Still in the Honeymoon Stage?
I think it’s safe to say that it’s the little differences that really throw you off in a new country. You prepare yourself for things like exchange rates, getting lost, and people driving on the wrong side of the road. But one small change in the McDonald’s menu and you’re left in a state of utter confusion. I’ve promised myself not to make late-night McDonald’s a routine here so I’ve only been once but that one trip was all it took to shake me up a bit. As the woman handed me my chicken nuggets, I asked for ranch.
“Um…. RANCH?”, maybe I’m not speaking loud enough.
and then it dawned on me… Oh dear lord. I told my friend Sergio, “They don’t have ranch here!” (He’s from Italy but went to an American school so surely he knows) He stared at me confused while my British friend, Ross, said “Oh I’ve had that stuff before!… It’s like a strange sort of mayonnaise” *twilight zone theme*
So that’s a bit dramatic… but these little things add up! To-go boxes are also a foreign concept. And when people ask you “Are you alright?” it doesn’t necessarily mean you look unnaturally distressed because here, it’s a greeting. And if you’re ever talking about your pants (it happens more than you might think), make sure you say “trousers” or everyone will think you’re talking about your underwear
… which is embarrassing for you.
Beyond minor culture shocks and into other news, I auditioned for the dance group here at Queen Mary and now have practice twice a week. My last practice was particularly interesting. As we were stretching, the football team marched in, stripped down to neon shorts and tank tops, and performed Call On Me (A notoriously ridiculous music/work out video to the 80’s song by Eric Prydz) before picking up their clothes and walking out. Hmmm…. What?
As for my recent adventures, three weekends ago was the Interstudy excursion to Ireland. So. Much. Fun. We traveled to Killarney National Park where we split into two groups: 1 cycling. 1 kayaking. Then the plan WAS to switch. My group started out with kayaking. At first, it was a little windy but so beautiful. Unfortunately, the conditions started getting a little rough. One kayaker turned over, then another, then another, and finally a fourth… twice. Our excursion ended in everyone (except, ahem, me… heh heh heh sorry I’m not usually this cocky) having to be rescued.
At the time, it seemed like a really tragic experience but it didn’t take five minutes for everyone to shake it off and bond over our “near death” adventure. During this time the cycling group was riding around the national park finding lost kittens… We finished the day with an incredible hike past waterfalls, gorgeous landscapes, and a mansion.
That night a few of us went to a pub (Because how can you truly experience Ireland without going to a pub, am I right?) where we danced with a group of very vivacious Irish men who didn’t sit down the whole night. They even out danced us through “Single Ladies”…. We finished the trip the next day at Blarney Castle, which completely lived up to its reputation. It was beautiful.
According to the calendar, I’ve been in the UK over a month. It’s hard to believe. I still have so many things on my abroad “bucket list” that I haven’t done. I can, however, check-off Big Ben, the Olympic site, straddling the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory, riding the London Eye, visiting the set of Pirates of the Caribbean 4, and meeting my mystery flat mate (I spotted him at a 7am fire drill… We still haven’t spoken. Baby steps).