Category Archives: living abroad

A Primer on the Geo-Political and Religious History of the British Isles

As an avid Anglophile and current resident of England, it irks me to no end when I hear otherwise intelligent, well-read, astute people fumble their way through British political history, religious history, and geography, and the current political and religious climate in the region.

If you have ever wondered what the difference is between Ireland and Scotland, or what the heck Wales is, or what religion is most prevalent in England—or if you have ever talked (or thought) about a “British” accent, then this post is for you!

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9 Fantastic Biscuits and Where to Find Them

Biscuits. In America, the word conjures up memories of fluffy, homemade savory things with a light, crumbly texture, dripping with butter and honey, or maybe slathered with sausage and gravy.

In Britain, it’s a different story altogether. The word “biscuit,” to an Englishman, refers to a small, crispy, lightly sweet treat, somewhat akin to a cookie. (Though the American influence on the culture means that “cookies” are now their own thing in England, too. But that’s a story for another post.)

Most biscuits are not only terribly tasty, but also incredibly cheap so they’re an easy and inexpensive treat suitable for any day of the year. They’re best eaten with your afternoon tea, in which they should be (quickly!) dunked. Don’t have any tea? Well, that’s all right, too—you can just eat them as-is.

But don’t—I repeat, do not eat them with milk. That’s just gross.

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12 Songs You Will Hear Every Christmas in Britain

The Brits love their Christmas music. Since the 1970s (according to my ad hoc online research), there has been particular emphasis placed on the Christmas Number One: the song that is at number one in the charts during the week in which Christmas Day falls. In an effort to snag this much-coveted title, some artists shamelessly release Christmas-themed songs (which is the framing plot-line for the movie Love Actually, the part with Bill Nighy). Several of these have become perennially beloved Christmas songs, many of them ones that Americans have never heard.

Here are 12 songs—some Christmas number ones, some not—that I can guarantee you will hear every year at Christmas-time in the UK.

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UK House Hunting 101, Lesson 3: Glossary

When searching for a place to live in the UK, you may find yourself somewhat baffled by the terminology used in listings. “DDS”? “GCH”? “Grade II listed”? Never fear, that’s what this glossary is for! I have conveniently listed British-isms and house-hunting terms below, in alphabetical order, for your use in decoding house listings.

Did I miss any? What terms confound you when reading property listings from the UK? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll do my best to include them here.

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UK House Hunting 101, Lesson 2: Room by Room

Cultural expectations differ when it comes to housing, and this can sometimes cause confusion when you’re looking for a place to live. For Americans looking for a place to live in the UK, it might not necessarily cause confusion, but it can certainly lead to some unrealistic expectations. In this post, I will talk about each room in a British home and what may be different from the same room in an American home.

I have been having a hard time finding photos of the rooms I’m talking about below. But you can always try looking through some listings on an online housing website to see what I’m talking about. My favorites are rightmove.co.uk and zoopla.co.uk. Or, if you’re into upscale London properties, you might enjoy foxtons.co.uk.

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UK House Hunting 101, Lesson 1: Property Types

If you’ve ever tried to find a place to live in another country, you know how confusing it can all be. Real estate tends to have its own vocabulary, including lots of abbreviations, acronyms, and country-/government-specific terms. Even if you’re pretty good with the terminology in your own country, trying to decipher listings and understand pricing schemes in another place may take a lot of practice.

So today I present the first in a series of articles on house-hunting in the UK. Today’s lesson: types of properties.

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