Every time I come back from holidays in my home country, I seem to think of the challenges of working in another country, where your mother tongue is not spoken, the system is different, and people’s mentality little resembles the one I was used to. In my case, this other country is the UK.
Challenges of living in the UK
- Language: the most obvious one. Although my English seems to be good enough, and I never had particular problems finding work in the UK, I have to face the truth: I will never speak like a native. Yes, my language skills have been improving day by day, and yes, people say I speak well, but I do occasionally find myself unable to communicate 100% of what I want to communicate because of language restrictions, and this can be annoying.
- Different lifestyles: when I first came to London and the UK two years ago, I just couldn’t get used to some things that are commonplace here, such as people going to pubs on early mornings on the weekend, people sunbathing wherever they could find a few feet of green grass, night clubs not staying open all night long, and theatres and restaurants staying closed on Sundays. Over time, the above no longer seem strange to me and I have trained myself to think and behave like a good old Londoner.
- Different mentality: it has been equally difficult for me – and it still is in some cases – to get used to some widespread UK beliefs, such as that taking a gap year is a must for every graduate, that alcohol is an essential ingredient for fun, or that Big Brother is still worth watching and caring about after way too many seasons. To be fair, I do feel envious of people who are able to take a gap year out of work or after university to go travelling, and I do think alcohol may add to the fun of an event as long as it’s consumed in reasonable quantities. But I still don’t get what the big deal with Big Brother is.
As for the challenges of working for the UK higher education industry, stay tuned. Part II is coming soon.