What in the World is Paddington Bear?

Dearest Readers,

At dance class last week, I had an interesting exchange.

It went something like this.

Me: ‘I got this sweater in Peru.’

Guy: ‘Deepest, darkest Peru?’

Me: ‘What?’

Guy: ‘Deepest, darkest Peru. Where Paddington Bear is from.

Me: ……

Guy: ‘Paddington Bear.’

Me: …..

Guy: ‘WHAT?!?!?!’

(Later, after bringing five others into this discussion and determining no other Americans were around to back me up on the lack of cultural exposure of this bear in America.)

Guy: ‘I’m so disappointed in you.’

Me: ‘Take it up with America.’

Okay, so that discussion was full of sarcasm and mock disapproval…that lasted the entire class but never failed to make me laugh. I learned that, apparently, a Paddington Bear movie was released in the States a couple of years ago…I just never heard of it.

Maybe it was big is some areas? I don’t know.

Anyway, it was pretty firmly established that Paddington Bear is a beloved British icon also known a bit in Germany but not so much in Spain and America, so I decided to do something I should be pretty good at by now: research.

I had two research questions in mind, the second of which takes precedent: Who/What actually is Paddington Bear and why is he from deepest, darkest Peru, of all places?

Follow-up question: does he speak Quechua or Spanish, like they do in real-life Peru?

Let’s find out, shall we?


Paddington Bear is the creation of Bond…Michael Bond. The first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in 1958, and there are over 150 titles related to this Peruvian bear, from the original novels to board books for little ones. There are Paddington books translated to at least 40 languages.

Right now, Paddington’s signature look is a blue raincoat, a red hat, and a beat-up suitcase, but that wasn’t always the case.

According to summaries of the chapters of the first book, Paddington is sent from Peru to London because his Aunt Lucy needs to go into a retirement home, the Home for Retired Bears in Lima.

The summaries make it seem like this little guy causes a lot of lovable trouble, so I can definitely see how he would become a cultural icon really fast.

Paddington’s Peruvian name is Pastuso, but they call him Paddington after the train station they found him in because apparently people can’t pronounce Pastuso. He was originally supposed to be from Africa, but there are no bears there, so he’s from Peru because they have bears…but not Paddington-like bears. They have spectacled bears, males of which weigh 220-440 pounds and when mature aren’t less than five feet tall.



But okay, okay, it’s cute, he’s a anthropomorphized bear, he’s from Peru, and he goes on adventures in London. There are now Paddington-based itineraries created in his honor and a Paddington Trail. There are statues of him, and Google made him a Doodle. He also loves marmalade.

But the question I keep wondering is does he speak Spanish or Quechua? His Aunt Lucy taught him to speak English, but that doesn’t explain what language the people around him are speaking.

So…what then?

TV Tropes describes the books as presenting Fridge Logic, which is just another term for internal consistency issues that tend to hit people as they’re staring into their fridge, but not during the movie/book/tv show. Paddington’s internal inconsistency is that he and his community doesn’t speak Spanish or Quechua. This is how TV Tropes puts it:

Paddington doesn’t know Spanish because he speaks a different language from the rest of Peru (let’s call it Darkest Peruvian) which by sheer coincidence is exactly like English, explaining how Paddington and Aunt Lucy are able to converse in English.

This doesn’t mean that Paddington is somehow downgraded, though. Lots of shows have internal consistency problems. It just makes some things easier.

Some Final Thoughts:

  1. I am still wary of Paddington Bear, mostly because I went to Peru and it will forever bother me that he is really not in any sort of way Peruvian.
  2. I now want to read all of the novels because I want to be up-to-date with this UK-based phenomenon and also because why not?
  3. I’m curious how many people in America really and truly know what Paddington Bear is.

Thanks for reading this sorta-long, sorta-rambling post! Remember to share it if you liked it, and please tell me if you know Paddington Bear and how (especially if you’re from the States). I’d never even heard the name before last week, so it blows my mind that Paddington was at some point directed to the entirety of the American public.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,



US to UK: The Registration Process

My registration for Glasgow was a three step process, which included academic registration and financial registration before my academic induction and registering (enrolling) in courses. I spent a couple weeks worrying that I wouldn’t be able to follow the directions and wondering why the UK and the US have to be so damn different, expecting nothing except…

registration before

…but then I got the email with instructions and it was surprisingly easy. More like…

registration after

Registration for other UK schools is similar, although the registration help sections indicated that the exact steps depend on the school, much like in the US.

Step One: Academic Registration.

This step is basically checking your details. Name, contact information, program, and the like. Mine included the opportunity to add a photo for the student ID card, although I was able to skip it.

For me, this step raised the issue that my contact information right now is different than my contact information will be, and I don’t even know what my contact information will be. However, I solved this by simply putting in my current contact details since I’ll be able to update the information later.

Step Two: Financial Registration.

This was tough for me. At this point, students need to give evidence their tuition is being paid or set up a form of payment, like direct debit.

I’m paying for the tuition entirely from student loans, enough USD to cover the cost if the exchange rate suddenly shifts significantly into the GBP’s favor (and if it’s over the cost of the tuition after it’s exchanged, I get that money in GBP there). The loans will be released after I’ve done all the registration and start classes, not before, but there wasn’t a place to put that option.

