Tag Archives: Study Abroad

Words I thought were amusing when I first came to England

On 1 October 1996, I landed in England for the first time.

It’s a long story as to why I’m still here. But in my first months, as a study abroad student at Exeter University, I wrote pages and pages of journal text. Mostly prose, snatches of poetry and song lyrics, quotes from novels. (I was twenty years old and an earnest English major.)

There were also lists. Lists of the contents of rolls of film, lists of pubs I’d visited (I was twenty years old and American.) And lists of the amazing new vocabulary to be found in the United Kingdom. I present you with an actual listing here.*

  • fruit machine
  • football
  • ring
  • telly
  • biscuit
  • coach
  • minibus
  • for let
  • MP
  • lie in
  • knickers
  • pants
  • shag
  • bonk
  • snog
  • hire
  • sacked
  • pensioners
  • full up
  • bedsit
  • track suit bottoms
  • sod off
  • bugger
  • take the piss

An eclectic lexicon to say the least. Try reciting the list like a bit of a performance poem and it’s even better.

I was twenty years old and then, as now, I liked words. All sorts of words…

*The original text, which is labelled “glossary – more words and expressions and stuff”, also defined each of the terms. It was a true work of scholarship.