Taken at Stonehenge.
Learning a foreign culture and reflecting at the same time is an important part of the study abroad experience. Unlike other students I met, I did not have many expectations before coming to London because it was not my first time studying abroad in a different country. I knew that there would be a period where you would be experiencing culture shock and trying to adapt it, and eventually, you would overcome it and move on with your life. As I mentioned in the last blog post, I always believed that the best way to learn the culture is through interacting with locals while having an open mind toward new things. Surprisingly, I found myself getting used to the culture very quickly because I found a lot of similarities between people from Taiwan and in the UK.
During the first few months of my freshman year, I experienced a vast amount of culture shock because the American culture is pretty much the exact opposite of Taiwanese culture. For instance, in some lectures or recitations we have discussion sessions where we would be able to give our own analysis and opinion toward a certain topic; in contrast with Taiwan where students are not expected to do so as we have a more collective approach toward the learning experience. It took me some time to actually learn and adapt the culture because it was drastically different from what I experienced in the past. Therefore, to me, the British culture actually represent a perfect balance between the two drastically different culture, which makes me adapt to the culture here more easily.
The workstyle in the UK was probably the part that surprised me the most because the workplace was a lot more casual than I thought it would be. Everyone in the office was very close to each other, and my colleagues would usually take a 20~30 minute lunch break during their work. Besides from having lunch, they would even make tea for other colleagues who are still busy with their work. One of my colleagues told me that as long as you complete your task before the deadline, the manager would not mind if you take a 5 to 10-minute break besides from the lunch breaks. However, it is still quite normal to see others skipping lunch break when they have a vast amount of work to be dealt with.
I had an opportunity to meet up with a friend from high school, who happens to be studying university in London. He showed me a couple of his favorite spots in the city, which is very different from my previous expectation of London. He told me that even though the UK is not a big country, it is a very diverse and there are many places worth going in the future. Besides from living in a fast-paced city like London, it would also be worthwhile to get out of the city to explore other parts of the country. I will certainly keep that in mind and try to do so if my internship schedule allows. I can’t wait to see where the journey would take me next.