05 Jul 2012

10 things I wish I knew before coming to the UK

So, I’m starting a new series. I’m going to post a “10 Things” post. Everything from 10 things I wish I knew (like today) to 10 things I’m wishing for to 10 really great books I’ve read. The possibilities are endless!

For now, I’m kicking it off with (in no particular order)….

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming to the UK

1. Everyone smokes and apparently it’s no big deal.

I mean everyone. Cute mothers pushing babies in strollers (also called “buggies” or “prams”), 12-year-old girls sitting outside stores and everyone walking down the street. I guess I hadn’t realized due to all the smoking bans and laws in place at home that smoking has become a bit of a taboo thing. Not the case here.

2. Drink sizes are WAY different.

As in, the “veinte” at Starbucks (hello, 20 ounces!) is smaller. There is no such thing as a fountain drink or free refills. Bottles are teeny. Cups are teeny. How do these people stay hydrated, or over-caffeinated?!

3. Everyone dresses to impress. All. The. Time.

I am not kidding and wish I was. For this girl, who loves to rock a t-shirt and jeans every day, it has been tough to keep up with the super trendy British chicks. I have yet to see a British girl wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt, a hoodie or even sneakers. It’s always skinny jeans, shorts with leggings, cute dresses, oversize sweaters that look perfectly thrown together, flawless makeup and perfectly mussed hair. Boys aren’t even allowed into bars if they’re wearing Converse. It’s crazy.

4. The coins are confusing.

At home, I’d be pretty embarrassed to pay for a $5 item in coins. But here, it’s no big deal. That’s because there is a £2 coin, a £1 coin, 50 pence coin, 20 pence coin, 10 pence coin, five pence coin and the one pence coin, called the penny. So if something cost £5, you can pay for it with three coins. Even though I’ve been here for almost a month, I still find myself holding up the line at the checkout counting out all the coins. I think it’s because their five pence coin is the size of our dime, so I always get tripped up thinking I’m counting tens when I’m counting fives. What a bother.

5. People think we are Canadian.

Apparently the only people who sound like Americans are Canadians. And apparently Canadian visitors are more common than American ones, at least in Worcester. Everywhere we go we get asked, “Oh my gosh, are you Canadian?” When we respond, “No, American,” they say, “Oh yeah, that makes sense. Canadians are way louder.” Whatever that means.

6. They have never heard of Modern Family.

There are no words for this one.

7. Even though they speak English, we can only understand them half the time.

I thought it wouldn’t be any trouble to get used to the slang terms they use. Um, wrong. Even though our languages are technically the same, it’s really hard to follow along when people are speaking here. There are so many slang words and terms that I am unfamiliar with. And the reverse is true as well. When a cashier asks if I need a receipt and I say, “I’m good,” they stare at me blankly.

8. They have very different ideas on travel.

For example, when we said we were going to Edinburgh, a 4 1/2 hour train trip, people were amazed. “You’re going ALL the way to Edinburgh for the weekend?” was the response. To us, four hours is no big deal. You can drive four hours and not even get from the north end of Indiana to the south end. I thought in a country this small people would be way more apt to travel more frequently. Not true at all.

9. They really love their queen.

That’s fine with me, I’m obsessed with their royal family as well.

10. They have good design everywhere.

I mean REALLY good. And it’s EVERYWHERE. It’s going to be hard to go home to Indiana where we have town names in comic sans on the water towers ;)

Valerie Carnevale | Graphic Designer, Photographer

@vmcarnevale

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25 Jun 2012

Wish you were here–greetings from England!

Hello from England! I’m part of the University of Worcester group, so I’m already over here and have a full week of classes under my belt. It’s weird that I’ve only been in this country for three weeks because honestly, it feels like a LOT longer! It’s cool how quickly you can settle into your surroundings. My surroundings right now are beautiful–old brick buildings and winding cobblestone streets, some dating back to the Tudor times! The town of Worcester sits in the shadow of the massive Worcester Cathedral, which began construction in 1080. SO OLD.

It finally feels real that I’m in England, but it still doesn’t quite feel real that I’m covering the Olympics. THE OLYMPICS! I thought it would sink in once I got here, but nope! Maybe it’s because I’m not in London where all the action is going to be, or because I’ve been so busy getting acquainted with Worcester and starting classes, but it’s hard to believe that in just a few short weeks, the rest of the Olympic crew will be here and the whirlwind of interviews, planning graphics and shooting photos is going to begin.

