The Dutchman’s Guide to Fitting In

I am an American citizen. I am also a Dutch citizen. This means I get to pick and choose which passport I want to travel on, and when I want to identify either the Dutch or the Americans as a ‘they’, or as an ‘us’. Since I currently live in the UK, I often find myself talking about both the Dutch and Americans as ‘they’ these days. Today, however, I’ll be wearing my Dutch hat.

Not this one, thank god.
Not this one, thank god.

When I moved to the Netherlands seven years ago I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pretty confident that my status as a long-time TCK would help me to deal with whatever came my way. I am used to being immersed in new cultures (for better or for worse), and I am used to having to adapt and fit in quickly. What I definitely didn’t expect was that I would learn a thing or two from the Dutch about this process.

When choosing a nationality for the character of Goldmember (in the 2002 movie of the same title), Mike Myers wanted someone from ‘a place that nobody has an axe to grind with’. How do you develop that kind of status as a nation? Partly by financing half the world and providing vital trade to the other half, partly by becoming known as ‘that place where weed is legal’ (again, a savvy sales tactic), and partly by encouraging its citizens to become expert blenders.

So here, as my gift to you, is the Dutchman’s three-step guide to fitting in. Use it wisely. Continue reading

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How to Pronounce British Place Names (without sounding like a git)

Leicester_Square_tube_station
Lie-ses-ter? NOPE. “Lester.” via Wikimedia Commons.

In addition to learning spelling differences between British and American English, there are some other things that are helpful if you’re a first time pond-hopper. There are some obvious pronunciation differences between these two version of English that most people are already aware of, such as “aluminium” instead of “aluminum,” “herb” with an “h,” or the contrast between emphasizing of syllables like “laboratory” versus “laboratory.” But one of the hardest things to learn is the pronunciation of place names. For example, when I see the name “Holborn” I want to say it more or less the way it is spelled— “hole-born.” But surprise! It is actually said “ho-bun” with a very, very soft “r” in the “bun” bit. The Brits tend to swallow some consonants, and sometimes entire syllables.

You don’t want to sound like a complete idiot while traveling abroad, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some place names. Here’s a little guide from Anglophenia showing you how to properly say some commonly mispronounced place names.

Anglophenia has several other videos constructed to help Americans understand many things that are inherently British. Check our their Youtube channel for more.

Happy travels!

My Favourite Eats in London

One of the first things I did after moving back to California from London was make a list of my favourite places to eat. I love a good meal, and many of my happiest vacation memories revolve around food. Without further ado, here are some of the places I enjoyed the most while living in London.

LA PORCHETTA—84/86 Rosebery Avenue

la porchetta
via La Porchetta

This small Italian chain came to my attention when the leaders of my programme at City University London took us out for dinner. There are a few different locations, but the one I frequented was the Clerkenwell branch. The prices are a tiny bit steep if you’re on a tight budget, but the portions are also pretty huge, so consider sharing an entree with someone. My favourite dish here is the spaghetti. That might seem rather boring, but they serve the most delicious tomato sauce I’ve ever had. It’s freshly made, with bright flavors that you cannot find in a jar.

BOMBAY BURRITO—357 Goswell Road

bombay-burrito
via Trip Advisor

This little spot is just down the street from the Angel station, and is terribly addicting. Although it might sound strange at first, hear me out! Bombay Burrito’s main dish is exactly what it sounds like: Indian food wrapped in a flour tortilla. You can also order a curry bowl or salad bowl if you don’t like tortillas. My regular order was a burrito with tikka masala curry and either tandoori chicken or shredded beef, topped with rice, chickpeas, grilled onions, lettuce, mango chutney, and garlic chili chutney. Continue reading

Holidays in London

via LSC London
via LSC London

This year I spent my first Christmas and New Years away from home. The holidays in London were an experience I won’t forget any time soon. If you have the opportunity to travel during your next Christmas vacation, consider coming to the UK! This list only scratches the surface of activities.

1.) White Christmas at the Dominion Theatre—The season started on a great foot. Our friend Maggie surprised me and Kendra with tickets to see the stage adaptation of White Christmas. It is a favorite musical of all three of us, and we had a blast seeing it live. Although there were minor changes, as there always are, it was the best way to get into the Christmas spirit.

2.) Harry Potter Studio Tour—We managed to snag Groupon tickets for a special deal that included dinner, butterbeer, and special guests. While the tour is amazing all on its own, we got to watch a wand-making demonstration, as well as see several of the animal actors. The best part was seeing the scale model of Hogwarts decorated for Christmas—covered in snow, it felt like we were part of Harry’s world, if only for a moment.

3.) Harrods window displays—Ah, Harrods. The store that makes you feel remarkably poor just by walking past. They are famous for their window displays, which are particularly festive during Christmas.

4.) Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park—From the end of November to the beginning of January, Hyde Park transforms into a massive amusement attraction, with food, rides, games, Santa Land, and a Christmas market. There is also an ice rink!

5.) Some friends visited from the States during Christmas, so some of our other activities weren’t necessarily holiday-themed. However, it was great to mark the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Windsor, Stonehenge, and Lacock off my travel list. The last three were seen in a day, thanks to a bus tour.

Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to London, Part II

via Giphy
via Giphy

Because this is a never-ending learning experience…

1.) The British love fireworks.

2.) You say “sorry” for everything. Really, you apologize all the time.

3.) Christmas is a HUGE thing here. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have Thanksgiving to celebrate.

4.) There is a difference between a bus and a coach. (A bus is what you ride around the city, while a coach is a luxury bus that you take from one city to another.)

5.) Splitting checks at restaurants is really simple, as they bring the card scanner right to the table for you.

6.) English food isn’t what popular culture would have you think.

7.) Wifi here sucks.

8.) Despite the bad wifi, the BBC and ITV iplayers are much more user friendly than any streaming platform in the US.

9.) Soy milk is “soya” milk.

10.) Picking up the way they say “yeah” is really easy. I may or may not come back home sounding like a Brit.