Like many of the students at the LSE I come from outside the UK. To be exact: I was born in Afghanistan but I grew up just across the canal (yep, Dutch-land, not to be confused with Deutschland). Before coming to the LSE I had finished a degree in the Netherlands and in China. I thought that after having lived in China for a couple of years I was pretty good at dealing with cultural differences. Besides, how different can the UK be compared to the Netherlands, I ignorantly thought. It turned out I that I had overestimated my social capabilities and seriously underestimated the differences between an island and a country under sea level.
Firstly, my time in China had not necessarily made me a more patient person. So when getting on the bus in the morning my first instinct was to try to be as fast as possible even if that meant the occasional push and shove. Surprisingly, however, people actually let each other go first and nobody snatched the seat away from me (not counting those poor people that are still in the same frame of mind as I was in).
Secondly, I find that I am much more direct in showing my displeasure at something than the average Jane. The British I have seen prefer to mumble their discontent or voice it in a very haughty manner. Leaving you wondering whether it really was an insult or not.
Finally, I cannot get over all the different food-stops there are in this country. There is breakfast, then elevenses, then lunch, then cream teas, then dinner and if that wasn’t enough, there is supper. It makes me want to get into the pastry business.
For all sorts of romantic reasons I actually live in Oxford. And although Oxford is just a 100min bus ride from London (that’s how the bus companies advertise it) it’s really a world apart. So not only do I have to come to grips with LSE’s academic culture, British behavioural and eating culture but now I must also take into consideration intercity cultures.
All in all this leads me to believe that this might be the start of a year of gastronomic indulgence and the acquisition of a new set of manners.