I’ve spent the last 10 weeks starting a life in another country. It hasn’t always been easy, but the last two and a half months have been amazing a million ways over. This week has been really busy, finishing up work for the holidays and preparing for my first big trip in months! This is what I’ve been up to this week.

Mini Manchester Christmas

I spent last Sunday in Manchester, having a little pre-Christmas get together with Adam’s mom and brother. We had a great meal and a great afternoon strolling around the Christmas markets! I also got to revisit John Ryland’s Library, one of my favorite places in the city. And to top it off, I got to stock up on bean burritos from Taco Bell—bringing back memories from March of 2014 when I went to Manchester specifically because I wanted T-Bell!

I broke my memory card

It’s really not that bad of a loss as it could be, but I broke my memory card for my camera Sunday night, meaning I lost all of my photos from the Manchester Christmas markets (and John Ryland’s Library). I also lost all of my favorite photos that I still had on that card since March. It could have been so much worse, but I’m still bummed about it. Luckily I got a new one the next day and I’m all set and ready for my Christmas trip!

My vendetta against spray deodorant continues

This is probably the definition of first world problems, but one of those slight differences being abroad that I wanted to share. During my year abroad in Nottingham I first discovered that pretty much all deodorants in England are the kind you spray on, not the stick kind. I really really hate spray on deodorant. Since my regular deodorant from home is almost out, I finally hunted down stick deodorant and paid an extortionate amount for it. Why can’t the UK sell my regular deodorant?!?!

Paid time off is such a foreign concept for me

Of all the strange things about living in another country, having paid time off work is probably the most foreign thing to me. Since my job is salaried (full-time), I’m entitled to 28 days off a year (which includes 8 bank holidays, aka the UK’s national holidays). Considering I have literally never had paid time off work in my entire life before, this is a huge shock!!! And considering that having 10-14 days off a year is a very good deal for full-time salaried jobs in the US, I just about can’t believe it! I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve felt exhausted and sick and probably shouldn’t have gone to work in order to recoup—but I did, since I didn’t want to lose the money. Anyway, I’m taking paid time off for my trip this Christmas. It is a strange but glorious thing!

Subtle racism at work

I had my first brush with subtle racism in the UK this last week. A customer at work went off on me because apparently I made her tea the wrong way—and made it incredibly personal and offensive by repeatedly saying, “Here in England, we make tea this way,” and “we’re in England, this is how we do it here,” and even “I don’t care how they do it in France or America, but here in England we make tea this way.” It was my first actually offensive experience and the microagressions still piss me off writing this. It was horribly rude, and really embarrassing—I almost started crying. But I’m lucky. There are a lot of other foreigners who have experienced (and will experience) far worse than getting yelled at about tea (tea! Of all things!). Both my white and American (passport) privilege work in my favor in these types of situtations. It reminded me that I can always do more to be a better ally to other immigrants.

A beautiful day at Castle Howard

For some reason, I had Wednesday off of work and decided to spend my last day in York visiting Castle Howard, a beautiful stately home in North Yorkshire. It was amazing! The house was all decked out for Christmas (one of the reasons I wanted to go before the holidays!), and the grounds, gardens, and fountains were amazing as well. It was an easy daytrip from York and absolutely someplace I recommend if visiting the North of England! Expect a full post on it in the next few weeks!

Off to Poland! First stop: Warsaw

I’ve been really excited about my Christmas trip, and one of the reasons is because I’m going back to Poland, a country that I don’t know if I’ve mentioned at all on the blog but is one of my favorite countries in the world. I also can’t wait to visit Ukraine for the first time, especially since I’ve heard Lviv gives off a similar vibe to Prague or Krakow, and is distinctly different from much of the rest of Ukraine. My first stop on this trip is Warsaw, a city that I visited over Easter 2014, when everything was closed (Poland is a very Catholic country and takes their holidays very seriously). Most things will be closed over Christmas, but I’m still excited. It’s the first time I’ll have left the UK since moving here 10 weeks ago!

This is my last weekly recap!

I started this weekly series on the blog to share my thoughts and reflections about life abroad in England, and to share my process of settling in with readers. I have enjoyed it immensely—it’s nice to write about what I’ve been up to so casually, and I always like summarizing things. But now that I have a job, a bank account, and in general feel like my life is in order here, I’ve decided to end the series and switch to monthly recaps. This is also partly practical—working 40 hours a week, I don’t have very many interesting things to blog about. So I hope you all have enjoyed reading my weekly posts, and that you’ll keep reading my new monthly recaps!

 

Sending lots of love to everyone over the festive season! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!