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- Goodbye USA. I love ya! #unclesam #ExpatLife #expats http://t.co/6IpBGag43H 15 hours ago
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- About bloody time #usa. Because toilets were considered more acceptable than breastfeeding in public? #sigh whsv.com/home/headlines… 21 hours ago
- Best thin I've read about the differences between British and American parenting #expats #ukinusa m.huffpost.com/us/entry/76168… 21 hours ago
- Best explanation of America ever #expats #july4th #independenceday #usa theoatmeal.com/comics/america 1 day ago
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Things about the USA that I won’t miss and things that America should adopt from the UK or just get rid of
America, USA, The U.S, Uncle Sam – I loves ya, you know I do, but having been here three years there are things I just have to let off steam about. You don’t have to change them or adopt these things, they are simply suggestions which might be helpful, you know. Whatevs, I won’t hold it against you if you simply dismiss it with a wave of your flag.
Just have a think about these things…..
Signage – where I live in Columbia, MD signage is shocking. Where am I going, what is down that road, where is such and such a place or village? I don’t know! Tell me, sign it, let me know, cos I might just visit and not need the Interweb or my GPS to get there. :) And I guarantee locals would find some of this info useful!
Toilet doors – what’s with these massive gaps where you can see someone having a poo? Not that I’m looking on purpose, you understand, but it’s hard not to see bits and bobs when there’s a two inch gap in front of your face. For all the primness and prudeness that is given towards nudity in the USA, apparently it’s okay to see someone having a quiet moment to themselves with their trousers down.
Undertaking – oh flipping heck, this is a nutty thing. Speeding up to undertake on the inside lane?! It’s dangerous, y’all! Stop it right now!
Roundabouts and indicators – it would be really cool if, when folks take their driving tests, they are taught about using indicators on roundabouts to let fellow drivers know where you intend to go. It’s super helpful! Try it!
Driving – in America (not all of it, I know!) folks love to get in their cars and drive. They drive everywhere. In Columbia, MD the public transport sucks, so moms are driving their kids everywhere all day every day and no one can be arsed to walk. You can go the bank and the store and post office, but be prepared to drive and even if you can walk the distance between those places, it appears everyone prefers to get in their cars. Green? Environmentally friendly? Healthy? Er, no, no and no.
Commercials on TV – so effing many of them! They just pop up – bang! You’re watching something and you’re about to find out who dunnit, and then there’s a Viagra advert that appears out of nowhere and tells you how to sort out that problem. And that’s at 4pm in the afternoon. Weird, and v v v annoying.
TVs in bars and restaurants – I get that there are sports bars and people want to watch the game when they’re having their burger, but why all the TVs – like 17 of them in one bar all showing something different. It’s an ADHD nightmare – ‘squirrel’! If I want a romantic meal with my other half, I don’t want his attention on the sports match above him. He might though, to be fair. And I suppose if you’re on a disastrous date, it’s potentially a good distraction. ;) But really, do we need more TVs shouting stuff at us in our lives?!
Long summer hols – hey, 10 weeks of summer hols – it’s enough to drive the parents crazy. I should know. Yes, summer camps are awesomeballs and I wish the UK had more of them to choose from, but with only 6 weeks of hols in the UK, it makes life easier (and cheaper) for working parents. In the UK they have half terms, which are a lovely little break for everyone (parents, teachers, kids) and gives us all a chance to recover. It also means we won’t want to ditch each other half way through the summer. I highly recommend them.
Everyone’s a winner – this is a school thing that really bugs me. Not true, not a good life lesson. People lose. People come last in life. Deal with it, kids.
Boxing Day – in the UK this is a day off, but not so in the USA and that’s basically crap. It should be. Just sayin’.
Soda obsession – one word, America: ENOUGH! Massive gurt cups of the stuff. Like massive gurt bigger than my head massive. I can’t take it anymore!!!
Don’t get me started on the poor vacation time folks get at work, the tipping even if there is bad service, and the shockingly crap maternity time off, cos that takes us down a political route and we know I’m far too fluffy for all that! So, there we have it – some bits and bobs to think about, Americaland. You know, put it in the pot, or at Congress or whatever. None of the above have had a serious impact on my life as an expat, but I think each one has made me consider alternative options that are possible for a better America. Be cool, Americanas. We’re still friends, right?! Course we are! Tis all just a chuckle and we each have our different quirks across the pond. Remember, one is not right and ine is not wring: they’re just different :) . And they make us who we are. This Brit will still be waving that Stars and Stripes flag come July 4th ;)
UK vs USA: the final list!
