Thursday, April 30, 2015

A to Z Challenge: Z is for Zed

**This is the final entry in the challenge! It has been fun!

 
In 1995, I was twenty-three years old and a recent college graduate. I was fortunate enough to obtain a six month work visa through a student work exchange in the United Kingdom. After that six month visa expired, I returned to the U.S., worked nine months to save up money, and returned for another six month stint with a different exchange program. A year or two later I went back again for a two week visit, and then another year or so later I visited again, and so on and so on. I’ve had a love affair with England for over twenty years.
London Houses And Underground Station

 
When I arrived in 1995, the first thing my exchange program gave me was a book of street maps called the London A-Z Street Map. Here in America, we would call it A to Zee; in England they pronounce it as Zed. In the same way, they call the number 0 "naught", and two numbers or letters together are always “double L” or “double three.” Fascinating word play we have amongst the English-speaking countries.

The main thing I learned about the London A to Zed map was that it was invaluable. I’d never been a great map reader before, but I learned in a hurry. I was a suburban girl from Northern Virginia; at home I was car-bound with no need for maps. As a sudden city-girl walking everywhere and using public transportation, I found that the book of street maps was my lifeline. I never went anywhere without it, and I got pretty good at using it.
London Sign
 
One day while walking around Oxford Circus, a woman with a distinctly British accent stopped me and asked if I knew a particular street. As I opened up my A-Zed and began pointing out our current location as opposed to where she wanted to be, she started laughing.  “This is quite humorous, isn’t it? An English person asking an American for directions in London!”

London Street View

I still have my London street maps from 1995, and when my husband and I returned to London for a visit two summers ago, we were as dependent upon it as ever. While trying to use the GPS on my phone, we ended up frustrated and nowhere near our destination. The good ole London A-Zed has yet to let me down!

Do you still use street maps?

12 comments:

  1. My stepdad is from London, so I got to travel over there with him nine years ago. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I remember the subway (they call it "the tubes," right?). I laugh every time my stepdad says, "Mind your head" as you're getting a call because there were signs everywhere reading that while we were riding the subway!

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    1. Yes, the tube! I love riding the tube. It was my favorite form of transportation when I lived there!

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  2. Its funny you say about the brits asking the American for directions in Britain. That happens to me all the time as random people ask me (the Aussie) for directions here in America. Its almost like I have a sign on my back that says "Ask me for directions" I even have had people pull me over while running or cycling for directions. Glad Im not the only one like that. As for your question. I use them occasionally in new cities. I tend to memorize my route and the city layout by using google maps on the computer before I leave and then use my phone to connect the dots if I forget or get turned around. It works for me. Congratulations on completing the challenge!

    Sean at His and Her Hobbies.

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    1. That's funny that you are stopped here in the U.S. Unfortunately, when I'm stopped here in the U.S. And asked for directions, I usually don't have a clue!

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  3. That is a funny story, but thank goodness you had that A-Zed map. I think its neat that there are different terms for things over there. I know they call erasers rubbers. And a few other things. I'd have to make a list if I ever visit London.

    I have street maps in my car...just in case. :)

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    1. Ha! Yes, that's right! Erasers are rubbers over there!

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  4. What an appropriate thing to use for Z and the end of the challenge. I liked your story. I've never been to London but have friends that go over there at last once a year. The English language is a funny thing with different accents and terms when we go different places.

    Congrats on finishing the A to Z. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Sunni

    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

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  5. Interesting how they pronounce "Z" I bet that book would be invaluable and how fun with the exchange program. I think that's a great way to get to spend time in a country you enjoy!

    I was never a good map reader and got "stuck" reading maps while hubby drove. I was so glad when GPS came along :)

    Congrats on making it through the challenge!! Job well done! Enjoyed reading your posts :)

    betty

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  6. Street maps can be so useful. As a Brit, I'm curious about how you refer to double Ls or double 3s?

    Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

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    1. We usually just repeat the letter or the number. "L-L or 3-3."

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  7. I love maps! I would always choose a map over GPS if I could. Having lived in a couple of formerly British Commonwealth countries, I could probably add to your list of English differences, too. For example, the bonnet and the boot on your car.
    Enjoyed meeting you at BRMCWC! -Carole

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  8. I've been a map nerd since age 5. I love them. There is no substitute for a good one.

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