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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

VIDEO: Students Share their Biggest Culture Shocks Upon Arrival to Campus


Coming from the United Kingdom, first-year Anna Kummelstedt (COL ’25) and Soraya Dhanani  (COL ’25) did not know what to expect when they arrived on campus. From convocation to NSO to vernacular differences, watch these students share their biggest culture shocks from their first semester on the hilltop.

Video Transcript:

Anna: So, I’m from London, England and this is my first time far away from home.

Soraya: I’m from London, from Chelsea in England. 

Anna: Considering the culture shocks I had, probably my first day was all in my face. 

Soraya: When I walked into the front gates on the first day and I saw hundreds of NSO people screaming at me and I kind of got a bit scared. 

Anna: And then being on Cooper Field and they were doing acapella and playing Katy Perry and it just felt like “10 Things I Hate About You”, like the scenes it just felt like I was in that movie. And the whole convocation ceremony with the robes and stuff that felt almost like graduation without being graduation. 

Soraya: Convocation happened and we were in a massive crowd with robes on, chanting, and I was like, “am I entering some kind of cult?” That kind of took me by surprise and was very un-English I would say. 

Anna: Another culture shock for me was the clothes style. It’s definitely more active here, and sometimes I’ll ask someone, “Oh, are you going on a run or something?” and they’re like “No, I just whipped out of bed. This is me today!” and I’m like, “Oh, maybe I look overdressed or something”. But yeah, it’s maybe a more active lifestyle

Soraya: Another culture shock was just how big everything is. Not just portion sizes but cars are twice as big. houses are huge. I don’t know, everything’s bigger in America

Anna: A little silly one was I never write in pencil. Loads of people around me write in pencil and I don’t get that but, fair enough. Maybe rub out mistakes…

Soraya: I’m surprised by how few people actually understand the British accent. 

Anna: Being at Leo’s, and it was asking for water, and I was like, “Can I have some water?” and they go, “Huh?”, and I was like, “Can I have some water?” and they didn’t get it and I said, “Can I have some WATER?”, and then they finally got it so that was quite funny.

Soraya: When I’m in Leo’s and I’m at Olive Branch asking for tomatoes, I can say “tomatoes” five times and I will get every single thing there I will get feta, I will get onions, I will get vegetables I just will not get tomatoes

Anna: I’ve had some people the first time they met me like I was in a conversation with someone and some person fully interrupted my conversation like, “Oh my God are you from London?” and I was like, “Yup.” and they were like, “I need to give you a hug!” and I was like “Wow, really feeling the celebrity vibes on me now.”

Soraya: One time I was speaking to a friend and saying that I was going to maths class because in England we add the “s” on top of the “Math”. And so, I was saying Maths class and she wasn’t understanding me and I got asked if English was my first language or not. Little things like that you don’t expect have been kind of funny to get used to. But, really, I love it here.

Anna: It’s been great and everyone’s been super nice. I guess it’s nice that it definitely is an American School but the fact it’s in D.C. that you’re so close to the hub of everything and the political capital of the world, it attracts International people but it’s nice to see the integration between the international people and the American people together and they’re not being too divided.

Soraya: Honestly, I was coming here basing all my knowledge of Americans on the stereotypes that I knew and I’d say luckily it wasn’t really like that. Yeah I mean I really just like love being across the pond and just I feel more American already I mean my first Hoco was a success. Yeah, I love it and I really love being at Georgetown.

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