England / Expat life / London

Thoughts about this small island

As some readers may or may not know I moved to England without ever visiting.  I made the decision to come here in March 2008, found out by June that I would be going to uni, then moved in September.  I worked a full-time job right up until the end so I didn’t have time to make a jaunt over and see if you know, I was actually going to like being here.

As I am quickly approaching 4 years in my adopted home I’ve been reminiscing on the impressions and associations I had about the country before experiencing it.  Unlike many other expats I never had dreams of moving here.  I did think however that it would be a chic city to live in and that if I liked it I might stay on and work for a few years before definitely returning home.

Like others I held some misconceptions and stereotypes about England.  I think I can be forgiven my assumptions since I get the ‘Oh you’re from Canada, it’s coooold there all the time right?!’ still.  Here we go.

Coronation Street

Hands down the theme song to Coronation street is my number one association with England.  Coronation street is broadcast in Canada and for as long as I can remember my dad has watched it.  I hate the show, I don’t know why I just do, but I do realise for some it’s an institution of sorts.  It’s been going for 50 years now so what do I know?  It is set in a fictional town in Greater Manchester.  For any fans that visit there are walking tours.

Tea

Everyone here drinks tea right?  This is a popular association for most people.  In reality? Yeah tea is pretty popular.  The choices here are plentiful with some grocery stores featuring rows upon row of the stuff.  I think the main thing is Brits enjoy a good cup of tea and revel in ‘doing’ tea well.  There is a Twinings Tea Shop & Museum in London if you want to know more.  Personally, I probably drank more tea when I was in Canada.  My mom always made me drink a cup before leaving for school in the morning.  And yes this continued until I left for university.

Fashion

I thought that London was a power house for fashion.  I thought the majority of people walking down the street would be amazing well put together and chic.  Well….sadly this is not the case.  While Londoners in general are better dressed than say Torontonians or even North Americans there are some bizarre choices out there.  With that said I have to admit that I love it.  It’s one of the best things about London, that you can don a questionable outfit and no one will bat an eyelash.  For fashion I have to say those on the continent, mainly the French and Italians, are better dressers.

Accents and Language

I have to say that I wasn’t in love with British accents prior to moving here.  Shhh don’t tell D.  I kinda though they were snooty sounding, of course that was probably the Queen’s english I was thinking about.  I also underestimated how much the difference between NA english and British english would be.  There were a few mildly embarrassing moments when realising some terms in Canada had entirely different meanings here.  Since being here learning the diversity in accents and the slang has been fun.  It has also revealed to me how much class is still very much a part of modern Britain.  You know, besides still have an existing monarchy.

Weather

I thought it rained a lot.  It does.  But sometimes after the rain there is a gorgeous sky.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts about this small island

  1. What a lovely post! I went on the Coronation Street tour years and years ago. Might be 1996 or 1998. The things you talk about here are exactly why I want to move to another city eventually because I’ve never moved somewhere completely new to me.

    • Thanks. I might just check out that walking tour and bring some pictures for my dad. Moving somewhere completely new was equal parts exciting and anxiety inducing. Glad I did it though. Oo where would you go? I’d like to do it over again at least one more time.

  2. Melissa, great post. Seriously loved it. Emm – really? but you’ve lived all over the UK and you are South African – you’re an expat!!!

  3. Great post – you forgot queuing and sandwiches. Each deserves it’s own mention but both can be handily combined to consume an entire lunch-hour if you can find an open post-office :-)

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