This is my first time overseas and I have had the good fortune to go to an English speaking country versus our previous Secondees (exchange employees from Mueller who have worked overseas) who spent time in Germany and the Netherlands. Language barriers are a huge hurdle to pass when travelling internationally and thankfully, I have not experienced them that much. That is not to say there is none. Yes, Britons and Americans speak the same language, but it is the subtle differences which make visiting a new country interesting. When you order fish and chips, you are getting fish and French fries, and when you order a bag of crisps, you are getting a bag of chips. I attended a leaving dinner (going away dinner) for a manager here at Cooper Parry (the company I am working for here in England) who received a zucchini as a leaving gift, which Britons call a courgette. Petrol is gas, and everyone seems to speak using the wrong participle of “sitting” (Americans say “were/was sitting”, Britons say “were/was sat”). I am sure I will learn many more fun British terms, and I can always count on my coworkers to remind me that Americans speak incorrectly.
Another big difference between America and England is how polite everyone is. Although Americans are not as blunt as other areas of the world, we get to the point quicker than English people. I’ve found that when asked to perform a task or receiving review comments it is often followed with “if that’s okay?” The sarcastic side of me wants to see if it really is voluntary and respond that it is not okay, but I might save that for a month or two down the line. Additionally, for the first few days out at a client every time someone would get up to go get a drink they would ask if anyone else wanted anything. This quickly lead to learning my new favorite activity at work, tea rounds, mainly due to something called tea round questions. One person in the room will pose a question with a numerical answer via e-mail to everyone who drinks hot drinks. Everyone then submits their answer and the furthest from the correct answer has to make drinks for anyone who wants one. The person who lost the tea round gets to pose the next question and are exempt from making drinks. Some of my favorites so far:
Q: If a Premier League team of 11 players is to be made, using the most expensive player bought in each position this summer, what is the total cost of the team using a 4-4-2 formation?
A: £397.8m (my favorite because it was the very first one we did and I was closest)
Q: How many hamburgers does McDonalds sell per second?
A: 75. This one had some truly fantastic responses ranging from 10,000 to 2,592,000 which, when calculated out, means every single person in the world is eating 30 McDonalds hamburgers every day.
Q: According to a 2012 report, how many gallons of beer did Americans drink during 2011 (posed by me, resulting in some confusion due to the unit conversion)?
A: 6.3 billion gallons
What they say about English people is true, they do drink a lot of tea as we are sent about five tea round questions every day.
In terms of accommodations, Cooper Parry set me up in a very nice two bedroom apartment and provided me a BMW for transportation (any lower class car would have required a manual transmission). The apartment is conveniently within walking distance of Castle Donington’s quaint main street with several restaurants and pubs. Using the bus, I was able to spend two weekends exploring Nottingham and Wollaton Hall Gardens, and Deer Park. The Nottingham Food and Drink Festival took place on the Wollaton Hall grounds the first weekend I was here. Wollaton Hall itself is a beautiful Elizabethan country house converted into a natural history museum and most popularly known for being featured in The Dark Knight Rises as the latest Wayne Manor. The Food and Drink Festival was fantastic and allowed me the opportunity to try some fun local drinks. I could not pass up the garlic stand, and had to try a pint of garlic beer (I do not recommend it). There was woodcutting, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and dozens of food vendors to try. It was a great introduction to the area, and I am getting full just thinking about it.
Nottingham itself is a great bustling area. The Saturday I went led me to a small festival in the middle of the town with pop up restaurants, street performers, and plenty of rides. The main reason for my visit to Nottingham was to see Nottingham Castle and the City of Caves. Unfortunately, the castle is closed until 2020 for renovations but I did have the chance to take a tour of the caves underneath Nottingham. This revealed a huge network winding around underneath the city that was used for leather making, pub storage, secret illegal meetings, and a bomb shelter during World War II. After the tour I took a couple recommendations from my coworkers and had a few pints at the oldest pub in England, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, which claims to have been established in 1189 AD.
Since I am on a large client, I have been with several of the same people for multiple weeks, which has allowed me to get to know some of my coworkers better. They have been incredibly welcoming, so much so that when I mentioned I was planning to make my way to Manchester this most recent weekend, one of the associates, Jacob, offered to come along since he was planning to head up as well. We met up with one of his friends and proceeded to go on a pub-crawl, which led us to five or six different pubs, concluding at The Principal Manchester, which had an outdoor party we happened upon.
I am looking forward to a couple more months at Cooper Parry, and hopefully will have some stories to share about the office culture once I spend some time in the office (my goal is to try out a nap pod). For now, send me your tea round questions and I will let you know what the guesses are like.