What’s Up With That Wednesday

FEATURING: A British Chick Commenting on Americans 

Sophie from British Chick Across the Pond so wonderfully volunteered to guest post for me!  

 As my weekly rant addressing all the weird things people do without reason, I thought it would be a great opportunity to have a recently transplanted British person comment on all the, “What’s up with that?!” nuances of American life.  

Please check out her blog, and follow her cause she’s hilarious and makes me want an accent.  

 Without further adieu…

Life Across the Pond

One question people usually ask me when they learn I’m not from here is, “What is the thing you miss the most?” (Closely followed by… “Have you met the queen?”)
Well, if you take out the obvious of friends and family, my initial answer would be “Bakewell tarts” – a type of pastry filled with fake cherry stuff and topped with some kind of fondant (and a cherry of course).
This is closely followed by, “and yes but the queen and I stopped hanging out since the incident so I don’t like to talk about it.”
After being here 4 months – and having had a care package filled with tarts- my answer would need a bit more consideration. Now I think it’s more about things I didn’t realise I would miss… Things that are almost the same but totally different at the same time.
To figure out what I miss the most I need to think about what things have taken me by surprise or been difficult to adjust to.  My blog is all about the alien encounters since moving here but for now I’ll go with my top 3:

 

Driving:

I’ve blogged about my fears of driving before but since then I’ve actually done it.
Personally I’ve found that driving on the right side of the road (or the wrong side as far as I’m concerned) is doable.
But throw in all this right on red – unless there’s-a-red-arrow-and-even-then-that-doesn’t-mean-don’t-go-unless-there’s-a-sign-and-sometimes-there-is-and-sometimes-there-isn’t-but-even-then-it-depends-on-the-state- crap… Well it’s bloody confusing!
My son knows more than I do.
My son knows more than I do.
Not to mention the fact that a green light doesn’t actually mean, “Go! Be free… Drive forward confidently!” because depending on the layout the chances are it actually means yield but you won’t know that until you get beeped at for being hesitant or rammed head on for going without checking every possible direction.
Now I’ve learned what is and isn’t allowed at each set of lights between home and daycare but the thought of driving anywhere else makes me want to curl up and hide.
I miss the ease and confidence of driving, I miss roundabouts, streams of traffic where the majority know what indicators (blinkers) are for regardless of whether they use them and traffic lights in a 30mph zone rather than stopping dead from 55.
My brakes -and my nerves- are shot.

Words & Accents

Now… I say a lot of weird things in the company of friends but never have I experienced as many confused/blank faces after saying a simple sentence than I have since being here.
An American vs. Brit reading this label = fun for all
An American vs. Brit reading this label = fun for all

I get that we use different words for the same things and that even then we pronounce the same words differently, but the idea of starting a conversation with anyone who isn’t used to “my accent” fills me with dread.

The cashier asks me how my day is or if I found everything I was looking for and I’ll reply… But then it’s over because she’s trying to translate whatever my response was into something she can make sense of and there just isn’t enough time to wait for it to sink in before the card throws out my receipt and the person behind starts unloading.
Having my ID checked at the base gate the guard always says something along the lines of, “Hi, how are you?” And every time I reply with, “Fine thanks… You?”
… And then silence because he thinks I’ve cut him off with a, “Fine, thank you”.
Not only is every pleasantry met with “the look” but I’m always the one to accidentally finish it by opening my mouth so these people probably think I’m rude too.

Money:

When you go on holiday, money usually feels like monopoly money – for me anyway. It holds little ACTUAL monetary value in my mind and gets thrown around without much thought…but this ISN’T a holiday.
Where is it actually $1?!
Where is it actually $1?!
I still think of items as they’re UK conversion and think, “yeah that’s about the same,” but when you get paid in dollars and a pack of chicken nuggets sets you back more than 8 of them…well it’s gonna be bread and water for dinner tonight buddy.
I mean who doesn’t feel like they’re flashing the cash when they’re carrying a whole handful of bills…but then you remember the ones you have are worth ONE dollar. This is all well and good if you’re shopping in the dollar store…but even then they add tax at the end.
If I go in to a place where everything is one dollar I expect to come out with 7 items for 7 dollars… but it doesn’t work that way…and it gets me every time. Then you have the coins… the dime and nickel thing is guesswork for me; a nickel is bigger than a dime… 25c is called a quarter… one cent is called a penny… so why aren’t they all pennies?
I would rather break a $20 to pay for something with actual change. But hey on the upside my sons piggy bank is making big bucks…I just cant figure out how much that is!
I miss the familiarity of it all, the ease of asking anything with confidence and knowing that more than one person will be able to help me out or the ability to drive from one place to another without needing a stiff drink to calm my nerves. In short, there’s nothing I miss because it’s all here… it’s all the same and yet completely different and THAT has been the hardest change to deal with.
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10 comments

  1. awesome… and I now feel better about the post I did this morning making fun of how Americans view their Canadian neighbors… not sure who I was making fun of the most… but… uh… yeah.

  2. Great stuff Sophie. Don’t forget to keep telling them that’s it’s OUR language, which mean that WE are pronouncing it correctly!
    Don’t like the sound of the driving though. Roundabouts rule! And what’s with the traffic light thing?
    As ever, Pete. XX

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