Z is for Zed (and other “odd” words)

"Zed" is how the British pronounce the last letter of the alphabet..."X, Y, and Zed".But that's not the only language quirk between British and American English.  Here's a pretty comprehensive list if you're curious, but I've outlined a few I commonly encountered.The British tend to pull from the French whereas Americans tend to pull from Italian, so what Americans would call a "zucchini" is a "courgette", and an "eggplant" is an "aubergine".  "Arugula" in American English becomes "rocket" in British English.A shopping cart like you'd use in a grocery store is called a "trolley", though I've heard a fair number of variations in the states as well ("buggy", "carriage", etc.).A cash register is called a "till".If you're injured and need to go to hospital (not "the" hospital in the UK...just hospital), you'll be taken to the A&E, not the ER.  A&E stands for "accident and emergency".Done with your restaurant meal and you want to pay? Ask for the bill, not...
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Y is for Yankee

Today, Y is for Yankee.  Sometimes I'd hear us Americans referred to as "Yanks", but it actually wasn't that common.  But since the population of Americans (and other nationalities, really) was fairly sizable in our area, we did get questioned about quirky things. One I got a few times was if we'd ever lived in Florida.  It seems that Florida (the I is pronounced in UK English..."Flor-i-dah" as opposed to "Floor-duh" in American English) was a hot spot for Brits eager to get out of the chilly damp weather and escape to somewhere where not only is the language similar, but the exchange rate is favorable.  Our gardener--hey, we didn't have a choice; we had no outdoor storage and couldn't keep any machinery--went to Florida every year or two and stocked up on his work clothes for a ton less than he'd pay in the UK.  I don't blame him!Meatloaf also seemed to throw the Brits off...I remember being asked a...
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X is for X-Pat

Okay, I'm taking some liberties with the spelling on this one, because no matter how hard I thought about it, I kept coming up empty for "X".  Seriously, UK...nothing starts with X. Anyway, an expatriate--when it's properly spelled--is someone who, either temporarily or permanently, is residing in a country other than that of their citizenship. Since moving to the UK wasn't exactly our choice--I mean, we could have said "no", but why would you?--we had a lot of resources at our disposal.  A family that was already over there sponsored us and helped us acclimate to life, which was a huge help, because we had no idea what we were doing.  Even simple things such as where to buy groceries, or where you would find that weird thing you need at that weird time, were tough to start out.So what tips would I have for someone living outside of their home country?If possible, link up with people from the same...
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W is for War Rooms (Churchill’s)

There are so many sights to see in London--the London Eye, Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral.  The list could go on forever.  We went numerous times, and I never got bored. But one people miss that I feel is a must-see, is Churchill's War Rooms.  One of the Imperial War Museums, it's actually a secret underground compound that was used during WWII as the headquarters for the core of the British government, and it has been preserved and restored to look as it did when it was in use.  The machines used to communicate, the boxes, the pens, the maps.  It's like you've walked into a time warp back to the 1940s.Not my picture...I don't think you could take any inside.It takes a few hours to walk through the museum, but taking the time to see this fascinating exhibit is worth it.  I'd also recommend getting the audio guide; it explains a lot that the the posted plaques don't have...
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V is for Visiting

Stubai, AustriaOne thing I think everyone who manages to live away from "home" (wherever that is) for a few years should spend time visiting other places.  It's part of appreciating the world around you.We did our best to exhaust the UK while we were there, though we concentrated mostly on visiting the continent when we had longer stretches of time.  Our thinking was that there were so many places we wanted to visit--and many of them were so different--that we wouldn't have time for everything, so best squeeze in what we could.Vatican City (and Rome), ItalyHubs and I were lucky to be able to see the things we saw and do the things we did--ski the Alps; visit the beaches and WWII sites of Normandy; have hot chocolate in a cafe in Amsterdam; get lost in the canals of Venice; climb the walls of Dubrovnik.  The opportunity to see people and places in different countries was fantastic, and I feel...
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U is for Underground

