Views From Across the Pond

Make your way to your new dorm. Arrive. Knock on door. Knock on door again. Call out “Hello?” and wait for response. Call out again. Rightfully enter after a few seconds. It is your dorm after all. Put your stuff on the bed. Turn around and suddenly find yourself facing your new roommate who is wearing nothing but a towel, straight out of the shower.

Welcome to America! Talk about people being open.

I can’t say it has been the hardest thing to come here, but it hasn’t been the easiest either. The misconception about going abroad to an English-speaking country (I'm from the UK) is that there won’t be much of a challenge because we share the same language, blah blah blah. But the truth is that the culture shock is just as strong.

First, the weather. Summer in the UK consists of a few sunny days here and there over the month of July, and August, too, if you’re lucky. Come to California and there seems to be summer year-round. Even after three weeks here, I still find myself wanting to layer up.

Going anywhere? Sure, let me just grab a jacket in case I get cold. Which of course I won’t, because the sun here enjoys burning people. Making plans for the next few days? Of course, but allow me to check the weather forecast first, and then give me a few seconds to realize how pointless it is, because again, sun.

Then there’s the language. Technically, it is still the same. But is it? Flashback to orientation week. One of the leaders says, “Sometimes all I wear are pants.”  He smiles. I stand paralyzed with horror at what he has just said. Sometimes all he wears is… his underwear? Everyone smiles back at him. “Why is everyone smiling?” I think to myself. “This guy walks around in his underwear!” Except that he doesn’t, because the word “pants” here means “trousers,” not underwear, as it does in the UK.

And then there are the actual college classes. Man, American college is hard. Go to your first class, receive 60 pages of reading. Go to your second class, receive an entire Shakespeare play to read. Go to your third class, receive two essays due next week. Come home from the first day of classes thinking to yourself: “May the odds be ever in your favor.” Then subsequently resolve to cry, because how else will you deal with all this work?

No, it is not this intensive in the UK. Over there, we are chill. We spend most of the semester sleeping, learning how to cook, partying (with actual alcohol which is actually legal to buy), and then towards the end of the semester, we disappear socially for a week, only to come out of it feeling like we could have done better but didn’t feel like doing the work. Fast forward a bit and we actually get decent grades. It’s all about independent learning. Skip the lectures for the entire semester in the UK, and nobody will care.

Skip three classes here and you’re out of the course. Simple as that. How on earth am I supposed to find the time to go into L.A. and meet the celebrities I came here for? Now, now. I’m only joking. I came here to study. No, seriously. Because if I don’t, immigration will chuck me out.

As for exactly how I am going to go about it? Well, I still haven’t quite figured it out.

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