Sunday, 30 October 2011

My challenge

I decided, that for a period of 1 year (starting yesterday), I will not buy anything that I do not need. This means that if I already have a handbag/pair of shoes/pair of boots which are in good shape, look good and will last for at least another season, than of course I do not need another handbag/pair of shoes etc. This is my challenge. I am planning not to buy any clothes/shoes for the next 6 months: my closet is full and I do not wear half of the stuff I own! Another example, I was going to buy myslef a nice warm winter sweater (£48)but I realised I already have two in my closet and I may not even use them! I left the shop without the sweater but with £48 in my pocket.

I will cut down on socialising, going out and buying gadgets. For example, I was thinking of buying a new mobile phone but because of the challenge I will now use my old (still very good) Nokia.
I will only buy Starbucks coffee when I am having coffee with friends - this will be a tough one as I really like Starbucks.

No sodas for me anymore - only tap water! This is good as I will be getting my braces on in two weeks so no sodas for me anyways.

No buying books - I will use my university library as much as I can, and will only buy a book if I really need to.

I will be reporting everything I buy here - week by week to see how much I'm spending/saving.

Let's see how it goes.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

American English vs British English

W ostatnim numerze (September 2011) magazynu 'Toastmaster' (Toastmasters International)*
pojawił się ciekawy artykuł na temat różnic między amerykańskim angielskim i brytyjskim angielskim. Autorka pisze o 'wolności językowej' (linguistic freedom) jaką pielgrzymi uzyskali po przybyciu na kontynent Ameryki Północnej w XVIIw. Uproszczona została pisownia: colour został przekształcony w color; centre w center; a analyse w analyze. Amerykanie częściej też dodają końcowkę -ed tworząc formę czasu przeszłego czasowników. Brytyjczycy częsciej używają końcówki -t, np.: burned - burnt; smelled - smelt; dreamed - dreamt.

Autorka zauważa że brytyjska odmiana angielskiego jest bardziej 'perfekcyjna' ze względu na częstsze użycie czasów Perfect. Rzeczywiście, Brytyjczycy używają tych czasów często i gęsto. Moje doświadczenia tylko tą tezę potwiwerdzają: w USA trzeba znać 3 czasy: Present Simple, Past Simple and Simple Future. To wystarczy aby się porozumieć z autochtonami. Nie jest to natomiast takie proste w UK. Tutaj użycie czasów Perfect (Present and Past) jest jak najbardziej stosowane. Po latach praktyki nauczłam się tych subtelnych różnic między użyciem Simple Past i Past Perfect.

Mimo tych różnic, Amerykanie i Brytyjczycy mają jedną wspólną cechę jeśli chodzi o język: muszą popracować nad zastosowaniem gramatyki w codziennym użyciu języka jako że są z tym na bakier.

Za różnicami językowymi idą także różnice kulturowe o których więcej w podanych poniżej stronach.

Kilka ciekawych linków na temat różnic Amerykańsko-Brytyjskich:
British Life and Culture
The very best of British
American - British English Translator

*Toastmasters International jest międzynarodową organizacją skupiającą ludzi których łączy pasja wygłaszania mów.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Fika in Stockholm

Stockholm is a city built on 14 islands and is the capital of, and the biggest city in, Sweden. I spent 3 days walking around the different districts of the city. My first reaction was: it is more expensive than London. Lunch in a corner cafe consisting of a shrimp sandwich and a coffee cost me £10!
I went to see the Vasa Museum (impressive), went on a boat trip around the islands, walked around the Old Town and sampled the Swedish food. 'Fika' in Stockholm was a great experience!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Sorry to bother you, dear.

"Sorry to bother you, dear"

This is how the official work email to my English male friend started. It was sent by another male, an Indian expat on a short work assignment in the UK, in his mid 20s. My friend is a rather serious 40 year old executive. This, of course, made him laugh as, although the phrase is acceptable and frequently used in the UK, one would never use it in such a context.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Polish plumber's wife in London - what do Polish women think about their new country?

Over the past five years I have followed a Polish online discussion group in order to explore what Polish immigrants (women in specific) think about British culture. The results of this study were presented at two conferences: in London, UK in 2006; and in Krakow, Poland in 2010. Below is a short summary of the study. Polish women expressed a wide range of positive and negative opinions about how the Brits go about things. Data was gathered at two points in time: in 2006 and 2010; and then the data were compared to find out if there were any changes in how Polish women 'judged' their new country. In 2006, the participants discussed mainly material culture. Women criticised a range of issues: lunch boxes that children take to school, extreme (and silly) school safety, carpeted bathrooms; sinks or queues at bus stops.

In addition, Polish women disliked British humour: one of the participants shared a story relating to it which is meant to reflect that British humour is unique:

“ I was on a student camp in the USA in the past. There were around 300 people from all over the world. In the evenings we set down around and joked. So some Australian or a German tells a joke and everyone is laughing except for the Brits. So when the Brit was telling a joke, no one was laughing except for the Brits”.

Poles expressed unfavourable views toward quiet and distant underground commuters (In London), excessive politeness, or respecting the law. On the other hand, cultural diversity, customer service or social mobility were seen as positive aspects of the British culture.

In 2010, the expressed views were less intense and focused mainly on subjective culture: class society, humour, the widespread support for charity work amongst others.

Overall, the results of the study indicated that the opinions became weaker over time, and more accepting of the culture: One of the participants said that she “accepts everything” even though sometimes she does not “understand some phenomena”. Another one says: “in general, I have very positive attitudes”.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Dreaming of living in NYC

Today, I'm dreaming of living in NYC. I visited the city in July 2000 when I travelled to the USA as an au-pair. It left a mark in my memory and, although I have returned to the USA several times for short visits since then, I never made it to NYC again. Of course, I'm a moderate follower of SATC and love how SJP lives in her little apartment near Central Park.

I never used to like big cities. I grew up in a small village in Eastern Europe, and only started enjoying the city life when I moved to London several years ago.

NYC is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, with over 20m people speaking 800 different languages. A real melting pot of cultures.