Posts Tagged ‘adjusting’

Reverse culture shock?

9 June 2009

It’s rather hard to think of what to say in a study abroad blog when you’re no longer abroad.

I just downloaded pictures from almost all of EA!P2, and it struck me all over again how mindblowingly beautiful Switzerland was.

I would hate for so epic of a chronicle to end on such a weak note, so tomorrow during my dreadful day at work, I shall try to figure out what to say about the end of my trip. Something that will do it justice.

In the meantime, I suppose I’ll just have to try to adjust to real life.


Orange Wednesdays and Public Transport

24 January 2009

Have I mentioned that the lights in the hall in my flat are motion-activated? It’s very green, actually, so that when there’s no one out there, the lights automatically turn off without having to worry about switches and all that. And when you open the door, they come on within a second or two.

I’ve started playing this very exciting game called “Try To Get to the Kitchen from My Room Without Activating the Motion Detector Lights.” My room is like 1 or 2 feet from the kitchen door, so you’d think I might be able to dart out fast enough, but I ALWAYS LOSE. Sometimes, I’ll think I’ve almost made it, and I’m actually within the realm of the kitchen, but then the LIGHT TURNS ON BEHIND ME! I think I may try a new strategy of going super slow to see if that works any better.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wow. She’s finally lost it. It was touch and go there for awhile, but no, now it’s definitely gone,” but YOU MUST UNDERSTAND what constant cloud cover and darkness and fog can do to a person.


My mobile is on the Orange network, and they offer this super awesome “Orange Wednesdays” deal where you can get 2 for 1 cinema tickets. Groovy, right? On Wednesday, my friend Victoria and I went to Staines (the next town over) to try and take advantage of that awesomeness. And lo and behold, student tickets are only 5.85…divide that by two, and it equals supercheap! So we’re all “la la la that was awesome and cheap!” and leave the theater afterward and THEN

1. It’s pouring rain and windy as all get out. My umbrella flips inside out and dies (I fixed it a little but it’s still kind of dead).
2. We go back to the bus stop and check the time of the next bus, which of course, was coming in negative an hour and 20 mins.

That’s right. The last bus leaves around 10:30pm, and it was 11:50. Oops! The pub across the street directed us to a taxi stand right around the corner, which was literally a hole in the wall. Seriously. A hole. With 3 chairs and a door. There was already a man waiting with a pizza, and we were soon joined by 5 drunkish 30somethings, which makes for a very crowded hole. One of the guys offered me a pound to either sit in my chair or my lap, I’m not quite sure which. The same guy also did the Incredibly Distasteful Act of hailing a random taxi from the street while simultaneously waiting at a taxi stand. This rather angered the Taxi Man, who used some colourful racial language to describe the typical driver of said cab.

After all that, the drunks left, and a driver finally showed up. We shared a taxi with Pizza Man back to RoHo (Royal Holloway) because apparently it was all in the same direction, and Taxi Man felt bad about us having to wait.

In the end, it turned out jolly good, and we learned the invaluable Thou Shalt Not Stay Out Past 22:30 on Small Town Surrey Weeknights lesson. Because after that Cinderella-esque hour, it’s only pizza eaters and drunks who roam the streets.

Days 7 & 8: Digestive Biscuits

16 January 2009

I’ve been here for a week!

There’s someone I’d like you to meet.

Everyone, these are digestive biscuits:day-7-0041

Digestive biscuits, this is everyone. Say hi.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Digestive biscuits?? Sounds like something you give your dog to help with, well, you know.” But you’re wrong. They are delightful little cookies that come in approximately a jillion different varieties. I personally am a big fan of the chocolate covered

Can we all be friends now?

Ok good.

In other news, I finally got my classes all sorted out. Yay! I switched from 3rd Year Victorian fiction (which I “would be at a disadvantage” in because it’s continuing the sequence from the 19th century novel class I’m taking now) to 2nd year Women Writers of the Romantic Period. The bad news is that I missed the 1st class. Also that I have class from 10-4 on Tuesdays…with…erm…no break. But the good news is that I have Wednesdays through Sundays completely free. Minus my minimum recommended 32 hours of studying.

Unfortunately, I can only check out 10 books at a time from the library, so I’ve already maxed out my allotment in the 1st week. I was greatly saddened when the magical radiation electron scanning check out machine (you just put the books in this compartment, up to 10 at a time, and it KNOWS what they are) cut me off. I suppose I’ll be better off in the long run if I go ahead and buy some so there won’t be any worries around exam/essay time about them being available in the libs.

