It took me a long time to adjust. The funny thing is that you don’t really notice that you’re still experiencing culture shock. I assumed that I actually wasn’t getting on here at all and that I never would. I couldn’t find the right store to get my groceries at, everything I ate made me feel ill, I didn’t think anyone liked me at all, the modules were near impossible to understand, and I was pretty sure I was going to have to hide away in my room all the time instead of socializing.
It wasn’t until I took the time to explore and make myself comfortable with my surroundings that I started to feel like I belonged. Not to mention I also got to see some amazing things:
I also started doing more things like the locals would instead of trying to capture a bit of Oregon here. That really helped. When I get on the double decker buses I ride on the lower floor where it seems more of the local population tends to ride instead of the younger rowdy crowd. I ask people at the grocery store if they can recommend how to cook something, what kind of medicine to take for that cough, or where the best place is to get kebabs (Derya in Dalry!!). If I don’t understand what someone says the first, second, or even the third time- they are always kind and repeat it. If I make a cultural error (happens a lot), then I apologize for it and explain that I’m still learning.
Coinstar at ASDA (like the UK Walmart) is amazing for international visitors that still don’t have the hang of all the different kinds of coins. You just stick them in there and it will shoot out a receipt that you take to the customer service window. There they will give you paper money. Fabulous!
I love how if you ask a local for help with something and you do it with the utmost kindness/sincerity, they will go out of their way to make sure you’ve got a handle on it. All you have to do is ask politely. I was absolutely lost on how to cook a certain curry. I stood in the aisle looking at this box for at least five minutes. An older woman stopped next to me and started to look too. I turned and asked her, “Ma’am, how do you make this?” She took a good three minutes explaining how she does it, a healthier way to do it, and where to get the ingredients. I thanked her profusely and we both agreed that’s what we were going to have to have for supper.
Usually, if you want to go somewhere in particular you can post on facebook and one of your classmates will shoot you a message saying they want to go too. If not, getting around Edinburgh by yourself is relatively easy and safe. All you have to do is go to http://lothianbuses.com/plan-a-journey/journey-planner and put in your two addresses. That will let you know which buses to take and when. It’ll even let you know when you’ll get there, so you can be on time! (Shops usually close around 7pm and the buses are extremely reliable.)
It can also be fun to walk around. That’s how I found Dean Gardens on Open Doors Day (once a year all the private areas are open to the public). I literally walked around in little neighborhoods, across bridges, and ended up following a couple with a golden retriever into the park. I was just looking for a place to eat my lunch. What I found was an adventure!
I’ve even been lucky enough to say that I have friends that live in Fife, Glasgow, and London from before I came here. We’re making plans to visit each other as soon as possible. Two of them have taken it upon themselves to be my ‘everything Scottish’ tutors. Before you know it I’ll be talking proper Scots (a language all it’s own.) Scots language video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cENbkHS3mnY
I’m finally fitting in here. It makes me so happy but it did take a long time. Culture shock is a real thing!