I was inducted into ESU’s chapter of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity last Monday. I can finally say I am officially a brother!
I say “finally” because I could not go to the original induction with my initiate class since I was working on a show that night. Because of this, my make-up induction ceremony was quite small. But I am grateful for all the brothers that could show up to make my night memorable.
The show that I was working on during that original induction was ESU’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” I was a run crew member and my main job was to man the stage right curtain during scene shifts.
Although I was backstage for a lot of the show, from the scenes that I heard and the ones that I had breaks to watch, this musical is my favorite that ESU has done. And the cast and crew were my favorite to work with so far, out of the three shows I have worked on here.
My Phi Sigma Pi induction was the night after the musical’s closing and the fraternity’s formal was this past Friday.
ΦΣΠ Formal was way more fun than any other formal I have attended. I brought my friend Tyrell, and I think I speak for both of us when I say we made some fun memories.
This week is final exam week. I have one actual exam, three performances and one portfolio due by the end of the week. Then, I leave university for the summer and plan to work as much as I can to make enough money to buy a car. Which I have my driver’s test mid-July, right before I leave for a 15 day course in Sweden. This summer will be stressful, but I hope it pays off in the end.
Anyone have fun plans for the summer?
ESU surpassed my expectations for this year’s Global Week celebration by bringing in baby goats and other exotic animals and hosting informative and entertaining events last week.
The baby goats were the first highlight, as part of the World Fair. We knew a camel and yak would be on campus from the flyers, but those baby goats were an adorable surprise for many. The brown one was especially hyper and seemed to love interacting with people, running towards human hands and jumping around to catch our attention.
Stickerbush II the porcupine and Houston the armadillo were nice surprises, too, because I had never seen either animal before besides in pictures.
Also at the World Fair, I tried snacks from around the world, learned about Native American culture through a tee-pee display of everyday objects and had my name drawn in Chinese characters.
I attended a Peace Corps volunteer panel the next day, where returned volunteers shared stories about their experiences with the Peace Corps. This panel gave me another opportunity to seriously consider for my future because it combines two activities I love: travel and service. And with the Peace Corps, like study abroad, you experience the culture by living somewhere for an extended time period, in this case two years.
The next major event during Global Week this year was Relay for Life. During Relay, campus clubs and organizations raise money for cancer research and stay up for 12 hours walking around the track. There are games and activities throughout the night to keep energy up, but I could not make it all the way from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. But I stayed until 4 a.m., which is longer than I stayed last year!
I participated in Relay with Phi Sigma Pi, the Honors Fraternity that I will be an official brother of this Friday. I am excited to join this family and I am proud that after three years at ESU, I finally found the group of people that I click with.
Global Week ended with an international festival, which featured performances from ESU’s Step Team, arts and crafts, a fashion show and dinner from around the world.
This week is not only Easter weekend, but also tech for “Little Shop of Horrors,” which opens this Wednesday. I am on run crew for the show and I am ecstatic to be working on a show again since I last worked on “Midsummer Night’s Dream” freshman year.
Over spring break last month, I volunteered at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Va. I worked with other ESU students to rake leaves and clean up campsites. We learned more about environmental conservation and formed new friendships with each other.
On the final day at the park, we split off into groups. Group one built picnic tables for the campsites and group two did trail maintenance. I was part of group two.
Doing trail maintenance was surprisingly the most fun I had at the park. We rerouted a trail so water would not erode the walking path. To reroute, we had to clear a new path. We worked together to cut down and unroot trees that would be in hikers’ ways. It felt nice to do something I have never done before.
The next day, we were supposed to go to Washington D.C., but drove thorough the city and stayed at a hotel in Md. instead because of the impending snow storm. What a tease.
I was looking forward to D.C. because I have been to so many other nations’ capitals, but not my own. Nevertheless, the state park volunteer work made this spring break fun, even though I spent the majority of the rest of break shovelling snow.
The trail maintenance was something new I did over break, but the weekend after I tried another new activity: rock climbing.