This is a tongue-in-cheek summary over a couple of blog posts about what I love about America, or what gets my British back up, and what I think it should adopt from the UK to make it even coolio-er, or what the UK should take from Americaland to give it a bit of va-va-voom ;)
These are listed in no particular order and were just randomly plucked from mine and my husband’s collective thoughts during one roadtrip (I think it was our Southern roadtrip over Christmas!). Take no offense, be simply amused, cos this is just a jolly jape as I near the end of my expat time here with Uncle Sam.
I call this one:
Things we think that the UK should adopt / things we will miss from America
Baseball – yes, despite only going to a game a couple of times, we loved the atmosphere and that everyone’s attending and it’s every day and pretty cheap and people are really interested in it and it brings a nation together.
Tailgating – Lordy, this is fun! Hanging out with your car and a grill and beers and chatting to your mates! This would NEVER happen in the UK because the police would be on it in a heartbeat, and all the losers would be drinking cider and swearing and beating each other up. We must adopt this friendly thing, Britain! And it’s not the tailgating you know (driving up someone’s arse).
Distances – so this one is weird. Longer distances feel shorter than in the UK. Americans, and now us expats, would think nothing of driving an hour and a half for brunch or just for the day, where as in the UK that is A Weekend Away. I wish we could adopt this, but I don’t think our roads make it possible. But this won’t stop us exploring all we can.
Politics – people really care about their politics here and love their local community. I’ve met so many people who just want to be involved in making their towns better, whereas in the UK there is a lot of apathy and it’s not really seen as cool. Kudos to those Brits who do it. Here, it’s socially acceptable and I hope this might happen in the UK (I will NOT be running tho!)
Family meals out – people just eat out more here and that means that families are spending time together, kids are accepted in restaurants and it’s easy, less formal and more fun. Oh formal meals exist, of course, but I like the way you can rock up and just eat. In the UK, meals out are An Event.
Two winter celebrations – Thanksgiving and Christmas! They are so close together that it feels like the parties start early for the ‘holidays’. It also means you have two opportunities to see two sides of the family, like ‘Oh this year, we’re doing Thanksgiving with her lot and Christmas with mine.’ None of that awkward ‘who shall we spend time with’ nonsense. Let’s find another reason to celebrate, UK!
Halloween – oh, if only the UK could do this like the USA. Let yourselves go, Britain! Enjoy it, feel the Halloween love! Get dressed up and go talk to your neighbours! Don’t throw eggs, kids, or harass old people for money. Halloween can be a community event if we let it…..
History – by George, these Americans love their history and all the kids know all sorts about it. History for Americans is closer in time in the USA, naturally! But it seems very relevant and I don’t get that with the UK history. Maybe Britain needs to get with some its proud history (okay, SOME of our history) and make it relevant again. I don’t know, maybe I’m waffling, but American history just seems to resonate here with pride.
Drive thru banking – Love This. Period.
Drive thru liquor store – WFT? Yes, please!
Drive thru pharmacy – Ditto. Don’t Care How Lazy It Is.
Turning right on red – Yes, every time! UK, this would make traffic flow so much better (tho we would need to turn LEFT on red ;) )
Family gyms – the gyms here are for all the family. There is childcare and there are kids classes. All the gyms I’ve looked at for our return offer nothing like that. Come on, we can all workout and have fun, UK!
Just like the movies – this is actually where I say that I do feel like I’m in a movie in the USA with the yellow school buses and Route 66 and seeing sites that we grew up with where movies were filmed. The UK has caught on to this with Downton Abbey and Lacock as ‘movie or TV sites’ but in the USA there is a real sense of it not just being set as a set, but that what you see really is a the real thing, the real set, the real backdrop. I would like to feel that in Englandland :)
Brunch – hallelujah for whoever thought to make Brunch a Thing. It’s awesome! It’s one of my favourite Sunday things.
