Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Universal Health Care

Well I've already stirred up a very lively debate via my facebook status, so I might as well put a few more coals on the fire.

Just thought I'd drop a quick line to inform everyone in light of our Senate's recent activity, that I have yet to meet a person in Britain (doctors included, as I've talked to at least one GP aka general practitioner) who dislikes or disagrees with their universal healthcare system.  Of course they admit it has flaws, but so does any other system anywhere, large or small (the organizational and filing system in one of the office's I work in here has problems!) More often than not they can not understand at all why the States wouldn't want said system and also can't understand why we wouldn't agree that all people should have the right to be taken care.

Just thought y'all should know... ;-)

Friday, 5 March 2010


So switching cultures for a minute to chat about my trip to France.  In two words:  TRES BIEN!  I now understand why people say English food is so boring.  I wasn't that bothered by the food here before the trip, but after 12 days in France, the last thing I was excited about returning to in England was the food.  Yes, fish and chips are yummy, but only every once in a while (sorry to any of my British friends).  I even ate rabbit with prunes and enjoyed it while in Paris!  To back track a little bit, because of the way the British have their educational calendar set up, about every 2-3 months the kids get a week off.  Being someone who's job revolves mostly around the academic calendar, this means every 2-3 months I  get a week off too!  (It's a beautiful thing).  So for the half-term break in February (plus a little while longer) I went to go visit my friend Fannie, who I haven't seen for 7 YEARS!  (She had come to stay with my family as a type of exchange program for one month when I was 16.  Boy, were those pictures funny to look at again!).  She lives in Lyon which is in the south of France.  Seeing her again was wonderful and meeting all of her family and friends was equally great.  After those very very quick 5 days, I went up to Paris.  So here's some French stereotypes that lived up to all the hype:

The food - amazing, as previously stated but can never be stated too much.
The wine - see above statement.
The cheese - follow previous instructions
The bread - yum.  And I tried to contain my laughter the first time I saw someone walking down the sidewalk carrying a baguette (a site I some many many times each day).
The deserts - oh my goodness... there are no words...

The beret - definitely worn, and not just by tourists.  The best site was when I saw a man wearing a beret carrying a baguette.  C'est perfect!

Paris - It really is a gorgeous city.  And one that just has such a lovely feel you can be perfectly happy just walking around for a day without a specific destination (which I did a little).  As for the city of love... lived up to that one too in terms of the amount of PDA I saw, however I'm thinking that the bulk of those couples were tourists so I'm not sure if that counts as a true stereotype or not...

Some that didn't live up to the hype:

The people - They aren't rude, English speakers are just impolite!  If you just say "excusé moi" to someone it's like saying "Exxcccccuuuuuuuse me" to someone (imagine the attitude here).  Instead, "Excusé moi, vous voulez"  aka "Excuse me, if it pleases you."  Yes in English, it sounds a bit over the top, but the French are very picky about their vocab.  But maybe the part that I thought was really over the top was the necessity to go about this when asking a worker at say, a museum, where the toilets are.  When they are just sitting on their stools waiting to help people, because that's their job, I don't quite understand the importance of all the formality.  But then again, I definitely have become aware (in more than one country) of how informal us Americans really are.  Whoops!

Some things I hope to borrow from the French:

Eating slowly!  Lunch is the main meal of the day (another thing that would be good to adapt, since it's healthier to eat more in the middle of the day and less at night) and it generally took at least an hour and a half.  Instead of putting all of the food on the table at once and shoveling it in, each bit comes as it's own course.  Usually 1. salad  2. main  3. cheese  4. desert  5. cafe    At night in Paris it was always soup first instead of salad which is very traditional (aka not done so often anymore).

Deserts after every meal?  However, desert after dinner was usually fruit.  Adapting fruit as a desert wouldn't be a bad thing for my pants' size though!  :-p

The pace of life.  This is actually something to borrow from Europe in general.  It's now very obvious how obsessed America is with efficiency.  Always, go go go!  Gotta get as much done as we possibly can.  But taking an hour and a half to sit down for lunch with people is ssooooo much better than eating at your computer!

