Ianthe Greenwood, Culture Editor
Abroad is a foreign country: they do things differently there. As another year starts, a dozen fourth-year linguists readjust to Oriel life after the mythical Year Abroad™, swapping lidos for libraries, finding half the clubs we know have gone and getting mistaken for freshers (ok, just me then). But for the next generation of Oriel linguists, the adventure has only just begun.
Charlotte Evans, Arnsberg, Germany
A year ago, the monotony of traipsing down to Wahoo on Friday nights was mitigated only by the thought that before long I would be spending Friday nights soaking up the local colour of Kreuzberg, Berlin. Now, three months into my year abroad, I find myself living 263 miles away from Berlin in a small town in a valley that is effectively Germany’s answer to North Wales.
My new town is beautiful, the people are lovely and I really enjoy my job teaching English – in fact I’ve suffered from zero homesickness. After all, I am still in the valleys. And the fact that most people here don’t speak much English is only going to help me in my quest to absorb as much of the Oxford German-English Dictionary as possible. I keep noticing just how many times I have met someone here whom I immediately identify with someone back home. Every day I am surrounded by people who seem to have peculiarly familiar mannerisms or appearances. In the mix there are family members and long-lost childhood friends, as well as school teachers, neighbours, and a bunch of faces from Oriel.
It turns out this is a completely typical experience for people who’ve recently moved to a new country. I’m beginning to see that after arriving in a foreign country, where you don’t know a single person and have to communicate in your second language, it’s a natural reaction for your brain to crave normality.
People often talk about a year abroad ‘culture shock’ when you find yourself immersed in a foreign culture, but instead, I find myself in something of a microcosm of my life in the UK. It is, I imagine, only a matter of time before I discover Germany’s answer to Wahoo.