Becca Jane St Clair

Personal Blog

Archive for the 'FAQ' Category

Interview Me…Part II

Sorry it’s taken me a few days to get Part II up. I was caught up in a short term cold that left me in bed all day yesterday. I’m still collecting questions, and will continue to post these kinds of posts until I run out of questions.

Remember, if you’ve got a question about my experience in the UK, feel free to ask it in the comments or on facebook.

From Emma:
is there a food/meal that you’ve discovered here that you’d never heard of in the US?

Loads! Some things I had heard of through watching a British TV show or reading a book by a British author, but I had no clue what they were. Toad in the Hole, Bangers and Mash (I had no idea that Bangers were sausages, but I had an idea what the mash part was), Sausage Rolls, Fish Pie, and Scotch Eggs are a few things I can think of off the top of my head. As a matter of fact, I didn’t think I’d like ANY of those foods until I tried them. Now? try to get me away from a sausage roll!

From Cathy
Has anything about living in the UK taken you by surprise or not been what you had expected?

Going to the GP, having the GP send you to the hospital for tests or to a specialist and not seeing a bill for it. It’s a really hard concept for me to get used to – I went from having to pay $60 per office visit to my GP to £0!

From Sarah:
What is the best insult you can think of in British English that a person in America would think is a compliment?

I really can’t think of any, actually. I even asked Tim if he could think of something. The only thing I can think of is the word “fanny” has a totally different meaning in the UK, but I don’t really think that works in an insult. I even tried to come up with something in cockney rhyming slang, and came up with a blank!

From Charles:
What is the difference between England and the UK?

England is part of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Great Britain itself is, however, only the countries of England, Wales, and Scotland (except during the Olympics, when Olympians from Northern Ireland can elect to compete with GB or with Ireland). I could get into a history lesson about everything, but I think that might get a bit long. There are plenty of websites and books you can take a look at, or even just look on Wikipedia. Basically, I live in England, but I also live in Great Britain and the United Kingdom. A bit like saying you live in Pennsylvania, but also the United States. Except that England is a country, not a state. My husband is an Englishman, but also can be referred to as British.

From LJ User:
Have you ever slipped into the local accent entirely not on purpose, then realized you did?

No, I can’t pull off a British accent at all. There are a few words I get told make me “sound British”, but I think that’s more to do with having learned the word here. I’ve also been mistaken for being Irish. And Canadian. I get Canadian a lot more than American. A friend told me my writing style has started to sound more British, though.

From Jes:
Becca, how about humorous cultural differences concerning food and slang?

Hmm. Well, there’s the whole chips and crisp thing. But that’s really only funny in the US if someone orders chips with their sandwich and gets crisps. Almost happened to Tim while he was visiting. There’s also a particularly naughty word in US English that is a word for sausage here, but I’m not going to use the word. “Pudding” is a generic term for dessert here, and “Tea” is what parts of the UK call the evening meal. Tea time, however, is different. And there’s also High Tea, which I’ve never had/been to.

Slang wise, I think the funniest has to be the word “rubber”. In the US, you might call a condom a “rubber”. In the UK, they use the word “rubber” for erasers!

From Michael:
Have you become a fan of any of the following music groups: Westlife, Take That, Sugababes or anyone else who just isn’t big in the U.S.?

Not a fan, no. I’ve heard of them and probably like a few songs, but not to the point where I’d go to a concert or even buy a CD. Boothby Graffoe is about the only person I can think of, but like I said in my previous entry, I don’t think he counts since I had heard of him prior to my move. Oh, John Barrowman, I suppose….but again, I’m not sure he counts.

From Nicky:
What is your favourite location in the UK and why (not including where you live)

It’s a toss-up. I love London, and always will. London was my first glance at the UK way back in 1997 which sealed the deal for me wanting to eventually live here. BUT, my favourite place to visit other than London is Northumbria. I love Beamish and have been multiple times. The castles in the north, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Hadrian’s Wall…I love it all. However, Northumbria is tied with Northern Wales. I love the mountains, the sea, the trains, and the castles there, too.

Do you understand the slang word ‘chav’? And if so do you believe you have encountered any.

Yes. I plead the fifth on that second part.

Where does the Queen live?

