This update will take place as a rambling of sorts, as it is more of a focus on cultural differences noted during my three weeks in the UK thus far. For those of you who crave a little structure, the general layout will be as follows: language barriers and jargon, smoking, food quality, Edinburgh differences.
English is English, no matter where you English – this is certainly not the case. Even within the States, one catches different pronunciation of words or the dropping of some (as in AAVE, or African American Vernacular English). Having taken Linguistics classes on the matter previously, I knew that in the UK, words would be different, but they would also drop the article ‘the’. This can be found in speakers saying “You go to University?” or another example, “I have to go to Hospital”. For my own personal enjoyment, I have been keeping a list of items that have occurred in the UK, along with their US exchange. Below, I have posted a few of those items from my list:
Garbage — Rubbish
Elevator — Lift
Bathroom — Toilet
Sidewalk — Footpath
Thief — Tea Leaf (derogatory/insult)
Smoking. Smoking everywhere. On the streets, outside every door, in and out of the pub, wafting in the entrances to anywhere you go, clinging to the clothes of some chap bustling in front of you on the tube . . .smoke. This is something I had never really thought about when I pictured London. Instead, it is almost overwhelming to see how many people smoke here. Men and women equally, and of all ages, as well. One thing that I have noticed with this, however, is that most of their packs of cigarettes have ads on them showing pictures of blackened lungs or hold facts regarding secondhand smoke, etc. These are scattered about the sidewalks and filling the nearby rubbish bins, but a public message nonetheless.
At first, I was slightly apprehensive about the food in the UK – those I spoke to had mixed reviews, but it was always either love or hate. I had a 50-50 chance of either loving or hating the food I was about to have to experience for a month. On top of that, being a vegan worried me. In the states, especially those on the West Coast, we have a very ‘hippie’ way of handling what goes into our bodies. This was something I was used to having, a privilege if you will.
However, all of the food that I have eaten so far has been wonderful. The expiration dates come sooner, suggesting less preservatives, and everything I have tasted has been fresh and well-prepared. Even finding vegetarian options has been easy (most places have it clearly labeled – grocery stores and pubs alike). One thing I had noticed was that things labeled vegetarian still included egg. For some this may have been confusing, as some still partake in eggs as vegetarians, while others do not.
Another thing that I have noticed, and was noting with a friend today about, was that their sweets are delicious because they are not overwhelmingly sugary. If they are a treat, such as a cookie or even a chocolate bar, it is not terribly full of sugar – it is made with more whole ingredients to balance it out. The two of us discussed how back in the States, we were not apt to eat as many treats or were more picky about what we ate because of the content of sugary sweetness in them – yet here we had not had that trouble so far. An interesting thought, that is for sure.
Lastly, I had the pleasure of spending this last weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was definitely a place I wished I had made more time for. This would be an area that I could spend months in and never grow tired of. Just a few hours north, and what a difference! First, it was an atmosphere I was more comfortable with, since I come from the Pacific Northwest. I was happy to see greenery, and have an overcast sky over my head at most hours of the day. Second, the people were more varied in styles and expression than London. In London, one sees most people in business attire. Meaning dress shoes, blouses and suits, skirts and slacks, and so forth. In Edinburgh, there were people of all shapes, sizes, hairstyles, and the like, making our little group feel more comfortable without standing out like sore thumbs.
Speaking of the people in Edinburgh. . .they were always pleasant. They were less standoffish as those in London. They smiled warmly, greeted us with ‘good morning’ and such as we passed, and always were happy to hold up conversations during transactions. It was an interesting contrast to those we had been interacting with thus far.
For now, I believe that is all in regards to London, but surely there will be more coming in with each passing day.
Today is my second day in Paris, and it seems fine. The people are nice enough but it is difficult communicating when I don’t speak the language. Today we went on a walking tour which was rather fun. It was nice to see the big sights like the Eifle Tower and Notre Dame.
We spent some time in the French military museum today after the tour and it was interesting. Not sure what we read since I don’t speak the language. Our poor waiters have to deal with Americans who have no idea what is happening.
I do feel bad for my friend Sunny. She’s always ready to go to the next thing, but due to my ingury I just can’t. I’m usually done for the day at 4 due to pain while she’s ready to still be going. Even worse for her, I am now exhausted. I’ve done three weeks of constant travel and just want to rest right now. Like, a day spent sleeping sounds amazing. I do recognize this makes it harder for her to do stuff. But it doesn’t change the fact that I am very worn down and need to take it easy for a while. We’ll see how it all plays out.
