Saturday, October 22, 2011

My thoughts about London

Nate and I have been in London for about 5 weeks now. It has been an adjustment understanding the new culture here and getting used to how things are ran and done. We have loved exploring the city and seeing all the things here that have so much history behind them. Even just simply walking down the road any day of the week can be a fun adventure. You never know what you are going to see.

You know you are in London when........

1. The yogurt flavors at the grocery store are kiwi, guava, rhubarb, fig, and mango.
2. Words that end in "er" are spelled "re," so theater is theatre, and center is centre.
3. Words that have "or" in them are spelled "our," so favorite is favourite, and color is colour.
4. You can walk down the road and every person that you see is from a different country.
5. It is normal to not own your own car, but instead you ride the red double decker buses or the tube. The tube map becomes your new best friend.
6. People drive on the opposite side of the road as the US, and the steering wheel is on the left hand side of the car. Plus, there are so many one-way roads.
7. Instead of saying, "How are you?" or "How's it going?" people say, "You all right?" (A man that was helping us find housing would do this all the time. Nate would call him to talk about our housing, and the man would answer the phone saying, "Nathan! You all right??" It seemed to us that he was thinking that something was terribly wrong and that he really cared about us. Nate would respond, "Ya....I'm alright. I was just calling about the flat." We later realized that this is a common thing to ask.)
8. That brings me to my next point. Apartments here aren't called apartments, they are called flats. And you don't "rent" them, you "let" them. Signs will say, "Flat for let."
9. You don't do something right away, you do it straight away.
10. Hembree isn't my last name, it is my sur name.
11. You don't get in a "line" at the store, you get in a "queue."
12. When people are done talking to you they say, "Cheers!"
13. Coins have a lot of value here. In the US, a pile of coins is more or less worthless. A person wouldn't be devastated if they lost some coins, or it wouldn't be unlikely to put all of your coins that someone gave you for your change into a tip jar. Here it is different. Coins are worth a ton. They are 1 pound coins and 2 pound coins which are worth $1.60, and almost $3. You have to get that in your head and make sure you remember where you put your coins. Here, a few coins could buy your lunch. They don't have bills for 1 pound, only coins. Also, they have way more coins then we do. They have a 50 pence, 20 pence, 10 pence, 5 pence, 2 pence and a 1 pence, along with the 1 and 2 pound coins. I look like an idiot a lot of times when I am paying for something at the store with my coins. I don't know just by looking what coins are which, and I stand there for a while and examine the coins looking really closely at each one trying to read the small print of how much it is worth. I recount them several times to make sure I got it right. Sometimes people will offer to help me count them. :) And counting back the change and checking to see if they gave you the right change, is a different story. Way hard. It is confusing because the 20 pence is really small compared to the 10 pence. The 5 pence is way smaller than the 2 pence. The 2 pence is the same size as the 10 pence, but different color. Anyway.....I am getting it little by little each day.
14. Tipping. Most times it is optional here. Otherwise, 10% is a good tip, instead of 15% in the US. At some nicer restaurants, they will include a 12.5% service charge in the bill, but technically, it is still optional.
15. You regularly see horses walking down ridden by police, guards, or just regular people.
16. You hear and see street performers everyday, in the street, garden areas, shopping areas, and in the tube doing things like singing, guitar, harmonica, or whistling.
17. Beggars and homeless people. There are ton of them here. What blows me away, is you will see young girls like my age or younger begging for change.
18. Pigeons. "Feed the birds, tuppence a bag, tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag." (Tuppence is how they say 2 pence, but kind of a quicker slang way of saying it) But the pigeons are everywhere.
19. Everything is smaller here. The apartments, cabinet space, refrigerators, freezers, washers, closets, portion sizes at restaurants, etc. Think small when coming here. Not ours, but most times, the washer and dryer are in the same machine. It washes the clothes and then dries them right after.
20. You hear the phrase, "Mind the Gap," several times a day. This means to watch the space between the platform and the tube so you don't step through and hurt yourself.
21. You feel like you are getting a deal when you pay 6 pounds for a meal. You have to realize that the 6 doesn't really mean 6, it actually means around $10. Shopping at the grocery store here too is hard, because you have to do the conversion in your head, and say, "Ok, well this cereal box is 2 much is that in $?" Ya, I guess it isn't as good of a deal as I thought.
22. You don't know literally, what you would do without your Iphone. Without it here, I would be completely lost all of the time. It tells me what buses to take, what tubes to take, and where everything is. How did people live here without GPS?

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