Welcome to England or AKA Baby It’s Cold Outside

P1010239This photo is taken in the town of King’s Lynn where I visited last weekend. I am bundled up in my coat and fleece ear warmer although it is the middle of May. Yes, it’s cold and wet here, and yes, it is historic and beautiful! Interestingly enough, I found out that King’s Lynn, locally known as Lynn, was the town after which Lynn, Massachusetts, was named – and I grew up near that Lynn. England feels familiar to me. It reminds me of my roots (Massachusetts) but not of Utah, my adopted home of the past twenty-five years.

I have been here now just over two weeks. I arrived to take a job as a social worker at RAF (Royal Air Force base) Lakenheath, where I will be working with special needs children of American military families. I thought my big adjustment would be to living overseas, and yes, that is occurring, but the biggest adjustment is to working with the military. The individual people have been wonderful (well, maybe except for the woman who yelled at me today) but the bureaucracy is somewhat staggering. Everyone is speaking a language fluently – some kind of militarese — that I don’t know even though they should theoretically speak the same tongue as I do. Working on a base is interesting – it’s like a little American town. Dollars are used on base, and there is a Pizza Hut, Burger King, and stores selling American products,  and American service members, their families, and related people like myself (contractors) wandering around going about their business like in any small American town, except for the fact that at 4:30 PM the British and American anthems are played over loud speaker and you have to stand or stop your car if you are driving until the music ends.

I have been staying in lodging at the base, but this weekend I will move to an apartment in Bury St Edmunds, a half hour drive from the base – down narrow roads with no shoulder on which people drive 60 MPH+ on the left. May take some getting used to…..Once I am there I may feel more that I am living in England rather than an America town with 220 volt outlets. I am going to see the Tallis Scholars who singing at the St Edmundsbury Cathedral on Sunday night as part of the annual Bury St Edmunds Festival.

The learning curve has been steep. I don’t know how to do the simplest thing, whether it is knowing where to buy my dinner, how to use the washing machine, how to get money into my bank account, how to get into a car on the correct side or get cell phone service or internet. I hadn’t realized how much of my self esteem was tied up in knowing what to do and how to do it, until I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. It’s humbling to rely on others to show me the ropes in all the basics of life, as if I was just starting out – which I guess I am, starting out in life again but at age fifty-six. This weekend I get to learn how to use a combination washer drier, which I didn’t even know existed until I moved here – that’s right, the same machine does both the washing and the drying.

I miss my family and friends and the comfort I never knew I had in knowing how to do things on a day to day basis. I look forward to getting to learn a new way of life and making new friends here while reveling in the history of the area, even if I have to wear a coat and hat to do so! But by the way, if you are one of my old friends or one of my family — COME AND VISIT!!!

One thought on “Welcome to England or AKA Baby It’s Cold Outside

  1. jeanne Hayes

    Hi Barbara,
    Great summing up of the past couple of weeks! It is strange getting used to another place so different from where you came from. This brings back memories of living abroad when I was much younger. You will quickly learn the ropes and before very long it will all seem pretty normal. It did for me ( more or less) except for the military stuff, that I can’t venture to say..
    We’ll get things buckled up here for you quickly so you can have Kerry by your side and then thing will be easier and much more fun!!
    Happy adventures!!