Argentina is a country that has been influenced a lot by its Spanish ancestors, including its religious background of Roman Catholic. This is why Easter in Argentina is very important to most of its people. Being Catholic myself I was happy to experience Easter or in other words Holy week, which is a celebration that takes three days, Thursday through Saturday. Easter is a time to remember the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Christ. Due to its importance these three days are a central celebrations in Argentina where the people get to rest, people here have the days off and everything closes down for the Easter and Holy Week holiday. It was very unique getting to see the city in a different light, where the people of Argentina are at peace.
This last weekend was so much fun. I got invited by the childcare educator who I have been job shadowing and working with to see a different side of Buenos Aires. She took me to the bosques de Palermo, which is a large portion of the city filled with beautiful parks where people love to meet up to listen to music, exercise, take pictures, have picnics, and so much more. She took me for a walk to see Palermo in the daytime, where all the bars during the day become a shopping fair for jewelry, leather, clothes, shoes, and other items. It is amazing how Buenos Aires transitions from day to nighttime, laid back to full of life. She also had me try the typical and traditional carne asada (BBQ) and milanesa (crispy chicken) of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Additionally, I got to try the famous classical Havanna alfajores (pastries) and café (coffee) from this country. Must admit the food here is mouth watering.
Now, during this week I continued to work and job shadow the childcare educator, but a different one to observe the different approaches that are being taught. I have also been able to learn the difference between the healthcare systems here and the United States’, as well as how the private and public healthcare services work here. I have been very interested in everything that I have been learning here about the overall healthcare here in Argentina.
I never thought that being in Argentina would allow me to get a grasp of other cultures, but it has. I have been able to be surrounded by other cultures where I have been able to learn about new foods and customs.
Another week of classes started and they went well. I’ve gotten used to living in Spain and made Segovia my home. Living with my host family has been going well as well. I’ve gotten used to the food and have found some of my favorite dishes. I had paella a typical Spain dish for the second time. I really like it. I’ve also gotten used to the Spanish tortilla which is not what I expected. It is made of potatoes and eggs. Potatoes are a really common vegetable around here, any vegetable really.
I’ve really adjusted to the language here as well because even now that I talk to my mom on the phone I start to say words from Spain. Although some words they use here are really strange to me, I enjoy learning the new words.
As week 3 of classes finished up my first trip with some of the girls from the group approached. Thursday night we took the night train to Barcelona. We spent the weekend in Barcelona and that was great. It was nice to visit a city that is filled with so many tourist attractions and to see the wonderful architecture and art by Gaudi. Barcelona has beautiful beaches as well and that was nice to take in the sun. Barcelona is filled with tourists. There are many bus tours available in Barcelona for a good price. A friend and I went on a tour bus and that was the best thing we could have done. We got to see so much of Barcelona which we would not have seen on foot. On Sunday we headed back to Madrid on a plane and that was so much better than a train. Our flight was only an hour and a half compared to the 8 hour train ride. I’m glad I got to see Barcelona, it’s a beautiful city.
I’m excited for week 4 because this week the whole group is going to a Real Madrid soccer game.
Well this week went by so fast. I think it had to do with the fact that we were all looking forward to the weekend. We were going to Mexico City and had a lot of things planned. The only problem was that we had to meet at the bus stop at 8am and people went out the night before so I knew people would have issues with that schedule. On the plus side was the the streets are pretty empty at that time and taxis are cheaper. I didn’t know that but I guess the taxi prices go and down depending on the time off day and if its raining or not. Well I got to the bus at 8 exactly and there were probably a good 7 our of 17 missing. So we waited and left at around 8:35am which wasn’t too bad. The best thing was that we had a tour bus for 20 or so people. Tour bus to Mexico City
Well, it took us about 3 hours to get to our first stop which was the pyramids of Teotihuacan which was a Mesoamerican civilization that had vanished before the conquista which explains why it still stands today. Simply because the Spanish had the tendency of tearing apart pyramids and using the rocks to build their own temples or cathedrals. Which is what you will see in a few more paragraphs. Teotihuacan was amazing! I had no clue the size of these pyramids and also the work done on the stones. It was an impressive sight to see. Teotihuacan had 3 main pyramids being Quezalcoalt, the moon and the sun. Quezalcoalt had figures on it that protected the village and it was the first one we saw. Pyramid-Quezalcoalt
Then we climbed the sun pyramid which is massive. Also the steps i don’t think were meant to be climbed because they are steep and also very high. It made for a very hard climb. Steps to the Sun Pyramid But we all made it and it had an awesome view. Mario B on top of the sun pyramid image image image
Then we went to eat and there they gave us free samples of some pulque which is an alcoholic drink that was the drink of choice by the mesoamericans. Pulque is made from the maguey plant the same as tequila. Its a milky white drink that taste almost like vinegar most of the people didn’t like it but I thought it was ok. I don’t think I’ll drink it again but I at least tried it. Pulque
After eating we all went to El palacio de Bellas Artes were we saw some awesome painting from Diego Rivera, Siqueros, and others. image image
After that we went to our hotel and we called it a night after sitting and chatting in our rooms. Awesome first day or so I thought. At around 4:30 am I hear a man screaming I look out my window and there is an Ambulance, and 3 police cars. The man had blood down his chest and back and pants and bandages with blood coming from his chest. He had been stabbed by I don’t know who, but was giving them a piece of his mind. I said to myself. “That’s why I don’t go out in Mexico City.” I went back to bed and the next day was just as awesome. We walked to the Templo Mayor which is the main pyramid of Tenotiichlan which is where the Aztecs were and were the Spanish took over, and this was a prime example of what the Spanish would do with the pyramids. I guess the pyramid was a good size but what was left was basically nothing. image
That church you see in the background was smaller than what the pyramid once was as well as that was what they made after taking apart the pyramid. There was an awesome pyramid there as well that was awesome.
