This week’s post is a special one – I’m celebrating 10 years of living in the UK! Sometimes it feels like longer than a decade; other times I can’t believe I’ve been here more than a few years. I feel very grateful and privileged to have two places I call home. I wanted to share some photos of my time in England and some highlights of my adventure thus far.
I’d also like to reflect on some observations of British culture and peculiarities as experienced by a Canadian. I’m sure anyone who has ever emigrated/immigrated or temporarily relocated has shared similar cross-cultural oddities.
Observations of Living in the UK
In celebration of 10 years living in the UK, here are some fun observations and facts!
- Jaffa Cakes are a divided issue. Are they a biscuit or a cake? I don’t know but even more controversially, I can’t stand them!
- Twiglets are not pretzels
- Bovril is meat tea
- You should probably know the difference between a pot of tea and builders’ tea. People have strong feelings about whether the milk goes in first or second.
- Equally, the Cornwall Devon divide is mainly to do with scones and whether the cream or jam goes first.
- You can get chips (French fries) at many take away shops, including chicken, pizza, and Chinese. For instance, it’s common to get curry and a side of chips. The further north you go, the more likely people will want a gravy of some sort with their chips.
Lost in Translation:
- Specific words and the English language generally are pronounced inconsistently throughout the UK, and regional dialects and idioms are a huge part of people’s identity. For example, the town of Bicester is not BI CES TER, it is Bi STER. However, Cirencester is pronounced phonetically.
- MOT stands for Ministry of Transport, but most often people are referring to a vehicle safety test conducted by a registered garage on behalf of the MOT.
- Pants = underwear, not trousers
- Two of my notable quotes which highlight “lost in translation” moments:
- “What is a millwall?” Millwall is a football club, not a thing.
- Sitting at a bus stop and a car drives past with the passenger shouting “bus wanker”. When I mentioned this to Lucy she just laughed and pointed me in the direction of The Inbetweeners.
- Football is a big deal. Again, I don’t get it.
- Brits LOVE gardening. So do I, so I’m happy to adopt this popular pastime.
- Queuing is VERY important. However, Brits will very rarely confront queue jumpers because they like to avoid confrontation in public. You will instead see people quietly tutting and glaring.
- When at a loss for conversation, talk about the ever-changing weather.
- Always carry and umbrella
- Class is more of an identifier than it is in Canada. People can be very proud of their “working class” background, for example.
- When you are courteous and let a driver go in front of you, if they are pleased they will flash their rear lights. It they’re really grateful they’ll give you a thumbs up. I call this “thumbs up for dorks” and I don’t know why.
- I’ve travelled throughout the UK, though there are still many places I’d like to visit. Some of my favourite counties (apart from Oxfordshire) include: Kent, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, and Yorkshire. My favourite part about the British landscape is the patchwork fields and hedgerows.
- Yes, people are very friendly in the North. They are also tend to be friendly in the south, east and west!
- A fact from my life in the UK studying. The reason why the union jack has three crosses on it is because it represents St George’s Cross (England), St Patrick’s Cross (Northern Ireland), and St Andrew’s Cross (Scotland). Wales had already become part of the union with England in the 1500s, well before the adoption of the Union Jack in 1801. But, their flag has a dragon on it which is way more awesome, in my opinion.
2016 – 2019
Start of the blog in 2016: In the beginning, there was cake.
Thanks for celebrating 10 years of living in the UK with me! I look forward to many more years of adventures and challenges.