This has been a year of incredible growth for all of us, but none more so than Mr. G who has grown about 7″ since we arrive in July 2012. He is officially six feet tall or at least he was a week or so ago when we measured. He has now passed up 3/4 of his family and is quickly closing in on Lance. We should take bets on when this will take place. Lance used to predict that he would be passed up in G’s sophomore year, but that is still over a year away… I don’t think it will take that long. What do you think?
We have now lived outside of the U.S. for over a year. It is a very interesting process, adjusting to a new home and a new country. At first everything is interesting and fun, like vacation. Then a little bit of frustration sinks in, wondering why things just can’t be the same. Frustration when we can’t find the same food items or when the process for something, such as paying bills, the grading system at school, driving or participating in a sport, is different. Then as more time passes, the differences are not as obvious. We get used to things and are a bit more comfortable. We’re not surprised as often and sometimes forget what is different in the U.S. Now, there are actually some things we prefer here in England. Some processes that we think the U.S. should adopt because they work better. In many ways society is a bit kinder and gentler here. It’s safer for the kids to be out and about on their own. They have freedoms that we would not grant them in California.
Our quick trip through the U.S. in August (JFK airport) on our way to Puerto Rico provided a few funny observations. While in the airport Natalie suggested we stop at the Starbucks. Now Starbucks are everywhere in England, but there are a few differences. First, England does not have iced tea. For a country that consumes so much tea it is surprising that they do not like iced tea! It is always hot. In fact, if you order “hot tea” they look at you weird because that is the only kind of tea! So, ordering an iced tea-lemonade from Starbucks was a real treat. Immediately I noticed that the venti cups are enormous and the pastries – bagels and muffins – were twice the size of those available in England. They just looked giant. Europe as a whole does not consume the enormous portions that we consume in the U.S., and we never feel underfed. This is something that would be good to change in the U.S.
While driving in busses and cabs on the islands we visited in the Caribbean, we often found ourselves on the left side of the road. Sometimes the steering wheel was on the left, sometimes on the right. Our friends from California commented on how weird it was and how it felt as if we were going to hit another car. Lance and I didn’t even notice. Now, whether we drive on the left or the right it just makes sense. We don’t have to think about it too much, it just works.
Our memories on the other hand are not working so well. How is it that street names you have known for many years can suddenly leave your brain? We couldn’t remember the name of the street that runs along side the kids’ elementary school in Elk Grove and we couldn’t even remember the names of the streets that lead to our house in Wilton! We really had to focus to get them to pop back into our brains. I’d say this was just old age, but the kids couldn’t remember either.
We do still notice some differences here in England and laugh at some funny pronunciations. Words like aluminium, regulatory, controversy, and dynasty sound completely different in American English than in British English. We also have to laugh at some of the crazy foods we find in the grocery stores and in restaurants. I will take pictures and post on the more humorous items we find at the grocery store. But it is not uncommon to find tuna and corn sandwiches here, and did you know there are about five different kinds of bacon. None of which tastes like bacon in the U.S. And yes, they do eat more parts of pigs, cows, and sheep than we do in the U.S. You know what I mean.
So we are into year two in England. Same house, same school, same job for Lance. We will keep you posted on our explorations and we do hope to visit more of Europe this year. Some of the other countries are starting to call our names. We had quite a few wonderful visitors this past year. Lots of college students visiting Europe for a semester or the summer. Natalie had some fun visitors.
Anybody coming to visit in 2014?! We have a warm bed for you and we promise we won’t feed you any funny foods.