Today is my birthday. During my younger years, I would have easily dedicated this blog post to myself, hahahaahaa! In my older years now, I am careful about keeping the promises I make to the public. Last week, I promised I will publish the second part of the foreigners culture shock experiences in the UK. So here we go.
From a human rights perspective, my gender/sex fragmentation falls into; male, female and ‘others’. Last week I shared reflections from a female perspective. Today, I share from those who identify themselves as male. Hopefully, I will get a chance to write from those who identify themselves as ‘others’. In my blog, they too, deserve to be heard. When they finally talk to me, I will share their experiences.
I had conversations with some of my male friends from Cardiff Univesity and this is what they had to say, in their own words.
Sidney Aburi from Kenya. A student at Cardiff University pursuing Masters Degree in Science; Data Science and Analytics.
Five things you didn’t know about the UK! Number three will shock you 😊 Ha! I have always wanted to use that line for absolutely no reason. I feel very achieved. Back to the topic. My stay here so far has been another Master’s Degree in itself. I have learnt so much. I could go on and on about the weather, dressing, culture and living standards. I bet we all have something to say about these.
My real culture shock has been about the people and the art of sarcasm. I can’t tell how this will be of benefit to you but all I know is, it is more complex than it meets the eye or ear. A simple phrase like, ‘It’s getting cold in here’ could mean totally different things to totally different people at totally different times.
In a pretty weird but interesting way, I am getting to learn a lot about myself in the process. I’ll be sure to let you know more of my experience when Patience lets me take over her blog one of these fine Monday’s. My housemates and I are negotiating for an opportunity to be guest writers on her blog. Oh, and before I forget, if you are invited for any event where lunch is scheduled to be provided in the UK, for heaven sake, wherever you are, eat first. Our African understanding of what lunch is and their understanding, is a perfect example of ‘culture shock meets reality……. I am not being sarcastic………or am I?
Jonas Manabu from Brazil. A student at Cardiff University, pursuing Masters Degree in Science; Data Science and Analytics.
Excluding the unpredictable cold and wet weather which is now the norm, the main difference between Brazil and the UK is my personal safety. Here, even at night, I can walk alone in the streets without getting scared that someone will steal from me. To me, this is a tremendous contrast.
I found crossing the roads very challenging. At the beginning, it was such a hustle and a dangerous task to cross the road, so I always have to pay attention. The UK has an opposite drive direction compared to Brazil. Before crossing the road, I needed to look at least twice on both directions, otherwise, I could be hit a bike or an incoming car. But after some weeks, I have perfected my understanding of the traffic rules.
Another thing that I found interesting, is how to greet people in the UK. I don’t know how to react yet. You see, in Brazil I usually compliment friends with handshakes, hugs or cheek kisses. Even unknown people, we usually great each very closely. Here, I wait for the reaction of the other person, because I just realized that sometimes greeting people hugging them or being too close, feels a little strange, especially for Asians. The only ones who I feel comfortable to compliment in a Brazilian manner are Africans and those from Latin America. Otherwise, I try to compliment from a distance. (I feel you Jonas, I schooled at Daystar University in Kenya, where hugging anyone and everybody was a lifestyle. So I have the same struggle in life.)
Mohammed Ahmed from Yemen. A student at Cardiff University pursuing Masters Degree in Public Health.
I am not sure what to term as culture shock for me. I like a lot of things in the UK. For someone who hasn’t travelled the world, I have a fascination for everything. However, if there was something that I found shocking, then it would be the transportation experience in the UK. I like the fact that the buses are very clean, modern and are driven professional drivers.
However, the charges are quite high. For example, the amount of money charged for a 15-minute trip which will ideally cost about 2 pounds (about Ksh.300), is way expensive compared to even a 50-minute trip in my country. I imagine, in a country where the transport system is quite efficient like the UK, public transportation should be made more comfortable and affordable. Luckily, people here are encouraged to walk and cycle but, I wonder how viable it is to walk or cycle during the winter season?
I must also talk about the prices during holiday. My friends and I wanted to visit Edinburgh for the Christmas break, but this won’t happen because the prices are just too high. In other places, all the tickets are sold out.
Tassio Do Rosario from Mozambique. A student at Cardiff University pursuing Masters Degree in Science; Data Science and Analytics.
My settling in the UK, was actually much easier than I anticipated. But things can still shock me. One of the experiences that tops my culture shocks shows how simple and different, cultures can be. School life is hectic. Let no one lie to you. So, occasionally, I go to the pub, just to have a break from my studies or at least recover from my loss of social life. In Mozambique, it is common to go to a bar, sit at table while you wait for a waiter to come and take your requests.
However, in this country, things are run differently. They attend to their customers differently. Here, you must go to the counter and make your request as you pay for it. Be assured no one will come to your table. So while at the balcony, resist the temptation to call the bar attendants shouting at them. This kind of a gesture is considered very rude. You should try to make eye contact (don’t get too crazy, so no winking please) or just be patient until they spot you. So far, so good. I am unlearning my behaviours and adapting them to the UK. I have no intentions of writing about my experience of how I got banned from bars in the UK..Hahahhaa
Ronald Okello from Uganda. A student at Cardiff University pursuing Masters Degree in Cyber Security.
Have you noticed that people in the UK are always in a hurry? Initially, I thought they do so, because they are good timekeepers. I have come to learn that the weather has something to do with this. You know, during cold weather you can generate heat walking very fast, jogging or running. Unfortunately, they forget to slow down during summer or when they go to warmer continents like Africa. When you see white people, wherever they are, they are always in a hurry heading somewhere.
People smoking! Ooh my God! Combine walking fast while smoking. Men and women smoke a lot in the UK. Its is a common sight to spot a group of smokers outside buildings even when it is very cold. I believe this is one of the ways they generate heat in order to keep warm.
So after a year in the UK and you see me walking very fast, just understand that, mine is purely about keeping time.
Wow! Interesting perspectives. Same question asked to different people from different regions. Next on my blog, foreigners get a chance to share their perceptions about Africa, living in Africa or thoughts about Africa and Africans.
NB: The word ‘BY’ is still missing in the text after publication. My sincere apologies.
See you again, next Monday, Inshallah.