Here are 5 things I have learned since moving here.
- Driving on the wrong side of the road Or indeed driving at all. I am not a big driver. I tend to walk everywhere, tube it everywhere but when I arrived on these shores, many people said "Good luck with that plan!" and promptly left me to it. I tried. I walked D to school even if it was like 25 minutes away and I made it. A couple of times. Then inappropriate footwear kicked in and I drove. Everywhere. To town (which is a 10 min walk), to the shops, to the cinema ... did I mention to town? But what I have learned is, I can drive! (Hence anyone can drive. No seriously. Anyone.) Now, it might be simpler because all cars are automatic here, and lanes are wider here but hey. I'm taking credit where credit is due. Whatever the circumstance. Not only do I drive, I drive on the wrong side of the road! Take that driving instructor! I even go on the highway!
- Spelling messes me up. Grammarly helps. Zs and Ss. Mum or Mom? Acclimatised or Acclimatized? Who knows? I am in America now but my head hurts with spelling and then I start worrying about my readers judging me and I'm paralytic with spelling hell. Can I spell? No. Grammarly helps. My head still screams "It's ZED not ZEEEEEE- EEEEE."
- Hot HOT weather. Years of being in the cold have taught me that no matter how hot the weather is, I'll still go out in it. Mad dogs and Englishwoman style. 40C (104F)? No problem! Let's walk! (see No.1) On the contrary, I'm freezing my butt off at 17C (62F) when in England that would be summer for most of us, grateful that the sun is out. I'm amazed how quickly I've acclimatized to hot weather. But I was born in Singapore where it feels like an oven most of the time. When it doesn't, it feels like soggy bread. And you wonder why I like it here.
- Friendliness. Now, this I take over ole' Blighty. You go into the shop or anywhere really (on a walk, in the park, in the CAR PARK) and everyone says hi, how are you, how are you doing. Then they move on. To the uninitiated, they would think that the Americans are genuinely interested and want their life story, but no. They are just being polite. They want to greet you, make small chit-chat and then leave. Don't make the mistake of telling them your life story. But equally, don't ignore them. Recently, H made a trip back to good old Britain (and Europe) and he sighed with relief when he wasn't being greeted (hounded was his word for it) with chirpy salutations upon entering a room, any room. "Oh," he said, "it was so good to be left in peace! I forgot how that felt!" Sourpuss I say. Some say the Americans are fake and really their greetings just roll off the tongue. They don't mean it. I'll take that over a glum face any day. Genuine or otherwise. I like that about the Americans.
- British friends keep me right. Recently, a British friend pulled me on the walking thing. She lives slightly further away from town than I do, and when I started to talk about driving into town and picking her up, I got the evil look and the obligatory nod of the head like she knew what I was talking about but didn't approve. And so I said, " We should walk huh?" and she simply nodded and that was that. That and it is still a biscuit, folks.
So here are the 5 things I've learned so far in my day-to-day. Maybe not terribly profound or insightful, but for the day-to-day, it works. I find being myself is the best thing and if 40C makes me feel like going out, I should drive rather than walk. Otherwise, walk where possible because it makes me feel like I am back in England. Unless wearing inappropriate footwear. Spelling is what it is, and I'll spell how I feel that day. Mum is becoming a lot more like Mom simply because the pronunciation lends itself to that spelling. But Ss will always win over Zs. Saying Hi to everyone, from America or otherwise, simply because it is a nice thing to do. There you have it, my 5 things.
(Still) Going strong in sunny California,