Love Island: The nation’s obsession through the eyes of a foreign student
Can culture shock get any worse than this?
Moving to the UK for university is no easy feat. New people, new culture, bad cuisine. Beyond these usual changes that any foreign student expects, there is another evil lurking in the shadows that will probably either make you or break you.
No- it's not afternoon tea. Or the ability to mock Northerners or Tories. Instead, your ultimate challenge is learning to incorporate ITV's Love Island into your very own being. By the time the winter/ summer edition arrives, it's imperative you are well versed in unnecessary drama, fake relationships, fake people and a lot of savageness.
Without further ado, here are the six stages you go through as a foreign student when watching Love Island:
Stage 1: Your mates start talking about it.
Literally, the only thing you get out of any first conversation about this show is that some couples have sex whilst the other competitors and the entire nation watch them.
You are slightly perplexed but you say nothing about it. Then one of your friends announces that they actually considered applying. At this point you probably decide to avoid ITV altogether, as you don't want to see TOO much of your friends. You also wonder briefly if you have Love Island back home as well. Or Temptation Island? Nobody really knows because your country doesn't watch stupid reality TV shows en masse.
Stage 2: The weeks prior to the start of the show
There is no escape by this point. Everyone talks about Love Island: the mailman, the pharmacist, the Deliveroo guy. Contestants start getting announced and your friends pester you to give your opinion about the potential winner.
Meanwhile, you don't really have an idea about how you go about winning the show in the first place- you're still in shock that the very bright students at a top university are raving about the coupling of fame-hungry, slightly dim individuals wearing elastane bikinis. You decide to give it a go just to ensure that you're not left out of crucial conversation.
Stage 3: The first week
You are absolutely disgusted by how the couples choose each other based solely on their looks. The whole thing is so artificial and the commercials are so long, you almost instantly give up. You find Ian Stirling's narration shady at best, but you don't tell that to your friends. The Uber commercials are weirder than Alice's journey in Wonderland and Caroline Flack's age plagues you more than the actual plague. On a deeper level, you wonder if this is a true reflection of the British dating culture and how young people nowadays are influenced by this toxic mindset regarding human relationships. You can probably even make this the subject of your dissertation and you're quite likely to get a distinction for your contribution to the field. Did Anton's eyes wonder off before you could even say bev? Welcome to Love Island. Should I also say Welcome to the UK?
Stage 4: The bombshell that turns everything upside down
Arabella has just arrived in the villa. Twitter is getting crazy and you're caught in the middle of it. The show finally becomes interesting as the drama ensues. You secretly hate yourself because you encourage entertainment in the form of someone's suffering, but you carry on having one mission in mind: voting Arabella off the island.
You become annoyed because literally everyone blames their despicable actions on 'going with their gut in the pursue of happiness'. At this point if you hear 'it is what it is' one more time you're probably going to punch someone in the face. Repeatedly.
Later on, you adopt the expression in your daily jargon just to get back in a truly British manner at the people in your life not willing to put in the effort. Oh my Britishness!
Stage 5: The long way to the finals
Maura is your ideal of female empowerment although her actions are questionable at times to say the least. Amber in an angel that needs to be protected, whilst Michael is the target to be eliminated. Rightly so. Gut or no gut.
You probably bonded with hundreds of people on the streets when you heard them talking about the marvelousness that Ovie is and you're probably over all the fake tears. You religiously vote for your favourite couple, your accent is slowly turning Cornish and you're already looking into buying some of those boohoo outfits. You use reusable bottles, but all your efforts for the environment are counteracted by instagrammable plastic clothes.
There is no way back. You are ethically and emotionally compromised. Your parent's investment in your education has gone down the drain and your only concern is whether Amber will get the 50k. However, you still condemn the show as being the very embodiment of entertainment cruelty and human avarice, and you're entirely right in every way.
Stage 6: Post-finals
You're over the moon that Amber won but you feel completely lost because that connection you had with British culture is now gone. You look at the deals signed by contestants and you can't help but wonder what you'll do if you were in their shoes.
You start making plans to apply for the winter edition, getting well-qualified people to manage your social media presence and stir up high-quality drama. You don't really care to find 'love', you only need that 50k to fund your masters in case Brexit leaves the country in shambles.