The British Experience Continues

February 13, 2012

in Abby Baumann, England, Europe, Spring 2012, Uncategorized

Before I left the US, everyone told me how fast time would fly while abroad. They said, “Five months will seem like five days, and you’ll be home before you know it.” Turns out, they weren’t making it up. I can’t believe it is already the middle of February, and that I’ve been living in England for a month!

And in that month, I have adjusted quite well, adapting to the British ways of life. Though I did purchase a coffee maker, I’ve dramatically cut down on my morning caffeine consumption and replaced it with herbal tea (pronounced WITH the ‘h’). I’ve picked up on a lot of the slang, as well. I call dinner, “tea” and ask people what time they have “uni”. Sometimes I’m so good, people don’t even recognize my American accent. I swear my Scottish flatmate gets asked if she’s American more than I do! (I consider this a small accomplishment on my part). I’m also doing British-y things. Last night, I participated in my first pub quiz. While I was one of the weakest links to the team (pub quizzes are hard! Especially when many questions revolve around British sporting events…) I did know the answer to, “Which US city did the Valentine’s Massacre take place?” While it took a bit of jogging my memory, I remembered it was Chicago. Thank you 10th grade US History. Embarrassingly enough, I did not know the answer to “How many points does the Statue of Liberty have on her crown?” All my British friends turned to me on that question-their eyes wide-excited to have an American on their team. HA. Yeah, right. I think I really let my team down in that moment…

Besides picking up on the British accent and participating in pub quizzes, I’ve also learned British texting etiquette. Apparently everyone, and I mean everyone (boys, girls, dads, grandmas, bosses, newly acquainted-strangers, etc…) end all text messages with “kisses”- represented with the letter x.

If a text message lacks kisses, which according to my flatmate Rosa, “just doesn’t happen,” but if on the rare occasion that it does, it’s to imply that the sender is “very, very ticked off and is not afraid to show it.” This rule also applies to emails and Facebook posts, as well. When I first arrived here, I was unaware of the importance of such etiquette. I recognized that people ended all their text messages with “xxx” but I didn’t think it necessary for me to participate. Turns out, the majority of the people I texted in those first few weeks, thought I was, let’s just say, a very angry person. Now, I’m sure to end all my texts messages with a solid string of xxxxx’s…

In all honesty, thinking about the time flying by makes me sad. I don’t want to leave! I’ve already done so much, and I don’t want it to stop. I’ve ventured to Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles.

I explored York-one of the oldest cities in England.

And while I’m sure to have quite the experience during my 4 week “Easter Holiday”  to Ireland, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France, my most spontaneous adventure so far was a 10 hour day trip to London. I could only convince one of my fellow UW friends, Katelyn, to take on the challenge with me. Most people thought it undoable-how can one explore a city with thousands of years of history in a couple of hours? (Although some may argue, the better question might be, WHY would you want to? Which I would answer, why not?) Well, it’s actually quite simple.

It required us catching a 2:00 am Megabus to London. We figured we could sleep on our way down…silly us. When we rolled up to Victoria Station at 7:30 am, Katelyn and I were going off of 3 hours of “bus” sleep, which basically means no sleep at all. We had no plan for our day. Earlier that week, we discussed the possibility of planning out our day to the very last minute, but we thought it more adventurous to just show up-no plan at all.

As it turns out-no plan, was the best plan. We purchased a rail card, which allows you to use the London Underground to get around all day long. After a few awkward moments of pretending we knew what we were doing, Katelyn and I actually started to understand the Underground. We took it all over the city. There were a few times we got on the wrong train…but it was more fun than frustrating. Once figured out, the Tube is an easy, cheap way to travel, and I like to think myself a true traveler for mastering the “art” of the Underground in less than a few hours. We could really use one in Madison…

In 10 hours, Katelyn and I managed to do a lot. We spent almost 3 hours in the Tower of London, went up to the top of Tower Bridge, stood on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral,  walked the shop-packed Oxford Street, posed with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, ate at a pub near Westminster Abbey, said hello to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, we found a cute bakery where we ended our fully packed day eating the most delicious chocolate cupcakes in all of London.

Who says you can’t do London in 10 hours? We did.

Xxxxxxx

julie mangan February 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I am not your mom. I read and enjoy your blog ! miss you. maddie is getting her braces off tomorrow! Huge news!

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