Dunkin’ Donut thefts
No! Not donuts being stolen in Howard County?! Deep breaths….. It’s okay, folks, the thieves who hit three Howard County Dunkin’ Donuts locations in the early morning hours of Sunday were after the cash, not the donuts. Phew.
To confirm: NO DONUTS WERE HARMED, STOLEN OR (heaven forbid) EATEN. Which is good since apparently “America runs on Dunkin'”
Expat Life by Apple Gidley, Slice by Slice
Apple Gidley, an Anglo-Australian writer with American citizenship, has lived in the USA twice, both times in Houston, Texas due to her husband’s work in the oil and gas industry. She has called 12 countries home and has relocated 26 times. Her family is scattered around the world in Britain, Australia, and the Caribbean
Apple writes regularly for Global Living Magazine on travel and expatriate issues, blogs at www.my.telegraph.co.uk/applegidley and her first book, Expat Life Slice by Slice (Summertime Publishing) came out in March 2012. She runs the website www.applegidley.com and is currently working on her first novel.
What do you enjoy most about living in the USA? Does it feel like home?
The amazing variety of the country, cultures and people – a true crucible, and the can do attitude. And being able to pay for my petrol at the pump! Yes it feels like home because everywhere I have lived has been home, no matter the duration.
Anything specific you miss about the UK?
A difficult question, having spent more time out of Britain than in it, however I do miss the British sense of humour, and the understated manner of speaking. Irony too.
What differences do you still encounter?
a) Banking makes me shake my head here but then the world’s local bank, HSBC, don’t seem to be all that sparkling either.
b) I like the solution-based attitude in the US compared to the problem-based attitude so often found in the UK. I call it the Eeyore Factor – it’s sunny now but it’ll be raining soon!
c) Alcohol laws – you can drive a car at 16, join the military with parental consent at 17, you can marry, purchase a gun at 18 but can’t have a drink until you’re 21.
How do you feel the two cultures have come together, and what still separates us?
I don’t think we have come together really, anymore than any other countries. We all wherever we live have merging axes, or are at least aware of different cultures, because of film, television and books but most of us still cling to our comfort zones, what we know. Our expectation that life will be largely similar in the US to that in the UK is one of the hardest things to come to terms with when we realise it isn’t.
A shared language both joins and separates us; think of George Bernard Shaw’s quote “two countries divided by a common language”.
Education is very different in the two countries and so it inevitable the culture will be different.
The intensity of religious belief among many Americans is not something shared by the average Brit, and there are pockets of the US that still have a rather parochial view of the rest of the world.
In what way do you think your life is different because you are in the USA, and how do you think it would compare if you were in the UK?
I tend to withdraw in winter; which was certainly how I was when living in Aberdeen, children and work being the only things able to prise me away from huddling around radiators, so living in Houston, Texas is a real bonus. Opportunities that presented themselves in various countries all lead to an increased desire to write. In the US I have had the freedom to work at my writing – something I might not have had in the UK.
If you could change three laws in the USA what would they be?
a) Tighten gun controls – the gun culture prevalent in many areas and through all strata of society appalls me, and is something I will never get used to.
b) Do away with the death penalty in all states. I struggle to understand how taking a life for a crime is not a crime itself.
c) Immigration laws are hopefully in the process of changing in the US, however it would seem a relatively easy long-term fix would be to follow British law as laid down from 1st January 1983. Paraphrasing it states, if neither parent is a British citizen, or are in the country illegally, any child born of that union in Britain does not gain automatic citizenship.
However, I do think children brought into the US illegally before the age of consent should be given a track to legality, as long as they are in full time education, or are/have served in the military and have a clean record. The Dream Act is a fair and reasonable proposed law despite the vitriol spewed about it by right wing commentators.
What advice do you have for people coming to the USA to live?
Arriving here with good credit doesn’t mean a thing, though I understand it is improving. In any event get as much credit history as you can early on through store and gas cards.
Use the fact that you sound different to your advantage! A very handy phrase I use when explaining/complaining, and accompanied by an apologetic smile/laugh, is “as you can tell I’m not from here, so would you mind explaining to me why……” – it invariably gets a helpful response.
Americans are warm and welcoming but it can sometimes be difficult to get below the superficial despite a propensity to overshare.
Don’t expect laws to be the same in every state.
Figure out medical insurance as quickly as possible, if you are not on an expatriate package it is a minefield.
Like anywhere, our attitude is key to how we are treated, so come and enjoy what the US has to offer, give something back and always remember we are guests in someone else’s country, which ironically I feel whether I am in the UK or the US despite being a citizen of both.