Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 405

USA stuff 😉

Okay, so I debated about putting this in the blog, but it’s been amusing me for some time and so it has to go in.

Gents, you might not want to deal with this issue, so feel free to skip to the next segment.

But, ladies, I often sit in American ladies’ public loos (restrooms) and wonder why, oh why, the sanitary bins are placed low on the ground at the front of the cubicle so when one is disposing of one’s stuff discretely it’s very much on plain view. Not all public loos, but some, have this contraption in them.

This is a sanitary bin. Yes, I really sat on the loo and took this picture :)

This is a sanitary bin. Yes, I really sat on the loo and took this picture 🙂

I have no more to say about this, but suffice to say the positioning of these things seems all arse-about-tit to me 😉

Differences and similarities

Sometimes we Brits and Americans seem poles apart and sometimes we’re just like family.

Two countries, both alike in dignity (yes, I’m getting all Shakespearean again – might be something to do with my current play!)….

Anyway, these two comments from blog readers resonated with me…

…it must be said that I was keenly aware that our commonalities far outweigh our cultural differences.’


I LOVE how well you British laugh at yourselves. Such a wonderful quality in you-among so many others! Americans can take themselves too seriously. I try to avoid that. To me, if I can’t laugh at myself or (at least) some of the situations in which I find myself, then all is truly lost!Mindy Self-deprecating humor is the best! And so endearing!


British blogger

More Brits in the USA! Whose left living back in the UK?!! That’s what I want to know!

Anyway, meet Tasha – she blogs too! Hoorah for her!

Tasha Davies

Tasha is a 24-year-old wife, mother of one, and work from home Social Media Manager. She and her husband are British expats and ironically their daughter was born on 4th of July last year. Long before she spent her days changing nappies (aka diapers), and constantly singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, she lived a very different life- where she showered and wore make up daily – she is also an annual Marathon runner although she actually dislikes running. She also studied Speech Therapy at a University.

Occupation: Work at home momma and Social Media Manager

Time in the USA: Almost 6 years! I was actually an International Student at Uni here, studied 2008-2012, moved back to the UK, got married to my long-term/long distance boyfriend, then moved back to the USA in October 2012.

Tasha's pad

Tasha’s pad

Reason you came to the USA: Husband’s job opportunity was too good to turn down.

Location: San Francisco

1. When you arrived as an expat, what were your initial impressions of the USA? Has it changed much since you’ve been here?
My first impression was that everything was very large… Food portions. Houses. Malls. I recall being overwhelmed at the friendliness of Americans. Especially the intense helpfulness of the customer service in the shops.

2. Tell me a little bit about your area of the States, and what you love about it, and what drives you nuts! We live in the Bay Area, by San Francisco California, and we love it. The weather, the palm trees, beaches and constant sunshine do wonderful things for the soul. Californians are typically welcoming and friendly so that helped with our transition. The one thing that drives us nuts is the terrible driving here! No manners or common sense whatsoever.

3. What things really highlight the differences between our cultures?
The fact that Americans worship the British accent, but often don’t understand what you’re saying, whereas Brits understand Americans perfectly (thanks to Hollywood), but aren’t really fussed. Other things like Drive Up ATMs!

4. How is your life different from at home? What are the challenges and frustrations you encounter?
Life is different here because Americans are, let’s face it, different! We’ve found that people are a lot more positive here. We’ve noticed there is less of a TV culture here. Don’t get me wrong, people still watch some shows, but other recreational activities take a more prominent place in day-to-day life. Perhaps it has something to do with the fabulous weather. The only challenges we have encountered would be things like not always being understood first time we say something. It’s rather odd when Americans stare at you in some kind of trance (not listening to a word you’re saying, just how you’re saying it) then randomly beg you to quote a phrase from Harry Potter or Pride and Prejudice. The one frustration we had was when we first arrived and needed to buy a car, not having US credit history made our monthly payments very expensive for the first year.



5. Do you actively seek out a British community?
No we don’t. Sometimes we bump into other expats at the International Section in the grocery store, but we don’t actively seek a British community.

6. What’s your favourite British saying that you keep uttering? And which Americanisms have you adopted?
I took on the ‘adapt or die’ mentality when it came to language. I’m from West Yorkshire so my accent can be pretty tricky for anyone really. Especially Americans. So, besides slowing down my speech, and sometimes changing my intonation, I now use words like ‘diapers’ & ‘trash’, daily. I had to. I would get ever so frustrated having to repeat and explain myself. The one phrase I do hold on to though is “flipping heck”.

Oh the beach!

Oh the beach!

7. Tell me 3-5 things you would take back to the UK from the USA.
The amazing customer service everywhere. The larger scale sizes of homes. And believe it or not, the health care! I love the health care here, the Doctors are amazing, if you have an issue you can get it taken care of immediately instead of being on an NHS waiting list forever, plus when I went into the labour, the birthing and post partum suites at the Hospital were like a hotel! I didn’t want to go home!

8. And 3-5 things you think the USA should have/implement from the UK.
1. Greggs. 2. Salad Cream. 3. Cadbury’s. 4. Real Bread

Greggs is now a British tradition...

Greggs is now a British tradition…

I definitely think moving to the USA was a good choice. All the positives outweigh the negatives for our family. The move has not been easy, but there have been so many welcoming people that we happily call California our second home. To anyone who is considering moving to the States, I would highly recommend it. Yes there’s a lot of paper work, some change and homesickness ahead of you. But a lot of happiness too. If you dive in to your new environment and embrace it, the frustrations and differences will soon seem trivial, and fade away.

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12 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 405

  1. Andy says:

    At last I can cross the question of sanitary bins off my list of things I never knew about. But I am still wondering if the flash on your phone went off when you took that picture, and if it did, what the occupants of the other cubicles thought you were taking pictures of.

  2. Liz Cole says:

    This is one of Tasha’s old roommates from University. I am glad to hear she’s doing well and she likes it here. 🙂

  3. Dan says:

    Great interview with very good questions. I’ll “steal” some or at least variations of it for my own interview series, if you don’t mind, Claire 😉

  4. Go for it, Dan! 😉 As long as you interview me!

  5. Pat and Pam says:

    Salad cream? Aggghhhhh! But, have you tried the stuff labelled “salad dressing” that looks like mayonnaise, but isn’t? Might be close enough?

    And bread, if you search, you can find it. I learned to look at the labels and pick breads that were not loaded with sweeteners (honey, corn syrup, sugar (yes, really), fructose, molasses — sometimes a combination of them. Pepperidge Farm’s “toasting white” has very little sugar (or HAD very little — I came to the UK in 1996, so my info is, emmm, a little out of date). Also, Whole Foods makes amazing breads — European styles — I think there are some around there. (We have one in Cheltenham, but it is an American chain.) And, in San Francisco, REAL sourdough bread?

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