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)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Before I forget!!

I had someone actually tell me "Cheerio" today as a word for "goodbye."  I think I skipped a little in my step in an effort to subtly hide my excitement!  I've also heard "ta ta" or "ta ra" both of which are equally good.  Oh, and "cheers" when said quickly, i.e. to a bus driver when you are getting off the bus, sounds more like "chairs."

Did I mention already that "rain" in English seems to mean perpetual mist?  Well, some proper rain has begun to set in.  Apparently, it will be here for about a week, and then go back to just happening occasionally.  A wet autumn, but still not as cold as back home, so I don't mind!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

minibus conversations

Just a couple of translations after my trip out to Rupert's Wood (Lord Rupert to be exact.  Yes, there's still all that royalty in England. We met the Lord's son today, who so kindly joined in on our frolicks through his forest, a.k.a. freeze tag and a treasure hunt).

back garden vs. back yard (a decent size chunk of grass)
yard vs. tiny patch behind your house.  (we have a small area behind our flat, which is covered in cement.  others have some greenery, mostly in pots back there. that's our yard apparently.  essentially something small enough to be measured with a yard stick).

minibus vs. regular size van (the one we took today fit about 16 people.  so i suppose we might say short bus?  but it had seats like a regular vehicle, so i'm thinking we would just say van.  you tell me!)

as always, i feel like there was more but that's all i can remember for now.  (and i should quit stalling and get back to being productive!)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

a few more translations...

As the silly translations slow down,  I'm wondering if I need to come up with a new angle...  suggestions are welcome.  But for now, here's a few that are still popping up!

You alright? vs. How are you?  (In writing this doesn't sound so weird, but it strikes you differently.  Whenever you ask if someone is alright in the States, to me, it's generally because they look like something is wrong.  Here, it's just an average beginning of a conversation).

bicarbonate of soda vs. baking soda (There are lots of little difference like this when it comes to groceries, which makes grocery shopping maybe one of my most frustrating endeavors).

carrier bag vs. grocery bag

till vs. register
ASDA vs. WalMart (good to know so one can avoid it like the plague!)

Rain vs. perpetual mist (I generally check the weather forecast each morning, and it always shows up as raining and I prepare myself for a really uncomfortable bike ride, and then I get outside and realize, to my relief, it's hardly a drizzle).

Partner vs. Partner - Generally, when we say so-and-so's partner we are usually referring to a homosexual couple.  Not so in England.  Could mean someone's life partner (living together forever, but not married), wife, husband, boyfriend (of a girl or boy), girlfriend (of a girl or boy).  I've heard most married people say partner more often than "my husband/wife."  Makes things slightly ambiguous, but I suppose that's not a bad thing?

A-Z (zed) in all cars/backpacks vs. straight roads!  Even people who have lived in a city for 10 years still don't know their way around!  Oh, and don't think if you write down all the street names you need to know as directions that will help.  You are lucky if the streets are labelled!  And if they are it's on a white sign screwed into the brick of one building.  So you are doubly lucky if you are on the right side of the street to see the sign!

Until we meet again... Cheers!  (used for Thanks, Goodbye, and of course, with a drink in hand).

Friday, 9 October 2009

some things remembered...

One thing I realized I haven't discussed yet is the fact that the majority of the locks are backwards.  "Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty" does not work, and "Lefty Tighty, Righty Loosey" just doesn't have the same ring to it...

But a couple of things I remembered from yesterday...

So I signed up for a gym membership at our local gym on Thursday morning (and when I say it's just up the road, I mean  it's just UP the road.  It's about a 30 degree incline the entire way there, so biking to the gym each day gives me a workout in itself!) and when you become a new member you must take a "tour" of the gym.  Essentially, I think they want to be sure you know where all of the fire exits are as well as the fact that there is a lifesaver (the floatie rings) on the wall next to the pool that is only 4 feet deep.  The 6 year veteran lifeguard in me appreciated that our tour guide added the fact that you should probably tell whoever is allegedly drowning in the pool to just stand up first before you try throwing the ring at them!!  Anyway, at the end of it our tour guide asked me where exactly in the States I was from.  I said Chicago (sorry to all of my Quad Cities people, but a lot of people here don't even know where Illinois is, but know Chicago.  Failing to realize Chicago is IN Illinois, so there is no hope for the good ol' QCA) and he asked me if I had ever lived anywhere else in the world for a period of time because my accent sounded different.  I said no, so then he added that I must already be picking up the Geordie twang!  Yikes!

