Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Adapting and Getting Uninvited

Dear blog readers, do not think it has escaped my notice that I have been writing about fewer and fewer observations as time goes on. I have, and I feel a bit bad about it.

But at the same time, it's not that I'm choosing not to. It's that, well... a lot of things aren't new to me anymore. It's funny how easily you adapt to life somewhere, and how quickly things become normal. As funny as I still find some things, like hitting what resembles a light switch to open a door, it's the first thing I look for if I have trouble with one. Nowadays, if the temperature is higher than forty degrees, I'm commenting on how warm it is. And even though if I were in school back home and wouldn't be done lessons (er... classes) for another two months, I am chomping at the bit for March to be over so I can basically start my summer.

I do have some observations for you, though! A few things I continue to notice:

Fire doors: On almost every door- literally every one, even if they're five feet away from each other- there is a small sign that looks like this:

When I came over here for London Preview in 2009, I didn't know what to do with these doors. In America, if you were to open a door that said this, an alarm would go off. So when Young Rachel, a girl of nineteen, was standing in the hallway of the hostel, she could not figure out how she was supposed to get to her room when all of the doors would alarm if she opened them. When she finally asked a worker at the hostel, they laughed at her.
Since then, I have learned that pretty much all doors say this and those with alarms are labeled as such. But it can still be very confusing.

Another thing regarding doors: The door handle is no indication as to how the door itself will be opened. For the most part, American doors have a handle if the door should be pulled and either a bar or a flat metal plate if it should be pushed. Not here. Here, they seem to place their doorknobs/plates/handles willy-nilly (and at very strange heights, too. Sometimes they're at waist height, other times, they're level with my shoulder), and so it's like a guessing game as to how a door will actually open. I don't understand it.

A phrase: Something "going pear-shaped" means that something's gone wrong.

A signature: A big thing with young British women (and perhaps guys, but I don't know) is signing anything they write with an "x" (yes, like a kiss.) This happens in text messages, Facebook everything, written notes, e-mails... everywhere. It's cute, but I also think it can be a little excessive.

Things At Different Times: Mother's Day is this month. Daylight Savings (I just found out from Emmie) happens on the 27th of this month.

Food: Ketchup is sweeter (and called tomato sauce, although the one I have from Sainbury's is in fact labeled "Tomato Ketchup"), but this is something I've stopped noticing. They don't refrigerate their eggs or, sometimes, their milk. Powdered milk is also a big thing. They label some cereals and "sweets" as "for adults." I don't like many of their cereals because I find some of them very bland. Digestives remain delicious and I am going to miss them so much when I go home.

Another phrase: "Hiya" is the sort of expression that, if someone said it to me at home, I would give them a look that said something along the lines of, "Are you five?" But here, everyone says it- kids, adult, students, teachers, friends, new acquaintances, shop keepers, security guards... everyone. And I really like it- it's a quick way to be very friendly, and I enjoy being greeted like that.

My own way of dressing: is slowly changing, influenced by London. Yesterday I wore a combination of colors that I would have never thought of wearing at home, but didn't stick out here at all. The difference between Londoners and Americans is that the latter wear a top and a bottom. Londoners have outfits, and they may be really crazy sometimes. Mine was not crazy... except in my own mind :p

And now for a story: the Monday after homestay, one of the coordinators met up with all of us individually to ask us how we were doing, how homestay was, etc. At this meeting, he also asked if we wanted to volunteer at the dinner for this year's preview students. I said sure- I can talk about my experience in London and eat their delicious free food. He took my name down and said he'd be sending the information out sometime in the future.
Jump to yesterday- the day of the dinner, or at least I thought so. We still hadn't been sent any information (two months later), so I couldn't be sure. I had tried to call the day before, but the office runs on London time or course, and so wasn't open. I called back around ten a.m. yesterday morning. I introduced myself and said that I was wondering if there was any info on the dinner, since no one had gotten any. "Oh," the man on the other end asked. "Are you a preview student?" "No, I volunteered to help out." "So you're staying here?" "Um... yes..." No, I just heard about the dinner walking down the street and thought I'd call...? "Uh, the dinner is tonight," he told me, with a little bit of an attitude. This annoyed me, since it was their job to send me the information. He went on to tell me that it was at seven at the same college I'd had dinner at twice, once for preview and once during orientation this year. He said he'd send me an e-mail with all of the info.
Okay, cool. So I kept my e-mail open as I chatted with my friend Lauren, who I know from my home school and who is visiting from her own studies in Italy. She wanted to get together that night and I told her that I couldn't- our school has dropped the ball and I had just found out that I was busy. About a half an hour later, I happened to glance at my e-mail, and there was a note from the London office: "There was an error in the event co-ordination, and therefore your attendance will no longer be required at this event."

Well... okay. I guess I was officially uninvited. I was really feeling the love. But at least I had a clue. Adrienne, who had also signed up, only knew all of this because I told her, and anyone else who didn't contact them is still hanging around, waiting to be told when to come to dinner. I'm not annoyed that they uninvited us to the event- after all, more Arcadia students come to London than any other place for preview, so I understand that they may not have had the room for us. But is it so hard to tell us this? They had to have known by at least last month, if not sooner, how many preview kids would be coming. *sigh*


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