After a short flight and a slightly bumpy landing I arrived back on English soil late last Friday night. I’ve returned to the land of rain, red buses and tea for a week of catching up with friends, family and trying to remember how much the British pound is worth.
After five years of living in Holland returning to England for a few days always feels a little strange at first. There are a lot of little (and a few big) differences between the two countries which I have to acclimatize to again each time. However, after a day or two I usually stop confusing the staff in London shops by saying, “Dank U,” (Thank you) and, “Dag,” (Bye).
The language change is also confusing in another way. When I am in Holland I filter out a lot of the background conversations of passers by (with out realizing it) because I can’t easily understand most of them. Returning to England is like suddenly being cured of deafness. I can understand every conversation with in earshot again and it makes it hard to ignore them. I suddenly have a small window of insight into the lives of the people I pass in the street. This makes it more like getting my hearing back during a TV soap opera. It’s hard to explain if you have not experienced it yourself but some of the strangest things I’ve heard in the last few days include:
“I think I took too much of my medication. I can’t feel my fingers or toes.”
They could be lines from an episode of Eastenders.
There is also a big difference in atmosphere between London and Amsterdam which is most noticeable in the ambient noise of the two cities. The soundtrack to London is all bleeping traffic lights, police sirens and barking dog. For Amsterdam the soundtrack is bicycle bells, canal boat engines and loud tourists.
By the time I’m fully used to it all again it will be time to return to Holland and do the whole thing in reverse again. However, at least I don’t confuse Dutch shop staff as much when I speak English to them as I do when I accidentally speak Dutch to British shop staff.