Officially, the Queen’s residence is Buckingham Palace. The monarchy also maintains homes at Windsor Castle, Holyrood Palace, and Hillsborough Castle. The Queen herself also owns Sandringham and Balmoral Castle.

Do you need a passport to visit Scotland or Ireland?

As Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, if you have permission to visit or reside in the United Kingdom, you have permission to visit/reside in Scotland. Ireland is a bit trickier. Ireland and the United Kingdom have an agreement called the Common Travel Area. Passport holders of either country may pass through with no passport check. However, if you are not a citizen of Ireland or the United Kingdom, you would need to pass through passport control in order to legally be in either country. This catches MANY people out, since there isn’t passport control once you reach Holyhead via boat from Dublin. Dublin, however, does have immigration control. My passport contains 2 Ireland stamps from my visit in September 2009, but no stamp for the United Kingdom, as my mom and I had round trip airfare between Philadelphia and Dublin, but came to the UK to visit Tim part way through our visit. In 2008, the Border Agency issued a statement that they would put checkpoints in at places such as Holyhead, but so far they have not.

Do you find the majority of the population of the UK arrogant or ignorant?

I don’t know enough of the majority population to make a judgement like that. I know some arrogant people, and I know some ignorant people. I also know plenty of people who are neither!

From Kara:
What would you recommend as your top must see spots for someone who has never been to the area? (Both typical touristsy spots, and spots a tourist may not be aware of.)

By “in the area”, I’ll assume you mean Lincoln. If you’re visiting Lincoln, I think a trip to the Lincolnshire Life museum is in order – fantastic place to visit, lots of fun stuff to see. If Ellis Mill is running, it’s a fun place to visit, but it’s also nice to look at. Further afield, and if you like antiques, Hemswell, a former RAF base, is a great day out.

From LJ User:
What was the biggest switch you had to make moving?

Trying to pack up 30 years of my life and having to decide what was worth spending money on shipping was probably the hardest thing to do, but as far as making switches go, I think it has to be switching from imperial to metric in the kitchen. I’ve gotten much better at it in the past year, and I have a conversion chart taped to the inside of a kitchen cabinet, but when I first arrived there were many wrecked dinners because I couldn’t work out the temperature properly or work out the correct amount of things. And cakes. Oh god, I ruined several cakes before I learned how to measure it and cook it in metric.

Also, although I might be the only person who doesn’t know this, how did you meet your husband?

This is a great story! No, honestly! We started talking online in 2004 in the IRC chat room #crfh (a channel for fans of the webcomic, College Roommies from Hell!!!) just as friends, as I had been dating someone else at the time. We then met in person when the group held what we refer to as “Boardie Con” (which is why sometimes Tim and I will say we met at a webcomic convention). Details are sketchy if it was in 2004 or 2005. Neither one of us can remember. I attended the con with my then-boyfriend, but got to spend a little time talking with Tim where we solidified our growing friendship. I can remember sitting with him on a couch having a conversation with him and another girl, I remember Tim gave me a bar of Cadbury’s that I saved for AGES, Tim and I sat next to each other at one of the big meals out, and we sat near each other when we all picnicked at Alki Point on the Fourth of July.

We remained friends and talked all the time in #crfh, which then changed over to chatting on MSN Messenger and then eventually he said to me “I have this program called Skype….”. Our first conversation was horribly choppy, as Tim was still on dial-up, and we agreed to try again after his upgrade to broadband. Then, Tim disappeared for a month or so and I was worried – turns out he was in the middle of his switch to broadband and had been having problems with his provider. We got back in contact and the Skype chats started…..our first conversation lasted over 8 hours and both of us began losing sleep spending so many hours talking. It also helped that at the time Tim’s union was on strike and he was at home for a solid week.

But we were friends….always friends. We exchanged Christmas gifts and talked about everything and learned everything about each other over the course of those conversations. I had been seeing someone else, who broke my heart in January 2008, just before I went on Ships and Dip III. I remember talking about Tim with my cousin, Missy, while I was visiting her before the cruise. Tim told me he would make himself available to me and even though I was online for limited times while I was visiting my cousin, I talked to Tim while I was there, and even texted him from the boat.

