Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Things Done Differently in the UK

I promised I would post about some of the differences we have encountered here. I enlisted the help of some of my American Expat friends to point out some of the differences (some things don't come to mind, some things just seem 'normal' now). They were very helpful and came up with so many things I could not post them all at once. I will give you a little taste now, and post more later.


The funniest thing I have heard is the rhyming slang. I cannot wrap my mind around it. The only sense it makes is that it rhymes. Some things don't even rhyme, unless you know where the term originally came from. Here are some examples:

'plates of meat' = feet
'dog and bone' = phone
'jam jar' = car
'septics' = Americans (from septic tank/yank
'syrup' = wig (from syrup of figs)
'Sweeney' = flying squad (specialist police unit) (from Sweeney Todd)


First of all, one does not go on 'vacation.' Once would go on 'holiday.' When I serve Americans at Starbuck I ask "Are you on holiday?" Holidays are quite extensive here. You can expect 4 weeks of paid holiday in your first year on the job. School kids have 6 weeks of holiday in the summer, but they also have 2 weeks at Christmas and 2 weeks at Easter, as well at 1 week in the middle of each term.
As unbelievable as it may sound, they do not celebrate Thanksgiving here. They do, however, celebrate Boxing Day (day after Christmas) and bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night, where they put off fireworks that rival our Fourth of July! New Year's Eve is called Hogmanay and it is celebrated BIG. Here is a link about Hogmanay and here is the Edinburgh Hogmanay link One more thing: it is ok to say 'Happy Christmas' here.


Most homes are made of brick or stone.
There is not electricity in the toilets (bathroom). It is considered unsafe and illegal. I have to blow dry my hair in the living room.
It is common to turn the heat off at night. Not good for me when the heat comes on 15 minutes after I wake up on my work days!
'Mixer taps' are not common. Sinks usually have separate faucets for hot and cold.
No screens on windows.
The washing machine and drier is located in the kitchen.
It is common to dry your clothes either outside or on a clothes horse indoors.
No closets!
Sockets have to be switched off and on. It took me a few times of wondering why the kettle was not heating up to remember this!

I am really enjoying my day in today. I will have to go out later to meet with a friend (at Starbucks!). It is gloomy and threatening rain, but I am sipping cider (thanks to mom), listening to the 'smooooth classical' station (nothing like WFMT though) and enjoying the strong scent of cinnamon (thanks to Sarah and Chris who sent us scented pine cones and other goodies!).

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