I spent my first weekend after break camping at Stony Acre’s with Rotaract club. We spent that Saturday transporting tree limbs for firewood and raking leaves at the campground. Then we did team building exercises and rock climbing.
Most of us had never rock climbed before. Two girls made it to the top of the wall and I made it about halfway up. My hands slipped quite easily on the small rocks on the wall, which made climbing it difficult for me. But I am proud of myself for trying something new. I may not be good at it, but now I can say I rock climbed!
Any activities that make you proud you tried? Or anything you wish you would have tried when given the chance?
One of the reasons that I have not posted in a while is because I’m dealing with reverse culture shock.
What is reverse culture shock? And how is it different from culture shock?
Reverse culture shock is when you experience a sense of disorientation and even sadness or depression when returning to your home country after an extended period of being away. Whereas culture shock is a feeling of homesickness when you first move away from home to a place with a different culture than what you are used to. You do not need to experience culture shock to experience reverse culture shock, and vice versa.
When I studied abroad in England, I did not experience culture shock. Instead, I was excited to embrace a new culture and jumped right into it. And I think that’s what made my reverse culture shock hit so hard.
I have nothing tying me down in Pennsylvania, where I have been stuck my entire life besides the four months I spent abroad and when I have taken on short vacations to other states. I am not really close with my family, who basically all live within 20 minutes of each other, and my only friends in the state are those at university. My best friend from high school lives in Florida now and only visits a few weeks throughout the year, and all my friends from study abroad live in either different states or different countries.
I made friends my first day in Sunderland, which was surprising because it took me a few months to make the friends I have at East Stroudsburg. Yet, I became closer with my study abroad friends in those short four months than I have with my university friends that I have had for almost three years.
Making these friends, along with all the memories we created together, and seeing how close we became, made it tough to leave them and come back to a place where I have close friends, but not as close as I need them to be.
I still keep in touch with my British friends, Sunderland Dance Squad, my flatmates and other people I met during my travels. And this has helped me transition back to life in the States, but it also makes me sad because we are so far away now.
I have been back in the States for a little over two months now and I am dealing with being back better than last month. But, it is still difficult. Especially because I can no longer call the house I grew up in or ESU “home” without getting a weird feeling because these places have never felt like home as much as England or Scotland (for the five days I spent there) has. And I honestly think it is because of the friends I have made and the welcoming atmosphere of the people and their culture.
I know I will not be able to live in Pa. much longer and feel happy. I am not even sure if I can live in America, even though I have not seen enough of this country to know if there are other cities here that will make me feel as welcome as the UK.
I know I am young, but I am also going to graduate university next year. I do not want to be stuck here for longer than I need to. So, this summer I am hoping to get my driver’s license and a car, which will make me even more broke than I am now. If it was up to me, I would have had my license five years ago because not being able to drive in this country has only made me feel more stuck, but I have had difficult times trying to find someone to teach me who will keep their word.
Once I can drive, I want to apply for a better job so I can afford car insurance and eventually to move out. Right now my choice in jobs is limited because I have to rely on other people to get me there, and can only work when their schedules are free to take me to work.
Hopefully everything works out. I am trying not to stress so much about being broke right now because I know I will be even more broke in a few months.
I promise my next post will have a happier note than this one! I will be talking about camping!
Meanwhile, if anyone has any culture shock or reverse culture shock tips, please share!
While studying abroad in England, I learned a lot about English culture. But, by learning about another culture, I realized I was also learning about my own. Based on this post, here is what I learned about America:
Food inferiority: The first time I ordered cheesy “chips” in England, I expected the typical, synthetic nacho cheese you get with fries in the States. Fortunately, I was wrong. The cheese was real! On top of this surprise, once I ordered, the takeaway worker fried the chips right then instead of having them pre-fried and cold by the time I got served, like at most American take out restaurants. I also acquired a taste for garlic sauce, which goes great with cheesy chips… Although one of my British friends swears otherwise. Unfortunately, garlic sauce is hard to find past Northern England. I could barely find it in London, nevermind America.
