Hannah Drake

The Expat Diaries, Vol. 05

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Last we left off, I had just started looking for a job. My visa had just come through and I was legally allowed to work in the UK. My professional goal for November was to polish my CV so that I could start sending it out. Well, joke's on me I guess because I hadn't updated my CV since before my last job. Since I had worked at Pure Barre Boulder part time before being hired full time, it was already listed on my CV, so I just copied and pasted the entry. The only problem was that I didn't change the dates I was employed. So it looked like I had held 3 jobs for about a year, but hadn't worked in 2 years. Not to mention how confusing it was that the same company was listed as the first and third entries in my employment history, but with different job titles and job descriptions. I mean, what?! As someone who used to interview and hire people, I wouldn't give a call back to someone who had a glaring mistake on their CV, even if I had only received 2 applicants. So I get it.

I realised I had made an error when I was tailoring my CV to fit a different type of job I had applied for. (You know, just highlighting and emphasising different tasks to fit different jobs.) Luke had mentioned there might be a position opening up at his company, so he gave my contact information to the recruiter, who called me Wednesday afternoon. By the end of the day, I had an interview scheduled for that Friday afternoon. By the end of the week, I had a job! It's an admin role on Luke's site, so we're able to go to work together, which is great. We work the same (ish) hours and we're off on the same days for Christmas, which is really great. I was worried that in working retail, I would be working evenings, weekends, and definitely Christmas Eve and/or Boxing Day. Even if shops close a little earlier here than they do in the States (seriously, the whole mall is closed by 8:00 normally, 5:00 on Sundays), it still wasn't ideal and it was making me sad, quite honestly, to think about working during our first British Christmas. So I started work on Monday, the 27th. I had a week off between getting hired and starting, which was perfect because that was the week of Thanksgiving. (Read about our Thanksgiving here.)

November was kind of tough for me though, to be honest. Yes, I finally got my visa and I got a job, but I just never got back into a good routine after we had a busy, family-filled 2 weeks at the end of October. I slept too late, I didn't get out of the house much, I didn't exercise a lot. I just all around wasn't very productive. I didn't even post on Instagram or my blog very much! My mom told me she checked Instagram every morning, but I hadn't posted anything new. Later that day, our friend Tom said he wasn't sure what we had been up to lately since I hadn't been posting. I just wasn't doing anything, so I didn't have anything to post about.

Sure, having 6 months off work sounds really great, but it can also be really trying. It's hard when everyone else in your life is occupied during the day with work or school. It's hard when you go to bed feeling like you haven't really contributed to society or even done anything that day to better yourself. That's not the best feeling to have at the end of the day, let me tell ya.

I'm looking forward to the next month because I'll obviously be working Monday through Friday, but we'll also be busy with the holidays. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year and I'm excited to see how they do it in Britain. Luke and I both finish work on the 22nd and then we're off through the New Year. Honestly, I'm already looking forward to that time and I'm kind of grateful that after 6 months of not working, I only have to jump in for a month before getting a bit of a break. It makes it easier to manage, mentally.

I got issued a company laptop at my new job. Did you know that British keyboards are slightly different from American keyboards? On top of having to switch between a Mac and a PC, I'm still trying to get used to the different keys. It's almost the same, but the biggest difference for me is that the quotation marks  (") and the at symbol (@) are switched. They also have a pound symbol (£) where the hashtag should be, but still have a dollar sign ($). Weird. It is, however, in British English, so between that and working at a British company, I'm going to have to give in to British spellings. You may have already noticed I switched out a few Z's for S's.

People love to point out to me when I use Britishisms in terms of spelling or phrasing (or even inflection), but I seem to be on an unstoppable (and fairly subconscious) path due to two things: 1) We all subconsciously mimic/mirror other humans in a lot of ways, including speech patterns. It's hard to listen to everyone speak the same language as me with slightly different cadence and inflection and not eventually do the same. 2) It's easier to just join them, especially in a professional setting. I hate the idea of being an obnoxious American and refusing to embrace the culture around me because "mine is better". There are so many things I prefer about British culture that I happily embrace. The rest is mostly subconscious. For example, saying "sorry?" instead of "what?!" when you didn't hear someone properly. I'm sure people will point it out to me for as long as I live here, but it's slightly annoying when people make fun of me for it or are relentless in their acknowledgements of it. But what can I do? It seems worth mentioning here that I probably won't end up with a British accent. Sorry to disappoint anyone hoping for that. In fact, it's better off that I don't even practice because according to one particular Brit I know, it's quite horrendous.

Joining the British workforce is honestly like culture shock all over again. Most of the Americans I know here work with each other, and in fact the Brits are in the minority at their job, so it's not quite the same. But working in an office that is entirely English or Welsh (plus one Spaniard) take some getting used to. I need to learn their terminology and phrasing and it's forcing me to get better with understanding various accents.

In other news, my crate arrived from the States at last! It arrived in London on the 19th and then had to clear customs in up to 10 days. I was really hoping that it would arrive the week of Thanksgiving as I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post, so that I would have the things I needed and be home for the delivery. Of course luck would have it that it was set to be delivered the day I started work. In order to avoid lots of stress on Sunday night about getting the house set up to receive a crate full of stuff, I moved it to Wednesday, then to Tuesday after Luke said it would be easier for him to duck out of work. He ended up working overnight that day anyway and was home. What a champ for receiving that crate and unpacking it by himself! (That's 4x4x4 feet!)

Luke had sent me pictures of everything he had unpacked, but I had no idea I would be so overwhelmed by it all. My mom did such a great job packing it all into the crate, like it was a giant real life Tetris game or something. But that meant not putting like things together so it would fit more efficiently. So I decided to start by unpacking everything and grouping all the kitchen things together, all my clothes together, etc. I was able to get through unpacking all the kitchen things that evening, making sure the pantry and the cabinets were still organised before calling it a night. My main goal was to get everything somewhere, even if that meant Luke's study which kind of serves as our junk room--though he doesn't like me calling it that--so I could set up our Christmas decor later in the week.

That weekend, we went to IKEA yet again to get a Christmas tree and a few things we needed to accommodate the extra stuff in our house. We got two drawers for under our bed for the rest of my clothes, as well as more hangers, and a small shelving unit to put in the kitchen since our counters and cabinets were starting to get cluttered and full.

This month I also learned that I pronounce my name incorrectly. When someone thought my name was Kiana, I realised that it wasn't just one of our friends making fun of how I say "Hannah", it's really just wrong in British English. The first H is breathier and I have no idea how to do it. I literally need vocal coaching on how to pronounce my name properly to avoid further confusion in England.