By: Sadie Hertz
You never realize how different cultures are until you are immersed in the daily life of a local, and your whole perspective changes. Stepping off the plane at London Heathrow Airport I immediately felt like I was somewhere else as signs that lined my walk to baggage claim stated, “Welcome to your new favourite place.” A seemingly normal statement, but the word “favorite” contained an “unnecessary” ou where in America it’s just spelled with an o. This seemingly small difference happened all around, making me feel like I had truly left the United States and experienced a new culture. Between converting miles to kilometers for morning runs, pounds to dollars for daily shopping, and making sure not to call my “trousers” anything close to pants in public—as it means “underwear” to the British. All small adjustments, but easy enough to get lost in the change as you hear American words with an “accent” but having yourself stand out as a foreigner.
The differences do not stop there. I toured several universities while abroad, “one” being The University of Cambridge. However, it is strange to consider it one university as 31 schools fall under that umbrella. When I would walk along King’s Parade, it segues into Trinity Lane and so forth, corresponding with the colleges that are stacked against each other. I could see each university as they bordered each other in the town of Cambridge. On my tour of Trinity I walked along a path with Trinity behind me, Clare’s College to the left of me, and St. John’s on my right. Unlike the typical large-scale American campus, each college was a stone’s throw away from each other. Moreover, there are not several tours going a day. There is maybe one every other month, otherwise you have to talk with a porter (person guarding the grounds) and inform them you are a prospective student to be let in the gates of each university, as they are closed off to the public. This was implemented because Cambridge is a major tourist town, and the colleges put in an effort to keep the general tours at a minimum to keep the collegiate atmosphere.
While the differences are plenty and the culture so similar yet varies in such different ways, it was a good change of pace and breath of fresh air from the typical American vibe.