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An Expat’s Response To 20 Of The Weirdest Things About America After Living In The U.K.

Remember my post the other day on “20 Of The Weirdest Things About America”?  Well, I couldn’t resist sharing another viewpoint (for entertainment purposes!) – this time from an expat friend who spent significant time in the U.K.

  1. Portion sizes.  If you’re really concerned they’re that big, most places do have a kids menu that you can order from.  You can order smaller sizes.  It’s not against the law.
  2. Her majesty’s warrants and her picture everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.
  3. Different states have different tax requirements.  And certain counties within those states have further differing sales tax rates. That’s why the tags don’t have the tax included.  This is even more prevalent when you’re shopping on the internet—one state is not going to levy its sales tax on another.  It’s better than realizing after the fact that I just paid about 20% in VAT in the UK.  The most you pay in the U.S. is about 9%.
  4. You easily round up your fare in taxi cabs, so I don’t see how hard it is to calculate 15-20% on a bill.  If you really had great service, add more.  Tipping’s a cultural thing, anyway, not an “I can’t calculate how much to give” issue.  Worst case, ask somebody how much to give.
  5. This may not be a good thing, but it is far from weird.  Prescription drugs are a big industry.  Your doctor ultimately tells you what drugs you should take, but advertising only to doctors doesn’t reach the largest audience.  So those adverts increase that reach by having you, the patient, bring issues up to your doctor that you may not normally bring up.  And it works.  The drugs sell.  Someone has to keep places like Roche, GSK, and AstraZeneca in business, right?
  6. The U.S. is a big country.  Cities aren’t bunched together like they are in Europe.  A normal street in Los Angeles has more lanes than the M6.  There is plenty of space for parking.  Of course everything’s going to be designed around a car.  Cars are more efficient for us and give more freedom when traveling intercity in a metro area.  Our infrastructure can support it.  In more densely populated areas—surprise—public transportation is pretty good and there is actually a functioning train system along the eastern seaboard.
  7. The only time Americans care about the quality of commercials is during the Super Bowl.  Otherwise, aren’t you watching TV for the show, not the commercials?  I don’t think people complain that Game of Thrones lacks commercials and if it did have commercials, that the quality is subpar.  Too many commercials?  Get a DVR, pay for premium channels, or watch public television.
  8. Marmite.  That shit looks like cancer.
  9. Americans are puzzled at the English use of the phrase, “Are you all right?”  That basically means, “How’s it going?”  In the U.S., if you ask someone, “Are you all right?”, you’re concerned about their health in some way.  So the only way Americans will probably respond is, “Of course I’m all right—I’m not sick or hurt in any other way.  If I wasn’t, do you think I’d be talking to your right now?”
  10. Your bathroom sinks have separate taps for hot and cold.  I’m not looking to boil my hands or have them break off due to frostbite. I just need some water at a temperature comfortable enough to wash my hands and face.  And where I don’t need to move my hands from left to right to try and make some lukewarm water.
  11. Seafood.  For an island nation, why does the only seafood I can get outside of a fancy restaurant consist of being deep-fried and served with chips?
  12. I find it really weird how young soccer players are kind of celebrities.  At some point they don’t even go to a university and just start training at an academy.  They’re scrutinized and have fans and do TV interviews at the age of 16.  They’re just kids.
  13. Watching TV without a license is a crime?  I didn’t do this in the UK, but that didn’t stop some creepy inspectors coming over to my house to make sure I wasn’t watching any TV.
  14. Why do you put milk with your tea?  The rest of the world doesn’t do this.  You have no idea what I’m talking about because you’re so used to it.
  15. Don’t get any refills.  If you’re full, you’re full.  You can also tell the waitress to stop giving you more Coke.  I’m pretty sure they won’t stop by your table anymore with Coke if you tell them that.  They also don’t put any ice in my Coke if I ask for it, too.  And the drink only costs about 2 cents a liter to make, so I sure hope that it is free-flowing.
  16. You’re all so reserved!  But friendly.
  17. Your bathroom sinks are so tiny!  Seriously, why?  I can’t even fit one hand underneath the tap.
  18. Get a debit card if you want to use a PIN.
  19. The UK national anthem is creepy.  It fits in two lines and is all about God saving the queen.  Here it is: God save our gracious Queen.  Long live our noble Queen.  God save the Queen.  Send her victorious.  Happy and glorious.  Long to reign over us.  God save the Queen. (Yes, I do realize there are more verses, but this is all they play at the Olympics, for example.)
  20. Wonga adverts, everywhere.  Payday loan style with ridiculous interest rates.  Those puppets are creepy too.

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