This sunset marked the completion of my second week in London and the beginning of a remarkable semester – from which I’d emerge with a renewed perspective, one more candid and at ease than at any I had held before. That said, I write with the gift of hindsight – my first day in the UK was, frankly, a disaster.
Even with my New York upbringing hustling and bustling through my veins, that Sunday was a mental shellacking, culminating with a phone call with my Mom (now Mum?) during which I described my state of mind as shell-shocked – as though I’d been dropped in Vietnam. She still pokes fun at me for it!
My advice regarding your transition to studying in London is as follows: give it time. Alongside the obvious cultural idiosyncrasies, you’ll likely find more subtle differences (such as the class scheduling and lecture style) contributing to some degree of culture shock. Embrace them. I’ve developed significant appreciation for the freedoms of studying at King’s (and, more broadly, in the UK) – I can peruse each week’s readings, select those which most interest me, and shape my assessments (via weekly essay questions) accordingly. I find I have retained information better here and enjoyed my classes far more. I had never questioned the efficacy of the United States higher education system, but I find that of the UK to suit my learning style.
Transitioning from initial shock to wholehearted appreciation was facilitated by the acclimation resources offered by King’s. Attending orientation activities and Study Abroad socials while connecting with ambassadors from the Global Mobility Office really helped. Don’t be afraid to go to King’s events – everybody approaches their semester abroad with an open mind and a willingness to make new friends. I met most (if not all) of my best friends here within the first week. Don’t miss out!