Reverse Culture Shock
Now I’m home, and back in London, reverse culture shock sets in.
Today I saw the sun for the first time since I set foot back in my capital city, and finally I feel able to write about her again. Until now, it was too painful to compare the seemingly endless sunshine of Washington, D.C., with the grey grimness of London.
But apart from the climate, being back here, and transfused immediately into the rush-hour bloodstream of London, has put D.C. in stark contrast.
I’ve been back at work for a few days now, and until I find a bicycle, I’m at the mercy of the transport system.
Everyone walks so quickly here, nobody stands on the escalator in the Tube stations, everyone is walking. Now I think about it, it’s pretty good for the post-christmas waistline, to get 10-15 minutes brisk walk around the subterranean warren of the tube system a couple of times a day.
The transport system is so full, so swift, so intense. Each rush hour has a life-span, a surge around 8.40am, and then by 9.05am deathly quiet until the next surge for the creatives getting to work for 10am (so-designed to allow for late nights entertaining). As a result of this, it’s easy to either get freaked out by the intensity, or otherwise feel immense pride at the industry and drive of the London-folk.
While D.C. also has a moderate pace, it doesn’t compare, it’s like a village. I have memories of nice old ladies at bus stops asking me for directions, of riding a blissfully empty N4 bus, of losing my wallet, passport, or keys on numerous occasions, and them always being handed in. This simply would never happen in London.
But then London also has its benefits. D.C. is many things, but D.C. is not cool. London, like other permanent members of the Hipster Security Council, will always be cool. It’s nice to be back in a city where people are at the cutting edge of their art. Even though I could never dream of breathing the rarefied air of the London artist, it’s nice just to occupy the same space and enjoy their work.
London also has parks galore, accessible green spaces that have character and history. Rock Creek Parkway is not quite the same.
But I miss D.C., and it’s been hard coming back. I’m already plotting my return. Yesterday I was Skyping with a friend in the U.S. and just happened to write london in brackets like this: (london). The resulting emoticon, Skype’s little joke, didn’t make me smile…It made me miserable.
But then when the sun shone this morning, I realised it just might be OK.
Posted in Brit Bit