This is the fourth article in the series, “Tea with Mielke,” written by CUW student Hannah Mielke. The series chronicles Mielke’s study abroad adventures in England.
Leading up to semester abroad, I had dreamt about what my life would be like and I kept asking myself so many questions.
Am I going to start to have a British accent?
How am I supposed to stop myself from going to a coffee shop every day?
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Turns out, the answers to these questions were pretty simple once I got into a normal routine. However, when I was “dreaming up” what life would be like here, there were quite a few things I didn’t think about until I got here.
For starters, when crossing the street, I had to focus intently on which way cars were coming. They drive on the opposite side of the row which makes it very confusing when crossing the street. To add to that, biking is a main form of transportation for people, especially students, who live in Cambridge. The bikers own the road, they stop for no one. Sometimes I am more scared of getting run over by a bike than I am a car!
Since cars drive on the left side of the road, I also assumed that when people are walking on the sidewalk, they would also walk on the left side. In the states, since we drive on the right side of the road, we also walk on the right side of sidewalk. Here in Cambridge, there are no rules when walking on the sidewalk. People walk on whichever side they want to, which means I am constantly switching which side of the sidewalk I am on so I don’t run into people.
Another huge culture shock that I faced when first getting here is that if you were in the states and you pass another person on the sidewalk, you may give them a quick smile or say a general hello in passing. That is not the case here. People do not make eye contact with each other, they don’t acknowledge that there are others around them and they mind their own business. Whenever I go on walk back in the states, I typically say hello to the people I pass, but here, I’ve learned to keep my head down and go about my business. There has been one time that someone has said hi to me in passing and I was absolutely shocked when it happened. I was so shocked that I forgot to say hi back!
Overall, I have been exposed to be many cultural differences and I’m sure there are still so many more to encounter! My next big question is, will I have culture shock all over again when I go back to the states?!
CUW students, you have dozens of study abroad opportunities at your fingertips. Where will you go?
—This article is written by Hannah Mielke who is in her senior year as a Director of Church Ministries major at Concordia University Wisconsin. She’s currently on a 16-week study abroad experience to England. “Tea with Mielke” chronicles her adventure and shares some of the life lessons she’s learning along the way.