Elizabeth, over at Emphatically Elle, is getting ready to study abroad in the good ol' motherland and wrote a post called The American Girl's Guide to Being British. It's a really solid start, even more impressive as she hasn't even lived there yet! But as a sort-of expat (I mean, I DID only leave because my visa expired!), I just had to throw my two pence in. (See what I did there? :P)
|Ah, the good old days.|
Elizabeth brings up flat, ring, telly, tube and fringe, which are all must-knows. But don't forget about...
Queue, n./v. - A line of people, or to join said line.
Bin, n. - trashcan. (I once said, "Just pop it in the bin," during one of my London 2012 Ceremonies shifts, and I think that's the most British I've ever felt in my life. Pip-pip, cheerio.)
Quid, n. - another word for pound, the British currency. Quid is to pound as buck is to dollar.
Biscuit, n. - cookie. So don't be confused when someone asks if you want tea and biscuits!
Digestive, n. - cookie. I still don't understand this one. The Brits I've asked about it still don't understand this one. Digestives have absolutely nothing to do with digestion.
Pants, n. - underwear. What Americans refer to as pants, the Brits call slacks.
Flatmate, n. - what we Americans refer to as a roommate. In the U.K., roommates are... ahem... not platonic.
1. The "everyone drinks tea" stereotype is absolutely true. My flat literally came with an electric kettle. And I even picked up a tea-drinking habit, every night before I go to bed. English breakfast tea with a splash of milk. Perfection.
2. Elle's right; you can't see Parliament from every window in London, especially if you live in a crappy flat, because that probably means you're living in the East End (Parliament is central). But you know what you can see from your window if you live in a crappy flat in the East End?
3. People may not dress like they're in an episode of Downton Abbey, but they DO dress like they just walked out of a fashion magazine. More on that later.
4. Great Britain, the United Kingdom, and England are all very different things. Ready? The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and is a political union. Great Britain is purely geographic and made up of England, Scotland and Wales, aka the countries on an island together. And England is... well, England. Confused yet? Watch this video. It taught me everything I know.
5. "There is no such thing as a "British" accent. Think about it, wouldn't you be annoyed if someone insinuated that all Americans sound the same? Each region has its own dialect, as with any country. Just as someone from Texas would sound different than someone from Michigan, someone living in Liverpool would not sound the same as someone from London. Also, 9 times out of 10, it is not the posh aristocratic accent you think you're used to hearing in drama shows and James Bond movies." -- Elizabeth is right on the money. I mean, have you seen the Team USA athletes attempting to speak cockney? 'Cause that's one of the British accents and, uh... just watch the video.
Tips and Tricks
1. Fun fact: the flag is only known as the Union Jack when it's flown over water. Otherwise it's known as the Union Flag. GASP! I know, right? Did I just tilt your world off its axis? Well, the Union Flag is definitely more of a high fashion statement in the U.K. than the American flag is over here, so it's totally okay to rock it on a t-shirt. But only during the Jubilee is it plastered everywhere.
2. Londoners will be able to tell you're an American, usually even before you open your mouth. And being mistaken for a Londoner is the highest of all compliments. Remember when I said they all look like they belong in a fashion magazine? If you want to look like you belong, do not -- I repeat, DO NOT -- wear sweatpants. You'll stick out like a sore thumb. A sore, American thumb. Londoners wear skirts with tights, or shorts with tights, or skinny jeans, with boots (usually leather, or fake leather) and a snazzy peacoat. Oh, and a scarf, folded all artistically. I was feeling lazy one day and wore sweats to class, and I felt super uncomfortably sloppy-looking compared to everyone else.
3. The Brits DO love their royals. They even made a drinking game out of the Queen (sort of): grab a coin, toss it in someone else's drink, and yell, "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!" The person has to chug their drink to get the coin and save the Queen on it from drowning. As someone who doesn't drink, it's hilarious!
4. The U.K/Great Britain/England/whatever is the best place on earth. Drink snakebites and cider, eat haggis and bangers and mash, complain that the pound coins make your wallet feel like a brick in your bag, get stuck in tube traffic during rush hour, buy great clothes for no money at Primark, embrace the chilly drizzle and have the time of your freaking life.
Now, who wants to pay for my plane ticket back over there?