It Has Been 4 Years Living In England – What Have I Learnt?
"I make it a point in conversations with people, that the two countries mentioned, I love for their own exclusive reasons"
In this article I wish to share some thoughts again about what I’ve learned about life since moving to the UK. In one of my first blogs called Loving Where You Live, Even Bradford I over-viewed how I responded to the question of “Why Bradford?”. I would advise to go there and read first before continuing with this article as I expand on it.
(This is intended to be light hearted and humorous in tone on some of these points, not personal or mean.)
Things That Still Fascinate Me About the UK
Architecture – There are countless places that you can go to find the grandest and oldest of stone work that exists in the world. The best part is you don’t need to go far. Sophia and I were having a meal at a pub within Bradford and from the glass window that we sat, we could observe really intriguing designs of the building adjacent to us. Windows and door frames with layers of different shapes nested into each other accompanied by stone sculptured faces of random people. One of the main things I did when doing some solo discovery of the UK was to seek out church cathedrals. They were easy places that had a density of interest to me. Buildings like York Minster leave you speechless as you marvel at the scale to which some smart human beings imagined things into existence.
History – It’s all around you and you’ll never run out of things to research. the UK’s role throughout history has been remarkable as powerful pioneers, warlords and inventors. In my time living here I have felt it easier to absorb some of the realizations about the wars, geographical territories and church history. I don’t think I ever had much interest or capacity in learning much about these things while in Australia, perhaps because of the locational isolation from other countries and me being a tad younger.
Accents – Not a surprise but accents are fascinating. What caught me off guard after some years was how I noticed how characterful Australian accents are after not hearing them for some time. Returning home on a number of occasions and hours of Facetime interactions – I paid more attention to what people were saying in a confusing mix of familiarity and renewal of perspective. Sometimes I’d laugh at how we sound and sometimes I’d cringe. The shoe has been put on the other foot but a fun lesson on what shapes our upbringing by sheer location.
People Still Think Everywhere in Australia is Hot – It’s still a stereotype that won’t go away thanks to Neighbours, Home & Away and Bondi Rescue. I have to explain (lovingly) that Australia does indeed have cold winters to which the body language of the other person signifies I must be confused about the question. The most annoying thing to hear from me will be, because of Australia’s size is… “It depends”. As far as where I am from in the South, it’s no England or Scotland but it’s still jolly wooly with potential for extreme wind storms, giant hailstones and a deluge of heavy rainfall. Yet by summer it’s the often the driest state in all of Australia with drought and bushfires a common yearly occurrence.
Pubs Are a Way of Life – I never was much into pub culture back home but it’s interesting to see how there is nuance in the citizen of the British versus the Australian pub. For the British there is never a wrong reason nor time of day to enter the pub. You could argue there are many Aussies whom would say the same for home but I think majoritively you go at the conclusion of something. Hard week at the office, long week on the farm got you thirsty, it’s Friday, or you’re meeting your mates at a declared time for some occasion. Over here you don’t arrange time with your mates because the vast majority of them are probably already there.
Things I still Can’t Get Used to in the UK
Sunshine Makes the Front Pages – Yeah it’s true and the longer I’m here the more I believe it’s worthy news to gasp at. I have grown a larger appreciation for the seasons that roll around each year, each with it’s own form of anticipation. Winter is both harsh outside yet made cosy with the way houses are built for insulation. Spring/Summer feels like a sigh of relief as people hesitantly remove a layer or two, graduating into into the flip flops around July/August.
“Owt or Nowt“ (meaning: anything/nothing) – It doesn’t sound good. The forest tree in need of removal from my own eye as an Australian would the rhetorical saying “aya gaan” (how’s it going?) to greet people. No country has logically perfect slang, whatever that would even be, however this particularly Yorkshire phrase need not exist. Australia has plenty of shockingly nonsensical slang but im picking this fight anyway with no hope for victory.
Inordinate Amount of Moaning – The Brits are an interesting bunch somehow pulling off being very proud yet bummed out at the same time, made easiest with a pint in their hand. It’s not that they are always hard to please but there is a whiff that they just won’t ever be happy. I think this is ironically how they stay so productive throughout the generations and get through tough times.
Lack of Space – Just to moan a bit myself, the lack of space has taken a long time to adjust to. I was used to wide open spaces and country roads. I loved the slower traffic pace of a small town with wide voids of unused space and everywhere was 10 minutes away in the car. The lack of real-estate has also inspired a lack of creativity in their homes. Not to say there aren’t a good many beautiful homes but most houses have the same or similar interior layout with exception to differing wallpaper choice. There’s only so much you can do with a 2 tiered box. Detached housing is not the normative arrangement (premium price) and the sheer amount of terraced houses from a birds eye looks very Lego like. Australian homes to me have much more individuality and character.
So there you have it. My non exhaustive experience of the Great Britain that will no doubt expand with time. I make it a point in conversations with people, that the two countries mentioned, I love for their own exclusive reasons. I am blessed to of been apart of both cultures and enjoy the comparison as much as the next person! I look forward to doing another one of these and see what else I can pick on.