I’ve been in London for two days now but it feels like I’ve been here for weeks already. The first day was great! I toured around campus and the roehampton area. I was very excited and happy to be here but I didn’t get much sleep. Then today, I had a really hard time dealing with what I’m assuming was culture shock. It’s probably also because I’m very tired, but I was so overwhelmed when trying to pick out groceries it was unreal. Everything is just so dif
ferent and I don’t recognize brands or what is a good deal or not. So I gave up and went to a cafe to grab a bite to eat. I looked on the menu for anything that sounded familiar. I realized that this was me shutting out the other culture. I used to think that I wouldn’t have culture shock in London because it’s not that different from America, but I was so wrong. It’s completely different in so many ways. And when I realized that, I freaked out a bit. So I called my mom, took a nap, and feel much better. I also feel that I’m paranoid about American stereotypes and being treated poorly but so far it hasn’t been a problem. I think by next week I’ll be settled in much better and be coping with the culture shock well.
Hello, my name is Madelyn Hay and tomorrow I’ll be boarding my flight to London, England. The weeks leading up to my departure have been pretty crazy. One moment, I’m excited and the next I’m crying and wondering why I am doing this. I know that once I get there, that question will be answered and I’ll immediately be glad that I chose to travel abroad but until then, I’ll be somewhere between ecstatic and tearful. I’m mainly nervous about the flight because I’ve never traveled internationally or independently. But both are wonderful experiences that I will be glad to accomplish. Leaving my hometown of camas, Washington and going in to such a huge city will surely be a bit of a struggle at first but I look forward to this experience as I hope to grow from it and embrace independence.
The title says it all. I arrived home from London over four months ago, and yet I’m still set in the ways of the UK. About 90% of the time, I look right-left-right when crossing the road, and can only do it the American way if I remind myself to do it. This is just one of the many things that has stuck with me since I’ve left London. The other things that have stuck with me are the memories of the food, experiences, and friendships of my time abroad. I’ll never forget what it was like to travel to a foreign country and experience life as a Londoner. Living in London gave me more confidence and allowed me to explore the person that I am, and since coming back, I have become a much more independent person, and I’m grateful for my opportunities of travel and study.
Now that I am back home, I have noticed about how convenient everything is here. Of course there is cell and network service in Costa Rica, but I didn’t have a phone there so it is amazing how convenient everything is here. Not only that, but I wasn’t scared for my life when I was driving. The road laws here are very much enforced here and not so much there. Apart from seeing my friends and family, I am not too excited to be back. I still had so much more to see and experience before I came back. However, I can hopefully come back and see all that I missed and see people that I have met in Costa Rica.
Since my time here in Costa Rica is winding down and coming to an end I am trying to spend as much time as I can seeing more of San Jose. This week I visited the precolonial gold museum and the national stadium. Luckily, there just happened to be an international track competition that was free. I also visited the national art museum that is in the old national airport for Costa Rica, which was really cool and worth seeing itself.
This week I went with a few friends to Panama. The process of crossing the boarder into Panama was very tedious. I did not have a flight itinerary that they would except so I had to run around the boarder shops to try and get internet to enter Panama. However, I got it resolved and we stayed in a Hostel along a river in Bocas del Torro. We went on a dolphin and sloth tour and we also went snorkeling.That was a great experience and I got to see a glimpse of what Panama has to offer.
This week I said goodbye to a lot of my friends who did the 5-week program. We all went to a near by Salsa club, where there was a live band and amazing dancers. All of the dancers there must go every week because they all seem professional. Also, I went rafting with two other friends. That was also an amazing experience. I was able to see a lot of wildlife like sloths and exotic birds. It was a beautiful experience.
This week my program traveled to some hot springs. I pictured the hot springs being natural but they were in a resort. Though the hot springs were man made, the water was heated naturally by a nearby volcano, Irazu. After that we traveled to a different city where I zip lined on the longest zip line in Latin America. I also went on a Tarzan Swing, which is basically bungee jumping, but instead of bouncing back up you swing out. This has definitely been my favorite part of studying abroad so far.
This week I took a bus up to an active volcano to see it, though there was too much fog to see really anything. Though on the way down from the volcano we stopped at the oldest church in Costa Rica, which was absolutely beautiful. I learned that the next week was one of Costa Rica’s most popular homages where people walk from their houses all over the country to pay homage to an image of the Virgin Mary that is inside the church.