That being said, the excitement of the Olympics being held here in just over a month is palpable. There is bunting everywhere. Bunting, in case you were wondering, are those little flag pennants you see all over Pinterest that have suddenly become very trendy for DIY weddings. And yes, I’ll be using it all over the reception at my own wedding because it’s so cute! And cheap and awesome and cheery. But literally, every store window is draped with it. The streets of Worcester have red, white and blue bunting criss-crossing overhead, and Colleen picked up several strands of it for her and Ryan’s flat. It’s addictive! As if the bunting overload isn’t enough, there are union flags hanging everywhere from house windows to giant ones all along Oxford and Regent streets in London and from every official-looking building.

One of my professors here at the university told our class that this display of patriotism and national pride definitely isn’t the norm, but due to Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, everyone is trying to “beef up the Britishness” and really reclaim what it means to be British and proud. Which is why, even aside from all the amazing things we’re doing with BSU at the Games and all the incredible content we’re going to produce, this trip is so worth it. It’s so fun to be part of the atmosphere and soak up the energy of the country as it prepares to host international athletics’ biggest stage.

My professor says that it’s a very exciting time to be British. I would one-up that and say that regardless of being British or not, it’s a very exciting time to be in Britain period. It’s already been one of the best experiences of my life, and I can’t wait to see and experience everything as the Games draw closer.

Cheers!

Valerie Carnevale | Graphic Designer, Photographer

@vmcarnevale

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11 May 2012

U.K. sports: dreary or daring?

I grew up in a family centered around athletics. My dad is a coach, my mom was an athletic trainer, and my brothers and I combined probably played every popular sport in the U.S. As I prepare for my trip to England this summer, centered around the biggest sporting event in the world, I’m becoming intrigued about the sports culture in the U.K. On one hand, ravenous European sports fans can be as intense as a Raiders fan during a playoff game. On the other hand, sports from across the pond do have a reputation to be rather … dreary. Is the difference between U.S. and U.K. sports so different?

Rugby
Rugby is the grandfather of football, American football that is. Basically, it’s football on steroids. There are fifteen players, and literally everybody on the field, or pitch, is in danger of taking a blow. Backs, essentially the scorers of rugby, can kick, throw and run the ball to score just like a football quarterback would. However, you are not allowed to throw the ball forward. Forwards are the linemen and they do all the tackling. There are also these weird team huddle groups called scrams, and they’re used like a face-off in hockey.

Honestly, I’m really intrigued by rugby. It’s is all about brute force and quick feet. It’s minimal protection and massive muscle. The average weight of a professional rugby player is 238 pounds. Bloody hell. What more could a female sports fan ask for?

Cricket
No matter how much I read up on cricket, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand the game. It’s sort of like baseball, in that there is a bat, a ball and to score you need to make runs. There are some fun twists that include wickets and bails. There are three wickets, or posts, that stand behind the batter. On top of the wickets are two pieces of wood called bails. If a batter knocks off the bails, then they’re out. There are only two “bases” that the batters run between. The positions are essentially the same: pitcher, batter, fielders.

It’s baseball mixed with Jenga. Did I also mention that cricket uniforms make the players look like they’re going out for tea afterwards?

Polo
Interestingly enough, Polo originated in India. It is legitimately the fastest sport in the world. The U.S. doesn’t really have a sport to compare to polo. We do have a men’s cologne named after it though.

Players on horses race full -peed towards a tiny ball, swinging giant mallets. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe not so ironically, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 64 percent of polo injuries were considered major, the most common of which were fractures and facial lacerations. So if you like demolition derby mixed with croquet and horse racing, polo is the sport for you.

Tennis, soccer (football), boxing, golf
Tennis, soccer, boxing and golf are other sports that are really popular in the United Kingdom. Soccer is an especially beloved pastime. Don’t call it soccer though, unless you want everyone to know that you are an uncultured American.
Some other sports words that you should know are: pitch (field), boots (cleats), kit (uniform), footie (game/match), etc., etc.

Even though cricket and polo are the only sports on this list that aren’t an official sport of the summer Olympic Games, I’m still excited to see all of these games and athletes in action.

Jessica Pettengill  |  Features Reporter 

@jmpetty10


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