USA v.s. UK

Thursday, September 25, 2014 the battle of the words.

A comment I receive often about moving to England is "Well at least you speak the language there, you won't have any problems with that!"

True. We both speak English – saving myself from a massive learning curve.

But not all English is created equal.

A few years ago when I was typing up a paper at my study abroad university's computer lab in London, I noticed the Microsoft Word document I was pouring my words into was a rainbow of colors. Misspelled word here, grammatical error there. The English nerd in me looked on in horror as simple words like "color" were paired with that irritating red squiggle underneath. I am a spelling and grammar enthusiast – the ongoing epidemic of using the incorrect "they're/their/there" and the more recent "peek/peak" (seriously people...) makes me grit my teeth and throw my hands up in the air, exclaiming that I live in a world of buffoons. Noting that anytime I make a spelling or grammatical error, I have to fix it immediately or cower in shame.

Slightly dramatic? Yes. Don't care.

It's not that I didn't know that we use different variations of words or have our own slang and phrases that don't translate across the pond (shout out to Harry Potter for bringing the word "snog" into my life). But it interested me. Mostly because lots of people don't realize the extent of our language barrier – that is, until you visit the UK and someone greets you with a phrase that goes in one ear and slides right out the other.

So, I present to you, some of my favorite, quirkiest, and most prominent language hiccups I now encounter on a daily basis! People from here get a kick out of me saying exotic words like "y'all", and thankfully most just give me a disgruntled half-smile instead of a lecture when I look the wrong way when crossing the road and make them nearly crash their bike. U rock don't eva change, Bristolians. 

USA / UK Lingo

USA: The long version of shorts. Your jeans. Cousin of the sweat pant.
UK: Your underwear. Tread softly when abroad, Americans.

USA: What you see when you get a boo-boo.
UK: A word said with enthusiasm before another word to exclaim something. "Bloody hell" - Ron Weasley, many a time. I can't tell how profane this is actually.

USA: Said before clinking drinks at a dinner or party. "Woo cheers!" *clink*
UK: Another way of saying "thanks" or "goodbye" or just generally ending every conversation ever.

USA: Warm fluffy yeast-y things that you spread butter on and don't read its calorie content.
UK: Kind of like a cookie. But not a chunky cookie, which is still called a cookie. Biscuits: Digestives, Bourbons, Custard creams, etc.

USA: Feeling sad or disappointed, empathetic, woe, etc.
UK: A knee-jerk response to just about everything: bumping into someone, asking a question, etc. Similar to "excuse me".

USA: Angry, mad, upset, annoyed.
UK: Being real, real drunk.

USA: This one

UK: This one

USA: Those funny pots that whistle when water boils you saw in a sitcom one time. Also the name of a chain restaurant.
UK: The source of everything that is good and holy on this earth; without it we would be nothing and the Kingdom would collapse.

Honorable mention for the British words with no true USA equivalent but I just love them so much.
Bits & bobs. 
Bob's your uncle.

Foreign Flubs #1

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When you're visiting or settling into a new country, running into small challenges in form of cultural differences is inevitable. I know I'll get used to them over time and they'll become second nature. Lots of them are things that I knew before heading over here or I experienced in the past, but I thought it'd be fun to list them all out and hopefully be able to look back on them in the future and laugh at how awkward I was trying to merge with the Brits. This post is definitely inspired thanks to Sara over at Bristol in My Pocket (AKA my lifesaver and reason I made it over here without multiple meltdowns), who has a series of posts titled "Thoughts from Abroad", which you should definitely check out as well!

1. British money is real heavy. Pound coins are weighty and the 2 pence coin is massive (am I ever going to use it?). The super friendly/talkative guy who helped set up my UK phone said that it was because the government wanted us to jingle as we walked by homeless people, which seconds later made his face turn red and immediately say that it was a bad joke.

2. Something is fuzzy with the phrase "How are you". In the states it's an expected and normal greeting. Here, everyone says "You alright?" to which I respond with "Yes great thank you how are you?" and without fail, the corners of people's mouths twist up in amusement and they stare blankly for a few seconds.

3. I would like to call a city-wide meeting and discuss which side of the sidewalk to walk on. It's a complete free-for-all and when you're trying to adapt to a new culture, fearful of offending someone at any moment, you really don't want to bump into someone.

4. In London, they have tourist-proofed the roads at crosswalks with "LOOK RIGHT" painted in all caps. Here, they do not. They also color-code the street lines differently, so I can't tell what is a one-way street or a two-way street, meaning I definitely don't know where to look. One flattened Texan, coming right up.

