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Tutor Yara 's Column

My Struggles in the UK! 空気が読めなかった!

Weekly Topic: Struggles you Experienced while Living Abroad

May 6, 2021

I moved to the UK to pursue my masters in journalism, and I immediately fell in love with London!

The old brick buildings, the smell of the rain, the red double-decker buses, the abundance of beautiful parks... it was like a dream!

Of course, I also grew up reading (actually, more like swallowing) Harry Potter books, so I was excited to be surrounded by British accents (Scottish, Irish, English, Welsh, all of them!) 

Although I'm a 'native' English speaker, I still felt a huge cultural clash in the UK.

The weirdest thing is I felt the cultural clash more with my fellow English speakers than with Europeans or Latin Americans!

(Of course, I only noticed this in hindsight.) 

Here are some of my biggest struggles: 

1- English people tend to be very indirect

I tend to be quite direct and say how I feel and what I think. Of course, I think I'm being polite when I do it. And, I don't say things that are not nice.

But a few of my British friends told me that I might be a little too direct for them.

And of course, their indirectness confused me, because I never knew what they meant. It's a bit similar to the Japanese concept of 空気を読む.

I really couldn't read the air at all! I think I'm a little too simple. 

2- English people prefer drinking to eating

Growing up, food was one of the pillars (most important things) of life! We used to do everything around meals. People always gathered together over a nice big meal! 

But in the UK, English colleagues and classmates tend to gather around over some beers or drinks at a pub or bar. For someone like me (who really loves food), this was a little... boring.
I personally prefer drinking alcohol while eating. I just don't enjoy drinking for the sake of drinking.

So this was a little bit of a problem - we couldn't really find ways to hang out together, since we all preferred something different. 

I ended up spending most of my time with people who valued food as I did. 

3- Missing Home

Of course, I missed my family - a lot. Thankfully, I would visit them often and they would also visit me often because it wasn't that far away. But living abroad can be really difficult for people who are very close to their family. Thankfully, I managed to convince them to move to London a few years later!


I've moved again - I'm now in Austria - and I find myself really missing London and the UK! 

I can't wait to go back and smell the air again. And eat at all the amazing restaurants and food festivals there! I even miss the tube, which I did not enjoy so much when I was there, but it was always reliable and incredibly convenient! 

My struggles abroad made me grow as a person and learn to be more understanding and compassionate.

Even if we sometimes have our differences, we can learn to appreciate each other and find the beauty in every culture, no matter how different.

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