Real Talk: Internationals from England share their shock talk

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By Lauren Nesworthy

Up until a few weeks ago, the phrase “culture shock” meant absolutely nothing to me. But now? It seems that my fellow international students and I can barely go a day without thinking about it!

We were all warned in orientation that many American phrases might be different or strange to us, but it wasn’t until I began to socialize with our new friends from across the pond that I realized just how many differences there are.

Let’s take, for example, the question you guys seem to love so much: “How are you?” Just a quick heads up to those of you planning to study in England someday: if you ever ask someone that question, be prepared to stand there listening to a range of topics, from who they went out with last night, to how they’re finding their classes, to how much they hate their boss, to what they had for breakfast that morning. Utter those three words and you will get someone’s life story.

This is how a typical interaction with one of you guys has gone this week:

Someone asks me, “How are you?”

I start to tell them about my day.

They walk away before I’ve finished the first sentence.

I suddenly realize I’m talking to myself and I shut up as soon as possible.

It’s embarrassing, let me tell you!

More recently, I’ve learned to give a far shorter, more appropriate response—turns out that a simple “Good, thanks” is all that’s needed. Who knew?

But I have to admit that I do still slip up on occasion, so if you should happen to pass by and notice me standing talking to myself, just remember—I’m not crazy. I swear.

It’s more likely that I’ve just forgotten which country I’m living in that day, that’s all.

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