It's a strange thing, living in England. You don't necessarily feel like you're not in the US. You can't claim to not recognize the language (it's yours, you smart one), or the customs, or even the landscape at times (hi, Gap! and LUSH! and Starbucks!). And yet, you're always aware that there's something very, very different as well. You can't exactly put a finger on it, but you know that you're thousands of miles away, both literally and figuratively.
Here are 10 little things that I've found the British do different from the Americans. And since they do it with a heavy accent, they automatically do it better.
1// Obviously, words and phrases don't match up. Some, we've heard of - "mind the gap," "queue," "cheers!","bloody hell," and everything else you've heard from a Harry Potter character. Others are used just as often but are less stereotypically associated with the British. My personal favorite is when they say "well done" all the time with a heavy accent. I've found that it can be all kinds of versatile. I didn't get lost! Well done! Can I have a coffee? Well done! How do you like your steak? Well done!
2 // Having the "left of way." Never has a Beyonce song ("to the left, to the left!") come in more handy. Not only is the driver's seat on the left and not only do they drive on the left side of the road, but you also have to look the opposite way when crossing the street and stand/walk on the left side. If I get hit by a double-decker bus, now you know why.
3 // The weather isn't actually all that bad. Well fine, coming from perpetually 70F and sunny California, yes it's actually all that terrible. But it's often sunny here and not even bitingly cold! The weather's only awful like... 40% of the time. I was preparing myself for a gray hell 98% of the time.
4 // But it's terrible enough that people don't even give two hoots anymore. The Brits barely blink when there's a torrential downpour outside. Umbrellas and hoods are overrated, guys. The cool thing is to be drenched head to toe.
5 // Also, the sun goes down at about 4:22pm. Every day. So essentially, we get tired about 3 hours after we wake up and get ready for the day.
6 // BRITISH HUMOR. I LOVE IT. Every single person I've met has been so subtly and dryly hilarious and witty. And they're so quick and polite and eloquent about it! Can we just have a bunch of British people host all of our award shows, please? With Tina and Amy and the rest of the cast of SNL?
7 // Perhaps this is actually just a difference from the Stanford lifestyle, where we are all too casual and have zero rules... as in, going to class and walking around campus in our rattiest sweats is more than accepted and expected, but here at Oxford - nope! You dress smartly even though class is in the house you live in. Everyone is so well dressed and put-together for every possible occasion, even for something as simple as walking down the street.
8 // (CHOO CHOO) (THOMAS THE) TRAINS. This doesn't cover only the British - trains are amazing in all of Europe and Asia and probably everywhere except the USA. America, get on this train. (Yes, I did giggle at my own bad joke.)
9 // University is dramatically different. Without going into too much detail - Americans, even with majors, study numerous subjects and gain a basic understanding in many topics in the course of four years; the British study one or two subjects in depth in depth in depth in the course of three years.
10 // This might come as no surprise, but everything is DOLLA DOLLA (POUND POUND) BILLS.
It's a hard reality to face, because I usually travel in Asia, where things dirt cheap compared to the US. After being here for a couple of weeks, it's amazing how inexpensive everything in US seems to be. I MISS TARGET AND CLEARANCE AISLES. And also, so many different coins, it's hurting my brain.
+ BONUS ROUND: One more thing. It's way too difficult to find something unhealthy in the grocery aisles here. All "processed foods" have like four more-than-recognizable ingredients. Crappy, unhealthy, superprocessed American brands is 4x more expensive than generic, healthy brands. I don't know how I'm going to eat anything when I go back home. Guys, I'm scared.
Have a great weekend, lovedoves! I'll be diligently jotting down more cultural differences for the next installment!
*As always, these are simply everyday observations from my personal experiences and not meant to generalize a culture whatsoever! xoxoxoxoxoxox