'Practically a Londoner'

'Practically a Londoner'

I tried.  I really tried my best to stand firm in maintaining my American cultural norms.  I didn't want to go back to America with a slightly confused accent or using vocabulary that means absolutely nothing to the average American.  But, it happened.  Of course I think I am still holding on to my Midwest accent fairly well, I have to chuckle when I notice little things throughout my day that are more British than American.  My internship supervisor used the phrase 'practically a Londoner' jokingly after I had been in London for 2 weeks.  Ironically, after a couple of months in London, you realize that you actually are adopting certain elements of the 'British Way' as your own:

 

1. My Love-Hate Relationship with The Underground (The Tube)

The Underground is your primary form of transportation in London.  But as one of our instructors put it "The moment you start to love it, you will hate it."  This is absolutely true.  The Underground is extremely convenient but unlike the Washington, D.C. and Atlanta mass transit systems that I am used to - there are always problems.  Signal failures, scheduled maintenance or someone irresponsibly practicing basketball drills on the platform and the ball only expectedly rolling onto the tracks (yes, I witnessed this), there is always something holding up major portions of the system.  Then there is the District Line which stops every five minutes in between stations for no reason at all.  This is not to scare you.  When it works it really is the most convenient way to get around town.  But, on the very day that you say to yourself "I really like this system," it will be the same day that one of the above occurs causing train delays, line closures or just you getting stuck in one of the underground tubes.

 

2. Slow Walkers

I am from a small town in Northern Indiana.  We don't walk to many places once you pass your first driver's test.  So leisurely walking is our thing.  We take our time getting to where we have to go.  EVERY morning is Sunday morning!  Moving to London has changed that for me.  If you don't keep up with the pace of the city you will get run over.  Once you begin to realize the necessity for walking a steady pace, you begin to get annoyed with everyone else who isn't.

 

3. British Vocabulary

Particularly at your internship site, you will find yourself using British English in an attempt to just make life simple for everyone.  You are more than likely to understand them before they understand you.  As a matter of fact, I made the mistake of using the word "elevator" when planning for an event several weeks ago.  Something like 10 minutes later my colleagues realized I meant "lift" and were able to help me out.  Okay, 10 minutes is a bit exaggerated, but still...  Here are just a few of the common words that I had to make changes to for my own usage:

Pants  =  Trousers (No really, don't ever say pants. It will give them plenty of laughs.)

A little = A bit

Goodbye = Cheers (This can also be a Thank you)

Trash = Rubbish

Restroom = Loo or Toilet

 

The changes appear to be so subtle, yet really it is challenging when it forces you to go against what your normal behavior is.  Everyone has their own minor changes they have had to get adjusted to.  Some of it depends on who you work with and what they know if anything about America.  However, it is pretty fun when you begin noticing your differences.  You might vocalize your opinion about the tube as I have or you may realize that you complain at about 5 times the normal rate of acceptable complaining.  Whatever your difference is, try to appreciate it.  It will be one more piece that will reshape and define you when you return from your time abroad.

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