Ye Ol' UK Blog - My Family Travels

Below are 2 entries to my old UK blog that I posted on facebook last spring semester, when I studied abroad in London. Rereading them brings all my memories back… I can feel the rush of the Tube, hear the sounds of the city, see the landscape before me. I hope you can feel the experience, too! Also, check out this music video I made about my time in London:

9 February, 2009

A day in the life of Bethany:
In the morning, I get bundled up for the cold London air. First a shirt, then a sweater, a scarf, and then a coat. My jean legs get stuffed into rain boots. I walk down the street five minutes to Northwick Park tube station. Within 3 minutes at most a train shoots to the platform and I go southbound on the Metropolitan Line. The people onboard read the paper or tinker with a cell phone or half-sleep. If there aren’t any delays, I transfer to Jubilee Line in a half-hour. Then I make the last line transfer to Central at the Baker Street stop. (Sherlock Homes hangs out here too). I have to walk up and down stairs and escalators underground to the Central Line platform, along with a herd of other commuters. After I get on the Central Line it’s just a few stops to Chancery Lane. And here I finally surface to central London! There are buildings everywhere, of medium height and from all periods of architecture. I walk two blocks down and come to a Georgian building numbered 6 on Great James Street where school is. Then class begins and hopefully I get smarter.
Some things I’ve done my first week in London:
– played in the snow
– double-decker bus ride
– orientation at school
– first meal in a pub – fish and chips and Guinness bought by a professor šŸ™‚
– saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream
– visit to the Tower of London and the British Museum
– and today I discovered how fun it is to watch rugby on the tele
In my last blog, I pointed out some differences between Britain and the U.S., language-wise and otherwise. Now I realize there are too many millions of little differences to mention. So I will just tell you one story for now:

Aubrey and my host-sisters and I were shopping in the local town of Harrow. We went in a small store off the street. I was fiddling around and eventually noticed an old scrap of paper left in my coat pocket, therefore walked up to the salesman behind the counter, and asked him, “Do you have a trash can back there?” To which the salesman eyed me in silence, for an unusual five seconds (it honestly felt long). I looked back at his dummy-like figure and wondered why it was such a problematic question. “She means a rubbish bin, yeah,” said my host-sister Olivia.
“Oh right, sure,” said the guy, a bit embarrassed. He pointed behind him and my paper ‘rubbish’ was soon disposed of.
I soon learned that “do you have a trash can back there?” might have sounded to the salesman something like, “For this store, do you happen to have a dumpster bin outside? I’m just curious and would like to know. So, is it yes or no? Dumpster? Hmm?”

Poor me, I was embarrassed. And that poor bloke as well.
Miscommunications happen often and they happen anywhere – even from American friend to American friend. But I wish you no sad miscommunications, only funny slip-ups about rubbish. Tell me your funny miscommunication stories!

3 March 2009

This past weekend my study abroad group went to Scotland. We got off the train and entered Edinburgh in a sharp blast of wind. It’s windy all the time there. A cold smell of salt blows up from the sea. In London, the signature smells are car exhaust and cologne from passerby, so it was nice to give my nose a break in Scotland. We walked down wide streets to our Youth Hostel, which thankfully did not resemble what I thought a hostel should look like: a prison cell with some pillows thrown in. It was basically a hotel with 8 people to a room.

We did many visits to museums, the Edinburgh Castle, Scottish Parliament and more, but I left wanting to do more. So I will have to go back to Scotland and visit Nessie and tour Glasgow and hear the rugged Scottish accent once again.

Some moreĀ peculiarities of London that I’ve noticed:

1) Newspapers are very sensationalized. I thought all the newspapers would be very professional, like the BBC I used to watch in the U.S. But I was wrong. There are ridiculous front page stories about feral children, celebrities famous for no reason (look up Jade Goody), and 13-year-old fathers. Even the suited up businessmen and women on the tube read these rubbish news stories. And the headlines tend to be much more shocking than in the states. Example, a sad story about a girl who died in a snow-sledding accident was headlined: “16-year-old Girl’s Face Hit [Barbed] Wire at 40 mph.” Ouch!

2) People say ‘cheers’ a lot in public. If you hold the door open for someone, it’s ‘thank you, cheers;’ or when you get change in a restaurant or grocery store, just ‘cheers;’ or if someone bumps into you when they’re trying to get off the tube – ‘sorry, cheers.’ Cheers cheers cheers! Everyone in London is cheery.

That’s all for now. I’m going to try to make myself write about London more often…we’ll see how that goes. šŸ™‚ Hope you all are well!

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