Expat Tips, or What I’ve Learned So Far

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Get as many records as possible from your doctors before leaving. Getting them sent over may prove a Herculean task, due to varying laws and regulations, and may prevent you from getting care.

If you ship your own boxes over, save the labels and compare them with your receipts so you can check off what’s arrived and what hasn’t. This way, you’ll avoid “has it gotten lost in the mail” anxiety, which is not fun.

“Y’alright?” doesn’t mean “Oh my God are you okay,” but is just a casual greeting.

It will cost you 30 p to uh, pee at Victoria Station. And you must have the correct coin combinations. No five pence coins. Lines, or the queue, will form quickly behind you, so get your coins ready.

Hang on to your train ticket. Every time I throw it out it seems it’s too early. Here are the times that it’s too early to throw out your train ticket:

1. Once you arrive at your destination
2. After you use the facilities INSIDE the train station of your
3. Once you’ve left the train station

Why? Why hang on to it? Because A) you need it to get out the turnstiles in the station or you will get a big nasty fine and B) the OUT ticket looks almost exactly like the RET ticket, and if you toss the wrong one, your husband who has just had a marathon-ish long day will be really irritated, but will be very nice about it, which will make you feel worse, especially if you have about thirty seconds to get on the train before it pulls away. That’s why. Just HANG ON to those tickets and you can wrap Christmas gifts with them, collage style, or tape a bunch together and use them as mailing envelopes. You can use them as coasters for your tea party with the foxes. Just don’t, for the love of all creatures great and small, throw them out before you’ve used both tickets in your journey.

Speaking of foxes, that weird sound you hear every day that sounds like a dog whose vocal cords have been altered is indeed a fox. Even though you never see it, it calls all day, sort of like a rooster, and it’s not a pleasant sound, so will always make you kind of sad.

If you’re at a bar or club and are not drinking-drinking, don’t ask for Ginger Ale. They will look at you like you’re insane. Don’t ask for Sprite either. Ask for Ginger Beer (like Ginger Ale) or Lemonade, which is like Sprite.

Don’t put too much money on your Oyster Tube card because if you lose it right after topping it off, you’ll be mad.

Molasses is called “Black Treacle.” When the store clerk at the supermarket tells you what it is, you’ll think he’s saying “Black Trickle.” Much fun will be had by all involved–store clerk, and near-by shoppers. Silly American.

I will be making a chart of US/UK terms I’ve encountered so far, but the biggest ones are: “the till” which is the cashier, “the tip” which is the junkyard or dump, and of course, “the boot” which is the trunk of the car. But we all know the last one. There are about a hundred of these, and I learn a new one each day.

About time–things will take time, and then they might take some more time. For whatever reason, I seem to be moving through molasses that no one is in but me. You really can’t prepare for all the change beforehand. You just have to do as much as possible to make the transition easier, and then just jump in.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. mujerboricua
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 17:26:09

    The “Y’alright?” *got* me every time when I initially moved here. Drove me crazy. I would go home and look in a mirror to make sure I wasn’t looking deathly or anything.

    I hope your doctor visit goes well. Better than mine at least. Four times is a charm because I finally got a referral to a specialist. Finally.


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