Sunday, September 28, 2014

Understanding British Culture

I will be the first to admit that sometimes Tim tells a joke and I just don't get it. Usually this is accompanied by a blank stare, confused face, or just continuing the conversation like it didn't happen. We may speak the same language and be lumped in the general category of the "Western world" but sometimes I feel like we could not be further apart.

Jokes, TV shows, food, etiquette, language..the list goes on and on. Tim is lucky in the sense that America shoves its culture out at other people so it is a bit more familiar, but British culture to me is vastly unknown other than tea, the Beatles and the Royal Family.

Slowly but surely I am trying to introduce more British things into my life. Even if I don't end up moving there I feel it is important because I have a British partner. Understanding a little bit more about where he comes from will help me get to know him that much better.

Food - In England I was lucky enough to get to try a few things that in my mind are super British. First thing that stands out, cauliflower cheese - why is this not a thing in America? So yummy and really easy to make. I liked it so much that I made it again when Tim came to visit. He also got us dinner at the chip shop one night and had me try true British chips, battered sausage (this is questionable still to me) and a chip butty. Can't go to England without going to the chip shop and it did not disappoint. In Bath we had a lovely afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones, and little sweets that was delicious. I'm starting to crave British tea and biscuits when I'm in America and I love that a small part of Tim is rubbing off on me.

TV - After getting Hola on my computer I am now able to watch British TV shows. I've watched Downton Abbey, Pointless, Gogglebox, the Inbetweeners, and Gavin and Stacey. Sometimes I still have to turn the subtitles on because I'm not sure they are always speaking English but I like I am starting to understand the humor a little bit more.

Everything Else - Okay, it may be a little weird but I am reading a book called "Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour" just to learn a little more about what makes people tick. Of course the book is full of large generalizations (and I know every person is different) but it is so interesting to me how different those generalizations seem that what I assume they would be about Americans.

I just want to soak up information about this familiar yet unfamiliar culture to better understand Tim and to hopefully better understand British culture so if end up there it isn't too much of a shock! One day I hope I will laugh at all Tim's jokes, be able to make all of his favorite British food, and not look at him in confusion when he uses words like "barmy". If you have any suggestions of shows to watch, food to make, or just general British-ness to learn about please let me know!


  1. You could buy some Google glasses and then have subtitles when speaking to me :)

    I do struggle with you sometimes because I think you are joking but you're deadly serious. I guess it will take time but its good that we both try to learn each others cultures.

    How about the following TV shows: The Office, I'm Alan Partridge, EastEnders!

  2. Hey, I have that book too! Haven't read it yet though. Like about half the books I own. What I can really recommend is everything by Bill Bryson. He's actually from the U.S., but lived in England for a long time, so I think it would be a similar perspective as yours. "Notes from a small island" for example is about his time in England. Added bonus: he's really funny. If you like crime stories, Elizabeth Georges books are set in England too.

    What I really enjoyed watching was Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, although that's set in the 70's and 80's. I really liked the way they talked. I've got a thing for accents. And of course the new Sherlock Holmes series. I like Dr Watson (Martin Freeman).

    When I was staying in England I lived with the German family, so I didn't really get that British food experience. But there was a lovely lady in the village, and she often made Victoria sponge cake with lemon curd filling. Once she made me Cottage Pie (love that!!!) and Baked Alaska for dessert. She gave me a cookbook as a going away present which has the most evil chocolate cake recipe ever. Which reminds me that I have to write her again.

    1. I'm definitely going to look into the "Notes from A Small Island"..some of his other books look good as well so I will definitely check him out! Thanks for the suggestion :)

      I've been meaning to watch the new Sherlock series. add that to the list! You could say I also have a thing for accents ;)

      Can't wait to try all of your suggestions. Thank you!!!