It’s tough, stressful, emotional, joyful, exciting, and so full of new experiences. Most of all, it’s full of unexpected ups and downs and it feels like I’m on a never ending roller coaster.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is meeting people. As an Au Pair, I work at home. I’ve met many other Au Pairs in my area, but that’s as far as my “work” social circle goes. The problem with meeting people this way is that being an Au Pair is a short term job. People are constantly coming and going, and no one is settling here permanently.
When most people move to a new place, they make friends at work or school and meet people that way. I don’t have that luxury. And as for adult sports teams or co-ed sports? Yeah… they don’t exist in my area.
Besides the fact that I can’t think of a single way to meet friends (other than going out to a pub with a sign that says “Desperate: Will trade hugs for friendship”), I’ve also got another issue which is having the time to make new friends. Between work, babysitting, and a boyfriend (no, I’m not blaming him or complaining that I’ve got a boyfriend because he’s wonderful!), I’ve got absolutely no time to go out and meet new people. My weekends are solidly booked up and I work so late on weekdays that it’s impossible to go out. Plus everything in England closes at stupid early hours.
Another thing that myself and many others have noticed is that many people here just aren’t interested in making new friends. Many people have got their group of friends, and aren’t really open to meeting new people or adding to their group. Which is great…. except for people like me who have no one and would love to meet new people.
Not being able to meet people or make friends can make it EXTREMELY lonely here, and it really makes me long for home. I miss being able to call someone up and go for coffee when you just need to get out. Or go to a movie with, or sit around in pajamas watching lame movies with.
In theory, moving away for a year as an Au Pair is an easy move. Making short term friends with other Au Pairs sounds fantastic. Meet some people from different cultures, set up travel connections, see some of the world, and be on your way 365 days later!
But what happens when life has other plans for you? What happens when you’re thrown a curve ball, all of your circumstances change, and all of a sudden a year isn’t long enough? And the perfect short term job you have just won’t do and you have to find a real job and a place to live and figure out a town to live in. And those short term friends you made have moved away, and now you’re left lonely in a country that you’re supposed to be fighting to stay in?
Welcome to the complexity of my life.
It’s really hard to plan out my next steps when I’ve got so many conflicting thoughts about my current situation, and what life “could” be like in the future. It’s really hard to plan around “what ifs” and distant possibilities. And it gets difficult to differentiate between what’s best for me, and what’s easiest for me.
I’m really hoping to just enjoy my summer and think about all of my impending decisions come September. But anyone who knows me knows that I’m an over-thinking pessimist, which means these thoughts will be constantly weighing on my mind until I figure out my life.
In celebration of being halfway done my original intended time in this country, here is a list of some of the things I love and hate about England!
Things I Love:
- Drinking tea at all hours of the day. I love that people here offer tea rather than coffee, and I’ve finally learned how to make the perfect cup.
- Costa (Yes, I know it’s actually Italian coffee, but it’s just so good!)
- Being greeted with the word “Cheerio!”.
- Fish and Chips. The ones at home just don’t compare!
- The fact that almost any word can be used to describe being drunk
- Crepe carts on pretty much every high street <3
- CIDER, CIDER, CIDER! <3 I could never, ever go back to living in a place where there isn’t 20+ varieties of cider available for my joyous consumption!
- All of the different accents. Pretty much everyone you encounter has a slightly different English accent.
- The lovely people I’ve met
- The weather (most of the time)
- Indian Food! It’s so much better here than at home!
- Cobblestone streets
- Architecture. Everything here is just so old and beautiful, and I love the fact that everything has a history. My coach house that I live in is more than twice as old as Canada!
- Casual Drinking. I really like that you can have a drink at any time of the day and not be considered an alcoholic.
- Pubs everywhere
- Being able to buy booze pretty much anywhere. You can buy alcohol in most shops at any time of the day. TAKE A HINT, ONTARIO!!!
- Football (Soccer). I’ve really come to appreciate the enjoyment of watching a football game in a pub with a pint. (I still miss hockey though!)
- English countryside. There’s absolutely nothing like it! <3
- Sheep EVERYWHERE. They make me inexplicably happy.
- Red telephone booths (Tip: Do not touch one unless you want to pick up some sort of disease)
Things I really dislike (or don’t understand):
- Expensive transportation. It costs me roughly $9 Canadian to get 10 minutes up the road on a bus (middle of town to home)! The trains are even worse.
- Everything (shops, pubs, restaurants, etc) closes insanely early
- Being greeted with “You all right?”…. This is one I still don’t understand and I would love it if someone could explain this to me. I still have no idea how to respond to this and I feel like an idiot every time, because I know they’re not actually asking how I’m doing.
- Sluts in the pubs. I’d like to point out that the English girls that I’ve met and befriended are all super sweet and this is NOT about them! However, the majority of English girls (or maybe I should just say girls in England) just seem like absolute idiots. They get dressed up in skanky clothes and hooker shoes just to go out to the pub. Plus they’re just really obnoxious drunks.
- Most people don’t love foreigners. Many English people are pretty bitter about their country being overpopulated by foreigners, especially people from other countries in the EU (read: Eastern Europeans), Although most are friendly toward me, I get pretty upset by their intolerance of others.
- Blatant, casual racism. Although most English people will say that they don’t mean the things they say negatively, I can’t think of a single day I’ve been here where I haven’t heard something politically incorrect, racist, discriminatory, or prejudice. I dislike that most of the people here think it’s okay to make the “jokes” that they do, and get extremely uncomfortable in these situations.
-Constantly being asked if I’m American, and having to explain that being Canadian is NOT “the same thing”. The next English person to ask me where in America I’m from is going to get back, ”So tell me, where in Wales are you from?”
- Schools (their school system is shit)
- The way they pronounce “Tomato” as “Toe-mah-toe” and correct me when I say it. Listen up, English folks.. If you pronounce “Potato” as “Potato”, then there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON WHY YOU SHOULD PRONOUNCE “TOMATO” ANY DIFFERENTLY!!!!!!
- Using the words “loo” or “toilet” to describe the washroom (or bathroom). It just sounds gross.
- Saying “wee” instead of “pee” (same reason as above).
- Mushy peas. Self explanatory.
- Coriander (cilantro) in EVERYTHING and making no mention of it on the menus. I get so pissed off every time this happens because I can’t even force myself to eat it.
Tintagel (King Arthur’s castle) in Cornwall, England.
Go for the castle, stay for the view.
The cliffs were absolutely beautiful! It had everything. The sparkling sea, waterfalls, caves, beautiful English countryside view, even Voldemort’s cave!
St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, England.
When the tide is out, a hidden pathway is revealed to walk onto the island. When the tide is in, visitors take a boat.
The view from the top of the castle is stunning!
The Castle we stayed at in Somerset, England.