Since the slightly slower pace (however still capable of being productive, just more balanced) applies to the UK as well, I'll take this opportunity for a segway...

To get back to the original format of this blog  (for those of you interested, hopefully by the end of this weekend I'll have sorted through my 8gbs worth of pictures and post them if you want to know more about what I actually did on my holiday/vacation):

British vs. American

Mars bar vs. Milky Way
Milky Way vs. 3 Musketeers
Nikon (pronounced as Nickon) vs. Nikon  (Thank you to my friend Craig for owning one so that this was brought to laugh.  Sorry to said friend for laughing at him when he said it!)

Thursday, 4 February 2010

A Note about the Photo Links

Just so you know...

I've added a few belated posts.  Sledging (did I even mention that's British for sledding?) with Rory, who is the adorable 2-year old son of a friend/co-worker of mine, from the beginning of January.  As well as our karaoke night in our flat from one of the first weekends Jannice, another American volunteer in my same program however living on the opposite side of the city, arrived in Newcastle at the start of the new year.

My Creations is an album that (assuming I keep up with it) will be added to continuously as I take pictures of the wide variety of things I'm dipping my hands into this year/create.  In addition to the inanimate projects I've been working on, here's 2 links to the newest medium I'm trying out.  Claymation!

My first try:

If the above video didn't work, go here:

Second go:

If the second video didn't work, go here:

A Health Chat

As it's the start of a new year (well, it's February already, so talk of the "new year" is a little belated I suppose) I guess that explains the sudden surge in health conversations.  That or it's just winter and everyone has colds or "sinusitis" as is more often used here.  I'm still trying to figure out if they use that like we use "the flu."  (aka, the illness we label ourselves as having without really knowing if we have the actual influenza or not).  Anyway, I digress.  On the health subject though, I was told by one of the girls who comes to Kids Kabin today (one on the older side, mind.  Probably 10 or 11.  Side note:  I just ended the previous sentence with mind... I'm becoming Geordie...  ending a sentence with mind as in, keep in mind, or bear in mind but just shorter) that sugar isn't bad for you because kids eat it all the time, and we don't get fat.  IF ONLY!  All my dietary "oops-es" would be solved!

Along the same lines:

poorly vs. sick  (she is poorly vs. she is sick)
tablets vs. pills
chemist vs. pharmacy or drug store (but their chemists are also like our pharmacies or drug store, as in not just medicine.  Boot's Chemist vs. WalGreens)

There's definitely another name for Tylenol or Aleve (which should have been expected on my part since obviously those are brand names that we use even if we aren't taking the specific brand) but I can't think of it at the minute.

And a few other randoms:
cello-tape vs. scotch tape (again, a brand name being used for the thing itself no matter the brand)  Oh!  And about the dispensing of the tape... I swear no one in Britain has heard of a tape dispenser!  I'm forever having to search around and around a roll of "cello-tape" to find the end and once that magical feat is accomplished, you then either have to have a pair of scissors handy or cut it with your teeth...

Along the same lines of convenience items:  I'm thinking of starting a bicycle business here in Jolly Ol' England which solely sells kickstands.  No one has one!!  Once I market the complete and total logic behind such an "invention" I'm sure my millions will start flowing in.  ;-)

polly pockets vs. those plastic sleeves that also have holes punched in the side so you can use them inside of binders)  Speaking of binders... not 3 ring.  They only have 2 here, and they are both quite near the center.

Ending on an ironic linguistic note... I would generally describe the difference between the American accent and the British accent (including all forms of said British accent, Geordie and otherwise) as Americans on the whole having hard "a's" than the British (a as in ape).  However, most words that we actually pronounce the a in a soft way (as in a-cappella) the British use a hard a!  Ok, a-capella was a bad example because I don't know if that's true so for example:  American:  apricot  British: apericot  (phonetically spelled the 2nd time obviously).

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Happy (very belated) Christmas!

