Last week I returned from the adventure of a lifetime. I spent three weeks in London studying for an English writing course for Winona State. Although I was only there for a few weeks, I started to adapt to the culture. When I returned to Minnesota, I was surprised that the short amount of time resulted in such culture shock when I returned to the Midwest.
First of all, as soon as I got to the airport, I walked onto an escalator. I noticed that I was frustrated, but it took me a second to figure out why. I realized that it was because of the way people were occupying the escalator believe it or not. In London, it’s an unspoken rule that people stand on the right side of the escalator to leave room for the people who are late or in a hurry to literally sprint up the left side. We haven’t figured this out yet in America, though I don’t think it ever hurt anyone to wait an extra thirty seconds by standing in one place instead of running up an already moving walkway.
As soon as I got in the car, I gave my mom a weird look. Then I thought about it, and I realized that my mom was in fact driving on the right side of the vehicle. In London, people drive on the left side of the road and the driver sits in the right side of the car. Luckily, I got used to this again before I started driving my car again. That could have been a potential hazard, to say the least.
I am not a morning person, so I couldn’t figure out why I was waking up at five thirty each morning wanting lunch. For anyone who doubts jet lag, don’t. It is definitely a real thing. While we were in London, we were six hours ahead of what we were in Minnesota. So at five thirty in the morning here, it was in fact lunchtime in London.
I stood there for a while holding a hot pink device with a smooth black screen. What was it? A cell phone of course. Like many people in this decade, I admit, I am obsessed with social media and communication. While I was in London, it was refreshing to have a break from Facebook and constantly checking my phone. In fact, it was nice to sit at dinner without any interruptions from people on their cellphones. It was nice to be in the moment and enjoy company without the constant distractions.
Money was also an issue. While I was in London, people were constantly reminding me that I was paying in pounds and not in American dollars. I finally got the hang of it in our last few days over there. Now, whenever I pay for something with cash, I have to double check to make sure that the shiny coin is a quarter and not a pound. My wallet is also a lot lighter. Not because I spent a lot of money, but because our money is mostly paper and not in the form of a coin.
People take the peace and quiet of the Midwest for granted. This one was not hard to get used to again. In London, there are millions and millions of people, and a lot of them smoke. It was refreshing to be able to breathe in clean air without being pushed over while walking down the sidewalk. I almost felt like I walked into a new world because no one was around.
Lastly, I felt like I walked into the movie Fargo when I returned to the good old Minnesotan accents. In London, there was a new language or accent anytime I talked to someone. Here, that is not the case.
I am already missing London and all of the fun that I had, but if I had to come back, I’m glad that Minnesota was the place to which I returned.