Living in a foreign country is very different to just visiting it on holiday. Nearly everybody experiences “culture shock” when they stay in a country that has different languages, customs and systems from their own. They will experience excitement, frustration[挫折] and fear, but finally get used to that foreign culture. For some people the shock will last for just a few hours, but for others, it will persist[持续] for weeks or months.
I spoke to two international students living in the UK city of Manchester, to see how much they were affected. The first was Tong Li (nickname Lily), a student from Beijing, studying for an MSc[理学硕士（master of science）] in Sustainable[可持续的] Aviation[航空学] at Manchester Metropolitan[大城市] University. The second was Umar Munir from Gilgit, the capital city of the northern region of Pakistan bordering[接壤] both India and China. Umar is working towards an MSc in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development at the same university.
I asked Lily and Umar if they had suffered badly from culture shock when they first arrived. Neither of them had. “Manchester is very diverse[多种多样的]. You can walk for five minutes and meet people from Jamaica, the Middle East, Europe, Turkey, Asia, India, all sorts,” Umar explains. “I particularly like to visit the restaurants in the Curry Mile注1, where you can get every type of Asian food.”
When asked what they thought the best and worst things about Manchester were, Lily said, “It's not a big city but it's beautiful and safe. However, you sometimes see rubbish on the street.” Umar liked the countryside around Manchester: “The Peak District is just a ten-minute drive away. I've also visited beaches in North Wales, the Lake District and Blackpool on the coast. They're all close to Manchester. The weather is the worst thing. It's unpredictable[不可预知的] and rains a lot.” Lily found the temperate weather a bit more refreshing:“Although it often rains, the air is clean and fresh. The sky is beautiful and the weather is not too cold or too hot.”
How Is Studying Different in the UK?
When I asked Lily what the main differences were in the approaches[方法] to study in China and the UK, she said: “In Manchester Metropolitan University, the class is flexible[灵活的] and usually requires the students' imagination and creativity. Students often do group work and give presentations[陈述] in class. Students depend mostly on self-study outside of class. In my university in China, the usual mode of class is the teacher talking and the students listening. I am comfortable with both of these two learning approaches. The combination of them makes me more capable of adopting[采用] different learning approaches in different environments.” And Umar? He said: “The research in the UK tends to be very up to date and focuses on current policy and thinking. It considers today's issues and possible practical solutions. In Pakistan, I have to address my tutor as ‘Sir' or ‘Ma'am,' where my British tutor told me to call him Paul. He encourages me to discuss things and talk openly so that we both get useful feedback[反馈].”
“I cannot communicate very well with people who speak dialects,” Lily admits. “The Mancunian[曼彻斯特的] accent isn't in the IELTS注2 exam, so I had a slight problem at first,” Umar nods. “Mancunians say [mʊd] instead of [[mæd]], for example.” In addition, the Mancunian dialect also has some unique words and phrases. For example, being “mad for it” is to be full of enthusiasm[狂热]. Also, a “chip barm” is a bread roll with chips as the filling.
“我跟说方言的人比较难沟通，”莉莉承认道。“曼彻斯特口音不在雅思考试范围内，所以我起初遇到一些小麻烦，”奥马尔点头说。“例如，曼彻斯特人不说[mʊd]，他们说[[mæd]]。”另外，曼彻斯特方言还有一些独特的单词和短语。比方说“mad for it”表示充满热情，而“chip barm”则是里面包着薯条的面包卷。
Free Time and Making Friends?
Lily: “The Mancunians are friendly and polite. The English are humorous and gentle. I always go shopping, watch TV and see films in my spare time. The fish and chips are delicious but the desserts are too sweet.”
Umar: “The people are well-mannered and helpful. If you're lost, they'll always stop and give you directions. I have two or three close English friends, and they're not my classmates! It's easy to make friends because whenever you go for a walk, people will just start chatting to you. Or they'll talk to anyone in the pubs, clubs and sheesha[水烟筒] cafés. People are football crazy here. Everyone supports United or City. I haven't been to the stadium[露天大型运动场], but I watch it on TV. I like to look at the architecture in Manchester, for the famous red bricks everywhere, and the historic buildings standing right next to modern ones everywhere. And there are lots of churches, mosques[清真寺] and temples all next to each other.”
Any Final Advice?
Lily advises, “Before you arrive, learn more about the culture and history of the UK, and lay a good language foundation for yourself.” Umar points out, “If you're feeling homesick, having food from your own country really helps. So when you choose a UK city in which to study, consider whether there's a community from your own country there. Manchester also has cheaper travel and accommodation[膳宿] than London.”
注1：“Curry Mile”是威尔斯洛街（Wilmslow Road）的别称，这里因为有大量南亚、中东餐厅以及外卖而得名。
注2：雅思（International English Language Testing System，简称IELTS）是由英国文化协会、剑桥大学考试委员会和澳大利亚教育国际开发署共同举办的国际英语水平测试。此项考试是为申请赴英语国家留学、移民的非英语国家学生而设，用来评定考生运用英语的能力。