What do Americans find strange about the UK?
I grew up in California but have spent about four years living in various parts of the UK – South, Midlands, and North.
The first thing I noticed was that my West-Midlands host family did not sound like the queen.
I’ve since learnt that accents change every five miles or something insane .
As far as America goes, I can tell the West Coast from The East or the South, but I couldn’t tell you a state, much less a county.
And Americans often find it difficult to know if the person they’re talking to is even American, or if they’ve come down from Canada!
The next thing I found a bit bizarre was the quiet, stare ahead norm of public transportation – if you talk to somebody on the Tube, you’re probably a serial killer (or a lost tourist, which to a Londoner seems to be just as bad).
I’ve had to deal with the Tube from Heathrow to Victoria with heavy bags more times than I care to count, and Victoria Station is not exactly tourist friendly.
Each time I’ve had someone walk up and ask to help with my bags. Not once have they been English.
In America, at least from what I’ve experienced, people will start a chat if they see you’re travelling by yourself, and I always immediately have someone taller offer to put my stuff in an overhead bin.
Although this may be 50% good manners and 50% fear that I’ll drop it on someone’s head!
Opening hours – especially Sunday trading laws have also taken so much getting used to.
In America, 24/7 fast food, grocery stores, petrol stations, etc. are the norm, and if I want Chinese food on Christmas Eve at 9PM, I have five options.
In my first year, I forgot it was Easter Sunday, and was so proud of myself for remembering to go into town for food at 2PM – imagine my surprise when all of city centre was deserted, and there wasn’t a single car at Tesco.
I couldn’t have read the time wrong, right?
Approaching the building, I saw a large banner announcing opening times, and resigned myself to a life of plain pasta and dry cereal until 9AM Monday, when I’d be able to pay for groceries again.
Speaking of groceries, it took so many people telling me I was crazy to convince me to eat eggs here – they’re not refrigerated, and they’ll often have bits of feather or chicken poo on the outside.
I am now aware that they’re safe, but coming from a childhood of identical perfectly clean, white, large AAA eggs, I was convinced I’d die a terrible salmonella death.