culture shock… naw

  So being here for a week now, I’m starting to get a real hang for how things work and what not. Although I have never been outside North America, I would not say I experienced any real culture shock.  There have been some major differences and similarities between life in Iowa and life in Wales though.

First off, an obvious difference, but not for the obvious reason, is currency. Great Britain does not use the Euro, they still use Pounds, also called quid. The major difference between the dollar and pound is that there is no one pound bill. They believe in lots and lots of coins. Coins worth 1 pence, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 1 pound and 2 pounds are all given as change all the time. So whenever I buy something, I almost always get alllll coins back. I really didn’t like carrying any change in my pockets back home besides maybe quarters, but now my pockets are always jingling.  I’m finally almost got the hang of what coin is what and how much it’s worth without studying it. It was the worst when we would be in big lines or at clubs paying for things and would look stupid just staring at our hands and trying to pay for things. I was even at the point where a couple times I believe I would just hold my hand out and tell someone to take the right amount if they looked trustworthy haha.

Another big difference is the drinking culture here. It seems as though drinking is such an acceptable way of life here. Every single day so far, my professor has told us to discuss certain things later that night while drinking a few pints, or your gin and tonic, etc.  All the other teachers, advisors and people that talk to us always seem to talk about drinking and where to do it, before talking to us about anything else. And there is just the fact that we have a pub inside our student village. The pub is a good place to hang out though and have a pint. There is a bar on campus as well, inside the student union! So students often just are hanging out on the main lawn of the University drinking. The downtown bar/club scene puts Iowa City’s to shame, and it supposed to be Swansea U’s finals week! Interesting what it will be like in a couple weeks once exams are done and they are all done revising aka studying.

Being in an English speaking country is nice, but here in Wales almost everything is listed in both English and Welsh. Welsh seems like an impossible language to learn, much less even pronounce some words. My English flatmates are much easier to understand then my Welsh flatmates; the ones from Wales have a lot thicker accent. There are also many little terms/phrases/words I am picking up on that they use instead of some American things. Words like Cheers, proper, Brilliant and aye aye have become a solid part of my vocabulary.  Other things such as Nic for steal, pants for underwear, smogging for making-out, lift for elevator, their ground floor is our 1st floor,  are all things I have come to learn, among many many other things as well.

Weather wise, yes it does rain quite often, but the temperature sure is an upgrade. Average temp in the winter here is low 40s, much better than Iowa’s low 20s.  Everybody from Wales was complaining how bad/cold the weather was when we got here and how we couldn’t of come at a worse time, ha it was 30 degrees, I’ll take it. And once it actually starts warming up I am surrounded by the Ocean with beaches everywhere so that will be nice.

Other than those few big differences, things are somewhat similar. It will get much more interesting when I start traveling around Europe, especially the non-English speaking countries, aka most of the places I’ll be traveling.

I just finished up week one of two of the British politics and culture, and it has been pretty interesting. We watched some films, learned about the Beatles and Sex Pistols, and have got an in depth look at the British politic system and leaders. 

If anyone can find the movie “Twin Town,” I would highly suggest renting it. It is set in Swansea and you get to see a lot of where I’m at and places I am.  BUT, it is set in the 90s during the decline of British film making, which focuses on the decline of British society, and massive drug use, violence and alcohol, haha so beware.


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