Friday, May 24, 2013

States Visit: USA Differences

Actual date of this event: 2-16 May

When I arrived in the UK 10 months ago, there were quite a few things that stood as to me as "different" compared to the US. If you have been with me from the start of my blog, I am sure you remember my reaction to many of these things different in the UK. I'm fairly open-minded (or so I think), so these differences surprised me but only a few of them really got under my skin (remember these here and here)

Now that I have lived here for almost a year, I have accepted most of these differences as my new life. It's a good thing, right? Yes, I believe it is - Britain is my new home. So when I went back to the United States for two weeks for the first time since my departure, there were many things I either forgot about or noticed as "odd" compared to the UK. Needless to say, noticing these things took me by surprise. I never thought I would go back to the United States feeling like life there is different. It's a good thing, right? Yes, I believe it is - Britain is my new home.
Source of Photo
1.) Vehicles - When I came to the UK, the smaller vehicles were very noticeable. Going back to the US, I noticed the number of trucks on the road. So many trucks! And then there are the ones that are jacked up. Please, people.
2.) Ceiling fans - I was worried when we moved about not having a ceiling fan, but Luke and I adjusted very quickly to it. Not having the air circulation really wasn't a problem. I forgot that in the US every single room in every house has a ceiling fan. And it is needed because the A/C kicks on and off. When it's off, that ceiling fan is necessary!
3.) Hot Water - In the UK, you turn on the faucet for hot water, and it is usually hot within 5-10 seconds. In the US, I was confused when I turned on hot water and had to wait over a minute for it to be hot. It's these things you don't realize! Maybe it's a southern thing??
4.) Servers & Customer service - I forgot that the US is all about good customer service... or wanting good tips. I was reminded when eating at restaurants in the US that they want you to be happy and they want you gone quick so they can get a new table. We've gotten used to the lack of refills on drinks and the lack of checking on us throughout our meal. Needless to say, we enjoyed our meals out :-)
5.) Credit cards - We forgot how EASY it is to use a credit card in the US. I won't even get into using a credit card in the UK (ask me if you're curious), but it's a whole long process each time we pay for something.
6.) Ice - I have gotten used to drinking water without ice and at room temperature. Ice makers are heavenly and something that is taken for granted in the US. The things you don't realize.
7.) Bagging - I forgot that when you go the grocery store, you don't bag your own groceries. I sat there feeling like a worthless person because I am so used to do it myself. Strange, the things that are different.
8.) Cellular/Mobile - I gotta give Europe the up on this one. Luke and I both have unlocked iPhones. We wanted to purchase pay as you go SIM cards with talk/text and unlimited data to use while in the US which is what we have in the UK. Here is what we pay in the UK: $23 for one month of unlimited data, 300 minutes, 3000 text. Beautiful! The only company that offers anything close to this in the US is T-Mobile (which has terrible service by the way). We paid $3 a day for unlimited talk/text and unlimited data which turns into 2G speed after using 200MB at 4G speed. It was the only option we found. Do you know of another better option??
9.) Shifting - I forgot to use my right hand to shift for park/reverse/drive. My left hand has gotten used to that job.
10.) Freeways - I forgot how INSANE Houston drivers are. Yep, I was that person on the freeway going 60mph because that F350 cut me off!
11.) Lanes - I forgot how wide the driving lanes are in the US.
12.) Starbucks - Luke forgot how to order a plain ole coffee in the US. Normal coffee has various names throughout Europe. "Drip coffee" and "Americano" are the usual. In the US, it's call "coffee". That was a really funny experience!
13.) Postal Code - You know when you use your credit card it sometimes asks for a zip code? Well, what do you do when your credit card is associated a postal code like AB10 7FR? Apparently, you don't type anything, and let it go through (like we did at Sonic) or type 99999 (like a cashier at Ann Taylor).
14.) Laundry - Of course, I have to mention this one! You were probably waiting for it :-) I did laundry twice while back in the US, and I was probably grinning from ear to ear during that time. I blinked and my laundry was done! 40 min to wash first load, then dry first load while washing second load during same 40 min, then first load is done while 40 min to dry second load. Two hours for two loads! AMAZING!

I realize that my family and friends may be reading this message scared that I will never return. The United States of America IS my home. I do plan to go back for good. Part of why I wanted to go on this journey was to experience different things. There is no better way to do that than living it. It makes you appreciate other cultures, and at the same time, it makes you appreciate your home country. I will be back. I promise!

For those of you living abroad: What things stood out to you as different when you returned home to the US?

Have a great weekend y'all!


  1. I have so many comments! Love the post!
    1 - Ceiling fans: We are kind of at a cross roads with this right now. We are building a new house and don't want the fans to "ugly" up some of the rooms. So we opted to go without a fan in the living room :O we'll see how hot we get in this Houston Heat!
    2 - Ice: I remember this when I was living in Norway, drinking room temp soda was not all that great. I missed the ice...and they all thought we were crazy
    3 - Freeways: I have become a crazy, road-rage maniac driver thanks to Houston!
    4 - Postal Code: This is good to know, one of my friends from Norway had this problem and we didn't know what to do and the cashier didn't know what to do either. So I paid for it.

    1. I love this post given from your new perspective. Fun!


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