The moment you start thinking: “Well, this would never happen in my country”, you are experiencing some sort of culture shock. You probably won’t know it’s happening. You may not feel disoriented or start panicking, but it is there every time you travel to a foreign country (not to mention other continent).
Culture shock consists of at least one of four distinct phases:
- Honeymoon (when you are in love with the new country, when everything is better than at home: food, people, transportation, architecture; you find beauty in everything around you);
- Negotiation (the longer you stay at one place the more you start realising that things aren’t as good as you thought in the first place; you start to feel a bit homesick; it’s neither here nor there phase);
- Adjustment (you start to feel like one of the locals; you accept that this country has its advantages and flaws and that there is no point in comparing it to your homeland);
- Mastery (you start to refer to the new country as your new home and participate fully and freely in its culture).
I don’t think that London is that much different from the rest of Europe, but there are things I still find puzzling after 8 months I spent here.
Some street crossing signs have Look Right, some have Look Left, which led to me turning my head left-right, right-left and up and down (just to make sure) before crossing.
The fact that British people are never actually cold. They go out without coats or jackets on 5 degrees Celsius (yes, I know that you don’t have a place to leave a coat in a pub, but still!) and girls wear ballerina shoes without socks year round.
I still get surprised when I see a man in a suit going to work in his bright socks.
With all this in mind, I decided to ask others about the culture shock they experienced upon moving to London.
First were four wonderful Chinese postgraduate students who agreed to help me with my Culture Shock web series. Click below to hear what they have to say about differences between UK and China.