07 February 2011

an observation of difference.

So, a different country is bound to be slightly different. These are some things I've noticed:

-The toilets all seem really difficult to flush. Some of them are really neat and have these buttons--little for a little flush and big for a big flush. Others just have regular levers, but it's like they know when it's yellow and should mellow and when there's brown that needs to go down. I think they probably use a lot less water than american toilets, but its kind of a pain sometimes.

-Everything is still green. Most trees are bare so you can tell it's winter, but probably 60-70% of the grass is still green. I guess it doesn't really get cold enough here to kill everything. My campus is absolutely gorgeous and apparently is frequented by sheep in the early mornings. I'll have pictures of it eventually.

-Tea! This one should be fairly obvious, but its basically a ritual. The first thing you do when you come in the door is put the kettle on.

-School. They just do less of it here. I don't know much about education prior to GCSE's (exams taken at the end of what would be 10th grade), but for college (equivalent-- 11th and 12th grade) I think they generally take 3 a-levels per year. So imagine only doing three classes your last two years of high school, and your last two years are optional. Though I think a-levels may have been made compulsory recently. Anyway, for Uni (college to us) you do three years rather than four and you're only taking 6 classes a year. Classes also only meet either once a week or every other week depending on your year, and just for two or three hours. Students are expected to be much more independent and readings lists appear to be generally a few required readings plus a huge list of optional readings that you ought to choose a some things from but no one ever does. I haven't encountered any sort of busy work--you basically write two big essays for your whole grade. None of the professors get very fussy about attendance or punctuality either, though that may have more to do with them being used to the unreliable buses.

-They drive on the left. Duh. But they also seem to be much more reckless/confident drivers. They'll just speed around turns and kind of drive in the middle until they have to move over for another car. It's kind of like Bull Street all the time except faster.

-Row houses seem to be the norm and you can forget private bathrooms. Maybe this is just because I'm closer in to a city center where things are more cramped. I know row houses exist in northern cities in the US, but I don't know about their bathroom situations. Here, expect to share with the whole house.

-A lot of the sinks operate on two taps so your water is either really hot or really cold. Mixing to get lukewarm is not allowed.

-Compost and recycling! The city of Bath seems to be really awesome about these two things. At home, I can think of a total of maybe three people I know who compost, and if you want to recycle you have to take it yourself to the blue bins at walmart. Here, they collect both. Repeat: they collect compost.  You just collect it in a little bin in your kitchen and then the city picks it up for a city wide compost.  You can then buy some of the mulch they produce and they use the rest for something awesome, but I can't remember what it is.  Probably for the parks, etc.  Public works.

-I think I already said about the money, but it's all different sizes.  This gets kind of confusing for me as the 5p coins are dime sized and the ones that look like quarters are only 10p.  There are also coins for 20p and 50p but not 25p and £1 comes as a coin as well.  I think there are also £2 coins, but I haven't gotten one yet.  Bills start at £5 and go £10, £20, £50, etc. like ours do, but the £50s were too wide for my american wallet when I had them.

-The bus drivers are usually friendly.  I always felt like the bus drivers in Charleston were very upset with their jobs most of the time.

That's all I can think of so far.  Next up, everything that's the same!

1 comment:

  1. i'm wondering if i should start a travel blog about my excursions in nyc....i feel like the water situation here is similar to yours...the shower takes FOREVER to even get warm, but then it goes from warm to hot in about a second. the knob thing is very picky about its placement for a decent temperature of water. luckily, i don't shower that often.

    wayyyy too many people observations to even get into. but definitely the most diverse place i've ever been. generally on the subway at a busy time, there is one of pretty much every culture represented. also, they have their own sections of town. my favorite is the greek to egyptian area of queens. chinatown, not so much. a little too much china there.

    there are bodegas EVERYWHERE. and some really good organic ones, too, if you can find them. food is generally the same price as the piggly wiggly, sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more. but beer is usually three to four dollars more. so i really haven't done much purchasing of beer.

    couch surfing is amazing and a life saver. there is absolutely no possible way i would have made it a week here already if i didn't have a free place to stay with someone who is kind, generous, and open, and can give me the easiest subway directions. LOVE the subway. so easy to figure out. unlimited metro card means i can just wander around aimlessly taking as many rides as i want/need...cause sometimes i get on the wrong one :)

    well, i guess that comment just sufficed as a travel blog. perhaps i can blog on your blog? is that possible? it is now.

    cheers! namaste! oh, speaking of namaste, there are tons of yoga studios here that offer classes by donation! so basically if you have no conscience, you can go to yoga for free whenever you want. but two bucks will usually make them and you smile :)


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