After I got back from the cruise, things got interesting. I was flipping TV channels one day in March of 2008 and came across one of the Harry Potter films. Tim and I decided to watch the DVD together (while talking on Skype) from the beginning. That was our “first date”. A few weeks later, I was in my pajamas and Tim said to me “have you ever gone on a date in your pajamas?”. We watched the next HP film. That was Date 2. We worked our way through the five HP DVDs, and then Tim ordered Torchwood so we would have more to watch together.

Meanwhile, I was planning a visit to the UK for the fall of 2008. Tim offered to let me stay with him for a few months and use his spare room as a homebase while I travelled around. I settled on a two month visit, and Tim made arrangements to take off work for the first three weeks of my visit so he could take me around to places….still, we were just friends.

I finally admitted my feelings for Tim in June and it took us until July to start dating. My visit was in October, and the rest is history. Two months came and went, and we didn’t want our time together to end, so we extended my visit until April 09. Tim came to visit me in July 09, and my mom and I went to the UK in September 09. Tim proposed to me on this trip and you all know the rest. A wedding planned in 6 weeks followed by 10 weeks apart while we waited for my visa!

From Michelle:
What American stuff were you surprised to find in the UK?

Mustard. I don’t like English Mustard. It’s spicy, but too spicy for me. I was going to have my mom send me a bottle of French’s, when I found ASDA brand “American Mustard”. There’s a picture of me on facebook hugging the bottle!

ASDA is pretty good for selling random American things. Generally, if I find something I pick it up for the novelty factor.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

No comments

Interviewing….Me! Part I

Since I’ve been here for one year, I thought I would open things up and let people interview me and ask me anything they’d like to know about living in the UK. I asked over on Facebook, and here are some of the questions with my answers. If you’d like to ask something, feel free to leave me a comment on facebook or on this post. There will be a part II, assuming I get more questions!

From Amie:
What is the most amazing thing you stumbled upon living in the UK that wouldn’t be something a tourist would find?

Knowing I can go back to places more easily means that I don’t obsess so much about HAVING to see something or another and can take my time and enjoy a place. But I think it would have to be the village pubs. Most tourists probably wouldn’t consider stopping at a small village pub for dinner unless it was in the guide book or a “name brand” kind of place. Tim and I have been in some great little pubs that we found simply by getting off the motorway and driving on back roads – which is also something a tourist probably wouldn’t do!

But oh – I thought of an actual place. Finding Tupholme Abbey while driving on a back road.

Oh, and charity shops!

From Carrie:
What are some of the biggest differences between the US & the UK? What were the hardest adjustments to make?

Honestly, there aren’t as many differences as someone might think (at least to me). Money is different, but it’s still based on decimals, so the only hard bit there is learning the new coins. Food is different, but not in a “ew, that’s weird” way, just in a “never had that in the US” way, like Fish pie or bangers and mash. It’s more normal for people to have a Pay-As-You-Go mobile phone here than it is in the US, but the PAYG plans are also better. Measurements for cooking are different – grams and ml instead of cups and ounces. The UK uses Celsius for temperature here (learned that one the hard way with the washing machine!). Most schools require a school uniform and most schools are still affiliated with the Church of England. I’m sure there can be loads more to add to the list, but I just don’t find things super different.

Also, the drinking culture is different. Here, it’s not uncommon to give a child a shandy – a mix of lemonade and beer – when they are young and children as young as 15 can drink wine in a restaurant or pub as long as their parent is present and gives permission.

A hard adjustment was getting used to shops closing at 5, and living in a village. Coming from an area where the local mall was open until 10 and most stores were open until at least 9, it was hard to get used to. We do have 24-hour grocery stores, though.

From Amie:
Is there anything you miss from the US that you simply CAN’T find in the UK? Be it food, a certain type of restaurant, or even other items…

My mom? No, but seriously – I miss hoagies. We do have Subway here, but Subway in the US was never as good as going to a local mom and pop shop for a hoagie. It works in a pinch, and if I’m in town and need Lunch I usually go there, but it’s not the same! A few nights ago we bought lunchmeat and baguettes and I tried creating our own….still not as good!

From Lou:
has the experience of finding your way in a new country changed you? Has the experienced helped your confidence, challenged you, things like that?

