One story that I forgot to mention from England was my host family.
The program our school went with organized homestays with a family in the town we were staying at in the south of England. This was quite the experience, but I had a clear unfair advantage. I was put together with an 18 year old kid, who knew next to nothing when it came to English. So, I would have conversation with the family and he would give a very confused look. They would politely ask him, “Do you like England?” and he would look back at me with look of fear and confusion, I would translate, and he would nod his head in a viscious motion to show his answer.
Well, the family and I actually hit it off pretty well. They were an older couple who had been living together for some years, but had yet to get married. They were planning on doing that after Christmas. I fixed their computer and this put me on their ‘good’ list for the next 20 years, and they offered me a free place to stay, if I ever should come back to Britain. This is pretty awesome.
Now, they were very nice, but one thing that was holding me back from immediatly taking them up on their offer within the next month or so was their obsession with penguins. I understand liking an animal, or having some weird quirks, but these people took it to a new level. Everything, I mean everything, in the house had penguins on it. There was a toilet paper dispenser with penguins on it that quacked everytime you reached for a piece of paper.
The best was a giant penguin that sat at the dinner table. The husband had some how won it in an auction a few years back. This thing was about twice the size of a normal person. It stared at me when I ate, and they made sure to set a place for it every night at dinner. At first, I was fine with it, but then those beady little eyes started to penetrate my skull and generally creeped me out.
When I left, I gave them a handmade picture of a penguin as a thanks. They were very pleased. But I’ll need a break from penguins for a while.