July 12, 2008

Learning a new language

No, I'm not referring to learning a new language such as Spanish, Italian, Russian, etc. I am talking about learning how to speak British English. It has been quite interesting and a bit more challenging than I expected. For example, before I came over here, I already knew that the English can refer to the restroom as "the loo," or garbage as "rubbish," and that they use the phrase "Cheers" a lot.

I'm learning "new" words every day and I've started keeping a list for the fun of it. For example, the other day I learned that the trunk of a car is called "the boot" and the hood of a car "the bonnet." I've had to learn to use the word "lift" to mean the elevator, a "trolley" to mean a cart, and a "corridor" to mean a hallway. I did actually know before I got here that the English refer to their jeans and slacks as "trousers" and not what we would call "pants." To the English, "pants" means underwear. So......oh yes. I have embarrassed myself quite well several times by absentmindedly using the word "pants." To save myself even further embarrassment, I'm not going to tell you exactly the things I've said that made me turn red in the face the moment after I said them! :)

Another language difference that threw me way off guard when I got here was the phrase, "Are you alright?" or "Are you OK?" To the English, these two phrases are used as the American equivalent of the greeting "How are you?" after one says hello. So often when I run into someone in the "corridor," they'll say, "Are you alright?" For the first two weeks or so after I arrived here, this phrase continually threw me off guard because in America, when a person asks me if "I am alright" or if "I am OK," that means he/she thinks that for some reason I'm NOT alright. For example, when someone trips and falls, most people in the US would ask "are you OK?" in this situation or after something negative in general has happened. So in these first weeks, I found myself startled as an English person asked me this in greeting and my initial gut feeling was to say something like, "Oh! No, no no! I'm perfectly fine!" in order to reassure the person that I was indeed just fine. However, I am very pleased to report that this "new" phrase has become second-nature to me and I find myself using it all the time. Please remember what I have just described here upon my return to the US---I just might greet you without thinking by saying, "Hi! Are you alright?"

For the past week, it has rained nearly every day. Usually I don't mind the rain and I even rather enjoy it sometimes but not in the situations where I am walking as my means of transport or when rain accompanies an excursion day. Today we led an excursion to Oxford and we only had to deal with rain for about 20 minutes, thankfully. It has been really cold over here---the HIGH'S have been only in the mid 60's. Then of course Bournemouth is a seaside town, so we experience lots of strong winds coming off of the sea. I am regretting that I didn't bring more long-sleeved tops to England with me! Don't be deceived by that tropical-looking picture of Bournemouth's beaches on my first entry from England....I definitely have yet to experience weather like that here!

Tomorrow, Sunday the 13th, I will be able to sleep in for my FIRST TIME since I've been in England. In fact, I'm going to take advantage of the situation and head to bed early tonight so I can get lots of sleep but also enjoy my first totally free day off! I really, really love this job! Matt noted that this job could be compared to a job at a camp in terms of the amount of energy expelled and the lack of rest. I agree with that much, although thankfully the pay here is quite a bit better than what most camp counselors are paid!

I can't believe I've been here for four weeks now. The time has really flown by except when I think of being away from Matt. Only 19 more days until he arrives in Bournemouth! We absolutely can't wait! I'll be sure to keep posting more pictures and especially when Matt is here visiting. Signing off from England...


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