Then we went off to the best place in the world in my opinion. The National Museum of Anthropology. We saw some of the things I’ve only dreamed about. A few were the great heads of the olmecas Olmeca head
The actual Aztec calendar Aztec calendar
there we must have spent 3 hours and I don’t think it was enough. It was just awesome. I stayed with the out teacher/tour guide so I could learn as much as I could. There was so much to see and I had so much fun. After that we went to eat and then we went to El Castillo de Champultepec which is where passed presidents of Mexico lived and also the last battle of the Mexican-American war and also the last battle of where the Aztec lost against the Spanish. Very nice big mansion. Castillo de Chapultepec image Castillo de Chapultepec image
After that we went back to our hotel and another great day in the books. We literally went to go eat and I came back and went to bed. I must have walked about 10 miles that day. We woke up packed up and went to La Plaza de las 3 culturas. This is in Tlatelolco where people were killed on October 2nd 1968 10 days before Mexico Hosted the olympics. image image
After that we went to Frida Kahlo’s blue house which was very awesome to see. image we were not allowed to take pictures inside her house so I don’t have any for you but after that we went to El Museo Soumaya which is Carlos Slims the richest man in the world’s museum named after his wife who passed away in 1999. Its a gorgeous building designed by his son in law who is a very successful architect. image that was our last stop and we were all ready to go home. It was the best 3 day weekend of my life so far and I’m glad I had to opportunity to see those things in real life. Great time. Until next week you all. Adios
I cannot believe that I only have one week left! Time has flown by and I am amazed at how much I have seen and done. Taking two classes keeps me very busy with field trips and homework, but I don’t mind. Since I am taking two classes, I have been able to see double the field trips, and for my Downton Abbey class we usually do two field trips a week which is great. My all time favorite field trip has been to Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed. There was some anxiety surrounding this field trip because we didn’t actually have tickets. Group tickets have been sold out since last summer, and individual tickets have been sold out since February. That being said we were all very nervous as to whether or not they would have any tickets for sale at the gate. Our worries were for nothing though because they had plenty! We were able to walk through the gardens, go through the house and of course hit up the gift shop! Something fun that I’ve been doing with friends from my Downton class, is that we try and have tea and scones at every country house we visit. Now I can add Highclere to my list of places I’ve had tea at! My other favorite field trip so far was for my Harry Potter class. We went into Scotland to Alnwick Castle which is where they filmed parts of Hogwarts for the first and second films, and then they used it as their model for the set. We saw where they learn to fly in the first movie and then some general exterior shots. The castle itself was beautiful, but inside the state rooms and the countryside were just amazing.
This past weekend I went to Paris. I have been once before in High School on one of those spring break trips, so I was only in Paris for two or three nights. So I was very excited to go back and see it again, and see if what I remembered was the same. I remembered it being very dirty and it was. Compared to London, Paris is filthy. I don’t know if it is because the people just don’t care, or they just don’t have as good sanitation services that London has. The other thing that I really noticed was how different their metro and bus system is. London’s transportation system is very efficient, very well kept up, and very clean. Paris on the hand is very confusing. Some lines on the metro maps are really only train lines, but they are not marked so. Needless to say we got very lost and turned around the first night, but after that we had a somewhat better handle on it. But we tried to stay above ground as much as possible! One thing about Paris that I found wonderful was their youth discount. They have great discounts for anyone under the age of 24. Some places require you to show a student id, others just ask your age. Because of this discount we were able to go into the Louvre for free! We also go a discount on the Eiffel image image Tower and a boat tour.