Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 171

A UK and USA perspective…..

Over the next few months, as well as writing this blog and taking everything ordinary in the USA and seeing how to make it extraordinary (and going back to the UK……yes, exactly how WILL that feel?!), I am running a series of interviews about the UK and the USA to get various thoughts, ideas and perspectives on the cultural differences with a host of blog readers, Facebook followers, friends and relatives.

So, if you are an Anglophile, Americanaphile, Brit in the USA, American in the UK, have lived in either country, married a Brit or American, or simply love the countries and would like to be part of the interview process email me on clairebolden@hotmail.com and we’ll chat!

My first interview is with USA gal Kirsten Coombs, whom I met through this very blog in Columbia.

About Kirsten
I was born and raised in the Washington DC area. I studied accountancy and medieval history at the University of Maryland and worked in corporate accounting until 2010 when I decided to “retire” to be a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been volunteering at my daughter’s school and picked up some accountancy hours. I love to travel. I prefer to travel outside the US because I’ve seen enough of the US. I love cruising too!

Kirsten, and her husband, Luke

Kirsten, and her husband, Luke

1. What fascinates you most about the UK / what do you love about it?
The US has less documented history and places to visit and experience…and as beautiful as Monticello and Mount Vernon are, they’re only 250 years old. The UK is interesting to me politically as our laws are predicated on English law, our legislature has two chambers, etc. But it’s really the age of the civilization – that you can see Roman ruins around……Westminster Abbey is 1,000 years old, there are castles……There is a deeper sense of history all around you, even if you’re on the Eye, a crazily modern affair. I wrote my thesis on the Magna Carta and to go places I wrote about is pretty exciting. I’ve always loved reading about English history. Also, British people say my name correctly!

2. Having visited or lived in the UK, what are your favorite areas/memories/traditions? I found a book about walking Charles Dickens’ London. After touring the Tower of London, we started a walk in the light drizzle as it grew dark. We went down narrow alleys, finding hidden pathways and it was like a treasure hunt. I loved the rainy spookiness. We also had a moment where I thought we were going to the Waterloo tube station. I asked for the particular line and the girl directed us down a corridor. Well, we ended up walking to Southwark tube station through the maze of corridors. I don’t know how it happened…But for the most part, I figure out the tube. Basingstoke gets bad press as kind of industrial and blah. I had a lovely lunch with co-workers at a pub on a little brook that was so stereotypically British. So I have fond memories of Basingstoke and the tennis club I stayed in. Wandering around Hampton Court Palace was also surreal, as I love Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

3. What differences do you think really exist between our cultures?
Brits laugh more easily and are less restrained in giving opinions in the business world. Brits seem more practical. However, Americans are more expressive across the whole range of emotions – tears, laughter, anger. I think both cultures have elitism and judgment about different classes.

Kirsten on her hols / vacation

Kirsten on her hols / vacation

4. About the USA: which myths, stereotypes and preconceptions about the USA and its citizens do you think really exist or are just a load of nonsense?!
Everything is bigger here!
Americans are clueless about the rest of the world unless they’ve traveled. They care more about celebrities and pop culture than politics. But there are huge differences in our country – listening to the southern accents in the Zimmerman trial is somewhat surprising, even to me.

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