Music in town centers – I adore this! You’re walking along, and there’s a bit of funky jazz to brighten up your day! It’s not raucous or distracting, but mood enhancing. I can see this stamping out some of that Saturday night fighting in Newcastle!
Solo cups – yey for them, red or blue (red is MORE fun!). They indicate a party and are an actual thing in your right of passage to drinking. Hoorah for them!
How are you? – I love being asked this. I’m good! Thanks for asking! How very nice! We Brits can be so cynical we don’t really want to answer, but try it – it feels great!
Cook outs – this way of eating is brillopads and we will take this back and not just have BBQs As An Event.
Hugging – oh, I how I love American hugging! I just met you and we hugged! Life is too short not to hug! It is a joyful thing! I’m hugging you now, Britain, and I know you hate it! Just learn to love it….
Kids’ politeness – now, MOST of the kids I’ve met in the USA are v v v v polite and they call me Miss Claire, and they are pretty respectful and wotnot. I don’t remember this quite so much in the UK. Kids of Britain – listen up, and be polite cos it’s super cool to be that way! (Side note – not grumpy teenagers tho!)
American salads – holy moly, these rock. They are like a nutritional feast on a plate, and if you don’t want to eat it all, take it home! I hope to see some rocking salads in the UK, and not just a bit of iceberg lettuce.
Take out boxes! – How I love these. Too much on my plate? Then I shall have it for dinner tomorrow. Take out box, please! Thanks very much. Easy peasy, job done. Think about it, Britain, it’s pretty smart!
Positivity – it doesn’t harm to be positive. It helps. If offers opportunities. It opens up a whole new world and way of thinking. It opens your mind and your heart to new, exciting things. It is rewarding for you and for others. This is probably the single greatest thing I have taken from my time in the USA. Make it happen, do it. Do it now, don’t delay. #carpediem
Thanks America, it’s been So. Much. Fun! Come now, England, is this all too much to think about? I’ll be there to help you through ;) See you in 7 weeks!
Next up: Things about the USA that I won’t miss and things that America should adopt from the UK or just get rid of ;)
Curiouser and curiouser
Harry is becoming more and more curious about England. He remembers snippets of it, and mostly very romanticised, but he also picks up on what other people say about it.
Recently he’s been asking questions and making comments about it.
Like on Saturday, when it rained like crazy: ‘Is this like the English summer?’ (Now I know you have your hottest week yet, Brits, but you get the gist!)
And then he saw people walking in Baltimore: ‘Wow, loads of people walking! Why don’t they walk very much where we are in America? People walk loads in England.’
And this: ‘Daddy thought I had had proper chips when my friend’s mom told him I’d eaten chips, but they were just crisps. It’ll be easier to understand each other in England.’ (Yes, after three years my husband still gets confused!)
I think my From America to England blog might be viewed somewhat through Harry’s curious eyes because it will almost all feel new to him back in the UK :) .
My heart sinks a little when I realise how much more there is to discover still in this little East Coast paradise that is Maryland. The wineries, the beaches, the hiking trails, the coast line, and so much more – all yet unseen by my British eyes. And with only 7 weeks until we return to the UK, and a crazy schedule, including being commissioned to write a piece about expat life in the great state of Maryland, these things appear to be out of my reach.
But I’ve learned not to dwell on things I haven’t done – I wrote about this very thing in a recent piece for Expat Focus which you can read here.
So, why I am learning all this new stuff about Maryland now? Well, last night I attended a bloggers event (#MDbloggersbash) held in beautiful Annapolis by Maryland Office of Tourism. They gave me loads of information and as I trawled through it I realised that Maryland is a total gem, even more so than I had ever imagined.
There are so many people who adore this state and so many people blogging about it. And rightly so. When many Brits come on their holibobs to the USA they think Florida, California, New England, Grand Canyon, NYC. I say to you now: don’t dismiss Maryland! It’s #awesomeballs. And that’s UK Desperate Housewife USA official :)
Last TV appearance
Well, I hit the Baltimore airwaves on WBFF Fox 45 news yesterday for the last time as a ‘Lifestyle Expert’ talking about how to prevent summer damage. Gawd knows I need all these products being the sun worshipper that I am!
