2019 Spring Taylor Berkoski Temple Exchange UEA United Kingdom

The Habits I’ve Picked Up While Living Abroad: Not All Good, Not All Bad

Given I’m beginning week 11 of living abroad in England, I’d say I am pretty deeply culturally assimilated at this point. I can try and say that living here is like living in the states, but that would be for the most part, incorrect. I’ve picked up a new schedule, a new way of living, a whole adaptation to a new setting and situation I’ve been introduced to. Therefore, reflecting upon this around week 11, I must say, I’ve picked up some habits. Living in a different environment for as long as I have, it is inevitable that I have picked up new behavior, actions, routines, and so on. So here they are. The habits that I, an American, have picked up in good ‘ol England. The good and the bad.

GOOD: I have become an overall much more tidy person.

Believe it or not, there are some positives to only being able to bring one suitcase for six months of living. I’ve never been a huge fan of minimalism. Back at both home and Temple University I had such a stuffed closet — I could probably get away with not doing laundry for a whole month if I felt inclined to… That’s how much clothing I’d have on me. However, due to airplane regulations on the weight of bags as well as the hefty charge for extra bags, I was forced to pack light. In addition to this, I of course did not pack any decor for my room, no extra lamps or posters or stuffed animals, no desk necessities like printers or staplers, no highlighters or pencil holders. All I had with me was maybe…. two weeks worth of clothes? Because of the low amount of clothes and the full-on neglect of decorations or homely stuffed animals, my room never gets messy! Because I simply own the bare minimum. Nothing to get thrown around or cluttered. It’s quite nice I no longer have to go through my long weekly chore of trying to declutter my room that looked like a tornado went through it.

BAD: I take naps… Like, a lot.

I was never a nap person, frankly, because I never had time to. I usually woke up, went to all of my classes, went to my internship, hit up the gym, cooked some dinner, homework, then it was time to sleep. I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that I do have quite more free time here as opposed to my home uni… no job, no gym membership, low contact hours… therefore, when three o’clock rolls around and I need to take a break from coursework, I can’t help but to crawl into bed and just rest my eyes, just for a bit. Did I mention that I also get a full 8 hours during the night as well?

GOOD: I barely buy coffee or lunch anymore!

I am a huge coffee person. Most of the baristas and/or food truck workers recognize me in Philly or in my hometown. Because I was usually on the go and had super long days, I was much more inclined to grab a quick lunch at my favorite food truck on campus or that extra cup of coffee at Saxbys in between classes if we were let out early. Since I usually had morning classes at Temple, I was more inclined to have a coffee. All of my classes except one at UEA start at 2PM or later. I just cannot be asked to go to campus earlier than I need to to have a cup of coffee or a sandwich. I’ll just hang back and have my pb&j and Aldi brand instant coffee (but the times where I do treat myself and have a nice barista-made cup of coffee… man is it good).

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BAD: Keeping in contact with friends from back home

Apparently in Europe everyone messages each other through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Snapchat so I’m barely checking my text or iMessage. A lot of the times my friend will message and I won’t get around to it a few hours later, sometimes not until a day later. The time difference always plays a huge part as well — sometimes I forget, and a lot of the time my friends forget, that we’re about a 4 hour time difference apart. Sometimes I’ll send a text at 12AM, GMT, and get offended because no one will answer for awhile. But then I realise, over there, it’s 8AM EST… All of my friends are still sleeping! Or sometimes it’ll go the other way around, my friends will try to FaceTime me, and my phone is buzzing at 2AM, GMT, while they’re still wide awake at 10PM, EST, trying to catch up. The point is, most of the time, neither of us can talk (and I mean, really have a catch up) unless it’s planned or premeditated.

Lastly, I will give two more habits… And I’m not quite sure whether they’re good or bad (maybe both)!

Treating Yo Self

While abroad, treat-yo-self, am I right? So this one can get a bit tricky at times. Of course it’s so important to let loose, have a good time, try those indulgent sweets or cakes in all the different countries I visit, or fully embrace every opportunity to eat a full English breakfast while I can… but let me tell you… my body and my wallet have the potential to be a bit harmed by this. Of course, I’m abroad, if there is any time in life a person should treat them self, it should be now. But I definitely need to be careful with this one!

The British Slang/Humor

So here is when this is good: when I’m hanging out with all of my flatmates, I finally fully know what they are talking about, when I go out and meet new people I can demonstrate my newly learned slang, and when it’s time to banter and dish out that classic sarcastic, well-known “British humor, I fully fit in and mesh with everyone — sometimes I even earn a “hey, you sounded so English right there!” However, once my time here comes to an end, when I am once again back in the states, I’m a bit scared my British sarcasm is going to come off too crude, getting me into some trouble. Or, God forbid, what if I call an elevator a “lift” or the bathroom the “toilets” or refer to a line as a “queue” instead? Will I sound like a lame American who thinks she’s proper because of her oddly chosen English slang? Should I even care?

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