To round out our “Ten Things” season, we are listing the habits, customs or general idiosyncrasies of our host culture that we have readily adopted as our own.
1. The fabulous hose attachment on my kitchen sink. I know this makes me look like a saddo, but until you’ve used one, well, you’ve no idea. It’s great for rinsing dishes (see previous post), washing the sink down, blasting food off things that don’t fit in the dishwasher, and squirting small children when they get on your nerves.
2. The casual dress code to most things. In general, (and that means there will be exceptions) whether it’s a meal out, a sports game or a shopping trip, Americans dress fairly casually. This only serves to make me look slightly well-groomed when I put the effort in.
3. The atmosphere at sports games. I’m a baseball fan, but this applies to most sports I’ve been to – everyone’s in a good mood. Grannies, small children and anyone in between feel comfortable in going to such events. Heck – they even come down the aisles serving beer.
4. The fact that I can swear at liberty and be told that it “sounds so much better”. Not that I do, but I could. I can also say whatever the hell I want to, even when sober, because everyone thinks we “Europeans” are a little bit different. When everyone else is holding back and biting their tongues, I can be the one to come out and name that elephant in the room.
5. I’m easy to remember because I’m “the English woman”. When I’m not trying to look fabulous, (see point 2) I can look like any other harried 40-something mother, but people remember me as soon as I open my mouth, which can come in handy.
6. My phone system, which may be available in England but I haven't heard anyone raving about it. Because I have phone, Internet and TV all with the same company, I can see who's calling on my TV screen. Which means it's even better than Caller ID. I don't even have to get up to see whether or not I want to answer the phone. I'll admit, the first time it happened I was a little freaked out as I was watching Wimbledon tennis and my neighbour's name came up on the screen. Very weird.
7. When you knock something over or break something in a shop, you’re not in danger of being hauled off to prison. No signs saying “You Break it, you bought it”; in fact, the sales assistants usually apologize and tell you not to worry about cleaning up.
8. You can use the loo in shops, restaurants and bars without having to buy something. OK, so I still have to look over my shoulder to make sure the manager hasn’t followed me in but it’s good to know that when I get desperate I can avail myself of their facilities.
9. When you want to go out for a "quick bite" it's very easy. Sometimes it really annoys me because I don't always want to give myself indigestion, but when I need to be in and out of somewhere in half an hour, by god you can rely on American restaurants to deliver. (So to speak.)
10. Americans’ glasses are always half full. Every so often I want someone to moan along with me, but in this part of the country at least, it’s always Sunday, every day’s a new day, and there’s always someone else worse off. Sure it gets right on your ta-ta’s, but it puts things in perspective
1. The three B’s: Bloody, Bollocks and Brilliant. I may not be able to say “Mate” or use “Cheers” in the appropriate manner, but I have adopted much of the local idioms and sayings, and I use them in general conversation, not just to take the piss.
2. The food. Where do I begin—haggis, steak and kidney pudding, custard, sticky toffee pudding, beans on toast, full English breakfast, black pudding, Cornish pasty, curry, scones (plain), steak and ale pie, suet dumplings—where do I stop?
3. No ATM fees. You can get money out of ATM machines (hole-in-the-wall) and the bank doesn’t ding you £2.50. They tried instituting fees a while back and everyone screamed blue murder and they had to back down. C’mon you Americans, get some backbone, make those thieving bastards stop charging you.
4. The sense of history. Anytime I visit any town or area or street or hillock in the middle of a pasture, someone will tell me about something of great significance that happened there, oh, a very long time ago. And there are all these castles and Roman ruins and Iron Age hill forts all over the place. Perfect for a history anorak like me.
5. The beer. Confession time; I didn’t really move over here to get married, I just liked the beer so much I came over so I could be closer to the source.
6. Public transportation. The worst in the EU, but far better than anything the US has to offer. I travel for work, to Wales, Nottingham, Devon, Suffolk, et al, and I always take the train. On a more pedestrian note, I just returned from a six-hour “meeting” at The Dorset Arms in Lewes and didn’t have to worry about getting arrested for driving home drunk because I took a train.
7. The accents. Even after seven years, I still like the sound of all the different dialects and regional accents.
8. The comedy. I love the British humor; they are sharp and quick-witted and do irony very well.
9. The weather. If you’re from southern California or Florida, you may find it a bit cloudy, drizzly and cool during the winter, but spend 46 years in upstate New York and this weather will seem like paradise in comparison.
10. It’s so pretty. It’s hard to put into words just how beautiful the countryside is over here; you’ll just have to come and see for yourself.
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