Intersections vs roundabouts: One of the first differences I noticed about the roads in England, besides driving on the opposite side, was the abundance of roundabouts and unnecessary winding crosswalks. At first I did not understand why they barely have any intersections in England, until one of my British classmates explained how little land there is in Europe compared to America, and that roundabouts save more space than intersections. I still do not understand why a lot of the crosswalks wind through traffic, though. I think they would be much easier to maneuver if they were straight. But maybe because they rely so much on roundabouts in Europe, they do not understand the practicality of a straight crosswalk.
Drinking culture: First, you are legal to drink at 18 in most of Europe and 21 in America. Second, you are supposed to get carded if you look under 25 in most of Europe and under approximately 40 in America. Third, when buying alcohol or entering a club, people are a lot more relaxed about drinking than in America. Fourth, the British party harder than any American I have ever seen.
Money: Besides the obvious currency difference that American money is plain old green compared to the colorful British Pound or Euro notes, I had not realized another major difference: Americans name their coins. Even after living my life calling coins by “penny,” “dime,” “nickle” and “quarter,” I never noticed we gave them specific names, whereas British coins are all “pence” and Euro coins are all “cents” no matter the amount, until I met an English student who studied abroad in America. He told me the hardest adjustment for him was trying to remember which coin was called what. Also, British money has eight coins, while American money only has four. This is because British one and two pounds are coins, not notes, and then their pence run in one, two, five, 10, 20, and 50 coins. As useless as Americans may find the penny, the two pence coin feels even more useless to the British.
Sheep: So many sheep in Britain. On the motorway, I have passed fields and fields of sheep. The sheep were my first surprise when I arrived in England. Even landing in the country, I saw white dots on fields from the air and I had no clue what they were until I took the bus to my university. My fellow American students and I were in awe over the sheep, which confused many of our British friends until we told them we do not have that many sheep where we are from in America.
Pedestrian streets: I love pedestrian areas! I think they encourage healthier living by requiring people to walk in certain areas. When I arrived back in the States, I went shopping with my mom, and she parked in one lot. Then, when we were on our way to get food after, she went to get back in the car while I wanted to walk to the restaurant, which was right across the street. I tried to convince her to walk, but she was too stubborn to change her way of life because she is so used to driving everywhere, even when it is right across the street.
Sales tax: The first time I went to Poundland, which sells everything for a pound, I expected to pay more than a pound. Like how we pay more than a dollar at the dollar stores because of sales tax. I received another pleasant surprise when the total was a whole number. I later learned this is because sales tax is already worked into the sales price before you buy something, and not added as extra at the register.
The alphabet: Ok, so I knew Z is pronounced “zed” in Europe, but what I was not prepared for was H being pronounced “haych.” Growing up in America, whenever a child said “haich,” they were scolded and told to stop pronouncing the letter “aych” the wrong way. Little did those kindergarten teachers know, almost everywhere else pronounces H “the wrong way.”
Any other differences I missed?
P.S. I’m a finalist in the ISEP Study Abroad photo contest! Like/share my photo here to help me win fan favorite! Spread the word to friends and family, too! Voting ends 23 February.
Thanks a lot!
Up next: my experience with reverse culture shock and other updates.
Besides seeing a West End show each day I spent in London, I also toured Shakespeare’s Globe, visited a few museums and explored Camden Market. Then, I took a train back up North to Sunderland for my final day in the U.K.
While heading to the Globe, I got off the Underground at London Bridge Station and took the wrong exit to find myself on a spooky street. Turns out, this spookiness was intentional because it is part of the London Bridge Experience. I had plenty of time before the first Globe tour started at 9:30 a.m., so I decided to test my London navigation skills without Google maps.
My first time in London, I walked past the Globe and London Eye, crossed a bridge and got lost next to Downing Street. I did not know at that time where I got lost at, but on my second trip to London, I recognized the area and found out it was right next to the Prime Minister’s house. I figured with these two experiences behind me, I could find my way around without help this time.
