I had never left Europe before; I had never even left the UK before. So this journey was completely new to me. I was going alone, no parents, no friends, all the way across the ocean. I didn’t know what I expected, I didn’t expect anything really, and I was going to simply let it all come over me.
Compared to the village I come from New York was an entire new world. I had been to London on a few occasions, but that was nothing compared to New York. It was huge and so lively! Unlike anything I had ever seen before.
The plane was ok, I travelled economy class and the people next to me were very kind, giving me tips on how to survive New York. At that time I didn’t think I would need any help. When I arrived, the first thing I noticed were the cars. I had seen it on television before, but still, it was very strange to see the cars driving on the wrong side of the road.
I called a cab. The cab driver was a bit awkward; his accent was very rough. But he was okay and he drove me to my hotel. I had a room in the Amsterdam Inn, a small and cosy hotel. The people very helpful and gave a few goods tips as to where I could go for supper or go sightseeing. The girl behind the desk showed me to my room. It wasn’t very big, but big enough for me. I unpacked my bags and felt pretty sleepy so I took a nap.
By the time I woke up, it was suppertime. I took a shower got dressed and went to one of the restaurants the girl had told me about. It was a small pizza place, but packed with people. Luckily I was alone and could immediately sit down. I asked for the menu and looked in it. The first thing I noticed was the “alligator pear” in the salad. I had never heard of an alligator pear. I asked the waitress and after an explanation I came to the conclusion that it was just an avocado. Nothing to worry about!
Ten minutes later the same waitress came for my order. When I said I wanted the avocado salad for starter, she looked at me as if I were from another planet. Apparently starter is not a word in American. I learned that the correct word in American is appetizer.
I never really realized that both languages were so different; I thought it was just the accent but so many words are different. Something I also found out is that my English accent is very popular; Americans really like it. After finishing my salad and pizza, I asked the waitress if there were any pubs nearby. She looked at me with a tilted head and answered: “we don’t have pubs here, we have bars” and smiled. I mumbled something stupid and I felt a blush coming up. Then she said that she finished working in about an hour and if I liked it, she could show me some places.
I agreed and felt flattered this girl would show me the city. Apparently my British accent was good for something, here across the big blue.
I went back to the hotel and got changed. An hour later I was back at the Italian restaurant and she was waiting for me. Her name was Alexandra, but everyone called her Alex. We went to a place called the monkey bar. Alex was meeting her friends there and introduced me to them. They were a nice bunch of people, very different from my friends back home though, these people were much more free, more careless and they found my accent very funny. Peter, one of her friends asked if I wanted a beer and I answered yes.
When he came back he was carrying a tray with six glasses of lager. I looked confused and Peter asked what was wrong. I said that that wasn’t beer that was lager. He said he didn’t know. It didn’t matter though. I also like lager. They asked me what I consider beer and I explained that it’s a temperate dark brew with no foam. They all looked at me as if I were nuts!
The evening passed very quickly and I had had a lot of fun and I was glad I had met these great people. I took a cab to the hotel and went to bed. I was exhausted. It had been a long day with many new impressions.
The next day I woke up and decided I wanted to see some more of the city. Last night it had seemed very beautiful to me and I couldn’t wait to see it by day. After taking a shower I got dressed and went down for breakfast. That too was very different; I was used to sausages and beans, there they had what they call bagels and they had muffins, not something I would normally have eaten for breakfast, it tasted really good though.
After breakfast I went, armed with a map and a photo camera, to explore this great city. The sky was clear blue and the temperature was pleasant. Walking and looking around, I noticed all the beautiful people. Everyone looked very classy and very fashionable. Back in England people would just walk over the streets wearing a jumpsuit and sneakers; not caring about their appearance.
The rest of the fortnight passed somewhat the same as my first day. I saw Alex and her friends a couple of times and we had great fun. She gave me her phone number in case I was bored or felt like calling her. I called her the Sunday before I would leave to ask if she felt like having supper with me, sort of a goodbye dinner, to say thanks for all the things she had done for me. She answered that dinner would be great. I took a cab to her house.
She lived in a small flat but its interior was tasteful. I thought we would go out to supper, but instead we stayed at home and she cooked dinner. She asked me to open a bottle of blush. I truly had no idea what she was talking about. -“You know, whine.”- “Ahh you mean rosï¿½!”-“If that is what you call it, then yeah”
Ten minutes later supper was ready. She said -“Appetizer is tomato soup, main course cilantro chicken with a baked potato and red bell peppers” I found out during supper that cilantro is coriander; a baked potato is the same as a jacked potato and that a bell pepper is a simple red pepper. My American grew a lot better that evening. A biscuit is a cookie, pudding is called dessert and they don’t have sweets but candy. I had a lot of fun that evening and I was very sad I had to leave the next day.
The next day at the airport Alex was there to wave me off, and also Peter and some others had come. It was a very sad hour, and I really did not want to leave, I had felt so very happy there and the people were so kind and helpful. Before I got in the plane, I promised them all I would be back, and I also gave them my address so they could visit if they were ever in England.
I’m very glad I took that trip, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!