Hannah Drake

The Expat Diaries, Vol. 06

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"British people really like talking about weather," my co-worker told me. "We also like queuing and arriving early. So if we can arrive early to queue and pass the time talking about the weather, we're happy."

The day I posted my last instalment of my Expat Diaries, it snowed enough to get us sent home from work early. A few hours after we got home, it was sunny out and not a cloud in the sky. That afternoon, I signed up for an unlimited pass at our cinema so that Luke and I could go to the movies free* any day, rather than just Tuesdays and Wednesday when we'd get a weekly coupon. We went to see The Disaster Artist that afternoon and when we came out, it was snowing again. The next day, we went into town, and while it was cold and the ground was still wet, it wasn't snowing. By Sunday, we were as good as snowed in. It had snowed all night and continued to snow throughout the day. We ended up getting about 6 inches at our house and the only time we left was to walk to the grocery store around the corner. (The photo above is from our walk to the shop.) Work was closed again on Monday and my team got to work from home on Tuesday, while Luke had to go in and make sure that we could be back up and running for Wednesday. Meanwhile, we talked to a few Coloradans and they said they were desperate for snow!

When I got back to work on Wednesday, we talked a lot about the weather. Everyone kept asking me about the snow in Colorado, if I missed home, if I thought they were all sissies for basically shutting down the city with a few inches of snow. I told them I love snow days and I was always jealous that Colorado was so damn prepared for even a foot of snow! There are very few times when I can remember getting enough snow or bad enough conditions to really get the same effect so many places, like the South or apparently England, experience with just a few inches of snowfall. I told them us Coloradans talk about the weather a lot too because it's so extreme and unpredictable all the time.

In short, it was a great weekend. We stayed home, watched movies and finished 30 Rock. We ate too much comfort food (I blame Liz Lemon) and I started my holiday baking. We basically lived in pajamas and talked about how it would have been better if the snow was a week later because then why would they open the site back up for 3 days only to close it again for over a week for the Christmas break? Those were the days, my friend.

You know how a lot of Americans use the (incorrect) phrase "whole nother"? I've discovered that Brits like to use "yourself" and "myself" instead of "you" and "me". I had seen a tweet saying that using "yourself" and "myself" doesn't make you sound fancy, it makes you sound dumb because it's grammatically incorrect and suddenly I was hearing people say it every hour! For example, someone will say "I'll get this done and then send it to yourself." It's weird and has quickly become my #1 language pet peeve.

I'm not quite used to some of the British phrasing that I'm experiencing more and more for work. The most obvious one is "Are you alright?" which is British for "How are you?" I had to confirm with Luke how to answer and actually a few days later a friend messaged me on Instagram and asked me how to reply to that question. I can't think of another example, but it's mainly different ways of asking if you're busy. My usual response is "Are you asking if I'm busy right now?" Maybe one day I'll get it.

I got my first British pay check this month and, after not working for exactly 6 months, it was very exciting! I got paid a few days before Christmas, and somehow it made me feel a little more normal. I always said that I would probably feel like I was on a very long holiday until I started working, and this kind of helped make everything feel a bit more real, especially after working a few short weeks in a row between being sick, our snow days, and the Christmas break. Yeah, that's right, we got a whole week off when the company closed between Christmas and New Years. It wasn't even a question of if we'd get the time off or if we had to use our limited number of annual leave days at Christmas. (That's because you get 25 days of annual leave plus 8 bank holidays at our company!)

You're going to have to bear with me in marking holidays as being a first while abroad, especially with Christmas, The Grandaddy Of Them All. I mentioned in a post last month, Away from Home for the Holidays, that it wasn't my first time being away from Colorado or my family at Christmastime, but this time was much more enjoyable than in 2010. We had a really lovely Christmas and a quiet Boxing Day.

When we got back from Luke's parents on Boxing Day, we picked up our friends' dog, Mia, to watch for the next few days until they returned from the States. I was a little hesitant at first because I didn't know Mia and I didn't know how she'd do in a new house, especially while we were out (let's be honest, at the cinema). She ended up doing great and I seriously fell in love. Luke and I spent our three nights with Mia talking about our puppy fever and a timeline for getting a dog. Unfortunately, my dream dog is a miniature Australian Shepherd, which means going through a breeder. I contacted two breeders I found on Facebook and they basically said if we want a blue merle, it's probably not going to be in 2018 and it's definitely going to cost us a lot of money. That's a bummer, but it has opened my mind up to the idea of getting a different dog, preferably one we could adopt. And for the record, whenever I talk about getting a dog, that really means getting a dog and a cat. We really want to get both at the same time so no one establishes themselves in our home first and hopefully giving them a better shot at becoming best friends!

We rang in the new year with some friends and it was amazing fun, but I'll post about that later this week. In the meantime, did you see my New Years Day Insta? (Hint, hint.) New Years Day was spent, unfortunately, with mild hangovers, watching the original Jumanji and finishing up our game of Pandemic: Legacy with our friends Tom and Jenna. By the way, if you love board games, you have to get this game. It's a bit of an investment and you have to play with the same people every time, but it's incredible. I'm just glad Luke, Tom, and Jenna let me join in after they had played about 4 games.

It was back to work on 2 January and it certainly made me long for the days of lying in (sleeping in, for my American friends) and going to the cinema in the afternoons. We saw Pitch Perfect 3, Jumanji, and The Greatest Showman over our 10 days off, all of which were great, but The Greatest Showman was definitely our favourite.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Years. I'm excited for the year ahead and I hope you are too!

*Not actually free since we pay a monthly fee, but free after the first 2 movies each month.