It’s the little things pt. 2

Though I’ve been here for over 7 months now… 7 months!! This totally baffles me… anyways, I’ve been here for a while now, but I still get caught up in some of the small differences here from the US and it’s still taking time for me to get used to. For one, you’d think by now, my ability to understand any type of English accent would be full proof and that I’d be able to do a decent English accent myself, or at least some kind of English accent. Sorry to disappoint, but neither of these are true, and maybe it’s because listening and speaking in other languages is not my thing, but I swear that sometimes it feels like a different language, whether it’s the phrases/words that are used or the intonation combined with some subtle mumbling. For example, some pronunciations still trip me up, like how “basil” is pronounced with a sound equivalent to the “a” in cat, or the phonetic “æ”, making it bæsil. They also pronounce yogurt with an “ah” sound as in the word on, or the phonetic ““, making it ygurt. In some accents, the words issue and tissue will be pronounced not with your typical “shhh” sound, but with a “ssss”. There’s also the classic “schedule” pronounced with a “shhh” sound to produce shedule.  I warn you about these specific cases because there’s a 95% chance you’ll laugh in a British person’s face when they say one of these unassuming words because they’ll sound ridiculous to you, and I want you to be more prepared than I was if these words ever come up in conversation. You might not come across these words as they are pretty random, but these are my favorite and make me chuckle every time.

It can also be easy to make mistakes on the small differences in word choices, like an electric stove being called a “hob”, an outlet being called a “plug”, sweatpants being “joggers”, pants being “trousers”, underwear being “pants”, commercials being “adverts”, being “pissed” meaning drunk, “knackered” meaning exhausted,”peckish” meaning to be a little hungry , using the term “fancy” to like something/someone, substituting “we” for me, “lori” meaning a truck, “mate” meaning friend, saying “brilliant”, a truand movie theaters being called the “cinema”. There are many other differences in word choices, some of which I mentioned in pt. 1 and others which escape me.

There are also phrases and idioms over here that might prove to be confusing if you don’t ask for a little clarification. For example,”Bob’s your uncle!” is used as an exclamation typically after explaining directions for something, as a way of saying well that’s that! I find that one pretty strange… I don’t have an uncle Bob. “Having a chat” is a common way to say that you’re hanging out talking, a casual way of saying having a conversation. As mentioned in pt. 1, “you alright?” as a way to greet someone STILL gets me and is not a phrase that has caught on for me. “I’m easy” is a way to say you don’t have a preference, like if you’re trying to decide on a place to eat and you don’t really care where you eat… though the negative American connotations with that phrase dissuade me from using it. A common and funny way to say you’ve made a mistake or you’re in a confused situation is to say “cock up”. “Too many cooks spoil the broth” is the British version of saying “too many cooks in the kitchen”. As a soup fan, I like the use of broth in this context.

Speaking of food, there are certain foods that have grown on me since being here, mainly british beans used for a full english breakfast or a jacket potato. I had never thought of beans as being sweet, but they’re kind of like beans in a ketchup sauce but more appealing than I’m making that sound. Then there are the other foods that I dearly miss, such as guacamole. They do guacamole different here and it’s very disappointing; they put sour cream in it, and guys… it’s not great. One of the foods I missed the most were chocolate chips, BUT my friend showed me a supermarket in London that has an American section that has all of the snacks you forgot about, like goldfish, applesauce, graham crackers, and BIG bags of my favorite chocolate chips!! I kid you not, I almost cried. When going out for food, while tip is usually non-existent or is optional, there’s a reason for that, and it’s because the service is ridiculously slow, or it’s the other way around, or part of British culture that they don’t want to interrupt your meal; either way, service is slow. Usually painfully slow. And if you’re paying with a credit/debit card, they’ll bring the card machine to your table, which I always find kind of fun and honestly much easier than trying to split a bill in the US.

Some of the things I’ll miss about leaving the UK is its history, how old and beautiful buildings are here. I’ll miss the casual integration of castles into towns here, like the Guildford castle being low key mingling with the other buildings in the town-center. It also makes me realize how MASSIVE the US is when people talk about a 5 hour drive being a long trek home, when that’s a totally doable drive to visit a friend at a different Uni in the states. A drive back home from Uni for me in the states would be roughly a 15 hour drive or 24 hour train ride from Boston to Chicago… no thanks, I’d rather take to the skies. Coming from the US, everything in Europe feels so close to each other, and so accessible with cheap/short flights from one country to another, it makes me want to explore the US more when I head back! There are many other little cultural things that are unique to living in the UK, most of which you only figure out from spending a good amount of time here, but I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself!