Goodbye, London <3

My time in England is quickly coming to an end, much to my dismay.  Over the last three months, I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned here in London, which I will share with you now:

1.) Learn to appreciate your natural hair. Even if I were to spend all morning straightening my hair, it would no longer be straight by the time I walk outside. The British weather is not conducive to hair styling. I’ve learned to go with more of a wind-swept, somewhat wavy look 😀

2.) Most Brits have excellent manners. I’m impressed, in general, by the politeness and courtesy they all seem to possess.  That is… unless they’re drunk.

3.) That being said, middle-aged British men you pass on the street have an odd way of making you feel both attractive and really uncomfortable at the same time. They’ll beep their car horns, whistle at you, and go out of their way to look you up and down as you’re walking by. They have absolutely no shame in checking you out and remarking, “Lovely…” as you walk down the street.  I have to say that this is not limited to the UK but applies to Europe in general. Kind of an interesting cultural difference to experience as an American.

4.) Afternoon tea. It should be a thing everywhere.

5.) It’s not a line, it’s a queue.  There’s a much simpler word for waiting in line: it’s called queuing.

6.) Americans, do refer to my list of words throughout this blog if you don’t want to sound like a tourist while you’re in the UK.  In general, it seems the British find it endearing when you use an “American” word, but just be prepared for a laugh. They’re not really laughing at you, more just at your “Americanness.”  I don’t think that’s a bad thing!

7.) There is such thing as an American accent.  We don’t think so as Americans, but we apparently have an accent.  However, most non-Americans think that the “American accent” is what we know as the “Southern accent.”  I’ve been told many times that I don’t sound American because I don’t have what they call an “American” accent.  Be prepared to explain that there are MANY American accents, depending on what region of the country you live in.

8.) The British, and Europeans in general, are mesmerized by the size of the United States. Quite frankly, they’re intimidated by the size and by the fact that laws vary by state. People here have actually said that to me, that they wouldn’t be able to handle the different laws state-by-state. I reassure them that the laws are more or less the same, with a few weird ones here and there. Generally, if you’re sticking to one region of the country, the laws will be very similar, and most of them should be common sense.

9.) Tesco is the best supermarket chain… besides the Piggly Wiggly.  As far as price goes, I’m pretty sure Tesco might even be cheaper than ShopRite, which is the cheapest I know in the States. The main thing is that the food is of good quality, so between price and quality, Tesco is the best supermarket I’ve found here.  It’s also the most similar to American supermarkets, as far as the layout.

10.) Smoked salmon and cream cheese should be a much more popular combination in the U.S.  Almost everywhere I’ve eaten, as well as all the supermarket ready-meals sections, have this heavenly combination on a sandwich. I’m sorry, but peanut butter and jelly is far inferior to smoked salmon and cream cheese.

I’m sure there are many other things I can add to this list, but for now, this is what I’ve actually written down.  Also to make a couple of additions to the vocabulary list:

45.) asphalt/blacktop- tarmac

46.) mischievous/naughty-cheeky

47.) Santa- Father Christmas

48.) “Merry Christmas” – “Happy Christmas”

Doesn’t that last one just sound awkward?

Living in the UK

Hello everyone!

It’s been quite a journey during my first month in London.  School has started off relatively well, and I’ve seen a great deal of the city.  Coming a week early meant I got to be a tourist for a while, which, of course, was lots of fun.  Among other things, I saw the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the House of Parliament, the Churchill War Rooms, Kensington Palace, the British Museum, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Covent Garden, and Trafalgar Square.  My school is in the lovely Royal Borough of Greenwich.  The history of England is so vastly different than that of the United States, if for no other reason simply because it’s hundreds of years older.  As an American, it’s fascinating to be in a country that still has a monarchy and retains many of the old traditions it’s had for hundreds of years.  Another thing I’ve discovered as a foreigner in the UK is the subtle cultural differences.  Though British and American society are very much the same, there are slight, but significant, differences, particularly in our speech.  I don’t mean the different accents, though that, too, took a little while to adjust to.  It’s more about the word choices.  I’ve become more careful about my word choice, since the Brits use different words than Americans to indicate certain everyday items.  I’ve begun to compile a list, both on paper and in my memory, of these words.  So for any American students out there who are reading this, perhaps the following list may come in handy:

1.) line=queue; standing in line=queuing

2.) garbage=rubbish

3.) vegetable shortening (for baking)=Trex OR vegetable fat

4.) pants=trousers

5.) subway=underground OR “the Tube”

6.) “Thanks” = “Cheers”

7.) crazy=daft

8.) apartment=flat

9.) college=university

10.) high school=college

11.) hood [of a car]=bonnet

12.) restroom/bathroom=loo

13.) take-out=takeaway

14.) cookie=biscuit

15.) class/course=module

This is just a short list of words I’ve heard used differently than in the U.S., or words I’ve said and received a confused look in return.  I’m sure the list will be growing, but it’s a start.  In addition, be prepared to use Celcius instead of Fahrenheit, and meters instead of feet or miles.  The first day I was here, someone said to me, “It’s quite nice out today; it’ll be up to 20 degrees today!”  I looked at him like he was crazy; then I realized he was measuring in Celcius.  I later found that “20 degrees” meant around 70 degrees Fahrenheit 🙂