Today is my third day in Harlaxton and I still wake up with that crazy feeling in my stomach like I’m not sure what to expect, but I’m excited about it. I couldn’t sleep at all last night as my body is still adjusting to the time change. I was wide awake until three am here, which is really frustrating when you know you have to be up early in the morning.
This morning after breakfast we took a shuttle bus to Grantham, the town nearest harlaxton. I was surprisingly nervous about this. Unlike the faculty at Harlaxton these townspeople weren’t going to ease us into British life. They wouldn’t be as accommodating to our cultural change. But once we got into town I was immediately fascinated with the scenery. The streets are tiny and narrow, some paved and some made of stone. There are tons of little shops lining the streets, with everything from food shops to pet shops. Lots of people were walking up and down the streets, making it a little overwhelming.
I wasn’t sure where to go but quickly me and my friends decided to go inside the first shop we found. Poundland, an equivalent to our dollar stores in the states was awesome. They had a big variety of stuff and 90% of it was in brands I was completely unfamiliar with. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to shop when you don’t know anything about the brands or what it is like. It’s kind of like a huge trial and error with everything.
After Poundland we headed down the streets stopping in cute secondhand stores, charity shops, and drug stores. I felt very American in every store, not sure where to go, what to get, or how to pay. I felt really uncomfortable paying at the registers, not sure what to give them and how to use the currency. There was also an outside market down the main streets with spices, meats, flowers, and fresh fruit and vegetables. It was so fun looking at everything and seeing how people sell things on the streets like that. I wish downtowns in the States were like this. Ours just aren’t as magical and enchanting as they are here.
Interested in the young adult fashion we stopped into a shop called Internationale. It was a lot like a Forever 21 or like a Wet Seal. I loved everything!! British fashion tends to be a bit more sophisticated and conservative than in the States but still just as trendy. It is also much more classic and old fashioned base. I am in love! In the shoe section of the store we found these amazing hi-top sneakers that were patterned like the American flag. It was so cool to see that they wear stuff based on us. Of course I had to take a picture. I’m such a tourist.
Being in town was definitely a culture shock in some ways trying to figure out how to shop without looking like a total rookie, but eventually I realized something pretty important I think. I am American and regardless of how hard I try people here will spot that from a mile away. So I’m gonna take advantage of it, taking as many pictures as I can and walking around with that goofy smile and fascinated look on my face. I’m fine with that!
What I miss the most:
1. Being able to make a simple phone call. I really want to call my mom and friends whenever I want without having to make plans and trying to figure out Skype and facetime. Being able to call my friends here with me to schedule meet up times would be great too!
2. Being able to eat or drink when I want. Having a cafeteria like meal place that only serves three specific times a day is a little strange. I miss being able to go grab food or anything when I want.
British Lesson for the Day:
I don’t think the British like making eye contact. It seems to make them uncomfortable. So don’t look too hard.