On the same linguistic line... later on Thursday, during my woodworking session at Kids Kabin (which was woodwork/gardening since we were rebuilding the planters for our garden), I accidentally said tomato the British way, as in with a soft a.  Like the a sound in awkward.  Tomaaaaaato.  I then stopped in the middle of my sentence.  :-p

Thursday, 8 October 2009

the little things

So I'm realizing that I should also use this blog to write down all the little things that happen each day that I won't make a point of writing down elsewhere.  Of course, as I stare at this blank text box on my computer screen the ones from today I was thinking of on my walk home are completely escaping me.  Hopefully, at some point in the near future they will return, but for now I'll include the brief but hilarious conversation I had with our Young Volunteers (kids over the age of 12 who are trained to come back to Kids Kabin - since we only have sessions for 8-12 year olds - and run sessions on their own with the kids) last night during their training...

In the course of conversation, one of the kids asked if Ralph (who is a Brother, but I'm forgetting which order at the moment) still came and helped.  He just goes by Ralph, not Br. Ralph or anything, as do all of the Assumption Sisters.  Some how it was mentioned that he is a brother, and the one boy in the group says with shock, "Ralph is a mock?!"  Now the other two girls there are surprised and intrigued/excited by this.  The boy says, "He can't be!  Mocks are bald!"  hahahaha.  And then also continued to say monks where robes and know karate (referring to Buddhist monks in Jackie Chan movies apparently).  The conversation also spiraled into saying that Jill and Jess (two of the sisters that also volunteer at Kids Kabin) couldn't be nuns because they don't wear "those things that suck their faces back," referring to habits.  I wish I could remember more of the little things they all said, but the point being I was almost crying I was laughing so hard (granted that's not a difficult task for me to achieve... the crying while laughing part...)

All for now, but hopefully I will remember more soon...

Saturday, 3 October 2009

And we're back!!

Okay, so obviously it's been a long time since I've updated this.  But good news!  We now have the internet in our flat, so updating should come at a much more timely rate, in theory.  (I did say at the beginning of all of this I'm terrible with keeping up with these things).  The other good news is that I did write down some of the phrases, words, random differences I've encountered.  So here they are:

First off, a recent discovery.  The World Wide Web is false.  It is not world wide.  Sites that don't work in the UK:  (maybe one of the things i'm missing the most.  that and my realization that it's pumpkin ice cream season at Whitey's back in the QC right now... sigh...)
and watching american TV shows online.  so no Bones for me.

Also, other sites that do work are different here than at home.  If you go on the Adobe site and specifically pick the US site, you get far less options of things you can do than normal.  But if I go to the UK site, and can find other things.  But the sites are still different.

So aside from the internet there's (British first):
holiday vs. vacation
paddling vs. wading?  (taking off your shoes and socks, rolling up your pants, and wading in the ocean)
private vs. public school (can't exactly explain this one, but they don't use these 2 terms the same.  I'll try to sort it out and let you know)
Well within that last comment.  They say sort it more often when we were say figure.  As in, "Did you sort it out?" vs. "Did you figure it out?"
skipping rope vs. jumping rope
ride vs. lift - In reference to being a a car.  "Can I give you a lift?" vs. "Can I give you a ride?"  And apparently, this difference is one in particular that should never be mistaken when a girl is talking to a guy as something ENTIRELY different is meant.
lift vs. elevator
surname vs. last name
courgette vs. zucchini
spanners vs. wrenches
toilet roll vs. toilet paper
toilet vs. bathroom
trousers vs. pants
pants vs. underwear
posh vs. fancy, rich, chic, etc.
brilliant vs. awesome, great
chemist vs. pharmacy
chips vs. french fries
crips vs. chips
cheers vs. thanks or see you later
proper vs. real, really As in, a proper
rubbish bin vs. garbage can, trash can
fortnight vs. 2 weeks (fourteen nights)
fringe vs. bangs
to let vs. to rent
give-way vs. yield (on a road sign)
jam vs. jelly
dual carriage way vs. highway
motorway vs. interstate - Now these two aren't exact comparisons because the dual carriage way means there's
oh dear me! vs. oh gosh, goodness, etc.
nip/pinch vs. steal
nappy vs. diaper
petrol vs. gasoline
prawn vs. shrimp
queue vs. line  Signs say Queue here, as in line up here.
stone vs. 14 lbs.
quid vs. a pound (as in the currency, not to be confused with the weight measurement I used in the last one)
English inch vs. American inch, it seems like our's are shorter
serviette vs. napkin
takeaway vs. take-out, carryout

Now there is some mystery of what exactly Christmas pudding is, so I'll work on figuring that one out as well.

