC and Taco Bell around the corner from our accommodation. I, on the other hand, had no idea how exciting it was to see Colonel Sanders’ smile welcome us in until that night.

Accents and languages
How unintelligent I feel sitting in a room with people who can speak two, even three, other languages from their own. Everywhere I go, I either hear a different accent or a different language altogether.

Being around so many foreign languages can sometimes make me feel like an outsider, but then I remember that’s part of the process when you’re getting cultured! It’s also fun to guess what people are saying. One thing is for sure, I certainly have to ask people to repeat themselves more often than in the United States.

People don’t understand how cold it is
Due to a serious case of jet lag, I stayed up and watched the sun rise on my first night in the U.K. To my surprise, there was a man walking down the street wearing a backpack, t-shirt and jeans like he was strolling down Montezuma Road on the way to the ARC. I watched him from my room bundled up in sweats and a beanie! The sights at night are even better when I see women dressed to the nines — long tight shirts they try to pass off as dresses, shorts which should only be worn at the beach and tops that seem to cover just enough.

I really don’t know how people do it!

It’s rare that I ever have trouble getting a good night’s rest. Although, now I know that when it drops to about 10 degrees Celsius/50 degrees Fahrenheit, I will without a doubt wake up freezing in the middle of the night.

Notes to self and such

  • Each outlet has its own switch to turn the power on. Plug in the device, then flip the switch.
  • THIS IS ALSO HOW THE KITCHEN FAN AND HEATER WORKS
  • On the lift (AKA, the elevator) the ground floor is sometimes Level 0 and anything below is Level -1, -2, etc.
  • Hob = stove top
  • People drink whole milk. (I have nothing against people who drink whole milk, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone drink that back home.)
  • When buying adult beverages, BRING. YOUR. PASSPORT.
  • Continue checking your bank account regularly.


Erin de Leon is a double major in dance and kinesiology. She is studying Fall semester at Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom

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