Searching for Jobs and Linguistic Misunderstandings

A week has passed since my London arrival. The weather has been fantastic and I snapped the above photo in Greenwich Park, a royal sanctuary that’s one neighborhood away from me. I live in Lewisham, south-east London with Alex, my publishing/musician roommate, and mystery roommate Steve. It only takes 10 minutes to get to London Bridge by train, and so far my public transportation experiences have been fantastic—clean and frequent subways, trains and buses that have been modernized to tell you where you are and where you’re headed. Transport is very expensive, though, and buying an Oyster card is key.

KK Outlet. Photo courtesy of Chrissy

This weekend, Chrissy and I checked out First Thursday, in which a bunch of galleries stay open late and have special events. I always enjoyed ‘First Nights’ in New York and am happy London has them, too. Last weekend, I went to a pub and for Indian with some of Alex’s friends and I met a woman whose family is from Reggio Emilia and this week she’s going on vacation to my old neighborhood in Park Slope, Brooklyn!

Photo by Chrissy

So far I have met with two recruiters and have a meeting with a third this week. One of them said it will likely take two months to secure full-time work because there are many holidays here in April, including bank holidays, Easter and the royal wedding. That’s right—the whole country gets the day off in observance of William and Kate’s wedding, though most Brits I’ve met so far pretend they’re too cool for such things. The foreigners I know are psyched and I plan on watching it somewhere. Too bad I wasn’t already working, because, with all these holidays, I wouldn’t even have to go to work!

I guess 24 hours means something else here? There are lots of little differences in this country, some of which I remember, others which are completely new to me. Zucchini, eggplant and arugula are courgette, aubergine and rocket. TJ Maxx is TK Maxx and Hungry Hungry Hippos is Hungry Hippos. They use more slang here and their use of the language charms me. I met up with an Italian for a conversation exchange Friday and she brought a London travel book, which was filled with comments such as “Next time we’re at this homely spot, we’ll plump for the Victorian sponge,” which I attempted to interpret for my new friend. Alex and I recently had our own misunderstanding online:

Alex: Do you fancy seeing Richard play tonight in Camden? I think we’re meeting on the High St somewhere around 6.30.

Me: Thanks for the theatre (note British spelling) invite, but I’m doing First Thursday this eve. Have fun!

Later at home, I asked how the play was and Alex was very confused.

“What? We went to see Richard’s concert.”

“Oh, I assumed you were seeing Richard III or doing something else Shakespearean. I totally misread what you posted on FaceBook.”

“Oh, when you said theatre, I thought that was an American way of saying ‘gig’ that I hadn’t heard about.”

I’m sure there will be plenty more where that comes from.