USING BRITISH SLANG WITH A KENTUCKY ACCENT
I can confidently claim that 9 out of 10 people would use the same word to describe their high school years… awkward. Let’s be honest, braces and puberty are never a good look for anyone. Now imagine taking your fifteen-year-old, metal-mouth self, getting on a plane for 12 hours, and walking onto a college campus. Scary is the word I’d confidently claim you would all be thinking.
This is what I did. Sophomore me decided to spend my awkward phase in a completely different country, at a college campus, surrounded by ‘cool British twenty-somethings.’ I was part of a program called Global Next that allowed me to spend a semester studying at Oxford University. I was a little out of place, to say the least, but with time and ‘immersion therapy’ sessions from the students, I’d say I became quite the local. These students took me to the places that tourists wouldn’t know about and taught me the words and phrases that were foreign to me. I finally stopped posing for pictures outside of Big Ben, complementing peoples ‘pants’, and wearing the ‘I heart London’ T-shirt. Making these mistakes made me stick out like a giant red, white, and blue thumb; so it’s only right that I pass along what I learned and help you avoid the mistakes I made when you visit the United Kingdom.
#1: Skip the Hotspots:
Don’t get me wrong, Carfax tower and Christ Church College are amazing places, but you will be doing it alongside hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists. To really immerse yourself in Oxford, try visiting New College, the less popular cousin to Christ Church College. Or, take the time you would’ve spent standing in line at the Carfax Tower and go to downtown Oxford or Oxford square!
#2: Eat at the Hole in the Wall:
Now that you have spent your day at New College and are walking around Oxford Square, you’ve got to be getting pretty hungry. You could put your name down and wait HOURS for a table at The Eagle and Child , or you could wander down the random alleys of downtown and find a cute little local restaurant and have some of the best food of your life! One of my favorite local spots was Alfonso Gelateria, which offered locally sourced, rose-shaped ice cream, and best of all, no tourist-filled lines.
#3: Watch Your Mouth:
Yes, avoiding hotspots and eating locally is extremely important in becoming a local ‘Oxfordian,’ but nothing sets a tourist apart from locals more than their words. I’ll never forget the embarrassment I felt when I turned to the guy next to me in class and desperately tried to start a conversation. “I like your pants!” I say. The room laughs. “You mean my trousers!!? Pants are what you Americans call underwear!” Accents might be out of our control, but you can make a few changes and additions to our vocabulary to make yourself fluent in your own language. After this incident, my study abroad roommate kindly sent me a link to a British slang dictionary so that I would stop complimenting strangers’ underwear on accident.
These three tips seem like such simple concepts, but trust me, they make all the difference. Implementing these tips into your time in Oxford will allow you to remove the red, white, and blue label and fit in with the locals!- Rosemary Cruse