To all of my American friends who have been living in London for quite some time now – when was the last time, you had a grilled cheese sandwich? The reason why I am asking this is that, apparently, such a delicious treat simply doesn’t exist in the UK. Sure, they have their toasty’s, but I’ll be damned if they are the same or even close to the original goodness of cholesterol fused with diabetes.

This raises a serious question: if the British had the guts to go for something as sacred as the grilled cheese sandwich, what other differences do we have that might shock a first-time American expat?

The devil is in the details

Ok, with an introduction as intriguing, what on earth can be more shocking to experience while building a new life in London?

  1. The ‘cuppa’ stink eye or the act of being hated by every living soul at work for fifteen minutes or less because you never asked if they want a cup of tea when you were headed to the kitchen. The fact that all of your colleagues have cups of tea on their desks doesn’t matter. You HAVE to ask out of common courtesy, or else…
  2. Speaking of work, they have approximately 25-28 paid days off per year here. By the way, as I stayed in the UK, I have found out that the US is the only country with a developed economy that does not have mandatory paid vacation days for the workforce. I guess you don’t have to work as hard for the American dream if you are not in America.
  3. You will be judged a lot in London. That’s what people do here. One of the funniest things to me personally is the fact that you will also be judged based on the supermarket you go to do your shopping. Just so that you know – Lidl and Aldi are where the cool kids shop.
  4. The British firmly believe that there is another catchup in existence other than tomato ketchup. They’ve never seen or tasted this mythical beast, yet they imply it exists heavily in 8 cases out of 10.
  5. The British don’t call things by their name. They always go for the brand. You cant get cheese here, it’s either Cheddar or Philadelphia or any other kind as long as it is specific enough.
  6. It seems like everyone owns a bike and talks about how healthy it is, but few are actually brave enough to ride it.
  7. The slang here it weird and takes getting used to.
  8. The cockney accent isn’t as often heard as the Hollywood movies make you believe.
  9. Going out for a drink on a Friday night? Make sure that your backpack is filled with ice, because you’ll need it to carry a spare liver.
  10. The food here is tasty, but the portions are much smaller than what you are used to in the states. Apparently, we do overeat a lot.
  11. The British don’t use air conditioning.
  12. They use the metric system here a lot.
  13. You cant pay for a lot of things with your card. Cash is still dominant here. On the bright side, banking and credit card security are done at a much higher level here, which is nice.
  14. There are almost no seven elevens here. All shops close very quickly and if you haven’t done your shopping before Sunday, consider yourself screwed by an empty fridge.
  15. No free refills here.
  16. Also no ice in drinks.
  17. You probably know by now that Londoners are not large fans of small talk with strangers. Keep in mind that eye contact is equally as bad.
  18. If someone gave me a dollar for every time I see a truck or an SUV in London, I’d probably have seven dollars by now.
  19. The American accent works like a charm here. Everyone loves it.
  20. It’s DD/MM/YY here.
  21. Londoners always follow the rules and they hate everyone who doesn’t… quietly.
  22. Locals love beans. Beans are their breakfast, lunch and dinner. People even eat toasts with beans and cheese and act like everything’s normal afterwards.
  23. Online dating is basically your only choice to find a romantic interest. It’s just wrong here to approach the people you find attractive on the street.
  24. On a more progressive note – the British usually split the check equally on a date.
  25. Guns are not a thing here. Not even the police are allowed to carry weapons. There can only be one reason for you to open carry arms – if you want to get busted and spend the rest of your life in prison.
  26. There is nothing worse in this world than something that is “quite good” to a Londoner. The locals only use the phrase “quite good” if they really hate something.
  27. Fags are cigarettes and there is nothing offensive about going out for a fag. It just means that the person went outside to have a smoke.
  28. Do you remember the one about following the rules? It doesn’t apply to jaywalking. Everyone does it. Maybe because it is not illegal here?
  29. Just in case: people drive on the left side of the road here.
  30. It’s rare that you find great coffee in London. Sure, the British are a tea country but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be any options! Or does it?

Ok guys, your turn now: share your experience in London and the stuff you find weird in the comment section below!

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By BLOG | 23 Sep 2022 | General