September 11, 2014

The View From Here: An American's Reflections on England

The View this week is coming from Jill Robbins of Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.
(Great name for a blog!)

She is RIGHT NOW in the process of moving from England back to Texas.
I wonder if the two places have anything in common....?
I don't know, but Jill is sharing here with us today what she
will and won't miss about living in the UK.

Reflections Upon Leaving England

I’ve lived in England for almost four years. Today, I’m writing at my dining room table instead of my usual corner of the family room (my normal practice is to write while keeping one eye on what everyone else is doing, which is my standard disclaimer for anything I write that might suck). I’m displaced because today is moving day. I’m surrounded by chaos and packing crates, watching two moving dudes named LeRoy and Steve touch everything I own.

In two days, the house we’ve called home since 2011 will be empty. My family will move to a temporary apartment. In 17 days, we will be “wheels up” on an airplane headed to the United States to start a new chapter in our lives. As I sit amidst the disorder, I find myself reflecting on my time as an American living abroad.  

I have mixed feelings. On some levels, I can’t wait to leave. I can rattle off a dozen things I don’t like about living here. At the same time, I find myself sort of wishing my days here hadn’t moved so quickly.

Stuff I won’t miss:

1. “Are you all right?” 

This is the British equivalent of “how’s it going?”. I have never gotten used to this and that well-intentioned question always puts me on the defensive. My natural reaction is to answer, “well yeah, don’t I look all right?” Most language-isms don’t bug me, but this one throws me off.  

2.  Faucets.  

Having hot and cold water merge and flow out of a single fixture is something I always took for granted but that hasn’t caught on here. It is a nitpicky pet peeve, but this type of setup makes washing your hands with warm water a pain in the butt.  

3.  Parking and driving. 

Why yes, I think I’ll park here. 

Parking in the middle of the street is perfectly acceptable. I live in a fairly rural area and tractors rule our narrow roads. Interestingly, the whole driving on the other side of the road thing doesn’t bother me but I am looking forward to wide city streets.  

4.  Dark, drizzly days 

England isn’t known for glorious weather. The charm of wearing sweaters in July has definitely worn off. The long days of (what passes for) summer are nice but the October to April driving to work in the dark drizzle at 7:00 AM and driving home in the dark drizzle at 5:00 PM definitely is not fun.  I’m not sure if I completely buy in to the whole seasonal affective disorder thing but I know my mood is sunnier when the sun is out. Upside – I get to rock my leopard print wellies and that’s always fun.  

Stuff I will miss:   

1. The food.  

Yes, really.  British food gets a bad rap. “Pub grub” such as fish & chips and sausage & mash is responsible for the extra five ten pounds living around my midsection. Bland, boring British food is a myth. And I can’t forget the desserts, or as we say here “the puddings”. I doubt I’m going to be able to walk in to Applebee's and order something fun like “jam roly poly” or “spotted dick.”  Spotted dick is a cake with currants – actually pretty tasty and I always snicker when I order it.

Those green things are “mushy peas". They’re a thing here.  

2.  The church bells in my town.  

Sometimes, I hear the bells on Sunday morning, but I’m usually too absorbed with giving my complete and focused attention to my first cup of coffee to take much notice. But Mondays are a different story. We live up the street from our village church and the bells ring for an hour each Monday evening. I am honestly not sure why they ring on Mondays.  I’m kind of embarrassed that I’ve never bothered to find out but the sound gives me a feeling of peace and starts my week on a good note (no matter how sucky my Monday has been.)  

3.  The architecture

The United States is a young country in comparison to most of the rest of the world. Modern buildings seem sterile and unimaginative when you compare them to scenes like this.  This is a simple fence line in the village where I live that’s been added to over the years.  I always wonder what this wall would say if it could talk.  

4.  The people.  

The people make or break any place you live and we’ve made some wonderful connections during our time here. The people are the best and worst thing about living life as a relative nomad. Best because having people who’ve made my family feel welcome in this country has been a big part of why I’ve enjoyed living here (mostly). Worst because…well, it makes saying goodbye that much harder.   

There are always two sides to the coin. If you want to get super philosophical-like, you can say there is a Ying for every Yang. I am happy to be leaving this place and excited to see what’s up next. At the same time, the thought of leaving is painful and the concept of new is scary.  

And that, my friends, is the view from here. I’m excited for the opportunity to visit Dancing in the Rain today. What is on the horizon for you that you are excited or nervous about? Tell me, tell me!  C’mon…I have spilled my guts for you today. Give me a little.  Cheers, people.  

I loooooovvvvee fish 'n chips! Also bangers 'n mash. And pudding.
Never had spotted dick. Sort of afraid, actually.

I honestly just can't get over what must be some
major culture shock between England and Texas!

I'm going to have to keep up with Jill to see what she has to say about it.
Of course you can too at her:

photo credit: Heather F via photopin cc 
photo credit: noodlepie via photopin cc

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