5. British children in their school uniforms are the definition of adorable and I look like a complete creep every time I see one.

6. It hasn't rained yet (jinx).

Once again, apologies for the lack of photos, but I'm a girl on a mission right now. Today flew by as I spent my morning and afternoon popping around the shops around Cabot Circus as well as Park Street getting different bits and bobs (the lingo, y'all) as well as all the groceries I could carry. My room now has some bedding, a few pictures + postcards on the wall my handbag has a snazzy UK phone, and I finally had all the necessary ingredients for a SHOWER!

My second flatmate from China arrived and she surprised me at my door with homemade Chinese-style potatoes, chopsticks and all. Even though I had a small pizza for dinner (#AMERICA), I knew it would be good for me to eat more due to the fact I had once again hardly eaten today. My appetite is slowly but surely adjusting to the timezone. It was so sweet and thoughtful! She only arrived here today and was able to make a meal from scratch, certainly puts my arrival day to shame. She also showed me how she holds chopsticks, as my skills are pretty lackluster and I end up using the sticks as a spear most of the time.

I really love all the shops here and after I give my bank account time to settle down from buying loads of necessities, I can't wait to dive in to some fun shopping.


Monday, September 15, 2014

If you've ever traveled abroad, studied abroad, moved to a new city, "lived the expat life" if you understand what I mean when I say that first day...and sometimes first week...can be rough. Real rough. "What-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life" rough.

I arrived to my flat and unpacked my stuff, which there seemed to be a lot more of when I had to tote it around by myself all day. My new room looked pretty empty and the feeling of the unknown began to set in. There was a window and a whole new world staring at me. The first thing my dad and therefore I do in a brand new city is simply go on a walk. I was determined to fight any jet lag so I was not going to let myself nap (not that I had a pillow or blanket to do so on...but more of that later).

Getting out in the fresh air and starting to get my bearings is the best way I know to begin adapting to a new city, especially a foreign one. From what I've seen so far, Bristol is a beautiful and busy place. It has all the perks that a big city does without feeling claustrophobic or cold. I walked for around 3 hours up hills, by the harbourside, through bits of the campus, and onto College Green where I plopped right in the grass and was able to chat with my mom on the phone for a few minutes. The weather was actually great and I ended up needing to take my jacket off. I was definitely getting some side eye for wearing my wellies on a sunny day, but those things are comfortable and were already on my feet anyway (have luggage weight limit, will travel). The walk was much-needed and a good way to begin my first day, but I still wasn't quite at peace yet.

College Green

I successfully combatted jet lag, but my appetite hadn't returned. After the fiasco that was my stomach Saturday morning, I had only managed to eat a mini bag of pretzels on the airplane and half a croissant at Heathrow, so I knew I needed to eat a proper meal for dinner.

And then I got thrown series of curveballs...

Upon returning to my room after a leisurely few hours of exploring, I found that my bedding pack, kitchen pack, and cleaning pack that I pre-ordered had yet to arrive.

No problem, I'll just head down to the office, maybe they'll have it.'s closed.

Ooooookay so I'll pop out to a nearby shop or even take a taxi to Ikea if I need to. Closed. Closed. 

Right, so no blanket or pillow. Frustration set in and I decided to distract myself with food.

So the supermarkets are also closed. to the rescue! I'll order takeaway. Oh wait, I need a valid UK phone number. Guess I can just cal-sigh-that was a dumb thought. Back up the giant hill I go.

Whew, home again and I have food! 

Ah yes, the U.K. actually cares about the planet – no packaged utensils. Aaaand my kitchen pack didn't arrive. I get to eat caveman style! Yes, I ate mashed potatoes with my fingers and laughed at my host of First World Problems. 

After over 24 hours of traveling, I am not feeling very fresh. Definitely need to shower. Mmmm. Yes. Towels are in the pack that didn't arrive yet. No shower for me.

Skype with mom and dad! I'm in good spirit because I don't know what the hell else to do. At least I didn't cry. 

Okay, time to attempt sleep. I read somewhere that sleeping on a stiff straight thing can help align your spine, maybe I'll feel EXTRA good in the morning! Spoiler alert: nope.

I tossed and turned, woke up every few hours, and tried to understand how a radiator works because my room was freezing with a capital "F" (heh).

The worst bit was had it not been Sunday when all the shops close early, everything could have been taken care of. I still had my wits about me – I can be a frustrated crier sometimes, but no tears! It wasn't the end of the world and I consider myself pretty lucky if these were the biggest problems of my day.

