Six months, one week, two countries, four states, 11 flights, 16 cities, one spring break, five finals, 500(ish) parties, countless shots, three bottles of Squirt, one room-A-three-man rave, three Presidents, five frat houses, 100 froyos, 101 jamba juices, 200 dodgy bus journeys, five British keg stands, 14 DU jackets, six hairbraids, two geckos, 240 red cups, seven s’mores, 12 wine bags, 1.5 hours intoxicated feeding time at the Dining Commons, two campfires, four Wawa coffees, one Best Supporting Actress award, one epic concert and two overweight suitcases later…
And let me tell you something. It’s pretty bloody weird.
I mentioned in an earlier post, Easter Adventures Down the 101, my distinct lack of homesickness throughout my time in San Jose. Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones- I certainly consider myself so- I enjoyed myself so much experiencing California and American college life that I didn’t once have the time to genuinely, desperately miss anything from home too much.
I remember thinking, briefly, how big America is, but aside from this I like to think I took it all in my stride, acknowledging, accepting and learning to love the changes in lifestyle, from the transport to the food, and, of course, the weather.
The problem with acclimatizing so smoothly to the Californian sunshine- and all that comes with it- is that when you return home back to a grey and gloomy Londontown, the culture shock really packs a punch in a way I, for one, never expected it to.
These are just a few of the examples of the culture shock you can expect upon returning to England:
The Green Men on the traffic lights are so so green. Unnervingly so, as if they’ve just drank a whole bottle of green highlighter fluid. The change in traffic-light-man colour from England to America is minimal, barely noticeable, to the extent that you still call it ‘The Green Man’ even though the thing flashing at you is quite clearly white. Coming back to England however, the first green man that I saw seemed so vivid in colour that I completely missed my chance to cross the road because I was so hypnotised by the emerald pigment.
Everyone sounds so British. Well duh right? I’m in Britain. I don’t know what I was expecting but I couldn’t help but laugh on being surrounded by Englishmen, walking down the street saying things like “cheers” and “mate” and “let’s pop to Cafe Nero’s round the corner, have a catch up and a cuppa tea and a bite to eat, I’m rather peckish.” I hadn’t heard that in a very long time.
I can once more use 3G, everywhere and anywhere. No longer am I confined to Starbucks or Westfields or university secure-logon wifi in order to send a quick snapchat or check my facebook. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, it annoys me when people are too attached to their phones and oblivious to everything else, but after six months of having to sign in and click the ridiculously small terms and conditions checkbox in order to read my emails, I felt it necessary to take advantage of this new found freedom.
I have a PIN code, apparently. I know – what’s that for? I’m so used to nonchalantly handing over my credit card and scrawling a barely legible signature on the receipt that when I paid for something the other day and was actually handed the card machine, I looked up in askance. What do you want me to do with this?
“If you could please enter your PIN madam”
Shit. What’s a pin? Oh a PIN. You actually want me to press buttons? What on earth is my PIN code, can’t I just sign something? Oh lord it’s the wrong number apparently. Well this is embarrassing.
Is along the lines of what went through my head.
The good thing about all this, because there’s always a silver lining, is that I feel like a child rediscovering all the things I love about England, and London in particular.
For instance, never have I been more excited to sit at the front top seat on a double decker bus.