Nilay’s Tips on Coping With Culture Shock

I would never imagine in my first day in Leeds that one day I will be talking about culture shock since I spent 2 or 3 hours crying when I first came! This is the story of my first day in Leeds. It won’t get prettier until I finished my first day. So, what makes a first day interesting is the struggle you tried to handle, I guess. Is it not?

After somehow getting to Leeds Coach Station (it is a long story, believe me), I asked at least 5 people around me how to get to my residence until I understood what they meant. No, it was not because of the complicated direction, I couldn’t understand the accent at all. It was like French for me or Spanish or Italian as I don’t know those languages. Anyway, after finding my way to residence, I realized all my flatmates are British which is, right now, the best thing that has happened to me since I arrived. But at that moment, all I thought was how do I communicate and understand them (the accent!) Then after 30 minutes, I found myself in the kitchen talking and laughing with them. But there was a problem, I couldn’t connect the internet which means I couldn’t communicate with any of my friends or my family at home. Always it happens when you go abroad, right? Then, I started to dive into deep thoughts. I felt completely alone and scared of not being able to have friends. I was expecting such kind of feeling, but it was much harder than I thought. Arriving a bit late (I missed the orientation) put so much pressure on me. I thought I missed my chance and it was too late to meet Erasmus students or having friends.

From my first month experience, I can guarantee that being alone is impossible here. There are so many events that make international students get together; Global Café is my favorite! It happens every Monday in LUU which gives a great opportunity to know about a lot of countries’ cultures. Think about it! After leaving Global Café, you know how to describe yourself in at least 5 different languages. You know their special days and the stories behind it. You realize how much your culture and their culture have in common and what you differ from. You notice the beauty of diversity. You are not allowed to be alone here. Every week, ESN organizes events. For example, I met my best friends in a movie night that ESN organized. Not only Erasmus students, there are always opportunities to meet local students as well thanks to students’ clubs.

Nilay Gencer 1

There were “give it a go” sessions which are completely free, and you can try any of the branches of the art, sports etc. I tried trampolining for the first time in my life and I fell million times… In addition, departments organize some events as well. Ours was the coolest! We had a Tea Party with biscuits in the very beginning of the semester. It was the first time that I tried British tea and fell in love with it! Not done yet! There was World Unite Festival: Food Event where you can try different cuisines. So many snacks, desserts and the tea of course! It comes first. It is the picture of me above in that event. Look at me how I am happy!!

After getting through emotional problems, technical problems emerged, as always! Like what? For example, I still don’t know the correspondence of all coins. Is it 20 pence or 10 or is it 1 pound? While paying, if I gave exact amount, I am proud of myself. So, it is not that bad; it makes you learn how to be happy with small things; like with coins! Joking aside, technical problems are never ended such as banking issues, SIM card, module changes, using laundry for the first time, going to the library for the first time, even entering a supermarket for the first time. Those are the ones that I have separately so many funny stories that I will tell my family when I am back home in Turkey. So, my suggestion for all problems that can happen anytime, be positive! There is always a way to solve them. I always ask people when I cannot find a way. Student services in university is ready to help anytime. It is a place that gives quickest response to e-mails that I never experienced in my life before. I am literally making fun of my past concerns about modules right now since the university system is easy to understand and open for changes.

There are always ups and downs in our lives. Here, I got the feeling that I am even enjoying the downs since Leeds taught me how to get back up when I fall! I love Leeds, I love my university and I feel grateful for meeting the best people in the world, especially my lovely flatmates!

by Nilay Gençer- Ankara, Middle East Technical University – Turkey

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