Sarah Fudin currently works in community relations for the University of Southern California’s Master of Arts in Teaching program, which provides aspiring teachers the opportunity to earn a teaching credential and online teaching degree. Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.
When I first went abroad to teach physical education in England, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew I would be entering a new and exciting culture that was different than that of the United States, but, for some reason, I wasn’t prepared for exactly how different it would be. I knew there would be many similarities between these two English-speaking countries, but I was delighted by how many new things I learned.
I was looking to teach abroad because many of my friends had, and they all agreed it was one of the most rewarding experiences they’d ever had. I also knew that England was one of the easier countries to find a teaching job in, and when I did a little bit more research, I found that physical education is actually in high demand right now; England’s Department for Education is currently trying to revitalize the school system’s physical education standards and is searching for enthusiastic PE teachers.
I played lacrosse in college at the Division I level, so I thought that made me a perfect fit. I don’t know if it was because of the subject I was teaching, but I really noticed the differences in their sports culture. Lacrosse, for instance, isn’t very popular in England, at least not as popular as it is on the East coast in the U.S. They play sport like net ball and cricket. Cricket, which people think is similar to baseball, is actually quite different. The rules of cricket are actually very different, and it’s played on an elliptical field instead of a diamond — field, by the way, is “pitch” in England. You never quite get used to how many words are used differently there! My students were lost when we were playing soccer (football, as it’s called there), and I told them to lace up their cleats; in England, cleats are “boots” and sneakers are “trainers.”
The word differences went beyond sports terminology, and I had fun picking up on them and using them in regular conversation. I didn’t have an apartment; I had a “flat,” which was located not too far away from the “chemist,” not the pharmacy. There are also different words for clothing: Pantyhose are called “tights,” and pants are called “trousers”; pants means underwear — not trousers — and whenever I needed students to change into their sweat pants for the workout, I had to say “tracksuit bottom.”
Food was another interesting area to explore. “Chips” are actually French Fries, so if you want a bag of chips, you need to look for “crisps.” It was hard getting used to calling cookies “biscuits,” and though “jam” works fine for jelly, “jelly” actually means Jell-O — so you wouldn’t want to ask for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not that it matters, though, because peanut butter is very unpopular; they practically don’t even have it at all.
England is known for its wide