To those of you who have been checking this without any reason for the past few months:

Hello again!  So sorry it's taken me so long to write anything new.  Of course there's been more translations, but some of them (which I always forget most of at the end of the day when I have a chance to get on this thing) are getting to be much more subtle.  However, in Skyping with one of my cousins this weekend she started laughing mid-way through something I was telling her because she said I was turning British!  (She studied abroad in London).  Apparently, I had said "a bit" about 5 times in the span of 2 minutes.  Not a piece, a thing, a part, etc. etc.  but "a bit."  AND my friend Tracey who is from Newcastle was laughing at me the other day at work because I was saying stuff like a Geordie...  WHOOPS!

So here are a few translations still.  I'm also really behind on posting new photos, but with any luck with catch up on that this weekend and post those links for you as well.


gamon vs. ham
mars bar vs. milky way
milky way vs. 3 musketeers

supply teacher vs. substitute

interval vs. intermission
snow day vs. a couple of inches  (They are not used to the snow actually accumulating on the ground!  We got, I'd guess, about 6-8 inches by the end of it all - so not in one day or anything like in the good ol' Midwest - and no one knew how to cope!  I never saw one snow plow go down our street in front of our flat, and it is definitely a main road.  The city just doesn't really have them).

pudding vs. dessert

cannit vs. can't
iye vs. yeah
go on then vs. ok, sure, as in a response to a question possibly starting with "would you like me to..." or "can i..."

Saturday, 14 November 2009

a night of television

So watching anything American while in Britain brings a new level of entertainment.  To list the shows of this evening (to make my night sound not soooo pathetic, I am crocheting - wait does that make it sound any better? - at least it means I'm producing something!):

NCIS - good in the States anyway!
The Bodyguard - a much better showing of Whitney Houston than when she appeared on the X-Factor (British show that we based American Idol off of) a few weeks ago.

But before those two was by far the best show I've seen on the British teli (oh yeah, they say teli rather than TV to shorten television).  It's not an American show and I'm guessing that most British don't find it nearly as amazing as I do (seeing as I have a slightly different knowledge of American culture then them...) but check this out:


The show is called Jamie's American Road Trip.  Jamie Oliver is a chef and in the episode I caught he was in Georgia and making his way through the South, obviously experiencing some delicious Southern cookin'!  However, what makes this show better than all the other abundance of cooking shows on recently is that is less about the cooking and more about culture, politics, religion, and even racism (as the poor Jamie Oliver found out when talking about Obama to a group of high society ladies having tea in the deep South) associated all around the food we make.  In all reality, it probably wouldn't be nearly as interesting to me if I was actually in the States, but alas I'm not and so have been thoroughly entertained!

Ta Ra for now!  (yes, I've actually heard people say Ta Ra for good bye)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

remember, remember...

Fireworks are one of those things that while you watch them you always seem to think, "hhhmmm.... when was the last time I watched fireworks?"  Well, I can say for me it was this past summer in Milan, Illinois for the 4th of July.  The fireworks there may have been a bit better than the show here in Walker tonight (no grand finale, which was very disappointing) but the States has nothing on the bonfire that was lit tonight!

Back tracking a little, to complete the saying that was begun in the title of this post... "Remember, remember the 5th of November."  Today is Guy Fawkes Day.  The rough story I got from the kids (and what I think I've remembered hearing before this year anyway), is essentially Guy Fawkes had this plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the 5th of November, and was thus telling everyone to remember it.  Of course the plan was stopped, but now the 5th is celebrated in much the same manor as our 4th of July.  Bonfire and fireworks.  Granted, there's not all the patriotic stuff like we have (obviously, since our's is Independence Day) and the British CANNOT cook out like us good ol' Midwesterners (I've got a feeling by the end of this year I'm going to be craving a decent cheese burger).  BUT in Walker Park tonight, which is just across from where I work (and a couple streets down from my flat) there was THE LARGEST BONFIRE I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE!  My rough guess is that it was at least 3-stories high.  Complete with a wooden "guy" at the top.  It reminded me of the movie Grease, including carnival rides.  Unfortunately, since it was so ridiculously big there wasn't any getting close to it, so no chance for hot dogs and s'mores...

long story short:
5th of November vs. 4th of July

(pictures to be posted on my facebook and link to be added onto here soon)