The Harvest Festival and Another Assimilation Rant

Nov 4, 2007 by

jwa & jlr

I’ve finally got Jamie to contribute a story to the blog! Yay! I won’t even make you wait too long, I’ll tell her story first. Last night, we went to a fireworks showing that rivaled any of the largest people gatherings in the States for such things like the 4th of July. It’s called Harvest Festival, and it happens every year right around this time. Here’s Jamie’s take on the whole thing, and perhaps I’ll even elaborate afterward.

Yesterday I celebrated the 5th of November, I know on the 3rd of November, but that’s when the fireworks were (which we missed because we were stuck on a bus in traffic.) But I did manage to offend the man serving me a hot dog by telling him I wanted two and gestering with two fingers at the same time. Apparently it is a sexual invitation in England and he was about 65 years old, a rather hansome 65 but still, ewwww! Oh you got to love cultural barriers and the adventures of me trying to survive them!

I think that sometimes the cultural barriers are more difficult to overcome for us Americans here in the UK and London because we expect they should be the same. They speak the same language (kind of…) and so we feel that we should just be able to roll out of bed in the morning, put on our American skins and go out into the world like normal. It doesn’t happen quite that way.

In fact, I believe that we’re so fixed on the American culture and customs because we don’t have places (besides Canada and Mexico) that are cheap to travel to. Right now, we could get a ticket to Iceland for 40 pounds (80 bucks, it’s 2 to 1 in favor of the pound right now, but still!) Germany for 50 pounds, or China for 140 pounds. And those are airplane ticket prices! We can’t even travel to Mexico for under 400 dollars in the states. My point, they get to experience more cultures and because of everyone else’s close proximity over here, the cultures can come right into your front yard.

Secondly, their culture encourages it as well. Most jobs provide at least 20 days of vacation, not including what they call “bank days” (government holidays, which number around 9 here). So, starting a position in London one receives 29 paid holidays with which you are encouraged to take because there are so many cheap options. Try asking for two weeks paid vacation, fourteen days, when you start a position in the US. They’ll laugh in your face. Here, it’s expected.

If that didn’t encourage me to try and get work over here more, as I’ve stated already, the pound is two to one verses the dollar right now. In fact it’s at a 28 year high and so I’m sure many Londoners and other Commonwealth citizens will be making trips to New York and the like to do some Christmas shopping. If I start making money before Christmas, I’ll be able to buy things on Amazon and such for my loved ones that will end up being pretty cheap for me, so keep your fingers crossed family! Hope for a job so you get good stuff!

As for the two of us we’re starting to truly get used to the London travel systems, the huge crowd almost everywhere… Jamie is settling in to her studies nicely and I’m still fighting with various software problems in order to get The Classic Chronicles on the air on the weekends.

Thanks again for all your support and love, and we’ll tell some more stories soon. I still haven’t told the one about the crustacean sympathizer, and about this next job I should be starting on Monday. I don’t want to jinx it yet, but it sound good now.


Justin and Jamie

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