Sunday, 6 July 2008

Things every expat should know

My time in Sheffield is coming closer to an end with five days until my departure. I have crossed a few things off my list of 'things to do before I leave', which is always a relief. One thing I did not put on my list was to learn more cultural things about England. It seems dumb to mention something like that, especially after living in the UK for 10 months, but I think it should be a high priority of mine. Why is that? Because a) I want to use slang that will confuse people in the US and b) I want to share what I acquire of British culture with my fellow peers so you don't look like such an idiot if you visit the UK.

With this said, I now would like to present to you my guide for Americans living in or visiting the UK:

1) Drop these words and phrases from your repertoire...:
-Garbage, trash can
-Awesome, cool
-Date/dating, make out
-Yo, what's up, hey, hi
-Excuse me
-Cell phone, call, drop-by
-Sneakers, tennis shoes
-Clean, do the dishes, laundry
-Grocery store, drug store
-School, class, teacher, professor

2) And pick up these words instead...:
-Rubbish, bin. Brits will make fun of you if you say garbage! (at least my flatmate makes fun of me...)

-Pants = underwear in the UK, so you can use this word for that article of clothing. Otherwise, be smart and use trousers or jeans when you're talking about the article that covers your bottom half.

-Awesome and cool are used, but rarely. Instead adopt words such as: good, nice, etc.

-Hoodie does not mean anything to Brits. Just call it a sweater or a jumper.

-Dating is kind of a foreign concept in the UK. They call it going out, which we Americans use this to describe a relation status...when we're 10.

-You made out with a bloke, eh? Well, you can tell your mates you snogged a guy or you got off with a guy. Which that last statement sounds dirty to us Americans, I know, but it's a legit form of our tired American term.

-Say it with me now: PUB. Not bar. PUB. Very good!

-You can say yo, hey, hi, what's up all you want, but you should probably drop the yo and what's up in favour of the good old fashion greeting of hello. If you're up North (like I am), you can say hiya!

-Asking where the candy is results in giggles. Asking where the sweets are means you will be lead to the aisle that is overflowing with Cadbury. (Best aisle in the store, if you ask me!)

-Unfortunately there is no word that can replace 'excuse me.' If you say this word, you get terribly weird looks. Instead, just smile or nod if you're about to run into someone and are sorry about that near-accident. If you're in a shop and a person won't move, a good ole huff oughta do the trick. Or you can just make room for yourself and get to whatever it is you wanted. Space bubbles here are quite small, so don't freak out. Which I did freak out when I first got here, but I'm over it now. Now, I run over people if they get in my way. Mwhahaha.

-I still tell people to call my cell phone, which Brits understand these terms because of the influx of American television shows and films into the UK; however, if you want to feel like a real Brit, tell people to ring you on your mobile. (pronounced mo-bile) And if you're going to drop-by somewhere, say you'll call at such-and-such hour. (By the way -- ALWAYS be on time in the UK. Especially if you're going to lecture)

-Kittens are cute. Puppies are cute. Boys are not cute. Boys you fancy (like, have a crush on) are fit, nice, good-looking, or hot. I got asked by a friend if it was true we say people are 'cute' when we're attracted to them and when I said yes, I was surrounded by the sound of laughter. Yeeahh...

-You can say you're tired, but it's much cooler to say you're shattered or knackered.

-Don't say sneakers and ESPECIALLY don't say tennis shoes. Yikes. Always, always, always say trainers. And when in doubt, just say shoes!

-If you're going to clean your room, then you're going to tidy your room. If you want to do a load of laundry, you're doing the washing. If you want to offer to do the dishes, say you'll do the washing up.

-It doesn't matter what store you go into -- they are all called shops. WHSmith, to H&M, to Tesco Express. Grocery implies you're going to the green grocer, which is like a market. And if you are going to a huge grocery store, call it a supermarket.

-Yes, I know what you're thinking. They have another word for that time of month? No no, don't be silly. It's the same word in the UK, Germany, Canada, whatever. But if you're talking about the dot that goes at the end of a sentence, then it's a full-stop.

-Going to school means you're five. Going to uni (university) means you're going to an institute that teaches people 18 and up. (And don't say college -- that's part of their high school system) And you can't go to class in uni, but you can go to lecture or seminar. Need to talk to your teacher/professor? Well, you'll find a teacher in secondary school and a professor has a PhD, so you need to go see your tutor or course leader.

Well that's all for my cultural guide today... But check back tomorrow for a continuation! Whoo. I'm still learning things so I have to prolong the publication of my list, you know. So, see ya tomorrow kids.