There is always a bit of culture shock when moving to a foreign country. The longer you live in the country, the more familiar you become with the customs. And yet, there are still some things that are hard to accept. For instance, my American friends who have been living in London for a while probably miss their grilled cheese sandwiches. Why? Well, because they simply don’t exist on this side of the pond. Such delicious goodness lost in the culture shock. Certainly, Londoners have attempted to duplicate the perfection of the grilled cheese with toasty’s but believe me as someone who has tasted both, the toasty falls short of the perfection of grilled cheese.
While that might seem a small inconvenience for the Americans living on British soil, believe me there are many other shocking things that might not become realized until you are actually living in the city.
Okay, sure the introduction to this blog was intriguing, right? Does it make you wonder what on Earth is so special about a grilled cheese? Are you Googling it right now? Thought so.
So, what other things are considered shocking to Americans? Well, read on and find out.
1. The stink eye given by every living soul for at least the better part of a quarter hour when you never asked if they wanted a ‘cuppa’ tea when you headed to the kitchen. Trust me. It’s a thing. Regardless of whether your colleagues all have cups of tea on their desks is beside the point. You have to ask the question out of common courtesy or pay the price of the stink eye.
2. While we are talking about work did you know that Londoners have approximately 25-28 days a year of paid leave? Yeah, almost a month of time off from their jobs. Americans reading this probably just had their jaws hit the floor. You see, in America which is the only country with a developed economy that does not have mandatory paid vacation days for all workers. Seems crazy to Londoners but then we aren’t working for the American dream, are we?
3. There is a lot of passing judgment in London. It’s just the way it’s done here. And it’s not about your appearance or the car you drive or even where you live. No, you’ll be judged for silly things like the type of tea you drink and the supermarket you shot at. Yeah, it’s a thing. Trust me. Shop at Aldi and Lidl to avoid some headaches.
4. While you may think you have the only type of ketchup in the world which is tomato based. But the British are convinced of another catchup which has become a mythical beast that must be tasted.
5. The British don’t tell to call things by their proper name. They always talk about types of things. For instance, you can’t get cheese here but you can get Cheddar or Philadelphia. See? It has to be specific.
6. Everybody owns a bike in London and they talk about how important it is to ride it for exercise and yet only few actually take the bike out on the road. I mean, look at the tires. Is there ANY dirt on them? Didn’t think so.
7. There is a lot of slang and none of it makes sense but you’ll get used to it.
8. No, not everyone talks in a cockney accent despite what Hollywood wants you to believe.
9. Heading out to the pub on the Friday night? Make sure to bring a backpack to carry your spare liver.
10. The portions are much smaller than Americans are used to.
11. The British have air-conditioning and yet choose to never use it.
12. Unlike the Americans, the British use the metric system quite a bit.
13. Cash is still king here. You can’t use your debit card in as many places as you can in America. However, the security for card payments is much higher than in the States.
14. There are not many convenient stores and the shops are closed on Sundays.
15. There are no such thing as free refills.
16. There is no ice for drinks of any kind.
17. Londoners do not engage in small talk and avoid making eye contact with strangers.
18. If I had a dollar every time I saw a pickup truck or an SUV in London, I’d likely have almost five dollars. They are not popular here in London.
19. The American accent works like a charm.
20. Don’t freak out with the date format differences. It’s DD/MM/YY. Deal with it.
21. Londoners follow the rules, even the ones they hate. Period.
22. Beans have taken over. They are in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Londoners even prepare toasts with beans and cheese. Really. No lies.
23. Online dating is the primary way to meet people. Approaching someone you’re attracted to on the street and then asking them out is not a thing here.
24. Brits split the check equally on a date.
25. Guns are not a common site here. Not even the police carry weapons. Put the six-shooters away.
26. Listen up, Americans. When a Londoner claims something is ‘quite good’ that means they really hate it. No, really. They hate it.
27. Don’t freak out but fags are cigarettes and there is nothing offensive about going out for a fag. It doesn’t mean anything derogatory. It simply means they are going outside to have a smoke.
28. So, I might have misspoke earlier when I said all Londoners follow the rules even the ones they don’t like. You see, they jaywalk all the time. The difference? It is not illegal here.
29. Refresher. People drive on the left side of the roads in London.
30 It’s really difficult to find great coffee in London. Perhaps they have spent too much time perfecting their tea that they have left coffee fall to the wayside. Either way, don’t expect much by way of coffee.
Well, there you have it. Thirty things most Americans would have a wiggity-whack attack over. Yeah, I said it. It felt good to say it. Deal with it.