Culture Shock


In the first few weeks in London, I realised I knew so little about this country. I knew that the British Empire had its glory in the 19th century, that it is where Harry Potter is from, that the queen has a series of rainbow-coloured dress. But other than these either outdated or trivial facts, I knew almost nothing about Britain’s culture, geography or history. I didn’t know that “apartment” is called “flat” here, that Northern Ireland and Ireland belong to two different countries, or that Scotland has its own bank notes different from England’s.

To try to get over the sadness that I just left my seemingly perfect life in California, I started watching Netflix in the hotel. If I’m going to stay here for at least a year, I’d better learn a bit about this country, I thought. Netflix has a recommended section called “British TV shows”, and I just picked the first one in the section. The series is called “The Crown”. It’s about the life of Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family. I have to admit, a fictional TV show is probably not the best way to learn about a country, but it definitely sparked my interest of Britain, a place that’s so foreign and new to me.

Life of the royal family is distant from day-to-day life after all, but little by little, I started to pick up some culture differences. I didn’t think seriously about how different California and England were before I moved here. (Again, this probably shows how narrow-minded I was, having lived for just a few years in Bay Area’s tech bubbles.) I was really impressed by the abundance of art and culture here. The packages and signs are much more beautifully designed. The restaurant’s decor are more thoughtful. The presentation is more important than sheer volume. Even the checkout page on Amazon says “shopping basket” here, rather than “cart” in the US. And it never feels strange to be the only person who seems to think about what to wear in the morning before going out of the door. It reminds me of what it’s like to be in China sometimes, always in buzz and hurry, completely different from the quiet and breezy Californian lifestyle. It was a bit of a reverse culture shock to me, but it didn’t look too long for me to get used to it.



When I moved here last summer, I had no idea how London would change me. I never thought one day, I’ll be here, in my studio in Central London, writing about how this year and a half has changed so much of myself, of how I think about the life and the world.


I am no stranger to moving. I had be moving since I was a kid, first with my dad, then to Seattle for college, then Southern and Northern California. I was either too young to have an opinion about it, or just excited about the new adventure. But moving to London was something different, I didn’t plan it and was not looking forward to it.

Before moving to London, I had be in the west coast in the States for 6 years. I had a great job, amazing coworkers, and a boyfriend. This whole “working abroad for a year” was not only unexpected, but also disruptive, at least that’s how it looked like back then. It means I would have to leave behind the life that I was content with, and start in a new country I knew so little about.

I have been to London twice before, both time for work. I liked the city as an outsider. It was everything I imagine about Harry Potter, my favorite book series as a kid. It was cold and wet like Seattle, where I spent 3 years in college, so I’m not too worried about the weather. But I had no idea what it’s like to live there. I was working till the last day while my US visa was still valid, because I didn’t even want to think about leaving.

On the day I left, I carried two big suitcases and two small ones. I waved in tears to my boyfriend at the time, reluctantly walked to the gate, and spent 10 hours in tears on the plane, flying over America and the Atlantic, and finally, landed on a small island full of unknowns. In a way, it was just like 7 years ago when I jumped on a plane from Shanghai to Seattle for college. But it felt so different. I was 18 at the time, and was so excited to leave home and just go on an adventure to pursue my American dream. This time, I had no idea what’s waiting for me ahead.

First Time with Woodworking


I went to a woodworking intro class for women at Blackhorse Workshop in London. There were four of us and we are all beginners. We learned to use chopsaw, bandsaw, pillar drill and disc sander. I made a color palette but didn't have enough time to drill a hole for holding the palette. The class was from 10:30 to 1 pm. I think it was nice to make your own simple cutting in a safety class. Would definitely go back to do more!

Brunch at the coffe shop next to the workshop space. 

Brunch at the coffe shop next to the workshop space. 


Japanese Tea Masterclass

I went to a full-day Japanese Tea Masterclass today. It is an intensive training from 10am to 6:30pm. I learned about the history, different types of Japanese tea, cultivates. The most interesting part is the tea evaluation where we compared the appearance and tasted different Japanese tea and Sencha. 

Today is also my first time listening to a Japanese lecture. Although there was English translation and I couldn't understand 70% of the Japanese, I still feel pretty happy about the 30% that I could understand. 

The Gyokuro cha is the most special tea I've tasted so far. It has such a strong taste of umami that it almost tastes like dashi or salmon sashimi. We tasted 7 kinds of Sencha in different origins and qualities. It does taste different.

I got the completion certificate!

I got the completion certificate!