Ah, the Tube, or, as some call it, the Underground.  It's a rapid transit train system (subway, really) built under London, and it's amazing.  It services the main London area, though there are a few lines that travel out a little bit farther. We loved that we could get pretty much wherever we wanted to be within a reasonable amount of time, just by taking the Tube.  Now, don't get me wrong--there were times where it was easier, shorter, or faster to walk on the surface between stops, or where line closures made life a little difficult, but the benefits outweighed the costs.The London Underground just celebrated its 150th anniversary a couple of years ago. Obviously there were some huge changes--lines being added; the Oyster card being added in 2003 (a contactless ticketing system that makes life super easy), lifts and escalators, etc. Compared to other similar transport systems in mainland Europe (the Paris Metro, for example), the London Underground...
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T is for Trains and Transportation

When I travel, I hate waiting, but it's much more palatable if I'm not actually doing anything. It's much less stressful that way. So, hands-down, I loved the option to take trains places instead of driving.  Public transportation in the areas of the U.S. I'd lived in before the UK were lacking to say the least, and the train system--National Rail--was a refreshing mode of transport, no matter how much the British complain about it.We most often took the train in from Cambridge or Ely to London.  If you caught the express, the journey took only about 45 minutes to an hour, and that was directly into Kings' Cross. There was no freaking way I was driving around London, what with the congestion zone, tons of traffic, and crazy road layouts, so this was perfect.  We'd often leave in the morning on a weekend day, spend the day in London, then come back in the evening.  The perfect day trip.The Eurostar...
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S is for Sandringham (and Sophie)

One experience I'm lucky to have had, mostly by virtue of living relatively nearby, was to go to Sandringham Estate for Christmas Day.Sandringham, for those who don't know, is the Queen's privately-owned family estate in Norfolk, England, about an hour from where we lived.  We toured the house when we had visitors one summer and the house and grounds are absolutely lovely. The Queen stays there from mid-November/Decemberish through some time in February or March, but I don't know the exact dates--she's the Queen, and can stay there however long she damn well pleases.Anyway, while she's there, the Queen goes to mass at the chapel on the property.  People are welcome to wait along the path to wave at her, though photos aren't allowed. However, on Christmas Day, you may take pictures, and, even better, there's a good chance that most of the royal family will join her.  The rest of the family walks the path from the estate house...
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R is for Roundabout

R is for that wonderful traffic moderator, the roundabout.They appeared in D (D was for Driving this time), and I love them so much that they're worth their own letter. And don't even get my husband started--he could wax poetic about them for hours.  Since we got back to the states, I can rarely take a ride with him where he's not saying, "This should be a roundabout," and I most often agree with him.And clearly hubs and I aren't the only ones who think they're the cat's meow--there's a Roundabout Appreciation Society. No, I'm not kidding.Why are they so awesome? Because a roundabout--or a traffic circle, as some people know them by--helps to control the flow of traffic by not completely disrupting it.  A roundabout allows traffic to flow while also providing a safe, simple means to get from A to B for everyone, providing you know the rules of the road. Traffic keeps flowing, and, unless there's an...
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Q is for Queues

Always.I quickly learned that, besides making tea, if there's anything the British are good at, it's the act of forming a line and waiting, also known as queuing. It's so prominent that there's even an entry on it on one of the London visitor guide sites.The word "queue"--other than 80% of the letters in the word being redundant--is often surrounded by "orderly", and it's a rare time in the UK when a queue is anything but. And God forbid if someone enters the queue randomly, cutting in front of someone else. The act of "queue jumping", to the British, seems to be right up there with murder as a lock-you-in-the-dungeons-worthy offense, though the queue jumper will be punished through stern, reproachful looks and upset mumblings by the other queuers instead of a dawn hanging at the Tower. But you can tell which the other queuers would prefer happen...Not quiiiite like this, but you get the idea.It always amazed me how...
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