So, this is a half post of the European vacation, because I just accidentally made the external hard drive that has all the pictures on it disappear from the desktop of my computer. And I don't know how to put them back. I select the pictures then I tell the story because it helps me remember stuff.
Here are some random impressions of England:
1. Chillier in July than I thought it would be. And less rainy than I expected. It was overcast a lot, especially at night. But the last night, we had a brilliant clear sky. We were one hour from London and I have never seen so many stars.
2. The people were generally wonderful, especially the folks who worked at the college. The people we encountered out and about were not overtly friendly. It seems that starting a conversation with a stranger in public is actually sort of rude.
3. Public transport was very quiet. Also, apparently quite rude to talk above a whisper on the tube.
4. The milk tastes better there. The skim milk is creamy like whole milk.
5. These people eat all the time. Seriously. Breakfast at 8, morning coffee and cookies at 11. Lunch at 1, Afternoon tea (with donuts) at 3, dinner at 7. I gained 5 pounds in 5 days.
6. It's probably because we were with a bunch of Americans most of the time, but I didn't really feel like we were in a foreign country, at least not as much as I did when we were in Italy. There were a lot of different accents around, but it was a lot like living in Metro NY. I know people who were born in different countries (the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Colombia, Poland) who live right here in Linden, so when we were in England, it didn't feel different because we all spoke English.
7. Even though we were all speaking English, however, some of the folks we met with Home Countries accents were difficult for me to understand.
8. Can we talk about the highway signs? Instead of simple, one word directions, like "yield," they use, "give way." And it gets worse when you are on the major highways. We were looking at the signs on the M4 from London to Oxfordshire and they were paragraphs long. Really. By the time you finished reading the sign, you'd missed your exit!
9. They measured distance in miles, not kilometers. And they used miles per hour to measure speed. This confused me because everything else is metric.
10. It's kind of amazing how you can be in VERY urban London and then, just on the other side of the city limit, it's farmland (When we landed at Heathrow, we literally flew past cows grazing next to the landing strip.). The concept of a suburb doesn't seem to exist there.
11. My impression is that as a whole, and certainly there are exceptions, the country seems to be quite anti-religion. This could also be because we were hanging around with highly educated people (who seem to ridicule religion, no matter what side of the Atlantic you live on), but I definitely picked up a general disdain of organized religion while we were there, but particularly anti-Catholic feeling. I don't know if it was more overt than usual since the pope's visit was about a month away.
12. However, we had the privilege of attending Mass at a wonderful, tiny, little church right near campus. And the priest, about age 35, was fantastic. Here is a link to a picture of Marie and Phil (whoever they are, but they sure look happy) getting married there and the priest I am talking about is in the photo with them. God bless you, Marie and Phil!
More later on if I can get the photos off the external hard rive. Hope it's not to hard to find them...