Thursday, September 2, 2010

Taking Advantage of the Common Language

Upon arrival at FIE, one of our very first information sessions was a new student orientation that involved a short lecture on how we should expect to adjust to living abroad. This presentation was informative and a little comforting, but we were shown a “feelings graph” that was a little strange. It mapped the ups and downs of a typical abroad student’s emotional journey while studying in a foreign country. While I’m sure highs and lows of that nature could be expected somewhere more atypical, so far London does not seem like that much of a culture shock. I assume it I because of the common language.

I know many people wouldn’t pick London as their destination to study abroad in college solely because of this reason. My Dad was of this opinion when I was deciding where to study abroad. His reasoning was that living in London nowadays is just like living in New York, and for that reason I should pick somewhere that would be a little more “uncomfortable”, but in a good way.

After listening to him, I started thinking maybe he was right, however, although my dad does make a good point, I am starting to realize that I’ve made the best decision for me. I think London gives a Design and Merchandising student the best of both worlds. You’re in a whole new city and it’s a new experience living in a foreign country, but it is also easy enough to adjust that you could picture yourself living here one day. As one of the biggest fashion cities in the world, it’s great that we get to experience living here before we graduate. Kind of a preview, if you will.

I think studying in a country that speaks a different language would be great for certain people, but so far I’ve really enjoyed being out and talking to locals. This ability to converse with everyone is definitely adding to my learning experience. A lot of British people have just as many questions and preconceptions about life in America as we do about life in England, which can be really interesting.

I had someone ask me if schools really had groups. After talking them, I realized they were talking about American high schools and how they are depicted in movies with social groups like jocks, nerds and goth kids. Another boy started talking to me about Obama and how awesome it was that he came from a family with a single mother and is now the president, compared to the UK where everyone in power is a royal. Before we came to London, we were asked a lot about what preconceived stereotypes of British people we were aware of, but its funny to learn what they think about Americans as well.

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