The Differences between a Bar and a Pub:


While the drinking culture here would definitely send many Americans into A.A. meetings, there are some strange outliers.

One example would be the quintessential British pub. In these establishments you will find such hidden gems as the pub quiz (trivia that would make Alex Trebek's head swim), the locals, and a brew called ale.

And no, my American friends, this drink is not paired with mutton and served in tankards (Unfortunately. Darn you, Hollywood, look what you have done to us!).

The main difference that I can decipher between the American bar and a pub are the hours. Despite the heavy drinking culture, pubs on a Saturday night can close at eleven thirty or earlier.


What I Believe the British Really Do on Their Long Lunch Breaks:


One of the hardest things to become accustomed to here seems to be the hours of operation. Whereas in the US supermarkets and even pharmacies are open 24/7, most here are not and close at about six thirty and they can even close as early as four thirty pm on a Sunday.

Whereas in the US, we believe in the "stuff your face mentality" of a lunch break, the empty desks during the hours of 11am to 2pm show that this can be a bit different here. This is probably because they are all out doing their shopping.


What I believe some people in administration could be doing during their long lunch breaks:


- Learn the Ukulele
- Play three games of Monopoly
- Trim a bonsai


Next time: Scotland

Week 3: Culture Clash

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Part One: Bangers and Mash and Other Ridiculous Names for Food

If we American's corner the world market in comfort food, the British corner the market of the absolutely bland. I can only assume that this is why they have had to come up with some of the most inventive names for food I have ever heard. One example is 'Toad in the Hole'. Gee, that sounds appetizing. Here are a few more that will put you off your lunch:

Bangers and Mash: Sausages and mashed potatoes

Black Pudding: Found out this is not pudding at all but a disgusting mixture of pig blood and other things I don't want to mention

Wet Nelly: Bread pudding

Pork Scratchings: Breaded and fried pieces of pork

Now onto their candy, or "sweets" as they so cleverly call them. I am awestruck by one especially creepy candy called "Mr. Tickles" in which the said candy has extremely long arms to supposedly tickle and hug young children. All I can say to this is: so does Slender Man.


Part Two:
Another Fascinating Interview: Courtesy of Two Lovely Neighbors

What is the best or most influential TV show?
Neighbor 1: Friends.
Neighbor 2: Desperate Housewives!

What are words that I mispronounce?
Neighbor 1: Oregano. It's Or-eh-gah-no
Neighbor 2: Tomato, Apricot and Beautiful

What are the grossest American foods?
Neighbor 1: Sloppy joes!
ME: Ironically just had my flatmate make me some

What do you think our "Uni's" are like?
Neighbor 1: Expensive!
Neighbor 2: Based on sports.
ME: All true.

Do you think American's are more noticeable than other tourists?
Neighbor 1: Not until you open your mouth!

Where do you get your opinions about our culture?
Neighbor 2: Music, movies like Mean Girls

What is one thing you do not like about the United States?
Neighbor 2: How everyone has guns.

What do you like?
Neighbor 2: Everyone seems friendly and cheerful.

AND THE ALL-IMPORTANT QUESTION:
Do you think the U.K. views the United States as growing or declining?
Neighbor 1: I don't really know, but I think they are growing over here as far as entertainment.
ME: *laughs* Good answer!



Up Next: The Differences between a Bar and a Pub, or How British People Have Normalized Alcohol Poisoning, and What I Believe the British Really Do on Their Long Lunch Breaks

Week 2: Academia and the Freshers Flu

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Part One: Freshers Flu

"Freshers' flu' is a term that has grown up on university and college campuses to describe the respiratory tract infections that are common during the first few weeks of the start of the academic year, often affecting a significant number of students and staff" York University.


Birmingham University is a plague house. You can shut your door against your sick flatmates, but you cannot escape this affliction when it is all around you. The professors warn you not to come near, but it is too late and the girl behind you sneezes onto the back of your head. Picture this: Yugh.

Thankfully yours truly battled out this scourge on the weekend, but many of her fellow students were not as lucky. As the clock ticks onward they drop like flies onto their desks, to catch a few moments of sleep before the inevitable coughing begins again.

Part Two: Academia

Vocabulary:
Module - course/class
College - high school

While the U.K. preaches environmentalism, they seem to hate trees. At least, I can only deduce this by the number that had to be killed for my courses. Instead of having only one or two textbooks, reading lists here also include many different scholarly articles each week, along with a couple more for "recommended reading." And since no one has yet to develop a good program for taking notes on an article on your screen, I am forced to single-handedly kill the rainforest.

INTERVIEW WITH A BRIT, NUMBER ONE:

What is the typical American stereotype?
Flatmate 1: Loud and Annoying!
Flatmate 2: Overly friendly and Over-sharing. And you all own guns.
Flatmate 1: And cowboys!
Flatmate 2: Don't worry, we don't mean you personally.
Flatmate 1: Well...
Me: =(
Flatmate 1: Just kidding!

How about a stereotypical American University?
Flatmate 2: Rory on Gilmore Girls (*apparently this came out not too long ago here)
Flatmate 1: Dorms, parties and jocks. And Sororities and Fraternities.

What is one word you hate that Americans say or mispronounce?
Flatmate 2: Risotto, and roof (Apparently I say "ruff").
Flatmate 1: I hate when you guys say trash! (*they do not equate trash with rubbish).