Tomorrow, so help me God and the Queen, I’m going to work on reading The Iliad. If I hadn’t come abroad, I believe I would’ve escaped higher education without ever having to tackle that beast. As you might guess, I’ve been avoiding it like the plague.

Getting there/here

10 January 2009

It was an arduous journey of arduousness that took 15 hours (according to the clock…it wasn’t actually that long, thank god. I guess it was really about 10 hours: 7.5 to fly and 2.5 for immigration/customs/driving to RH).

On BA, I was in this pimped out exclusive section called “World Traveller PLUS.” Ok, it’s only like 1 up from economy, but I got to board right after the people in the sleepy beds. We even had those curtains for our little mini-cabin to keep the plebs out.

Here’s the seat in front of me:



I don’t know if you can see in the picture, but the headphones they gave out were all fancy and padded and covering my whole ears. And they were better than the ones in the regular cabin, too.

Here’s me trying to discretely take a picture of the cabin, but it’s all blurry because the lady next to me started to turn back toward me, so I panicked:


Other amenities include: socks, a pen, a sleep mask, a toothbrush + toothpaste, blanket, pillow, free wine, 3 course dinner, breakfast, legroom, a footrest, and lots of movies. Apparently, there was also a place to plug in ones laptop, but I did not take advantage of that luxury.

This represents the part of the journey that was still novel/bearable (ps. I just dled GoogleEarth…AMAZING):earth

I unfortunately had to walk through the steerage a few times to get to the lavatory (I wasn’t quite exclusive enough to use the close ones in the fancy pants section, also separated by curtain).

Oh and I forgot to mention that we also got free copies of the Daily Mail, and apparently there’s a run on normal lightbulbs because the EU is outlawing them in order to be more green/eco friendly.

This represents the rather unfortunate part of the journey where I wanted to die a teeny bit:europe2

I slept a little bit, and then they turned the lights on and were like “BREAKFAST! Tea or coffee?” and I was like “gahhhshdnfmsdlgkh.”

It was pitch black outside for most of the flight (obviously), but I could see a bunch of stars. Not much down below though. As we started making out initial descent, I took this picture of the beginning of sunrise out the window:flight-0031

You can’t really see the clouds, but they were fluffy, and I wanted to frolic in them.

Approach approach approach:england

I was a little bit giddy with excitement when we finally broke through the clouds, but then, surprise surprise, it was dark. And foggy. And I couldn’t see anything exciting.

When I got off the plane, the 1st thing I noticed was several (SEVERAL) authentically British people wearing white sneakers. I hope they get pickpocketed.

Thankfully, Immigration and Customs were a breeeeeze. I got sniffed by possibly the least intimidating drug/bomb dog ever. It was a cute little yellow lab. Then I just wheeled my overflowing luggage cart right through customs. One of the officers asked a man walking near me where he flew in from (Cuba dun dun dun), but I just ran away and didn’t make eye contact.

Richard (family friend of family friends the Smiths) picked me up. I felt very official because he had a sign with my name on it. Like the important people do.

I was supremely weirded out by riding in the left side of the front seat and on the left side of the road as we drove from

I saw bits of quintessential England countryside and a horse!

Now, contrary to popular belief, Royal Holloway- University of London is not actually in London. It is in Egham, Surrey. Confusing I know. But it is still within the M25, which roughly outlines greater London (in the looooosest sense of the word).

Today some of my Visiting Student comrades and I ventured into Egham, our little town for some supplies. It’s about a 10-15 minute walk down the hill. The sidewalk is very narrow, however, and it felt a little treacherous at a few points (only a little! do not be alarmed).egham-21

 It was rather cold, but I did get a hair dryer (yess!) some hand soap (none in my bathroom) and toilet paper (only 1 roll provided. Generous, I know). And another plug converter. But I must remember that only my computer and camera charger don’t need the voltage converter. In my jetlagged state this morning, I forgot that, and my hair straightener had uncomfortable amounts of smoke coming out of it after a few seconds (again, do not be alarmed, the situation turned out fine).

My room is SO NICE. 10 times nicer than any room I’ve had at Barnard. I have a full size bed, and my own full bathroom (though it’s this dodgy wet room arrangement where the shower, which is a bit too misty and not pressurey for my taste)  isn’t really separate and the whole floor gets wet.

Campus feels huuuuuge though. Way bigger than the ‘nard.campus

And my classes apparently happen one after the other, except each begins and ends on the hour, with no time between, and in different buildings. Hmm.

I’ve haven’t really taken any proper pictures of anything yet. Blame it on the culture shock.

Tomorrow, to Windsor. For tea with the Queen (just kidding). But I really am going to Windsor (my first castle!).