Culture Clash

It's funny how much you can learn about your own country when you spend any time in a different one. The most ordinary things can suddenly seem interesting or even a bit odd. Take toad in the hole, for example. This Sunday, being my last in Richland, I cooked toad in the hole and had to admit it is a pretty bizarre name for a food which contains neither a toad nor a hole...
And another thing, people work LOOOONG hours here, and they don't seem to take breaks! Without working anywhere else I don't think it would have occurred to me to notice how much a part of the working day making a cup of tea in the morning and afternoon actually is. Admittedly, as a PhD student with a "flexible" schedule, I probably take more advantage of these breaks than many, but here they just don't seem to happen at all! No wonder the few smokers look so furtive.
So, this Sunday was quite a "British" day for a change. Though I spent much of it catching up on work, the empty lab did at least present the possibility of doing my work to a soundtrack of T-rex, which I have recently rediscovered. I finished a bit early and went over to the boys' flat just in time for afternoon tea. In the spirit of sharing other cultures, everyone had a cup of tea (admittedly from beakers rather than teacups), though I'm not convinced I had anyone converted. To be honest, in a country where summer is hot and sunny almost constantly, even I'd have to say that nothing so far has been able to beat Fudgsicles as an afternoon snack. They are truly scrumptious.
Oddly-named or otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed my toad in the hole Sunday dinner, though it seems sausages are another food that is quite different in America. Here, they all seem to be just a variation on the hotdog sausage, but they did the trick. Note to self: on return to England, cook and eat a full English breakfast.
Last night the culture balance was redressed with a trip to the cinema to see Captain America followed by tea at Denny's American Diner. The film was fabulous; colourful and over the top, plus Dominic Cooper as Iron man's Dad (gooood). While the food at the diner was perfectly delicious, the atmosphere seemed not to have changed since the 1970s (not that I can be 100% sure of that) and the whole place smelled of stale milk. But then, if you will go looking for an inexpensive meal at 10pm, you have to be a bit forgiving.
Tonight I ought to get started on packing up, since I have only 4 evenings left before I fly to New York. I'm not sure I've quite realised yet that I only have three days left at work, but I can't pretend I am at all saddened. It's a shame I'll have to leave my friends behind, but I simply can not WAIT to have a few days of holiday in New York of all places. Levels of excitement are set to reach dangerous levels over the next 4 days, as I prepare for 4 days of immersion in possibly my favourite culture: the Big City


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