I have been in England for over two months now, but the accent still throws me off sometimes. There are some words that are pronounced completely differently from the American pronunciation, almost to the point where it sounds like a different word sometimes. One example is “longitude.” The American pronunciation is “lonj-itude,” but people here pronounce it “long-itude.” It throws me off every time (it’s a fairly common word used in physics). As another example, someone once asked me, “do you say gloss or gloss?” I was completely confused because it sounded like she was saying the exact same word twice. Then she pointed to a cup and asked again, and I realized she was saying “glass.” To her, she was asking if I say “gloss” or “glass,” but I couldn’t distinguish between the two sounds because of her accent.
I have also discovered that I can’t watch British TV shows without subtitles. It’s weird. I know what they’re saying (it is still English after all), but my brain just can’t process the meaning of what they’re saying unless I also have the words in front of me. I definitely don’t have that problem with American shows, so apparently it’s just the accent, plus the random different words they have for things. I have discovered that the cockney accent is the worst. For one, London is apparently notorious for how much slang is used, so half the time I just don’t have a clue what in the world they mean. But the other half of the time, I can’t even make out the words they’re saying. I could swear it was a completely different language. Sometimes when I’m on the bus, I hear others having a conversation in what I assume is a different language, but after a while I realize that it’s actually still English, but with half the consonants missing and a few extra r’s added in. Some of the bus drivers also have really heavy cockney accents. Sometimes when they’re talking to me, I don’t have a clue what they are saying, so I just have to smile and nod and hope it wasn’t something important. It’s really weird. I sometimes feel like I’m not a native speaker of my own first language.
Considering how far north I am, I had assumed that I would be seeing snow by now. But as it turns out, the fact that England is surrounded by a giant ocean means that the temperature stays warmer longer, so we’re still stuck with rain. At least, I assume that that’s the reason. While Norman has already had a snow storm (or at least an ice storm from what I heard), it still hasn’t even reached freezing here yet. It came close a couple weeks ago, but now it has warmed back up to the 50s again. And it has rained almost every day for the last week. Today was a welcome break from the downpours, but it looks like it’s going to be raining again tomorrow, and most of next week too. Apparently it doesn’t usually snow until January or February here. At this rate, I’m going to have a muddy Christmas rather than a white one!
Surprisingly, it actually does not rain particularly often here. Most of the people I talked to in the States who had been in England before made it sound like it would be wet and drizzly almost all the time, but it really isn’t. That said, I have heard that the weather has been quite unusual this year, so it may be that there is usually a lot more rain. I have also heard that southern England is usually a lot rainier too. But now that the temperature has dropped down to the 40’s, I am glad that it isn’t any wetter. The hills here are bad enough when they’re dry, so I would be terrified to have to face them when they’re frozen over with ice.
At first I was skeptical about there not being much homework for my classes. But now I think it is actually really nice. Because I have less homework to do, I have more time to spend doing the homework I do have. And that means I can actually take the time to try to understand what it is I am doing. Also, most of my professors post additional homework that is not assessed, so I can work on the homework without worrying about a deadline, and I can put as much or as little effort as I like into the problems because I don’t have to worry about them being graded. It is really quite nice. I also discovered that receiving an A in the States is the equivalent of passing with over a 70% in the class here. That makes the finals that are worth 85% of my grade here much less daunting.