I don’t know if I can separate moving to the UK from getting married, since one lead to the other. I DO think I have changed in the past year, but whether it has to do with moving to the UK or the fact that I’m now married, I don’t know!

I do think my confidence level has gone up, but I also think that has a lot to do with Tim.

What is your Favourite UK TV show? (not counting Doctor Who I know that one is a given)

I’m currently enjoying QI, Come Fly with Me, and Not Going Out. Secret Diary of a Call Girl starts soon, too. I also love the shows Giles and Sue do, and I watch anything Jamie Oliver has on. I also like some older UK shows – Red Dwarf, Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes, Black Books, Hyperdrive, Spaced, etc. We watch a lot more TV on DVD than we do actual television.

Actually on the same theme – UK bands artists that you hadn’t heard of prior to coming over to live?

I don’t know if I really know, to be honest. Any time Radio 2 played a new artist I liked, it would turn out that they weren’t British. LOL. Boothby Graffoe doesn’t count since I heard him on the cruise in 2008.The only new CDs I’ve bought since moving have been new BNL and Carbon Leaf.

Oh, but would you believe I had no idea who Take That or Amy Winehouse were before I moved here?

From Sue:
Is Hogwarts real?

Yes and no. Alnwick Castle (where they filmed bits of the earlier ones) is real, the viaduct the train goes over is real, and platform 9 3/4 is “real”.

From Brian:
Do you think you’ll ever want to be living stateside again?

Not really. I think whatever happens, it would have to be a family decision and be what’s right for our family. Tim’s job is very UK-specific, so I can’t see us leaving unless one of us got a better offer than what he makes now. We joke about the possibility of living in the US and building a huge garden railway in my aunt’s backyard, but we also know it isn’t likely to happen. Plus once we have kids and they are in school, I wouldn’t want to pull them out to move them since the school systems are different. But that’s okay. I’m happy to stay here!

From Sheldon:
Do you like EastEnders or Corrie ?

Honestly, I haven’t seen a full episode of either, only bits and pieces. Occasionally I’ll watch Doctors, or have it on in the background. I watched Emmerdale a few times. My problem with picking up an established soap is not knowing any of the back stories. I don’t even like starting to watch a TV series partway through!

From Sally:
You at the dinner tonight Rebecca?

Sadly, no. We originally thought the weekend would be the only time for Tim and I to see each other, so I told Helen I couldn’t! 🙁

From Elisabeth:
Do you think your and Tim’s future kids will have a better life here in the UK than they would in the US?

I don’t think I know enough about the British education system to really answer this yet. I’m sad that my children won’t get to be in marching band, though! But, if we lived in the US, there’s no way we’d be able to afford a house with as large of a garden as we have, so I think that’s a definite plus for them!

From Emma:
which building in Lincoln has a hidden Imp?

As far as I know, the only place to find a hidden imp would be the Cathedral.

From Robert:
Have you seen the Queen?

I’ve seen the film “The Queen” if that counts!!

From Michelle:
Is there anything about living over there that you don’t like, that just drives you crazy that’s different?

I try my hardest to use “British English” and use the British words for things. But 30 years of living in the US ingrain some words into my head that are hard to not use. Things like asking for the bathroom (which in the UK, is the room with the bathrub), or calling those long things you wear on your legs pants (in the UK, pants are the undergarment). Tim tells me over and over not to worry about it because with the influx of American Television, people know what I’m talking about. But it really annoys me and drives me crazy when someone deliberately acts like they don’t know what I’m talking about or tries to make a joke about it. That doesn’t really answer the “different” part of your question though! I guess you could say the differences in language, despite being the same one, can drive me crazy at times.

Do you think your mom will ever move over there to live by you?

Unfortunately, the UKBA closed the way of bringing over a dependent parent, so it would be a little hard to get her a visa to live here. But maybe when she retires she can spend months at a time here as a visitor instead of a few weeks.

From Janey:
Is it still hard to convince people that you don’t get homesick because England is the best place ever?

It’s really hard to explain that I don’t get homesick. The things that I miss I either make do without, get sent to me in care packages from my family, or I create my own substitute. I don’t really miss a lot of people because I do get to talk to people like my mom on a near daily basis, and have had video calls with some of my friends, too.