Julie’s Cornish Adventure, Part 3: Culture ShockSeptember 29, 2010
So…. you would think that going from one English-speaking country to another wouldn’t be much of an adjustment, wouldn’t you? Well, I’m here to tell you that is not the case. Even as knowledgeable as I am about British English (I highly recommend British English A to Zed by Norman Schur), there were a few things that I wasn’t prepared for:
- They do not have Sprite. Instead, they have lemonade. When we asked if said lemonade was carbonated, the waitress looked at us, puzzled, before admitting that she didn’t know what that meant. Dan and I searched for an appropriate, yet simple, synonym, and said, “fizzy,” nearly simultaneously. That registered and the answer was yes, the “lemonade” is carbonated.
- In England, they refer to public restrooms as toilets. More than once, I found myself saying, “Excuse me, do you have a rest room? Er, bathroom? I mean, toilet?” I dunno, “toilet” just seems so crass and ugly. I much prefer operating under the guise of excusing myself to check my makeup. If I say I’m going to the toilet… well, there is no gentle illusion, is there?
- Driving on the wrong side of the road and driving on the wrong side of the car. Needless to say, I will need to do another post about that part of our experience. Suffice it to say that while it’s probably politically incorrect to say “wrong side” I will note that the Brits are definitely in the minority on this one.
- Dinner is at mid-day (what we would call lunch) and the supper hour (what we would call dinner) doesn’t start until 7:00 pm. We showed up at a restaurant in Penzance for our evening meal at 5:30 and had the place completely to ourselves. (I actually kind of preferred it that way, as the chef/owner gave us lots of personal attention and all sorts of helpful tips on what to see.)
- When we stopped to get a flat tire changed (our first of two), the mechanic greeted Dan as “my beauty” and continued to call him that while we were there. I hope it was just a cultural thing. Yikes.
These are just a few (admittedly trivial) ways in which we were challenged by traveling to a foreign country… but I wouldn’t change the experience for anything in the world.