Oh!!  And back to the education bit.  When you ask a child to spell their name, they do it phonetically.  Now, I understand that for learning how to read and spell this helps them, but Lord help me if I can tell the difference between any of the consonants, or s and c, c and k, etc.!  Meaning, I started spelling Simon as Cemoun...
But everyone says zed for the letter z.

Ok, now there is the entire mess of what different meals of the day are called.  I'll try to draw comparisons as much as possible...
breakfast vs. breakfast
brunch vs. brunch
dinner vs. lunch (it's been said if those Brits that do say lunch are very posh).
tea vs. dinner/supper
supper vs. midnight snack

With all of this said, a lot of this is much stricter with older generations.  If I say pants instead of trousers, most people I'm talking to understand what I'm saying and don't think I'm just that openly talking about my underwear.

Other little differences:  Their peanut butter is runnier.  The stereotype about tea is completely true, but be sure to make it the proper(real) way!  Meaning you must have boiling water, pour that in then add the tea bag.  After which you can add your milk (which almost everyone has in their tea) and sugar.  Now how I make my tea... start boiling the water (oh, you don't always have to use your stove because pretty much everyone everywhere has a electric kettle) put the sugar, tea bag and milk in the mug while you wait, because you are just standing there waiting anyway!  Then add the boiling water when it's finished.  Apparently, this stops the tea bag from properly letting go of it's flavor or something like that, but I think it makes the tea creamer, which I like better.  So oh well, I won't completely assimilate.

(and not every post will be this long...)

a post I started a while back - obviously - and forgot to actually publish)

We've finished our "first" week in Newcastle.  Quotes since this past week wasn't really what our schedules will be like.  But despite that, already absolutely in love with Kids Kabin!!  I've been talking to the kids about all of our funny little differences (culture doesn't really seem so different, but there are funny little turns of phrases still), so here's some from this past week.  Again, I'm sure I've forgotten a lot, but more will come!

Uni - University, as in a 4 year bachelor's degree university.
College - only used in reference to a 2 year school (most likely what we would call community college).
     These two are always differientiated between, unlike American-speak.

Once I figure out how to type in Geordie there will be LOADS more to add!  (Geordie is the very particular dialect of Newcastle).  But at least one to start...
hiya = hi ya

Sunday, 6 September 2009

In the first couple of days...

I arrived on Friday afternoon (after some "fun" with airports), and after a relaxed afternoon, dove straight into the British stereotypes.  My first pub.  However, I was surprised and maybe slightly disappointed to find that apparently the music that is played in bars is universal... Beyonce's "Single Ladies," along with other American Pop music, currently and also quite a bit from the '80s.

Saturday was full of sight-seeing.  Westminster Cathedral (not to be confused with the Abbey, this one is Catholic).  The Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.  Walking along the Thames.  A lot of street performers, some creatively entertaining, some not-so-much.  Saturday night was my first fish and chips.  Yum (even for me, who's not a huge fan of fish).  Then a Philippino disco/kareoke night, which was.... interesting.  I describe it as Philippino b/c that was the demographic of about 98% of the people there, and it was a hidden little place, so you wouldn't really just stumble upon it (plus, that's how it was described to me by our Philippino friends who took us there!).

Today was Mass with the Sisters and then I went to the Tate Britain.  Enjoyed John Everett Millais paintings.  Rode the Tube to Notting Hill, walked around a bit and walked back to Kensington.  No, I didn't find where the movie was filmed, although any of the neighborhood streets I walked down probably could have been the location.  And I wasn't going to be so American as to ask someone!  Blue doors are not uncommon.

Ok, onto the entertaining part.  Translations (or different kinds of phrasing):

Jumper = Sweater or sweatshirt  (I also saw a sign for sweatshirts that said sweat tops).
Quite = Pretty, as in "It's quite chilly out isn't it?"
Pip = Seed
Rubbish bin = Garbage can

There's more, but of course as I try to think of them I forget.  More to come later as I move onto Newcastle tomorrow morning, and an entirely different kind of accent!  (and it will be shorter since I won't have to catch up)

To Begin...

Before leaving for this year abroad I had many people suggest I write a blog during the year.  I kept deliberating about this because I never keep up with other people's blogs, so I didn't/don't really expect anyone to keep up with mine (including myself!).  But, within my first couple of days here in jolly ol' England, I thought what would be fun (and easy to keep up with) would be a blog dedicated to all of the little day-to-day things.  Lists of things I did each day (so I can keep track of it all) and most entertaining, all of the differences between life in America and life in England, which will most likely consist of translations.  So here it is.  The random everyday life of me, a volunteer in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.