This is the last time I’ll get to open my British gob on the telly – I even had to turn down a House of Cards shoot on Monday cos I’m so flipping busy packing right now!
Britishness in the USA
I really am still very British, but with a big dollop of positive Americana in me now!
However, I still say ‘sorry’ when someone is in the way. Did that yesterday. They said ‘there’s no need to be sorry, I was obstructing you’, and I said ‘But I’m British, that’s what we say!’ :)
And I’m used to rain delays. We’ve had to reschedule a pool party cos there will be mad American rain (it is mad when it comes!) this weekend. I think I’m just used to that. If it was a BBQ, however, we’d just use our brollies and BBQ anyway, cos that’s v v v British :)
You can read my From America to England blog musings on Britishness is here. Don’t forget to sign up to the blog for my repatriation series!
Let me tell you a little story about me and the twirly-wirly American padlock. Every Friday I work at a gym that has a locked cabinet that contains the stereo. Every Friday I have to do the combination on the padlock to access the stereo. I arrive 15 minutes earlier than I need to do this. I know the numbers off by heart, but can I open the twirly-wirly padlock. Can I heck!
American high school students use these combination (twirly-wirly) padlocks for their lockers at school so Americans are pretty au fait with how they work. I, however, and many Brits I know out here, cannot work the damn things. We do not have diplomas in twirly-wirly padlocking :)
This twirly-wirly padlock does my British head in! Every Friday I try 8-10 times and every Friday I ask someone else to do it for me. I just can’t work it out. Right, left, past the number, back past the other number or whatever. I just can’t do it! America, you have stumped me with your twirly-wirly padlocks.
I only have to teach this class four more times in my USA time here, so that’s four more mornings where my head is done in! Poor baffled British me ;)
From America to England
Over the next few weeks I’ll be transferring my blog writing to my new UK blog, From America to England, charting my repatriation to the homeland! Make sure you sign up to follow this blog for my British adventures!
One more TV show
I’ll be appearing on the Fox 45 news channel one more time on Thursday this week before I leave the USA. I’ll be talking about ‘Sins of Summer’ and how to cope with the extreme heat. I need this, being a professional sun worshipper and all that. Today we reach 99 degrees in Maryland. Holy cow!
So, I think I’ve been to Canada three times before in my life, because in the 1970s half of my family decided to emigrate there. My mother took my brother and I on a six week East to West Coast roadtrip visiting various folks and cities and lakes in the 1980s. I remember quite a bit of it and I loved it then. Then my brother and I travelled on our own to Vancouver Island, age 13 and 11. That’s pretty cool and I do believe we returned to the UK telling all our friends we were now Canadian. And then I took a trip there again with my mother in 1998. So, it’s been a while! A visit was overdue!
I find the relationship between Canada and the USA fascinating. So close, and yet so different. I mentioned to a Canadian the differences in Canadian and American sensibilities, culture and personalities that I had encountered so far on day two of my trip there this last week, and he replied: ‘I should hope there are differences between Canadians and Americans; we define ourselves by these differences.’
So, here goes: Why I love Canada (note: long list of generalisations to follow!).
I love that no one undertakes on the highway!
I love their politeness.
I love their silent inner peace.
I love their engagement.
I love their countryside.
I love their massive lakes.
I love that French is a big part of the culture (where we were) and that they admired my poor A level attempts. But I messed up the USA to Canada declaration form by attempting to fill in the French side rather than the English side and no one seemed to know where la boulangerie was ;) .
I love the way they love poutine and yet I think of it as similar to a Friday night post-drinking munchie (it’s gravy, chips and cheese curd).
I love their softness in the way they speak.
I love their cultural cities. I love that Ottawa reminded me of Geneva.
I love their hippy towns and their festivals. I love that you can walk to places!
I love the cottaging culture (we explained that back in the UK ‘cottaging’ has a totally different meaning – see British definition of Cottaging! here if you dare!).
I love that they love Beaver Tails, and we thought for one moment they actually meant real fried beaver tails, which I was momentarily shocked at. But no, it’s a sugar pastry thing!
There is a lot to love in beautiful Canada.
And, yes, it is different from the USA. When we arrived back to DC I felt a slight manicness appear again in my life. DC or the way I live my life, who knows?
Merci beaucoup for the visit, O Canada!