Andrea, Accommodation & Welfare Officer at ELC Brighton, is originally from the United States but has lived in England for many years. Here, she talks about some of the differences she noticed when she first came to the UK.
I was born and raised in the Midwest of America. When I was 20yrs old (in my second year of University) I decided to study abroad for six months and live with a host family. I chose England because I was fascinated by London as a city and was listening to a lot of UK house music at the time. I arrived to the UK with a head full of ideas about who I would meet and what I would see and do. I could not have imagined all the new experiences I would have and where this decision to study abroad would take me…
When I first arrived I spent all my free time walking around the city just looking at the architecture and listening to people chatting with their lovely British accents. I loved the bright red phone booths and the uniforms of British police officers (or “bobbies”). And the police don’t carry guns. I noticed that drinks don’t normally come with ice (you have to ask for it). Tipping isn’t as common here. In America we always tip wait staff, taxi drivers and bartenders. In the majority of cafes and coffee shops there is a tip jar next to the till.
Living with a British host family I learned that instead of turning the heat up, you put on a jumper. The wall outlets all have switches and I haven’t met anyone yet who has air conditioning in their house. I love the towel warmer in bathrooms and that there are no screens on windows.
It was the little differences that I really loved though – all the tea drinking and the politeness (people say “please” and “thank you” SO much more than they do in America!). I love that everything is smaller in England than in America – the size of the roads, the cars, the food portions. You pay the price marked on products because the taxes (VAT) are built in.
I was very sad to leave England when my six months came to an end and I was determined to return. So after finishing my University degree in America I came back for another six months. It was during this time I met a lovely British guy and fast forward thirteen years later he is now my husband and we have two children.
Even after living in England for all these years I still notice the differences…but it is now my 3-year-old daughter correcting my English and reminding me to be more polite!