Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The best year of my life (thus far, of course!) is officially over, as I have made my way back to the corn and soybean fields of rural Ohio.  The journey from Oxford to the Heathrow airport was one of the hardest emotional experiences thus far, but I know that, looking back on the overall year, I wouldn't trade that heartache for the happiness that I experienced.  This year has opened my eyes to many things, some serious, some funny.  I've learned a lot about myself, about my goals and aspirations, and about my new-found love of everything Europe.  I've also come back to the states with a bag full of ridiculous English phrases, a love of hard cider, cheese and chips (french fries) and pub atmospheres.  I don't want this entry to be a particularly sad or reminiscent one, as that becomes far too emotional - so instead, I think it's pertinent to detail a pretty little list of what I've learned while in England.  I'll call this my 'The England encyclopedia for keen Americans' - here's hoping it is useful (and funny) for those of us yanks who have already experienced Britain or those of you who will, someday!

Without further ado: The England encyclopedia for keen Americans

  1. Please do not ever use the phrase 'double fisting' when referring to holding an alcoholic beverage in each hand.  I promise, the Brits will misunderstand, and it will get awkward.
  2. In the same realm as the one above, do not say 'bumming' without following it with a suitable word, such as 'around.'  They think that 'bumming' is much more literal than our usage of the word.
  3. Brits have the best insults: wanker, tosser, muppet, bloody idiot, chav, lad, arsehole, blighter, bugger, etc.  The list is endless.
  4. Adding the word 'cheeky' in front of any possibly offensive phrase makes it automatically unoffensive.
  5. Instead of saying that something is 'sketchy' or a bit on the creepy side, please use the word 'dodgy.'  This word is also only allowed to be said in an English accent, because it sounds horrid in an American one.
  6. Do play up the American stereotype, in good humor.  The Brits secretly enjoy our tendencies, such as exploiting the word 'freedom,' discussing where to buy guns, discussing how big and cheap Walmart is, and noting that the portion size in England is much too small.
  7. If you don't try beer or cider, you will be ostracized.  Okay, maybe not that extreme.. but seriously, why wouldn't you?  That's just ridiculous.
  8. A lot of students take a gap year between high school (they call it sixth form) and university, and will talk endlessly about this gap year during their first year of Uni, which becomes an ongoing joke.  Oh, pronounce it 'gap yah' if you want to be understood correctly.
  9. The appropriate time to go clubbing in Oxford is at 9:30pm.  That's right.
  10. If you ride a bike, please ride with traffic on the left side of the road.  If you do not, your chances of perishing are great (not to say that riding a bike with traffic really eliminates all chances of perishing... crazy drivers)
  11. The Brits love their roundabouts and put them in every road, regardless of whether or not they are useful.
  12. If you're trying to talk to someone from the very north of England, it's okay if you don't understand a thing that they say... most British people don't.
  13. Spelling things with an 's' instead of a 'z' and adding a 'u' to most words becomes an instant habit in England.  If you misspell realise (not 'realize'), the grammar Nazis will be upon you.
  14. Each boy at Oxford brought at least 2 suits with him to University.  Let me know if you ever find a boy at an American university who even owns two suits.
  15. The term 'fancy dress' means to dress up in a costume, to Brits.  Do not confuse this with 'formal attire' - common mistake.
  16. Any word can be made into a euphemism for being drunk.  That's right: plastered, pissed, mailboxed, shattered, upholstered, etc.  You name it.  Oh, and it's 'chundering' not 'vomiting'
  17. They actually DO say 'bloody,' 'bollocks' and 'brilliant' a lot.
  18. If you want to sound like you know what you're talking about when paying for an item, say 'quid' instead of 'pound' for the currency
  19. 'Cheers' is the equivalent of 'thanks.'
  20. Brits are some of the nicest, most wonderful people you will ever meet.

I'm sure there are many more notable facts, but these are the most important, off of the top of my head.

So, England, here's to you - thank you for the memories, the lessons learned and the absolutely wonderful friendships.

I'm sure I will be seeing you soon.

The view out of my dorm window, St. Anne's

One last formal with great friends

Oxford is truly beautiful

A final drink in England - cider, of course!

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