The biggest takeaway from my first few weeks abroad is to be open to new experiences. As a student back in the states, I feel that I confine myself to the same old things outside of the classroom and do not do many things out of my comfort zone. While abroad, I feel that I have lifted myself from preconceived notions and tried to experience as much as I can. This attitude helped me find things that I really enjoy and what I really do not like. Many examples come to mind including trying different types of ethnic foods, exploring different parts of London, and overall just getting a better understanding of the English culture through many other avenues.
The first experience where I felt away from home was on the second day I was here. After going through the first day of orientation, my flat mates and I explored around Kensington and ended up at a Turkish take out place for lunch called Taza. When eating delicious chicken shawarma for the first time, I felt that I truly was in London, one of the diverse cities in the world. That was the moment that I felt that I was in a different culture, instead of just when I got to England because English culture feels very similar to American culture, almost like it was just a territory across the pond.
After being in London for about a week, I felt very comfortable. The main three things that gave me comfort was knowing how to navigate the tube system, exploring various parts of London, and having a basic routine. Learning to navigate the tube system was much simpler than I expected with the tool of apps that tell you actually were to go at our disposal. Through exploring various parts of London, I was able to have a general sense of where I was in relation to Camden, where I live, and Kensington, where I study. This tool became invaluable in figuring out where I was for when I was out of the flat. At home, I am very routine oriented, so being able to establish an actual schedule of commuting, sleeping, relaxing, and studying helped me gain my footing here in London.
Because British culture is similar to American culture, I did not really experience any notable moments of culture shock. There have been some notable differences in British and American culture though. The stereotypical things people think about British culture like them driving on the other side of the road, being polite, having bland food and being interested in politics are all relatively true. With London being a metropolitan city, I feel that it may not really represent the old-fashion British culture that can still be seen in the countryside but is more a mishmash of many different cultures.