I’ve seen too many videos and heard too many stories of people walking into the UK (or Australia, or Canada kind of?) and thinking because everything is English, they can let their cultural guard down… but of course they end up making a fool of themselves. I went into these books, Orin Hargraves, CultureShock! London and Terry Tan, CultureShock! Great Britain with the intention to save myself from as many embarrassing moments as possible, and if that doesn’t work, just stand by Jake who is probably doing something worse than me. (JK Jake J. I am the one who tried to eat the chicken head in Hong Kong.)
Since I am actually coming late to our advance this year, (Anna is not be able to attend this year… I know major bummer… and because of her Birthday being on Sept 25th, I’ll be leaving on the 26th, and arriving on Sept 27th at 12:15pm in London.) I decided to focus more of my reading on the London, traveling section then the Great Britain book. Of course, we already have another week with the history of Oxford, which is the portion of the trip I won’t be missing at all.
One of my favorite parts of this book were the little blurbs on the side that highlighted little quick times that people ran into a cultural problem. So many things little things, you would think, “how could you have known that, or how could you have read that from a book” are actually like in the book! Like for example the narrator eating the grape to try it the bunch (loc 232), or how to talk to people at a bus stop (location 934). These little things are particularly helping me feel acclimated already! Although I’m not so sure that isn’t misplaced confidence.
The portion I am most excited for in London/Oxford is the history of it all. Having grown up most my life, not just in the USA, but in California, I feel I have been severely neglected from living and experiencing real history. Where I live, Something is history if it was built in the early 1900’s. The East Coast at least gets some history, but, even at that only a few hundred years of our national history exists. Realizing that each town we go to will be able to fill volumes of history if only based off the sheer length of time its been in existence is pretty spectacular for me. Terry Tan calls Oxford an “ancient college town” and I don’t think there could be a more alluring title than that for me.
Another highlight from the Culture Shock! Great Britian that really grabbed was Tan’s statement, “Suggest to an Englishman to do something quite mad like walking down Oxford Street in his pyjamas and he will probably have a fit. Yet, paradoxically, Britain has produced the most idiosyncratic people and the most adventurous; the first to scale Mount Everest, the first to dive under the South Pole or some other derring do. After all, when Great Britain ruled the waves, the British were everywhere from wildest Africa to the jungles of Borneo.” People of adventure! Perhaps this attitude of adventure is what might grow from a country with a long history of conquest?
I’m also interested to learn more about most British feel and talk about their countries complex history. There are certainly many shameful moments in American history, so I don’t mean to talk like I’m on a high horse. Im not sure how I will be able to find out about this respectfully.
Also in preparation for my trip to England I have researched to watch the following list of movies, but would love some input from the team here.
- Downton Abbey?
- The Crown
- The King’s Speech
- The Golden Compass
- Harry Potter
- Inspector Morse
- The History Boys
- Transformers: Last Knight
Ok that’s probably too many. 🙂
I’m glad the Dr. Jason removed the last two books from our syllabus this year, but I am a quarter of the way through The Last Enchantments and am excited to read the secret history of Oxford on the plane. Already I’ve been astonished by how much bigger Oxford is than I realized. 40 Colleges? Insane!
That’s all for now. Love you guys!
Hargraves, Orin. CultureShock! London . Marshall Cavendish Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Tan, Terry. CultureShock! Great Britain . Marshall Cavendish. Kindle Edition.
 Hargraves, Orin. CultureShock! London . Marshall Cavendish Corporation. Kindle Edition. Location 934.
 Tan, Terry. CultureShock! Great Britain . Marshall Cavendish. Kindle Edition. Location 303.
 Tan, Terry. CultureShock! Great Britain . Marshall Cavendish. Kindle Edition. Location 1466.