October 20, 2014

7 Ideas for an Amazing British Halloween Costume

TARDIS dresses

I'm a last-minute person. 

The person who is frantically Googling a recipe 30 minutes before dinnertime. For those of you who are still undecided about how to dress for your friend's Halloween party next week, have I got a post for you!

We're all Britophiles here, so naturally we want a Brit-tastic costume for Halloween. With so many options—most either cheesy or hackneyed—it's important to put your creativity to work. Here are some tips for pulling off a really wonderful costume:

October 17, 2014

Back Home

At long last, I am home. The USA home, not the other one.

It's been a whirlwind month, full of fascinating travel experiences across four countries, hellos and goodbyes, and innumerable experiences that I will remember for a lifetime.

Even though I've been home for a couple of weeks, there is still so much left to process. It's hard to get my head around the fact that I don't have a return-ticket to Britain in hand. I'm an ex-expat, and it's taking some adjustment. 

Don't worry, there will be more posts to come. I've nearly worn out my camera taking photos all over Britain, and there are so many stories in my head that need to spill out here on the blog.

Get ready for some brit-tastic goodness.

One last glimpse of England

September 07, 2014

Black Pudding

Random interjection here...

I Had This For My Tea

First of all, who thought this was a good idea? The Moors and Romans, apparently, and ancient Brits agreed.

Of all the British delicacies that have presented themselves to me during my time in England, this is one that I've never gotten the nerve to sample. I've tried a bite of haggis, and had my fill of bubble-and-squeak and scouse, but the black pudding bests me every time. 

September 04, 2014

The Britophile Diaries: 10 Days Left

I only have 10 days left as a resident of England. This fact makes my heart melt. Not only am I in love with this country, but I've become deeply attached to Capernwray Hall and the wonderful friends I've made here. 

This year has stretched me in so many different directions. I've loved, I've lost, I've cried more than I ever remember crying and laughed more than I ever remember laughing. I'm learning to love people, love God, and love myself. It shocks me how much I've changed since September 2013. 

On the outside I've chopped off my long hair and gotten my ears pierced and gained weight. On the inside I've become more confident, outgoing, and vulnerable. I'm learning to trust others, even when there's a risk of getting hurt. I'm learning to have adventures without planning them out in advance. I've stripped my faith down to the bare bones and am building it up again with rock-solid truth. It's a slow process, but I'm growing. 

September 01, 2014

The Britophile Diaries: Living the Everyday

Waking up to the hiss of radiators, I feel cold air rush up to meet my bare feet as I swing them out of bed. Groggy, I nearly bump my head on the low eaves and pull back the curtain to find bright sunshine at this ungodly hour. I wash my face under burning hot and freezing cold water from the double taps, and squeak across the floorboards to the toilet down the hall. 

Welcome to another day in England.

Looking back on the posts I've written since coming to live here, I realize how little I've talked about the everyday things. Of course there's the usual shopping for food, navigating outlet-free bathrooms, and breaking into Chinese restaurants, but as a blog reader recently pointed out, I haven't really said whether I like living here as an expat on a day-to-day basis.

The answer: yes. Hands down.

At first I wondered if the charm of Britain would rub off, if working and eating and reading and traveling in this country every day for a year would change the way I felt about it. It hasn't. Of course some of the glitz and glamor has gone (see my post, The Dream Dies), but that wasn't the part that counted. The sparkle of my interest in Britain was like the powerful attraction that starts a romance. What is left when the first attraction has faded is a deep, abiding love.

Contrary to what you might have gathered from my posts here, I don't spend every single day tripping around the countryside, climbing hills and eating traditional fare in seaside villages. There's plenty of that, but most of my life involves stuff like this:

August 29, 2014

10 Tips for Survival in Britain

Whether you're moving here or just visiting, here are ten random (and in some cases, hard-won) pieces of advice on entering British culture.

10 Tips for Survival in England
My tips for a smooth landing

1. Don't badmouth the NHS, or give your opinion on any politics for that matter. You think you know all about it, but you probably don't. Either take the time to research in-depth and form an educated opinion, or just keep quiet. 

2. Ask questions. Tons of them. This is just common sense for any traveler, but I'm amazed how much time someone (ehem...me) can waste time and money being clueless instead of asking a local. "Which platform does the Glasgow train come to?" "Can you recommend a cheap chippie around here?" "What is the password for your WiFi?"

3. Try the food, even if it sounds weird. 

Try the food
Eat scary food.

August 26, 2014

The Benefits of Being a Tourist

Tourists in London

If you're like me, a foreigner obsessed with Britain, then you've probably realised more than once that you're an outsider. 

No matter how hard you try, you won't be able to change your natural accent, your cultural background, or your preconceived notions about how the world works. No matter how you immerse yourself in a foreign countryeven if you move there and get a job and start a familychances are good you will never be "one of the locals." 

You can know all the facts and figures and historical tidbits, even perfect the vocabulary and embrace the cuisine, but there is an all-too real boundary between "us" and "them."

I have two friends from the States who have married Brits and moved to England. One has been here for several years, the other a couple of months, one in a city and the other in a small town, and both deal with this on an almost daily basis.

Checking out at the grocery store, 
"So, are you on holiday?" 
"Um, no. I live down the street." 

This used to frustrate me to no end, and sometime it still does. I consider a large chunk of my soul to be British, but I know that even if I lived the rest of my life in this country, I would still be an outsider to a certain extent.

But I've recently had a little epiphany. There are actually some good things about being a tourist rather than a local.
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