So I started walking. After about five minutes, I found myself at a dead end. But I couldn’t really complain because I had a close-up view of Tower Bridge. I walked around the fountains of water spouting from the pavement on that cold, rainy day and of course I took a selfie. Then I followed the Queen’s Walk, passing the Southwark Cathedral and meeting another dead end on a pier.
This fountain scared me a little when it started spurting where I was about to step
But I couldn’t complain about this dead end either because I found a cool historical ship and, nearby, an enormous fish-shaped boat sculpture between some shops. I snapped some pictures because that was some intense art! I continued down the Queen’s Walk until I reached New Globe Walk, the home of Shakespeare’s Globe.
Unfortunately, they were not performing any Shakespeare shows at the Globe because “Globe season” ends in October. Fortunately, the tour I took was me and two other people; a small enough group that the guide took us to the different boxes and even let us stand on the stage.
Yeah, I stood on the stage. And yeah, I was freaking out a little. Maybe a lot. I’m still freaking out while typing this about a month after the experience. But what an experience! Our tour guide had a great sense of humor and, even besides my minute on the stage, made the tour worth every penny. And then all the money I spent at the gift shop. But all the money I spent there goes to the theatre, which is a cause I have a weakness for.
On top of my Globe tour experience, I also visited a few museums: the National Gallery (with Monet and Van Gogh), the British Museum (with the Rosetta Stone), and the Tate Modern (with a great rooftop view). I met up with my fellow gishwhes team member, Becky, when I visited the Tate. The two of us explored the Camden Market, shared some gelato and saw “Matilda.”
Becky (left) and me in a room full of potatoes!
At the top of the Tate
Painting for the next £20 note. Stunning colors.
I spent the day before I went back to Sunderland seeing “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” In other words, I spent it geeking out like Scorpius Malfoy, mostly because of Scorpius Malfoy, with fellow Harry Potter fans.
I did some last minute packing for my return to the States and tried not to cry while leaving the place that became my home, where I made friends that became my family.
Up next: what I learned while abroad and experiencing “reverse culture shock.”
I spent my final days in England in disbelief thanks to live theatre on London’s West End. For the four days I spent in London, I saw a West End show each day.
I saw “Lion King,” “Wicked,” “Matilda” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Each show left me more in awe than the last, reminding me why I love theatre so much:
“Lion King”: I swear the opening number, “Circle of Life,” reached into my soul. I felt a connection with the world through the cast’s vocals and movement. When something reaches that deep, it is hard not to tear up. After the show, I met Young Simba and Young Nala at the stage door.
“Wicked”: I decided to see “Wicked” after I did not win the “Book of Mormon” lottery. I went to a last minute ticket sales booth and this show just so happened to be the cheapest. I was pretty bummed that I could not see “Book of Mormon,” but “Wicked” was worth it because:
I knew most of the music, so it was easy to follow along and enjoy the music.
It forever changes the way I look at “Wizard of Oz” by tying together origin stories of every major character. I could barely believe how seamlessly the origins were incorporated. They left me sad, but fulfilled
“Matilda”: I bought a £5 ticket for “Matilda” by showing up to the theatre early. The box office holds 16 tickets for 16-25 year olds for each performance. And since I only saw the first half last time because I booked a Warner Brothers tour, I knew I had to redeem myself and see the rest of the show. I was once again in awe over the alphabet song and the trust the actors put in others to keep them from falling.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”: I love Harry Potter, so this play held a special place in my heart before the script was even released. When I read the script, I thought I loved Scorpius Malfoy. But when I watched the play on stage, I decided I absolutely adore Scorpius Malfoy. On his first line, my initial thought was “ugh, this kid is going to be annoying.” But as the show continued, my adoration for Scorpius grew so much that it is hard to describe to those who have not seen the play. In between parts one and two, I met the actors playing Ron and Draco, then after part two, I met a few more at stage door, including the actors playing Scorpius, Albus and Hagrid.
Do you have a favorite West End or Broadway show? Or a show that you have been dying to see? Share your thoughts!
Up next: my final days in England and what I learned while studying abroad.