The UK is like the US, but also not really

It’s been a few days, but not as much has been going on as it was initially. A couple observations before I go into what exact things I’ve been up to though. There are definitely similarities to the US, which is what I expected. But there are also some things that are distinctly different. I mentioned the tipping before, which I’ve found is a little more nuanced than I originally thought. It turns out that people do tip, but only about 10% and only if you are at a restaurant or somewhere with table service. It does make me wonder though, because I am likely going to get a tattoo while I am here, there’s a tattoo parlor not too far away. But in the US, it is basically required that you tip your tattoo artist, and usually by a pretty good amount, but I have no idea if that is as much of a thing here. We were also sitting in a little cafe the other day and someone pointed out that it was playing only the British artists that we hear in the US, like Ed Sheeran and Adele and Hozier. Obviously its nice to have some things that are familiar, but it always makes me a little sad at how much the culture of the US seeps out into so many countries. As well, there are little things that I wouldn’t even have considered that are different because I’m in the UK. Like the notification globe on Facebook is showing Europe and that part of the globe rather than North and South America, and my ads in Spotify are the exact same, expect the people have British accents. It’s funny how much things tend to be American centered that we just take as normal things, but they really aren’t.

Anyways, we have now taken all of our diagnostic exams for our classes, which was not something that I knew was going to happen. We also got to go into Bath Abbey, which was absolutely lovely (see picture below)IMG_6105-PANO.jpg

I do want to try and go back though, as we didn’t get to see as much of the Abbey as I would want to explore, and also because some other students may end up being tour guides for the Abbey towers. I am always amazed at how much craftsmanship and man hours and art goes into abbeys and cathedrals and a lot of those kinds of religious buildings. Rachel, my housemate, and I were also walking around the other day and we walked past a fudge shop, at which point one of the workers literally banged on the window to get our attention and then very energetically pointed at a tray of samples he was holding, so we had to go in to try one. They were truly delicious, and he tried very hard to get us to buy some, but we did not, although we did find two other housemates and made them go get samples too. He also waved at us every time we walked by, even if we were in the adjoining alleyway, so I am planning on going back at some point and actually buying some fudge, because it was actually really good, we were just trying to get back to take a diagnostic.

As a house, we all also went to a pub that is very nearby called The Ram for dinner a few days ago. We didn’t learn this until we were leaving, but we actually did it entirely wrong. The correct way to order food at a pub is to go up to the bar and order and pay for your food and drinks, then go sit down. We absolutely did not do that, we just sat down. But happily, a man whom I’m guessing is the owner came over and took our orders, and explained to us after how it usually goes, but he was very gracious and kind about it. There was also a couple people who were seated at the bar, near our table who were playing on and the owner brought it over to us, clearly as a joke, and I think they also found the visible reaction from our table funny. I haven’t actually been asked about Trump as much as they prepped us for it, and it’s usually very surface, except for at my internship meeting today, but I’ll get to that later. I’ve also now officially had my first pint at a pub in the UK (sorry Mom), along with a veggie burger that was actually quite good. I’m vegetarian and I’ve been pretty happy with my ability to find vegetarian food wherever I’ve gone to eat.IMG_6109.JPG

I also went to my internship with the Bath Philharmonia ( for the first time today, not to work, but just to meet with everyone and get a feel for what I will be doing. They actually have a concert next week, so my first week working there will be a little different than my usual schedule. But they have multiple programs in terms of outreach and education associated with their concerts, like letting kids come and watch and going to their schools the next day to make music with them based on the music they heard the day before, which I might be able to go to with them. I will also probably go in for part of Thursday, the day of the concert, to see how things run during the day for shows and all of that. Unfortunately, I have two classes on Thursdays, so my time is a bit more limited. I will also probably be ushering for concerts in the future, which meant that I also had to go out and get some black clothing for that, because I did not pack with that in mind, which is silly because I own plenty of black clothing from working as a stage manager for shows, so that’s somewhat of an oversight on my part. Happily, there is a Primark nearby, which is essentially like a Forever21, except cheaper, and I was able to get some stuff for not very much money. As mentioned above though, I was asked the most direct question about Trump I’ve gotten from the conductor of the Phil, which was “What are your thoughts on Trump?” to which the General Manager chided him for being so direct about it on my first meeting with them, but it was clearly all in good spirits. There is also a clarinet player in the Phil who graduated from Oberlin’s Conservatory, which is pretty cool, and he happens to be the son of Simon Rattle, who is apparently a very well-known conductor in the UK.

Also bought groceries last night, so now I will mostly be able to actually start cooking food for myself, although I must say that I don’t have very much confidence in my cooking abilities, but I think I will be able to make do. In the future, I think I want to find some recipes and then buy ingredients based off of that rather than wandering around and randomly grabbing things that may or may not actually go together into a meal.

This has been a very long post, and I apologize for that, it has just been a while. This weekend there isn’t as much going on, we’re getting a tour of the markets, which is good as I need to buy a towel that is actually long enough for my body, I’ve been using one that a former student had left, but is not really quite long enough for me. We are also going to Stonehenge and Salisbury on Sunday, so I’m sure I will have plenty to say about doing that. Catch ya then.


Author: iprefershowers

I (she/her/hers) am originally from California, and a third year double majoring in Psychology and Arts Management, a major I created, at Oberlin College. A lot of my interests lie in the arts, at Oberlin I help run a student dance company, stage manage both departmental and student theatre productions, and teach dance classes. I am continuing this interest and involvement while on the Advanced Studies in England program by completing an internship with the Bath Philharmonia in addition to taking three classes in the study of the arts. I am also volunteering at a toddler group and a youth theatre.

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