England surprised me with rain. Not that I completely didn’t expect it, but I thought that to a large extent this stereotype – as most of stereotypes – is an exaggeration. But it isn’t. So the first thing I learned, before even the induction week at my university started – always have an umbrella with you. And always have waterproof shoes. Also, don’t forget that whenever it doesn’t rain, it does not automatically mean winning the lottery. Because there it comes – wind. The wind is even worse. And sometimes they both decide to meet, which the English language has a term for – a disaster.
Jokes aside – England is great. I’ve always thought that. Really, I can’t explain, but I think it’s another stereotype that works worldwide. England is great. When my plane finally lands, the stress is over. My hands slowly stop shaking uncontrollably. I think the flight seemed like the worst part of it – I’m terrified when it comes to flying. The adventure begins. First strange thing I come across – people smile at me when I pass them on the street. Cashiers greet me with big smiles on their faces and ask about my mood. Everyone refers to me as ‘lovely’ or ‘darling’. I have heard it’s just the famous ‘British politeness’. Call it what you want, it’s still nice and uplifting. It’s not like people act this way everywhere. Certainly not in my country.
Spoken language comes as a bit of a shock. What I hear tends to be difficult to decipher at the beginning. It occurs to me that speaking to fellow citizens is not easy. Short responses, basic communication while getting the bus, these situations I will be fine with. But what if it’s my turn to tell a story to a new British friend? Halfway through I no longer see the point. Towards the end I pray internally that they understood my point, at least a really tiny bit of the point I was making. Oh, what a relief – they did understand! But wait, what is it that they’re saying now? What? Sorry, what? I may have to ask them to repeat it three times. Then I just give up – a simple nod and smile is enough. Let’s move on.
I appreciate the open-mindedness of citizens. You may be extraordinary or plain, you can wear whatever and do whatever, without worrying about them judging you for looking strange. Is it again a part of a stereotype – that British people rarely show emotions and prefer to mind their own business – I don’t know. But I have to say, I see it as a positive aspect of living in England.
University life. In no way does it resemble school or pretty much anything I’ve experienced before. Oversleeping and laziness are common and understandable. I’m thrown into this pit of everything and I’m supposed to deal with every aspect of life as an individual. Shopping for food? Shopping for everything that’s not food as well? There’s too much choice! Doing laundry? Making all appointments yourself? It’s natural that we’re not perfect at first. We also need days when we stay in bed until 4 pm and feed ourselves with last night’s pizza leftovers. That’s part of the ‘charm’. But maybe don’t tell your parents when they call to ask how it’s going. Enjoy it yourself.