Day #2 was a big improvement (I have a some bedding and a U.K. phone to my name) and I can feel the cogs begin to churn.

For kicks and giggles, here's a Buzzfeed article titled "24 Agonising British People Problems" featuring tweets from @SoVeryBritish. Cheers!

A Case of the Nerves.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fair warning: This is going to be a very text/gif-heavy post. You'll be thankful for the lack of pictures later. 

"You've always been the adventurous one" Has been the best compliment I've received from friends and family over the years. Throughout my life I've done my best to jump at every opportunity that came my way. No matter how crazy, far away, or alone I was: I did it with a smile and the stars in my eyes.

The day I left for England was one for the books. Never in my life have my nerves just gone haywire and out of control – I've always been able to calm myself down or put on a brave face for my parents.

Friday night, after a great dinner of steaks and Blue Bell ice cream with my family and friends followed by smiley goodbyes, I crawled into bed and suddenly my mood took a 180. Physically it felt like I was coming down with a fever in crashing waves while my head was racing in a million different directions. I tossed and turned and hardly slept a wink, I literally got the point where I was frantically telling myself "I need to go to the doctor in the morning and get prescribed Xanax".


That morning, I felt calm again - whew! All I needed was a few hours of sleep, right?

My parents, being the awesome ones that they are, cooked bacon and waffles all ready to greet me.
What did I do with some of my favorite foods?
I nibbled. Barely.

Which raised some serious eyebrows.
I just don't turn down bacon.

To put it in my mom's words "Oh WOW are you actually nervous - you can't be nervous! You aren't eating BACON?!"

I sipped my coffee and laughed while explaining how I can't eat when I'm excited or nervous; for example that one time I ate half a taco before seeing One Direction in concert.

The morning quickly slipped away and my body began feeling weak and I was shaking so badly that had to hold onto the counter to stand without my legs buckling (yes sorry mom, I obviously lied when you asked if I was shaking). My face was a sickly yellow color and I was barely speaking, my mom handed me some anti-nausea medicine and I said my goodbyes to my sister and dog.

The car ride to the airport wasn't exactly the special, touching ride we envisioned in our heads. It was more along the lines of me trying to keep crackers down and failing quite epically (TMI alert - oh yes, I got sick). When we pulled into the airport I was seriously debating whether or not I could get on this plane. Mentally I was telling myself "You can DO this, this is your DREAM, you planned this for MONTHS and not once did you feel nervous! Get a grip!"

Once I got into the fresh air and received a mini pep talk from my parents, I started to feel better. Not my normal self, but better. What's ironic is that I was all prepared to help comfort my mom and giggle at her being a blubbering mess (her words, not mine), and instead she and my dad had to get into "parent mode" and comfort ME - quite the opposite of what we predicted. What's even weirder is I never actually cried or did anything outwardly emotional - I had just literally made myself ill. So my departure had no pictures, no tearful goodbye, basically just "let's shove you through security before we have to buy you another new shirt" (I warned you, TMI). Goes to show moments like these aren't always how you played them out in your head.

Eventually I made it on that plane, had a great flight, got off that plane, breezed through immigration control, and onto several train rides. At every stopping point, the weight in my chest grew lighter. We pulled into the station and I clumsily made my way out, breathed in the English air, and said hello to my new home for the next year (and maybe more).

Ahhh a cliche sunrise/airplane wing picture – it was a long day, this scene was very calming to me okay?!

How are you before you leave for a big adventure?

When Moving to England.... (presented with British GIFs)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"You know it rains there a lot, right?"
Nope, I just threw a dart to a map Olsen-twin style and decided to move there without any further knowledge.

"Why would you want to leave America?"
Idk because this world is like really big and stuff and there's more to it than the United States.

"Isn't the food there really bad?"
I gained about 10 pounds when I studied abroad, so apparently I thought it was pretty delicious. 

"How are you going to keep in touch with everyone at home?"
The internet and phones and...pretty much the exact same way I do now. Just new time zones.

"You're going to meet a guy over there and get married, aren't you?"
If he looks like this, I can almost guarantee it.

"I would miss my friends and family too much."
Not me! I'm heartless and won't miss anyone.

"But when are you coming back, like, for good?"
But I haven't even left yet!?

"That's so cool, you are going to have an amazing time! Can I visit?"

What are the funniest or most common questions you've received about being an expat or studying abroad?

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