This is going to sound like the most obvious thing in the world, but here it goes: life here is different. Now, I know what you are thinking, “Isaac, of course life is different there, it’s another country and cultures vary widely around the world.” Trust me I understand that. I knew that coming in and it was one of the reasons that I decided to do this program in the first place so that I can be a better teacher, and adapt to different cultures easier. I just never realized how many small things I take for granted each day. Here’s something I’ve figured out in the last two weeks: there are A LOT of car brands that aren’t sold in North America. Brands that are huge here are no where in the States and it is honestly weirding me out a little bit. (That was a side note, but it kinda blew my mind how many there are and how major the brands are that I’ve never even heard of.) Beyond that though, I think the thing that has surprised me the most is the way that people relate to one another. For the most part people are relatively friendly towards other people. Well, honestly friendly isn’t the right word, but they aren’t actively hostile towards others. In the States it seems like everyone is either hot or cold, people are either friendly towards everyone, including total strangers, or they are immediately hostile to anyone who isn’t within their normal existence. It’s weirdly refreshing.
Another side note but one that I thought was hilarious: the Facebook group for New College is ENORMOUSLY hostile. Everything that is posted there is the most venomous and passive aggressive things I could possibly imagine, and all I can think of is the people who wrote them may very well be the people who are so kind and tolerant in person, just pent up and blasting out on the internet.
In all seriousness, I think that one of the greatest benefits that I’m taking away from this has got to be how small differences build up into large cultural dynamics. I’m used to working with students who have relatively large cultural shifts as they come in, and putting myself in a position where it’s the relatively small differences that make me stand out and get called out as a foreigner is something that I hadn’t considered before. It’s definitely going to factor in to my work as a teacher and how I set up my classroom in the future.