What do you think we eat everyday?
Flatmate 2: Everything boxed that's crap.
Flatmate 1: Ego waffles and crispy everything.
Me: Well they got that one right!

I will do a special "Ask a Brit" section weekly, so send us your questions!

Week 1: Arrival

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Introduction:

I have introduced myself so many times over the last week or so, that I think I will just copy and paste how a typical introduction goes over here:

"Hello. I am Emily. Yes I am an American. Yes I know that America was... (involved in/created/did some other absolutely horrible thing). Yes, well, I apologize on behalf of my country.

Oh me? I'm from Minnesota. Never heard of it? Don't worry, no one else here
has either. Its in the middle. By Canada. Yes, that's right.

Why am I here? Oh, well, I received a scholarship. Oh why am I HERE (Birmingham) specifically? Well honestly I have no idea, I just got off the plane when the money ran out. Yes I'm just kidding.

Studying? Why Political Science of course! Yes, I'm sorry about our politics/presidential candidate/extreme parties/other horrible things etc. Yes, so sorry, you're right they are absolutely stupid. Ok, tell me about yourself!"

NOTE: While this blog may be rife with sarcasm, please understand that I AM having an absolutely fabulous time over here and with the people!

=================================

Vocabulary:

Knackered: Somewhat more than tired
Plebs: Poor people
Oh trust me, there is much more! I just can't think of it.

Note: They use military time!

==================================

Day 1:

Was picked up at the airport and dropped at my new home. It was three pm, and I had no idea where I was in relation to the city, or my new campus. I had just met my roommates and had no idea what to do next, never mind where to get food. There is a different culture here, one that clearly is much more independent than our UMD. Luckily, a food truck was provided for my nutritional needs, and one that claimed to serve such American cuisine as hamburgers and fries (of course they are called chips here). Was forced by hunger to try one of these, and I must say the English do have a different pallet! I understand why they are in love with spices, for surely their own food has none!

My flat is beautiful! It is the cheapest option here, and yet hundreds of times larger, and better in every way than our meager abodes on campus at UMD. Not only do I HAVE MY OWN ROOM, but we have a beautiful kitchen, with cleaning services provided. More on this later, I'm sure.

So far we are still missing two flatmates. I suggested to the natives that they were probably dead. Natives were horrified. Where is that British dark humor I heard about? Oh well.

==================================

Day 2, 3, 4.... 5?

Due to jet lag, the days have run together! I feel often as if a veil was placed in front of me, and that no amount of swatting can shift it away from my eyes. What a culture! There is a bar, not a thirty second walk from my door and it is owned by the University! Public drinking is encouraged at various functions, and my fellow students partake in them every night during a ritual entitled, "Freshers Week". Note: despite the name, this lasts not just one week, but also one week AFTER the start of classes. Other entertainments provided are club nights and even more drinking venues. While the younger students traipsing about enjoying their new freedom can be annoying, once yours truly found people her own age it was discovered that she could "boogie down" with the best of them.

==================================

Day.. Some days after the last posting:

Enjoyed exploring campus and the surrounding areas. Have found the English accent most amusing, especially the one they call Brummy (the typical Birmingham accent). Still cannot understand most of what is being communicated, and rely upon my superb lip reading and body language skills. The campus is straight out of one of my best gothic fantasies. The magpies call at me and add a dreary atmosphere, (helped by the rain), every time I walk past the large clock tower in the middle of campus. The buildings look as if they hold several secrets prisoner, and indeed they do! Like my lecture hall, which was up three flights of stairs, down one hallway and down another flight of stairs. How lovely.

Have discovered where the basic necessities are kept. On a block they call a High Street. I walked to it the other day with one of my wonderful flatmates, who patiently answered what must have been a river of questions. For an American, it is shocking the size of their so called "super" markets. They are so tiny! And with such a small selection! While this makes everything easier and more efficient, I can't help wondering if I'm missing out on some product or other. What is lovely are these wonderful food safety laws, which are very different from America. Everything is dangerous dye and pesticide free, and the brands from home don't even taste the same! I wonder what they did to McDonald's?

==================================

Day... Still Unsure:

Today I began my classes! Am convinced that you could plop any student into any lecture in the world and they would all look very similar. We start the first day by finding our seats, and even if we do not like our company, we will stalwartly refuse to sit anywhere else all year, just out of habit. The notebooks and pencil cases are opened and we lean expectantly to listen to the professors introductions. Twenty minutes later the excitement is gone, and the classmate next to you is recovering from a particularly harsh hangover by falling asleep and drooling all over your shared desk. Meanwhile you stare, focused on the mouth in the middle of the room, while all you hear is the "Waaawaawaa" like from a Peanuts cartoon. Now, the professor is saying something about class next week and you and the collective unconscious of the room realize that it is time to move on to a new hour of picking at ones nails. And do it quick, because you always must be the first one out of the room!

Surprise! Classes here are only 50 minutes long! How nice! Oh, except you also have these study group type things called seminars. I will update you next when I partake in them.

==================================

So why is this blog entitled, "Like America, Only Better? Was it because I was told that by the bus driver on the way from the airport? Or was it because I couldn't think of anything better? The answer, of course, is both.

Tone of voice inspired from watching too many Henri the Cat videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q34z5dCmC4M

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