Adapting To The UK

Adaptation Lifestyle Essay

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

-Charles Darwin

I believe Charles Darwin’s evolution theory is applicable to all aspects of everyone’s’ life. Like all species, humans, adapt to their current environment in order to survive. When species go through hardships, and whether or whether not they adapt will determine if they are on the right side of natural selection.

            My biggest hardship so far, was when I moved to London, which was on the other side of the ocean. The life I had been accustomed to in the greater Boston area of “The States” was entirely unconnected to the one given to me in Great Britain. I had no choice in whether I wanted to stay or go to England because where we lived depended on my Dad’s work. We had moved twice before but not even out of Massachusetts, and furthermore the country. I already knew some of the difficulties that were to come my way, such as: new school system, finding new friends, different accent, and driving on the other side of the road. For the challenges I didn’t expect, I would have to face the hard way.

            One major change in my life that originated from London, was transportation. In all of the more countryside America, only cars are used to get around. This is actually the reason why America is the number one consumer of oil products (well-known fact). The trains are used in the cities, but I never lived near those areas. Nor had I intended to use public transportation to get to see my friends or attend school. The first six months were not even enough to memorize the Underground Tube Map. My parents attempted to solve this problem by sending me to school the provided school bus (as I had done before). There were several issues with this solution: one being that traffic in the city cannot be compared to the countryside, second was that there were times that I had to stay after school meaning that I would have to take the Tube anyway. I kept trying though to understand how the transportation around London worked, asking students who used it more often. By my second year in London, I had already converted to using the Underground to get around town having memorized most of the routes.

            As soon as I had immigrated to London, I had immediately learned of the great diversity between people’s cultures. In west side Boston, the minorities who visited our city were mostly from neighboring countries of the same continents as us with some deep heritage originating from most of Europe and Russia. However, even in my first days in the new country I realized how different people were here. I began to see people from all corners of the world including India, China, Japan, Italy, and Russia (again), and many people from the Middle East. In fact, I constantly classified Ealing Broadway to have the largest population of Indians I had seen in one area, until I had actually gone to India myself. In my small towns in the States, if we saw a minority move into the town, they would become the talk of the town after mentioning where they are from. This was very easy to adapt to in London because, usually when a different a different culture moves to a city, their diverse cuisine came with them. I am fan of all foods, except Thai, and I love to taste Mexican, Indian, and many other dishes. When I hear that Indian population exists in a certain area, I assume that there is Tikka Masala and run to try it.

Despite enjoying the company of cultures that I am not too familiar with, I sometime find it difficult to communicate. This not only applies to people who don’t speak English as their first languages but the different accents around United Kingdom as well. To be honest, when I first moved to England I would turn on the television and not be able to understand what anyone was saying… I only heard of British accents on BBC and in the movies before I had moved to the country itself. It wasn’t as difficult to understand people at my school, though this was probably because they spoke in understanding with other cultures that joined the school every year. They have to make English as simple as possible in case the new students can’t speak English. The first year I struggled to maintain a relationship with people outside of school because I had to ask them to repeat what they said in order to understand them. I kept telling myself in order to understand the native English speakers I had to think like one: to walk the dog on the leash, is to walk the dog on the lead; to take the subway is to take the Tube; to call a taxi is to call a cab; to wear pants is to wear trousers; to use the restroom is to use the toilet etc. etc. By the next year, the tables of understanding were turned, and perhaps too turned well-understood because occasionally I would find myself pronouncing in a pathetically posh accent. Sometimes, I found a telling person that I am American was difficult and they would tell me I don’t have the right accent.

-Mark Roytman

Categories: Cultural | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Adapting To The UK

  1. Antonia Cooper

    Hi Mark, I’m reading this whilst in Australia on holiday and can really identify with your difficulties understanding a different English accent: I’m constantly having to say can you say that again please?! If you think Ealing Broadway is an interesting Indian experience, have you tried Southall? Amazing Indian foods and shops. Great piece of writing Mark! thanks for sharing it

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