|MrL and MsC in front of the S.S. Great Britain, and, yes, it was cold.|
After almost a month in the UK, readers will be relieved to know that MsCaroline is starting to feel less stupid, although it is clear that she still has a significant learning curve ahead of her.
She has learned how to take the bus and the train, can hold her own in a conversation that begins with, 'Alright?' and has (almost) got to the point where she can fill her phone number in on a form without having to look it up (always embarrassing.) She knows to ask for a 'return' ticket instead of 'round trip,' and as far as money goes, she can now confidently and quickly identify £1, £2, 20p, and 50p coins without having to hold them up to the light and squint at them (she is still working on the others.)
Her daily life has changed in a number of other ways, of course, and - just as it did in Korea - it simply happened, without her giving it much thought, because there really was No Other Option than to Make Adjustments.
MsC, being the
She goes shopping every.single.day. Part of this is the fact that she is living in a serviced apartment without any of her own things, and a minimum of usable cookware (not to mention no cajun seasoning.) Part of this is that going to the grocery store in the UK is pretty much one of the most pleasurable things she has ever done. Part of this is that she has no car and must carry everything she buys with her. And of course, part of this is the fact that this has been her entire refrigerator since 2nd January (and will continue to be, until early March:)
|Yes, the top shelf is mostly MrL's beer.|
|MsCaroline has provided this coffee cup for scale; also because the cup is pretty awesome.|
Astute readers will notice immediately that this is not the typical, long, dozen-egg carton that one finds in every grocery store in the US - and no, MsCaroline did not pick up the little box because of her space limitations. She picked it up (off the shelf, not from the refrigerator case, by the way) because this is the only size you can buy (at least in the stores she has been in.) That's it. Six at a time, please. And lots of other things are similarly sized for maximum space efficiency. Peanut butter, for example, comes in tiny jars about the size you buy bouillon cubes in in the US; even soy sauce comes in smallish bottles (think aspirin size) instead of the giant Kikkoman vat like MsC is used to having in her cupboard.
Of course, it should also be noted that the eggs, purchased at a corner grocery store (only slightly larger than an average 7-11 in the US) are free-range. In fact, the only eggs available are free-range. In the corner grocery store. Pretty amazing, huh?
So, while it has been an adjustment, MsCaroline is not complaining about the sizes of anything. Not one bit.
She does laundry
This however, is not an option here in England in the serviced apartment where the Asia Vus will be staying for at least the next 6 weeks; it is also unlikely that a US-sized dryer will be an option in their rental house (yes, they finally found one, and, yes, the dog can come, but they can't move in until early March; details coming soon.) So, at the moment, MsC is trying to keep up with the laundry using a machine that holds the equivalent of about 4 t-shirts in each load. And each load, of course, takes about 90 minutes just to wash - and much more than that to dry.
As it turns out, most of the dryers in the UK are not the vented sort of dryer that most Americans are used to; they are more typically a type of dryer called a 'condensing' dryer, which does not require venting. This is actually much more practical because many older buildings simply don't have windows in the right places to provide adequate ventilation for a typical vented dryer. Of course, it takes longer to dry things via condensing than it does just by blasting hot air on them, but everyone here is used to this (much as they were in Korea) and takes it in stride. Besides that, many people in the UK (and Europe) prefer to drip-dry or line-dry their clothes, either on a clothesline outdoors, or a drying rack indoors. This is due to both economical reasons (electricity is expensive,) environmental reasons (less energy) and does, of course, result in less wear-and-tear on the clothes. So the only people who seem to be struggling with the laundry situation are spoiled North Americans like MsC, who is determined not to whine
Now MsCaroline loves the environment and economy as much as the next person, and she is getting used to seeing this first thing when she walks in the door of her apartment:
What she is not getting used to is the ironing. The ironing.
In case you
Even if you put them in your condensing dryer and
Oh, MsCaroline trotted herself off to the dry cleaners the first week here (MrL goes through 5 dress shirts a week and she was certainly not planning to iron them all) but they didn't use enough starch (MrL likes them to make a cracking sound when he puts them on) and, frankly, their ironing job wasn't that great, considering the price she paid. So, she reasoned, since she is unemployed at the moment without a house to take care of, she might as well iron the shirts herself. How long could it take?
Let her tell you: it can take a long time. Especially if you have not ironed in a long time. Even more if you are dumb enough to let the shirts dry completely before you start ironing them.
So MsC is learning. Learning to take the shirts out and iron them when they are damp. Learning that it's pointless to put the ironing board away because it will just come right back out within a few hours. Learning that a well-designed ironing board can make a huge difference in the rate at which you iron (and, conversely, that a crap one will make you want to throw the iron across the room.)
But she is definitely not complaining, because every single day, she sees things like this:
|St. Philip and St. Jacob Church, Bristol|
|St. Mary Redcliffe church, Bristol|
|Llandoger Trow pub/restaurant, Bristol|
|tea in Bath|
|York Street, Bath|
And, surely, that's worth making a few adjustments for.