I panicked for about twenty seconds before I remembered the help request option available. I explained my issue and two days later, I was able to go in and complete the financial registration with the click of one button thanks to my Glasgow federal loan contact.

A possibly tough situation made super easy.

Step Three: Enrolling in Classes

About the same time I was diving into the academic and financial registration, I got a lovely email from my program about academic induction and enrolling in classes. They told me, and this was a bit of a relief, that I didn’t need to worry about enrolling for classes based on the list of requirements.

Instead, I should wait until after the induction, at which point I’ll have more information with which to choose my courses.

I wasn’t going to complain about a little more guidance.

I ended up enrolling in most of my classes the weekend before classes started since one of my classes met before my induction and I knew what I wanted to take. The process was simple, and it had tutorials for how to use the software.

I’m currently enrolled in all my classes with minor problems solved pretty quickly by the administration.

So, to recap:

Academic Registration + Financial Registration + Class Enrollment – Stress = Happy Student

Do you have experience studying in the UK? What was your registration process like?

Your Bonnie Celtophile,


US to UK: Approaching the Tier 4 Visa

Us to Uk finalWhen it comes to things that must be done for the sake of studying in the UK, I was most intimidated by the visa. Sure, personal statements are hard, and sure, it will be a challenge to adjust to a different culture and system, but the visa is the thing it all hinges on. I can get through everything else and have the support of the school, but if I don’t get the visa, I won’t be going anyway.

But here’s the thing: as long as you’re not a criminal, have a good academic record, and have the ability to pay for the program and living expenses, getting a Tier 4 Student Visa isn’t actually that difficult. This is especially true for Americans, since we’re a low-risk country. That means we aren’t scrutinized in quite as much detail.

And if you’ve traveled to another country before, UK or otherwise, even better.

For me, the most difficult part of the visa was just figuring out what I needed. There’s a lot of information available on the UKVI website (https://www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk/home/welcome) and in their policy guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/540421/T4_Migrant_Guidance_July_2016.pdf), and some of it doesn’t apply to low-risk countries.

As always, I suggest reading the information yourself and making your own conclusions, but here is what I did for mine.

The visa application is done online. So you’ll need an account on the UKVI website, and then you’ll need to start your application. You can save and come back, but once you’re ready to hit submit, you’ll need to go through the rest of the steps (payment, booking your biometrics appointment) right afterwards, so be prepared for that.

The actual application is mostly the things normally required in applications, most of it similar/the same as what is required for your application to your university. However, it also includes the passport information of your parents (if they have passports), information about the times your have traveled internationally in the past, and your uni’s CAS information (which they will provide you with after you’ve accepted their offer). You cannot submit the application without this number.

The best thing to do is simply fill out what you can, make notes of what you still need, then go back. Start at the beginning again the second time and double check the information already there. Add the information you need to. Then check it all again. You need to make sure it’s right before you actually submit.

One thing that the application says to include are bank statements and loan statements showing the funds to cover the cost of program tuition and living in the UK for the duration of the program. However, applicants from low-risk countries only need to be able to truthfully state that they have the money to support themselves and fund the program.

Know that you have the funds and know that you have access to the proof if they request it, but you don’t have to include it. This is part of their differentiation arrangements, details of which can be found in the policy guidance.

Once it’s submitted, you set up a biometrics (BRP) appointment at a nearby facility. They are all over the place, so you should be able to find one within an hour or two drive away. The appointments don’t take long, and you need to bring your passport and a confirmation of the appointment/a copy of your application.

I had forgotten my appointment confirmation but luckily had copies of my application, so they let me complete it, but they were also going to point me somewhere to print out the confirmation if need be. It’s easier to have it with you, though.

The biometrics is simply a picture and fingerprints. Super easy stuff, and it was neat to watch my fingerprints appear on the screen in very fine detail. Totally worth it.

After setting up your BRP appointment time, the payments are next, and that’s not cheap (as in about $850). However, if you’re serious about studying there for a full program, it’s necessary.

Disclaimer: the payment is for the processing of the application, not necessarily the visa, so they can deny you. You can request a review of that decision for free, though, if it comes to it.

Once you’ve done the BRP, you need to mail your application in. This includes the application, the BRP information from your appointment, a passport style photo of you (the actual printed photos. I got mine at a nearby CVS), your passport, and a return shipping slip that you need to order online so they’ll send you your stuff back (they have links for that in the emails they send confirming your details). If you’re worried and

Then you wait, but not for long. It only takes 10 business days for them to process 99% of the applications, so you’ll know within a couple weeks.

If you’ve been granted a visa, you’ll get your passport back with a fancy vignette inside that gives you temporary access to the country, a 30-day period spanning the expected date of arrival you indicated on your application.

Within 10 days of entering the country, you need to go to either your local post office or another pick-up location (mine is my university, and the location will be specified on your application) to get your BRP card, which is the last stage to having the full visa to stay in the country.

Then you can rejoice with a drink at a local pub. You’ve earned it.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,