I have recently been enlightened with some cultural lessons I thought it only fair to share my new knowledge.
About two weeks ago I had a mystery solved. At the end of term here students have "Revision Week." Ever since the first time I heard this I wondered exactly what it was. I figured it was like a Reading Week or Study Week that many American universities have. When I was working with one of our student workers I finally asked her the question burning in my mind. Here is kind of how our conversation went:
Me: "What is revision week? What exactly are you revising?" (I thought maybe they were revising essays since they write a lot of those here and are often a large part of their grades.)
Ayme: "It's where you revise for your exams."
(Okay, not super helpful to use the term you are trying to define in your definition.)
We continued to talk and I offered: "Is it where you study for your exams?"
Ayme: "Uh, yeah, revise."
Right. So I was on the right track in my initial thoughts. But the question remained in this American mind, "But why is it called revision if you aren't rewriting something?" It's all in the terminology. So I used my trusty friend, Google, to help me get to the bottom of this by looking up "revising definition." That lead me to get this definition: "A revised or new version, as of a book or other written material." That's what I thought revision was, so how do the Brits/Scots have a different version? I had the brilliant thought to check a UK published (I think) dictionary. Oxford says "the process of learning work for an exam" and Cambridge says it is equivalent to the US "review." Now it makes a little more sense though albeit still confusing to this American mind. What I am going to ask now is "do you use the term 'study' for anything?"
Friday I learned another cultural lesson from another student worker. They are apparently a wealth of information. This lesson came in the form of being asked "Did you watch Eurovision?" Now mind you, I've was asked this multiple times this past week by co-workers, especially on Monday. But then they remember (or I remind them) that we don't have a TV and so other than "bits and bobs" I overheard I didn't really pay any attention. I'm used to hearing about various shows and knowing some about them without ever having watched them (especially during Big Brother seasons and lately it's been The Apprentice - both UK versions).
I think I proceeded to ask the student, David, if it was like American Idol? He said sort of. Come to find out, it's like American Idol meets the Olympics, meets a large music concert. (American Idol because it is a contest with judges and viewer voting; the Olympics because so many countries are involved and country pride is huge; and a large music concert because of the singing [of course], dancing, acrobatics, flashing lights, immodest and other crazy outfits, etc.) David told me that originally contestants representing their countries sang in their local language, dressed in the traditional dress, and sang to traditional music. Some countries still do that each year, but many of them now sing in English to reach a wider audience (thereby getting more votes probably!)
It's a once a year deal that has been going on for 54 years. Apparently it's a huge event. Like one of the largest (the largest?) televised and watched events each year. How did I miss this last year? And this year? But fear not, I have been caught up to speed both on the background of the song contest, as well as actually listening to parts of the songs sung by the 25 countries in the final. Wiki has all the info you need to know about Eurovision 2009. I hoped to also post the link to BBC's iplayer so you could see it for yourself (like I finally realized I could do!) but they only run them for a week after airing so it's gone now. So sad. However, I'd encourage you to check out the winner's song (Norway) by going here. It's actually really good!