Friends Are A Girl's Best Friend
I genuinely admire people who study abroad with no one else from their home university. They are so brave. It is absolutely a sink or swim situation. Either you make friends or you don't. I consider myself extremely lucky to have people from my home university here with me. Granted, I didn't know any of them well before I came, but we'd at least seen each other's faces once or twice before we left. And something about being thrown into a new country, a new city, a new school, and massive amounts of unknowns really bonds people. Who would have thought? But seriously, in less than a week we've had experiences that have bonded us in ways no other experience could, because being in another country and culture can be confusing. I'll just recount some of the things we've learned in the past 4 days.
- First of all the language barrier. Thankfully I've had plenty of practice with this, so I've become our designated translator. Most of the time my services aren't needed (as most of the other kids here are from California - because apparently no one in England goes to school in the summer), but learning the difference between chips and crisps, pants and trousers, a bill versus a check, queueing and a till... In a country that speaks English it's astounding at how much is different. I'll also add that they have no idea what a burrito means.
- Laundry is also different (and more expensive - $8 for one load!!!!). We discovered that if you pay for one dryer, and leave your clothes in another, for some reason they don't get dry.
- Now for those of you that don't know, the English drive on the wrong side of the road. This makes looking before you cross very difficult. In London they've done a really great thing for confused people. Painted on the road on crosswalks it tells you which way to look. And for some reason a small coastal town in England hasn't thought to spend tax payers money on directions for confused Americans.
- What they have figured out though, is that if you want college aged kids to get really excited about name tags, life-size Jenga, inflatable jousting and sumo wrestling, its best to include alcohol in the mix.
- I am very bad at math, and traveling to another country means you have to do math every day. As my mom reminded us "pounds are not dollars!"
- Here's another thing about England you might not know, none of the streets are laid out in a grid. There are offshoots, and alleyways, and curves and diagonals. So when you ask someone for directions and they say "keep going straight, then take a left and it should be on your right," that leaves you with about five different paths to choose from.
It's been a learning experience, and I can't wait to learn more. But I can't imagine doing it without such a fun, and diverse group of friends. This is the only experience where you can have so many inside jokes within such a short amount of time and I love it! So remember everyone, "don't touch the bunnies!!"